Coming up with interesting snacks for the tiffin box can pose a challenge for the best cook. Here's how you whip up simple, healthy delights

Many mothers find it a challenge to pack novel, yet healthy snacks for their school-going children. The secret, dieticians say, is to give the same old snacks a twist, making them more interesting.

“The ideal snack can be a salad with a blend of cereals, nuts and pulses with vegetables or seasonal fruits, either raw or partially cooked. For instance, puffed rice with groundnut powder, and sprouts mixed with jaggery make for a good combination as children tend to like anything sweet. Wheat-based pooris with mango pulp is also a tasty snack. But, ensure that nothing is too salty or sweet; too much of both is not good,” cautions Dharini Krishnan, a diet consultant.

Priya Chandrashekar of Indira Child Care, and consultant, Apollo Children's Hospital, insists that children must be fed a healthy breakfast rich in carbohydrates before they head to school. “Instead of finger millet (ragi) porridge, you can make cutlets or steam ragi into idlis, for dishes rich in protein, fat, carbohydrate and minerals, essential for a growing child,” she says.

To encourage children to eat dry fruits, renowned chef and author of numerous cookery books, Tarla Dalal has come up with an interesting baked dish — apricot orange cookies. She says: “Each cookie has a nutritive value of 81 calories. Home-baked items are healthy when made of whole wheat flour and less sugar, instead of maida.”

Anoop Misra, chairman, National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation, says that in the process of giving variety, we tend to over-indulge in deep-fried snacks, which is unhealthy and leads to obesity. Stressing on the need to avoid sweetened carbonated beverages and fried snacks from outside, Dr. Misra says: “Even if the snacks are prepared at home, depending upon the specific nutrition requirements of the child, it should be low in fat and sugar, but high in fibre.”

Kids are fond of ready-to-eat noodles, a dish doctors say should be consumed very rarely. Says Dr. Priya: “The preparation time may be quick, but they are not all that healthy as they contain preservatives and are processed. Instead, opt for home-made sevai with powdered cashew nuts and vegetables; it's much healthier.”

Now, for some recipes

Tarla Dalal's special treats

Apricot Orange Cookies (makes 16)

Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Baking Temperature: 160C

Baking Time: 25 to 30 minutes.

Ingredients

Whole wheat flour (aata): three-fourth cup

Butter: half cup

Powdered sugar: quarter cup

Baking powder: quarter tsp

Soda-bi-carb: quarter tsp

Dried, chopped apricots: one-and-a-half tbsp

Chopped cashewnuts: one-and-a-half tbsp

Orange drink mix: 2 tsp

Cashewnuts (halved) for garnish: 8

Butter for greasing: half tsp

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to get a soft dough.

Pour into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle.

Pipe out one-and-a-half inch diameter cookies on a greased baking tray.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 160C for 20 to 25 minutes or till the cookies are golden brown.

Cool and store in an air-tight container.

SESAME SOYA TIKKI (makes eight)

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Soaking time: 5 to 7 minutes

Ingredients

Potatoes (boiled, peeled and mashed): 1 cup

Soya granules (soaked and drained- refer handy tip): quarter cup

Carrots (finely-chopped): 3 tbsp

French beans (finely-chopped): 3 tbsp

Fresh green peas (boiled and lightly mashed):3 tbsp

Peanuts (roasted and coarsely crushed): 2 tbsp

Coriander (finely-chopped): 2 tbsp

Ginger-green chilli paste: 1 tsp

Sugar: 2 tsp

Lemon juice:1 tsp

Salt: To taste

Sesame seeds for coating: 2 tbsp

Oil (for cooking)

Method

Combine the potatoes, soya granules, vegetables, peanuts, coriander, ginger-green chilli paste, sugar, lemon juice and salt and mix well.

Divide into eight equal portions and shape each portion into a flat, round tikki.

Roll each tikki in sesame seeds till it is evenly coated.

Cook the tikkis on a non-stick tava (griddle) using quarter tsp of oil till they turn

golden brown in colour.

Handy tip: For making half a cup of soaked soya granules, soak quarter cup of soya

granules in half cup of warm water. Set aside for five to seven minutes. Squeeze the

granules thoroughly and discard the drained water. Use as required.

How to pack

Cool slightly and wrap in an aluminium foil/cling film and pack.

Nutritive value per tikki:

Dr Misra's Vegetable basket (makes two pieces)

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

Bran: 20 gm

Whole wheat flour: 20 gm

Sprouts: 20 gm

Carrot: 20 gm

Cabbage: 20 gm

Oil: 1 tsp

Method

Mix bran and whole wheat flour, add salt and mix to form a stiff dough. Steam green grams sprouts and mix with grated carrot and cabbage. Add salt and pepper. Divide the dough into small balls and roll them into thin rounds of approximately eight cm diameter. Place the sprouts and vegetable mixture in the centre of these rounds and fold it in the shape of a potli.

Seal it with help of some water and put it on a greased idli mould. Steam for 15 minutes, and serve hot.

Nutritive value: approximately 266 kcal for two vegetable baskets

Keywords: Healthy foodsdiet