Juana Manahan Yupangco’s ‘Mesa ni Misis’ compiles recipes that make eating veggies exciting
The birth of her baby 10 years ago led Juana Manahan Yupangco down the vegetable patch—or rather, it inspired her to look into the health benefits of local vegetables.
Her interest eventually moved her to start Mesa ni Misis, a personal advocacy whose aim is to promote the use of local vegetables for better health. As Yupangco puts it, every neighborhood in the Philippines has a local market or talipapa where fresh produce is inexpensive and plentiful, especially when in season.
Blanching, sautéing and stir-frying might be the most common ways people incorporate vegetables into their diet but there are other options. In her recently launched cookbook “Mesa ni Misis: A Guide to Cooking and Enjoying Native Filipino Vegetables” (ABS-CBN Books), Yupangco has gathered 40 recipes, ranging from soups and appetizers to main dishes, rice and noodles. There’s even a section devoted to drinks and desserts.
“Over the years, I’ve come up with over 100 recipes. My editor, Nana Ozaeta, helped me choose from the ones that were the easiest to make for everyone, and which eventually made the final cut,” Yupangco told Lifestyle in an email interview.
“We wanted recipes for busy people that could be appreciated by many others. We excluded recipes that had more steps, or had ingredients that were a little harder to find,” she added. Instead, ingredients can be found in most groceries and wet markets.For families on a budget, Yupangco says the Monggo Kare-Kare, Monggo Bolognese, Langka Mechado and Pia’s Paella are the most pocket-friendly. Each dish can feed a family of four and at the cost of P250 to P350, she added.
“As we went around the communities and hospitals and conducted seminars, the Monggo Kare-Kare and the Sayote Crumble were the top crowd-pleasers. I think this is because the flavor combinations and ingredients are unexpected. When eating, you can close your eyes and still taste the flavors of kare-kare, but people are surprised that it works with monggo,” she said.
She often gets the same reaction to the Sayote Crumble. Yupangco says people find it fascinating because it tastes like apple pie even if sayote is usually treated as a vegetable and prepared in savory soups.
For people who are trying to eat more vegetables but are not great cooks, Yupangco suggests starting with two dishes: the Mexican rice, as “this is just combining preboiled ingredients or you can use canned corn or canned beans,” and the Kadyos Langka Stew, “as it’s just boiling everything together.” “I wanted to use local vegetables to create international dishes. This way, eating vegetables could still be exciting,” she says in the book’s introduction. “In my recipes, I try to make cooking easy and convenient and affordable as possible so that eating healthy does not have to be hard.
“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.” INQ