How to incorporate millets in your child’s diet

How to incorporate millets in your child’s diet

Babies and toddlers have small stomachs but high nutritional needs. Thus, it is essential to give them nutrient-dense foods. One of the best foods you can feed your child is millets! Millets are known by many different names in India, including jowar, nachani, ragi , finger millet, kora or foxtail millet, arke or kodo millet, bajra or pearl millet, sanwa and bhagar . It’s a small grain that can be cooked as a whole grain or ground into flour. Kodo millet for babies is especially popular as it is rich in protein, minerals, vitamins and fibre.

Health benefits

Millets are rich in many different nutrients, including iron, calcium, proteins, phosphorus, fibre and other minerals. They are also high in saturated fat. Different types of millets have different health benefits.

  • Jowar - This grain helps in muscle and bone development, prevents anaemia and aids in digestion.
  • Ragi - Ragi has high calcium and iron levels and aids in bone development. It also prevents anaemia.
  • Kora - This grain differs from other millet grains as the protein content in this grain is not lost while it is being cooked. It can play a crucial role in a child’s muscle development.
  • Bajra - This form of pearl millet is considered to be six times more nutritious than wheat, and is a great source of energy. Bajra porridge benefits babies and toddlers especially, by helping them to stay active and grow faster.
  • Arke - This form of millet is rich in fibre and prevents constipation, while also acting as a good source of energy.
  • Sanwa or barnyard millet- It has a high fibre and iron content and can prevent constipation and anaemia.

Recipes for kids

Millets are easy to digest and can be conveniently incorporated in a child’s diet. Here are a few easy recipes to follow.

Foxtail millet sweet pongal

Ingredients

  • 200gm foxtail millet
  • 250gm jaggery
  • 50gm ghee
  • 15 raisins
  • 5 broken cashew nuts
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 400ml water

Method

Heat a little ghee in a pan and roast the millet till it becomes golden. Keep the millet aside and roast the dry fruits. Heat 4 teaspoons of water and dissolve the jaggery in it. Strain and cook until it thickens, to make syrup. Heat water and add the roasted millet. Boil and slowly add the remaining ghee. When half-cooked, add the jaggery syrup. Finish by adding dry fruits.

Jowar upma

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup jowar
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 slit green chillies
  • 1/2 - 3/4 tsp jeera
  • 1/2 - 3/4 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 cup chopped vegetables
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut
  • Oil, salt and turmeric as needed

Method

Soak the jowar overnight. Drain and pressure cook with 1 cup water and turmeric, till you hear 2 whistles on a high flame or 1 whistle on a low flame. Heat some oil in a pan and sauté the mustard, cumin, and urad dal . Add onions, ginger and chillies. Add vegetables and sauté till cooked. Mix in the jowar , coconut and salt. Garnish with lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves.

Little millet biryani

Ingredients

  • 1 cup little millet
  • 1 cup chopped vegetables
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup thick curd
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp mint leaves, chopped
  • 3 cardamoms
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp powdered fennel seeds
  • 1 pinch turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • Salt to taste

Method

Heat ghee in a pan, and roast cinnamon, cardamom and fennel powder in it for a few minutes. Add onions, tomatoes, mint and ginger-garlic paste. Then sauté for 3 minutes. Add vegetables and curd. Cook for 5 minutes and add the millet. Add 2 cups of water, cover, and cook till done.

Corn and banyard millet dosa

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup banyard millet
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup black gram dal
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • Salt to taste

Method

Soak millet, corn, and urad dal mixed with fenugreek seeds separately. Grind all the ingredients together and season with salt. Add water to achieve the dosa consistency. Set aside to ferment for 6 hours. Heat oil in a pan and add a spoonful of batter and spread evenly to make a dosa .

Pearl millet porridge

Ingredients

  • 200 gm pearl millet
  • Salt to taste

Method

Soak the millet for half an hour and then drain and dry. Powder the grains to get a coarse consistency and sieve to remove the large grains. Boil 1 litre of water and add the millet powder. Cook while stirring continuously, to avoid lumps. Season with salt and simmer till it is cooked. This is a commonly followed millet porridge baby recipe.