Category Archives: lunch box ideas

Ragi(millet), Almond & Cranberry Biscuits

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FullSizeRender.jpgThe past week has been exhausting with the house move, K on a week-long break from school and of course endless list of errands that piles up from a combination of these two. As we finally have our wi-fi up and running and Keya is back at school, here I am dutifully posting the recipe I promised for these amaaaazing biscuits.

Packed with healthy ingredients, mildly sweet, these biscuits keep so well even in this god awful humid weather! Best paired with a glass of warm or chilled milk for the little ones for a quick after-school snack or a perfect to add to lunch-boxes. (Seriously, you will never want to dunk an oreo in a glass of milk again!)

Being equally popular with the kiddos and grown-ups (they’re so good paired with a piping hot cup of chai!) I usually end up doubling the recipe each time I make these 🙂

Nutrition note: Ragi (finger millet) is a rich source of calcium, protein and iron. It is also a good source of fiber.

Almonds are rich in fiber, Vitamin E, Protein, and Minerals (manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium), and have considerable amounts of essential fatty acids. They are also rich in beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps boost immunity.

Ingredients:

Dry mix :

  • 3/4c. Ragi (finger millet) flour
  • 1/2c. ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4c. dried cranberries (or mini-chocolate chips or chopped candied ginger)
  • a pinch of salt

Wet mix:

  • 1/2c. unsalted butter (soft)
  • 3-4 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar

To decorate:

  • 1/4 cup of almond flakes

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To make:

  1. Measure and mix all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Break up any clumps of dried cranberries (they tend to stick) to ensure an even distribution throughout the dough.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over gentle heat. Add the honey and brown sugar and whisk gently until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture looks silky smooth.
  3. Pour the melted butter-honey-sugar mix into the bowl of dry ingredients. Work quickly and stir everything together till it form a soft but crumbly dough (this happens as ragi / finger millet is gluten-free).
  4. Cover and chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 20 min. This makes it a bit easier to handle.
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 180 deg C. Line your baking tray with baking paper.While the oven heats up, scoop small balls of dough using a teaspoon onto your palms and roll them till smooth, tucking away any cheeky pieces of cranberries that try to escape.
  6. Place the rolled dough balls onto the baking sheet and flatten using gentle pressure from your finger tips. Dot each biscuit with a pretty almond flake.
  7. Bake at 180 deg C for about 15-17 min. Allow the biscuits to cool for a few minutes before transferring carefully onto a wire rack. The biscuits are a bit fragile at this point (but firm up as they cool completely), so be gentle!

 

These keep well stored in an air-tight container for about 8-10 days – IF they last that long 🙂

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Whole grain veggie + cheese crackers

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IMG_4572As parents who love to be out and about with their baby,  Vineet and I have our challenges when it came to sticking to otherwise religious mealtimes for Keya. Grocery stores are stocked with so many brands of snacking options for infants and toddlers. Teething rusks, teething cookies, biscuits, all swearing they are healthier than the next. Sure they’re easy options – but all are sweet!  Keya, I have come to realize, doesn’t seem to have much of a sweet tooth – not something I am complaining about as this will hopefully save us a lot of $$$ on dental care later on – but finding suitable snack options for her is challenging.  Add that to my slightly obsessive habit of trying to make everything healthier and you have — these awesome whole grain vegetable crackers! A tasty savory snack for babies and toddlers. These have become a huge hit with K and my go-to snack option for her when we’re out or traveling.

Nutrition report: Complex Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Protein.

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Ingredients:

– 1cup whole wheat flour

– 1/2c. finely ground rolled oats

-1/2c grated cheddar cheese

– 1/4c. sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds, coarsely ground

– 4-5tbsp finely grated carrot

–  3-4 tbsp grated broccoli florets

– 1/2 c room temp unsalted butter

– 1/4tsp baking powder
– 3/4c. cold water
– 1/2 tsp each of Salt, pepper, oregano flakes (adjust salt to preference)
To make:
1. Sift the whole wheat flour into a mixing bowl. Add the finely ground raw oats, ground sunflower and baking powder, salt, pepper and oregano. Whisk well to combine.
2. Add the butter into the mixing bowl and rub into the dry ingredients till the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the grated cheese, carrot and broccoli and mix well.
3. Knead the mixture into a dough using the cold water. The dough should not be too soft – neither should it feel dry and hard. Divide the dough into 2 equal sized portions. Shape it into a thick disc and wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for 15-20 mins in the fridge.
4. Preheat your oven to 200 deg C.  Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
5a. Unwrap one of the dough discs. Roll on to a generously floured surface till its abt 1/4″thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out shapes. Place the shapes on the baking tray. To help the crackers brown nicely, you may brush the tops with a lightly beaten egg. Bake @ 200 deg C for 30 mins. The centre of the crackers might be a little bit soft, but these will harden up on cooling. Allow the crackers to cool completely.
5b. For the second disc of dough – I employed a different technique and made these spirals or twists by gently twirling the dough. To make these – Roll out the second chilled dough disk on  a floured surface till 1/4″thick. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut into 1/2″ wide x 3″long strips. Hold one end of the strip with one hand. Gently twist the strip 2 or 3 times and press down the second end gently. Repeat with all remaining strips. Arrange strips on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper. Brush lightly with beaten egg (optional step to help browning). Bake @ 200 deg C for 45mins.
Once baked, allow the twists to cool completely.If you would like to avoid the egg, increase the baking time by another 10 mins to help brown the crackers. Store the cooled crackers in an air-tight container.
Babies and toddlers who are teething can enjoy these healthy savoury crackers during travel or at home. Offer these to a grown up child with some cream cheese on the side for dipping 😉

Beetroot Cutlets

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IMG_4573Coming up with interesting and fun ways to incorporate vegetables into children’s food is a stumbling block every young parent I know has encountered. Every family has a list of vegetables that is on their regular grocery list – cauliflower, beans, broccoli, carrots, okra, cabbage, eggplants and leafy greens are on ours. Then there are the occasional buys – like mushroom, pumpkins and bell peppers. I have a third list that consists of vegetables that I LOVE but know only so many ways to cook – like bitter gourds and beets. Growing up the only way I remember eating beets was boiled. More recently I started to enjoy Beetroot+ Apple juice when I have the chance. But boiled and juiced beets are not usually on a kids favorite foods list. Its more often than not the vegetable most kids show little to no enthusiasm for. Yet  beets are of exceptional nutritional value; and I was therefore keen to weave them into Keya’s diet. These cutlets are a complete hit with little Keya as well as her beet-hating (now beet-loving) dad! 🙂

Nutrition report: Rich in iron,vitamin C, folic acid ,manganese, potassium & fiber.

photoIngredients:  (makes 6-8 cutlets)

– 1 med. raw beetroot, peeled & finely grated

– 1/2 cup raw oats, coarsely powdered

– 1/4 cup crumbled paneer (optional)

– 2 cloves garlic, peeled & grated

– 1 small onion, very finely chopped

– 1 egg, beaten (optional)

– 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs

– 1-1/2 tbsp dried basil or mint

– salt & pepper, to taste

To make:

1.  Place grated raw beets, oats, paneer, onion, and garlic in a mixing bowl. Add the dried basil or mint leaves and season with salt and pepper.

2. Crack one egg in a seperate bowl. Whisk lightly. Pour the whisked egg into the beet mixture followed by the breadcrumbs. (For vegetarian kids, leave out the egg and add only breadcrumbs. I’ve tried this recipe with and without the egg. Both are just as good.) For recipe with egg, you might need a little more breadcrumbs to help soak up the excess moisture.

3. Once the mixture is well combined, divide it into lemon sized balls. Roll around between your palms to make the ball and pat down gently to flatten into a cutlet.

This recipe freezes very well. I prefer to make up a batch of 6-8 cutlets and freeze these to be used over the next few of weeks. Once you make all the cutlets, you can place them on a non-stick paper and freezer till hard, then transfer the frozen cutlets into a ziplock freezer bag to store in the freezer. Please thaw frozen cutlets to room temperature before cooking. 

4. Heat a little olive or vegetable oil in a non-stick pan. Lightly fry the cutlets on both sides till a nice crusts forms on the outside. Place cooked cutlets on a paper napkin till they’re cool enough to feed your child. Cut up into age-appropriate sizes before offering to your child.

These are outstandingly delicious when sandwiched with toasted bread or burger buns and some tomato ketchup 🙂 Great for meal times, snacks and also lunch boxes for older kids (and parents!)

I came up with this recipe when Keya was about 13 months old. But am positive this recipe can be used for babies as young as 11 mos – specially those who have 6-8 teeth and enjoy chewing on their food.