Do you believe that the best way to men and children’s heart is through the stomach? We’ve heard this line a long time ago.
And who said that the most charming guys are the ones who know how to cook? Me. That’s what I’ve been telling my boys2men.
The start of the school year is the best way to start living this age-old maxim. The frenzy schedule of child rearing, home management and keeping a job compel the busy moms and parents to take the easier route by giving the children allowances so they can buy the snacks and lunches of their choice in the school cafeteria or in smorgasbord of small carenderias located in the vicinity of the school.
Without batting an eyelash, we can easily sense that most of the foods being served are laden with artificial flavorings, colorings and seasonings. Restaurants that cater to hundreds of customers on a student budget want to save time and decrease costs by scrimping on real spices. They use artificial seasonings generously instead of real garlic, onions, bell pepper, ginger and other spices. While we refrain from using artificial flavorings at home, we cannot completely avoid them when we take our meals in fast foods and restaurants often.
Children prefer fried foods. Food served in fast food chains such as chicken, pork chops, hamburger steak, fish, fish/squid balls, dumplings, tempuras, French fries, banana cue, camote cue , banana fritters, turon, peanuts, doughnuts , etcetera have something in common. They all swam in cooking oil. We loved them when we were younger – only because our choices were based on what can fit our meager food allowances.
They rarely serve vegetables and when they do, they are again, flavored with artificial seasonings. Even soups are made from artificial chicken or beef broths.
Beverages are colored and sugared. Who knows if the sago at gulaman, buko juice, orange and pineapple juices are only using artificial sweeteners? The juices are not from real fruits but fruit flavored powder concentrates dissolved in cold water added with artificial sugar. Quick and profitable. Sodas or soft drinks are good as occasional thirst quenchers but not to be taken daily. Can you imagine our children consuming them at an average of two (2) liters everyday?
Biscuits and breads produced in the factories abound. Would you like to serve them daily with food that was baked more than a year ago and stored in warehouses for another year?
While adults have enough wisdom to differentiate the naturally nutritious foods from the junk foods, the husbands will always opt for what is easily available. What does the office canteen and carenderias offer than the more expensive versions of the street foods? Lucky if the employees cooperative operate the office canteen that is conscious not only of their profits but also of the health of their members.
The best way to our loved ones’ heart and stomach is still prepared at home. We have to train ourselves and household members to prepare nutritious, natural and whole food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here are some tips that are healthy and budget friendly.
- Instead of beef loaf and hot dogs for breakfast and “baon”, make your own nutritious hamburger patties and meatballs by fortifying ground meat with grated sweet potato, finely chopped cabbage, green or red bell pepper or malunggay. Spice them with green onions and ground pepper. Dash it with cinnamon for that sweetish flavor.
- Add a variety of vegetables to your fish, beef or pork stews. The options are endless as the farm produce available in the wet market. Use calamansi, batwan, guava or real tamarind as seasonings instead of commercially available “sinigang” mix.
- Add leafy veggies and minced leftover fish and meat to your fried rice. Again, not the sinangag mix.
- Vegetables are yucky to most children. There are several ways to serve veggies that will make them attractive and likeable without sacrificing its nutritional value. Wrap them in lumpia wrappers to make fresh or fried veggie lumpia. Mix them with ground meat to make meatballs or patties. Make vegetable tempuras by making your own tempura mix. You can also pickle them and serve as side dish.
- Stock up on locally made biscuits and cookies made by micro entrepreneurs for nutritious and filling snacks. Many of them are producing classy cookies, comparable to those in coffee shops and supermarkets. The easiest route though is to get the glossy wrapped baked goodie made of white flour, water, sugar, shortening, artificial flavoring and preservatives. That is if you want to continue serving your kids with goodies that were baked in factories several years ago.
- Native cakes. Puto- kutsinta, with cheese, puto maya. Bibingka. Rice based snacks wrapped in banana leaves. You can have 12 different types of native snacks in a week.
- Beverage? Make your own iced tea by making tea and adding calamansi and honey. Make pink juice from boiled red sweet potato (camote) tops. Boil lemongrass; add calamansi, honey or muscavado sugar to make tanglad juice. Or just use calamansi juice. Flavor water with slices of fruits – lemon, melon (at kung anong meron).
- Food carts selling “buko” (young coconut) juice are sprouting like mushrooms everywhere. Don’t you think they are too sweet to be true? Real young coconut is still the best. Get buko juice from the real buko vendor and serve them cold. Freshly picked, opened and halved, without adding water or sugar
“I work. I have a fulltime job. I am busy. I won’t have time to prepare them.”
Shhhh… don’t tell that to Tessie, a superwoman mother of eight, who runs an NGO, leads advocacy campaigns, serves as board member in several NGOs, speaks here and abroad and prepares food for the family. What’s her time- saving strategy? She makes a meal plan for the week, prepare a wet market and grocery-shopping list and shop on weekends. They clean, cut, marinate (if necessary) the meat, fish and veggies to be prepared for the week on Saturdays, label them accordingly and store them in the fridge or freezer. Whoever is assigned in the kitchen can just pull the raw food from storage and cook them accordingly.
Shopping is fun. Cooking is educational. And serving them to our family is a celebration of love.
How about you? What’s your time saving and healthy way to your man’s heart?
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- Calamansi Juice, anyone? (belsbror.wordpress.com)