Category Archives: Snacks

Ragi (millet) & Banana Kulfi Pops

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RAgi kulfi

Making popsicles is amazing fun for pre-schoolers. Keya loves helping me make these on the weekends! This Ragi (finger millet) and frozen banana kulfi pop is not only super healthy but also SO delicious! I like to use frozen bananas as they give the kulfi a smooth and creamy texture.

3 ingredients blitzed together and frozen. Easy peasy! This recipe makes 2-4 kulfi’s depending on the size of your molds.

Make these as kulfi-pops or freeze in a freezer-safe box to scoop and serve for younger kids who might struggle with holding the popsicle.

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

Bananas are a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of manganese, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, potassium, biotin, and copper.

2RAgi kulfi

Ingredients: 

  • 2 medium bananas
  • 3/4 cup full-fat milk
  • 2 tbsp Ragi flour

To make:

  1. Peel and slice the bananas. Place in a ziplock bag and remove as much air as possible. Freeze for 3-4 hours or overnight.
  2. Measure 2 tablespoons of Ragi flour in a bowl. Set aside. Heat the milk in a saucepan until just steaming. Slowly pour some of the hot milk into the ragi flour and stir to forn a thick smooth paste.
  3. Pour the paste back into the remaining milk in the saucepan and cook the ragi till it forms a thick cake-batter-like consistency. Turn off the heat and allow the ragi-milk mixture to cool completely.
  4. Place the frozen bananas in a blender and blitz in short bursts at first. Then turn up the speed on your blender to puree them until nice and smooth . Add the cooled ragi-milk mixture and blitz till everything is well combined.
  5. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 4-5 hours.

 

If using wooden popsicle sticks, I like to stack them up in 3’s and secure with a little rubberband till the kulfi is completely frozen. I have found that little hands find these thicker sticks easier to grip.

To unmold, dip your plastic or metal popsicle mold in a pan of warm water for 10-15 seconds. Wiggle the stick around gently to loosen and the kulfi pops right out!

Enjoy!

 

Quinoa Cutlets

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photo 2I admit it… I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with Quinoa in the past couple of weeks. I’ve always loved recipes featuring this super seed but Keya’s not quite ready to try those yet as most are salads.  As she has finally started to react positively to her Quinoa “khichdi”  (an indian preparation involving cooking lentils and rice with vegetables and mild spices like tumeric and garlic) I made it my mission to create more recipes with simple handy ingredients.

Marie, my helper, miscalculated the quantity and accidentally cooked an enormous batch of Quinoa for a salad I wanted to make a few weeks ago.  This recipe was a result of wanting to use up leftover plain- cooked quinoa, but has turned out to be such a big hit with Keya, that its becoming a regular item on our weekly meal plan 🙂

Nutrition report:  Quinoa is packed with fiber, calcium, iron and folate and is a fantastic source of vegetarian protein.  Shredded veggies pack in loads of flavor and vitamins.

 

photo 1 (1)Ingredients:

– 1 cup cooked Quinoa

– 1 small onion, very finely chopped

– 1/4 cup finely grated carrot + finely grated broccoli

– 1 small handful, coriander, finely chopped

– 1 clove garlic, grated

– Salt & Pepper, to taste

– 3-4 tbsp dried breadcrumbs (optional)

 


Method: 

1. In a large mixing bowl, place cooked, drained quinoa along with remaining ingredients. Mix well while mashing everything together using lightly oiled hands.

2. Heat a tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil in a non-stick pan. Scoop a small handful of the mixture into your hands and shape into a ball and flatten into a cutlet.

3. Gently place the cutlets into the pan and cook till golden brown. Flip and cook on the second side.

4. Place the cooked cutlets on a paper towel/ napkin to remove any extra oil. Cool the cutlets and cut up into age appropriate bite sized portions and serve with or without some ketchup on the side 🙂

 

These cutlets are rather delicate and very soft. The crust formed on the outside is easily chewable even for a toddler with fewer teeth.  Happy eating!

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.

Eggless Oat-Avocado Chocolate cupcakes

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photo (2)I’ve been meaning to bake with Avocados for a while now as I read that they work exceptionally well in egg-less cake recipes. I made these cupcakes for little Ruhaan, our friends Prasoon & Meenakshi’s exceptionally well behaved 2 year old last weekend when we met up for brunch.

This is by far the healthiest cupcake I have ever baked! I used equal portions of all-purpose flour (maida) and home-made oat flour (finely powdered oats made in the food processor). I used banana to replace most of the refined sugar and soy-milk and canola oil to make the wet ingredients. These were so delicious, you’d hardly notice they had no eggs!

The best part of any cupcake is the frosting… I made the chocolate frosting for these cupcakes using silken tofu and chocolate chips … was the awesome-est frosting ever!

While Keya loved nibbling on little pieces I offered her, I believe Ruhaan enjoyed these very much during his snack time 🙂 Yay!   (This recipe makes 12 regular or 16 mini- cupcakes)

DRY Ingredients for Cake:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (sifted) +  3/4 cup finely ground rolled oats + 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp Baking powder + 3/4 tsp Baking soda Pinch of Salt.

WET Ingredients for Cake:

1 Avocado chopped into cubes 1 medium or 1/2 large Banana + 1/4 cup Sugar + 1/4 cup plain yoghurt

3/4 cup Soya or Cow’s milk + 1/3 cup Canola or Vegetable oil + 2 tsp Vanilla extract

Ingredients for the tofu frosting:

100g or 1/2 cup Silken tofu + 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips + 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

To make – CUPCAKES:

photo 3Before your begin – Preheat your oven to 200 deg C and line your cupcake pan with the cases.

1.  In a large mixing bowl sift all the dry ingredients together using a metal mesh.  Set aside.

2. Place the avocado, banana, sugar and yoghurt in a mixer and whizz till smooth. Add the soy milk, canola oil and vanilla and blitz again till it is nice and smooth.

3. Create a shallow well and gently pour the wet mix into the dry. And mix using a balloon whisk till everything is nicely mixed.  Using a spoon, scoop the batter into your cupcake pan till 3/4th full.

Bake @ 200 deg C for about 20-25 mins or till a inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes to room temperature before frosting.

photo 2 (2)To make – TOFU FROSTING:

1. Place the tofu and vanilla extract in a blender / mixer and puree till nice and smooth and lump-free.

2. In a double boiler (see image), place the chocolate chips and melt gently. Stir gently to help the process along and till the chocolate is smooth and shiny.  Remove from the heat.

3. Add the pureed tofu to the melted chocolate and whisk till smooth and well incorporated. Keep slightly warm.

photo 4To frost the cupcakes:

It is very important that your cupcakes be completely cool before you decide to frost them. The warm icing will set as it cools. But if your cupcakes are still warm, the frosting might get runny and drip before it has a chance to set.

Slater the frosting onto the cupcake using a spatula. And decorate with your child’s favourite sprinkles – Older toddlers will love doing the sprinkling themselves!

Enjoy!! 🙂

Roast vegetable sauce for Pizza & Pastas

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Just 4 recipes old, this blog seems to have gotten a lot of my friends, and their friends, who are parents to young toddlers and pre-schoolers excited. Motivated by their response, I am now working on some recipes that can be adapted and made suitable for babies and toddlers. My first attempt in this direction was to create something that was nutrient rich and packed with flavours to excite young taste buds. As pasta and pizza are perennial favorites with all children I adapted a recipe of roast tomato soup that I make by adding loads of veggies to create a super yum sauce that can be used with pasta or pizza, or even grilled vegetable sandwiches if you please!

All mom needs to do is chop veggies into largish chunks, toss them in a little olive oil, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and roast. Once all the vegetables are roasted all you need to do is puree everything till smooth. Roasting or baking brings out the yummy flavours of the vegetables and retains nutrients. Besides, I find that oven roasting, just saves so much f my time – as I can get a LOT of chores done while the veggies cook and I don’t have to stand at the stove.This recipe is excellent for freezing. You can scoop spoonfuls of the sauce into a clean ice cube tray and transfer all the frozen cubes into a zip lock bag once hard. Freezing as cubes is also super convenient as you can thaw and use exactly how much you need the next time you want to use them.

I know, I know, when there are ready-made pasta sauces out there, why would I want to bother making one? Only because you know exactly what has gone into it, it is preservative free and so wonderfully customizable that mommy can be sneaky and add some not-so-favourite vegetables into it 😉

You can thin out the sauce with some water and serve it with pasta topped with grated cheese or even use it as a base for grilled vegetable or chicken sandwiches.

I used the sauce along with some whole grain bread to create mini-pizzas. All I had to do was cut out circles of bread, slather on the sauce, top with vegetables of my choice along with some grated cheese and bake for a few mins till the cheese melted. No junk, packed with nutrients and delicious…. perfect for a toddler play date, after school snack, birthday party and of course midnight treats during slumber parties for the older kids 🙂

6 (1)Ingredients: (makes about 1 cup)

– 3 medium tomatoes

– 1 small green capsicum (bell pepper)

– 1 medium carrot

– 1 large onion

– 3 to 4 cloves of garlic (with peel)

– 2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

– salt & pepper , as per preference

Optional vegetables: 1/2 a zucchini, 1 small stalk of celery

To make:

1.  Preheat your oven to 200deg C and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil

2. Peel and halve the  onion and cut into thickish slices. Place in a mixing bowl along with the unpeeled garlic cloves. Peel the carrot and cut into 1/2″thick rounds. De-seed the bell pepper and cut into 1″ squares. Add the carrots and bell pepper to the mixing bowl. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and season the veggies with a pinch of salt and pepper.

3.  Tumble the vegetables onto the baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 25-30 mins. The vegetables will soften and be slightly golden. Transfer into a clean bowl and allow them to cool.

4.  While the first batch of vegetables roast, cut the tomatoes into largish chunks. Drizzle with olive oil and pepper. Roast the tomatoes seperately for about 45 mins after the other vegetables are done. Once roasted allow them to cool.

Tomatoes carry much more moisture than the other veggies and therefore need a longer roasting time which is why these are roasted seperately.

5. Once all the roasted veggies have cooled, place in a blender and whizz till nice and smooth. Use immediately or then store in a clean jar in the refrigerator, for upto 2 days or freeze for upto  a month.

To make mini pizzas, cut out circles of whole wheat bread using the edges of a metal bowl.  Spread a tablespoon or more of the sauce over the bread. Top with vegetables of your choice ( I used sweet corn, mushrooms and broccoli). Sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese and bake @ 200 deg C for 7-8 mins or till the cheese melts. YUMMY!!

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Mini Chicken & Sweet Potato cutlets

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Sweet Potato (Shakkar kandi) was one of the first vegetables that I introduced Keya to at around 5-1/2 mos. She seemed to really like the sweet-starchy mash at first, but refused to eat it when I offered it to her again a couple of weeks later. Infants are apparently known to do that – Love something at first and hate it later, or  surprisingly accept it if offered in a different “packaging” inspite of the outright rejection the first time. After a few attempts to offer her  steamed or roasted mashed sweet potato puree, I figured I’d offer it to her again, when she had ‘forgotten’ about it, so I began to devise an evil plot to trick her into liking it 🙂  (Yeah Moms do that… we’re the evil people who try to trick innocent babies into eating healthy foods!)

I had a little bit of plain boiled chicken left over, from Keya’s dinner last night, that I did not want lying around for too long.  My goal was to make something that would be simple and could be pulled together quickly.

This recipe for Chicken & Sweet Potato cutlets is inspired from the developmental stage Keya currently is in, where she has developed a pincer grasp, and likes to pick up small bites of food with her fingers and attempt to self feed. It’s also a good recipe to bookmark, if you want to make a larger batch and freeze some extras for later, that you can bake or saute for your toddler’s play date or party. The ingredients are easy to source and will most likely already be in your kitchen pantry. Feel free to substitute plain potatoes if your child absolutely hates sweet potatoes and is beyond the age of being tricked 😉

For the nutrition report card on this : Great source of Proteins, Iron and Carbohydrates.

Oh and BTW – I’m pretty confident K liked these 🙂

03 (1)Ingredients:

– 1/4 cup finely minced or chopped boiled chicken meat

– 1/2 medium sized sweet potato, roasted or boiled, peeled

– 1 small clove of garlic, grated OR pinch of garlic powder

– Small pinch each of cumin & black pepper powder

– 1 tsp finely chopped fresh coriander (optional)

– A small dab of butter

– 1 small wedge of lime + a small pinch of salt

 

03 (2)To make:

In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked sweet potato cubes and minced chicken. Lightly oil your fingers and mash into a smooth mix. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Adjust seasonings like Cumin/ Pepper / Salt to suit the age of your child.

Shape small balls of the mixture into mini cutlets. For young babies, dab a little olive oil on each side of the cutlet and cook in a non-stick pan till golden on each side. For older kids, you could add a little more oil and shallow fry till a crisp golden crust develops.

If you’d like to bake these, brush the cutlets with some olive oil and bake @ 180 deg C for about 10 mins on each side. Flip, brush second side and bake again. Baking might take longer, so is probably better if you are cooking a big batch together. For a handful of cutlets, makes more sense to go with the non-stick pan.

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The quantities mentioned above will yield about 6-8 mini cutlets. If you are making a larger batch, line a metallic plate or baking pan with non-stick or parchment paper. Place the prepared cutlets and freeze till they feel firm – about an hour . Transfer the frozen cutlets into a ziplock bag and freeze for later. I’d recommend thawing the cutlets in the refrigerator before frying or baking them. Since they are small in size, I’m guessing they wont need too long to soften up.