A Fun (& Healthy) Menu I Created for My Little Picky Eater

Writer, Mum & Amateur Chef, Megha Mathur, created a 3-Course-Menu that turned her picky eater into a foodie.
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My child is very picky about what she eats. On most days she’ll refuse to eat anything more than a few bites. She does, however, enjoy meandering in the kitchen, watching intently and helping me in her own way. I’d like to believe it is her love for cooking that keeps her inspired, the reality, though, is far from it.

My 4-year-old loves to learn about taste and textures right at the core level. She watches me mix and match ingredients and then makes up her mind if she’d like to taste the final product. Quite like the MasterChef Australia mystery box challenge, where your dish doesn’t even get tasted if it doesn’t appeal to the judges right from the start. This is why, in our home, picking the right ingredients is crucial.

Meeting my daughter’s nutritional needs in whatever she eats is my top priority. I often encourage her to accompany me to the local farmer’s market. Just the way I learned to love fruits and vegetables by touching, smelling, and picking them up right from the heaps of fresh produce, I let my child do the same. While picking our favorites, we discuss what recipes we could cook using them. At times like these, I can see her eyes shine brightly with the endless possibilities.

Inspiring my child to eat the usual foods became next to impossible with the heat breaking all records. At that point, teamed with my little foodie, I decided to play with summer’s best fruits and vegetables to create these happy, healthy,  and quick to fix kid-friendly recipes that have since been the source of joy in our home. The best part is, the ingredients of these recipes are bright in color, tempting my daughter to join in when I make them. She helps prepare these recipes and loves eating them without throwing a tantrum.

Watermelon Gazpacho:

Watermelon is a fruit that appeals to even the pickiest eaters somehow. Besides slicing it into fancy shapes I use it to prepare a tomato based cold soup, a gazpacho. I love the name Gazpacho because somehow my kid isn’t a big fan of the word ‘soup’.

The beauty of this recipe lies in the flexibility of its ingredients besides the staple tomatoes. You can mix and match any combination of fresh vegetables that your kid loves making it highly desirable. This is a delicious recipe resulting in a tangy soup that packs quite a punch.

Ingredients:

· Watermelon – 8 cups fresh (de-seeded & blended)
· Red bell pepper – ½ diced
· Tomatoes – ½ cup, diced
· Cucumber- ½ cup diced
· Onion – ½ medium diced
· Fresh Coriander – ½ cup
· Fresh Mint – ½ cup (optional)
· Garlic – 1 clove (optional)
· Olive oil 1-2 tablespoons
· Juice of one lemon
· Fresh ground Cumin- ¼ tsp
· Fresh ground Black Pepper to taste
· Salt to taste

Method:

1. Reserve a small portion of the coriander or mint leaves for garnish.
2. Simply add all ingredients into your food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
3. Serve immediately or keep chilled in the refrigerator.

Stuffed Idli:

My child is fond of fresh vegetables but dislikes them in cooked form. That’s why I add colorful vegetables to stuff idli. The tasty, colorful surprise inside white idlis makes my child squeal with joy and enjoy her meal.

To avoid haste in making this recipe, I often use the ready-made Idli mix. You can also make idlis from scratch the conventional way.

For Stuffing:

· Onion – 1 finely chopped
· Carrot – 1 grated or chopped
· Round Beans – 10 chopped
· Green/ Red/ Yellow Capsicum – ½ chopped
· Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
· Garam Masala – 1 tsp
· Salt to taste

For Tempering:

• Oil- 2 tsp
• Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
• Curry Leaves – 1 sprig
• Chana Dal – ½ tsp
• Urad Dal – ½ tsp

Method:

1. Start with preparing the stuffing. Heat a wok and add oil. Now add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and curry leaves, let them splatter for half a minute.
2. Add chopped onions and sauté well.
3. Add the vegetables, garam masala, chana dal and urad dal and mix well for around a minute and remove from heat. They’ll cook through while steaming.
4. Prepare the idli mix. Mix the prepared vegetables in the batter well and pour the mixture in the idli plates for steaming.
5. Steam Idli as per instructions on the pack or the timing you usually follow (I steam for 15 minutes and then let them rest for another 10).
6. Serve with coconut chutney, green chutney or one of your kid’s choice.

Peach Mango Popsicle:

There is no better way to appeal to a child’s taste buds than with an Ice Popsicle. But, I am quite conscious about letting my child ingest large amounts of sugar or dyes that make up the icy treats.

As a kid, freezing our own Ice-Popsicles was my favorite summer activity and I have passed on the legacy to my child. The Popsicle we prepare is pure fruit. Yes, fresh fruit with no added sugar or colors. In case you don’t have Popsicle molds, you can also use paper cups or small bowls at home for fun shapes. Canned fruits can also be used to prepare these.

Ingredients:

• Fresh Mango – 2 cups (peeled and finely chopped)
• Fresh Peach – 2 cups (peeled and finely chopped)
• Popsicle molds

Method:

1. Blend together the mangoes and the peaches.
2. Pour the prepared mixture into the Popsicle molds, insert sticks and freeze for 8 to 10 hours.

Any of the season’s fruits can be combined to prepare these Fresh Fruit Popsicles that offer the advantage of fresh fruit fiber that takes these delightful lollies a notch above fresh fruit juices.

About the author:
Megha Mathur is a writer, voracious reader, amateur photographer and self-taught passionate home-cook all wrapped in one. She is a healthcare provider by qualification who gave up her career to be a SAHM and loves learning the ropes of parenting with her child.


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