Monday, July 30, 2012

Healthy snack ideas for kids

 Kids are picky eaters and not eating enough at meal times is a common complaint. That's why snacks play an important role in providing the extra nutrition that they tend to miss out. Most parents tend to focus more on providing a nutritious meal and overlook the importance of giving healthy snacks. Chips, cookies, cheese puffs, cupcakes are convenient snacks but not the healthiest choices. Here are some healthy snack ideas for kids:
  • Sandwiches (with 100% whole wheat breads)-you can use cheese, tofu, nut/peanut butter, guacamole, paneer, egg, vegetables as the filling.
  • Seasonal fresh fruits-cut them up in fun shapes/ sizes(use a melon scooper/cookie cutter), mix them in low-fat yogurt, make smoothies or plain fruit salads.Fruit and cheese kebabs are also a fancy way of serving fruits that kids will love.
  • Fresh vegetables: cut them into strips and serve with dips like guacamole, hummus, peanut/almond butter.
  • Steamed snacks: like idli's/vegetable stuffed idlis, dhoklas, khandvi's can be cut/decorated into fun shapes.
  • Mini- rolls/burritos: whole wheat chapathis/rotis can be used to make rolls with egg/paneer/tofu burji(scrambled), rajma/ channa, mung(pulses/lentils) curry/usal or cheese spread.
  • Tikkis/cutlets can be made with soy chunks, mixed vegetables, lentils and shallow fried or baked (instead of deep fried). These can also be served inside a pita bread or sandwich.
  • Mini/triangle/cone dosas/uttapams: these fun size/baby dosas can be more interesting for kids than the regular adult size ones. Serve them with chutney/ketchup/peanut butter (you can even draw a smiley face on the dosa with it)!
  •  Nuts and dry-fruits: older children can be given a handful of mixed nuts and dry fruits.
These snacks can be served with either a glass of low-fat milk/soy milk, water, 100% fruit juices or homemade juices.
Make sure to serve these snacks at least two hours before meal times, otherwise they may not be hungry enough for it.
Here's a great clip that I found on CDC-TV- it introduces Coyote, a trickster and teaches kids the difference between healthy snacks and sweets:

Tricky Treats. Flash Player 9 is required.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Is Your Child Getting the Right Nutrition?

A common complaint that most parents have is that their child doesn't eat (enough). The question that then arises is whether the child is getting the right amount of nutrition that is required for growth. There are even instances of parents requesting the pediatrician to prescribe some supplements or health tonics.
Most of the times these are not required as parents just wrongly assume that their child isn't eating enough just because the portions they eat are too small. Keep in mind that they are kids and will not be able to eat as much as an adult. One way of knowing whether is to check the child's growth records. If the child is around or above the 50th percentile,then he/she is getting enough calories to grow. If at any point, the percentile keeps dropping below the 50th percentile in terms of weight and the height doesn't seem to be increasing too much over a period of time, then that may be a sign of under-nutrition.
Sometimes, just getting sufficient calories for growth is not enough-the child may be eating and drinking the wrong foods (chips,candies, cookies, soda/aerated drinks , chocolates and such) most of which which provide nothing other that empty calories.
To ensure that a child is getting adequate nutrition through his/her diet, here are some guidelines:
  •  Make sure that the child eats at least 3 meals (breakfast, lunch,dinner) and has 2-3 small snacks in between. 
  • Serve the meals and snacks at the dining table and not in front of the TV. 
  • Ensure that the child gets a helping from all the food groups at meal times:
Grains: Rice, breads, pasta, roti/chapathi, or ragi/jowar
Protein:Pulses/lentils/beans(e.g dals, mung,rajma,soy, etc) eggs, chicken, fish.
Vegetables: make sure the child eats a variety of veggies and also green leafy vegetables (palak/spinach, amaranth, collard, chard,etc). Limit using only potatoes as a vegetable.
Fruits: can be served at the end in lieu of dessert. Here again choose fresh seasonal fruits rather than canned fruits(which can be loaded with sugar).
Dairy: Yogurt/curd, skimmed milk, low-fat cheese, soy milk are also excellent sources of calcium. These can be served separate or mixed with the meal-cheese sandwich, curd/yogurt rice.
  • Serve water instead of juices with the meals.
  • Healthy snacks can also contribute to the child's nutrition. Avoid foods like cookies, pastries, jello, chips, chocolates. Fruits, cheese sticks, fruits in yogurt, fruit smoothies, mini sandwiches(with cheese, guacamole, almond/nut butter), dhoklas, mini-uttapams, mini-burritos(with cheese/scrambled eggs,pulses ) nuts and dry fruits, coin idlis, sukha bhel, popcorn(with less butter/oil), etc. Use your imagination and make the snacks more attractive when serving. A glass of skimmed milk/ soy milk or 100% fruit juice can also be served with the snacks. 
  • Make sure there is at least a gap of 2 hours between snack time and regular meal times, otherwise the child may not be hungry.
Moreover, keep the child engaged in some kind of physical activity (outdoor play, swimming, cycling, etc) for at least an hour each day. This will not only keep the child occupied instead of sitting glued to the T.V or video games, but will also increase the appetite.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The 'Gold Medal Diet' (for Indian athletes).

2012 Olympic Gold Medal
(Image Courtesy of IOC)

With the Olympics just around the corner, here's wishing all the Indian athletes competing in the London Olympics the 'very best of luck' in their endeavor  for the coveted Gold medal!
With the last leg of training still going on, a gentle reminder to eat a well balanced diet, as diet and good nutrition too play an important role in an athletes quest for Gold.
There are numerous stories in the press after each Olympics about the non-serious attitude at the Olympic village by the Indian contingent. Stories of how the Indian teams gorge on the numerous buffets/foods available, the shopping sprees, the visits to the beauty parlor and the night-outs abound. This is in sharp contrast to the athletes of other countries who have their eyes set on the Olympic Gold and try to stay clear of such temptations (some of whom even go to the level of staying in a private hotel on personal expenses to avoid being distracted)!
Since most in the Indian team cannot afford such luxuries,here are some tips on eating and staying healthy at the games village:
  • Choose whole grains for your meals: Carbohydrates should come from whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat breads, rolled/steel cut oats (avoid instant), whole wheat rotis instead of maida naan/roomali rotis (Indian food is a local favorite in London,so I won't be surprised if there is a section of Indian delicacies), whole wheat pastas. If the latest press release on the Indian teams food choices is accurate, then please note that fast food (read burgers) by the (in)-famous 'evil clown' chain is NOT A GOOD CHOICE!! 
  •  Include high quality proteins every day: chicken,fish, eggs, and for the vegetarians, pulses/beans, soy and soy products(tofu, soy milk), skimmed milk, yogurt must be a part of each meal as exercise/training tends to increase the bodies protein requirement. Avoid eating only protein foods as this can lead to dehydration.
  • Avoid fried foods: french fries, fried chicken (or other non-veg foods), chips, burgers,  must be at the minimum as fatty foods takes a long time to digest and also tend to make the body sluggish. The best way to get your fats is to include healthy fats from nut butters (peanut/almond/sunflower seeds and such), various nuts, fish (a good way to get your omega-3's).
  • Avoid overeating on desserts: The dessert section is a big temptation to all-leave that for your victory meal (after you win the medal). Moreover these can lead to fluctuations in your blood sugar levels and also create a surge in the insulin in your blood. Stick to eating fruits for dessert as that will ensure that you get your fiber as well as various vitamins and minerals. Fruits like bananas and oranges are great for adding the much needed potassium to your diet.
  • Drink plenty of water: keeping yourself hydrated is the key. Avoid soft drinks/aerated /fizzy drinks and alcohol. Sports drinks during your event can be a good alternative to replace the sodium lost through sweat.
  •  Avoid caffeine: although there seems to be a controversy on whether caffeine is dehydrating or not, it is best to avoid it at the moment and experiment with it later after you get back home. 
  • Get adequate rest and sleep: The late night movies, parties, music bars can be checked out after your events. It is most important to give your body the necessary rest required after the day's training.
Think twice before you gorge on the wrong food- you have trained for years to be selected for the Olympics, so why give up your dream?
Nothing is IMPOSSIBLE, for the word itself says "I'M POSSIBLE" !!! So, on your marks, get set and GO....get the Gold Medal!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pomegranate and Dill Raita

Dill known as 'sabsige soppu' in Kannada and 'savaa' in Hindi, is a delicacy especially in Karnataka. It's added to 'dal', upma, rice rotti's and adds a distinct flavor.
The raita is a quick and simple accompaniment to a meal.

Yogurt(non-fat)-1 1/2 cup
Pomegranate seeds- 1/2 cup
Dill leaves- 2 tbsp (chopped)
Salt-to taste
Red chilli powder- a pinch
Roasted cumin- a pinch(powdered)
Chaat masala- a pinch (optional)

1)Mix the dill leaves, pomegranate seeds, yogurt and salt together.
2)Chill for about an hour before serving.
3)Sprinkle the red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder and chaat masala just before serving.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Neer Dosa (A Manglorean delicacy)

Neer Dosa
Neer Dosa (neer=water and dosa=crepe) is a no-ferment dosa which is a speciality of Manglorean cuisine. The name "Neer Dosa"is derived from the fact that the batter is almost of the consistency of water which is unlike other dosa batters. The resulting thin lace-like dosas (nick-named "lace dosas" by an aunt of mine) is eaten with relish in all Manglorean homes.
Made from rice, the rice grains are soaked in water for about 2 hours, then ground to a fine thin(water-like) batter. Once the batter is ready it is poured onto a hot round iron griddle(most Manglorean houses have a separate griddle kept aside for neer dosas). The sizzle on the pan creates the craters or lace-like appearance.

Ingredients:Makes 15-20 dosas
Rice: 2 cups
Water: enough to make a thin (water-like) batter
Oil: 1tbsp
Salt: to taste

1)Soak the rice in water for at least 2 hours.
2)Grind to a fine,thin consistency.Add a little salt and mix well.
3)Heat the iron griddle till it's really,really hot.
4)Spread a little oil. Usually an onion is cut into half and dipped into the oil and used as a brush to spread the oil (this is believed to make the pan non-stick).
5)Pour a ladle full of batter into the center of the griddle and let it spread by itself (do not spread)on the griddle (add extra if needed where required to make a perfect circular dosa).
6)Cover and let it cook (do not flip the dosa over)
7)When done, remove the neer dosa gently with a spatula.
8)Serve the with neer doss chutney, honey or kori gussi (chicken curry).

Neer Dosa /Lace-Dosa