Granola, Peanut Butter, Apple Sandwich by Chef Ganesh Teli, Culinary Director, MonkeyBox

(SERVES 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-sized Apples
  • 85 g Rolled Oats
  • 40 ml Orange Juice
  • 40 ml Honey
  • 30 g Peanut Butter
  • 20 g Brown Sugar
  • 20 g Raisins
  • 20 g Ground Flaxseeds
  • 5 g Sea Salt
  • 1 g Cinnamon Powder

Method:

  • Combine oats, flaxseeds, and cinnamon. Roast in a pan until crisp.
  • Combine orange juice, honey, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook it over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat once the sugar dissolves.
  • Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and mix well.
  • Spread a thin layer of the mixture on a non-stick pan and bake until golden brown at 150°C for about 20 minutes. Halfway through the baking, stir the mixture well.
  • Finally, stir in raisins and let the mixture cool completely. This is granola.
  • To assemble the sandwiches, core each apple and cut into ¼-inch slices (8 slices per apple).
  • Spread peanut butter on each slice and sprinkle with granola and top with another apple slice.
  • Press down gently and the sandwiches are ready to be served.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)

Serving Size: 1 Portion (approx. 100 g)

  •  Calories: 245 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 41.6 g
  • Fiber: 4.0 g
  • Sugar: 12.5 g
  • Protein: 5.02 g
  • Fat: 7.1 g
  • Iron: 1.7 mg
  • Calcium: 22.2 mg
  • Sodium: 513.4 mg

Food Hacks to Beat Post-Diwali Blues

Frowning faces, tantrums, and kids whining to go back to school – isn’t this the common scene when festivals come to an end. Most of our little sweethearts always have a big taste for sweets, especially during the festive season. But can you really blame them, we all need to treat ourselves once in a while right? However, this often causes stomach-upsets and/or illness after a good festive celebration.

Clues to the blues

Over-indulgence of the sweet tooth generally results in excess consumption of refined carbs (especially sugar) and deep-fried foods. Get this:

  • Excess sugar intake adversely affects the friendly bacteria present in the gut. This, in turn, weakens the child’s immunity. That means children suddenly end up with that cold that you kept away by saying no to ice-creams.
  • Of late low-calorie sweets are in trend. But beware that these contain artificial sweeteners (like sorbitol) which end up fueling the bacteria that produce gases.
  • We also know that foods high in sugar affect the behavior of children. So at the end of the Diwali party, you wonder if the kids are fussy because they have to go home or it’s because of the irritability that kicks in after a sugar high.
  • You may end up spending the festive bonus at the dentist, dealing with cavities thanks to all the sweets the li’l ones binged on.
  • High-fat foods (sweets/savories) take longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates. So kids may complain that they feel ‘stuffed’ and bloated.
  • Also, fried savories like farsan are loaded with sodium that may lead to dehydration.
  • Last but not the least children end up skipping proper meals either because of stomach-ache or because they have binged on sweets.

Food Hacks

So how do you deal with the tummy-aches, diarrhea or constipation and so on? Here are some quick tips to avoid or overcome the problems.

  • Make sure you include probiotic-rich foods that help the friendly gut bacteria. This can be as simple as curd rice, buttermilk or lassi, and fermented foods like idli or dosa.
  • Before heading out to the party feed your children a vegetable sandwich, fruit bowl or a salad. This has multiple benefits
    • Their stomach is partially full so they don’t binge on those tempting sweets.
    • This way they don’t lose out on the nutrition if they skip the meals after the binge.
    • They get the fiber that sweets and fried foods lack. This helps relieve constipation.
  • Ensure they drink plenty of fluids (like water, tender coconut water, buttermilk) throughout the day. This can help ease the digestive issues, avoid over-eating and it can help prevent the cavities.
  • Teach your children about portion control. This goes a long way in developing healthy food habits.

Scrub ’em Clean: Clean Hands Are Safe Hands

Come winter and rainy season, we all tend to pack our children warm with sweaters and scarves and prepare for sniffles. So there’s no better time for Global Hand Washing Day to come around.

It’s but common for children to pout and say sorry or give you that do-away-with-it giggle when you’ve asked them if they’ve washed their hands before eating, after using the bathroom, or when they’ve come back from playing.

But remember it’s a message worth repeating, considering that most of the common infections – including the flu – spread through dirty hands. Hand washing is the dogma to prevent the spread of germs and dodge illness.

Did you know that handwashing is also important for a child’s nutritional status? As surprising as it may sound, it’s very simple to understand why. Good nutrition is not just about eating good food but also depends on the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in the food. Germs (bacteria, viruses, or parasites) damage the lining of the gut thereby affecting effective nutrient absorption.

Negligence of proper handwashing and hygiene makes children prone to infections like the flu and pneumonia. They suffer from diarrhea, nutrient deficiencies and so on. This has an adverse impact on optimal growth and development and can at times be fatal.

Teach your children how to scrub those germs away. The illustration below gives you an idea of the steps involved in handwashing.

8-steps-of-Handwashing

Set a handwashing rule especially:

  • Before and after eating
  • After using the bathroom
  • After touching pets
  • Before and after visiting any sick friends or relatives
  • After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After being outside (playing, gardening, walking the dog, etc.)

So raise your hand for hygiene and make your kid a handwashing champ!

PS: If handwashing isn’t possible, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. But remember the use of a sanitizer does not substitute for handwashing.

Wild Rice Salad with Tofu, Peas and Carrot Recipe by Chef Ganesh Teli, Culinary Director, MonkeyBox

Ingredients:

  • 50 g Wild Rice (raw)
  • 50 g Tofu (cubed, seasoned)
  • 20 g Peas (boiled)
  • 20 g Carrots (diced)
  • 20 g Shallots (chopped)
  • 5 ml Sesame Oil
  • 5 ml Rice Vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 g Ground Pepper
  • 3 g Salt

Method:

  • To cook the wild rice, bring 50 g raw wild rice and 4 cups water to boil in a medium-size saucepan. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook until tender (approx. 45 – 55 minutes). Drain out the water if required.
  • In a large bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  • Add wild rice, tofu, shallots, peas, and carrots. Mix well and serve in a bowl.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)

Serving Size: 100 g (approx.)

  • Calories: 150 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 25 g
  • Fiber: 1.02 g
  • Sugar: Nil
  • Protein: 4.6 g
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Iron: 0.62 mg
  • Calcium: 15.75 mg
  • Sodium: 607 mg

Quinoa with Mushroom, Kale and Sweet Potato – By Chef Ganesh Teli, Culinary Director, MonkeyBox

Ingredients:

  • 100 g Button Mushrooms (quartered)
  • 70 g Kale Leaves (chopped into 2” pieces)
  • 60 g Quinoa
  • 50 g Sweet Potato (peeled and cut into ¾” pieces)
  • 10 g Parmesan Cheese (grated)
  • 5 ml Olive Oil
  • 2 g Salt
  • 1 clove Garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 1 g Black pepper (crushed)
  • 1 cup Water

Method:

  • In a saucepan, bring the quinoa to a boil with a cup of water.
  • Reduce the heat, cover the saucepan and allow to simmer until the water is completely absorbed (approx. 12 – 15 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a small pot, over medium heat.
  • Add the sweet potatoes and mushrooms and sauté occasionally. Cook until the pieces begin to soften and turn golden brown (approx. 5 – 6 minutes).
  • Add garlic and cook for a minute. Finally add the kale, salt, and pepper and sauté frequently until the vegetables become tender (approx. 10 – 12 minutes).
  • Serve the vegetables over the quinoa and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)

Serving Size: 150 g (approx.)

  •  Calories: 217 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 30.7 g
  • Fiber: 3.4 g
  • Sugar: Nil
  • Protein: 8.8 g
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Iron: 2.5 mg
  • Calcium: 127.1 mg
  • Sodium: 501.7 mg

Breakfast Cereals Are Healthy & A Good Way to Start the Day

Let’s look at this nutrition myth and set the record straight once and for all so that you can cross it off your list.

A hearty nutritious breakfast is the much-needed fuel to restart the engine of the car after a night’s halt-over hence the name ‘break-fast’. It kick-starts the body metabolism and refuels the body’s glucose stores. Studies have shown that breakfast improves kids’ attention span, concentration, and memory. It prevents irritability, fatigue, and restlessness.

Our fast-paced lifestyles constantly change in tandem with increasing spending power, time crunch, dependency on convenience, and so-called health and fitness consciousness. So most reach out for breakfast cereals. Besides, let’s not forget the influence of western lifestyle and eating trends!

What goes into the cereal box?

Commercial breakfast cereals simply translate to refined carbs with added sugar. Why? Because breakfast cereal is made from processed grain. The grain-flour is mixed with water, sugar and/or chocolate and this mixture is extruded. The cereals maybe puffed, flaked or shredded. To top it off, they are coated with chocolate or frosted with sugar before drying and packaging.

Do they deliver what they promise?

The main marketing strategy is undoubtedly the nutritional plank. There is a wide range of commercial cereals to suit the needs of different people be it kids, all-family segment, aging adults or weight watchers. Consumers need to cautious that these breakfast cereals are often marketed with dubious claims and labels which can be misinterpreted.

As a matter of fact, a research conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on children’s breakfast cereal highlights that “promotional labeling on cereal boxes is designed to distract consumers from focusing on the unhealthy sugar content by making claims that the product provides important nutrients, such as ‘Excellent Source of Vitamin D’ or ‘Good Source of Fiber’ and so on.”

While children are enticed with cartoons or superheroes, parents are convinced with claims. EWG research also found that children’s cereals with cartoon characters on the box are among the most highly sweetened of all.

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Another aspect is that the nutritional benefits claimed on the pack are often not due to the cereal alone but with the suggested ingredients to be added or eaten with. If pairing with milk meets a percentage of protein and calcium requirement or adding fruits gives the required fiber then why do we need the cereal in the first place?

Whip-up your own cereal

So now you know that breakfast cereals aren’t healthy as claimed. But if your child cannot do without breakfast cereals, make your own healthy cereal mix with unprocessed plain cereals. How about ragi flakes with yogurt or milk, a handful of fresh fruits and a sprinkle of dry fruits/nuts!

Raspberry Banana Smoothie Recipe – By Chef Ganesh Teli, Culinary Director, MonkeyBox

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 80 g Frozen Raspberry
  • 2 medium-size Bananas
  • 60 g Non-fat Greek Yogurt
  • 40 g Low-fat Milk
  • 24 g Granola Bar (crushed)
  • 10 g Toasted Coconut Flakes
  • 2 g Chia seeds

Method:

  • In a blender, puree berries, banana, yogurt, chia seeds, and milk until smooth.
  • Portion out into 2 bowls and top with granola and toasted coconut, if desired

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)

Serving Size: I bowl (185 g approx.)

  • Calories:  354 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 59.6 g
  • Fiber:  13.4 g
  • Sugar: 17.6 g
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Fat: 5.8 g
  • Iron: 3.8 mg
  • Calcium: 236.3 mg
  • Sodium: 97 mg

The Road to Good Heart Health Starts in Childhood

“Oh, high blood pressure? That’s only in old people”

“Heart problems only occur in adults or old people”

Aren’t these your thoughts too? Most of us think that problems related to high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart problems only occur in adults or older people.  In reality, it can affect people of all ages, including children.

Studies show a significant rise in the number of children affected by non-communicable diseases like hypertension and heart diseases. Commemorating World Heart Health Day, we would like to highlight that taking care of the heart needs to start in childhood.

Obesity; the main culprit

Although there are a number of factors that can adversely affect heart health in children, obesity remains the main culprit. Obesity also hastens the occurrence of other heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and so on. High BP is an important risk factor for heart diseases.

A study that looked at the relationship of childhood obesity with blood pressure in Indian school children (5–16 years) reported that high blood pressure was more prevalent in obese children. So what? Here’s the catch – the problem of high blood pressure that begins in childhood persists through adolescence well into adulthood. In a nutshell, a hypertensive child is a hypertensive adult.

Experts also believe that childhood and adolescent obesity has a compelling impact on the structure and functioning of the heart; so it is very important to ensure that children fall in the healthy weight range.

What can you do to ensure good heart health in your child?

Prevention is always better than cure. Although factors such as family history or genetic predisposition cannot be changed or avoided, we can take control of other risk factors to deter or delay the disease.

  1. Children are what they eat: Healthy eating habits not only includes healthy, nutritious food but also regular meal times. Excess of anything is bad. A diet high in fat, carbs and/or sugar contribute to obesity and excess of sodium (in the form of salt, sauces, MSG) make way for high BP.
  1. Hustle the muscle: with the advent of technology in every phase of life, screen time (like TV, mobile-use, video games) has substantially increased. Activity and exercise have undoubtedly taken a back seat. Physical activity strengthens heart muscles, helps blood vessels branch out more, regulates blood pressure and also increases HDL (good) cholesterol.

      Children and adolescents must get at least 60 minutes of moderate to        vigorous aerobic activity every day. Examples include bike                                  riding, swimming, jogging, football, aerobics or dancing.

  1. Let the children kick butt: be it electronic cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, they are all harmful. Most children may get on this track due to peer pressure or stress. On the other hand, passive smoking can also be the reason.

It’s best to form good habits early in life so we don’t have to break bad habits later.

So it is time to change our way of thinking and understand that good heart health starts from childhood.

Fresh Cucumber Roll Ups Recipe – By Chef Ganesh Teli, Culinary Director, MonkeyBox

Fresh Cucumber Roll ups (for 2 kids)

Ingredients

  • 20 g Cream cheese
  • 1 medium-sized Cucumber
  • 1/2 medium-sized Bell pepper (a quarter each of red and yellow pepper)
  • 1/2 cup Carrot

Direction

  • Allow the cream cheese to reach room temperature and mix with a spoon to soften.
  • Wash and dry the cucumber. Using a vegetable peeler, slice into thin strips, lengthwise.
  • Chop carrots and bell peppers into matchstick-sized pieces.
  • Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on each cucumber slice. On one end, place a small amount of chopped carrots and bell peppers.
  • Roll the cucumber slice and serve.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)

  • Calories: 43 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 5.4 g
  • Fiber: 0.66 g
  • Sugar: Nil
  • Protein: 0.9 g
  • Fat: 1.79 g
  • Iron: 0.57 mg
  • Calcium: 30.25 mg
  • Sodium: 54.12 mg

 

Are Potatoes Bad?

The humble potato has earned a bad reputation in the recent years and very often it is banished from all diets. So is it true that potatoes are bad and should not form a part of our diet?

The answer is no…. In terms of its nutritional benefits, the potato has been vastly underrated and grossly misunderstood. It’s high time we peel back the truth about the nutrient treasure trove that lies in the little spud that is the potato.

Potato Nutrition 101

You may be surprised to know that potato offers a number of nutrients and benefits. Maybe not a good source of protein, but the little protein present in potatoes is completely available to the body (i.e., excellent biological value) like the egg.

Minerals like potassium, phosphorous and calcium are present in significant levels and each has their own respective roles in body functioning. Surprisingly, this spud contains a notable amount of fiber, especially the peel. This helps provide satiety, delay hunger pangs and help prevent constipation.

Skin-on potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

Last but not the least, vitamins – potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C. But what else? Let’s not forget B vitamins like folic acid, niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamine are also present.

Potatoes have a plethora of phytonutrients that parade antioxidant activity. Carotenoids, flavonoids, caffeic acid, as well as unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, all flaunt powers of fighting harmful free radicals.

Talking of benefits, although potato is typically not considered a good source of dietary iron, iron uptake is enhanced by its high vitamin C content. Potatoes contain significant amounts of vitamins B9 and B6 which are crucial for optimal brain functioning.

However, the main advantage of potato is the starch content, the very thing for which it is damned. Puzzled? Carbohydrates provide the glucose required for the brain to function and to fuel the muscles during activities, games or exercise. So potatoes are the go-to fuel before kids head out for games and sports.

Why the bad name dame?

How did potato become the culprit to all the bad health effects? Where are we going wrong? It’s not difficult to see that, unfortunately, the popular Western form of preparation and preferred forms of potato are either fried or even if baked, it is typically loaded with cheese, butter, cream and/or other such fat-rich products. Least did we realize that barring the extra source of fat, potatoes can be exceptionally healthy.

On the other hand, our Indian potato-based dishes are used along with other vegetables and pulses and rarely witnessed as a deep fried form (even the aloo bondas have dal based coating). So keep those jackets on the potatoes, mix them up with veggies, and resort to baking, steaming, roasting or grilling and enjoy!