Making children eat healthy food has become a struggle. Junk food commercials on TV and social media have influenced their eating habits. Add to the mix the peer pressure and hectic schedule of parents and you know why children prefer to eat junk food. Healthy food for children has become a prominent topic these days, especially when we are living a world of diversified choices.
Eating junk food has been linked to several diseases, most notably obesity. Changing to healthy food can have a deep impact on children’s health—both mental and physical. It helps in maintaining a healthy weight, prevent some health problems, heighten their moods, and improve their minds. Children that eat healthy food in their childhood are known to have fewer instances of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD.
Children’s preference for the type of food they eat depends completely on what they to eat. To make them eat healthily, it is important to make food as nutritious as possible. When it comes to the choices we can make about the healthy food for children, we have to ponder a bit.
The focus should be on adding as much nutrition to any food as possible. This way kids get all the nutrition that their growing body needs while they get to eat their food.
What should be the ideal healthy food for a child?
Here’s a list of healthy food that your kids will love eating.
- Vegetable Kathi Roll
Kathi rolls are the ultimate comfort food. Not only are they easy to carry while on the move, one can eat them at any time of the day. This recipe here is made of sautéed vegetables, spices, and green chutney. You can always add paneer to the vegetable mix or make a new roll with paneer as the only filling.
- Oats Idli
Who doesn’t like idli? It’s fast, it’s healthy and the best part is it’s steamed. How about going for a little change and replacing the rice with oats? Yes, idlies can be made with oats and they are tasty and healthy as the traditional ones. This idli has a bonus. It contains carrots, coriander, turmeric, and green chillies.
- Egg-free Whole Wheat Flour Cake
There’s no doubt that kids love cakes. This cake recipe is made from really healthy ingredients like whole wheat flour, curd, jaggery, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon powder. You can replace jaggery with sugar if your child doesn’t like jaggery. And the best part of the cake is it’s egg-free. The best about this cake is you can eat this at any point in the day.
Pongal is to South India what Khichdi is to North India. Made with rice, split mung dal, cashews, asafoetida, peppercorns, and other ingredients, the dish is as healthy and as filling as it can get. You can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or even as a light dinner.
- Red Sauce Pasta
All of us love pasta. It is one dish that is eaten for both lunch and dinner and can be made within no time with very basic ingredients. This red sauce pasta recipe is made with macaroni, tomatoes, red bell peppers, onions, herbs, and spices. Kids are going to love this healthy variation of the all-time favourite dish. The link below also contains a recipe for prawn pasta and chicken pasta.
|The nutrition level mentioned here is for vegetarian pasta. Nutrition may vary based on the meat added.|
- Vegetable Noodles
Noodles are everybody’s favourite. They are fast, casual and can be made in a jiffy with a variety of ingredients. Noodles are often classified as junk food and are mostly avoided; however, you can make noodles healthy quickly for both lunch and dinner. This recipe here contains all the ingredients that goes in noodles but are healthy as they are made at home.
- Masoor Dal and Palak Khichdi
Masoor Dal and Palak Khichdi is a nutritious, tasty, and healthy rice recipe that contains the goodness of spinach, lentils, herbs, and spices. It’s easy and quick to make and children, as well as adults, will enjoy the taste. It can be eaten at any point in the day.
- Instant Oats and Whole Wheat Uttapam
Oats have made their way into our kitchen in a big way. These are being used for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and new recipes are being developed with oats. This instant dosa is a blend of oats, whole wheat flour, and vegetables. The dosa batter need not be soaked or fermented overnight and can be prepared in minutes.
- Bisi Bele Bath
The literal meaning of Bisi Bele Bath is “Hot Lentil Rice.” This dish from Karnataka blends rice and lentils (toor dal) with vegetables, and spices to create a dish that has no parallel anywhere. Your child will get nutrition from vegetables and protein from the lentils.
Szechuan Jeera Rice
A classic Indo-Chinese recipe that’s both Jeera Rice and Szechuan Fried Rice blended into one. Kids will enjoy this innovative rice dish as much as the adults. Get the recipe here
- Ragi Roti
Ragi (Finger Millet in English or Nachni in Hindi) is a wonder millet that’s becoming popular every day. Ragi is a storehouse of nutrition and can be eaten at any time of the day and any age. Today, you’ll find ragi chips, ragi dosa, ragi porridge, multigrain flour with ragi and a whole lot of other foodstuffs made from ragi.
- Pizza Paratha
An Indian dish with an Italian touch, this dish brings together the goodness of vegetables and cheese in parathas. Kids love eating pizza, however, because the base is made of all-purpose flour, they cannot eat Pizza every day. This paratha, made of wheat flour, makes it easy for kids to get all the nutrition and enjoy their favourite food.
- Moong Dal Cheela
Moong Dal is one of the most nutritious lentils one can find around. This vegan cheela is made from basic kitchen ingredients and needs little preparation except for overnight soaking. It’s not just healthy and nutritious but full of proteins that growing children need.
We have all enjoyed khaman dhokla at some point in time and have probably enjoyed it. It’s light, fluffy, and can be made quickly. This recipe is made almost the same way; however, poha or beaten rice is used here instead of besan (gram flour). This healthy recipe can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner.
- Vegetable Biryani
All of us love biryanis. Whether made of meat or eggs or vegetables, we all look forward to eating scrumptious biryani at least once a week. The recipe here is made with choicest vegetables and is as filling as it can get.
While this list is just indicative, there are many other healthy foods that you give to your child. Any food that is made at home is healthy so long as it is not deep-fried, sugary or salty. You need to keep your child away from chips, burgers, bread, pizzas, chocolates, ice creams, biscuits, doughnuts, and cakes or pastries. It’s okay for kids to eat them once in a while but if your child insists on these, you can easily prepare these at home. Fast foods are low in fibre and nutrients and can increase the risk of childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes at a later stage.
Keep your child away from packed and ready to drink fruit juices, sports drinks, sodas, flavored milk and even sweets as these are addictive, high in sugar and low in nutrition. These can lead to obesity and tooth decay. These drinks often make your child feel full and less hungry. However, don’t curtail sugary products completely as they might overindulge when given a chance.
You must encourage your child to eat raw fruits, vegetables, and dry fruits and ensure they get adequate portions of these. Give them 1-2 different fruits twice a day—either at the end of the meal or as a snack between two meals. Change the fruits and vegetables every day so that they can get diverse nutrition. If you want to give your children fruit juice, make it at home with little water and sugar. At first, your kid might not like it but will get used to it over time.