Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's Spring Got To Do With It.. .....

Beaming ,we welcome Spring with it’s pleasant atmosphere and bountiful resources  and all the goodness that comes with it. As much as we look forward to the warm cool breeze and the pleasant feeling we all experience and associate with this season, we must also admit that it brings along all kinds of  flu symptoms that we  are not at all  pleased about.Children tend to fall sick quite often during Spring .When school reopens after the short Spring break , various kinds of viruses  that are prevalent, spread as fast as lightening during this period.Even  children, who experience a mild form of flu  become lethargic and loose their will to study play or eat.  When their appetite is lost everything and everyone around them  becomes panicky and tends to go berserk.This applies, specially  to my home…..
I try all kinds of home remedies to keep them from falling too sick.Since they wouldn’t even look at their plate of food.I get them to eat some alternatives like soups.They actually don’t mind eating a bowl of soup, with a few pieces of veggies floating,than  the rice and curry, Besides soups are very healthy and are known to prevent several flu related health problems.They are great rejuvenators. I make soup from scratch, with a few vegetables,chicken ,herbs and some mild spices.Even though soup made from instant packets are not healthy ,they taste good.So every now and then I make soup, using ready made mix,but give it a home touch ,by adding some extra flavourings.

Soup made from scratch-Chicken and  a few veggies

Soup made from scratch –with vegetables

Instant soup with a home made touch

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Handling A Vegetarian

When children are  little, it is the duty of us, as  parents (especially the mother) to see that the children  eat appropriate food at appropriate times.As parents, we often  try to get  the best food across to our children.And on a regular basis,cook healthy meals and feed it to our young off springs. If they didn’t eat to full ,we go to the extent of  supplementing  them with extras, in the form of vitamin syrups.
Most children  at this young  age become very fastidious over food and wouldn’t even think of eating anything new that the mother introduces .By the time they reach  the  adolescent years, they will have the independence of following their own eating habits. At this stage they may have preferences between healthy and unhealthy foods.
If your children show an interest in fruits and vegetables.Be sure to make  dishes using their favourite fruits and vegetables.Each day try to make a different dish. Sometimes they wouldn’t like the same taste of food that is being laid on the table.Often children take hold of whatever they see in the refrigerator when they are hungry, so have slices of fruits and a bowl of salad made  with their favourite vegetables.Try keeping the healthiest food easily accessible.
There are times when they crave for  junk food ..And that’s when the war begins  at the table.Don’t prohibit junk food all at once .It’s all right  if they eat it once in a way.You can help your children limit  junk food as much as possible. And as they start growing they will freely have their choice of food too.
I have a daughter who didn’t quite like the taste of fish,chicken or beef  right from  her toddler years.and I used to think that  it was just a passing phase and didn’t try to coerce her into eating meat.But then a few years later,when she  was about  seven  she started to relish my meat dishes.However one day, while we were having cooked beef curry for dinner, she suddenly prompted where meat came from. And when I said from the cow, she hurriedly left the table, her plate untouched, and innocently said, “Eww…gross  ! A cow dish!’.And ever since, she has not eaten anything that has meat in it. 
She’s fourteen  now and a vegetarian, Being a vegetarian necessarily doesn’t mean she' s eating all the vegetables that I make..She is picky too.! She mostly loves to eat an unbalanced vegetarian diet which consists of fried food and  potatoes.She intensely dislikes when the vegetables are cooked  in the usual type, curried vegetables with gravy, which is commonly prepared in a typical Sri Lankan home.Now I have adapted a different mode of cooking  vegetable dishes just for her.After a lot of convincing,she has started to eat the baked variety.I try my best to see that her diet is nutritionally adequate and healthful. I have been  trying to supplement her with all kinds of everything.  So far I have not succeeded in my many attempts to make her change her mind  to eat meat again .But I guess my tactics are not working anymore.

                       My daughter’s favourite-cauliflower,carrots and zucchini

                        The veggies baked with tomato paste and  mild spices

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Goodness Of Centella ( Gotu Kola) Leaves

Centella,  which is commonly known as Gotu kola, is used as a leafy green in Sri Lankan cuisine The Fresh  leaves can be eaten raw as a salad. It grows well in damp places like marshlands, swamps, and paddy fields. It only takes a couple of months for the crops to be fully grown . It is commonly believed  that eating a few leaves of  Gotu kola every day will "reinforce and rejuvenate exhausted bodies and brains. In Sri Lanka, the  Gotu kola  leaves are crushed  and made into a hot beverage or eaten as a salad ,which is the most  common type of consumption . A  nutritious porridge known as ‘Kola Kenda’ is also made with Gotu Kola.

Recently, I introduced Gotu kola leaves to my children.I was a bit hesitant at the start ,thinking they wouldn’t like the somewhat bitter taste, but they proved me wrong.They really relished it. My mother always made a spicy  salad  out of  Gotu Kola leaves  and  with her gastronomic know-how  used to   draw  out the  tanginess  in the leaves  with the extra flavorings she added.But as my children do not really eat the spicy stuff.I tried out an entirely  different one. Which was of course very much closer to a regular salad. As this was the first time they were trying this salad ,I cut a few slices of cucumber and lined it around the plate ,to convince them that ‘gotu kola’ was indeed a kind of salad. This is delectable when  eaten with plain white rice, chicken/beef/fish curry and with other curried vegetables.

Method-Pick the  Gotu kola  leaves off the stem  and  wash thoroughly in running water.Finely chop the leaves and add  chopped onions,  green chilly, salt to taste and a little lemon /lime juice. Mix well.

You can also add more spice and  flavoring to get that extra zing.Sparingly add to the above, red chilly flakes, coarsely ground maldive fish and scrapped coconut . 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Food Addictives And Allergies

A few years back, it was distressing for my husband and I, to see our younger daughter fall sick, every time she ate some of her favourite food. She would either start coughing; a nagging cough which would linger for sometime or she would get itchy red bumps on her arms, sometimes on her face, (later I learnt the red bumps were hives.). We were clueless as to why she got them constantly.
After many visits to the hospital we learnt that it was due to an allergic reaction, but was not certain what triggered the “hives” on her. The thought of this, gave us many sleepless nights and constant worries, until one day our very own Sri Lankan Doctor, a paediatrician, who was attached to a reputed facility in Saudi Arabia, who on learning of our daughter’s condition helped us identify the root cause of her allergy. She was vulnerable  not only to certain foods like coloured candies and coloured drinks, but also to the strong smell of perfume, washing powder, bleach etc, all, with a considerable amount of additive compounds in them. Gradually, with much cajoling, we made her stop eating her favourite titbits like the multi coloured candies, chocolate chips and the luminous coloured drinks. After following the doctor's advice and guidelines, we saw a vast improvement in our daughter’s health. He helped us to keep a food diary and note carefully for any adverse reactions whenever she ate food. In the case of a sensitivity being identified, the practice was to eliminate all suspected foods from the diet and then reintroduce them one by one, to see which additive (or additives) caused the reaction. This was done under the supervision of this good-hearted doctor, whom we are ever grateful to. With the invaluable information on food allergies/additives, which my husband and I acquired, each time we accompanied our daughter, during the fortnightly visits to the doctor, we have become more selective in the choice of food we consume.
 Our distressing nightmare maybe over, but with four growing children and their immune system  different from one another, I sometimes  get the creeps to think,  what if , one of them  goes through that agony again.

( - This is an excerpt from my published article- )