STUFF FROM US

Has Your Child Ever Eaten A Real Biscuit? [Recipe]

September 13, 2016

By: Shauravi Malik and Meghana Narayan
Huffington Post India

Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? That’s us being funny, but also asking a really basic question that vexes us. How did a simple preparation of real butter, sugar and flour get to a place where the core ingredients have morphed into something often unrecognizable at the back of a packet?

How did a simple preparation of real butter, sugar and flour get to a place where the core ingredients have
morphed into something often unrecognizable at the back of a packet?

Cookies as the Americans call it or biscuits as the British call it, have been part of our snacking culture in India for a very long time. The humble shortbread biscuit, core to tea and coffee times for adults and snacks for children has local variations by geography. Most Indians will recognize at least one of these variants – nankhatais, Shrewsbury or khara biscuits.

Somewhere between trying to maintain a magically low price point while creating cookies that taste and look attractive, nutrition has been cut from the equation. We seem to have collectively landed in a place where the shelves are laden with cookies made of refined flour, refined sugar or invert syrup, palm oil or dalda (more elegantly called hydrogenated vegetable oil), soy lecithin and an astonishing array of legally permitted emulsifiers (e-numbers), preservatives, synthetic colours and additives. As buyers and parents we are equally to blame for not voting with our wallets.

It’s actually really easy to put a real cookie back in the jar — just make it at home!

Fourth, invert syrup is used for baked goods because of its ability to increase shelf life. It is a mixture of glucose and fructose — basically, it is an added refined sugar (which is typically added in addition to refined sugar in most cookies!). This makes it harder to work out what the actual percentage of sugar is in the ingredients. There is increasing consensus in research which highlights the importance of limiting sugar consumption.

Fifth, refined flours like maida which results in the loss of valuable nutrients and fibre. In some instances, this is then corrected with “added vitamins and minerals”.

Lastly — our favourite bugbear. There are some ingredients that we cannot even pronounce. And they feel like they belong in the chemistry lab, and not in my child’s food.

It’s actually really easy to put a real cookie back in the jar — just make it at home! Turns out that new research supports what your grandmother said, a bit of butter in moderation is good for you. You’ll discover that most children love to bake, especially if the result is things that they like. You can make cookies once a week, and keep them in an air-tight container and ration them out for the rest of the week. Be good and don’t eat them all on the first day!

Recipe: Chocolate Ragi Cookies

(These are an Indian take on the German Christmas cookies (Lebkuchen) that Shauravi’s colleague used to bring to work; recipe created by Mandakini Gupta of Smitten Bakery)

Ingredients

Ragi flour: 100gm

Wholewheat flour: 100gm

Palm sugar: 60gm

Butter: 60gm

Canola oil: 60gm

Applesauce: 30gm

Cocoa powder: 5gm

Baking powder: ½ tsp

Cinnamon: ½ tsp

All Spice: ½ tsp

Nutmeg: ½ tsp

Instructions

Sift all the dry ingredients together.

In a bowl, mix the butter, canola oil and palm sugar and whisk it well till creamy, and then add the applesauce.

Add all the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Knead it into a dough, and roll it out till it is ¼ inch in thickness. Place between two baking sheets and put the dough in the freezer for a short while. Once it has chilled, take it out and cut into the shapes you like with a cookie cutter.

Place in a preheated oven at 160°C. Bake until they look dry and matte on top and if touched, don’t feel sticky; they should be firm. Let them cool on the tray till they are at room temperature. Enjoy!

Tip: The quality of cocoa used will vastly impact the taste of the cookies. If your child does not like the hints of spice, you can omit the allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon

Relax, your fussy eater is not going to starve

September 9, 2016

It can be hard having a child who refuses to eat what’s on the plate. Here are ways to deal with it

Shauravi’s son was a champion eater. Until the tender age of 14 months. There was much initial success with homemade baby cereal experiments. She was patting herself on the back for his evolved taste buds. And then, it all came to a crashing halt. He stopped eating. Everything. Except milk and cheese. There was no luck with airplane spoons, songs or any amount of cajoling.

Thank god for a sensible paediatrician at the time. He wrote out his diagnosis and it was not what she expected. But in hindsight, it was also entirely accurate. He wrote “I have reassured his mum that this is just a case of him asserting his independence. He will eat what he wants, when he wants. And at this stage there is no need for further investigation provided he continues to thrive.”

Do not be stressed out by what other kids are eating. Or people asking what’s already keeping you awake every night: “Why is your kid so skinny?”

Feeding your child is such an emotional process. It’s what we want to do for them, to watch them grow and be healthy. Here are things that helped us manage the tantrums along the way.

Try not to make food a battle

In rare cases this could also lead to eating disorders at a later age. It’s not easy to back off, but do try saying, “You don’t have to eat it” even though your head is willing you to say the exact opposite. Doing this consistently made a difference.

Keep a little diary of what your child actually eats in a day

Ask everyone who has been around them. You will be positively surprised. Kids pick up a toast here, a fruit there, a cookie elsewhere as they go through the day. It all adds up. Just because your little one is not eating massive main meals doesn’t mean some degree of snacking is not going on.

Stock up on easy, high calorie munchies for small victories

Nut butters are high in good fat, protein and calories. It’s surprisingly easy to make peanut (or almond) butter in your own kitchen. A little sprinkling of raisins made it a winner in our home. Two or three large spoons make up a solid number of calories (almost 200) in a small serving. Cheese, oat bars, fruit, nuts are all handy too. In a nutshell, be prepared for little appetites to munch on bits and pieces at odd times.

Plan menus ahead

We all tire of eating the same thing day in and day out. Write down what your child does like and work around it. It might be that they just like finger food. We made dal kebabs and fish cutlets, with little bowls of colourful dip.

On the worst days, get help

For a while, you may need to ask other people to step in to solve what can become a mom vs. baby battle. You can enlist others in your family, or the help at home, to feed your child. And just 20 minutes of a favourite cartoon can go a long way. Some people might not agree, but I’ll take a full stomach over a bit of
much-maligned screen time.

Don’t invite them to eat

If you can bring yourself to do it, then for a day don’t ask them to eat anything at all. You will normally find that just by doing that your child will soon be asking for food themselves.

Take a chill pill on what they can’t eat

For us, the absolute no-no’s are sugary drinks, outside fries and coloured, excessively sweet junk food. But we also believe in the old adage that the only poison is excess. Some days your child might just want to eat cake (and don’t you too?). So seize the day, and bake a cake, or say hello to Betty Crocker together. There might be days when your little toddler wants to eat only raisins and drink only milk. Just let them do that. They are very unlikely to continue this the next day.

Consider supplementing

Get a good supplement they like (a syrup or a chewable, gummy one) and ensure they take it. If their diet is difficult, try to avoid any inadvertent micro-nutrient deficiencies. One spoon of fish oil if you can.

Don’t compare

Do not be stressed out by what other kids are eating. Or people asking you the question that is already keeping you awake every night: “Why is your kid so skinny?” If someone says it once, let it go. If it happens again, do gently ask them to not keep repeating it. You don’t want your child to feel like they have an eating problem or to learn ways to exert unnecessary control over you.
At the end of the day, if your paediatrician says there are no growth and height delays, then just let your child breathe a little and don’t give in to junk food; it will pass.

Eat your own greens

If you eat your broccoli, they will too. So in all your anxiety, don’t forget to be the good example.

Shauravi Malik & Meghana Narayan, huffingtonpost.in

Just Exhale, Your Fussy Eater Is Not Going To Starve

September 5, 2016

By: Shauravi Malik and Meghana Narayan
Huffington Post India

Shauravi’s son was a champion eater. Until the tender age of 14 months. There was much initial success with homemade baby cereal experiments. She was patting herself on the back for his evolved taste buds. And then, it all came to a crashing halt. He stopped eating. Everything. Except milk and cheese. There was no luck with airplane spoons, songs or any amount of cajoling.

Thank god for a sensible paediatrician at the time. He wrote out his diagnosis and it was not what she expected. But in hindsight, it was also entirely accurate. He wrote “I have reassured his mum that this is just a case of him asserting his independence. He will eat what he wants, when he wants. And at this stage there is no need for further investigation provided he continues to thrive.”

 Do not be stressed out by what other kids are eating. Or people asking what’s already keeping you awake every night: “Why is your kid so skinny?”

Feeding your child is such an emotional process. It’s what we want to do for them, to watch them grow and be healthy. Here are 10 things that helped us manage the tantrums along the way.

1. Try not to make food a battle

In rare cases this could also lead to eating disorders at a later age. It’s not easy to back off, but do try saying, “You don’t have to eat it” even though your head is willing you to say the exact opposite. Doing this consistently made a difference.

2. Keep a little diary of what your child actually eats in a day

Ask everyone who has been around them. You will be positively surprised! Kids pick up a toast here, a fruit there, a cookie elsewhere as they go through the day. It all adds up. Just because your little one is not eating massive main meals doesn’t mean some degree of snacking is not going on.

3. Stock up on easy, high calorie munchies for small victories

Nut butters are high in good fat, protein and calories. It’s surprisingly easy to make peanut (or almond) butter in your own kitchen. A little sprinkling of raisins made it a winner in our home. Two or three large spoons make up a solid number of calories (almost 200) in a small serving. Cheese, oat bars, fruit, nuts are all handy too. In a nutshell, be prepared for little appetites to munch on bits and pieces at odd times.

4. Plan menus ahead

We all tire of eating the same thing day in and day out. Write down what your child does like and work around it. It might be that they just like finger food. We made dal kebabs and fish cutlets, with little bowls of colourful dip.

5. On the worst days, get help

For a while, you may need to ask other people to step in to solve what can become a mom vs. baby battle. You can enlist others in your family, or the help at home, to feed your child. And just 20 minutes of Peppa Pig or a favourite cartoon can go a long way. Some people might not agree, but I’ll take a full stomach over a bit of much-maligned screen time!

If your paediatrician says there are no growth and height delays, then just let your child breathe a little and don’t give in to junk food…

6. Don’t invite them to eat

If you can bring yourself to do it, then for a day don’t ask them to eat anything at all. You will normally find that just by doing that your child will soon be asking for food themselves.

7. Take a chill pill on what they can’t eat

For us, the absolute no-no’s are sugary drinks, outside fries and coloured, excessively sweet junk food. But we also believe in the old adage that the only poison is excess. Some days your child might just want to eat cake (and don’t you too?). So seize the day, and bake a cake, or say hello to Betty Crocker together. There might be days when your little toddler wants to eat only raisins and drink only milk. Just let them do that. They are very unlikely to continue this the next day.

8. Consider supplementing

Get a good supplement they like (a syrup or a chewable, gummy one) and ensure they take it. If their diet is difficult, try to avoid any inadvertent micro-nutrient deficiencies. One spoon of fish oil if you can!

9. Don’t compare

Do not be stressed out by what other kids are eating. Or people asking you the question that is already keeping you awake every night: “Why is your kid so skinny?” If someone says it once, let it go. If it happens again, do gently ask them to not keep repeating it. You don’t want your child to feel like they have an eating problem or to learn ways to exert unnecessary control over you!

At the end of the day, if your paediatrician says there are no growth and height delays, then just let your child breathe a little and don’t give in to junk food; it will pass.

10. Eat your own greens

If you eat your broccoli, they will too! So in all your anxiety, don’t forget to be the good example!

***

RECIPE: HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER

(Also known as “monkey food” in our house)

It is truly easy to make peanut butter at home. For all kitchen-phobic mamas — this can be your domestic goddess number! It really is as easy as popping some roasted peanuts into a blender and you are nearly there. And you get to control the amount of salt and the type of fat you might want to add.

Ingredients

500gm roasted peanuts

Optional

1 Tbsp of oil increases the creaminess of the texture (you can use olive, coconut, groundnut or more exotic stuff like walnut oil)

2. Other things you may want to add for taste at the end: salt, honey, whole raisins (once you take it out of the blender)

Method

1. Pop it all in the blender. It will look very dry and nothing like peanut butter for the first few minutes. Trust us, be patient and keep that blender going. You will be tempted to add more oil than needed because it feels dry, but just keep going for 3-4 minutes, till the blades and the mixture heat up.

2. Roasting the nuts in the oven or on a pan makes a huge difference to the flavour. Be careful not to burn them though! Roasting gives it that aromatic, nutty texture. You can also buy the nuts roasted, but this means they may have too much salt already added to them. We made it the first time without toasting the nuts, and it simply was not to our taste.

3. Pop it into a clean, sterilized glass jar and keep in the fridge. Do write the date it was made on, on the jar. You can store it for one or two months in the fridge.

Other nut butters are simply delicious too — try roasted almonds or roasted pistachios. For peanut butter, we prefer to make it with the skin off, you might like it otherwise. For almonds, it actually tastes better with the skin on and strange without.