A colleague recently told us the story of how her mother got her to eat spinach as a child - it was pureed and added to Pooris but that was not why she ate it. She did because her mother called it the Martian Moon. It has accompanied her into adulthood as a firm favorite.
Picky eaters struggle with anything new given to them. They are selective about what they choose to eat. If you are a parent of a picky eater, you probably worry about the nutritional adequacy of their diet.
However, this is a common problem and there are ways to navigate a picky eater’s diet. One way to address it is by being a little creative in your meal planning and preparation. We have taken six familiar dishes and added a healthy and attractive twist to them.
1. Oats Idli on a Stick
Who said skewers are only meant for kebabs? Here’s a unique and tasty skewered snack that’s a combination of traditional and trendy.
This recipe takes the traditional idli and adds a healthy twist to it with the addition of oats (rich in folic acid). Choose steel cut oats instead of instant oats, as they have a lower glycemic index.
- 1 cup steel oats
- ½ cup rava
- ½ cup plain yoghurt
- 2 green chillies (optional)
- 1 cup water
- Salt to taste
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp gingelly oil
- 1 tsp gram/chana dal
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- A few curry leaves
Ingredients for flavouring the idli
- 1 tbsp grated beetroot
- 1 tbsp spinach puree
- 1 small handful cashews, roasted and salted
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp idli podi (gun powder)
- 1 tsp ghee
To make idli batter:
- Roast oats in a pan over medium flame till it turns golden brown.
- Allow it to cool. Grind to a smooth powder.
- Heat oil in pan. Add mustard seeds, chana dal, curry leaves and green chillies.
- Sauté till chana dal turns brown.
- Add rava and roast for 4 minutes till it turns brown.
- Add ground oats and stir for a minute or so.
- Turn off flame and transfer to another bowl. Add curd to the mixture. Mix.
- Add baking soda and salt. Stir well.
To make assorted idlis:
- Separate the idli batter equally in 4 different vessels.
- Add grated beetroot to the first batch of batter.
- Add spinach puree to the second batch - this has to be done slowly till you achieve the desired colour.
- Add grated ginger and season with salt.
Pour out some of the spinach and beetroot idli batter and the remaining plain batter into idli moulds and steam. Cut each idli into four pieces.
For podi idlis:
- Heat ghee in a nonstick pan.
- Add mustard seeds and let them splutter.
- Add idli podi and stir so that it does not burn.
- Separate the steamed plain idlis into 2 batches.
- Add one batch to this mixture.
- Mix till all the idli pieces are coated well with the podi mixture.
- In a nonstick pan, add ghee. Once the ghee is hot, add a pinch of turmeric powder.
- Toss in the second batch of regular idli pieces and mix well.
- Turn off the flame, add a pinch of salt and squeeze a few drops of lemon over this.
- The idlis are now ready to be assembled.
How to assemble:
- Coat the skewer with ghee or oil.
- First slide in a roasted cashew.
- Follow this by sliding each of the colored and flavoured idli pieces one by one.
- Finish off with another roasted cashew.
- Repeat this step with the other idlis.
- Serve as is or with chutney and sambar.
2. Stuffed mixed sprouts and millets dosa
Another version of the simple dosa gets a healthy makeover in this recipe. Even the filling takes on a new avatar in the form of sweet potatoes.
Ingredients for dosa batter:
- 2 cups foxtail millet (soaked for 6 hours)
- 1 cup idli rice (soaked for 6 hours)
- 1 cup white urad (black gram) dal, split
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds (soaked along with idli rice)
- Mixed sprouts (sprouted lentils such as chickpea, kidney beans or green moong)
- 1 tsp ginger-green chilli paste
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- Sesame (gingelly) oil to make dosas
Ingredients for filling:
- 1 sweet potato
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 1-inch piece ginger
- 2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
- 1 small tomato, chopped (optional)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- Salt to taste
Ingredients for seasoning:
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp mustard
- 3/4 tsp urad dal
- 3/4 tsp Bengal gram/channa dal
- 1 pinch hing/asafoetida
To make masala dosa filling:
- Wash and cut sweet potatoes in half.
- Pressure cook up to 5 whistles. Allow them to cool down, peel the skin and mash well. Keep aside.
- Heat oil, add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add hing, urad dal and channa dal.
- When the dal turns golden brown, add thinly sliced onions, green chilli, ginger and curry leaves. Sauté for a few minutes until onion turns pink and translucent.
- Add turmeric powder, chopped tomatoes and salt.
- Once tomatoes turn a little mushy, toss in the sweet potatoes. Mix well till everything is blended into a homogenous mixture.
- The masala is ready to be filled into the dosa.
- This makes a healthy snack for your fussy eater.
To make dosa:
- Grind dal and millets into a smooth paste. Pour the ground mixture into a bowl.
- Next grind idli rice adding very little water.
- Also grind sprouts along with cumin seeds, ginger-green paste, chillies and a little water.
- Add ground rice and sprout paste to the urad-millet mixture.
- Add 3 tsp salt and stir well.
- Cover the batter and place it in a warm place to ferment until it doubles in size (about 6 to 8 hours or overnight).
- Mix the fermented batter well. Heat a skillet or tava. Grease with gingelly oil.
- Pour a ladleful of the millet dosa batter on the skillet and make a thin crepe.
- Roast both sides. Add 2-3 tbsp of masala, fold the dosa and serve.
3. Lettuce veggie wrap
Here’s a super tasty recipe every bit of which is healthy. From the lettuce/cabbage used for the wrap cover to the vegetable stuffed inside, this power-packed snack is likely to be a fast favorite with your child.
Ingredients for the wrap:
- A large lettuce leaf or a few cabbage leaves, steamed for about 3 minutes.
- 1 cup mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, potatoes), boiled and mashed a little
- 1 diced onion
- 1 tbsp dried mango powder (amchur)
- ½ tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1 pinch turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- A handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- Grated cheese, to use as topping
- Grated beetroot, for garnishing
- Dried raisins (for garnishing)
To make the filling:
- Fry onions with a little salt for about 3-4 minutes.
- Now add the mashed vegetables and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the dry masala and coriander leaves; mix well.
To assemble the wrap:
- Place steamed lettuce/cabbage leaves on a plate.
- Spread tomato sauce evenly on the surface of the leaf.
- Take a spoonful of the filling and spread on the leaf.
- Garnish with raisins.
- Add grated cheese and grated beetroot. Fold and serve.
Check out the video right here:
4. Soy veg burger
Have you wondered how to turn the notoriously unhealthy burgers into nourishing, wholesome meal options for your picky eater? We show you how…
- 1 cup soya granules, ground to a powder
- 4 whole wheat or multi grain burger buns
- 25 gm kidney beans (rajma), soaked overnight and pressure cooked
- 4 tsp olive oil
- 3 medium size onions
- Vinegar for caramelising
- 2 green chillies, chopped
- 6 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- Cheese slice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 medium size potatoes, boiled and grated
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (brown)
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced (to use as topping)
- 4 lettuce leaves, halved
To caramelise onions:
- Add oil in a skillet.
- Fry onion with some salt. Salt helps the onions give out water. The onions should turn from soft brown to golden brown.
- Deglaze with vinegar if it sticks to the pan.
- Caramelised onions are ready.
To make soy and black bean patties:
- Spread rajma on a baking sheet and roast in an oven at 180 degree C for 20 mins to dehydrate it so that it doesn’t turn mushy while making the patty.
- Heat two teaspoons of oil in a pan. Add chopped onions and green chillies, and sauté. Add the potatoes and cook. Allow it to cool.
- Add all the dry masala.
- In a mixer, put in the soya powder and dehydrated rajma. Pulse till it resembles bread crumbs.
- Add this powder to the potato mix.
- Take one portion of the soya-potato mixture, shape into a patty.
- Roll in breadcrumbs.
- Heat butter in a pan. Once it is warm, place the patties in it.
- The patties will sizzle.
- Sprinkle some freshly ground pepper at this point, if necessary.
- Cook both sides till brown.
To stack the burger:
- Heat a cast iron grill pan. Add a pat of butter.
- Toast the burger buns in the skillet both ways until they are golden.
- Transfer to a plate.
- Toasting the bun slightly helps hold the condiments in the bread.
- Place the patty on the bun. Spread a tsp of ketchup.
- Next, top it with a thin slice of tomato followed by a dollop of mayonnaise to make it creamier.
- Spread a tsp of caramelised onion; place the lettuce and cheese slice over this.
- Cover with the other burger bun.
- Insert a toothpick into the buns to hold them together.
5. Corn and fruit salad
The easiest and healthiest way to make your child have fruit and veggies in the same meal is to make a salad out of them. Just chop, mix and chill!
- 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, chopped finely
- 1 cup sweet corn
- 1 pomegranate, deseeded
- 1 ripe mango, chopped fine
- 1 raw mango, chopped fine
- 1 cup cucumber, chopped fine
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp chaat masala
- ¼ tsp pink Himalayan salt
To make salad:
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.
- Toss together to mix well.
- Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
- You can use any combination of fruits that your child particularly enjoys.
6. Ragi cookies
Letting your child indulge in a ‘junk spree’ once in a while is important to keep her interested in food. The trick is to make the junk healthy. We have just the right, energy-rich recipe for you.
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup roasted ragi flour
- 1/2 cup chilled butter
- 1/2 cup of powdered sugar/jaggery
- 3 tbsp flax seeds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup almonds and walnuts
To make cookies:
- Grease a cookie tray with oil and keep it ready.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree C for 15 minutes.
- Dry roast the ragi flour till it gives a nice aroma. Dry roast the flax seeds for 5 mins. Blend once cooled.
- Dry roast the almonds and walnut, and chop into very small pieces. `
- Sieve the ragi-flax flours, wheat flour and baking powder together. Add the ground flax seeds and butter to the sieved flour. Mix till you get a crumbly texture.
- Add powdered sugar/jaggery and mix well. Add milk, a little at a time, and make a smooth dough. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 20 mins.
- Dust wheat flour and roll out the dough. Use a cookie cutter to cut desired shapes.
- Firmly press some walnut and almond pieces onto the cookies.
- Place the cookies on the baking tray and bake at 180 degree C for 15-20 minutes.
Watch this simple video to understand the process better: