As long as I can remember, summer was the favorite time of the year for us, children while growing up. Being in boarding school, those 2 months at home meant the world to us. The food at our hostel mess was largely good and but what we ate at home cannot be put in words. From a simple dal, vegetable, rice and chapati to pizza, cake, mithai, aam-panna my mother made everything. Oh, if I could visit my childhood back, I would gorge wholeheartedly and would definitely avoid troubling my mother.
But coming back to present, food preferences and availability has changed drastically. There are not many seasons specific foods anymore and the most important shift I can clearly see is the awareness about healthy eating habits for children. Parents are so consumed with the guilt of feeding junk-food sometimes that they put in extra efforts on force-feeding regular food. I was a picky-eater but I don’t remember my parents’ pushing food down my throat.
Yes, eating well supports our children’s healthy growth and development into adulthood. Introducing wholesome, nutritious choices into a child’s diet helps them to develop a healthy relationship with food that can last them a lifetime.
Now, since summer is upon us as temperature is soaring high, adequate nutrition is important to keep them healthy and comfortable. We are blessed by nature with some excellent coolers and foods which make them highly essential in summers. Here’s a list of few fruits, snacks and drinks you must indulge your child with –
- Rice Kanji– This is an excellent source of vitamin B6 and B12. Rice kanji used to be a staple breakfast in South India. It is great for keeping the body alkaline, thus cools the digestive system. It is a probiotic which aids good digestion. Very easy to prepare at home as well.
- Salads– Having a bowl of salad every day in summer can work wonders for a child. Salads keep you full for long and are a good source of fibre. Including leafy vegetables like lettuce, cabbage and spinach in salads is a perfect way to keep our children healthy and hydrated.
- Yoghurt/curd/buttermilk– Yoghurt is a great food for summers due to its cooling properties. We are sure to find this in all Indian homes since its beneficial for digestion of all age groups. It is an excellent source of calcium and protein. It is also packed with many other nutrients. Buttermilk is easily digestible and is full of various nutrients. A must have for kids this summer.
- Coconut water- This is the ultimate thirst-quencher for most adults but let us give it a shot to make it our kids favorite this summer. It is easily available, inexpensive, tasty and is packed with simple sugars, fiber, electrolytes, and minerals that aid in hydration during the rising temperatures. This should make the grocery-list of all mommies every time you step out.
- Lemonade– lemon water is rich in vitamin C and is good for the skin as well. It makes a great summer drink as it tastes good and has a cooling effect. It regulates indigestion and constipation in toddlers. Add salt, sugar and cumin powder and with a tinge of jaljira powder it qualifies on top of my favourite coolers. Children would love to help you prepare this.
- Watermelon– This is not a fancy, western-influenced fruit but a very easily available one in summer. The sight of watermelons adorning the busy pavements in any city of India, automatically quenches the thirst. It’s a high-water content loaded fruit with abundant vitamins and nutrients in place. Cut into cubes, juice it up simply gorge on the thinly cut slices, this is pure ecstasy.
- Black plum or jamun– these tasty berries are only available in summer so don’t miss out. It has been referred to as a fruit with many medicinal properties in our ancient Ayurveda. It is excellent for juvenile-diabetics and a good digestive fruit.
- Tomatoes– the humble tomato might have not been embraced as a highly beneficial fruit but it is an essential fruit in our eco-system. Tomatoes are 94% water and keeps you hydrated, eases digestion system as well. Motivate your children to have the tomatoes in any form, juice, salad or added in your vegies.
- Raw-mango water- Aam-panna as it is commonly called in India, is a great summer drink.
It is rich in electrolytes and helps to keep body cool in scorching heat. Prepared by boiling raw mango and churning it with salt and sugar, this is my favourite childhood memory. Now to keep it healthy I add jaggery.
Cucumber, musk-melon and Orange are all nutrient rich fruits/foods to indulge your kids with. Summer is all about playtime and fun so a little not-so-healthy foods too can be relished. But if theses make it your kiddo’s tummy, you should definitely sleep peacefully.