No one ever said that helping kids become healthy and competent eaters was easy. Nearly every parent and caregiver faces feeding challenges and concerns, and nearly all parents want their child or teen to be adequately nourished, not over or undernourished, in order to grow and develop normally.
Evidence indicates that eating enough vegetables and fruits is a marker of good nutrition. However, the strong flavors of some vegetables make them more challenging to eat for some kids’ palates.
Let me introduce our local leafy vegetables that are cheaper than other vegetables.
Choices of affordable healthy food
- Malunggay – or Moringa. The leaves are a rich source of Beta carotene, Iron, Vitamin C, Potassium and Protein. It contains oil that acts as a natural balm to heal wounds, allergies, and other skin disorders. In the Philippines, malunggay is now known as a miracle vegetable. It can be added to chicken tinola, lumpia shanghai, burgers, nilaga, vegetable chopseuy, and any meat and chicken dishes to increase the nutrients.
- Chili Pepper Leaves or Dahon ng sili. It is rich in pro-Vitamin A, Iron, Calcium, Phosphorous and B-complex vitamins. It may be added to monggo, chicken tinola and nilaga.
- Talbos ng Kamote – or sweet potato tops. It is rich in pro-Vitamin A, B complex vitamins, Vitamin K, E and fiber. It may be used in a salad with tomatoes and calamansi juice as dressing. It helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Spinach. Spinach is well loved by children because of the popular cartoon, Popeye. It has been said that because of spinach, Popeye became strong. It is a vegetable rich in pro-Vitamin A, Iron, B-complex vitamins, Vitamin E, Calcium and Fiber. Spinach may be added to vegetable lasagna and children will not notice the taste of spinach. It is good for vision, blood, brain development, and skin.
- Kangkong or Swamp Cabbage. This is rich in pro-Vitamin A, Iron, B-complex and fiber. This can be added to sinigang or made into tempura vegetable with a dip. It may also be cooked as adobong kangkong and kangkong with oyster sauce.
All vegetables, leafy and non-leafy, are also good sources of Carbohydrates.
Children will also enjoy eating a variety of vegetables that are colorful:
- Green – broccoli, green beans, cabbage, and all the leafy vegetables
- Orange and Deep Yellow – carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, sweet corn
- Purple and Blue – eggplants
- Red – beets and tomatoes
- White, Tan, Brown – cauliflower, turnips, potatoes, mushrooms, white corn
Today, when children ask for snacks, doughnuts, fries, burgers, and spaghetti are given. Parents now forget to give their children boiled white and yellow corn, boiled sweet potatoes, boiled saba, peanut butter sandwich, egg sandwich and cheese sandwich.
Parents therefore must provide a nutritionally balanced meal, from breakfast to dinner. Incorporate these leafy vegetables as often as possible to familiarize your children with the taste and the important nutrients found in these vegetables. Lastly, always follow the Pinggang Pinoy.
About The Writer
NIEVES C. SERRA, Nutritionist-Dietitian
Ms. Nieves Serra, a registered Dietitian, took up AB major in Nutrition and minor in Home Culture in St. Scholastica’s College (SSC) Manila in 1960. After her graduation in 1964, she took up the ten months Dietetic Internship program at FEU Hospital. She was the only one in her batch at SSC who took the Board Exam, passed it and practiced in the country. She took up M.S. Foods and Nutrition and MBA without thesis from Philippine Women’s University, Manila.
Her career has been devoted to hospital work in the Dietary department of private and government hospitals for a span of 46 years, and 41 years teaching nursing, HRM and nutrition students. She was also a cafeteria concessionaire for 6 years in various industrial companies, a lecturer/speaker in seminars and conventions and a member of various associations such as PASOO, and PHILSPEN.
In 1992, she was awarded the Outstanding Nutritionist-Dietitian of the year by Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC), and was a past president of Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines or NDAP (1988), NDAP Life member (2007 to 2011), and held various positions from 1966 to the present. She is married to her profession, a devout Catholic, and follows the Benedictine motto of her school, St. Scholastica’s College, “Ora et Labora, which means work and pray being a loyal Scholastican and a loyal NDAP member.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and do not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.
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