Sharing a Meal at Juana’s Table
Ensuring their natural defenses are up to the task, Mesa ni Misis’ Juana Manahan-Yupangco encourages her family to focus on healthy living
Not much has changed in the Yupangcos’ home kitchen since imposed lockdowns of 2020. Even before the pandemic, Juana has taken it upon herself to plan, prepare, and cook all family meals. The only difference, she says, is that her kids now have had more time to practice their culinary skills. Her son Jaime has mastered baking sourdough bread, which Juana swears is better than most adult-made ones. And as for her daughter, Rosanna, she is an equal match to her brother’s baking skills.
As an advocate of local produce and its health benefits, Juana brings experience and expertise in nutrition to other homes through her work at Mesa ni Misis. Her award winning-book, also called Mesa ni Misis, was cited by Gourmand World Cookbook Awards as one of the best in the Vegetarian Category. Juana keen on practicing what she preaches—and her family is fully on board, too. “My family knows that eating healthily is very important, and they saw it even more during the last year and a half. My family follows a plant-based diet, so no animal products. When anyone in the family ‘cheats’ at the lola’s house with some animal products, they immediately feel the difference in their bodies. They know what food makes them feel sick and what makes them feel good,” she explains.
To support a journey towards clean eating, Juana is relentless in reminding her brood. This also ensures that healthy habits in their food choices everyday. She offers words of wisdom, “There’s no mincing words for eating properly—I tell my kids, ‘You eat garbage, your body becomes garbage.’ It’s that simple. They have started to enjoy raw salads more this past year, so I’m happy about that.”
Good nutrition also goes hand in hand with daily exercise. Apart from its physical benefits, Juana says it’s a feel-good activity that supports mental health. It’s also helped to regulate her circadian rhythm so that each day is sustained by ample time for rest and recovery. Above all, Juana emphasizes the importance of setting one’s own pace and being patient to self. She ends, “I learned to take things with a grain of salt, and take everything day by day and not panic about what is to come.”