CONTEST CLOSED: Find Out Why Got Heart’s Earth Kitchen is More Than Just a Healthier Alternative (And Win GC’s!)

By Mikka Wee/November 3, 2013

150 23

With so many “health-related” documentaries and news articles scaring the bacon out of all of us, it isn’t surprising to see restaurants now offering healthier options on their menus. A growing number of vegetarian establishments have started popping up like mushrooms around Metro Manila, with some continually pushing the envelope on what it means to serve healthy food.

Earth Kitchen is a project of the Got Heart foundation.

Earth Kitchen isn’t your ordinary healthy  restaurant. It’s a project of Got Heart, a foundation that develops grassroots social enterprises among marginalized farmers and indigenous communities all over the Philippines. Got Heart focuses on natural farming technology and advocates its use as a viable alternative to chemical farming. Over the past three years, Got Heart has been working with a number of farming communities, yet their efforts have always been at a disadvantage due to unfair and unjust market prices.

j

The Got Heart foundation decided to open their flagship store (most of the ingredients used in Earth Kitchen can be purchased here) along White Plains, Katipunan last November 2012 to help solve the problem of insufficient market presence and penetration. Earth Kitchen was soon built right after to accommodate more farming communities that need aid. “Earth Kitchen was mainly borne out of our desire to help local farmers and share the stories of our indigenous communities through food,” says Melissa Yeung, one of the Earth Kitchen partners. “While we were at it, we decided to make our dishes hit that sweet mark between ‘tasty and healthy’ as an alternative to eating ‘yummy but greasy’ and ‘healthy but yucky’ food. Hopefully, we [have succeeded at] doing just that.”

Melissa shared that what makes Earth Kitchen stand out and set itself apart from other “healthy” restaurants is that it is still continually growing and evolving with the help of the Got Heart farming communities and good old Mother Earth. “We try to bring out the natural flavors of the earth, while making sure that as much as possible that the sources and the processing of our ingredients remain sustainable,” says Melissa.

Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it has to be all-vegetarian.

Though Earth Kitchen sounds like a restaurant that Captain Planet and the Planeteers put together, it is not a vegetarian restaurant. Earth Kitchen serves a lot of veggie-based dishes, but the real benefit comes from the opportunity it provides guests to eat healthy food that’s devoid of chemicals and harsh insecticides. Plus, each meal also helps the cause of our marginalized farmers.

f

Earth Kitchen Chefs David and JR are the plating masterminds behind the menu. Their dishes are beautiful as well as tasty, overflowing with color and providing a refreshing take different from all the Foie this and Truffle that that everyone’s been going crazy for. “We wanted it to look natural and unpretentious, just like how nature is,” Melissa explains.

The goal for Earth Kitchen is to serve food “that has heart.” Ingredients such as edible flowers, mushrooms, and other greens are sourced from the Got Heart farms in Tarlac and partner farms in Benguet and Bukidnon. Earth Kitchen also does not use dory in their Fish Tacos. Instead, they use Parrot Fish (Loro) because  they’re both locally-sourced and cultivated in a sustainable manner.

A lot of care and attention go into Earth Kitchen’s dishes. They also stay true to the spirit of their fresh ingredients, resulting in interesting twists to their creations. For example, their Goat Cheese Ice Cream retains a unique powdery character due to the texture of the goat cheese. It’s an unusual, though not unpleasant, surprise.

Check out some of Earth Kitchen’s dishes below.

Watermelon and Rocket Salad: Organic/Naturally Produced Arugula, Edible Flowers, Pili Nuts, Local Feta Cheese, Balsamic Vinaigrette (PHP 245)

Pumpkin and Goat’s Cheese Paccheri: Goat’s Cheese, Roasted Pumpkin, Pili Nuts, Bacon (optional) (PHP 310)

Mushroom Spring Roll: Organic/Naturally Produced Shiitake Mushrooms, Herbs and Greens, Lime Hoisin Sauce (PHP 280)

Fish and Roasted Sesame Tacos: Loro, Salad Greens, Cucumber, Seaweed, Edible Flowers, Roasted Sesame Dressing (PHP 240)

Goat’s Cheese – Frozen Cheese Cake: Goat’s Cheese Ice Cream, Wild Honey, Dried Figs, Cashew Nuts (PHP 220)

l

Earth  Kitchen was created to help sustain the livelihood of farmers by showcasing their produce.

Earth Kitchen is a restaurant dedicated to helping local communities, above everything else. Their dishes are specifically crafted in order to showcase these farmers’ produce and thus, create a demand that will sustain their livelihood. For more information on Earth Kitchen, visit and like their page on Facebook. Also, If you want to help, and at the same time enjoy healthy and tasty dishes, give their restaurant a try.

Still not convinced that healthy food can be delicious? Now’s your chance to try it out for yourself. We’re giving away 3 Earth Kitchen gift certificates worth PHP 1,000 each to three lucky readers.

How to Qualify

  1. Like and share this post on Facebook or Twitter (or both!).
  2. You must be following us on Twitter (we will check!).
  3. You must be living in the Philippines.

How to Win

  1. In the comments section below, answer this question: How would you make ampalaya more appetizing to eat? Limit answer to one idea per entry.
  2. Don’t forget to leave your full name and email address so that we can get in touch with you if you win.
  3. Multiple entries are not allowed.
  4. Contest is only open to residents of the Philippines.
  5. Winners will be announced on Monday, November 11, 2013.

Mikka Wee

Managing Editor

Mikka Wee is a happy little hobbit who loves to eat, but is allergic to exercise. Armed with a heart for travel, she likes to go on random adventures and book spontaneous flights. If she's not hunting for the next seat sale, Mikka likes to read, write in her blog, cuddle with her dog Rocket, and make sandcastles on the beach. See More.

  • Patrick Dale

    use it as garnish to your fruit salad! :DDD

  • Ericka Oyales

    Mix it with chicken and oyster sauce! (Ericka Oyales, erickaoyales@gmail.com)

  • Sharlyn Guevan

    will do the usual salting and wrap it with bacon and cheese

    Sharlyn Guevan
    sharlynmaeguevan@yahoo.com

  • Lawrence San Diego

    I’ll stuff ampalaya with rice, beans, greens, cheese, sour cream and ground beef. Ampalaya burrito! :D

    lawrence.sandiego@gmail.com

  • Nathaniel George Mounayer

    I don’t have a twitter account :( but nevertheless, here’s my two cents. I would simply pickle the ampalaya to cut through the bitterness. I still want a little bit of it but the pickling would balance it with a little sweetness and sourness, plus the natural bitterness and you have got a delicious item to use in so many ways.

  • Robert Jonathan Chan

    maybe I will boil it first to remove some bitter taste, then add some cream cheese stuffing mix with crunchy bacon, cilantro and some chili then wrap it in lumpia wrapper just like the dynamite chili instead it’s ampalaya

    Robert Jonathan Chan
    robertjonathanchan88@yahoo.com

  • tutzy

    Cut the ampalaya and remove the pit and seeds, then cut diagonally. Mash with salt and squeeze the bitter juice. Wash well in running water, squeeze dry. Add onion (cooked shrimps is an option). Prepare vinaigrette (vinegar, olive oil, sugar or honey, salt and pepper). Combine well with the ampalaya. Refrigerate (serve cold). Garnish with tomato wedges just before serving. [susan chua toots_ph@yahoo.com]

  • Ma. Clarice Lao

    I soak ampalaya with calamansi. It removes the bitter taste. Ofcourse, cut it to the thinnest slices add lots of egg then saute. it’s fast, simple and healthy..

    Ma. Clarice Lao
    maclaricezlao@gmail.com

  • marge888

    Since ampalaya is good for the skin I think I will try making it as a fritata by cooking tfirst in boiling water to remove the bitterness afterward dicing it to small pieces with tomato, onion maybe some ham or cook bacon and of course some beaten egg. Then the kids will think that it’s just bell pepper.

    Margaret S. Chan
    compromise88@yahoo.com

  • Mike De Guzman

    cut them into 2-3 inch pieces, scoop out the seeds, and blanch in hot water… stuff with a mixture of ground pork, minced onions, vermicelli noodles, worcestershire sauce, fish sauce & black pepper… steam until meat is cooked or add to a clear soup made of chicken stock, garlic & onions and serve with minced spring onion…

    Mike De Guzman
    pinakadalisay@gmail.com

  • Nicole Guevarra

    The sauteed ampalaya with egg should be served with bacon. Nothing goes wrong with bacon. =)))

    Nicole Guevarra
    nicsguevara@gmail.com

  • benitoastorga

    Mix with Bacon!
    Philip Benito L. Astorga
    thebenastorga@gmail.com

  • Daniela de Gracia

    Since ampalaya is extremely bitter, maybe it can be used as part of a siding like grilled ampalaya for chicken tikka masala along with grilled tomatoes and zucchini. Dipping those grilled ampalaya sticks into the garlic yogurt dip can add more flavor to it :) of course preparation would require rubbing salt onto the ampalayas then rinsing it to let out the bitterness! :) then dry it for the grilling process :)

  • Angeli Antonio

    I think cutting ampalaya into really thin slices and then mixing it in with lots of egg will do the trick!

    Angeli Antonio
    angeliantonio92@gmail.com

  • Ian Carlo T. Zuniga

    Deep-fried stuffed ampalaya with sauteed beef, shrimp, carrots, onions, mushrooms then topped with cheese! One of my favorites! :D

    Ian Carlo Zuniga
    ictz21@yahoo.com

  • Robert Ng

    I used to hate ampalaya. But with some tricks I learned from my Granny (God bless her soul), I turned my most hated veggie into one of my weekly must-haves. Before you let your imagination run free, make your ‘ampalaya’ ready by slicing the gourd in half, scooping out the seeds and inner flesh and then soaking it in water with some salt in it. This reduces the bitterness of the vegetable. Soak for 10-20 minutes and then wash under running water. Now you’re ready to whip up some ampalaya munchies.

    As an appetizer or snack:

    slice the ampalaya into thin slices. Drain off water and then for each slice, dredge them in flour and then dip them in a corn starch batter and deep fry them. Once they’re golden brown, remove from oil, put them on paper towels and then serve these crunchy babies with a garlic -mayo, wasabi-mayo or garlic-cream cheese dip.

    Save the left over slices so you can use as topping on your pandesal veggie pizza.

    Pasta Dish.

    Add some crunch and character in your pesto pasta by chopping up some ampalaya bits and sprinkling them over the dish.

    Va-Va-Voom! Veggie Burger.

    Process ampalaya slices and mushrooms in a food processor together with some carrots, onions and bell peppers. Then mix in some ground cheddar cheese and form into patties. Coat with bread crumbs and fry until done.Now you have a veggie burger that’s not so boring and juicy.

  • Zerah Francia

    My mom makes ensaladang ampalaya. It’s made of ampalaya (washed and cut) red onions, tomatos, itlog na maalat, shredded tinapa and vinegar. Tossed together and then sometimes you can add a hint of calamansi for added tang.

    Zerah Francia
    kristinafrancia@gmail.com

  • regst

    Sauté in butter with garlic and bacon, splash with whole cream, then sprinkle with some oregano and thyme to finish off. :)
    -Frances Regine Tan
    emailfrancestan@gmail.com

  • Angel

    I would use a good amount of Bragg amino acid ( a healthy replacement for Knorr seasoning) as my flavor enhancer while I saute ampalaya with ground pork.

  • jeni villaraza

    Recently, my mom got diagnosed with diabetes so we have become more conscious of what we’ve been eating. Friends have recommended to add ampalaya to her diet so we’ve been experimenting on it and my fave is the simple ampalaya patties. We soak ampalaya in water and a bit of salt for 20 minutes. we then drain it, add flour, water, pepper, seasoning & beaten egg to it and make patties to fry. You can either eat as ulam for lunch or dinner or make into an ampalaya burger sandwich for snacks. Aside from cooking as patties, you can also make it into balls to make into creamy spicy garlic ampalaya balls for the picky eaters. :)

    Jeni Villaraza
    jeni.villaraza@gmail.com

  • marianne

    im bothered the pictures are sort of blurry and noisy :(
    they’re still great pictures, styling and composition-wise, i just needed to voice that out :) hehe

  • tom magno

    grate the ampalaya and soak in salted water for 15 mins. then marinate with marinade of choice or instead of marinate, put greek yogurt like tzatziki, instead of using cucumber, use ampalaya. (angelito magno adlmagno@gmail.com)
    by the way, are the chairs in one of the pictures plastic? how ironic?

  • janine

    Everything is better with chocolate. Ampalayas included. ;) Dehydrated ampalayas dipped in luscious dark chocolate. Vanilla ice cream is optional.

    Janine Ngo
    janine.ngo@gmail.com