How To Make Your Kids Love Filipino Food
Feeding kids can be tricky: let them pick their food and they’ll choose junk, give them healthy food and they won’t touch it. If you’re a parent, you’re probably familiar with the tantrums that come with every meal. But it doesn’t have to be that way, especially if you know your Filipino food. Our dishes are naturally healthy and flavorful, so there’s sure to be something your kids will love.
If they’re really picky, you can always tweak the old Filipino food recipes to match their tastes. Sometimes all it needs is a little extra spice or a change in presentation. Still confused? Here are some things you can do to make your kids love Filipino cuisine, plus some recipes you can try.
Plan your meals together
Have your kids help you with your weekly meal plan. You can choose dinner one some days and let them decide the rest of the week. To help them make healthy choices, let them pick Filipino cooking recipes from a cookbook. The point is to make them feel involved. If they know they’re helping put the meals together, they’ll be more open to your ideas.
When planning your meals, make sure to keep the right balance between your choice and your child’s. Don’t plan for a meat dish the day after they choose pork chops or pot roast. Since the point is to give them control, try not to limit them with your own choices. Let them take their pick first, then add in your own picks to fit around them.
Suit their tastes
Take your cue from the junk foods your child likes. Does he always pick cookies and candies, or does he seem to like salty chips and crackers? If they have a sweet tooth (most kids do), sweeten up your old recipes or serve them sweet dishes such as tocino for breakfast or ginataan for afternoon snacks. If they like things a little spicy, add a couple of chilies to your soup or let them season to their own taste.
Some kids have constantly changing preferences, which might make it a little harder. If your kid likes sweets one day and barbecue the next, stock up on sauces and dips. That way, when they don’t like the food, they can always grab their favorite sauce and turn it into something they like. Here’s a quick dish that’s easy to customize to any child’s tastes.
½ kg sausage, minced
½ kg ground beef
1 c bread crumbs
2 tsp curry powder
2 onions, chopped
½ c milk
1 c water
salt, pepper and parsley
¼ c Worcestershire sauce
½ c tomato sauce
2 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp coffee powder
½ c butter
1/c packed brown sugar
Procedure: in a bowl, combine the beef, sausage, breadcrumbs, curry powder, onions, salt, pepper, and parsley. Lightly beat the egg and add to the mixture. Add the water and milk and mix well. Grease a baking dish or loaf pan, then pour in the meat mixture. Bake on moderate heat for about 30 minutes or until the meat is just done. Meanwhile, mix all the sauce ingredients and boil together until thick.. Pour over the half-cooked loaf, leaving some for basting, and bake for another 45 minutes. Baste once in a while.
Most of the time, presentation makes all the difference between foods that children love and foods that go uneaten. Make your food more appetizing by garnishing with their favorite foods, such as cheese slices or hot dog bits. You can even let them design the garnish themselves. Look for Filipino recipes that can accommodate colorful ingredients such as peas, bell peppers and corn kernels. You can even add a bit of food color if the recipe allows.
Fruits make great garnishes for Filipino desserts recipes. Just cut up one of their favorite fruits and layer it over ice cream, cakes, or pies. Better yet, serve a variety of fresh fruits for dessert-it’s healthier, and it doesn’t take much preparation time.
If your child is being particularly difficult, try giving them incentives in exchange for eating healthy foods. During meal planning, for example, you can let them pick dessert if they promise to eat their vegetables. Alternatively, you can keep a stack of their favorite desserts and give it to them when they eat right. Don’t overdo it, though-they may get used to getting treats and only eat healthy when there’s something in return.
Carlo Villamayor is the owner and co-author of the Filipino food blog, Kusina.ph. A devoted cook, he makes it his personal mission to spread the joy of Filipino recipes with food lovers the world over. Bon appetit!