It's difficult to overemphasize the importance of a healthy diet for our children. Have you ever run out of ideas to feed your kids healthy and tasty foods? Are your kids picky eaters who turn up their noses at what you diligently spend hours in the kitchen to put on their plates? Well, you are not alone!
If given a choice, children will always choose candies over veggies and crisps over their bowl of rice and gravy. But, it's important that they have nutritious food intake for strength, immunity and overall good health. One way to ensure that they form holistically healthy food habits is to plan meal menus for them. It will give you clear ideas on what and when to cook the sort of foods that you feel your kids should eat.
- Not skipping on breakfast sets the tone for the day.
- In addition to contributing to physical health, it also encourages mental stability and emotional well-being.
- Children are better able to deal with the tasks that are designed for them throughout the day.
Eggs: Hard-boiled eggs or omelettes are easy to prepare and are instant sources of a protein boost.
Paneer/Cottage Cheese: A cheesy sandwich with cucumber and tomatoes will keep your kid's tummy and taste buds happy
Curd: A yogurt smoothie to go with breakfast is a great fix for a tasty and juicy treat.
Jam/Peanut Butter/Butter- Sweet or savory spreads on rotis or brown bread make for delicious and fulfilling first meal of the day.
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- A lot is asked from our children all day through and lunch ensures that they get from breakfast till dinner satisfyingly and actively.
- Creating lunch menus that are balanced in nutrition will help their physical growth and keep them satiated till evening. Also make sure, you are giving them good hydration, providing water and fruit juices throughout the day.
Rice- This carbohydrate enriched ingredient can be used to make the most delectable of recipes. Pulao, Fried Rice, Curd Rice, Khichdi are some of the ways rice can be made a wholesome and happy meal for our school going munchkins.
Pulses- a cornucopia of minerals, vitamins, protein and fibre, the legume family should constitute a good chunk of our kids' lunches.
This versatile food group can be pureed, boiled or simply made into curries with basic spices. Dahi Bhalas, Dosas, Lentil Curries, Chole Bhature and fried Pakodas are few instances that you can improvise on to make toothsome and hearty lunches.
Meat- Needless to mention that poultry, beef and fish are powerhouses of protein that help in strengthening muscles and bones, improve overall health of enzymes and hormones in our bodies and aid in keeping ailments like diabetes and hypertension at bay.
- Fried chicken and fish are devoured easily by kids when cooked in basic spices and coatings.
- Incorporating meat with vegetables is a good idea to sneak in benefits of both food groups in kids' meals since they're usually averse to gorging on plain veggies. So Palak Gosh, Chicken Chana, Fish and Chips or Pizzas with meat+veggie toppings make for terrific lunch meal menus.
Multigrains- Flours like wheat, maize, barley and millet are full of essential fatty acids, magnesium and starch which lend the benefit of making teeth, bones and muscle strong while providing lots of energy for our body to function actively throughout the day.
Different styles of stuffed Parathas, Oats Idli, Rotis with different styles of curries, Brown Bread Sandwiches, Wholewheat Pasta and Raagi Dosas make for great lunch meal ideas to ensure a wholesome diet intake in our children.
As families sit to eat together for dinner, since everyone is usually home at this hour, striking meaningful conversations, celebrating togetherness and eating healthy meal creates a lasting memory on our kids minds. This helps them in dealing with emotional and cognitive challenges, also extending a smart structure to their lifestyle in general.
Vegetables- This colorful food group helps in preventing chronic illnesses along with supplying umpteen nutrients when served to our kids. Super foods like spinach, broccoli, garlic and tomatoes provide a zillion benefits to their bodies, replenishing with goodness like folic acid and healthy red blood cells.
Mushroom Sabzi, Vegetable Pulao, Aloo Matar, Tomato Soup, Vegetable Pizzas, Palak Paneer, Coleslaw and various Salads in tasty dressings would be lapped up delighfully by kids during dinner.
Herbs and Spices- Along with improving the taste of our foods, herbs and spices possess anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, are high on vitamins and contain multitude of minerals.
- Mint and Coriander Chutney can be served with Sandwiches and Parathas.
- Pepper adds a zing to our foods and ensures digestion. Adding half a teaspoon or so to our curries, frying batters or as seasoning on boiled foods will enhance our dinner meal flavor.
- Cinnamon is terrific in remedying cold and chest congestion while also being rich in antioxidants. It makes anything taste better so sprinkling cinnamon powder in our soups, in our daals or while baking brownies for a dinner dessert lends a delicious zest and aroma.
- Basil- a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium and vitamins, basil can be boiled and strained to have as a drink after a wholesome dinner. Or dried basil make for excellent seasoning on pizzas and various sauces for sandwiches and wraps too.
- Curry Leaves- did you know, this herb is great for healthy growth of hair? For our kids to never suffer from hair problems, let's infuse curry leaves in their diets. You can crush/chop and add them to veggies, dal tadkas or curries. They give out an amazing aroma, building children's appetite before they sit for dinner!
At the end of the day, it's all about moderation and balancing out. Some days kids might drive us crazy with demands to eat sugary treats and junk food but with time and daily meal planning, they'll develop a healthy eating habit and lead a sound lifestyle.
By Rooshna Memon