Raising a Happy and Healthy Eater 

A question I get often, especially when I share recipes or dinner BTS is “How is Little Mirchi such a good eater?!” So I thought I would address that in todays post and talk a little about what helped her be open to foods and try new dishes.

So to clarify, my daughter is quite particular when it comes to what she likes and what she dislikes. I don’t think any kid is “not picky” or any adult for that matter, we all have our likes and dislikes. We have ridden waves of a sudden egg aversion or an “all white food strike” (rice and yogurt for life). What helped us the most during these phases was reminding ourselves that they were just that, a phase that would eventually pass.

Raising a Happy and Healthy Eater

Here are some ways I am trying to raise a happy and healthy eater: 

Cooking together

From the age she was old enough to sit in a highchair I have had Little Mirchi helping me in the kitchen. It’s gone from observing, to getting her hands messy to gathering ingredients and actually cooking alongside with me. She is so much more excited to try the foods she helps me prepare.

Eating together

I swear by family meals and attribute them to why our daughter tries more foods. With busy school and work schedules a family dinner every night may not be possible but when it is, make it happen.
Cooking with children

Getting creative

Like adults, children also prefer certain textures and tastes over others. I have seen this first hand. I made Bhindi numerous times and she just did not like it, no matter how many times she tried it. Then one day on a fluke I prepared it Kurkuri stye vs. the sautéed version, she not only relished it, it’s now become one of her favorite vegetables. So you see it’s not the vegetable she didn’t like, it was just the preparation. Similarly, she doesn’t like cooked carrots but prefers them raw. When it comes to preparation, I don’t fuss much and give her the liberty of choosing how she wants her vegetables.

Don’t hide

While I love being able to add as many vegetables as possible in our meals, I don’t believe in hiding them. When I first made Rainbow Rotis, I gushed about how strong they would make her and how much good stuff she was putting in her body. Instead of hiding vegetables, make them the rockstar of what is going in their body and how amazing it will make them feel.
Cooking with children

Spice it up

Adding spices to your foods doesn’t mean making them spicy. There are tons of spices you can add to foods from the time you are introducing solids to when you are serving family meals. When Little Mirchi was a baby she loved a mashed banana with yogurt with cardamom. I would steam zucchini and add a dab of ghee and cumin powder, or pears with a dash of cinnamon. From there we just kept expanding her palate when it came to spices until she got to the age where we were all eating the same meals. Does she eat spicy foods now? Yes, but I have also raised her spice level gradually over the years by using very little chili in our family meals to a moderate amount of chili.

Take note

You know those moms that send a bento box full of awesome little snack and meal items? Yeah, that was me. You know those kids that come back with their lunchbox untouched, leaving you to wonder how they survive on just air and water? Yeah, that was my kid. Earlier this year I realized that the multiple meal choices I was sending my daughter was overwhelming her. While they look beautiful on the gram, they were not practical for my little one and left her feeling confused on what all to eat and what all to leave. I started sending her two items: a main dish and a snack and I can proudly say she eats her full lunch 90% of the time. On the flip side you may have an eater that thrives off of choices, take note of their eating habits and serve their meals accordingly.

Set rules

At the end of the day making good food choices and having healthy food habits is a way of life. You can help foster this by setting some ground rules  like no artificial sugar on weekdays but by also cutting some slack on holidays or the days you can’t control, i.e party days in class where cupcakes and juice are served. This will help your little ones see that life and food choices are all about balance!
Cooking with children

Here are some of my daughter’s favorite recipes from the blog: 

Rainbow Rotis
Kashmiri Rajma
Aloo ka Paratha
Three Cheese Baked Rigatoni
Hariyali Sabudana Khichadi
Kurkuri Bhindi
Green Goddess Celery & Leek Soup
Homemade Palak Paneer
Aloo Phali Sabzi
Imli Chole 
Methi Murgh
Vegetable Masala Puffs

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