Corner Tree Cafe : Vegetarian Comfort Food At Its Best

Corner Tree Cafe is a quaint vegetarian comfort food restaurant nicely tucked under a huge tree (as the name suggests) along a busy street in Makati City. It has been around since 2009 way ahead of the healthy trend that is booming now.

It has been featured in major newspapers, magazines and etc. and has been listed in the Tatler book of the Philippine’s Best Restaurants plus voted by PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) as one of the 10 best vegetarian restaurants in the Philippines. Just having all these accolades, I was certain that I was in for a real treat. 

Snapshot of Chiqui and I *Please excuse my outfit, I had to teach a barre3 
class that afternoon*

       Meet Chiqui Mabanta, proud owner and founder of this highly acclaimed restaurant.  I had the opportunity to have a nice chat with her and learned the story behind her little cafe. She started by sharing how she got into vegetarianism. She got inspired during one of her visits to her sister in the UK. Her sister was already vegetarian that time and so she saw how simple and easy it was to have a plant-based diet. She then began became curious and started reading more about it.  Then eventually she eased her way into incorporating it into her lifestyle. She was searching for a good vegetarian place here in Manila but couldn't find one that suited her standards. This sparked the idea of putting one up. She tested the waters by first selling vegetarian food in a weekend market and found that there was indeed a demand. It was not an easy path though, it took her years to work on the concept and to find the perfect spot (location). She even tried to work with several partners only to realize that it was best to work on it alone. In the end, it was all worth it. Corner Tree Cafe is where it is now because of her hardwork, dedication and sheer passion.  

The homey, casual and unpretentious vibe inside the cafe. Chiqui says that people are drawn by this very cosy ambiance. 

They are celebrating their 5th year as a restaurant and so they have free drinks (choice of lemongrass iced tea, red or white wine or coffee) to all their guests. 

They offer a good selection of plant-based, animal-friendly starters, entrees, salads, soups, sandwiches and desserts (full menu is posted below). The items are labeled V on the ones that our Vegan, GF - Gluten Free and a VO symbol for ones with a Vegan Option.  The interesting ones that caught my attention were the the Corner Tree Starter Plate (Php 280.00) which is Vegan and is for sharing. It has hummus and dukka. Dukka is a distinctly Egyptian earthy & fragrant dry blend of seed, pulses & spices with warm chunks of whole wheat bread & extra virgin olive oil. Since I was alone, I didn't want to order it because it would be too much but it will be on my list the next time I visit. 

I am a sucker for Pinoy cuisine so they also have Filipino dishes such as Kare-Kareng Gulay –V (Php 215.00).  A traditional Filipino stew made with garden fresh veggies, a zesty organic peanut sauce, served with organic red rice and a  vegetarian bagoong made with taosi and Veg Sinigang V, GF (Php 215.00)  Traditional comfort food – vegetables in a  tamarind-based broth with superfood miso with a vegetarian patis (“fish sauce”) on theside, served with red rice.

I asked Chiqui what her favorites are and patterned my order from there. Her top picks are : Vegetable Dumplings, Grilled Asparagus Panino (Php 330.00) Panino with loads of grilled asparagus, melty Gruyere cheese and pesto  grilled with olive oil on ciabatta bread. Dilled Egg Salad Sandwich (Php 275.00) which is made with their homemade mayonnaise, chopped free range organic eggs, Dijon mustard, capers & dill, with tomato slices & greens served on toasted ciabatta bread or whole wheat toast and Quinoa Salad. I ended up getting these two (2) items for lunch;

Their famous Vegetable Dumplings (Siomai) - Php 150.00
5 pieces of steamed dumplings stuffed with shiitake mushrooms, spinach, carrots and singkamas (jicama) with a rice vinegar dipping sauce. I ate these prized pieces with extra care because the wrapper was so delicate and soft, it would easily break if "mishandled". 

Quinoa Salad (VO, GF) (Php 220.00 for Solo Order and Php 410.00 for a Huge Order)
This refreshing salad is served with organic greens, grilled asparagus, sunflower seeds and feta cheese and is lightly tossed in a citrusy dressing.

The two dishes I sampled were amazing...simple, light, tasty and filling. I wiped both plates clean! I would definitely go back to try out the rest! Truly a haven for both vegetarians/vegans as well as those that want to eat a good-tasting healthy meal that doesn't make you feel like you're dieting!

They revised the menu and will be launching it in a week or so. I actually got first peek! Here it is:

Choose healthy,

Corner Tree Cafe
150 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati City, Metro Manila
Tel: +63 2 897-0295
Cell: +63 906 558-6177
e-mail: cornertreecafe@gmail.com


Nyogi : Choose Natural Hydration


Coconut water is incredibly healthy and one of the best drinks to hydrate the body. Besides helping to remove toxins from the body and aiding digestion, coconuts have amazing anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties that help to cure the disease.

The water of tender young coconut, technically is the liquid endosperm. It is one of the purest, most nutritious wholesome waters and beverages with which nature has provided us. The people in tropical regions and countries have been enjoying this drink for centuries. They have used the all-natural coconut water to refresh, refuel, re-hydrate, feed and maintain the proper nourishment and fluid levels in their bodies. The natural water has a caloric value of 17.4 per 100 gm. The benefits of coconut water are endless and should be an essential part of any healthy diet.


I am a very active person ; I teach Ashtanga and Barre3 classes everyday (Monday to Friday) and always need to hydrate. While commercial sports drinks are engineered to be isotonic drinks, coconut water is already naturally isotonic and is absorbed more efficiently and immediately by our bodies...even faster than your regular sports drinks or even water. Isn't nature so amazing?

Similarly, coconut water has fourteen (14) times more potassium than sports drinks. This is what is lost when we heavily sweat and so we need these electrolytes to rehydrate. It also has minimal sugar content, zero fats and absolutely no cholesterol. 

I am a big fan of coconuts. I loves coconut water/buko juice and used to bring home a fresh batch weekly when I was still actively handling operations at our resort (www.coritosgarden.com). I would bring home about 15 pieces weekly and we would consume that for the week. My kids absolutely love coconut water and even the fruit itself which they often snack on. I love drinking the juice as is or mixing it with chia seeds. However now that I don't have a regular schedule in Batangas, I don't have the luxury of having the real thing anymore so good thing I found NYOGI

NGOYI Pure Coconut Water

Nyogi's coconuts are 100% sourced in the Philippines. Every time you buy a nyogi, it's like buying coconut from the market or the farmer himself. You are guaranteed to get the best taste and quality of only the genuine fruit. Each batch may differ in taste and nutritional content but just to the degree of the natural differences between the harvests.

 No Preservatives, No Gluten and No GMOs. 

How do they do it? Nyogi employs a flash pasteurization and asceptic packaging process thru tetrapak technology and ensures that no sugar and preservatives are added in the whole process. The shelf life of the drink is up to 10 months.

You get the water straight from the tree!

NYOGI PURE Coconut Water
Website : www.nyogi.com
Office : +6324113686
Address : #10 Col. Martelino St., Heroes Hill, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Email :  marketing@nyogi.com
Fax : +6323713549

Next time you hit the gym or yoga studio, be sure to hydrate naturally

Grab a nyogi in a store nearest you!

loco over coco,



Luntian Bags : Be Inspired to go GREEN!

LUNTIAN BAGS is livelihood project based in San Teodoro, Mabini, Batangas. LUNTIAN (lun-tee-an) means green in Tagalog. Let me share with you the very inspiring story of Ichay (the founder) and how it started...

Ichay's Story

Ichay M. Bulaong is a corporate warrior and a mother of 2 girls Marina and Mariel. They have a house fondly called  Pugad in San Teodoro, Mabini, Batangas which they would frequent on weekends. "...Pugad has become an integral part of our lives- our sanctuary, our little peace of heaven. Through the years, we have come to know the local residents- wonderful simple people who have welcomed us into their community- and we have always tried to “give back” to them in any way we can." 

Similarly, a very strong article in Time Magazine came out on April 2007 about Global Warming and what we can do (Say No To Plastic Bags - A Global Warming Survival Guide - click this link for full article: http://content.time.com/time/specials/2007/environment/article/0,28804,1602354_1603074_1603179,00.html)  which really gave her that extra push she needed to start this whole project.  The gist is that  “Every year, more than 500 billion plastic bags are distributed, and less than 3% of those bags are recycled. They are typically made of polyethylene and can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade in landfills that emit harmful greenhouse gases.”

More than the numbers, her greatest takeaway from the article was that we (normal people and not scientists or radical activists) can do something about it- “Reducing your contribution to plastic-bag pollution is as simple as using a cloth bag (or one made of biodegradable plant-based materials) instead of wasting plastic ones. For your next trip to the grocery store, BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag).” Hmmmm, I can do that. And maybe I can get other people to do it, too. And thus the birth of LUNTIAN BAGS.

They now carry a lot of products : 

Their signature canvass Grocery Bags (Php 150.00). Machine Washable. Biodegradable.
Size : 16.5" x 16" wide and 5" bottom gusset
Make grocery shopping more fun and eco-friendly with these stylish bags!

The Marine Collection Bags
Php 180.00

Half Moon Bags (Php 650.00)

My kids will be using these very soon :) Lunch Bags (Php 250.00) 
Perfect BTS (Back to School) find!

Their popular OM Yoga Mat Bags (Php 500.00)
I got my first OM Bag in a Christmas bazaar 2 years ago and have been using it until now. Each OM sign is hand embroidered. Truly a work of love! Namaste.

Om is a very beautiful, single syllable word. In Kena Upanishad (1-2-15) it is said that " All the Vedas talk about that goal to know which, people take to a life of study and discipline, that I will tell you briefly. That is OM. "

And in Ichay's own words " Corny as it may sound, this project has been adding so much passion into my life. I am not out to save the world but if I can make a bit of a difference, then I consider myself fulfilled. I am just one person." Isn't this just so AMAZING (that deserves to be ALL CAPS!). 

Today, the cutting, sewing, and printing, and embroidery of these bags provide livelihood for 20 people– most of them seamstresses and stay-at-home wives of fishermen and carpenters.

The project is now taken care of by Ichay’s daughter, Marina. She hopes to produce more livelihood for the community by expanding, designing and producing other bags while keeping faithful to the original concept.

Luntian Bags
Email : luntianlivelihood@gmail.com
Contact : +63 928 505 1683

Their products are also available at these stores:
  • Echostore (Serendra, BGC, Taguig, Metro Manila)
  • The Palms Country Club (Laguna Heights ave., Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila)
  • Bikram Yoga Manila (SendeƱo st. Salcedo village, Makati, Metro Manila)
  • Urban Ashram (Brixton st. Pasig, Mandaluyong branch; Active Fun bldg. BGC, Taguig branch)
  • Yoga Essences & Fitness Center (RBL Place, Banawe st., QC, Metro Manila)

For your next trip to the market or the mall, BYOB!
Go green,


Leveling Up with The Skinny Juicery's 2 Day Detox Program

I have conquered one-day cleanses the past months and so I felt ready to take it a step further by doing a 2-Day Detox Program. It was also very timely because I did it after our Japan food binge where I ate like there was no tomorrow (yikes! don't judge!). Sharing with you my experience with it;

The Skinny Juicery consists of six (6) 350 ml bottles of assorted juice, 2 yogi teas, an insulated bag and a leaflet containing instructions on how to go about the cleanse. The whole 2- Day Super Skinny Detox Cleanse is Php 3,000.00. (exclusive of Delivery Charges depending on your area)

Day 1 Detox Package

You are given the liberty to choose the juices that you want but they recommend to start with something green and drink something citrusy at lunch. Ultimately though, it will depend on you. You can strategize your own cleanse!

Yogi Tea to start off the whole process which took first thing in the morning. Not only does this tea taste and smell amazingly fragrant, it also has little life quotes that will surely inspire you!

Ideally it is nice to start with something green so I chose this green mix (Skinny Green). It's made of kale + spinach + romaine + parsley + celery + apple + lemon. 

Mid morning I had this really yummy Thrilla Vanilla which is basically Almond Milk. It's made of Distilled water + almonds + dates + vanilla bean + sea salt. 

Palm Orange
Apple + Lemon + Pineapple + Mint
This was my lunch that I brought with me to the mall since I had to do a grocery run.

Chocolait Almond
Distilled Water + Almonds + Dates + Sea Salt + Cacao
Gimme anything with chocolate and I won't complain. Drinking this will not make you feel like you're in a cleanse. My son even liked it as he gulped down part of it (anything chocolate-y attracts him!).

I must admit again because of my history of gastritis, I took little amounts of fruits (papaya and banana) and munched on some carrots and cucumber sticks in between the drinks. I Ended my day with the red tonic and yogi tea which knocked me out completely. Zzzzzzzz......

I woke early the next day and  felt recharged so I was bit surprised about that considering I practically just had liquids and small amounts of veggies and fruits.  I started my day with the Yogi DETOX Tea which I was really starting to like. I think I  shall buy some of these tea bags and start making it part of my weekly if not daily habit. 

Loved what it said :" Oneness is achieved by recognizing your self." So deep, very yogi. Hahaha! It was definitely a great way to start the second day. 

I did my usual morning Ashtanga practice and had my first green juice.

Watermelon Juice - Plain and simple. Light, sweet and oh-so-refreshing! which I took on my way to my lunch date.

I taught two barre3 classes and finished my Green Lemonade
Kale + Spinach + Romaine + Parsley + Cucumber + Celery + Apple + Lemon

We had dinner out with my kids after my class so I brought my Queen B with me together with my fruit platter of sliced papaya and melon. 
Almonds + Filtered Water + Dates + Sea Salt + Cacao + Cinnamon + Nutmeg

I gulped down the last bottle of Un-beet-able Red mix of Romaine + Parsley + Cucumber + Celery + Beet + Carrot + Pineapple. I was too exhausted that I didn't need the detox tea to put myself to sleep. I was knocked out from the day's physical activities and the whole cleansing process.


The 2-Day Detox program was tough and pretty intense but I survived *phew*. It is recommended though for more experienced cleansers and not those who are just doing it for the first time. I'm not exactly an expert in the detox catergory but since I've done the 1-Day Program a couple of times, it prepared me for this slightly more rigorous detox program. 

All their tonics taste nothing short of amazing (which makes me think that there's a secret ingredient they add to make it taste great! Hahaha). Kidding aside, it really does not make you feel like you're fasting because it takes out that craving for solid food. Admittedly, I felt bouts of fatigue in between but the bottles fueled me to get through the day. I'm thankful that I tried it and look forward to doing this type of cleansing on a regular basis. Aside from making me less guilty of eating the things I like (which sometimes are not really the best for the body), cleansing regenerates and digestive system and gives it the break it needs. So what are you waiting for?  juice up baby! 



Do it mainly to improve your health... but who knows? You might shed some unwanted pounds too. They didn't call it skinny juice for nothing, right? :) 

The Skinny Juicery
contact no : 0917-3205329
email : skinnyjuiceryph@yahoo.com
instagram : @skinnyjuiceryph



Chronicles of Osaka Part 4 of 5: Osaka on a Shoestring Budget? Street/Market Food Trip!

Osaka is also known for it's street food! This is perfect for those who are on a budget and don't really want to splurge on food. Exploring the food stalls and street food helps you understand the culture deeper... interacting directly with the vendors, seeing the whole process of preparing and cooking the dish, etc. The whole experience just brings you to another level that a restaurant dining experience can't give you. I am quite adventurous when it comes to this so I absolutely love doing food crawls on the street. Sharing with you some of Osaka and Kyoto's well known street food; 

Grilled King Crab Legs at Dotomburi
2 big pieces for 700 yen

Takoyaki literally means fried or grilled octopus or it’s also commonly known as  “octopus balls” .They are dumplings made from a special batter and filled with bits of octopus, pickled ginger and green onions. They are fried on a special cast-iron pan which retains it’s sphere round shape. You will find in almost every corner in the busy streets of Dotonburi and Shinsaibashi

Takoyaki Balls
6 balls for 450 yen

Chutoro at Kuromon Market
One pack is about 900 yen

Soy Donuts from the Kuromon Market
Yummy and healthy (though it is still deep fried) snack

Japanese Pancake with Red Bean Filling

Seared Scallops with Teriyaki Glaze at the Kuromon Market

 Takossisso with octopus and perilla at the Nishiki Market (Kyoto)
Imagine a huge Octopus ball with shiso leaves...very unique and interesting flavor. It will definitely excite your palate. 

Grilled Baby Octopus with Quail Egg (head) at the Nishiki Market

Vanilla and Green Tea Soft Serve Ice Cream
350 yen per cone

There you go! My top street food and delicacy picks in Osaka and Kyoto! Enjoy and Happy Sunday!