Working mothers have to constantly juggle their professional and home lives, which often makes focusing on their children’s nutritional needs challenging. Since time and energy are major constraints in this case, it’s impossible to spend hours preparing meals. So, it is natural for you to worry if your little one is getting adequate nutrition from regular homemade food or not.
Unfortunately, this concern is justified. In fact, a National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) survey indicates that the intake of all food groups in Indian households, except for cereals, is less than the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance). When it comes to protein, the average consumption is less than 50% of RDA. Micronutrients like beta-carotene or vitamin A, folate, calcium, riboflavin and iron are also consumed quite inadequately. So, of course, some course correction is needed.
The good news is that a few small changes in the way you prepare regular meals can make a major difference in the nutrient intake of your child. Here are some basic nutrition hacks that will help make regular homemade food more nutrient-dense.
This is the simplest trick to solve most of the challenges surrounding healthy eating. For starters, arrange the entire meal on the child’s plate before they begin eating. Now, every time you serve your kids a meal, you simply need to see what percentage of the plate is being taken up by which food group.
A simple rule of thumb for this is, half the plate should be covered with vegetables, one-fourth with protein (like dals, eggs, fish, chicken, etc), and one-fourth with carbohydrates. Remember that high-quality carbohydrates like unpolished rice or whole-wheat chapati are much more preferable on an everyday basis. Sticking to this simple distribution for every meal will help you stay on track when it comes to your child’s nutrient requirements.
While most mothers try to keep the 3 major meals of the day as healthy as possible, they often lose focus when it comes to the snacks in between meals. And children tend to go for either deep-fried recipes or packaged snacks like chips and biscuits which are low in nutrients and should be consumed in moderation.
So, here are some easy-to-make snacks that are delicious while still being rich in nutrients:
Simply peel and slice bananas and pan-fry them using ghee (which is extremely rich in vitamins A, E, and D), and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Now, here’s a snack that tastes like a dessert but contains only healthy nutrient-dense ingredients.
Rinse ½ cup poha and soak it in water until it becomes soft. Take a pan and add jaggery and water. Allow the jaggery to melt till you see bubbles, and then strain the jaggery water. Now add the poha to a pan on a slow flame, and add jaggery syrup to the poha and mix well. Top it up with some shaved coconut and raisins to make the recipe even more nutrient-dense.
This recipe is a classic in many Indian households and has been providing kids with essential nutrients for decades now. Simply take a warm chapati and make small pieces of it in a bowl. Add some ghee and jaggery and mix well. This can be a great evening snack, a mid-morning tiffin recipe, or even a post-meal dessert.
Cooking hacks for healthier meals
Juggling a full-time job and cooking wholesome meals can be exhausting for working mothers. As a result, you might tend to skip long procedures in exchange for not-so-healthy shortcuts. So, here are some easy cooking hacks that will help you make healthier meals in less time.
- If you’re making puris, just keep them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before frying. They will become fluffy without absorbing too much oil.
- Add half a teaspoon of besan (gram flour) when you prepare the ever-popular suji ka halwa. Not only does besan contain important nutrients, but it will also enhance the flavour of your halwa.
- We often tend to skip making rotis because of the effort it takes to make the dough. So, just add some milk while preparing the dough. It makes the dough soft and also keeps it fresh so you can use it for a longer period of time.
- If your kids love potato wedges but you’re afraid of the amount of oil they consume, fret not. Simply boil the potatoes before frying them and you will drastically reduce the amount of oil needed.
A little awareness goes a long way when it comes to ensuring your child is getting the right nutrition. Just make sure that the everyday meals are incorporating all the elements of a balanced diet. Make sure you mostly include whole foods in your child’s diet, and use local and seasonal ingredients. When it comes to providing proper nutrition to growing kids, home-cooked, traditional food works best.
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To learn more about nutrition dense meal options to include in your child’s diet visit www.ceregrow.in