Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Review (book): "Mesa ni Misis" by Juana Yupangco

Juana Manahan Yupangco was my editor in chief when I was the market editor for BABY Magazine way back in 2014-2016. When we'd have meetings at restaurants and start looking over the menu, she would always bring up her newfound passion for healthy food and how to get our kids (and husbands haha) to eat healthy. There was this story we did for the magazine where Juana held up bunches of vegetables in her well-manicured hands for the photographer to shoot. Vegetables are not sexy, okay, but I swear I have never seen veggies so lovingly shot. It looked like a veggie beauty pageant. That's how much Juana loves vegetables.

So when she launched her NGO, Mesa ni Misis, and its beautifully shot Instagram and helpful website, I was not surprised. I was in fact full of admiration for her because most moms, myself included, are passionate about how we can give the very best to our kids. And our passion ends there. Juana decided she wanted the whole Philippines to benefit from a plant-based diet, too. 

Another thing I really loved was her insistence that healthy doesn't mean costly. I blogged before about how it hurts me when I watch news documentaries about our poor fellow Pinoys and they would use their daily wage of P100 to buy instant noodles. I grew up without money but we always ate so well. Boiled eggs, tinapa with grilled tomatoes, steaming hot champorado with dilis, lato salad, talbos ng kamote salad, adobong kangkong, nilaga, tinola, sinigang. I was never hungry. 

In my blog post Market Day!, I said, "I think I may have found a new advocacy. Wouldn't it be great if we can teach families in poor neighborhoods really inexpensive but healthy and delicious recipes? If you know any group that does this, please tell me. I would love to help!" 

That was in 2011. I never got to act on this advocacy. Lots of excuses (a.k.a. lots of kids haha) so when I saw Juana doing this and doing it so well, I'm just in awe. And I have got to help her in her mission!

On top of all the recipes she cooks to share on her website and all the feeding and educating programs she does in poor communities, Juana just launched her first book, Mesa Ni Misis: A Guide to Cooking and Enjoying Native Filipino Vegetables. I got a copy and here's my book review:

I love it! There are 40 recipes to try, from appetizers and main courses to dessert and drinks. All of them feature ingredients that can be bought from the palengke. No foreigners like quinoa, kale, or brussel sprouts in here! All familiar, all cheap, and therefore all stripping us of our excuses that vegetables are so expensive and hard to find.

Juana said, “In my recipes, I try to make cooking as easy and convenient and affordable as possible, so that eating healthy does not have to be hard. Most of the recipes are hearty meals meant to feed up to four people, with lots to go around.”

But even though Juana used humble vegetables in her recipes, all of them are so fancy! Just check these out:

Local ingredients, international flavors! Love it! Juana said, “I wanted to use local vegetables to create international dishes; this way, eating vegetables could still be exciting. Filipino food is not big on vegetables, and when we do have it, it’s topped with pork.” That would be my family - we always have pork or chicken while veggies are the tiny side dish. But with the pandemic (and advancing old age for me and my husband haha), it's really time for us to put fruits and vegetables front and center on our dinner table.

Let's help Juana in her mission of spreading the word that eating healthy is affordable, nutritious, and delicious. We'll not just be helping ourselves and our families, but every Filipino. How amazing is that? We can start by buying this cookbook!

“My hope is that by eating more vegetables, we will be able to help our local vegetable farmers, and in the long run, enjoy better health for ourselves and our families,” she added.

Prepare more healthy meals for the family with the help of Mesa Ni Misis: A Guide to Cooking and Enjoying Native Filipino Vegetables, available now on ABS-CBN Books’ Lazada and Shopee stores and in leading bookstores nationwide for only Php 250.00.

Visit for updates, information on how to help their programs, and events and activities. Watch the Mesa ni Misis channel for cooking tutorials. Follow Mesa ni Misis on Instagram and Facebook to be part of the plant-based diet community.

P.S. Congrats, Juana! Praying that your cookbook and advocacies reach every Filipino home!

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