July cooking (how to get your kids to eat more veggies)

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The Bible never said Paul planted pineapples in Philippi … wonder how much a kilo of pineapples cost back home? (Dh 1 = Php 12.82)

Well, it’s nearing the end of another month of  … cooking – what else? And. Late night despedida get-togethers that stretch into the wee hours of the morn. Not being a party person, it got to the point where I truly wondered how much more could my body take. Anyway, we (the bod and my mind, that is) are  back to our usual sked (except for the coffee drinking on Friday nights which the hubby is protesting against, ha, ha) because frankly, getting near to the half-century mark has not been fun. What that means is that yesterday, on the 126th anniversary of Van Gogh’s suicide, one of my closest friends flew home for good. Coincidence? I sure don’t know … but July 29 is now forever marked in my memory.

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July brought an abundance of mangoes courtesy of our gardener Jakat

Seasons come and seasons go and this season of having children at home promises to be over in several years’ time that even though July was such a busy month, I tried to muster enough energy to give nourishing food at the table. I am so thankful we did not go home this year because with the two elder boys at home for their school holidays, we are having more family meals. Below are the meals I cooked for the vedy, vedy hot July of 2016 (parusa ang maligo – the water temperature is above 40C!)

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Pancit remains a non-favorite at our house (well, I started cooking it only after 20 years of marriage) but it provides a lovely excuse for inundating my children’s digestive system with roughage/fiber otherwise known as vegetables 

I’ve been wanting to post about how I get my kids to eat veggies but somehow never get around to it. Hopefully, the pics tell my story ….

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This is left-over salmon (yeah, I like cooking in big batches instead of tingi-tingi). To make it more palatable for the next meal, I added a bit of soup … okay, I thinned down a sauce to make it more watery, er, soupy …

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… then sprinkled veggies on top after turning off the heat. Doesn’t it look appetizing?

Because I tend to cook large amounts of food, I recycle food a lot. The challenge is in getting kids to eat the same food again so for me this becomes a perfect time to insert veggies …

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I usually cook a kilo or two of steak so that there’s meat on hand for veggie dishes after I’ve served steak as the main dish. Here, I am recycling once again (steak that is served as steak usually is not cut up into small strips)

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These are expensive back home so habang can-afford pa eh sige-sige tayo, he, he …

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After sauteing and adding Knorr garlic sauce (which I again watered down into soup), adding veggies turns it into another dish! What’s more, the prep time has been halved because the meat is already cooked!

Of course it’s not only when I recycle that we eat veggies.

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Adding Knorr garlic sauce (not watered down this time) and a sprinkle of green onions to fried salmon gives it a non-traditional flavor

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Chopped up cucumber is a perennial favorite of mine – so easy to prepare, ha, ha … Plus, it gives me time to prepare a juice of cucumber, celery and ginger so there are good enzymes from raw veggies in our tummies

Pancit is not the only dish I cooked for the first time after being married for 20 years. I’ve been looking at the banana flowers for the longest time but refrained from cooking buying them because the hubby kept on telling me that they’re magulang na, in other words – too mature.

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Finally could not resist my hankering for kilawin/adobong puso-ng-saging

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It was as yummy as I dreamed it to  be (syempre! I even watched a YouTube video before making my first attempt)

Of course old-time favorites figured in the menu, not least because they’re easy to prepare.

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Even though they taste it often enough, shrimp has not become a favorite with my kids – maybe because they have no idea how expensive it is back home? or maybe because they’re tired of it? In any case, shrimp dishes in our home always contain a veggie of some sort. 

Hey, much as I want to be a vegetarian, it’s hard to do so when you’re homeschooling and feeding a family of six that includes two male teenagers with suction cups in their stomachs. So here’s another meat dish with veggies that we ate in July.

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Anyway, here are my rules for getting kids to eat veggies:

  1. Cut them up into smaller chunks when including them in meat dishes
  2. Serve them often (as salads or on their own)
  3. Juice them.
  4. Put them in soups.
  5. Put them in meat dishes.
  6. If you’re going to serve a vegetable dish such as ginisang ampalaya or chop suey, never ever offer an alternative.
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Salads like this don’t need an expensive vinaigrette – why should you make those food processing companies richer when you can make your own? We just use olive oil (sold cheaply here), lemon and salt pepper to taste. Sometimes, we just eat them plain

The easiest way to get children to eat vegetables, of course, is to delay the introduction of sugary food and drinks until their preschool years. This is easier said than done but believe me, I’ve seen children who are not used to chips, donuts, ice-cream and other snacks readily available in the city get excited over and devour a merienda of plain yam or cassava (I can’t remember which), otherwise known as kamote. 

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Veggies in Campbell’s soup

Finally, never underestimate the power of modeling. If you don’t eat vegetables, chances are your kids will not acquire a taste for vegetables. So. Eat up. And give the impression that you’re excited to do so in the name of health. Just remember: talking about its benefits won’t work if your children never see you eating vegetables and enjoying their taste. Still. If all else fails, chop up some veggies …

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When chopping up veggies becomes a lifestyle, you can do so in a matter of minutes!

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…. cook some bacon …

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… buy some white sauce …

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… and mix them into spaghetti pasta …

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What kid can resist bacon?

Maybe white sauce is an acquired taste … it’s actually only now that the hubby likes spaghetti in white sauce aka carbonara and then again I’m not sure if that’s an answered prayer. In any case, July 2016 for us is most memorable for … tada! PAN DE SAL

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