Food & Drink

Healthy, Nutritious Eating Need Not Be Expensive

The nonprofit movement Mesa ni Misis is on a mission to introduce affordable and nutritious plant-based recipes one household at a time.
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Juana Manahan Yupangco, the brains behind Mesa Ni Misis, is on a one-woman mission to debunk one of healthy eating’s greatest misconceptions—that it’s expensive.

Eight years ago, Yupangco began to appreciate local produce. She found that the market prices of our own fruit and vegetables were remarkably affordable with quality that’s at par with trendy, imported "superfoods." The medicinal properties of these local ingredients piqued her interest enough for her to begin concocting her own nutrient-packed dishes at home.


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Juana Yupangco holding a healing bouquet from Kai Farms, one of Mesa Ni Misis' suppliers

As her recipes multiplied, Yupangco realized that a healthy lifestyle isn’t as hard (or expensive) to maintain as people perceive it to be. Research led her to discover that the families from the lower income bracket are the least conscious of the affordable and healthy choices readily available to them, while families from the higher income bracket have been so wired to lean toward foreign crops instead of local selections which are just as good.

Her solution to these issues has resulted in Mesa Ni Misis, a nonprofit movement that seeks to spread sustainable and budget-friendly recipes that Yupangco has conceptualized using locally-sourced ingredients.

The ultimate goal is to introduce nutritious everyday meals to the woman of the household, deemed the decision-maker when it comes to preparing a family’s food. Yupangco's meat-substituted creations are far from the average Filipino dishes, as she serves up unconventional recipes such as sigarilyas curry, jackfruit sliders, upo lasagna, and beet dips.

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Besides the website, Mesa Ni Misis has gone beyond Yupangco's home and has been conducting talks and cooking demonstrations for women from underprivileged households, educating them by introducing healthy meals that fit their budgets and use ingredients from the nearest palengke or market. To support these endeavors, Yupangco's tapped restaurants and chefs to recreate her recipes for dining pop-ups.

In April, Mesa Ni Misis partnered with Lanai Café and chef Marc Licaros, who put a gourmet spin to Yupangco’s recipes. The plant-based degustation was served to diners over the course of two days. The menu consisted of Yupangco’s vibrantly-hued Happy Heart Bean Dip with crispy squash blossoms and yacon and green beans; kangkong pesto and cashew cheese ravioli; kadyos and langka stew; and Maruya Jubilee, banana fritters with mantecado ice cream.


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Happy Heart bean dip made with white beans, boiled beats, garlic, and olive oil; crispy squash blossom served with a cashew cheese dip; and yacon and green beans with Cordillera lemon honey vinaigrette


Kamote and chick pea salad


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Kadyos and langka stew made with jackfruit and pigeon peas stewed in tamarind


Kangkong pesto and cashew cheese ravioli servied with roasted tomato pomodoro; and Maruya Jubilee, banana fritters sautéed in orange and mantecado ice cream

For the entire month of June, Mesa Ni Misis is again collaborating with a favorite dining destination. An offering especially prepared by chef Tom Bascon will be available on M Dining’s menu for a limited period: Ensaladang singkamas at pinya with kangkong-calamansi dressing. As a nod to Philippine Independence Day, the dish will solely be made from local ingredients. 

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Ensaladang singkamas at pinya with kangkong-calamansi dressing


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Tom Bascon holding the special dish he prepared in partnership with Mesa Ni Misis

For more information, visit mesanimisis.com.

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About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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