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This Toddler Loves Veggies Including Ampalaya! His Dad Shares His Favorite Recipes
PHOTO BY courtesy of Arlyn Corpuz
  • A toddler's appetite can be as unpredictable as the weather — one moment he's such a voracious eater, he'll take whatever you give him with gusto, and in the next, he'll refuse even his favorite dish. It's quite hard to figure out how to meet their nutritional needs, especially when their food preferences change as they grow..

    Entrepreneur Eric Corpuz, 44, says this is exactly his son Titus's typical behavior with food. 

    "He used to love tocino [and] ate anything we gave him," the father of one says, but his toddler's eating habits changed drastically in the last year. 

    "When he turned 2, he started being picky — making use of all his senses and carefully looking and checking, touching and feeling, and smelling before taking that bite," Eric says. "And when he does, sometimes he would spit out the food because the taste didn’t sit well with him."

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    Eric and his wife Arlyn got worried because Titus does not keep to a meal schedule anymore, and only eats when he wants to. "He prefers chicken but only the crispy skin," the dad says.


    Eric and Arlyn's 2-year-old son Titus used to like any food they gave him, but his preferences have changed in the last year
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Arlyn Corpuz


    When they consulted with Titus's pediatrician, they were told not to worry, and that he'll be fine as long as his food includes a balance of proteins and carbohydrates.

    According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute's Pinggang Pinoy, a food guide on the recommended portions per food group, an ideal meal for kids ages 3 to 5 years old should include:

    • Carbohydrates - 1/2 cup of rice or 2 pieces pandesal
    • Protein - 1/2 serving (or about 15 grams) of lean meat
    • Vegetables - 1/2 cup
    • Fruits - 1/2 or 1 piece of a medium-sized fruit  
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    So what's a dad to do? Tap into his inner foodie, of course! Eric sums up his success in feeding his toddler vegetables in the following tips.

    How to include vegetables in your toddler's diet

    1. Introduce vegetables into your child's diet early.

    "We began feeding Titus vegetables when he turned 1, but we were still processing his food. First, it was carrots, potatoes, broccoli, and spinach. Then we introduced ampalaya (bitter gourd), which he also liked. 

    2. Take your cue from your child.

    Because Titus enjoyed his first smoothie made from boiled ampalaya and fresh oranges, Eric figured it was a brilliant way to get his son to eat vegetables. "I even show him what's in it — I tell him it will make him stronger — and now he looks forward to having his serving of fruit-and-vegetable shakes." 

    3. Be inventive.

    Though he cooks only as a hobby and has no formal culinary training, Eric's dishes are wife- and son-approved! Titus's favorites include pancit bihon, sauteed vegetables, and fried rice. "You just need to know how your child prefers his veggies," he says. His secret weapon? "Oyster sauce!"

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    Eric's recipes are simple enough for anyone to follow (yes, Dad, even YOU can make them!), and are infused with nutritious vegetables your picky eater won't even notice. He shares the simple steps below.

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    Recipes a picky-eating toddler will love

    This sauteed vegetable recipe uses only three to four ingredients but is a sure-fire way to feed veggies to a toddler.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Arlyn Corpuz

    Vegetables in oyster sauce


    Kale, spinach, kangkong or kamote tops
    Chopped garlic
    Chopped onions
    Olive oil
    Salt and pepper
    Fried minced garlic, for garnish

    Protein for building muscles, carbohydrates for energy, and vitamins and minerals for strong bones and teeth, all in one plate
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Arlyn Corpuz

    1. Sauté garlic in olive oil.

    2. Add the leaves and stir-fry in high heat.

    3. Add oyster sauce (amount will depend on how much green vegetables you're cooking). Stir fry until leaves are wilted. You may add a bit of water so that the oyster sauce isn't too thick.

    4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fried minced garlic and serve.

    Note: Take it easy on the garlic, and factor in your child's preference.

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    Kale mixed in with organic brown rice gives a nutritious twist to your regular 'sinangag'
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Arlyn Corpuz

    Kale fried rice


    Organic brown rice, cooked
    Minced kale
    Minced garlic

    Breakfast made healthier!
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Arlyn Corpuz

    1. Sauté garlic in olive oil.

    2. Add the cooked brown rice.

    3. Add in the minced kale, and stir until greens are wilted.

    4. Add a dash of salt. Stir and serve.

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    A glass of fruit and vegetable smoothie packs in high concentrations of vitamins a toddler needs in a day. 
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Arlyn Corpuz

    Banana power smoothie


    Two ripe bananas
    Other fruits in stock — it can be apples, avocadoes, oranges, melons, strawberries, pineapple, etc.
    Kale (2 leaves) /spinach (5 to 8 leaves) - don't include the stems
    1 bottle of Yakult
    Milk, half a cup
    Honey optional (Eric uses raw wild black honey)

    "Titus looks forward to his daily serving of fruit-and-vegetable smoothie," dad Eric says.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Arlyn Corpuz

    Mix all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (rough, tiny bits might make your child refuse it), and serve. 

    Note: Leftover smoothie can be frozen as popsicles. You can also reblend it frozen so it will have the consistency of a sherbet or ice cream, which you can then serve as an afternoon snack. 

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