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Want To Get Healthy? Just Eat Fresh, Local Veggies In Season Says Juana Manahan-Yupangco Of Mesa Ni Misis

Every January, we resolve to cook and eat healthy. But more often than not, we fail miserably, falling back on our old habits of snacking, carbo-loading, and sugar bingeing. While there’s no magic pill or instant solution, it helps when we get to meet and be inspired by people who have found a way to eat healthy every day of the year. One such person is Juana Manahan-Yupangco who, together with her husband, has gradually and quite naturally adopted a plant-based diet, eschewing meat, chicken, seafood, dairy, and eggs most of the time.

While we don’t necessarily have to go “all the way” vegetarian, Juana urges us to eat more vegetables. And they don’t even have to be expensive organic vegetables bought at specialty markets. She simply goes for fresh, local vegetables in season. “Chances are, (vegetables in season) taste better because it’s really nature’s time for it to be out, unlike something not in season, it’s sort of forced to grow, there are more chemicals, more pesticides that are pumped into it to grow,” she explains. She visits the wet market once a week, buys in season (usually whatever is abundant and cheap that day), and plans her weekly menu for her family accordingly.


Juana’s Camote Detox Soup and Monggo Bolognese using local vegetables from the market


As Juana researched, experimented, and developed vegetable recipes, she soon found her calling—to teach healthy eating and cooking to families from underprivileged communities. Juana explains the current reality, “They are really the ones who suffer from bad health because of their lack of access to healthy food. Most of them prefer to eat packaged foods because it’s cheap and it’s accessible, it’s in every sari sari store. The problem with that is they are also the ones who get sick and cannot afford proper healthcare.” Through Mesa Ni Misis, an NGO that she founded last year, Juana now visits communities around Metro Manila (most recently in Pateros), bringing her recipes and kitchen tips to mothers and their families. She says, “I’m hoping that through Mesa Ni Misis I can go out there and teach them that they don’t need to pay for medicine, but if they pay for their food—which is not actually more expensive than what they’re eating now—it’s the same.”




Through her website and Facebook page, Juana communicates with mothers from different backgrounds, offering recipes and tips to help them in their desire to cook healthy without breaking the family budget. Last year, she tied up with M Dining and Discovery Primea to raise awareness about Mesa Ni Misis. Upcoming activities for the first quarter of 2019 include a series of workshops with Discovery Primea for Women’s Month in March; special Mesa Ni Misis dishes to be offered at Hacienda Mexican restaurant in Bonifacio Global City; and during the Lenten season, a special farm-to-table menu at Anya Resort Tagaytay.




For more information and recipes, visit and follow on Instagram @mesanimisis and Facebook @MesaNiMisisPH