by Connie De Leon, posted on Balitang America on January 20, 2018.

CHICAGO -- Food enthusiast Divina Calo shares the same sentiments about food as the other 50 attendees of Usapang Pagkain event last Saturday.

The free program initiated by AFIRE Chicago and Filipino Kitchen, which is the first of six events, continues to bring Filipinos together to share and learn Filipino practices that center on health, community, and food.

“We really wanted to start a discussion with the Filipino community about how to utilize and reclaim our food to talk about health & wellness,” said exec director Michael Aguhar.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. Which is why the program, supported by a grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, focuses mainly on heart-disease prevention through diet.

“What are healthy foods?” said exec director Clarita Santos. “What should we be eating? How are we all connected? How do we make sure that you maintain your health or even get healthier? How can we help you so you don’t get sick in the first place? Around that is prevention rather than cure.”

“This event was a collaboration we’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” said Naomi Salcedo, AFIRE manager. “Hoping to address, dispel a lot of misconceptions what Filipino cuisine looks like.”

“That Filipino food is very unhealthy, very fatty, very oily, everything is fried, everything is crispy pata but it’s not.”

Filipino kitchen demonstrated how to cook tinola and arroz caldo, and also held an in-depth discussion on its history, benefits, and alternatives.

“We want to highlight the fact that we can still eat what we love to eat but be healthier about it and find alternatives,” said Salcedo.