Convince others to eat healthy by joining this online recipe competition

‘Make vegetables sexy!’

VEGAN IS HOT Aubergine saute, spicy eggplant stew in with green onion

As the proverb goes, “your body is a temple.” While we owe it to the world to practice responsible or sustainable dining, we owe it to ourselves to eat healthily. Protecting the planet is a cause to save humanity, but before we can contribute to a bigger cause we must help ourselves first.

A recent survey reveals that 58 percent of diners in the Philippines have had major changes in their diet during the health crisis. Believe it or not, despite the increasing appeal to order fast food, Filipino consumers are eating healthier.

Among the respondents, 53 percent have begun to eat more vegetables and fruits, while 43 percent prefer plant-based food.

There are various ways in which we can follow a healthier diet. According to renowned chef Robby Goco, it is all about taking things slow. “You can start by having meatless Mondays! Then do it more frequently,” the acclaimed restaurateur with over 25 brands to his name says. “You can also switch to good carbs, versus eating white bread and white rice. The goal is to have as colorful a plate as possible, by having vegetables be the bulk of your meal.”

When Chef Robby designs his menu, he makes it a point that the protein content pairs well with vegetables. It is among his advocacies to “make vegetables sexy.”

MEAT, BUT WITH HEALTHY COMPONENTS Puchero or sancocho stew popular in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Perú, Brazil, and the Philippines

East-West Seed (EWS) Philippines, an organization that provides innovative services and products centered on uplifting local farmers and growing the agriculture industry, is currently holding a recipe competition aimed to further inspire healthy eating.

“Around the world, the pandemic has brought significant and positive changes to diets and nutrition. It is gratifying to see that we are doing the same here . By consuming more fruits and vegetables, we are making significant improvements to our health and well-being for generations to come,” says Mary Ann Sayoc, public affairs lead for EWS.

Called the “International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV) Recipe Contest,” EWS stays true to its goal of raising awareness on the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables in our daily diets.

The Philippines has one of the lowest per capita consumption of vegetables in Southeast Asia. “We would like to promote increased consumption of vegetables to combat hidden hunger and also encourage more people to grow their own food for increased household food security, especially during this pandemic,” explains Mary Ann.

ADVOCATE FOR A HEALTHY FOOD INDUSTRY Public affairs lead for EWS Mary Ann Sayoc

The call for recipes encourages home cooks to be creative and come up with healthy, new meals that could become widely popular across the country. Participants may also opt to update traditional and staple dishes with a more nutritious spin.

A market leader in research, development, production, and distribution of tropical vegetable seeds, EWS believes that it is essential to discover and introduce new ways of cooking fruits and vegetables to make eating them more interesting and exciting for consumers, especially young ones.

‘With COVID now part of our everyday life, we should consider food to boost our immunity and prevent disease. As the saying goes, “Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”’

“Through the IYFV and cookbook, we hope to discover and share healthy recipes that people would want to try and to include in their everyday meals,” says the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman.

Recipes may be submitted via the website There are five categories in which a participant may submit as many entries as they could, particularly Appetizers, Main Course, Side Dishes, Desserts, and New Traditions. The last classification is old and time-tested recipes given a modern twist by creatively replacing or adding ingredients.

SULTRY SHRIMP Crispy deep fried water cress spicy salad

Submissions must feature one or more locally grown vegetables or fruits and include a high-resolution photo of the food.

Judging the contest are famous cuisinier Chef Robby Goco, registered nutritionist-dietician Jo Sebastian, influencer and rooftop gardener Don Bustamante, The Department of Science and Technology Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) Science Research specialist May Ann Gironella, and EWS’ Mary Ann.

The criteria for judging are flavor, healthy preparation, nutritional profile, and photo presentation, each counting for 25 percent of the total score.

“With COVID now part of our everyday life, we should consider food to boost our immunity and prevent disease. As the saying goes, ‘Let food thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.’ We should harness the anti-inflammatory properties of food,” says renowned chef Robby. “And we know diet can be so important to control comorbidities such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Not to mention that at this time of economic crisis, vegetables are a cheaper way to feed the family!”


EWS has been contributing to the development of the food sector by conducting other cooking shows prior to the pandemic. They have spearheaded the Pinakbet Festivals Cooking Challenges in 2013 and 2014 across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The National Pinakbet Cooking Challenge, a face-to-face event that determines the top pinakbet rendition in the country, also promotes the value of eating a variety of vegetables for good nutrition.

There would be only one winner per category who will receive ₱10,000 cash. Winning recipes will be published in EWS’ special edition digital cookbook. Recipes with honorable mentions will also be included in the e-cookbook. Deadline for submission of entries is on Oct. 22, 2021.

Winners will be announced via EWS’ official Facebook page. The final cookbook will be made available for download to the public following the contest.

As the COVID-19 outbreak started two years ago, EWS went about to reinvent themselves by taking their competitions online. During Nutrition Month, July last year, the group had the #UlamfromMyGarden contest on social media where they challenged gardeners to prepare a tasty and nutritious meal straight from their home gardens.