Children will adhere to their mother’s healthy food regime almost all through the day…except during snack time. “What’s for snacks?” is the simple question that can send shivers down every mother’s spine. After all how many days can a mother give Maggi to the child without breaking into a sweat? Diligent mothers will provide healthy snacks the year round. Many mothers, however, seek a middle ground and are not averse to trying simple snack recipes. I don’t promise you that they are all healthy, but will children love them? For sure! Without a doubt! You can do some prep work on most and put them together at snack time. All snacks have been tried on my children –the guinea pigs. They have been brutal in their responses and I have arrived on some of these crowd-pleasers over time.
Quesadilla recipe –Indian Style
Take a cup of refined/whole wheat flour. Add salt and Italian seasonings. Add water and mix to make a soft, pliant dough. Roll them out into small flat pieces of bread about the size of a palm. Cook them over a tava/girdle and keep aside.
You can use different fillings I use the mushroom –onion filling. Sautésliced onions, chopped garlic and mushrooms. You can add a spot of soy sauce if you like. Keep aside. Alternatively, you can make a capsicum, garlic and paneer (cottage cheese) filling as well. If you have leftover rajma (kidney beans) curry, you can drain the curry and toss the beans with onion or capsicum for the filling. Grate cheese of your choice over the filling.
On arrival of the hungry one(s), heat the tava. On one of the pre-prepared roti first spread mayonnaise ( now available in several flavours.) Next, spread the filling evenly. Put another roti over it, and it will look like a round sandwich. Put the pair on the oiled tava. Press down. After a few minutes, flip the roti. Take it down when both sides are a little crisp. You can use a pizza cutter or a knife and cut them into four quarters. Your quesadilla is ready for consumption, with a sauce of your choice.
Grilled Sandwich –Tava Style
Take two slices of bread. Spread butter on one side. On the other side, you can spread tomato sauce, pasta sauce or green chutney (coriander, mint, onion, salt and lime-give a good grind). Layer the buttered side with tomato slices, onion, cucumber, jalapenos or olives. You can add a cheese slice to the filling if you like. Put the sauce side facing downwards. Heat the tava, put oil or butter on it. Place the sandwich and press it down with a plate or spatula. Flip and repeat.
Cut diagonally. Serve with banana milkshake or smoothie. Yum.
Pasta with spinach pesto
Boil hot water in a pan. Add salt and a few drops of oil. When the water boils, add a small bowl of pasta of your choice. Allow it to cook. Use a fork to check. Drain and keep aside when done. In a pan heat water and blanch spinach leaves in it. Drain and put in a grinder. Add two cloves of garlic, salt and pepper, two teaspoons of oil and a squeeze of half a lemon’s juice to the spinach. Add blanched almonds or cashews (4-5 to a bunch of spinach) to the grinder as well. Give it good grind, till you get a smooth paste. This pesto can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge for a day or two.
Heat 2 -3 teaspoons of oil in a pan. Add cherry tomatoes or quartered tomatoes. You can also add olives or onion slices. Sauté. Add the cooked pasta, and mix. After a few minutes add the spinach pesto and mix. You can grate a cube of cheese before you serve. Children love this pasta and it is full of nutrients.
Vermicelli and potatoes
In a pan, heat two teaspoons of ghee. To this add a small bowl of roasted vermicelli. Toss for a few minutes and then add a bowl of water first. Check when the water is absorbed if vermicelli is done. If not add some more water. To this add two teaspoons of sugar. Jaggery is a healthier choice provided your child likes the taste. Finally, add chopped cashew-nuts, almonds or pista. Make sure you add 5-6 raisins as well.
In another kadai add oil for deep-frying. Take two boiled potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle salt and mix. Check if the oil is hot. Fry the potatoes in them, till they have a crisp skin. Serve them alongside the vermicelli.
The combination of sweet and salty is healthy and tasty for kids. A cup of milk after it is the proverbial icing on the cake.
This is a super easy and fun way to make children eat vegetables. Boil and mash potatoes. Add salt and pepper. Keep aside. In a pan boil water. Add salt to it. To it add carrots and beans cut lengthwise. Let it cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove them. Next boil peas or corn. Chop onion and capsicum like little squares. Keep aside. Heat a pan. Add a spoon of butter. To this add two cloves of garlic for aroma. Toss the vegetables in the pan in this order – onion, capsicum, carrots, beans and peas. Mix.
Assemble the mash potato and veggies. You can serve this platter with garlic bread or bread sticks. You can serve it with tomato soup.
Wash and cut two tomatoes. Slice half an onion and a clove of garlic. Chop half a carrot. If you like you can chop half a red pepper too.
Take a pressure cooker and put it on a flame. Add two teaspoons of oil. Add the onions and garlic and sauté till they are soft and transparent. To this add the red peppers. Again, sauté till soft. Finally, add the tomatoes and cook till soft. At this stage, you can also add a few leaves of tulsi (holy basil) if available. Put in salt as per taste. Add a cup of water. Close the lid of the cooker and let it whistle once. Open the lid when the pressure is fully out and grind the mixture well. Strain the ground mixture. In a pan heat the strained soup. When the soup starts boiling, add a spoon of butter and turn off the flame. You can make this in the afternoon and serve it in the evening by re-heating it. This allows all the flavours to steep into the soup. This soup is particularly good for winter evenings.
You can always rustle up a fruit yoghurt by mixing the fruit of the season with yoghurt or dahi. Or for instance, if sweet potatoes are in season, boil them, skin them and cut them into discs. Sprinkle with rock salt or chaat masala and add a squeeze of lime. Serve warm. Sweet potato is a super food and is packed with nutrients.
Similarly, you could roast peanuts and add chopped cucumber, tomatoes, lime and coriander. Add salt for seasoning. Offer a bowl of this with a tall glass of mango shake or orange juice -full of health and full of fun. Alternatively, simply offer the fruit alongside for added dietary fibre benefits. Just as adults love snacking, so do kids. Snacks are a good time to innovate and have some fun in the kitchen. The smiles, hugs and little burps are well worth the effort.