This was my dinner last night.
I had a Three Mushroom Pizza Bread Slice (about 1/2 a slice of bruschetta) with Curried Cauliflower Fritters and a mustard dip sauce on the side. I know it isn’t the prettiest looking meal you’ve ever seen but what do you expect from the food court (and from my iPhone camera)? Yes, you heard me. FOOD COURT. I didn’t think I’d find a “healthy veggie meal” at the food court, but I did. It was difficult to go through every food kiosk in the mall and not be tempted to go for the high-calorie, high-fat and carbo-loaded platters that were displayed prominently on the counters. After my challenging 3-month, 21-pound weight loss (a story I will tell in a separate post), tightening my blinders to focus only on “healthier meals” were doubly difficult to do in a food court setting.
Alright friends who’ve known me for decades (yes, you know who you are), I can hear your sneers behind your computer screens! Yes you heard right, I made HEALTHIER CHOICES! Something that would never have rolled off of my tongue a year ago. Healthy choice? YAWN… Yes, that would’ve been my reaction. Alas, yes, I am getting old. And I felt the aging in my body last year when I grew increasingly tired and sluggish, and when viruses just kept sneaking back into my system because the body didn’t want to fight them anymore.
Ok, so back to the food court… While the M troop made a beeline for the nearest KFC, I wondered where I could possibly grab a bite that I wouldn’t regret eating after. That was a challenge! I went around the loop of kiosks twice going back and forth reading their menu boards and looking at their food displays to find food that were both appetizing but were not as “sinful” as the other available fare. And then I found it! Right smack in the middle was a C’ Verde Big Chill kiosk that didn’t just serve fruit slushes and juices, but it served hot meals as well! And not the usual greasy, fatty, oily kinds that you would expect to come out of fast food-type of stalls. They had meals that were prepared mostly out of vegetables, fruits and were mostly either vegetable-oil fried or grilled. Do I hear more sneers and jeers? YES, I now eat FRUITS and VEGETABLES! Ok, maybe not all kinds yet in case you decide you want to invite me to your PETA group all of a sudden. I have nothing against eating animal meat, in fact I still eat a lot of chicken and fish. I eat beef or pork maybe twice in a month just so I don’t miss out. But the choice to eat less of animal fats is again, just a healthier choice that I made to keep the pounds off and my calorie intake down.
Now where was I? Oh yes, Big Chill. Ok, so I was pleasantly surprised by the offerings that C’ Verde had because I now felt I had a safe haven for food whenever the M’s decide they want to hang out at the food court. They actually had a lot of different meals to choose from and at very affordable prices. I got their value meal which also came with a fruit slush of my choice, all for P119! I was intrigued by their Vegan Ham, Tomato and Lettuce sandwich (I think that’s what it was called, not sure :P) simply because I was curious to find out just how Vegan Ham would’ve tasted. But since it was my first time to try them out, I didn’t want to go that far just yet. The meal I ordered, was portioned just right for me, as I really eat very small portions now that my stomach size has reduced significantly. Anything bigger than what I had in my tray would’ve caused some serious digestion problems after. I had a medium sized bruschetta-type bread layered with cheese, tomato sauce and three kinds of mushrooms (shiitake, button and some other mushroom I forgot). Alongside it were deep-fried curry-flavored cauliflower fritters with a mustard dipping sauce. Not that many florettes provided but then again, it was a value meal. The food tasted surprisingly good (though my son Nicky rated the cauliflower fritters a 6.5, I thought it was about an 8) and was also quite filling especially when paired with the melon fruit slush I got. I tried to keep myself from taking sneak peeks at the M’s plates filled with the original recipe chicken drumsticks and their choices of sidings. Temptation is all around me, literally! But I give myself a pat on the back for staying focused on my food tray and actually enjoying the meal I had chosen.
Before you judge me and start saying, “who are you kidding, you had a carb-meal loaded with cheese and your cauliflower side dish was deep-fried, not steamed!”, let me bring you back to the title of my post. This is about making healthier choices. And finding that healthier choice amidst a plethora of grease, vetsin (MSG), salt, sugar and animal fat-filled meals was a difficult one to make! I could’ve decided to go the extreme: Eat whatever the M’s were eating (which I REALLY wouldn’t have minded if I didn’t have to think about calories and cholesterol and the like), or not eat at all! But thanks to C’ Verde, I didn’t have to make that choice!
I visited their website just to get to know a bit more about their other food offerings, and this is how described their company:
“The Big Chill also operates Manila’s first vegetarian quick-service restaurant called Cafeteria Verde… It serves meals that are as filling as they are healthy.
Those who do not like eating vegetables are in for a surprise once they take a bite of any of Cafeteria Verde’s meals. There are other interesting and delicious recipes in the Cafeteria Verde menu that are worth trying like the nachos with loaded garden salsa, zucchini sticks, mozzarella panini, caramelized onions and cheese panini, French bread pizza, veggie burger slider, and paad Thai. The rice meals are also enticing, such as the tofu, mushrooms and asparagus rice topping, tofu curry rice topping, Mongolian veggie rice, and layered bean curd with rice. Ask anyone who knows how to cook and that person will affirm that vegetables actually taste as great as they are healthy. To get the most out of vegetables, these have to be prepared and served fresh always.
The uniqueness of Cafeteria Verde lies in the fresh vegetable ingredients that are used to make its appetizers, rice meals, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and other recipes. Deep-frying is done using vegetable oil to maintain every recipe’s nutritious quality.”
After reading this, I realized that they were talking to me when they wrote about people who didn’t like eating vegetables! I saw that they offered also Paad Thai and Caramelized Onion and Cheese paninis, so maybe I should try those on my next visit. Over-all I could say that the first encounter with them was a pleasant one, and I definitely would go back to try their other offerings. More importantly, at least now I didn’t have to be so scared of having dinner at the food court. I just hope they don’t decide to close shop anytime soon 😛
*Note: The above post is an unpaid review by me. I was not commissioned by the abovementioned company to write about them. Everything written here is my honest review of their food and my recommendations are not in any way a promotion of their establishment.