Tune in to any kids’ TV channel these days: programs are constantly interrupted by ads for processed, sweet, salty foodstuffs that are “fun” and anything but healthy. Unfortunately, in this fast-paced world, both kids and parents fall into this trap of quick and easy gratification. Childhood is fleeting, and the window for inculcating healthy habits closes fast. We bring you guidelines and options for healthy and tasty kids’ foods that can be ordered online without hassle. As parents, we need to make the most of the precious early years to program (no pun intended) our kids for a lifetime of nutrition.
Whole grains are the building blocks for a huge variety of meals and snacks right from the time you start transitioning to solid food. Traditional foods like Ragi “sattva,” moong dal or rice flour make hearty porridges. These can be sweetened with organic jaggery instead of sugar. Brown rice and quinoa can be mixed with mashed bananas and topped with, say, berry honey as a great start to the day for older children. Once kids are of school-going age, or actively engaging in sports, stock their bag with these healthy bars as a pre-or-post session energy booster.
Healthy nut butters:
Home-made peanut butter using organic peanuts is a great topping for cut fruits, celery sticks or chapati rolls. However if you find it tedious to make it yourself, these basic as well as flavoured nut butters are a great option.
Trail mixes, dried berries, gooseberry relishes, dried fruit chips are nature’s candy, packed with micronutrients and flavour.
Some kids are intolerant to lactose or gluten-containing foods. Include rice flour, quinoa, besan, millet, ragi in their diet instead of bread or chapati. A wide variety of gluten-free foodstuffs, including granola and wheat-free crackers.
Smart seeds and nuts:
The brain-shaped walnut is widely recognized as brain food. Powdered walnuts can be added to flour, or breakfast cereals topped with chopped walnuts. A handful of cashews, raisins or figs can be quick playtime munchies that keep small kids full till lunch or dinner. Likewise, seeds like flaxseed, chia seeds, muskmelon, pumpkin or sunflower seeds can be used to garnish salads or added to smoothies for a nutty taste and a shot of healthy fat.
Oils and ghee:
Speaking of healthy fats, can shudh desi ghee be far behind? Grandma’s tried and tested formulas often call for pure ghee. A2 cow ghee is a widely recognized benchmark. It can be added to soft boiled khichdi or rice for younger kids, home-made healthy sweet bites, or on rolls and parathas for older kids. Cold-pressed olive or flaxseed oil can be used in cooking as it retains the most nutrients. Cold-pressed mustard and sesame oils are great to warm up the body and can be used in winter. They especially work well with non-vegetarian dishes.
Little children need all the immune system help they can get, to ward off infectious diseases. Antioxidant-rich dates, multigrain cookies, berry mixes all contribute to a strong immune system.