New cookbook offers creative ways to prepare local vegetables


Posted at Oct 29 2020 05:28 PM

Juana Manahan Yupangco. Handout

MANILA -- Want to eat local vegetables regularly or convince someone to go plant-based? This cookbook could give you a good start. 

"Mesa ni Misis: A Guide to Cooking and Enjoying Native Filipino Vegetables" by Juana Manahan Yupangco is the newest offering of ABS-CBN Books. 

The book is named after Mesa ni Misis, a non-government organization that aims to promote the health benefits of locally grown vegetables.

Yupangco, who is the founder of Mesa ni Misis, said the 40 plant-based recipes in her book have been "tried and tested" not only by her family, but also in different communities, hospitals, and other institutions.

"We really aim to create a 'Bahay Kubo' kitchen," she said in a recent virtual briefing with the media, referring to the Filipino folk song about vegetables that grow around a small hut. "And what makes this book really different from other books out there is that we really focus on creating plant-based dishes using our local vegetables."

"Why eat local, native plants? It's good for the environment, for the economy, and for ourselves," she added. "Our 'Bahay Kubo' vegetables are things that are cheap, they grow around us, and are available any time of the year."

Yupangco admitted that just like everyone else, she used to love eating meat before going plant-based. The decision to go healthy and care for the environment, she said, took years of effort and discipline.

"All of this didn't come overnight. It wasn't natural for me. It took us years to transition to where my family and I are right now," she said, noting that her husband and children now have the same diet.

And while there is no shortcut to going plant-based, Yupangco said there are simple ways to develop healthy eating habits.

"Thirty minutes on a weekend to meal prep is the first tip. Second is to season your food (vegetables) well. You won't miss your meat if you do that," she said.

To those who do not know how to cook, she advised: "There are so many alternatives... It's so easy to get food delivered to you. You can start there, that's your stepping stone."

When asked about the favorite plant-based dish of her father, former Star Magic head Johnny Manahan, Yupangco replied: "My dad loves the upo lasagna, so every chance that he eats here or we see each other, it's the upo lasagna that I make for him."

"It's because it's got so many flavors and textures," she said of one of her recipes in the book, which is available for P250 in bookstores nationwide, as well as ABS-CBN Books' Lazada and Shopee pages.

As for her go-to recipe that she said can convince junk food lovers to eat their vegetables, she said: "It would have to be the monggo Bolognese. It's one of the best talaga."

Check out her recipe for monggo Bolognese, which is also available in the "Mesa ni Misis" book, below:



  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped red or white onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup dried monggo
  • 2 cups vegetable or mushroom broth
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • spaghetti or any pasta


  1. In a pan, heat coconut oil.
  2. Add the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery.
  3. Add the monggo and vegetable or mushroom broth. Cook the monggo until softened.
  4. Mix in the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and oregano. Simmer until the flavors blend.
  5. Boil the spaghetti, then drain.
  6. Serve the monggo bolognese on top of the spaghetti.