TRAVEL VEGAN IN THE PHILIPPINES

Let me start by saying that travelling as a Vegetarian or Vegan in the Philippines has its challenges, but it is definitely possible! Throughout my 6 weeks here, I have been blessed with finding some very delicious restaurants, colourful fruit and veggie markets/stands along with an abundance of fresh young coconuts!

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Do not let the lack of plant based menu items hold you back from travelling here. The Philippines is one of the least built up places I have travelled to and is home to some of the nicest people in the world. The islands I visited are so incredibly lush and abundant with waterfalls, beaches, secret lagoons and unique mountainous landscapes.  Plus, I can finally check this off my bucket list: staying in a waterfront cottage on private beach…for less than $50 CDN a night!

When my my partner Jack and I decided to take this trip, there were not many online resources on vegan travel in the Philippines. Trusting this inspires you and guides you during a happy, healthy and holistic trip through these incredible Islands.

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My first tip: Eat a lot more fruit than your used to! For most of our trip we’d wake up and drink a coconut water (mixed with spirulina we brought from Canada) followed by some fresh hydrating fruit like watermelon. In the afternoon, we had a mix of seasonal and local fruit like mangos, bananas, pineapple, papaya, jackfruit,  or chicos (similar to sweet bosc pear, also known as nispero in Central America) or coconut meat! Dinner would be time for the restaurant (and some times a home cooked meal at our airbnb’s). This is such a nourishing and hydrating way of eating. The tropical fruit here are fresh, local and therefore high in nutrients. With the hot weather, it feels so good to eat a more cooling diet. And if you plan to do lots of activity during the day, especially swimming, it’s  nice to feel a bit lighter.

 


CEBU ISLAND

MOALBOAL

Moalboal Fruit Stand

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You can’t miss it. It’s right on the national highway soon as you turn into the city, next to city hall and the round about. There is also a much larger fruit and veggie market just behind the stores on the main road (national highway), but we were quite happy with what we found at the main fruit stand. Epic yellow watermelon (and red too), mango, pineapple, pomelo, jackfruit, soursop, coconuts, you can also find apples and oranges.

Ven’z Kitchen

 

Known as one of the best restaurants in Moalboal, and it has about 8 vegan menu options featuring local veggies like eggplant, carrots, purple sweet potato, okra, pumpkin, peppers and green beans.

What we ordered… Yellow Vegetable Curry w/ rice; Veggies in Peanut Sauce;  the vegan eggplant dish dish.

Tip: portions are small so you may want to order 3 dishes for two people if its for dinner.

+ We absolutely enjoyed playing with all the available board games like scrabble, uno, connect four and jenga while waiting for our meal!

Lantaw

What we ordered...Thai Red Vegetable Curry, Indonesian Yellow Curry, Vegetable Tempura.

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Insider’s scoop:  Great portion sizes! The red curry was very tasty and a perfect balance between sweet and spicy- definitely more flavourful than the yellow. I wouldn’t recommend the tempura it was very oil and was battered really thick, not like the traditional style.

Free-Diving Planet (hostel + free dive training center)

What we ordered...Sweet potato fries and greek inspired quinoa salad, Teriyaki Veggie Noodle Bowl, Superfood Soup with moringa leaves, carrots and pumpkin.

Insider’s scoop: Pretty Plain, but was happy to be eating quinoa. The noodles were delicious. A bit more expensive than other restaurants.


PALAWAN

PUERTO PRINCESA

Lale Indian  & Thai Restaurant 

This was one of the best meals we enjoyed during the trip, we’re probably biased because we LOVE Indian food and hadn’t had any during our trip yet. But really, this was authentic, tasty, Indian Cuisine and very well received by our bellies! It’s a must for any vegan or vegetarian travelling through or to Puerto.

 

 

Tip: Definitely order the naan with chutney. Great price, good portions. nice decor and they do take out! A must for vegans and vegetarians visiting puerto princesa. 

Ima’s Vegetarian Restaurant

What we ordered… Tempeh Fries, Veggie & Rice Jambalaya, Vegan Burritos

 

Insider’s Scoop: The best thing was the tempeh fries! The rest of the meal was decent, but nothing remarkable. I was a bit uninspired by the menu that seemed to use a lot of canned veggies.

Fruit Stands

You can find these pretty much everywhere on the side of the street and they are always abundant. There is also a bigger town market as well. During our time near Puerto Princesa, we did a 6 day self guided silent retreat and fruit cleanse. We had so much fun transporting  our giant fruit haul in the tricycle!

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PORT BARTON

 We found 2 incredible restaurants and stuck to them… Gorgonzola and Mabuti!
#1 Top Restaurant of our trip:… Gorgonzola
This mainly vegetarian restaurant was an incredible treat for us! We enjoyed many vegan, Italian/Spanish inspired dishes, which is not so easy to do when travelling. The taste of a thin crust pizza, cooked in a wood fire oven is priceless, especially with homemade dough, yummy sauce and amazing toppings to choose from. It smells divine in here and the open concept kitchen is so beautifully designed. They are in the middle of expanding so I am sure you can only expect it to get better from here!
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What we ordered…
Wood fire oven, thin crust, vegan pizza with cashew cheese and all our favourite toppings like artichokes, olives, peppers, arugula, avocado, zucchini and eggplant.
Full Protein Salad with leafy green lettuce, shredded carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, mung beans, boiled egg/hummus, turmeric cashew dressing accompanied by homemade bread!

 

All types of toasts served on that delicious bread. We tried the humus and sautéed mushroom.
Oven baked focaccia bread with your choice of dip: hummus, pesto, eggplant, tapenade, or go for the bruschetta.
We didn’t have any, but they also make fresh homemade pasta in house which you can order with your choice of sauce, including pesto, tomato, creamy mushroom and a few others.
Insider’s Scoop: Each table comes with three kinds of homemade, infused olive oils : oregano, garlic and spicy! They are awesome to put on top of the pizza, salad or even the toasts. Its not always easy to come buy quality olive oil while travelling, so we took advantage of it and upped our healthy fat intake!
Tip: Try the ginger-mint lemonade, it’s super refreshing. Made with fresh mint, ginger root and blended in a vitamix with homemade lemonade!
 A sweet, modern, chic yet chill hang out space, with an almost completely vegetarian menu.
What we ordered…Mango-cashew salad with fresh spinach, Mixed greens salad (greek inspired), The best ever Veggie Burger (curry flavoured and served on a homemade bun) which comes with tasty & crispy baked potato wedges, Homemade Quiche with mixed veggie Salad.
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Tip: You’ll love the vegan burger, that’s all we need to say. Order any drink, we recommend the fresh calamansi juice and it comes with  a free bamboo straw.
Yoske’s 
What we ordered … Falafal plate comes with 6 falafels, small Israeli salad,  tahini dip and pita, Hummus and Pita.
Tip: This was quite delicious, although a bit pricey for the portion size. We were okay with it as the owner literally orders so much of his products in from Israel so that they are the most authentic version!
Enjoy a 1km walk from town to this very big outdoor restaurant all with bamboo furniture. This places is more of a bar, and not so much our style. To be honest, they have so many signs posted, we needed to go check it out. The food was perfect for an afternoon snack.
What we ordered… sweet potato fries, tempura olives. They have also have noodle bowls with tahini sauce or peanut sauce, but we were just there to snack and check it out.
note: Our accommodation (EVIO front beach cottage on airbnb) was on a private beach, in a cute little cottage, 30 minutes walking distance from Port Barton, in Pamuyan. The owner, Rosemary, prepared us delicious vegan meals like pumpkin curry, stewed mung beans, vegetable curry, spring rolls, mashed purple sweet potato, coconut rice  and desserts like fried banana! So don’t worry…we didn’t eat Italian every night!
EL NIDO
The only full vegan/veggie place in El Nido which is hard to believe for the number of tourists. This was a fun experience. We got to meet the owner, who is also the chef. He is so inspired by plant based cooking, especially inventing new kinds of burgers. He makes everything from scratch, including the bun which is made with whole wheat. You eat on a little bench in this mini snack bar. The power was out (very common!) when we were there so we enjoyed our burgers with candlelight.
What we ordered…Double decker falafel burger, Sweet potato burger, Fresh Cut Fries
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Tip: If you’re really hungry go for the double decker, other go for the other burger patti choices: sweet potato, eggplant, mushroom and corn or potato, all made from a chickpea based + he even does a banana burger!
Happiness Express
 This is more of a bar rather than a restaurant, and a very popular one indeed.  It has a cool vibe and funky decor and seems to be the place to go if you want to have some drinks after a day of touring. We went for the food!
What we ordered… Mediterranean sharing plate with hummus, best ever falafels, spicy tomato dip, tahini, eggplant dip pitas and spicy sauce, The Falafel and Hummus Plate.
Insider’s Scoop: Other delicious items on the menu (and what we saw being ordered around us!) were the home made fries and the shakshuka!
Athena Greek Restaurant 
What we ordered…

Greek Salad (with or without feta cheese), and a lot of other salads to choose from.

…and of course, more mediterranean sharing plates with hummus and babaganoush.
Insider’s Scoop: Very nice location, right on the beach. It gets busy so you may have to make a reservation. They also serve fresh veggies juices here.
On the island hopping tours, as a vegan you can always expect the same cuisine: fresh fruit like bananas, melon and pineapple; the classic marinated vegetable salad with cabbage, carrots and green beans; eggplant salad; rice; and a fresh tomato, cucumber and shredded carrot plate.

CORON (BUSUANGA)

CORON (town proper)

Fruit and Veggie Stands

Walk down to the waterfront, at the end of Don Pedro Street, 2 block to the left, to find lots of fruit and veggie stands and fresh coconuts.

Food Court in the local market (down by the water at the end of Don Pedro Street)

Buzz Express

You have no idea how blessed and lucky we feel to have found “The Harvest Bowl.” This is one of our favourite meals in Canada where we make many versions of this “Buddha Bowl.” This restaurant is probably one of the pricier ones of our trip, but so worth it. We also enjoyed a garden salad that actually included an abundance of fresh leafy lettuce (a rare find that was most welcomed!).

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What we ordered…The Harvest Bowl: Served on a bed of brown rice and topped with sprouted mung beans, thinly sliced cucumber and coconut meat, homemade marinated slaw, crunchy chickpeas, cashews and the best ever creamy coconut thai curry sauce; Garden Salad with honey mustard dressing; Calamansi juice with honey.

Insider’s Scoop: The bill adds on an additional, mandatory, 10 % service charge, so be sure to keep this in mind based on your budget.  See the full menu 

Brujita 

This was one of the first restaurants we found online with veggie and vegan options. It offers a variety of choices like curries, pesto pastas, salads, fried rice and canton noodles.

What we ordered (went went here twice!)… Canton Veggie Noodles; Creamy Pumpkin Soup with coconut milk served with a delicious homemade grainy rye bread; Sweet potato chips with homemade salsa and homemade mustard (the best!); Mung Bean and Chickpea Curry with Garlic Rice (our favourite dish).

 

 

Tip: #1. Order the homemade mustard, it will be the best one of your life! #2 Go for an early dinner. There are only a few tables and it gets busy, so to avoid waiting in line go around 5 pm.

Insider’s Scoop: The Canton noodles are quite good and the portion size is massive, but we later found out by reading some packaging in the store that the noodles are made with yellow food colouring, so we avoided them during our 2nd visit.

Muslim Halal Food Stall

What a gem of spicy, flavourful, homemade, cheap food! We seriously spent 150 PHP on dinner for both of us. That is a record, and so was the taste. How lucky we were to find this place. We have been wanting to eat street food our entire trip, but couldn’t find anything vegan other than fried food. We were so pleased to find this delicious jack fruit inspired coconut curry (I still can’t believe it wasn’t meat!)
What we ordered…Jackfruit and coconut Stew (40 php), Vegetable Curry (40 php), and Rice (15 php)

 


SIQUIJOR ISLAND

*This was our first Island visit, and I wasn’t take food photos at the time..sorry!*

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Mini Fruit Stand 

Where to find it: At the town square (you will see a public pool), Turn right off the main road, at the health clinic, drive along the water for less than a minute – you will pass people doing laundry in a small river, and then you will find the market where you can buy local watermelon, mangoes, pineapple, bananas and veggies.

Restaurants

Baha Bar

This was our go to place on Siquijor….we must have gone at least 6 times during our 10 day stay. They had so many choices, the food is incredible, good portions, above average prices for Siquijor but comparable with the rest of the places we visited, live music, comfy couches, fire dancing night and more!

What we ordered… Singaporian Red Vegetable Curry (daily special), Fresh Rolls, Green Sala, Roasted eggplant in coconut cream, Grilled Veggie Burger (they were out of banana bloom as indicated on the menu), Sweet Potato Wedges.

Tip: Do yourself a favour and order a fresh Pineapple Juice – Probably the only ‘not watered down or blended with ice’ juice/shake we had during our entire trip.

+ You can find a shop, owned by baha bar, across the street selling some fruit and veggies and other staples if you want to cook at your place.

The Mediterranean Restaurant (yep that is what its called)

What we ordered…Hummus, fresh veggies and homemade pita, Absolutely Divine Sautéed Okra served with quality sea salt.

Tip: Super small portions for these 2 dishes, think of them  as appetisers or order one per person.

Saki (part of Hillside Village)

This place is a gem. We came across it when we spent one afternoon driving around most of the island and up into the mountains toward the forest. We absolutely loved doing this and highly recommend it. We found Sake, just past Infinite Heights resort, at the top of a hill with an epic view. This authentic Japanese restaurant had an extensive menu, and quite a few vegetarian options- with the option to make them vegan.

What we ordered…Vegetable Tempura with Moringa, Pumpkin, Jump Oregano Leaves and Eggplant, Green Tea Soba Noodle Soup

Tip: Go for the the panoramic view and the beauty of driving up the mountains! 

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Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream {dairy-free}

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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Serves 2

4 tbsp or 1/4 cup fresh coconut milk or other milk substitute

1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

1 cup baby spinach or curly kale

3 to 5 drops of food grade peppermint oil or mint extract

4 bananas, frozen

3 tablespoons raw cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips.

handful Fresh mint leaves, optional

Instructions

Add coconut milk and spinach to blender and blend until as smooth as possible. Add maple syrup, bananas, peppermint oil and leaves. Start on low and slowly turn blender up to high, using the damper stick of the vitamix. Use the damper to mix well in all four corners, for about 1 minute. Add cacao nibs or chocolate chips and pulse 3 times. Enjoy immediately or allow to set for one hour in the freezer.

Inspiration and photo by @anna_bananas__

Raw Cacao Superfood Truffles

These little divine bites are my “go to” recipe. They are perfect size for dessert, or an afternoon energy boost. They are sweetened with dates and contain the benefits of raw cacao. High quality chocolate, in its pure, natural state, is actually good for you! Let’s celebrate. Cacao is one of the worlds most antioxidant-rich superfoods, is high in magnesium (an important mineral for calcium absorption, especially for women) and offers a variety of benefits for cardio vascular health.  Cacao is also rich in tryptophan and has the ability to open the heart and spirit, therefore acting as a mood elevator. If you had to, you could replace the raw cacao with cocoa (the roasted version of the bean).
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Ingredients 

1 cup raw cacao

2  cup unsweetened shredded coconut

20 pitted dates

1/3 cup water

1/3 unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil1/4 chopped almonds, walnuts or nuts of choice

Dash of vanilla

Pinch of cinnamon

Pinch of sea salt

For rolling truffles

Shredded coconut, hemp hearts or chia seeds

Topping

Almonds, goji berries

Method

Soak dates in 1 cup of warm water for at least 10 minutes. 

While dates are soaking, in the food processor mix 1 cup of coconut with coconut oil.  Add cacao, water, nuts, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Drain water from dates (save water) and add dates into the food processors. If the mixture is too dry, add some of the date water.

Mix until well combined. Mould into balls and roll in either shredded coconut, hemp hearts, or chia seeds. Top with almond or goji berry.


Place in fridge to set for 30 minutes before serving.

Makes 12-15 balls

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Recipe from the Detox: Creamy Sunflower Seed Dip

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I absolutely love this dip for so many reasons. It’s so easy since all you have to do is throw all the ingredients into a food processor. The dip is so creamy and makes you feel as though you are indulging in your favorite ranch and cream cheese dip..minus the dairy.

This dip is raw so it contains all the enzymes needed for digestion. It’s an easy way to include more raw food into the diet and to switch up the hummus dip typically served with veggies.

I love to eat this dip with flaxseed Foccacia, a recipe and new favorite I learned about from Healthful Pursuit’s “The Keto Beginning.”

Why was this dip included in the detox?

Raw sunflower seeds are a rich source of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps the body fight off oxidative stress and free radicals. They also contain tryptophan, an enzyme that produces serotonin and relieves tension and promotes relaxation.

It contains fresh lemon juice which is very important when it comes to detoxing and alkalizing the body, and so are fresh herbs (especially parsley!)

Garlic is an important anti-bacterial which helps to strengthen the immune system, fight off infection as well as delivers important minerals like selenium and manganese…among many other health benefits.

Creamy Sunflower Seed Dip

Makes 2 cups

1 1/2 C raw sunflower seeds (soaked for at least 3 hours)

1/2 lemon, juiced

3/4 C water

1 tbsp fresh dill

1/3 C fresh basil mint

1/3 C fresh parsley

1 green onion (for garnish)

1 garlic clove

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1/4 C cold pressed olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS : Put all ingredients except the olive oil in a vitamix or high powered blender.

Once the blender is running drizzle the olive oil through the opening in the lid and process until smooth. You may need to stop the blender to scrape down some of the sunflower seeds from the sides. Do that and then just run the blender for another few seconds. Refrigerate the dip for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Post your comments below once you try it!

The 4 bodies: Part 1: You are not your physical body

When you think of the word body, you probably first think of the physical body. And when we talk about taking caring of our body, again, we usually refer the physical body; the bones, muscles and flesh of which we are made.

The physical body is our vessel or temple for this lifetime, and many of use take steps to nourish it. We may do this through regular exercise or by choosing a natural and wholesome diet.

But what if you realized there is more to you than your physical body? …That you, as a Being, are not just your physical body. Nor are you your thoughts or emotions (but that’s another story that will come soon enough in the next 3 posts). What if becoming stronger, healthier, more energized, happier, calmer, etc, had nothing to do with the physical workout regime you do each day?

When illness arises in the physical body, it is usually a sign of an imbalance in our other 3 bodies. When something shows up in our physical body, we usually take action, ask questions and do something about it, whether that be going to the doctor, or choosing a natural alternative. But how often do we take time to “work out” our other bodies? By creating balance and building a strong foundation in the other 3 bodies, we will naturally feel strong and supported in our physical body.

The other 3 bodies include the mental, emotional and spiritual body.

There is more to us than just our physical body.  If we can learn from it, the physical body is an amazing  teacher and an obvious teaching that nothing is permanent and that everything is ever changing. When the physical body changes (ie: our body size or weight changes, we break a leg, get sick, etc), there is a part of us that doesn’t change, which always remains the same. It is not always easy to recognize this truth, but the more we increase our awareness and strengthen each of our 4 bodies, the more we are able to live our life holistically, with less of a focus on solely the physical body.

When is the last time you did a work out for your emotional, mental or spiritual body?

I have included a few tips below on how to to build or maintain a strong physical body. When it comes to holistic nutrition, our intention is to build a strong foundation in all 4 bodies, with the spiritual body being at the root or core. By acknowledging our spiritual body, we acknowledge and connect with our true essence and all universal energy.

Tips for strengthening the physical body

Follow a wholesome, natural food diet. Choose whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and quality protein. Eat locally and seasonally, get to know who grows your food and ask a lot of questions.

Eat more leafy greens and raw foods, focus on an alkalizing diet.

Stay hydrated. Drink at least 2 litres of purified water each day.

Move! Get outdoors! At least once a day, do some sort of movement, whether that be an exercise program, taking a walk or swim, dancing around your house or yoga.

Yoga asanas (poses) specific to strengthening the physical body include Goddess pose, warrior series, core strengtheners like boat and plank, and tree pose.