Hacks to keep meals healthy and fresh

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS -

While it’s al­ways a strug­gle when it comes to en­sur­ing lunch­box ideas are fresh, as well as in­ter­est­ing, we have a few tricks to en­sure you’re eat­ing healthy this sea­son.

Say yes to whole fruit and no to cut fruit:

At times, schools urge par­ents to pro­vide a fruit and even sal­ads in their child’s lunch box, tak­ing a well-bal­anced meal into con­sid­er­a­tion. How­ever, what we don’t re­alise is that the nu­tri­ents in th­ese fruit and veg­gies, par­tic­u­larly if they’re cut up, get ox­i­dised if stored for a longer time. Apart from the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of its nu­tri­tional con­tent, th­ese cut fruit and veg­gies tend to at­tract in­fec­tious germs. Too much mois­ture and hu­mid­ity in the air, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the mon­soons, can cause food to spoil quickly. Pre­vent pack­ing raw or semi-cooked food, to keep in­fec­tions at bay. It’s wise to pro­vide un­cut fruit like ap­ples, ba­nanas, peachs, pears, plums,

ja­muns and cher­ries, which are packed with var­i­ous dis­ease-fight­ing an­tiox­i­dants, and help boost your child’s im­mu­nity. Soak th­ese fruit in a salt wa­ter solution or white vine­gar wa­ter solution for five min­utes and wash off with cold wa­ter. This will re­move dirt, germs, and pes­ti­cide residue, if any. Avoid wa­ter­mel­ons dur­ing this sea­son, and avoid non-sea­sonal fruit as they tend to get in­fested with worms.

Say yes to stir fried veg­eta­bles and no to sand­wiches:

Stir fry­ing is quick and easy es­pe­cially if you’re deal­ing with your morn­ing chores and get­ting a head start to your day. More­over, a quick stir fry is a sure shot way to preserve the nu­tri­ents that tend to di­min­ish with rou­tine cook­ing. This is be­cause stir-fried veg­eta­bles main­tain their colour, tex­ture and flavour. Long cook­ing times or over-cook­ing com­prim­ises the nu­tri­tional value of food. Hence, this quick-fix method can ac­tu­ally serve to be beneficial to your child’s over­all health. How­ever, cut­ting veg­eta­bles in medi­um­sized di­a­monds or squares can help re­tain nur­tition bet­ter. Larger sur­faces means greater loss. More­over, avoid us­ing toma­toes in your dishes so the prepa­ra­tion re­mains fresh for a longer du­ra­tion. Use sesame oil or olive oil, onion, gar­lic, salt and pep­per. Sauté lightly and top with roasted sun­flower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds or pump­kin seeds. Use a va­ri­ety of spices like ajwain, cin­na­mon, nut­meg, clove, etc., as th­ese are good sources of min­er­als like iron, cal­cium, phos­pho­rus, se­le­nium, mag­ne­sium, and zinc;. More­over, they also aid di­ges­tion. You can also roll them into in parathas, top th­ese on whole wheat pizza dough or toss it with whole wheat pasta. Th­ese can be a health­ier al­ter­na­tive to sand­wiches, par­tic­uarly those which have raw veg­gies like cu­cum­ber or toma­toes, or even pa­neer, may­on­naise, etc. In­gre­di­ents like th­ese tend to re­tain mois­ture and make for ideal breed­ing grounds for mi­crobes dur­ing this sea­son.

Say yes to sprout pan­cakes or cut­lets and no to sprout salad:

Mon­soon is the time when par­ents are most wor­ried about their chil­dren fall­ing sick, as the sea­son brings with it cold, fever and gas­troen­teri­tis along with low im­mu­nity lev­els. Raw sprouts can lead to food-borne ill­nesses. Sprouts salad with raw onions and toma­toes, can be re­placed

with other food prepa­ra­tions which will re­main fresh. Steam the sprouts, grind them and in­cor­po­rate them with a va­ri­ety of whole grains and mil­lets like ragi, quinoa, oats, bar­ley, or brown rice, to pre­pare pan­cakes which will last longer. Th­ese can also be com­bined with veg­eta­bles and shal­low fried to pre­pare cut­lets. The pres­ence of di­etary fi­bre in th­ese prepa­ra­tions will help pre­vent con­sti­pa­tion and the pres­ence of min­er­als like cal­cium, iron, phos­pho­rus, potas­sium, se­le­nium, zinc, and mag­ne­sium will help the im­mune sys­tem func­tion at its best.

Say yes to air fried, baked or steamed dry snacks and no to fried snacks:

Hu­mid­ity slows down the body’s di­ges­tive abil­ity, mak­ing the di­ges­tive sys­tem vul­ner­a­ble to in­fec­tions. Fried snacks like batata wada, medu wada, bread rolls, pooris, etc., can cause bloat­ing and gas­troin­testi­nal dis­tur­bances. It’s best to avoid pack­ing oily and fried foods. More­over, ex­tremely high tem­per­a­tures used in the deep fry­ing method causes the pro­duc­tion of trans fats which can take a toll on your child’s over­all health. In­stead, go for roasted, baked, air fried and steamed snacks like roasted makhana and corn, baked or roasted pota­toes, steamed muthias, baked khakras etc. Re­strict the use of maida, sooji and be­san; rather in­cor­po­rate fiber-rich grains, pulses and veg­eta­bles. Use your cre­ativ­ity to de­velop new recipes which your child will rel­ish. Th­ese should be nu­tri­tious, flavour­ful and should re­main fresh, pre­vent­ing the chances of food poi­son­ing dur­ing this sea­son.

Say yes to sea­sonal veg­eta­bles and no to leafy veg­eta­bles:

Dur­ing this sea­son, there is an in­creased risk of dirt and worms re­main­ing on leafy veg­eta­bles, de­spite be­ing thor­oughly washed. This can lead to stom­ach in­fec­tions. More­over, green leafy veg­eta­bles are usu­ally grown in swamps and the lack of sun­light dur­ing the mon­soons causes the growth of bac­te­ria on them. Though ex­tremely nu­tri­tious, it is best to avoid veg­etable like spinach, cauliflower, broc­coli, cab­bage and other leafy veg­eta­bles this sea­son. In­stead, cook and pack healthy veg­eta­bles like lauki or doo­dhi, tu­rai, tinda, par­wal or po­tol, kan­tola or bhat karela, corn, beet­root, mooli, kaddu or bho­pla that can be pre­pared in a va­ri­ety of in­ter­est­ing ways. Th­ese veg­eta­bles are rich in di­etary fi­bre, con­tain anti-in­flam­ma­tory com­pounds, en­hance im­mu­nity and main­tain a healthy gut. Pota­toes and sweet pota­toes are less prone to bac­te­rial in­fes­ta­tion and can be packed in tif­fin boxes dur­ing the mon­soons.

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