Isabel Roces says going vegan is not hard
KITCHEN SPY - KITCHEN SPY By Heidi Ng () - September 16, 2004 - 12:00am
I was at The Farm at San Benito some weeks ago and tried their plant-based, primarily raw-foods buffet lunch. It was a pleasant surprise. It was fun exploring this unique and satisfying cuisine. Several of the dishes were actually palatable and delicious in a different way, so being the Kitchen Spy that I am, I got curious. I am sure some readers are as interested as I am since some of the big Hollywood stars are vegetarians, and most of them do have desirable bodies. Alicia Silverstone, Natalie Portman, Woody Harrelson, Angela Bassett, Barbie Xu, Shania Twain, Kim Basinger and Pamela Anderson are some of the famous personalities who are vegetable fans. Sporting greats, such as Olympian of the Century Carl Lewis and tennis champion Martina Navratilova, are vegetarians as well. Here at the homefront, top model Isabel Roces is a staunch supporter of educating people about the health benefits of going vegetarian. She even did the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) ad campaign pro bono and picture of her cabbage-covered body even landed on the front pages of major newspapers. She will be the model spokesperson for the Asian campaign of PETA.

This full-time model has been a vegetarian for 11 years now. Her face and name are familiar because she has come out in ads such as Nizoral, Smart, Axe, Block and White and Nestlé Ice Cream. She has also done shoots in Hong Kong and Thailand and is the image model of Penshoppe ladies. She was even sent to Croatia to shoot a Palmolive commercial.

Isabel is a favorite of the country’s top designers. She seems to be on the ramp of every noteworthy fashion show. People in the industry praise her professionalism and punctuality.

Even if she is considered to be one of the in-demand models, she does not let it go to her head. She is constantly trying to be a better person. She finished school with a degree in interior design and she gives herself five to seven more years in the modeling world. She says that coming prepared for a shoot, professionalism and knowing her craft count as ingredients in her success.

She was a vegetarian first before becoming a model. Maybe this is one of the reasons why she has an enviable body. Her mother is a vegan so she was exposed to this lifestyle early on. She shares with me some misconceptions about vegetarians, such as they only eat boiled and raw foods, that you can’t get protein from vegetables, you get tired easily when you are vegetarian and that you will get sickly if you are.

"I have never been hospitalized in 11 years and only gotten the occasional flu," she shares. "My skin cleared up. I feel lighter. I have no love handles. Sometimes, one feels lethargic because he has not digested his food well."

Despite being very convinced on the benefits of going vegetarian, Isabel has never forced the issue on her friends. "It is an individual choice. I have nothing against people who eat meat," she says emphatically.

Part of her advocacy is to let people know that going vegetarian is not as hard as people think. There are numerous establishments that offer vegetarian fare and airlines and restaurants have acknowledged this lifestyle, proven by the choices they put in their menu. There are also several vegetarian restaurants, like Greens or Bodhi.

In the Roces household, they gave several cookbooks to their cook and she has made fantastic dishes with wheat gluten or meat substitutes. They have adobo, kare kare, arroz caldo – all vegetarian-style. To prove further that vegetables are not boring, Isabel shares with Philippine STAR readers dishes that are easy to make, surprisingly delightful, pleasurable and satisfying. Have the breakfast scramble in the morning and meal at lunch or dinner with blueberry pancakes. Happy exploring!
1 red onion, quartered
1 green bell pepper, seeded and quartered
2 cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 large fresh ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 cups (500ml) canned tomato juice
2 tsps. each chopped fresh basil and parsley
2 Tbsps. olive oil
juice of one lime, or 6 calamansi
salt and pepper, to taste
hot sauce (optional)
2 Tbsps. fresh spring onions, chopped for garnish (optional)

Place all ingredients, except the salt and pepper, hot sauce and spring onions in a food processor or blender, in batches if necessary, and pulse to blend. The soup should be partially puréed but still slightly chunky. Add salt and pepper and hot sauce, to taste, if desired, then transfer to a large bowl. Stir, cover and chill for several hours. Ladle the chilled soup into bowls and garnish with spring onions, if desired. Makes four servings.
Lentils With Spinach And Roasted Peppers
4 Tbsps. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
6 ozs. lentils
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
iodized salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb. spinach, washed
1 roasted pepper (see below for recipe) for garnishing

Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and sauté for two minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the onion and garlic are softened, but not browned. Add the wine and boil for 10 seconds.

Rinse the lentils in cold water and add them to the saucepan, along with the bay leaf and rosemary. Cover with water until about an inch above the lentils. Simmer covered for 35 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the spinach in the pan on top of the lentils, cover and heat for 30 seconds. Stir the spinach into the lentils, then stir the remaining olive oil. Ladle the lentils into bowls. Place half a roasted pepper (see recipe) in the center of each dish and garnish with torn basil leaves. Makes four servings.
Roasted Peppers
2 large red bell peppers
olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
16 fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
iodized salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 small tomatoes, halved

Halve each pepper lengthwise; remove the central white core and seeds, but leave the green stalk. Rub the outside of the peppers with olive oil and place on a baking sheet, cut side up. Cut each clove of garlic into two or three slivers and place in the bottom of the pepper halves. Cover with basil leaves and season with salt and pepper. Place four small tomato halves, flat side up, in each pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a little more salt and pepper. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until the peppers have softened. Makes four servings.
Vegan Blueberry Pancakes
2 cups white flour

3 Tbsps. sugar

3 Tbsps. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 cups soy milk (preferably vanilla)

3 Tbsps. canola oil

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and sift together. Add the soy milk and oil and mix until the batter is smooth. Ladle the batter onto a large hot frying pan. Add frozen blueberries. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Serve with fresh blueberries. Makes four servings.
Breakfast Scramble 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. firm tofu, drained and crumbled
1 tomato, diced
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
2 spring onions, minced

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and fry until browned. Add the tofu, tomato, turmeric and garlic salt and sauté for five minutes. Add spring onions during the last minute of cooking. Makes four servings.

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