International Chefs Day - Chefs Q&A's

Chef Regina Mendoza from Nestlé Professional shares her tips to include more fiber when cooking for children

Monday, September 11, 2017

What do you think, is the current status of foods offered to children in OOH?
There are few restaurants offering kiddie meals in the Philippines.   And for those that do, they would usually offer comfort food or something that would click automatically with kids like fried chicken, spaghetti, hotdog, SPAM with egg, pancakes with bacon, and the list of fried and calorie-laden food goes on.

​​​​​​​What do you think can be done to make it healthier?
Fresh fruit juice options in the beverage list and smart inclusion of vegetables and fiber in the kiddie meals

​​​​​​​What tips and tricks do you have for preparing healthier food for children? 

Start with knowing the flavors and cuisine kids like.  This would make a good platform in whipping up healthful dishes.  For example, if the kids prefer Mexican food then prepare more of these while introducing a more healthful version ie chicken instead of ground beef tacos with beans, greens, and fresh tomato salsa.

 

Sneak in fiber when one can.  Adding carrots to Bolognese sauce or to mashed potato, eggplant and mushrooms to lasagna, oatmeal to chocolate chip cookies, chopped vegetables in fried rice, banana in cakes and milkshake, pureed squash or asparagus in cream soups

Be fun and creative with serving food to kids.  Depending on the holiday or season, one can create fun food with a little elbow grease.  Draw shapes using different sauces; serve food items in interesting shapes using cookie cutters.

 

Know their preferences and limits in eating vegetables.  Kids may dislike some vegetables and would surely love others.  One just needs to discover what they are.  Once you know what vegetables are acceptable to them then you create a meal with that as an ingredient.  My girls for example eat broccoli and cabbage but don’t like carrots and green peas.  And so I would optimize that piece of info and would whip up dishes with these vegetables more than carrots and green peas.
 

Expose them to different types of food early.  We don’t have a separate menu for kids in the house.  Whatever the adults eat they also eat.  I make sure as well that when we eat out, I let them try everyone’s orders especially food items or dishes they are not so familiar with.  If there is a story behind each dish, I would also tell them about it.  For example letting them try paella with saffron, the most expensive spice.  I would share with them where it came from and how it takes this much effort to hand pick the pistils of the flowers to create a kg of it.  This weaves a beautiful story behind the food which stimulates the kids’ imagination.  Romanticizing food in this manner not only brings excitement to kids during meals but also makes the kids appreciate more what they eat.

I like to involve them with prep and cooking so that they experience how dishes are prepared and cooked.  Start with letting them choose fresh produce in the grocery so that for sure they are choosing what they can enjoy eating.  When I was a little girl of 7, I learned how to eat potato salad with celery and carrots or enjoy a bowl of green mungbeans with local rocket (moringa leaves) because I would help in making them.  Our nanny and cook would let me take part of the preparation.  One also learns life’s values in helping out in the kitchen.  The intricacy of removing the leaves of the local rocket, for example, teaches the value of perseverance and patience since it takes some time to remove each small round leaf from the stem before you can create a small pile of leaves ready for cooking. 

 

​​​​​​​Submitted by:

Reg Mendoza

Corporate Chef

Nestlé Professional, Philippines