Tag Archives: kidsfood

Exam Time Relishes: Smart Snacks

Tis the season of exams and what’s better than super-foods that help kids endure the study marathon and supercharge their memory.

Exam time can push some children to binge eat due to stress and being at home, munching on snacks is more often than ever. Although this does help the brain to keep going, highly processed foods and sugar isn’t such a great idea as they cause fatigue after a while. Besides, exams can last a long time and we all dread our children putting on those extra pounds.

Shaped just like the brain, walnuts are loaded with Omega -3 fatty acids that help in better cognitive performance (or simply – brain functioning!). Take a look at our quick, easy, and oh-so-yummy walnut recipes you can whip up for your little Einsteins.

HERB SPICED CRUNCHY WALNUTS

Ingredients

  • 5 tsp olive oil
  • 5 tsp pure honey
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups walnut halves
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes/powder (or paprika)
  • ¼ tsp salt

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C
  • In a bowl, whisk together: olive oil, honey, chilli flakes. Stir in 3 tsp of rosemary and 2 tsp of thyme.
  • Add the walnut halves and toss well to coat.
  • Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake until fragrant and crisp (approx. 10-12 min).
  • After removing from the oven, sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp thyme and salt. Mix well and cool.

(Tip: If fresh herbs aren’t available, substitute with 3 tsp of fresh herbs with 1 tsp of dried herbs) 

 

WALNUT BASIL PESTO

Ingredients

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 ½ cup fresh basil
  • ½ medium-sized avocado
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

Method

  • In a processor/grinder combine walnuts, basil, garlic and cheese and pulse until meal forms.
  • Next, add the avocado, lemon juice and water and process until smooth.
  • Serve as a dip which nachos, khakras or even veggies like carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, or celery sticks. Or spread over multigrain or brown bread and enjoy J

(Tip: For a thinner consistency – like a dip – add more water, for a thicker spread add less water!)

Pssst ….. Here’s a bonus – avocado is also an exam superfood since it contains healthy fats.

From Sugarcane to Sugar, Jaggery and More

Whether you’ve got a sweet tooth or not, sugar is an undeniably an important part of modern life. Sadly most of us are not aware of what it’s made up of, how it’s made or what it offers to the body. So here’s a sneak peek into the world of sugar and jaggery.

It All Starts With Sugarcane…..

While sugarcane and sugar beets are the two most important sugar crops, cane-sugar undoubtedly dominates the world.  Speaking of sugar cane, did you know it can be processed to derive either sugar or jaggery? Furthermore, syrups like molasses, golden syrup, treacle, cane syrup and so on can also be made. This article will focus on sugar and jaggery.

Manufacture ….

It may not be the chocolate factory that Charlie visited, but the manufacture of sugar is pretty intense. Massively simplified, the process can be understood as follows:

sugar

 

How do you like your sugar? Brown or white? Well, the sugar obtained in the above process is brown in colour (called brown/turbinado/raw sugar) due to the presence of small amount of molasses. No wonder it has a distinctive taste! But most of us are accustomed to the taste of white sugar for which further processing of washing, filtering, decolourization, recrystallization and drying is done.

Jaggery, on the other hand, is an unrefined sugar product and is occasionally called “non-centrifugal sugar,” because it’s not spun during processing to remove the ‘nutritious’ molasses. The process starts out the same, by extracting the juice. The juice is allowed to stand in large containers so that any sediment settles to the bottom. Thereafter it is strained to produce a clear liquid.

The clear liquid is boiled in large, flat-bottomed pans. During this process, the jaggery is stirred and the impurities are skimmed off the top until only a yellow, dough-like paste remains which on cooling gives jaggery.

The Nutrition Profile…..

Jaggery contains more nutrients than refined/white sugar because of its molasses content. Molasses is rich in vitamins and minerals. This is why brown sugar is considered better than white sugar since the latter is stripped of whatever molasses remains.

Not to forget, loads of chemicals are used during the sugar making processes. For example, the step called ‘clarification’ is done by adding calcium hydroxide and bubbling carbon dioxide through the sugarcane juice. However, clarification in jaggery making process is chemical-free since the juice is just allowed to stand and the clear liquid is strained for use.

And let’s not forget the additional processes in converting raw sugar to white sugar will bring more chemicals into the picture. Molasses is a nutritious by-product of the sugar making process, which is usually removed when making refined sugar. Including the molasses adds a few micronutrients to the final product.

 

It’s definitely better to substitute jaggery or molasses for sugar but it isn’t wise to binge on these sweeteners either. Remember for any food ingredient, you can get the best of it when used in moderation!

New Year Resolutions for Parents to Raise Healthier and Happier Kids

New-year? Time for resolutions. We all think of starting the year fresh, develop new healthy habits or exercise more. And if you’re a parent, you’re sure to think of how to make your child more active or how to improve your child’s general health. Here are some resolutions that can help you to take charge of your child’s health.

Let the little ones grab enough ZZZZs

Sleep plays a critical role in a child’s growth and development. Moreover, sleep deprivation may lead to reduced concentration, difficulty learning and retaining new information, and may make the child hyper or moody. Make sure to set a strict bedtime to develop a healthy sleep pattern.

Breakfast is the only way to start the day the right way

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’s 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.

Be a role model for right eating habits

Eating together as a family is how children learn to make healthy food choices. It also gives you a chance to set an example as children mimic and learn from their parents. When all family members follow a healthy meal pattern (3 meals and 2 snacks) with appropriate meal timings, the child adopts the same.

Make nutrition a part of their life

Children are more open to trying new foods when involved in the cooking process. Give them more ownership – take them with you to the grocery store and let them pick out. It is an opportunity to educate how to differentiate between good and bad food items and to read nutrition labels. You can even ask them to help stock the refrigerator with healthy options.

Have your kids play a role in prepping foods and ask them to choose recipes for meals. Make them in charge of choosing the veggies or fruits based on their favourite colours. Let them know why their choice of food is good for health. How about a kitchen garden? Include the children in planting and maintaining the garden. They will love to learn about the foods grown by them.

Eating in the right way

Eating doesn’t mean gobbling down food nor is it okay for children to push food around their plate. Make sure mealtimes are a family affair. Screen time (like TV, mobile use, video games) during meals must be avoided as they do not concentrate on the food and may end up binge eating. Unplug and create a device-free zone or time where all family members set aside their respective devices.

Sweat it along with the little ninjas

Last but not the least, don’t forget that food and exercise go hand in hand. Encourage more activity by getting the entire family involved. Activity doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym, it can be a game of football, running and catching, or how about some fun family contests?

Christmas Special: Drinks for Kids

Tis the season to be jolly and why not. Here are two winter special drinks that are perfect to whip up for the little elves to enjoy at the Christmas party.

SPICED APPLE CIDER

shutterstock_475134241

(Serves 4)

Ingredients

4 – 5 medium-sized Apples

½ liter Water

1 small-sized Orange

1 (3/4-inch) piece Fresh Ginger

2 (2-inch) Cinnamon Sticks

½ tsp Cloves

Orange slices (for serving, optional)

Method

  • In a pressure cooker, add the water and sliced apples and cook for 4 – 5 whistles. Cool and blend well.
  • Pour this juice into a vessel.
  • Cut the orange into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and the ginger into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Add both to the juice.
  • Add the cinnamon sticks and cloves. (To make it easier to serve, place the cloves in a muslin cloth and tie it up with kitchen twine).
  • Simmer over low flame for an hour. Remove the ginger and orange slices and spices.
  • Keep warm and serve in mugs garnished with orange slices.

 

PUMPKIN PIE LATTE

shutterstock_714132208

(Serves 4)

Ingredients

For pumpkin pie spice:

1 tbsp Ground Cinnamon

2 tsp Ground Ginger

1/2 tsp Ground Cloves

1 tsp Ground Nutmeg

1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper

 

For latte:

1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 tbsp Pumpkin Puree

2 tbsp Honey

1 ½ cups Milk

2 tbsp Vanilla Extract

Whipped cream for serving (optional)

Method

  • To a small saucepan add the spice, pumpkin puree and honey. Cook over medium heat, while constantly stirring until it starts to simmer (approx. 45 seconds).
  • Add the milk and vanilla extract and bring to a slight simmer while constantly stirring.
  • Using a blender/mixer blend until frothy.
  • Divide the mixture between two glasses. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of the spice mix.

Juice Is Better Than Soda

Let’s squeeze the truth out of this juice myth.

With soda being damned for its high sugar content and ill-effects on health, juices started gaining more popularity. Well, you can’t blame people because terms like ‘100% fruit’, ‘natural’, ‘no preservatives’, ‘no added sugar’ etc were used to deceive them.

The fact is the fruit juices found on the shelves are also loaded with sugar. A small amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants do not compensate for the high sugar content and lack of fiber.

Did you know…..?

The juice after being extracted from the fruit is massively oxygenated and undergo loads of processing before they are packaged. If they claim not to add preservatives, this is thanks to tetra-packing. But then again this requires the juice to undergo pasteurization or an equivalent process to ensure it does not spoil.

As a matter of fact, a loss in flavor and colour due to processing is compensated by the addition of sugar, ‘permitted’ artificial flavours and colours.

Learn from the labels

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Notice a few details:

  • Including natural fruit sugars (not only natural fruit sugars, so there is added sugar – check the ingredients!)
  • Presence of additives like – acidity regulator, stabilizer, colour and flavor
  • Natural colour 160a (i) translated to While 160(a) is carotenes, the (i) beside it is assigned to ‘Carotenes, beta-, synthetic’
  • Nature identical flavouring substances are still not natural

Bittersweet truth

Fruits contain sugar, without a doubt. However, it also contains loads of fiber. This is beneficial in two ways – fiber fills your stomach so there is no question of overeating, and second is that the fiber ensures that the sugar is gradually used by the body.

On the other hand, juices lack fiber and it’s easy to consume large amounts of these ‘liquid sugars’. Long-term consumption of large amounts of sugar, artificial flavours and colours, and preservatives definitely takes a toll on the body and directly or indirectly lead to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart problems and the like. Don’t forget caries that accompany sugar!

Now what….

If you’re thinking that the way out is to make juices at home, stop right there. Most of us still sieve the pulp out, add heaps of sugar and chug it down in the name of fresh fruit juice. We have been hardwired that juices are sweet so most of us cannot do without it.

Instead of juice, enjoy fruit whole. That way, you also get all the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals found naturally in the fruit. Then again if some of us are willing to juice the fruit, retain the pulp and leave out the sugar then go ahead. Otherwise, juices can be savoured occasionally, and you definitely can’t add a health halo to it.

Eat, Drink And Be Thankful

After Halloween and pumpkins, we couldn’t resist talking about Thanksgiving because they are after all the three musketeers. Thanksgiving (Day), is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States.

A Day To Be Grateful: What’s That About?

Thanksgiving is a holiday feast that we can track back to November 1621. History says that first Thanksgiving was an autumn harvest celebration by Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians who had newly colonized in Plymouth.

Thanksgiving Feast: Then & Now

Since it was a harvest celebration, locally grown grains, fruits and vegetables along with the bounty of hunting made their way to the first Thanksgiving feast. Today, the famous banquet includes roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. But these didn’t earn a place at the table until later in the holiday’s 400-year history.

Surprise surprise, Turkey was not the centrepiece of the meal! The colonists ate wildfowls such as ducks, geese, and swans; and the wild turkey was one such fowl. Also, instead of bread-based stuffing, herbs, onions and/or nuts were part of the recipe to make the birds extra flavorful.

Fun Food Fact: It seems that turkey was the victim of a common complaint ‘feeling drowsy after Thanksgiving meal’ as it contains tryptophan, an amino acid with a somnolent effect. But research highlighted that carbohydrate-rich sides and desserts are the ones that aid tryptophan to make way for the brain.

Speaking of meat, culinary historians believe that hunting also included deer and venison which were used to whip up a hearty stew. The colonists and Wampanoag also probably ate seafood like lobster, bass, clams, and mussels.

Local vegetables such as onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots, and peas were used. The bumper crop was corn, consumed as cornmeal or porridge. Indigenous fruits were berries and plums, no wonder the Native Americans ate and used cranberries as a natural dye. However it wasn’t eaten as a sauce, this tradition started about 50 years later.

Potatoes of any kind, in any form, were not part of the meal. But pumpkins and quashes were definitely on the indigenous list. Of course, the colonists definitely lacked butter and wheat flour required to bake pies! Besides the settlers hadn’t yet constructed an oven for baking. So custards were more probable.

So how did the modern Thanksgiving banquet turn out to be this way? Here’s the final tit-bit on the Thanksgiving front. Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the famous nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” started campaigning (in the 1800s) to establish Thanksgiving as an annual event. As a part of her campaign, Hale circulated Thanksgiving recipes and menus which make up today’s feast! Ironically lamb was not on the menu 😉

Start Them Young: Right Eating Habits

Childhood is the period of habit formation and learning, so it is important to ensure our children develop the right eating habits during the early years. Here’s a quick guide on do’s and don’ts to help inculcate healthy eating habits in children.

GO AHEAD

Hand washing: Encourage your children to wash hands before meals to prevent infections (read more about this at http://blog.monkeybox.in/2017/10/14/scrub-em-clean-clean-hands-are-safe-hands/).

Family Meals: Eating together as a family is how children learn to make healthy food choices. It also gives you a chance to set an example as children mimic and learn from their parents.

Meal pattern & timings: When all family members follow a healthy meal pattern (3 meals and 2 snacks) with appropriate meal timings, the child adopts the same.

Balanced meals: Apart from rice, chapathi, noodles or pasta (carbohydrates), make sure to include some form of protein (pulses, lentils, dairy, soy, lean meats or egg) and a rainbow of veggies and fruits as a part of every main meal.

Hydration: Most children guzzle down large amounts of water just before/after meals or after their play-time. Teach children to sip water throughout the day. During meals, if children have a tendency to fill up on water, restrict the amount of water they are allowed to sip during the meal.

Dunk the junk: Once they are back from school, children rampage the house for food. This is when they are most likely to pick up junk food. But remember kids choose from what they have access to. So if they have healthy snack options (hung curds, vegetable fingers with hummus, fruit bowl) within their reach, you can wean them off junk food.

Pre-sport snack: It’s important to boost children with some ‘good’ carbs and protein before their play and sports. This ensures a constant supply of energy throughout their sport and enhances their performances and endurance (get more insight at http://blog.monkeybox.in/2017/08/29/make-sure-your-budding-athlete-eats-like-a-champion/).

 

STOP RIGHT THERE

Clean the plate rule: Most of us were brought up with this rule. But let children stop eating when they feel full. They must listen to their own bodies and acknowledge the feelings of fullness to prevent over-eating. Teach them correct portion-size and portion control as most restaurants and packed foods have led to portion distortion.

Screen-time during meals: Watching TV, using the mobile or playing video games while eating has shown to contribute to obesity. Since children are not seeing what they eat, not only do they not enjoy what they eat but also lose track of how much they eat.

Food as love: Never use food to show affection or reward children. This can lead to an unhealthy attitude towards food and children may resort to food during stressful periods. Also, do not restrict any food items (like chocolates and sweets) but teach children how to eat in moderation.

Apart from these tips and tricks, ensure your child is dewormed. Otherwise eating well would equate to filling bottomless pit since the worms feed on the food and children may end up with deficiencies.

Oh My Gourd: The Pumpkin

This winter squash is more than just a vegetable to carve out Jack-‘o-lanterns. Post-Halloween we are still hung up on pumpkins and why not? Find out why.

The Healthy Orange All-Rounder

Hailing from the family of cucumbers and melons, pumpkin is technically a fruit since it contains seeds. However, in terms of nutrition, it’s more like a vegetable! Pumpkin’s health benefits are thanks to its micronutrient content and the fact that it’s a fiber-filled, low-carb fruit.

Pumpkin provides a hefty dose of beta-carotene. Apart from that antioxidant it also contains vitamins C and E. It is a good source of B-complex vitamins and minerals like copper and potassium. Pumpkin seeds are tiny packets of nutrient power-house. They are rich in protein, fiber, zinc, and magnesium.

Its nutritional make-up makes pumpkin beneficial for immunity, skin and eye health and can help combat health issues like heart-diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and obesity.

More Than Just Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin isn’t the hero of just pumpkin pies or pumpkin spice. Traditionally, our Indian dishes incorporate white and orange pumpkin as a part of sambars, subzis, sweets and more. This veggie is so versatile that it goes well with traditional cooking as well as for global cuisines.

Get a load of these dishes across the various states:

  • Mangalorean Style Kuvalyacho Pollav (Yellow Pumpkin Curry)
  • Odiya Style Chana Dal With Potato & Pumpkin Curry
  • Goan Pumpkin Sabzi
  • Manjal Poosanikai Sambar (Yellow Pumpkin in Toor Dal)
  • Kerala Pumpkin Pachadi (Parangikai Pachadi)
  • Kerala Kootu Curry (Pumpkin with Desi Channa or Black Eyed Beans in Spicy Coconut)
  • Kumror/Kaddu Posto (Spiced Pumpkin with Poppy Seeds and Tomatoes )
  • Lahsuni Dal Tadka (Moong Dal with Pumpkin)
  • Parangikai Payasam

On the international front pumpkin can be used to make hummus, soups, ravioli, risotto, and ice cream. We can even get creative to use it in making flourless pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie protein no-bake bites.

And if you have bowled the gourd clean, you’re sure to end up with power-packed seeds. Here’s how you can incorporate them into your diet:

  • Roast them to the perfect crunch and toss with some spices like cayenne pepper
  • Top your salad with pumpkin seeds for the crunch in every bite
  • Chomp on some pumpkin seeds brittles (chikkis)
  • Make a unique salad dressing with pumpkin seeds, garlic, parsley, coriander, olive oil and lime juice!

So what are you waiting for, grab that gourd and enjoy.

Healthy Halloween Treats & Snacks

It’s time for trick or treat

So there has to be something good to eat!

But not only sweets!!

Halloween is back. Here are some wicked, fang-tastic Halloween-themed ideas to whip up for your little witches and wizards.

Stuffed Jack-O’-Lanterns

Image courtesy: pampered chef
Image courtesy: pampered chef

How about orange bell peppers stuffed to the brim with veggies and baked to perfection? Carve out the bell peppers and you have mini pumpkin Jack-o’-lantern! Go ahead and add quinoa to turn it into a full-fledged meal.

“Boo”nanas

Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Nothing screams Halloween better than ghosts. Grab some bananas and stick on some funky choco chips and this treat is good to go.

Spooky Halloween Salad

Image courtesy: workingmomcookfusion
Image courtesy: workingmomcookfusion

Spook the little monsters with a colorful, healthy, yet creepy Halloween inspired veggie salad. Ghost bread croutons, honey glazed carrot Jack-o’lanterns, fresh crunchy lettuce and juicy cherry tomatoes with a mix of lemon, olive oil, and Italian seasoning for dressing. It will be blood-sucking good!

Shrunken Heads in Blood

Image courtesy: pampered chef
Image courtesy: pampered chef

Don’t worry, this yummy spooky beverage isn’t as creepy as it looks! Carved apples floating around in a healthy, refreshing pomegranate-mint juice.

Ghosstt

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Image courtesy: Biopro

It ain’t Casper the ghost, but these ghosts are friendly as well. How about bread cut-outs of ghosts, smeared with hummus and some black olives for eyes? Simply and spooky right.

Creepy Carrot Fingers

Image courtesy: Kidzworld Kitchen
Image courtesy: Kidzworld Kitchen

Halloween style of veggies and dip! What do you think of carrots fingers with festive almond fingernails glued on with a delicious hummus dip? You can always toss in other veggies on the side to have with the hummus.   

So what are you waiting for you, set your cauldrons on fire and start off.

 

Get the recipes at:

  1. Stuffed Jack-O’-Lanterns

https://indianhealthyrecipes.com/stuffed-capsicum-recipe-stuffed-bell-peppers/ or http://vegecravings.com/stuffed-capsicum-recipe/

  1. “Boo”nanas

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/hummus-237832

  1. Spooky Halloween Salad

https://www.marthastewart.com/873231/honey-glazed-carrots-cilantro

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/6887/croutons/

  1. Shrunken Heads in Blood

https://realfood.tesco.com/step-by-step/how-to-make-shrunken-apple-punch.html http://foodviva.com/juice-recipes/pomegranate-juice-recipe/

  1. Creepy Carrot Fingers

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/hummus-237832

  1. Ghosstt

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/27504-kidzworld-kitchen-halloween

Pasta 101

The Fables of Pasta

Although not from the stone-age, Pasta’s origin dates way back. The most common origin story claims pasta was brought to Italy from the East by the explorer Marco Polo. Wait, what? Didn’t we all just equate pasta and Italy?

Well, it is true that a dumpling-like pasta existed in China as early as 1700 BCE. As we slurp our way to the bottom we discover that pasta’s existence in Italy pre-dates Marco Polo’s trip from China. Lagana, the ancestor of Lasagna existed in Italy long before. Bet you’re thanking god you still have your facts right.

Pasta Comes In All Shapes & Sizes

From butterfly-shaped Farfalle, large tubes called Cannelloni, spirals/spindles called Fusilli or noodle like Spaghetti, there are an infinite number of shapes from A to Z including alphabetical pasta! Different forms of pasta go with different styles of sauces and vegetables. Check out few of the common shapes below.

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Can the Slurp be Nutritious?

“As more and more people embrace the health and fitness fad, (internationally) traditional, centuries-old pasta is seeing a renaissance of appreciation by all.”

Most health and fitness freaks blamed pasta to be one of the causes of obesity among other foods. However, the humble pasta was a nutritious staple centuries before obesity became a major health problem. As a matter of fact, even today pasta is a part of healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet.

But bear in mind that highly processed cheese wasn’t dripping and bacon wasn’t smothered on the meals before. Then how do we classify pasta as healthy and nutritious?

Pasta is considered a complex (good) carbohydrate that digests slowly as the pasta making process compacts the starch structure within the pasta making it more slowly digesting than other foods made from the same ingredients. No wonder pasta is such a popular pre-race meal for athletes!

Did you know that thicker, larger pasta shapes tend to digest more slowly than thinner and smaller pasta shapes? So spaghetti digests more slowly than macaroni!

Whole grain pasta offers more nutritional benefits with more fiber, protein, and many more vitamins and minerals. Apart from the type of pasta you choose just as important is what it is paired with. Research constantly highlights the importance of total diet rather than individual foods. And pasta is a canvas that is easily adaptable include fresh herbs, seasonal vegetables and heart-healthy toppings like olive oil.

Too much of any food can lead to weight gain and subsequently other health issues. Stick to the following tips:

  • Watch the portion sizes closely. It has definitely become much bigger over the years at restaurants.
  • Choose a light sauce. Pasta generally gets a bad rep because of what it is paired with – butter and cheese hike up the calorie and fat content. Dress with olive oil or tomato sauces.
  • Healthy toppings and piling on vegetables definitely do the job.

‘Penne’ for your thoughts?