Chef Tanvee Katoch,
Leap Trainer & Mentor at CHA Jaipur
There is a fight every mother faces each morning!! She fights against her worst fear!! And no it’s not waking up late, neither is it about the maid not coming or the milk man not turning up, it’s about something she has been thinking all night and has NO answer to. What should I give my child for his/her lunch box??
Now, let me start by saying, YES!! it’s not an easy task, precisely like in a classroom it’s difficult to grasp the attention of students, in the very same manner to keep the child interested in food is at par. Being a chef I see young mothers walking up to me, and saying my kid does not eat food, his Tiffin comes back as it is so on and so forth. There are a few pointers we need to keep in mind when you are prepping food for children:
- Cooking time
Let’s go sequence wise, trust me this is no rocket science, kids get attracted to color a vibrant sweet fruit pancake with any jam or jelly would be the best option. Try making the pancake with whole wheat flour instead of refined flour because, as the name suggests, refined flour is sifted 4x more than whole wheat flour and that is why it has a bright white color. Due to rigorous refining the nutritional value (roughage) of the flour is lost and it is nothing more than edible sand. Try and avoid refined flour in any form for your child up to the age of 10 years, as it is only post the age of 10 that a child’s stomach is completely ready to digest refined carbs.
Speaking about cooking time, Chinese food or shallow frying is the best option. A major advantage of Chinese food is that it incorporates a lot of greens and they get a distinctive flavor due to the extensive use of ingredients like Soy sauce & black peppercorn. The use of red chili powder in kids food should be restricted as red chilly has the tendency to irritate the child’s stomach and cause severe bowel issues. Try doing stir fried udon noodles (buck wheat noodles) , instead of the regular packet Hakka noodles, the nutritional value in udon is 3x than Hakka noodles. I bet the child will not even get to know!! Add double the amount of vegetables but not thin strips; fine chop all the vegetables so that they can coat the noodles.
Now comes a major input, the way you present the food in the Children Tiffin or his/her plate. Making joker faces on sandwiches, or sending smiley potatoes in the lunch box is now old school. Try and cut out interesting shapes from fruits, say a star from watermelon, cut a flower out of a whole apple, Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, they can be cut into the shape of a fan and used to decorate porridge or pancakes in Tiffin boxes.
Lastly a few tips and tricks to get kiddies to eat healthy food:
- Avoid restriction on food : As it is a natural tendency in humans to get attracted to things we generally say NO to.
- Keep healthy food at hand: Children eat what’s available, so keep dry fruits, dry cereal, or cut fruits ready for disposal in air tight containers.
- Don’t tell the child this is good or bad: Infact tell the kid about what certain foods which he likes or does not like contain, eg: tell him cottage cheese is good because it contains calcium.
- Praise healthy choice habits: When the kid picks up a fruit to eat, appreciate him/her for making the right choice.
- Don’t nag about unhealthy habits: Sometimes, when the kid requests for instant noodles, its ok to let loose and let him eat, as eating deep fried or junk food, once in a blue moon gives stomach the opportunity to acclimatize to heavy food.
HAPPY COOKING & HEALTHY EATING