Food delivery apps have contributed to the undying popularity of fast-food places. This convenience led to more kids picking unhealthy food options, much to the dismay of many parents. Finding quick and easy merienda ideas are encouraged to help combat junk food snacking.
One Busy Mom Shares Her Favorite Merienda Ideas
We sat down with a Unilever Foods & Homecare working mom about her kids' snacking habits. Scroll down for Executive Assistant Beng Caguitla's strategies on how she prepares her kids' meals and her healthy alternatives.
As a busy working mom of 3, can you share your kids’ favorite snacks?
Mommy Beng: My eldest (22) loves her comfort food. She occasionally indulges in pizza, mozzarella sticks, burger steak, chicken wings, pasta, tacos, and burritos. But as of late, she has developed an interest in eating healthy.
She has also consciously decided to eliminate rice from her meals and is practicing portion control even with favorite foods like lechon paksiw, fried chicken, and adobo.
My middle and child unico hijo (20) loves donuts, cookies, pastries, and chips. Like his older sister, he also enjoys snacking on siopao, bread, and pizza. When it comes to Pinoy food, he likes eating sinigang and chop suey. His current fave is tomato pasta. I use fresh tomatoes for this!
French fries, burgers, and pizza are some of the frequent sinful treats my youngest craves. Aside from the savory, my 17-year-old also has a sweet tooth and gets her sugar fix from milk teas, coffee-flavored drinks, and gummy candies. Her go-to cuisines are Japanese and Korean food.
Despite my busy schedule and varying preferences, I ensure my kids have many veggies and fruits to snack on.
Can you share some of your homemade merienda ideas that are healthy and nutritious but quick to make?
Mommy Beng: Wheat toast with arugula, Lady's Choice Real Mayonnaise, and cheese is a snack I prepare for myself often. I'm proud to say that the arugula is from my garden!
For my family, I usually prepare pesto egg mayo sandwiches, a crowd favorite. I make it for my family and also sell the spread. It is so far a bestseller.
Another easy snack is beef tacos with shredded lettuce. To make this extraordinary, I whip up my special sauce. All you need to do is mix low-fat milk, cheese powder, mayo, and ketchup. It’s easy to do and very tasty.
Classic hotdog sandwich is also patok with the kids: fresh buns, hotdogs, ketchup, and mayo – as simple as that.
Besides my children, I regularly make my mom her favorite. She swears by a sandwich combo of Lady's Choice bacon and Lady's Choice Ham Spread. It's an absolute must-try!
Many parents struggle with feeding their kids certain foods, can you share tips on how to get your child to eat healthier?
Mommy Beng: As a rule, never stock up on junk food at home! Always have easy-to-prep snacks like sliced bread, cheese, mayo, hotdogs, crackers, low-fat milk, and cereals. I also make it a habit to have a portion of their meals include fruits. It helps to teach them early and get them engaged in preparing snacks themselves. More importantly, home-cooked meals should always be available on the table. The key is to lessen the temptation of ordering take-out.
The Importance of Merienda to Children
It may not seem like it, but that snack right after a siesta is essential. There are advantages to allowing your kid to have some tasty merienda food. Don't believe it? Here are the benefits of regularly preparing afternoon snacks for your brood.
Managing energy levels
A hungry child is a cranky one. It does not matter if the child in question is an infant, toddler, middle schooler, or teen. Often a decrease in energy levels causes a shift in moods. By having snacks readily on hand, we avoid hunger-related tantrums. Allowing a child to eat two to three snacks daily is ideal. Preparing a mid-morning treat and snack food in the afternoon tides them in between major meals.
Children have smaller stomachs. They cannot consume as much food as a full-grown adult. Their metabolic rate is also higher, so they can digest their meals faster. Snacks ensure that they have the energy to use throughout the day.
Snacking helps brain development
Countless studies have shown a correlation between nutrition and academic performance. Research collected by Naga’s Department of Education has demonstrated that malnourished children are 20% less literate than properly nourished kids. More importantly, data also shows around 7% of undernourished children have made more mistakes in basic arithmetic.
Full bellies aid the academic performance of children. Complete meals and snacks allow them to concentrate on schoolwork and tasks. Merienda time provides kids with nutrients needed for brain development.
Afternoon merienda encourages socializing
The same way recess teaches to socialize with other kids in school, merienda does the same. Whether it is playing with neighborhood kids, siblings, parents, other adults, or pets, snack time gives the bulilits a chance to interact. It exposes them to others which becomes a vehicle for learning. Spending time with peers improves a child's emotional quotient, and they learn the value of sharing.
Snacking encourages a better appetite
Getting kids interested in food can be particularly hard, especially during the most important meals of the day. Snacking throughout the day encourages children to eat more.
An easy merienda recipe like the Chicken Inasal Wrap, can be the perfect opportunity for you and your child to experiment with different kinds of food. You can reach for pantry staples like Lady's Choice Ham Spread to create delicious snacks and treats for the whole family to enjoy.
Young or old, small snacks throughout the day are beneficial. The key is to ensure that your merienda menu doesn't feature junk food. Indulging in a few unhealthy snacks is okay. However, don't make it a habit.
As parents, you must ensure that your family gets proper nutrition to grow healthy, strong, and intelligent. Living busy lives need not interrupt with time you spend with your family; thus, it helps to have easy merienda ideas on your list.
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