This cookbook is chock-full of creative gulay dishes 2
Juana Manahan Yupangco at the launch of her new book "Juana's Table"; (right) Rick's Kadyos Salad with Mustard Caper Dressing (photo courtesy of ABS-CBN Books)
Food & Drink

‘Going vegan is not just pang-mayaman,’ says cookbook author Juana Manahan Yupangco

Tired of pinakbet and ginisang monggo? Manahan’s book teaches creative ways to cook local vegetables
RHIA GRANA | Sep 26 2023

“Some people think ‘pag vegetarian or vegan mahal, pangmayaman—that's not true,” cookbook author and culinary enthusiast Juana Manahan-Yupangco told ANCX at the launch of her sophomore book “Juana’s Table, Cooking with Filipino Vegetables” held at the newly-opened Villeroy & Boch Boutique in S Maison.

“The Philippines has a wide variety of local vegetables that can be turned into amazing dishes and plated beautifully,” she offered. To prove her point, at the event, Juana prepared a dish that makes use of protein-rich kadyos, which she got for only P35 per 1/4 kilo.

Juana Manahan Yupangco and family
Juana with husband Rick and kids Rosanna and Jaime

In her book, Juana shares that kadyos is the first local legume she ever loved. She grew up eating KBL (Kadyos, Baboy, Langka), having been raised by a yaya from Bacolod. Unfortunately, kadyos is the one bean that her husband Rick didn’t want to eat. “I discovered that the trick to getting my husband to eat kadyos is to cover it in a rich and creamy dressing,” said Juana, who recently finished her master’s degree in Global Nutrition and Food Security at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. On a mission to convince Rick to eat kadyos, she created kadyos salad.

To make the dressing, Juana blended a P60 tube of soft tofu, a few drops of lemon juice, capers, and Dijon mustard in a food processor. She arranged the raw baby spinach, boiled kadyos, tomatoes, and red onions on a plate, and then drizzled the dressing over the salad. “When I served it, nobody knew that it was [made of] tofu,” she recalled with pride.

Philip Cu-Unjieng, Johnny Manahan, Juana Manahan-Yupangco, and Franco Laurel
Present at the launch of Juana's book were Philip Cu-Unjieng, Johnny Manahan, and Franco Laurel.

In an interview with Inquirer, Juana said her husband Rick’s high cholesterol diagnosis was what initially prompted her to introduce a dietary shift in their home. This eventually led to founding Mesa ni Misis, a Filipino advocacy that promotes eating local vegetables for better, affordable nutrition.

ANCX met Juana's father, film and television director and talent management expert Johnny Manahan, at the book launch, and he said Rick's Kadyos Salad with Mustard Caper Dressing is also one of his favorite dishes Juana prepares. While he knew his daughter was a foodie since she was a kid, he didn’t realize Juana would turn out to be a talented cook. “Hindi ko alam na marunong pala siyang magluto,” said Manahan.

Tan Tan Ramen
Her Tan Tan Ramen has UnMeat Tapa, sitaw, kangkong and malunggay.  Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN Books

Other original recipes featured in Juana’s new cookbook include Ginataang Mustasa Rolls, Grilled Singkamas Steaks, and Creamy Cashew Pasta. Kids who hate vegetables may just be won over by her Veggie Kimbap and Sloppy Fries. Julia also has plant-based versions of classic favorites like Callos, Bicol Express, Salisbury Steak, and Tan Tan Ramen.

The food writer’s first book “Mesa ni Misis” is a guide to cooking and enjoying native Filipino vegetables. It has 40 healthy, delicious and affordable recipes. “The whole idea of that is to teach people that nutrition doesn't have to be expensive or plant-based nutrition doesn't have to be expensive,” she says.

Veggie Kimbap
Juana's Veggie Kimbap has sayote, alugbati or kangkong, sigarilyas, and radish. Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN Books

“Juana’s Table,” on the other hand, features recipes she loves to prepare for family and friends. It has family-friendly meals perfect for sharing as well as fancier dishes guaranteed to impress guests. Juana said she enjoys cooking because “I love seeing my family’s faces, or people’s faces when I make food. I feel like it’s my love language to cook for people.”

The cookbook also has a whole chapter on creating beautiful veggie centerpieces which she put together with Lanai Flores’ Maria Parsons. “You can first use the veggies as floral arrangements then eat them after,” Juana suggested.

Sloppy Fries
Juana's Sloppy Fries has monggo filling. Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN Books

She also included digestible nutrition information which she learned from her masters program. “For example, you should soak beans for eight hours to break down the anti-nutrients [which are natural or synthetic compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients]. There's also a myth that beans increase uric acid. Absolutely not true, it’s a fallacy.”

The book also provides helpful tips on cooking and storing vegetables, and a well-researched vegetable reference guide with nutritional information.

This advocate of healthy, sustainable lifestyle assures readers the ingredients in her new book are not hard to find. “You can find the local vegetables in any palengke or talipapa,” says Juana. “The other ingredients can be found in most groceries. My goal is to make healthy, delicious food accessible and affordable for people to eat well.”

Juana’s Table, published by Mesa ni Misis Inc. and ABS-CBN Books, is available at Fully Booked for P1,295.