Mesa Ni Misis founder Juana Manahan Yupangco.
Juana Manahan Yupangco
How to raise happy, healthy kids
WORDSWORTH - Mons Romulo (The Philippine Star) - November 26, 2019 - 12:00am

Juana Manahan Yupangco could have just chosen a more glamorous lifestyle. But she opted to do something more fulfilling by giving talks to young moms on how to prepare healthier meals at home using local produce, which in turn helps local farmers.

Juana is the founder of Mesa Ni Misis, a non-profit organization that promotes healthy, low-cost eating with an emphasis on using native produce. Mesa Ni Misis also runs Soap For Hope, a program of Diversey, which makes use of soaps collected from hotels and turns them into new bars. This is used as a livelihood program in communities or as CSR initiatives for companies.

Juana worked in publishing for 12 years as an editor for lifestyle magazines and as editor-in-chief of a parenting magazine before founding Mesa Ni Misis.

As a housewife, Juana set the heart of Mesa Ni Misis to be about sharing recipes from one misis to another, no matter what their socio-economic background is. There is an emphasis on budget-friendly, healthy eating.

Mesa Ni Misis works with several educational foundations to educate parents on proper eating habits, teaching them new budget-friendly recipes and creating menus and feeding programs. Another focus of Mesa Ni Misis is to promote native vegetables and their health benefits by partnering with restaurants and hotels to create dishes that highlight them. To date, Mesa Ni Misis has partnered with Lanai Café, M Dining, Wild Flour, Little Flour and Discovery Primea. All proceeds of the dishes that are sold at these establishments go back into the programs that help underserved communities.   

For today, we asked Juana to share some tips for young moms on how to raise happy, healthy children.

Give your kids healthy taste buds. Accustom your kids to get used to the taste of fruit and vegetables from a young age. If kids get used to the taste of artificial food enhancers, they will never enjoy real, whole food.

Take your kids to a farm. It’s important that kids know where food comes from.

‘Take your kids to a farm. It’s important that kids know where food comes from.’

Let them pick a new fruit or vegetable to taste. Making them eat something they choose will make them excited to try it.

Cook with your kids. Even if you can’t. Make a salad, smoothie, chop something up. This also encourages kids to eat healthier.

Take away the gadgets, especially at the table. Nothing freaks me out more than seeing kids at a restaurant with their parents, staring at a gadget. Sure, the kids are quiet and occupied, but it’s a terrible habit.

Teach your kids to feed themselves from a young age. This builds their motor skills and self sufficiency.

Eat at the table. Don’t follow (or have your yaya follow) them around the room while feeding them. This will teach them discipline and table manners.

Say no to junk food. Kids won’t know what it is unless you let them taste it.

Teach your kids compassion. This involves making them aware of their blessings, and sharing with those who are less fortunate.

Juana and Rick Yupangco with their children Rosanna and Jaime in a safari in South Africa.

Teach your kids to be stewards of the planet. Kids these days should be growing up being conscious of plastic waste, pollution and carbon footprints. This is something that they should learn at home. *

(We welcome your suggestions and comments. Please e-mail me at Follow me on Instagram @monsromulo.)


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