A workshop on nutritious cooking provides beleaguered mom Soma Basu some hope of getting her kids to eat healthy
First, a confession: I am not a good cook. I am a working mom too. With the world against me at home, how do I conquer mealtime battles? I know how important variety, moderation and balance is in diet. But when you have diehard foodies aged 13 and 8 at home who are hard-wired to prefer sweets and fried items and reject everything else placed in front of them, what do you do?
After several articles and workshops, my guilt remains. As a parent I have heard this umpteen number of times from nutrition experts who say it is the parent’s responsibility to motivate children to “not just eat healthy food but actually prefer it.”
But I have not been able to convince my daughter that an apple or papaya is as sweet as the chocolate cookie . Or, my son who picks out all tomato pieces from his plate and directs them to the bin. Unfortunately, fries continues to be their “favourite vegetable” and pasta and noodles continue to be the standbys. I am also guilty of using both as a reward if they do put something healthy into their mouths.
A friend advised me, “If you want your child to love a new or healthy food, be persistent, not pushy.” Apparently a research suggested it takes minimum 15 tries before a kid actually eats and likes a new nutritious food. I tell you now, I have been persistent with trying oats in various avatars at least a hundred times, yet, the dining table continues to be a battle zone.
I hope the kid’s healthy recipes workshop for moms at Hotel Fortune Pandiyan, Madurai, provides me with a solution.
Nutritionist Kavitha from Maverick Fitness studio explains what I have already heard before: Get the correct calorie break of each meal; ensure it represents all food groups; serve moderate-sized portions; include rainbow colours. There is more: Empty the fridge of all processed and canned stuff; avoid the shelves of super markets for a fortnight; remember that mouth-melting emulsified food items like chocolates and butter increase the salivation and calorie intake but leave your stomach empty; eat not for taste but for energy; replace sugar with honey. The lesson you will learn, “When you eat right you feel better.” I can’t wait for the Executive Chef Prabhat Chandra Kuila’s live demonstration. Children’s nutrition is a sore topic in many households. So when Kuila announces, “No chef can beat what moms make” – he instantly makes me and the 30-odd ladies in the room feel better.
He tells us our challenge is to make the healthy choices appealing to the children because they develop a natural preference for the foods they enjoy the most. Children seem to innately dislike the taste of fruits, and vegetables. But all we need to do is give the unpopular food a twist.
And Chef Kuila tells us how:
Cauliflower soup: Saute one cup of finely chopped onions in one teaspoon oil over medium flame. Saute two cups of chopped cauliflower in the same deep non-stick pan. Add two cups each of water and low fat milk and bring to boil. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer till the cauliflower is cooked. Keep aside to cool. Use a hand blender to make a coarse puree of the cauliflower. Simmer the puree and serve hot.
Chapati rolls with potato and baby corn: Heat oil and sauté one cup of sliced onions and one large cup of grated potato. Add four sliced baby corns, half cup of red, yellow, green capsicum cubes, two tablespoons of crushed roasted peanuts, half teaspoon each of chilli powder and garam masala and salt to taste. Cook for two minutes and remove from fire. Mix one tablespoon lemon juice. Place small portion of the filling at one side of the warm chapati and roll up tightly. Serve warm with chutney.
Egg idli delight: Beat an egg with salt and pepper and scramble in little butter. In another pan, saute onions, carrots, capsicum with cumin seeds and add the steamed idlis. Stir fry for three minutes and add the scrambled egg, stir well and serve hot garnished with coriander.
Sprouted moong cutlets: Saute one finely chopped onion on medium heat for a minute. Add finely chopped half inch ginger piece and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add quarter cup gram flour and sauté till fragrant and keep aside. In another bowl, take two peeled ripe bananas, mash and add two large grated boiled potatoes along with four finely chopped green chillies, one cup of blanched moong sprouts and salt to taste. Mix the two separate bowls of mixture well with chopped fresh coriander leaves, one teaspoon of dry mango powder and three tablespoons of bread crumb mixture. Take a portion of this mixed ingredients, roll it over in breadcrumb mixture, pat into desired shape and shallow fry on moderate heat.