Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Pumpkin Dip to Enhance Immunity

Do you know that the orange colour in pumpkins comes from a pigment called beta carotene.Beta carotene has been known as an immunity booster especially in the elderly.Some studies have also shown that increased consumption of beta carotene can reduce the risk of cancer.It is also well known for it's anti-aging and antioxidants properties.
Today's recipe is a very healthy and immunity boosting pumpkin dip.This dip has been made using curd which has numerous health benefits.I have mentioned about curd in my previous post.

You will need
Curd-1.5 cups
Water-3 cups
Salt to taste
For tempering
Sesame seeds-1/2 teaspoon
Green chillies-1
Curry leaves-3-4
Mustard seeds-1/4 teaspoon
Oil-2 teaspoons
-Peel the pumpkin and wash it and cut into small pieces.
-Take a deep vessel and add 3 cups of water to it.Add the cut pumpkin pieces and salt.Let it boil till the pumpkin is cooked well.Drain the water and let the pumpkin cool completely.
-In a separate pan heat oil and add the tempering ingredients and let it crackle.
-Now add the pumpkin and stir it for 2 minutes.
-Whisk the yogurt.Add it to the cooked pumpkin.
-Blend yogurt and pumpkin in a mixer.
 Enjoy the delicious dip with chapati,tacos or pulao.

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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Healthy Salads for Summer

Capture the sunny taste of summer with some light and healthy vegetables and tangy fruits.The salad recipes that i will share with you today will delight your taste buds.These recipes are full of antioxidants,vitamins and calcium and are also easy to make.

1.Tangy Vegetable Salad
Tomato-2 small
Green chilli-1
Lime juice-2 teaspoons
Peanuts- 7-8 roasted
Cilantro- 1 teaspoon finely chopped
Salt to taste
-Finely chop the onion,green chilli and tomatoes.
-Peel the cucumber and carrot and grate it.
-Heat a pan and slightly roast the peanuts.Allow it to cool and pound it.Keep aside.
-Take a bowl and add all the vegetables and salt.Toss it properly.
-Cut the lime into half and squeeze the juice out and keep in a separate bowl.
-Add lime juice to the tossed salad and mix well.
-Sprinkle the roasted peanuts and chopped cilantro on top.

2.Chick Peas Salad 

White chick peas(kabuli chana)-1.5 cups
Green chilli-1(optional)
Shredded Coconut-2 teaspoons
Chaat masala-1 teaspoon
Lime juice-1 teaspoon
For tempering 
Oil-1 teaspoon
Curry  leaves-3-4 leaves
Mustard seeds-a pinch
-Soak the chick peas for 7-8 hours and boil them in a pressure cooker by adding a little salt and 5 cups of water.Cook for 3-4 whistles.When cooked, allow it to cool completely.Take out in a separate bowl.
-Finely chop the onions,green chillies and tomatoes.
-Heat a pan and add oil.Add mustard seeds and curry leaves.Let it splutter.
-Add chopped onions,green chilli and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.
-Add the tempering to the cooked chickpeas.
-Add lime juice and mix and sprinkle shredded coconut.

  3. Sweet Corn Salad

Fresh Sweet corn-1
Salt-a pinch
Butter-1 teaspoon
Processed cheese-1 small cube
Black pepper powder-1/4 teaspoon
-Boil the sweet corn till it's properly cooked.
- Hold the stem end of the corn cob and cut the corn kernels by using a sharp knife.
-Mix the corn kernels with salt and black pepper.
-Add melted butter and toss again.
-Add shredded cheese on top and serve.

4.Bell Pepper salad
 Red bell pepper-1
Green bell pepper-1
Yellow bell pepper-1
Sweet corn-4 tablespoon
Black olives-4-5
Fresh basil leaves-3-4
For the Dressing
Extra virgin Olive oil-1 tablespoon
Vinegar-1 teaspoon
Castor sugar-1/2 teaspoon

-Mix all the ingredients for dressing together in a bowl and stir thoroughly.The sugar should blend completely in the dressing.Keep aside.
-Cut all the above ingredients except the basil leaves and keep in a bowl.
-Add the dressing to the salad and toss.
-Put the basil leaves on top.

5.Green Moong Sprouts Salad
Green Moong dal-1/2 cup
Green chilli-1(optional)
Chaat masala-1 teaspoon
To make sprouts

-Soak the green moong dal overnight.Take a clean muslin or thin cotton cloth and put the soaked moong dal on it.Tie the cloth by taking two opposite sides at a time.Make a tight knot.Sprinkle a little water on the tied cloth and keep it in dry and dark place.You can see sprouts coming out the next day.
-Finely chop the green chilli,onion and tomato.
-Peel and grate the carrot.
-Mix all the vegetable with the moong sprouts and mix with a spoon.
-Sprinkle chaat masala on top and toss again.

6.Green Salad
Lime -1
Salt to taste
White pepper powder-1 teaspoon
-Wash the vegetables thoroughly and peel the beetroot,carrot,radish and cucumber.
-Cut all the vegetables into thin rounds.
-Cut the lime and make thin slices.
-Place all the cut vegetables on the plate and sprinkle slat and pepper on top.
-Add the lime slices on top.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Banana PanCakes in a Jiffy

In my previous post I had mentioned about the several health benefits of banana.
Today  I will give you a simple pancake recipe using banana.
Basic Banana Pancake
Bananas-2 ripe medium size
Sugar-3 tablespoon
Honey-2 tablespoon
Castor sugar/powdered sugar-1 teaspoon 
For the Batter
All purpose flour-2 cups
Salt-a pinch
Baking Powder-2 teaspoons
Cardamoms-2 powdered
Milk-1.5 cups
Oil-2.5 tablespoon
-Take a bowl and mix flour,sugar,salt,cardamom powder and banking powder and mix well.
-Slowly add milk to the flour stirring it constantly to make a nice thick batter.Make sure there are no lumps in the batter.
-Mash the ripe bananas to make a smooth consistency.Add this to the flour batter.Mix well again.
-Heat a frying pan and add oil.Take a big spoon of batter and slowly spread it to make a circle on the pan.
-Keep the flame on medium heat and let the pancake cook.
-Carefully turn the pancake to the other side and let it cook for 2 minutes.Repeat the same steps to make pancakes from the rest of the batter.
-Serve on a plate and add honey,sliced bananas and castor on top.
**You can also add raisins,chopped cashew nuts to the pancake batter.Adding grated coconut to the batter also gives it a nice taste.**
You can make the pancakes for breakfast or have it for snacks.Try it and do send me your feedback.

Wonders of Oats and OatMeal

Oatmeal is one of the healthiest foods known for its high nutritional values.Oatmeal has been approved as a heart friendly food as it lowers cholesterol and lowers the risk of heart diseases.

Types of Oats and Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a whole-grain cereal made from ground oat groats.It has very low fat content and is rich in soluble fibers called Beta-Glucan.
Oatmeal comes in several forms:
  • Instant Oatmeal-It is dried and precooked.It often contains sweeteners and other flavours as additive.
  • Rolled Oats-This old fashioned oats is steam processed and rolled into flakes.This helps the oats to stay fresh for a longer time.Rolled oats are used as an ingredient in muesli and granola.
  • Steel-cut Oats/Irish Oatmeal-The oat groats are chopped into small pieces using  large steel blades and are usually roasted.
  • Vitamins-Oatmeal is a good source of B-complex vitamin.Vitamin B is water soluble and is important for metabolic functions.
  • Minerals-Oatmeal cereal is a rich source of magnesium, zinc,iron,manganese and selenium.It also contains calcium,potassium and phosphorous.Magnesium supports the immune system and zinc promotes healing and growth.Phosphorous and calcium are good for bone and teeth.Iron helps to create red blood cells and thus prevent anemia.
  • Protein-One cup of cooked oatmeal has 6 grams of protein.It provides all the energy required by our body.
  • Carbohydrate-A cup of cooked oatmeal contains 28.08 g of carbohydrate.
Health Benefits
  • Soluble fibers present in oats and oatmeal lower the LDL or bad cholesterol in the body.
  • Phytochemicals in oats and oatmeal  can lower the risk of developing cancer.
  • Avenanthramides, a type of antioxidant are present in oats.This helps to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
  • Insoluble fibers in oats help to stabilize blood sugar and this can help patients with diabetes.
 Tips to make your Best Oatmeal
  • Oats can be slow cooked and even reheated.Reheating does not reduce the nutritional value of oats.
  • Instant oatmeal usually has higher glycemic index,you can add a little fat free or low fat milk and a few nuts to lower the glycemic index.
  • Steel-cut and rolled oats are considered superior to instant oats as they contain more fibers and nutrients.Steel cooked oats take atleast half and hour to cook while rolled oats can be cooked in 15 minutes.Add 2 parts water to one part oat while boiling.
  • You can add soy milk or low fat milk to your oats to get more calcium.
  • Pieces of fresh fruits like strawberry,kiwis,apple,banana or chikoo can be added to the oats.You can also add dried fruits like raisins.
  • Add a dash of Cinnamon,pumpkin seeds or even cocoa to make your oats topping  more delicious.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Quick and Crispy Pakoras(Snacks)

Pakoras are a great choice for evening snacks.A cup of hot beverage with hot and crispy pakoras,a perfect way to enjoy a Sunday evening with family.
Indians relish different kinds of pakoras.They can be made with almost any vegetable.The batter usually is made with gram flour,rice flour,corn flour and even chana dal and urad dal.
I'm going to share some delicious and quick to make pakoras recipes. 

1.Onion Pakora(Kanda Bhajia)
Onions-2 large
Gram flour-4 tablespoons
Rice flour-2 tablespoons
Red chilli powder-1 teaspoon(optional)
Salt -to taste
Water-3-4 tablespoons
Oil-2 cups for frying
-Finely slice the onions.Add the above ingredients except water and mix well.
-Now add 3-4 tablespoons of water and mix again.The mixture should should be a little hard and not watery.
-Heat a pan and add oil to it.Wash your hands and take small amount of the mixture,gently press it between your thumb and four fingers and add it to the heated pan.Do not crowd the pan as it will not let the pakoras be crispy.Add only 5-6 small portions of the mixture.
-Put some tissue papers on a plate and put the fried pakoras.
-Serve with fresh green coriander chutney(Click to see my post on green dhania chutney)

2.Cabbage Pakora
Cabbage-1/2 small cabbage
Garlic-5-6 pieces
Green chillies-2
Corn flour- 1/2 cups
Water-8-10 tablespoons
Salt-to taste
Oil-2 cups for frying
-Make a fine paste with garlic and green chillies adding little water.
-Finely chop the onion.
-Finely chop the cabbage and add the above ingredients except water.
-Now add water and mix properly.
-Heat a pan and add oil .Take a small portion of the mixture and fry it in oil.Follow the steps given above(onion pakoras)
-Place some tissue papers on a plate and put the fried pakoras.
-Serve hot with Chutney.(click to see my previous post on chutneys)

3.Chana dal Pakora
Chana Dal-1.5 cups
Garlic-5-6 pieces
Green chillies-2
Curry Leaves-3-4
Salt to taste
Oil-2 cups for frying
-Soak the chana dal for 4-5 hours and wash it properly
-Finely chop the onion.
-Add salt,green chillies and garlic to the chana dal.Use a mixer to grind the ingredients to a nice thick paste.Do not add any water.
-Now add the chopped onions and curry leaves to the chana dal paste.
-Heat oil in a pan and fry the pakoras.
-Serve hot with chutney.

4.Potato pakora
Potatoes-2 large
For the Batter
Gram flour-1.5 cups
Rice flour-4-5 tablespoons
Red chilli powder-1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Water-1/4 cups
Oil-2 cups for frying
-Cut the potatoes into very thin slices.Do not peel the potatoes.
-In a bowl add all the above ingredients except oil and water.
-Mix these ingredients properly and now add little water.The batter should not be thick nor very watery.Beat the batter with spoon or mix with hands in a circular direction.
-Heat oil in a pan.
-Dip 1 slice of potato in the batter and fry it in the pan.Repeat this for the rest of the slices.
-Serve the potato pakoras with chutney.
**You can use any vegetable of your choice with the batter mentioned above.Try with cut capsicums,Chopped spinach leaves,Chopped fenugreek leaves,cauliflower or any seasonal vegetable.**

Turmeric- The Amazing Health Food

Turmeric(Curcuma Longa) is a sharp tasting spice derived from a root and is commonly used as a culinary spice in South Asia.This spiceccomes from the underground stem(rhizomes) of the turmeric plant.It has a sharp,woodsy taste and pungent aroma.It has been widely used as a traditional remedy to cure many ailments in Ayurvedic as well as Chinese medicine.

Potential Nutrients
The main nutrient in turmeric is Curcumin which is consumed in diets and is used as herbal remedy in many countries.Curcumin  in turmeric has strong antioxidant,anti-inflammatory,anti cancer and cortisone -stimulating properties..
Other compounds include ascorbic acid,carotene,polysaccharides and ar-turmerone.These compounds also have medicinal properties.

Health Benefits of Turmeric
  • It helps to stimulate the gallbladder and improve bile flow.This helps in treating many gastrointestinal problems.
  • It helps to remove bloating,gas,heart burn and acid reflux.
  • It can be applied on the skin to treat wounds,insect bites,eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions.
  • Turmeric has as a powerful anti-inflammatory property which helps to relieve symptoms of arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • Some medical studies have also proved that curcumin in turmeric has several anti-cancer properties.These studies suggest that curcumin should be considered as an anticancer agent and must be included as part of daily diet.Some studies have also shown that curcumin inhibits the growth of certain tumors.
  • It has the power to thin blood and reduce the ability to form clots.This helps people with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  • Research has also shown that use of turmeric or curcumin might protect against Alzheimer's disease, stomach ulcers and heart diseases.
How to select Turmeric
It is advisable to buy turmeric powder from reputed manufacturers.Go for organic brands if possible as this will ensure that the product is free from adulteration.

Storage Tips
Store in a cool and dark place away from heat and direct sunlight.Always store in a dry and clean jar and seal the lid after use.

  • Pregnant women should always consult doctors before taking turmeric supplements.
  • If taken in high doses it may cause nausea and diarrhea.
  • People suffering from liver problems,gallstones and jaundice should not take turmeric.
  • Turmeric may have possible interactions with some drugs,so it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking any curcumin supplement.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

How to make Kids Eat their Veggies

When my son was a toddler,I had to go through some trial and error every single day.Mealtimes were like challenges for me but I slowly learned some important lessons.Today I'm going to share some ideas that really worked for me and I hope this will help you guide your kids to eat more veggies.
Why Kids Should Eat Vegetables?
Vegetables have high nutritional values which protect us from many diseases like cancer,diabetes and heart diseases.Vegetables are rich in vitamins,minerals,antioxidants,fibers,low in calories and fat free.They are essential for the development of children's brain and body.
Instilling good eating habits in children at an early age can set up a lifelong habit of healthy eating.Getting kids eat more vegetables can sometimes be a battle.It can be intimidating but with a little effort and creativity you can surely do it.
  • Make a schedule and be Consistent-Offer kids meals and snacks at the right time.Make veggies a part of your routine and serve atleast one vegetable with every meal.You can choose raw vegetables like carrots,cucumbers,tomatoes or cook a vegetable.

  • Experiment with Dips-Try Hummus ,Chutneys and yogurt dips with  vegetables. You can find the recipes for some healthy and easy dips in my previous posts.

  • Set a Good Example-If you are eating enough vegetables then this will also encourage your kids.Fill your plate half with different kinds of vegetables or salads.Your good eating habits will send the right food message to your kids.

  • Let Kids be the Chef-Involve them while cooking.Ask them to pick a vegetable and encourage them to make their own recipes.Kids will love to eat what they have created.

  • Plan Weekly Menus with Kids-Take kids to the supermarket and introduce them to the varieties of vegetables available.Explain how each vegetable can help him become stronger and taller.You can find healthy weekly menu plan in my earlier post.

  • Fun with Veggies-Make interesting faces with cut vegetables.A blanched broccoli florets may resemble a tree and cauliflower the clever brain which will make him more smart.You can give silly names to your veggie creation.

  • Sneak in Veggies-Make carrot purees and add to soups,grate vegetables and add to rice,finely chop bell peppers and onions and add to omelet.

  • Do not force  your Child to Eat-Don't force your child to eat if he's not hungry or doesn't want to have a particular veggie.This can be frustrating for you but according to experts,forcing children to eat something can make them avoid eating it.

  • Introduce New Foods Slowly-Serve some familiar veggies plus one new veggie slowly.Introduce the new vegetable in an interesting way.Make funny stories and ask your child to try it.If you are introducing broccoli tell him how it's different from the cauliflower in colour.Tell him that it's the favourite veggie of his superhero because it gives him strength and keeps his eyes healthy.

  • Reward Your Child- Enthusiastically praise your child and reward him for eating vegetables.They will slowly want to try new veggies and will also learn to like them.Introduce rewards into your dining routine and encourage kids to love their veggies.

  • Don't Give Up-If your kid still isn't eating vegetables-don't give up.research shows that kids need to taste a food atleast 10 to 15 times before appreciating it's taste.So keep trying.As they grow up their tastes will also change.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Awesome Health Benefits of Banana

Filled with vitamins,minerals and fiber,bananas provide some important nutrients to the body. Bananas come as a versatile fruit and are loved by both adults and children.They are an excellent source of energy and can be eaten as whole,sliced to make fruit salad or mashed as baby food

Nutritional Value
  • Potassium-Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral essential for healthy heart,muscle,kidney and digestive system.
  • Vitamin C-Vitamin C is known for it's antioxidant properties.It is also required in the formation of collagen,absorption of iron and formation of hemoglobin.
  • Vitamin B6-It converts carbohydrates to glucose and thus maintains healthy levels of blood sugar in the body.It also helps in the formation of hemoglobin and metabolism of protein.
  • Fiber-Bananas contain soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol.Soluble fibers also help in weight loss.
Health Benefits 
  • Regulates Bowel Movements-Bananas contain pectin which is a soluble fiber that helps to regulate bowel movements.People who suffer from constipation should eat bananas.
  • Better Brain Power -Research has shown that children who ate bananas at least 3 times a day performed in their exams.Potassium rich bananas help to boost brain power in children.
  • Good for the Heart-Bananas contain enough potassium which helps prevent muscle cramps and other cardiovascular diseases.
  • Healthy Bones -High Potassium content in bananas help to neutralize the high amounts of sodium in our diet.This prevents the weakening of bones.
  • Better Eyesight-People who consume bananas regularly have lower incidence of vision problems.Bananas help to protect our eyesight.
  • Ease Symptoms of Ulcer-Peptic ulcer is the most common type of ulcer.It has been found that a compound called protease inhibitor in bananas can help remove the ulcer causing bacteria in the stomach.
  • Regulate Blood Sugar-Bananas help to curb the sweet tooth and help patients diabetes and blood sugar problems.
Bananas contain three types of natural sugars-Glucose,Fructose and Sucrose .When combined with fiber,these natural sugars provide instant and substantial energy to our body.Make bananas a part of your family's regular diet.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Choose Healthy Cooking Oil for your Family

Supermarkets today are flooded with several brands and varieties of cooking oils.All oils have different characteristics like nutritional properties,smoking point and culinary uses.Irrespective of your preference,it is always advisable to choose liquid fat over solid fats like butter and margarine.

Oil Fats
  • Saturated Fats-These fats increase the levels of total cholesterol and LDL which is the bad cholesterol.This allows fat to be deposited on the walls of the blood vessels thereby causing blood clots ,heart diseases and possibly type 2 diabetes.
  • Unsaturated Fats-These fats are considered to be heart friendly.they are of two types.
  1. Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA)
  2. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA)
Both are healthy fatty acids and lower the total cholesterol and the bad cholesterol too.

The Good and Bad Fats
Good Fats
  • Monounsaturated Fats-These oils are usually liquid at room temperature.They lower total cholesterol and LDL(Bad cholesterol)and increase HDL(good cholesterol).
  • Polyunsaturated Fats-These oils are also in liquid form at room temperatures.Omega 3 fatty acids belong to this group.This also helps to lower LDL and total cholesterol.They are very healthy in their natural form but once heated they create trans fatty-acids which are toxic.
Bad Fats
  • Saturated fats-When consumed in excess it increases the total cholesterol as well as the LDL.
  • Trans Fats-They increase the bad cholesterol that is LDL and lower HDL or the good cholesterol.
Healthy Cooking Oils 
  • Olive Oil-It contains antioxidants which can help lower LDL.It contains monounsaturated fats.Research has shown that consuming 2 tablespoons of olive oil daily reduces the risk of coronary heart diseases and blood clots.
  • Coconut Oil-Though coconut oil has saturated fats but it is different from the ones present in animal fats.This oil can be used safely for cooking purpose.
  • Sunflower Oil-It is rich in PUFA and also contains lenoleic acid that helps to reduce LDL a well as HDL levels.
  • Canola Oil- It is considered to be the healthiest oil.It contains high unsaturated fats and very little saturated fats.
  • Sesame(Gingelly)Oil-This oil is rich in antioxidants and also has antidepressant properties.It contains vitamin E and also copper,calcium,iron and magnesium.This oil helps to regulate the blood pressure in the body.It also has a very long shelf life.
  • Groundnut Oil-It contains MUFA which lowers LDL or bad cholesterol.It is suitable for all types of cooking.
  • Soyabean Oil-This oil contains PUFA and lenoleic as well as alpha-lenoleic acid.Soyabean oil should not be used for frying as the PUFA gets oxidized and becomes toxic.
  • Mustard Oil-Known for its sharp flavour and pungent smell,it contains both MUFA and PUFA.This oil also contains a fatty acid known as erucic acid which can be harmful to health if the oil is used in excess.
  • Rice Bran Oil-The oil extracted from rice bran has many nutritional benefits.It contains traces of oryzanol which lowers the cholesterol levels.This oil is rich in MUFA and also contains Vitamin E which is a source of antioxidant.
Unhealthy Cooking Oils
  • Butter
  • Ghee(Clarified butter)
  • Vanaspati
  • Margarine
Tips to Reuse Oil Safely 
  • Try to avoid reusing of oils.If you want to reuse,make sure the finish the oil the same day as reusing can cause formation of polymers and food residue in oil can make it carcinogenic.
  • Do not mix different types of oils while cooking.
  • Oil that has been heated for a long time must not be used for cooking again.
  • Use a filter paper or a muslin cloth to strain the used oil.

Healthy and Delicious Yogurt Dips (Raitas)

In my last post I had mentioned about the benefits of curd.Curd is a part of Indian food culture and no meal is complete without a cup of curd.Today,I'll share some easy and quick to make raitas with curd.Please keep in mind that you need to use fresh curd in all the recipes.Raitas are usually used as dips or sauce and are often seasoned with fresh herbs.
Vegetable Raita
Finely chopped onion-3 teaspoons
Grated cucumber-3 teaspoons
Finely chopped tomatoes-1
Fresh Curd-1 cup
Chopped green chillies-1(optional)
Chopped coriander leaves-1 teaspoon
Salt-to taste
Roasted peanuts-7-8
Roasted cumin powder-1/2 teaspoon
Method :
Whisk the curd properly and add salt and all the above ingredients except roasted peanuts and cumin powder.Mix well.Crush the roasted peanuts and add it to the raita.Sprinkle roasted cumin powder on top.Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Potato(Alu) Raita
Fresh curd-1cup
Boiled potato-1(medium)
Chopped green chillies-1
Red chilli powder-1/2 teaspoon(optional)
Roasted cumin powder-1/2 teaspoon
For tempering:
Oil- 1 teaspoon
Sesame seeds-1 teaspoon
Curry leaves-2-3
Whisk the curd and add salt.Mash the potatoes and add it to the curd along with chopped green chillies and coriander leaves.In a pan heat 1 teaspoon of oil and add curry leaves and sesame seeds and let it splutter.Turn the flame off and add the curd to the pan.Mix well and garnish with red chilli powder and roasted cumin powder on top.

Boondi Raita
Boondi-1/4 cups
Fresh curd-1 cup
Finely chopped onions -3 teaspoons
Chopped green chillies-1(optional)
Chopped coriander leaves-1 teaspoon
Salt-to taste
Method :
Beat the curd properly and add salt and all the above ingredients except boondi.Mix well and finally add the boondi and mix again.

Spinach Raita 
Spinach-1 bunch
Fresh curd-1 cup
Salt-to taste
For Tempering:
Oil-1.5 teaspoon
Sesame seeds-1/2 teaspoon
Red Chilli-1-2
Clean the spinach leaves properly and chop them finely.In a pan add 1.5 teaspoon of oil and add red chillies and sesame seeds.Add the chopped spinach leaves and cook for 3-4 minutes.Add a pinch of salt.Let it cool.
Beat the curd properly and mix the cooked spinach.Spinach raita is ready to serve.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Build your Child's Immunity with Curd

Simple and Refreshing Curd
Yogurt or curd is a dairy product which is made by lactic fermentation of milk.It is a therapeutic food known for its refreshing taste and smoothness.One should always consume fresh curd made from fresh and pure milk.

Types of Curd
  • Thick Curd
  • Whisked Curd
  • Sweet Curd
 How to Store
Always store curd in the fridge and not in the freezer.If kept below 5 degrees C,yogurt can stored for several weeks.

Nutritional Value 
Curd is very nutritious.150 grams of whole curd contains
  • 7.7 gm of protein,240 mg calcium,163 calories and 23.8 gm carbohydrates.
  • It also contains vitamins A,E,K, folate,vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.
  • Apart from the important vitamins,curd also contains calcium,selenium,magnesium,zinc,phosphorus,copper and saturated and monounsaturated fats.

Probiotic Curd
Probiotics when added to curd help in digesting fats and protein.
  • This helps to relieve constipation by improving intestinal mobility.
  • Probiotics are also beneficial in increasing vitamin B12 and maintaining a proper pH in the body.
  • They also help to prevent diarrhea and inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • Probiotics help to enhance immune system by increasing levels of immunoglobins.

Health Benefits of Tasty Curd
  •  Daily consumption of curd helps to strengthen immunity.
  • It helps improve digestion.
  • It can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
  • Thick curd taken with pieces of fruits helps you feel fuller.
  • Curd can lower cholesterol.
  • Women with vaginal infections can benefit from curd with active cultures.
  • It may help prevent Osteoporosis.
  • Curd is helpful in treating inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • People with lactose-intolerance can consume curd.
  • High calcium content in curd helps to keep bones and teeth healthy and strong.
In my next post I will give you some interesting recipes with curd and also share a few ideas to make curd a part of your daily diet.

Friday, 18 May 2012

How to Nurture Spirituality in Children

 Irrespective of your religion and background,spirituality defines your values and is a source of inspiration and stability for you.
 Children,Spirituality and Happiness
Spirituality is the way we experience and relate to God.Though religion and spirituality are both different things we all need to remember that all living bodies belong to the spiritual world that is governed by spiritual laws.
Spirituality is important for children because it brings them happiness.A recent study shows that children who are more spiritual(inner belief system) are more happier than those who report a certain level of religiousness.Developing a strong sense of personal worth in children will make them more happier.

Help your Child grow Spiritually
Parents should not limit their child's spirituality to visiting places of worship or just talking about God.
Here are a few practical tips-
  •  Be a supportive spiritual companion to your child by modelling love,kindness,compassion and forgiveness.
  • Help your child understand the spiritual laws and the mysterious movements of the divine forces.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions about his everyday life experiences.
  • Talk to him about his feelings and thoughts.
  • Choose a special place to sit with your child everyday for a few minutes and enjoy the silence and stillness together.
  • Encourage your child to sit with you or silently watch you while praying.
  • Sing a special song or make prayer a part of your child's bedtime routine.
  • Whenever you take your child to your place of worship,explain what is happening and give him time explore more.

Luke 10:21...“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. 
God indeed has a unique relationship with little children and children too are capable of enjoying the presence of God.Help your children in their spiritual journey and with a little encouragement from you they will surely share the love and presence of God.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Parenting is the Key to Children's Brain Development

According to psychologists parenting begins even before the child in unborn.A mother talking,reading and singing to the unborn child creates a mother-infant bond early on.Even after the child is born,parent's interaction plays a very very important role in child's brain development.This goes a long in shaping the child's brain and affecting his psychological state.Some studies have also shown that children who have received responsive and sensitive care from their parents in their early years grow up to be more confident and successful individuals in their lives.Recent advances in brain research has shown that the brain development in children is not only dependent on genetics but is also determined by the child's experience.

Child's Developing Brain -A Miracle
Research shows that the first three years are vital to the child's brain development.The child's brain responds to the continually changing experiences in different ways.These experiences help the child to understand and remember things.This also tunes the brain and strengthens connections.Some studies have proved that the complex interaction between the child's genes and environment plays a critical role in brain development.Both genes and environment play different roles.Genes are responsible for creating potential in a child,whereas environment gives brain the experience that comes from the way he interacts with his parents and family.How Parents can Enhance Healthy Brain Development?
  • Love,Warmth and Touch- Be gentle and caring with your children.This gives them a sense of security,and reassurance.
  • Create a Safe Environment for your child-Give your child a rich and stimulating environment by providing him with various age appropriate toys.
  • Say No to Stress and Abuse-It is difficult to control children who experience stress and are abused.Parents should try to reduce their own stress and protect their children from abuses.
  • Provide an Enriched Learning Environment-Do a variety of interesting activities regularly with your child to boost brain development.This includes simple day to day activities like singing,playing,story-telling and reading books together.
  • Do not Overstimulate your Child-Too much stimulation can frustrate the child.It can also cause stress.
Parents are the child's first teacher.Open new windows of learning for your children by loving them and providing a safe and secure environment to them.These opportunities will not only nurture their developing brain but will also allow them to grow up to be better individuals.As parents we must ensure that every child receives the positive experiences in their early childhood.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Positive Benefits of Video games

We have all read news reports about the negative influences of video games.It is true that these games can have some bad consequences on the child's behavior but there are also a lot of positive benefits.Video games engage children in many learning activities which help children learn certain skills.Computers are an important social tool in today's modern world and children should be given enough opportunities to play with them.Some studies have also shown that video games can teach children with attention deficit disorders to modulate their brain waves associated with focusing.With proper training these children have shown to improve their social and organizational skills.

Positive Benefits for Children
  • As Educational Tool-These games are fun and exciting for children so they stimulate learning.
  • Spatial skills-It develops spatial abilities in children by helping them visualize objects in two and three dimensions.
  • Goal Setting-Goals are set in every game and they need to rehearse these goals.
  • Maths skills-They see their scores while playing and hence learn some basic maths skills.
  • Language skills-They learn how to follow directions and read certain words like 'Go','Stop','Start'.
  • Social Skills-Children can talk about their passion with their friends in school and can make new friends who share a common interest.
  • Decision-making skills
  • It teaches Strategy
  • Teaches children with Computer skills
  • It teaches Memory and Mapping
  • Multitasking
  • Quick Reasoning and Critical thinking
 Caution for Parents
  • Always remember that your supervision is a must if your child is very young.
  •  Children must not be allowed to play these games for a long time as it can interfere with their home-work and other daily responsibilities. 
  • You must monitor the effects of these games on your child's behavior.If you don't want him to play violent games then it's okay to be a little strict.
  • Engage your child in other activities by interacting with him, reading books,sports and even watching television.This will not make him addicted to these games.
Tips for Choosing Video Games
  • Check the ratings of the game and pick the ones that is acceptable to your family.
  • Look for games that involve strategy making and activities that stimulate your child's brain.
  • Choose a game that is appropriate for your child's age.
  • Encourage group play by picking games which involve multiple players.
 If taken in moderation video games have a great potential.They don't just add entertainment value but can stimulate the little brains in a big way.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Healthy Beverage Choice to prevent Childhood Obesity

 How serious is Childhood Obesity?
The increasing number of childhood obesity cases is a cause of concern in many families globally.A recent survey says that the number of childhood obesity cases have almost tripled in the last 30 years.Obese children and adolescents are at a high risk of developing long term health problems later in life.In addition to major health problems,obese or overweight children may also have problems with their emotional health like low self-confidence and self-esteem which can lead to diminished academic performance and sometimes depression.
Parents must help children understand that just like food,our choice of beverage can affect our health and nutritional intake. Consuming healthy food and beverages in moderation can help children live a balanced lifestyle.
Why are Beverages added with sugar Unhealthy?
  • High intake of beverages sweetened with sugar not only causes obesity but it also lowers the intake of certain important nutrients like vitamin A,magnesium and calcium.Low levels of calcium can cause weakened bones in children and even lead to osteoporosis later in life.
  • Too much sugary drinks also causes dental problems like tooth decay and cavities.
Easy and Healthy Beverage Options for Young Children
  • Water-Water is the perfect beverage for children.Whether pain or flavored,it keeps children hydrated and also helps to fill them up.
Ideas to encourage children drink more water
-Children imitate what adults do.If you drink plenty of water so will your children.
-Give children fresh lime or lemon juice.(see recipe in summer coolers for children post).
-Always encourage children to carry water bottles with them.
  • Milk-Milk is the next best beverage option.It contains calcium which is good for your child's bones.Consider giving low-fat or fat-free milk.Soy milk is a good alternative to cow's milk.Give children plain milk, but you can occasionally give them flavored milk like chocolate milk.
Tips to encourage children drink milk everyday
  • A glass of refreshing cold milk for breakfast is a good option.
  • Make delicious smoothies with the your child's favorite fruit.Try to control the amount of sugar.Honey is a great natural sweetness.
  • Vegetable Juice -They are an excellent source of antioxidants,fiber and essential nutrients.Carrot juice and tomato juice are some good choices.

  • 100% Fruit Juice-Give children a glass of 100% fruit juice instead of fruit drinks.You can add honey to sweeten the juice but no sugar please.Remember to put limit on juices by following the recommended limits for children
-Infants-No juice
-6months to1year-2to3 ounces per day
-1year to 5 years-4to6 ounces per day
-5years and above-not more than 8 to12ounces per day

 As your child grows up talk to him about his likes and dislikes and explain why he should avoid sugary drinks.Don't forget to treat him for the healthy choices he makes.
Making small changes in lifestyle and instilling healthy habits from an early age will help your child make better and healthy beverage choices in future.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Develop Early Number Sense in Children

 Developing number sense in children can help them excel in Maths

 Why Maths is Important for Children?
How do you respond when your child asks you why he needs to learn maths.Do you have a positive way to explain or is your approach negative?
Just like reading skills,developing early math skills in children is equally important.Maths can help children solve real-life problems.
  • Reasoning and Logic-Maths teaches children reasoning and connecting ideas logically.
  • Maths in everyday life-While shopping we check the weight and size of food packets.This is where we apply maths.We use maths in our kitchen by the amount of ingredients we need to make a recipe.
What is Number Sense?
Number sense is the ability of a person to understand numbers, their operation and also the ability to use this understanding in various flexible ways.It is as important to maths learning as phonemic awareness has been to reading.Young children develop number sense by visualizing and exploring the basic counting technique.This gradually helps them understand number size operation and place value.

 Maths and Number Sense Relation
It is often said that number sense is universal but it may take years to learn maths ability.Number sense takes root at an early age.Some preschoolers may seem to have well-developed understanding of counting techniques acquired through  informal interactions with parents or family members
Researchers have tried to link the two and find out if developing number sense in children can actually improve their maths ability later in life.

  • Children with good number sense have the ability to develop their own procedures for numerical operations.
  • Can easily recognize number patterns.
  • Have a good sense of numerical magnitude.
I would like to give you a simple example of  how two children of the same age group(one having a good number sense and the other without developed number sense) figure out biggest number between two given numbers(say,3 and 7)
Child with not so advanced number sense knows that 7 is bigger than three,but the other child knows that 7 is 4 bigger than 3.
This is where maths and number sense both are used automatically.

Games to Develop Number Sense in Children
  •  Number Guessing-Put a few crayons in a box and ask your child to quickly guess the number of crayons.
  • Counting-Ask your child to count the objects on the table,number of toys in a basket and so on.
  • Sorting-Teach him fractions by giving him a bread,cut it into half and spread jam on one half.Then say one of two pieces that is 1/2 piece has jam.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

How Pretend Play affects your Child's Brain

Pretend Play - An effective tool for cognitive development
Let me first tell you what cognitive development in early childhood means and how it is associated with pretend play in children.
Cognitive Development:It is the changing process of perception,thought and learning that starts from infancy to adulthood and thee abilities are associated with reasoning,problem-solving and memory.
Young children discover new things by manipulating toys and various objects while playing and while doing so they are developing  mathematical thinking, language and social skills.

Pretend Play and Child's Magical World of Imagination
Parents know that play is a vital component for optimal development of children but most of them are unaware of the power of pretend play.Pretend play is the cornerstone of a child's world where he is free to explore numerous possible combinations of emotions and ideas.Science has confirmed that such type of play has important positive effects on child's learning abilities.Since it involves role taking and improvisation it helps in cognitive development in the child's early years.Child's language and social skills too are built through such play.Some studies have also associated pretend play with certain cognitive strategies like problem solving,self-regulation and understanding rules.

What Children Learn
  • Builds Courage
  • Promotes Social Skills
  • Teaches Language and Communication Skills
  • Develops Problem solving abilities
  • Helps Emotional Development
  • Boosts Confidence and Self-Esteem
  • Develops Abstract Thinking
  • Helps visualize things through imagination
  • Builds Leadership Qualities
How Parents Can Encourage
  • Choose a Theme-Give him a theme.You can talk to your child about his super-hero ,imaginary character or anything that excites him and play some games with him.You can also give your child a situation and ask him how he would like to react if his super-hero wanted your child's help.
  • Inspire- Your job is to convey the child a sense of involvement, but remember to step back once the play is underway.Let your child imagine and play in his own direction.
  • Time and Space-Choose a play space for your child where he can play as long as he wants to without you asking him to pick up and organize toys.Let him create a little mess so that his imagination can run wild.
  • Give some Props-Provide your child with various toys,blocks ,empty boxes and costumes of super heroes.He can also play with his favorite hat o sunglasses.
  • Do Not Interrupt-This is very important.Resist all urges to interrupt your child's play and never try to clear up the space or try to fix things while he is playing.
There is enough evidence to support the various connections of pretend play and cognitive development.Children who do not get the opportunity to experience such play might show delayed progress in certain academic areas like mathematics, science and literature.These children may also show diminished multidimensional skills.Hence,parents must encourage and provide a rich environment to stimulate the brain of young children.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Good Dental Hygiene Tips for Children

Teach Children Good Dental Hygiene
Parents often have a tough time deciding how best they can encourage kids to maintain good dental hygiene.It is vitally important that parents assist children in understanding the importance of their teeth and gums health.Parents sometimes find it hard to judge when they should schedule their child's first trip to the dentist.We all know about plaque and cavities but don't know what is the best way to prevent it.A routine teeth-cleaning habit from an early age will help them develop a good dental hygiene.

When to Start?
For New born and  Infants-
  • A child has only 20 primary teeth at birth but we cannot see them.Dental care should start even before the child's first tooth appears.Wipe your baby's gums with a soft and sterile cloth at least twice a day after feeding.This will prevent the build up of bacteria.
  • At 6 months,you would notice teeth break the gum.Use a soft-bristled brush to clean your child's teeth.Brush with little water twice a day
  • You may consider visiting your dentist when the child's first tooth appears.Schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist as he/she has additional training in addressing kid's dental health needs.
Important Tip
  1. Do no let your child sleep with a bottle filled with milk or any other sweetened liquid.Instead, you can fill the baby bottle with water. 
  2. Do not coat your child's pacifier with honey or any sweet and sugary substance.

For Toddlers and preschoolers-
  • Children can be taught to brush their own teeth.A child size toothbrush and a pea-sized toothpaste should be used.Children can start using fluoride toothpaste.Your supervision is a must as children tend to swallow most of the tooth paste.The excess of toothpaste should be spit and rinsed with water.Too mush fluorine can cause permanent stain on your child's teeth.
  • Visiting the dentist after the child's first birthday is also a good time to learn about new preventive techniques in dental research.
Important Tip
  1. If your child is experiencing pain during teething,let him chew a clean and cold wet cloth or a cold spoon
  2. Children must brush immediately having medicines as the sugar in some medicines can damage teeth enamel.
For Big Kids -
  • When permanent teeth start appearing parents should be even more vigilant.The routine can be a little unpleasant for both of you but you must explain why brushing twice a day and flossing will help them keep a healthy mouth.
  • Follow-ups with the dentist can help you identify early dental problems and it will also familiarize the child with the dental procedures.
Important Tip-
  1. Encourage children to eat nutritious diet rich in vegetables and fruits.
  2. Children must drink plenty of water and restrict drinking sweetened drinks.
  3. Avoid having food that has high sugar content.
  4. Flossing at least once a day is a must. 
How to Brush your Child's Teeth
  • Follow a routine,it means brushing your child's teeth at the same time everyday.
  • Thoroughly brush the child's teeth and follow the same brushing pattern.
  • Allow your child to spit excess toothpaste by taking small breaks.
  • Choose a clean and safe place to brush to avoid any injury to your child's mouth.

Prevent Dental Injury in Children
  • Always use car seats and belts that are approved and safe for infants.
  • When your child is learning to walk be extra cautious and child proof your home.
  • Encourage your child to wear a mouth guard while playing sports such as hockey,soccer and baseball.Mouth guards protect teeth from severe injury.
 Important Dental Vocabulary children should know
  1. Decay(Cavities)-Tooth structure destroyed by bacteria .
  2. Enamel-A hard material that protects the outer portion of the teeth.
  3. Bacteria - Germs or tooth bugs.
  4. Flossing-A thread like material used to clean contact areas between teeth.
  5. Fluoride-A mineral that strengthens teeth enamel and prevents decay.
  6. Filling-A metal or porcelain material  used to restore lost tooth structure.
  7. Dentin-Inner layer of tooth structure.
  8. Dentist-A person who is trained to diagnose and treat overall oral health acre needs.
  9. Jawbone-A hard bone structure that anchors the teeth and supports the face.
  10. Molars-Three back teeth used for grinding food.
  11.  Plaque-A sticky colorless film which usually  is undigested food particles mixed with saliva and bacteria forming a constant layer on teeth.
  12. Sealant-A thin and clear substance which is applied to the biting surface of teeth to prevent decay.
  A great smile comes from routine teeth cleaning habits and proper diet.Work with your children and practice these simple yet effective activities and make it a habit for them.Keep your children healthy and smiling!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Sleep Tricks for Children

Help your child have a Good and Sound sleep
Sleep is the power source of our body.It recharges our brain and keeps our mind alert.Young children need to have enough sleep.It is  important for their growth and brain development.Good sleep restores energy in their little bodies and it also helps parents get some free time.With long working hours for  parents and packed schedules for school and other activities regular sleeping habit in children is pushed back.We often think that children missing naps and late bed times is no big deal but the consequences can greatly affect their psychological wellbeing.
Children and Sleep
Sound and good sleep is very important for growth and  development of children.There are a few things which are essential for healthy sleep.
  •  Quality of sleep-This means uninterrupted sleep.It is essential for the development of child's nervous system.
  • Length of sleep-Sufficient amount of sleep is important.This varies with the age of the child.
  • Naps-Naps are different from sleep.Children should have a regular nap time.Yes,timing plays an important role here.A good nap helps your child to be more alert.
 Sleep Disturbances in Children
At any stage if your child has problems with sleep then the consequences can have a negative effect on him.Sleep deprived children will find it difficult to concentrate in classrooms and will also have problems in their social relationships.

Signs of Sleep Disturbance  
-Your child is drowsy or finds it difficult to stay awake through the day .                                      
-Snores or breathes with pauses in night.                                                 
-Frequently wakes up or does not sleep well though the night         

Consequences of Disturbed Sleep
-Lack of concentration.
-Learning problems due to poor memory.
-Mood and behavioral problems.
-Poor performance and delay in learning
-Injuries and accidents

Action Plan for Parents
Here is an age by age guide mentioning the hours of sleep required by children and how parents can help them sleep through the night.
-Put the child to sleep when he is sleepy and not asleep.
-Do not cover your kids with blankets and bedsheets.It might cause SID(Sudden Infant Deaths)
-Let your child sleep on his back.This is again to avoid SID.
-Encourage your child to sleep in the night.
-Infants usually require 9-12 hours of sleep during might
-3 to 4 naps of 1 to 2 hours duration is common.
-Be consistent with the day time naps and bed time schedules.
-Sooth the baby by making the room sleep friendly.
-Toddlers require 12-14 hours of sleep.
-Nap times also reduce to 1 nap in the day for about 2-3 hours.
-Consistent sleep-routine is important .
-Encourage your child to sleep independently.He can pick his favorite stuffed toy or pillow and sleep with it.
-Most preschoolers need 11-13 hours of sleep during night.
-Some preschoolers even stop taking day time naps.
-Make the room a dark and quiet place for your child.
-Do not keep gadgets like computers in the bed room.
-Don't forget that sticking to the bedtime schedule is important.
School going Children
-Make bedtime sleep quiet and enjoyable by letting  children pick a story book for bedtime story,taking a warm bath before going to bed,brushing teeth and putting on their night pajama.
-Remember to stay on track and explain to your child the importance of regular bedtime routine.

It is the responsibility of every parent to instill good and proper sleeping habits in children.Infusing this habit will help us raise healthy,happy and more sociable children.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Delicious Indian Chutneys(Dips)

In one of my recent posts i had mentioned about Green Cilantro Dip(Green Dhania chutney).Today, I will share some more tasty Indian chutney recipes with you.You can have then with Idlis,Dosas or with your favorite tikkis.These chutneys are easy to make and you will need very few ingredients to make them.

Coconut Chutney:
You will Need
Scraped coconut-1/2 cup
Roasted chana dal-3 tablespoons
Green chilli-1
Salt- to taste
For Tempering
Refined oil-2 teaspoons
Red chilli-2
Curry leaves-4-5
Mustard seeds-1/2 teaspoon
Urad dal-1/2 teaspoon
Put the scraped coconut,green chilli,roasted chana dal and salt in a blender and blend to make a fine paste.Take it out in a bowl.
In a small pan add 2 teaspoons of oil and as the pan gets heated add the mustard seeds,curry leaves,urad dal and red chillies.Turn off the flame and pour the tempering on the chutney.

***If you do not have roasted chana dal, you can dry roast the chana dal in a pan for 3-4 minutes and use it in the chutney.***
Tastes Best-when served with idli ,dosa,uttapum.

Yogurt and Mint Chutney
You will Need
Fresh mint leaves-1 bunch
Fresh yogurt-1/4 cup
Green chilli-1
Lime juice-1teaspoon
Water- 2-3 teaspoons
Salt-to taste

We will first make the mint chutney.Put the washed mint leaves,chillies,salt in a blender and add 2-3 tsp of water and blend to make a nice paste.Pour it into a serving bowl and add the lime juice and mix it properly.Now beat the curd well with a spoon and slowly add it to the mint chutney mixing it occasionally.
Tastes Best -with tikkis and pakoras.

Tangy Groundnut Chutney
You will Need
scraped coconut- 1/4 cup
Tamarind Pulp- 4teaspoons
Sesame seeds-3 teaspoons
Garlic flakes-3-4
Salt-to taste
Water-3-4 teaspoons

Put all the above ingredients in a blender and make a fine paste.
Tastes Best-with roti/chapattis or rice.

Tomato and Yogurt Chutney
You will Need

Ripe tomatoes-2
Curd-1 cup
Green Chilly-1
oil-1 teaspoon

For Tempering
Oil-2.5 teaspoon
curry leaves-4-5
Mustard seeds-1/4 teaspoon
Sesame seeds-1/4 teaspoon
Asofitida-1/2 teaspoon

To make Tomato chutney-Wash the tomatoes and cut them into small pieces.Cut the gree chillies too.
In a blender add the chopped chillies and tomatoes along with salt to make a smooth paste.
In the mean time add a pinch of salt to the curd and beat it properly.
Heat a pan and add 1 teaspoon of oil and add the tomato chutney.Cook it for 4-5 minutes till the paste is properly cooked and has become a little dry.
Cool the cooked tomato chutney.
Take another pan,heat it and add 2.5 teaspoons of oil,add curry leaves ,asefitida,mustard seeds and sesame seeds and let it splutter.Then turn the gas flame off and add beaten curd into the pan.Mix it properly.
Add the tomato chutney to the tempered curd.Mix again properly.
Tastes Best-with upma,rice and even idly.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Music Can Improve Kid's Brain Development

Music Lessons for Brain Development in Young Children

Music is loved by people from all cultures and young children naturally love music.When my son was 14 months old he used to hum to the beat of the songs i played on my laptop.I'm not saying that all children who love music will grow up to be prodigies but as parents there is a lot we can do to stimulate different areas of the child's brain through music.

Research says
There is evidence that a child can respond to sound and music inside a mother's womb.Trillions of nerve cells are sprouting every day in an unborn child's brain.After birth,the child's brain is still not completely developed.The early years in a child's life are a period of incredible development.
It has been discovered that music training can significantly improve brain development in young children.Several studies and research have also established the fact that music lessons can also help young children improve memory.
Researchers have used brain-scanning technology and found that young children who took music training over a period of one year have shown different brain development as compared to children who did not get any music training.After a year children with music training performed better in memory tests that is correlated with maths,intelligence and literacy.
These changes were observed in musically trained children in the age group of four to six years.

Memory,Intelligence and Music
Music enhances two specific types of reasoning skills in young children.
  • language Analytical Reasoning- It is required while solving equations,and seeking quantitative results.
  • Spatial Temporal Reasoning-It is used specifically in activities like playing chess.This type of reasoning is used while visualizing and transforming objects in time and space.Required while solving calculus and algebra.

Music for children with developmental issues
Researchers have also found that music can be used as an effective strategy in children with developmental issues like dyslexia and autism.There is enough evidence that children with autism can benefit immensely by musical therapy.Music can help these children cope better in stress,better self-regulation and also improved improve communication and interpersonal skills.

Parents Role
From birth to age six is a period of rapid development in children and music for them is a way of knowing..Introduce your child to the magical world of music through songs,rhymes and hand clapping activities.
Parents must provide a rich learning environment for children to nurture their musical abilities.If your child is not ready for music lessons you can still sing different songs and rhymes with him and dance.Put on some good music with energetic beats and dance with him and ask him to imitate your movements.
Casually introduce your child to musical instruments.Help him make his own musical instrument.Use rice,beans,rubber bands and old shoe boxes to make a guitar or drum.
Sing a song with your child when your stuck in a traffic jam or simply play songs while you are in the car.
Edewcate  is a great website that has some of the best collections of rhymes and songs for little children.It's my personal favorite and my son simply loves it.
Some Interesting Facts
-Musically trained children score higher in SATs.
-Piano lessons in preschoolers helped them score 34% higher in Spatial Temporal testing.
-Children who learn by rhythms are usually good at learning fractions.
-Students who are band members are good at maths and language.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Healthy Summer Coolers for Kids

 Simple and Quick Summer Coolers
It's summer time and the temperatures are considerably above normal.Summer is also the time for some refreshing and chilling coolers.How do you beat the scorching heat?Do you prefer aerated cold drinks or make fresh and healthy coolers at home?
Come and explore some refreshing and healthy coolers that are all natural-yes,without any preservatives.

Healthy Ragi Drink:
You  will need-
Ragi flour-2 tablespoons
Water-1.5 cups
Buttermilk-3Cups(See recipe below)
Salt-1.5 teaspoons
Green chilli-1finely chopped(optional)
Onion-1/2 finely chopped

  • In a pan dry roast the ragi flour stirring it constantly for 2 minutes.
  • Take another boil 1.5 cups of water and add salt and turn the flame off and add ragi flour.It is very important that you keep stirring the ragi flour after mixing it with water.Make sure there are no lumps formed.Cool it.
  • Mix the buttermilk and add chopped green chillies and onion.
  • Slowly pour the ragi mix into the buttermilk stirring it constantly.Do nor pour all the ragi mix at one time.Do it little by little.
  • Serve chilled.

 Refreshing Thirst Quenching Nimboo Paani(Fresh lime juice):
This cooler can be made either with salt or sugar.
You  will need-
Fresh Lime-2Nos
Salt-2 teaspoon/Sugar-3 teaspoon

  • Wash and cut the lime and squeeze the juice out with a squeezer or with hand into a glass.If you are doing it without a squeezer then make sure you take out all the seeds from the lime.
  • Add salt/sugar according to your taste.
  • Stir it properly till the salt/sugar dissolves.
  • Serve it chilled or just have it right away! 

Taste of Simple Homemade Buttermilk (Chhachh):
You  will need-
Low-fat curd-3cups
Salt-1.5 teaspoons
Ginger-very small piece finely chopped-1/4 teaspoon
White Pepper-a pinch(optional)
Finely chopped coriander leaves

  • Blend  the curd along with salt and ginger.Pour into a glass and add a pinch of white pepper on top.
  • Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.
  • Serve chilled.

Carrot Surprise:
You  will need-
Carrots- 2-3 medium size
Sugar-2-3 tablespoons
Milk-2.5 cups

  • Wash the carrots properly and peel the skin out.
  • Grate the carrots with a grater.
  • Soak the almonds in water for 20 min.
  • Boil the milk and cool it.
  • In a pan saute the grated carrots for 10-15 minutes stirring it constantly till the raw smell of carrots disappears.Let it cool.
  • In a blender add the grated carrots,sugar,almonds and milk and blend to make a fine smoothie.
  • Pour it into a bowl and refrigerate it for 1 hour
  • Serve chilled.

Watermelon Ice Pops:

You  will need-
De-seeded watermelon-1
Honey-2-3 tablespoons
Lime juice-2teaspoon
Milk-4-5 tablespoon
Ice pop mold

  • Cut the De-seeded watermelon and put in a blender along with lime juice and milk-blend to make a fine smooth puree.
  • Pour the puree into a bowl -add honey and  mix properly.
  • Pour this into the ice pop molds and deep freeze it for 6-7 hours.