Jing Si food products, particularly powder mixes, made their way into some vegetarian viands exhibited at the two-day vegetarian lunch fair. By integrating the products into common recipes, Tzu Chi hopes to teach guests how to use their products and enhance their meals.
The second day of Tzu Chi’s annual vegetarian lunch fair at the Jing Si Hall saw twice as many hungry guests as the first. Around a hundred Tzu Chi volunteers worked for hours on end trying to keep up with demand for their vegetarian dishes.
Nevertheless, their unity helped them pull through the odds. Every volunteer pulled their weight for the fair, adding to the savor of the vegetarian dishes served. By day’s end, hundreds of units of each dish were sold.
Managing the preparations days before fell to Tzu Chi volunteer Lu Lee Ching, head of the Jing Si Hall kitchen. In the run-up to the fair, she and her fellow volunteers began preparing as early as 3:00 a.m. Volunteers who found it impractical to go home because of the early call time spent the night at the hall.
It wasn’t enough that Lu and the volunteers made enough of the vegetarian dishes. As the event would promote vegetarianism, they had to be creative with their takes on the lifestyle.
“We made a lot of dishes like the glutinous rice balls, which we used natural ingredients to come up with the colors of fruits and vegetables,” said Lu.
To help them in their task, the volunteers incorporated Jing Si food products into some of the dishes. Mainly powder mixes, the products gave a unique twist to everyday recipes.
One is the banana multigrain shake, a tasty blend of bananas and Jing Si multigrain powder. The brains behind the idea, Tzu Chi volunteer Helen Tom Wong, explained that the idea came from the dharma masters in Taiwan, who used apples instead.
“We tried using apple, as well, but [Tzu Chi volunteer] Linda Chua suggested bananas. Most of the attendees loved bananas in the shake, so we continued to use them,” said Wong.
The Jing Si multigrain powder is a mixture of various grains, beans, and herbs all ground up into a healthy mix. Although the powder can be used alone, adding it to other beverages like shakes adds to the health benefits.
Another is polvoron, a traditional Filipino delicacy made with toasted rice flour, powdered milk, sugar, and butter. In Tzu Chi’s take of this popular shortbread, Tzu Chi volunteer Judy Lao decided to forego the sugar and add Jing Si Chinese Yam (yamaimo) and Job’s tears powder. Cranberries were also added.
Lao hopes that integrating Jing Si powder into Filipino cuisine gives people an idea how to use these food products.
“We’re introducing Jing Si products to produce our polvoron as something new for them. It’s a new taste, as in the Philippines we don’t have yamaimo powder or barley powder,” said Lao.
The Jing Si food products were made by the dharma masters in Taiwan with the health and eco-friendliness of the Tzu Chi volunteer in mind. The ingredients are cultivated by hand at the farm and processed without any artificial ingredients. Wong, who manages the Jing Si bookstore at the hall, learned about this in one of her trips to Taiwan.
“I attended a seminar by the Jing Si bookstore. From there, I learned that there would not be a Tzu Chi Foundation without Tzu Chi people. That’s why they want all the members to be healthy and friendly to the Earth,” Wong explained.