I have never really been keen on going all veg after a rather traumatic incident back when I was in uni that had surprising repercussions on my health. At the same time, being vegetarian in this country used to mean that your food cost an arm and a leg more than what omnivores would eat – not a very practical lifestyle choice if you take your finances into consideration.
This does not mean, however, that I don’t like vegetables. As a matter of fact, I love my green and leafies, my squashes and roots, all those gourds and pods. Heck. we used to grow fresh veg in our garden when I was a kid – and goodness knows how much I enjoyed the salads and sautes prepared with homegrown produce. And, once in a while, when I feel like I’ve over-porked or have beefed-out or burned out on chicken, an all-veg meal is always a nice change.
After a month in the Bonifacio Global City, my weekday eating habits have changed. I’ve eschewed the bad habit of skipping lunch and running along on two cups of coffee. Instead, I have a sensible noon meal and a sustaining snack in the afternoon. I am not sure if it’s because I’m in good company, but I have a much better appetite now; I guess conviviality and sheer friendliness unmarred by corporate politicking make a good aperitif. But, I digress…
The only downside is that the neighbourhood grocery where we often buy our lunches features a highly meat-centric menu. Even the packed meals offered by nearby convenience stores are all heavy on the protein and carbs. Fortunately, just a block or so away, Juicesabel offers a healthy, veg-friendly alternative that is delicious, satisfying, and surprisingly pocket-friendly.
The brainchild of a pair of athletic vegetarians who believe that healthy eating – and, by extension, healthy living – doesn’t have to be too pricey for people to do. That in mind, Juicesabel features an array of raw, cold-pressed juices, lunch specials, sandwiches, wraps, and even desserts made fresh all the time with locally-sourced ingredients and are all priced most reasonably.
The shop itself is a tiny little spot along Kalayaan Ave. at the juncture that serves as the border between Makati and Taguig. (Walk just a few steps away, and you’ll find yourself entering the BGC via 31st Street near Net Plaza) Inside, you’ll be greeted by a tiny bar outfitted with two stools in a narrow space. It’s kind of tight, so dining in isn’t exactly an option – indeed, many patrons would rather call in for delivery or pop in for takeaway – but it’s a neat little spot and the vertical garden on one wall adds a certain charm.
There is a glass-fronted fridge on the left when you come in and you can see what juices are available. Juices are made fresh and some may not be available owing to the seasonality of the fruit or vegetables included in the mix. (Now that is what I call going locavore!) The juice menu is a three level thing: novice juices feature rather conventional-sounding fruit and veg blends – palate-friendly for those used to sweet, commercial juice mixes, but are nevertheless healthy and delicious. The advanced selection gets a bit hairy, what with the addition of stronger-tasting ingredients such as spinach and ampalaya (bitter melon) as well as pure chlorophyll for extra nutrition. Looking at the pro section of the menu, I have to admit that it wasn’t for the faint of heart; reading the list of ingredients for juices named Veggie Galore and the Vegcredible Hulk made me think of chopped salads.
I’m not quite ready for the advanced and pro selections, as yet. (I still prefer to crunch on my salads as opposed to drinking them.) But the two juices I sampled from the novice menu were excellent. The Carrot Cooler shown above is a mix of carrots, apples, ginger, and pineapple. It was a vitamin bomb that took much of its flavour and sweetness from the pineapple – you do get a zingy hint of ginger towards the end – and it was pretty much what sustained me on that awful evening last Wednesday when I had to trek from BGC down to Shaw Blvd. (a 6km walk) to grab a bus along with many other stranded commuters. It kept me hydrated and boosted my energy levels sans caffeine.
Last night, I grabbed another bottle – Aloha Bliss, this time – to sip throughout the two-hour traffic jam on the way home. This one was a mix of papaya, pineapple, apple, and cucumber and tasted primarily of papaya. True to its name, I daresay it helped stave off the peevishness as I was totally relaxed on the bus home.
Incidentally, regardless of level, all juices come in 350 mL bottles – a third more than other local juicers’ – and cost P 150.00 (US$ 3.34) per bottle. You could also ask about the juice cleanses which come in one-day, two-day, and three-day packages featuring a selection of juices and teas to help you detox.
Since I knew I was in for another long-haul commute, I also ordered Juicesabel’s vegan burger (P 80.00 = US$ 1.78) to take away. This wee monster of a sarnie features a tofu patty that tastes surprisingly meaty and had some serious, almost beefy heft to it even without animal protein. The patty is tucked into a dairy-free bun with a nutty sweetness to it, layered with fresh Romaine, onions, ripe tomato, and alfalfa sprouts. Zesty condiments were drizzled in for extra oomph – et voila: a cruelty-free burger that puts your local fast-food flogger’s wares to shame. Paired with the refreshing juice, it made a satisfying supper on the run – and one that I wouldn’t mind having again.
Juicesabel All Vegan Cafe: 3800 Kalayaan Avenue, Barangay Pinagkaisahan, Makati. For inquiries or deliveries, call 0906-32DETOX (33869).