An infant goes through tremendous changes in the pattern of food consumption within the span of two years. As he moves out of the weaning phase, he starts eating a whole new range of foods. During this stage, it is important for parents to choose foods carefully to meet the nutritional demands of their child. So, where do lentils fit in? Read on to find out...
Include lentils in your toddler's diet
Introducing new flavours and textures in a toddler’s meal is important as the food preferences are set early in life. Therefore, it is necessary that parents include lentils as an essential part of their child’s diet starting from the toddler years for them to develop the taste. High in protein, rich in calcium, low in fat, lentils boost energy, improve immunity and promote bone health.
Lentils you can safely include in your toddler’s diet are green gram (moong), black gram (urad), red gram (tur), red lentil (masoor), chickpea (channa) and horsegram.
Soak lentils overnight so that it becomes soft and is easy to cook. Cook it well till it is soft to make it easy for your toddler to digest and prevent bloating of the stomach.
Tips for buying lentils
While buying lentils, observe their appearance, colour, texture and quality. Always spread them out and check for stones or debris before cooking. Rinse lentils well under running water in a strainer to get rid of the dust.
If your toddler is a fussy eater who throws tantrums at the sight of food, you will wonder how you can make him eat lentils. Here are 2 tasty recipes loaded in nutrition that are sure to be a hit with your kid:
1. Mixed vegetable khichdi
- 1&1/2 tbsp bottle gourd (doodhi/lauki), peeled and grated
- 2 tbsp carrot, peeled and grated
- 2 tbsp rice, washed and drained
- 2 tbsp green moong dal (split green gram), washed and drained
- 1/2 tsp ghee
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- A pinch of asafoetida
- 1 clove
- 1 black peppercorn
- A pinch of turmeric powder
Heat ghee in a pressure cooker and add the cumin seeds. When the seeds crackle, add asafoetida, clove, peppercorn, bottle gourd, carrot, green moong dal, rice, turmeric powder and 1¼ cups of water.
Mix well and pressure cook up to 3 whistles. Allow the steam to escape before opening the lid. When it is done, remove the peppercorn and clove. Mash the khichdi a little with the back of a ladle. Serve warm with fresh curd.
2. Lentil and carrot soup
- Olive oil for cooking
- 70 g onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 175 g carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 200 g red lentils, rinsed
- 750 ml vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a saucepan. Fry onion and garlic for a few minutes until soft. Add the carrot and cook for a few more minutes. Add the lentils and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and cook covered on low heat for 30 minutes, until the lentils and carrots are soft.
Let the cooked carrots and lentils cool down. Use a blender to puree them to a smooth consistency before serving. Serve with small pieces of toast or chunky bread.
The author is a nutritionist and dietician at Columbia Asia Hospital, Bangalore.