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First blog post

It will be a new dawn, it will be a new day!

Look at me.
It can’t be!
There is just
a half of me.

And this half
is getting small.
Soon it won’t be
there at all.

So if I
intend to be
I must take
control of me

I must fatten
my small half
give it love,
make it laugh.

And if I listen
to its fear,
my other half
may appear.

I came across this poem at www.thehealingpoems.com really shook me up…..

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HYGIENE IS A RIGHT. PERIOD.

She is a part of our household ever since I remember. She use to come as a part-time domestic help at my mom’s place and now she comes like the sun rises every day. It won’t be too much to say that I have seen her hairs in all shades of grey! Her name is Anima. I call her maashii.  She is over 65 and has a full fledged family comprising of her husband, two sons, two daughter-in-laws, a daughter and her spouse, and a few grand children who live in a village near Sunderbans. But she still prefers to earn her bread and butter. She says she doesn’t like it if she doesn’t come to work even for one day.

A couple of weeks back, when I had gone to visit my parents, my mom gave a few packs of whisper ultra which she got for me from the wholesale market. Being a regularly used essential commodity, I keep a stock of it and its cheaper too if we buy in bulk. She saw and exclaimed in her bong accent “O baba! Ki korbe ato shob packet?” ( O God! What would you do with so many such packets?) I was a little perplexed as she knew well what were those packets for. I said “Don’t you know what are these for? Don’t you buy something similar for your daughter and all?” I was taken aback by the conversation that followed.

PADS

Maashii – “If I had so much money I would buy better things than this.”

Me – “But this is important for the health of us women. You guys don’t understand the importance of hygiene. Buy the cheaper ones. What do you do instead?”

Maashii – “We use cloth, what else! For us the good old cloth is best. We can reuse it also. We can’t afford this fancy stuff. Tomra bodo lok didi, bodo badi te thako aar maashe 150 taka tomar kachhe kichhu nei. Amader kachhe toh jol o nei” (you all are rich people, stay in big houses, for you 150 rupees every month is nothing,  but we don’t even have enough water”

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Me, absolutely taken aback, “what kind of living arrangements do you have for your daughter and all and your grand daughter?”

Maashii – “Is the underwear you wear unhygienic? You wash it and wear it every other day. Just getting cheap pads (sanitary napkins) does not solve it all for people like us. Come to our village once then you will get to know”

She changed the course of my thinking from there on. First of all, I am not promoting the use of cloth at all here. We directly associate cloth with lack of hygiene because we view menstruation in a dirty way. Because of this women end up with no access to clean sunlit areas to dry their cloth. And so they do the needful in damp nooks and corners of the house or under other clothes which makes them infectious and prone to uro-genital infections and bacterial vaginosis. They also have lack of clean water to wash the cloth. They have no or minimal access to clean private changing areas.

CLOTH

NGOs and CSR programs distribute sanitary napkins to girls and women in rural areas. The use and throw convenience have led the rural population to adopt the pad. Legends like Arunachalam Muruganantham have brought a revolution in this direction. There are many educators, social activists, journalists working voluntarily for the cause. The convenience of disposing pads, and social taboo surrounding the cloth led to surge in usage of disposable sanitary pads.

 

But there is a big BUT here. There are issues like operational clean toilets, availability of enough clean water, clean and private spaces for changing for females. And like a boomerang, there is again a problem with the disposal of used sanitary napkins. They cannot dispose it in the bins like us. There is no waste collection in the rural areas. They have to go certain miles to either bury or burn it. These women also end up disposing the pads in their local ponds. Unfortunately, in the same pond where they bathe and wash their clothes. My astonishment and remorse knew no bounds when I saw this –  https://qz.com/910094/sanitary-napkins-form-the-bed-of-a-bathing-pond-in-india-what-personal-hygiene-is-like-for-rural-women/

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Digging a bit deeper, the sanitary napkins that we use are too not so safe. It is a proven fact that use of sanitary napkins may cause cancer. Prolonged use of it makes you susceptible to bacterial growth, commonly called toxic shock syndrome. They contain chemicals and bleaches that may be fatal for us in the long run. So not just the environment, it is a threat for us women as well.

So shouldn’t we be looking at reusable sanitary hygiene products instead of disposable ones. And stop ourselves from generating tonnes of waste. Let’s make our periods sustainable for our environment as well as for ourselves and our future generations. Thus we have the new mega star, the menstrual cups. Though weighing the pros and cons of menstrual cups and its acceptance is an agenda in itself. The attitude of the society is surely changing but it has to be brought out in the open, and discussed loud and clear for the sake of our own health, our future generations and environmental sustainability. Let us just say that we have a long way to go in dealing with menstruation hygiene and women needs.

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This World Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28), our endeavor is to break the taboo that engulfs this natural phenomenon that is the basis of very existence of human life on earth. This post is a part of a Blog Train hosted by Anupriya of www.mommytincture.com where 14 wonderful ladies have stepped forward to express themselves this #MenstrualHygieneDay and stress on the fact that there are #NoMoreLimits for a woman.

I would like to thank Indu Srimal for introducing me. She is an Indian lifestyle blogger who loves to keep everything stylish and unique. She blogs about fashion, beauty and her crazy DIYs creating the much required filters for us on https://www.filteryourstyle.com/

And, also I would like to take this opportunity to introduce Siddhi who is an author, book reviewer, freelance content writer and editor and above all a Mother. She is an avid reader and loves to hoard books. Apart from her baby and books there is an array of topics under her wide blogging umbrella at https://ofbookbabiesandmore.wordpress.com/

But wait there’s more! You stand a chance to win a DEA Corp Menstrual Cup worth Rs. 2500/-. You just have to visit http://www.mommytincture.com/2018/05/27/menstrual-cups-boon-menstrual-hygiene/ and leave a comment about your #NoMoreLimits experience.

#26. Zoodle Story

When I see noodles I think it is ‘the’ food for bachelors, hostellers and students alike. Noodles are inexpensive, easy to make, filling and satisfying for the taste buds. Though I have never been a very noodle person, I had noodle cravings during my pregnancy. Maggi craving to be more precise. But I had decided to stop consuming all kinds of instant food and beverages when I became pregnant. Just to answer my craving, I would have a bite or two. They say an expecting mother’s cravings should be satisfied.

After Krishiv’s birth I never felt like having packed or instant food or beverages again. Even Akash left them. We believed that if we expect our son to not to have junk food, then we should practice it first. And as he grows up and sees other children indulge, he too may or may not want to indulge. Recently, I had gone out for a lunch with family and extended family, where we had a pre-ordered menu. On that table of 17 there was an aerated drink ordered for everyone and Krishiv did not point out to even one glass out of them. I felt really proud about it as I have seen kids of his age throwing tantrums to have those beverages.

We are but human. In the daily mundane life, I did felt the urge to have noodles, again. Simply cause it was so convenient to make a bowl and fill your tummy and your family’s too. To this we once had a discussion that what is it about the noodles, who invented it? I couldn’t stop myself from asking the know-it-all Google. And came across this very interesting read.  But to satiate my taste buds I had to do something. So with the help of internet of course, I gave noodles a healthy twist. Instead of flour I used Zucchini to make noodles and called them Zoodles. They are simple to make and can be served with any sauce of your choice. I love my alfredo or white pasta sauce.

Zucchini is a great source of calcium and magnesium, which are necessary for strengthening of bones and development of teeth and gums too. It also contains potassium, phosphorus, and folate in considerable amounts. It helps to boost immunity by supplying vitamin C. It also supplies vitamin A and B6. It is no doubt a healthy option for the kids.

zucch

ZOODLES WITH ALFREDO SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium size Zucchini
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 cup Milk
  • ½ cup Cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp Corn flour
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

  • The easiest way to make zoodles is to use a spiralizer. But since I don’t have one yet, I used my humble kitchen peeler. You can also use a mandolin. Make a bit thick strips of zucchini as you peel the fruit. Avoid peeling the seedy core.
  • Zucchini has 95% water content. Keep them on a paper towel, into a refrigerator for few hours to absorb as much moisture as possible.
  • In a pan, heat butter and add half of garlic. Then add ¾ cup of milk along with grated cheese. Give it a good stir to combine everything. The cheese should have melt.
  • Add rest of the milk mixed with corn flour. Throw in the seasonings.
  • Cook it out on a medium flame till the sauce thickens enough to hold itself.
  • Before serving, sauté rest of the garlic with the zoodles just to warm it through.
  • Place zoodles on the serving dish and top with the sauce and some cheese. Enjoy.

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Tips:

  • If you do not dry out the zoodles, your final dish can turn out watery. It is important to absorb the moisture as much as possible cause you don’t want soggy zoodles.
  • You can also not cook the zoodles at all. Think of a cucumber, do you cook it before eating.
  • You can cook it by just keeping it in hot water for a minute then drain on a colander. It really doesn’t take much to cook the fragile zoodles.
  • You can add any cheese like Parmesan is the best. I used regular processed Amul cheese.
  • This can be served with Pesto sauce too.

Krishiv absolutely loves noodles so this one is a lot more healthier version of noodles I would like him to like. We both enjoy this awesome dish once in a while.

#25. Your Other Half

The entire process of becoming a mother is very intimate, special and exhaustive too. Throughout and beyond it all we do and say is concerning the new mother and the baby. All the love, blessings and gifts and pampering goes out to the mother-to-be. She becomes a mother from the moment that second streak appears. But the fathers… Even after participating in the plans and activities over nine months of pregnancy, it never fails: Men become fathers rather suddenly. Until that baby arrives, their role has been to support their partner and to watch and wait. Then the baby arrives and everything changes. They finally get started at being a father.

After weeks of waiting, the little miracle just happens and we see our lives changing forever. The first few weeks are difficult, not to mention that it is a beautiful experience and totally worth the difficulties. During these trying times, it is the women who get all the attention. Seldom anyone talks about a man’s emotional trough. Yes! Postpartum blues are not just for women. A father is suddenly hit by the reality of a new being in his life, which adds on to his already laden shoulders with more responsibilities. The sleepless nights and the exhaustion of adjusting with the baby are inevitable.

Most importantly he has to share that one person with whom he use to spend a lot of time nurturing a relationship. But once the baby shows up everything changes: now the focus of just about everything is on the baby. As such, they may be confused, anxious, depressed, or even afraid.

When I was expecting, Akash was obviously on cloud #9. He would everyday speak to the baby (in my tummy). He said “I know, he can hear me”. I was really amused. They were already a team and I was the other one! As the baby arrived, it made him agitated that he cannot spend as much time with him or even me. Gradually both of us aligned ourselves.

Every morning, Krishiv rolls over to his dad’s side and cuddles with him in sleep. Akash will never cuddle while sleeping, until Krishiv arrived that is. He is most of the times more alert than I am during the night, changing his nappies. He loves to dress up Krishiv. They call each other ‘buddy’ as Akash wants to become his friend more than a father. In the morning I wake up to the sight of both of them sleeping in exact similar position next to each other. And I am overwhelmed beyond words by their bond.

I have to give it to Akash and all the fathers… they are the unsung heroes. So I thought of dedicating this post to my beloved husband, just to show my gratitude. For today’s recipe, I racked my head and then gathered that it has to be something Akash is fond of and Krishiv can also enjoy. The mango season is here and my darling hubby just loves mangoes. He also likes sushi. So today I decided to combine the two, with a healthy twist.

Mangoes boast of an abundance of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. They have a high fiber content, which keeps the baby full and promotes digestion. Vitamin A founf in mangoes are good for baby’s vision. Mango is a good source of glutamine acid, which boosts brain functioning and improves memory. They also contain lots of iron and promotes weight gain in babies. Add to this wonderful king of fruits a humble fruit – coconut. It supports the immunity system health, boosts energy, and improves insulin secretion. It also contains a lot of dietary fiber and treats abdominal fats.

The thai food lover in me gave way to the next one up!

SWEET THAI COCONUT MANGO STICKY RICE BITES

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Thai sticky rice or any Small Grain Rice
  • 1 can Coconut milk
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 2 ripe Mangoes
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 ¾ cups water

Method:

  • Soak the rice in a cup of water for at least 30 minutes. Do not drain the water. Put the rice to cook on a flame by adding another ¾ cup water, ¼ can coconut milk and a very little pinch of salt. Give it a stir to avoid the grains from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then let simmer on low heat. This should take about 15-20 minutes.
  • In another pan cook the remaining coconut milk with sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt. Let it simmer on a medium flame for about 5 minutes. Keep stirring.
  • Peel the mangoes and cut very thin slices like a carpaccio. Place it on a bamboo mat neatly making up for the nori sheet.
  • Spread the sticky rice on the mango and spoon in sticky rice on it along with the sauce. Just put enough sauce to cover the rice bites.
  • Then tightly roll the bamboo mat to give it a bamboo shape.
  • Open the sheet and cut bite size slices. Serve it cold.

Tips:

  • You can replace the sugar with maple syrup, dates (churned.
  • You can also serve it as a parfait in a shot glass.
  • Prefer using the sweet yet tart in taste mangoes.

#23. X- Marks the Spot

X – this mark shows the location, as in on a postcard, or on a map. This practice, the use of a cross or X is a very ancient one, like from a traditional cross like to indicate buried treasure. Come to present our babies to mark a spot, or should I say they mark their territories. I know usually this is said in respect with animals but we all are animals too, aren’t we?

Sometimes we erect actual boundaries to stake claim to our personal space that acts as a protection. A baby most certainly does that to seclude whoever he feels safe with, for example the mother in most cases. And many-a-times it is us who instigate them to do this. My sister-in-law would just hug my father-in-law in front of Krishiv and call him saying “look, he’s my dad!” it is done for the sheer joy of seeing his reactions. He sometimes retorts with his hands in the air, sometimes just brushses her away and many-a-times doesn’t react.

But aren’t we teaching him Jealousy? Is it good to be jealous? To retort? Doesn’t it teach him to seek attention?  Krishiv loves his grandfather the most among all the family members. But he loves me too and never reacts in this manner when someone tries to tease him by hugging me. Here I see his confidence in me that whatever it may be I am one person who will not leave his side. This observation taught me that jealousy can be positive too.

For example, if there is a new baby in the family the elder child may feel angry or rejected and not important anymore. As such he would throw tantrums seeking attention. But he may possibly start being helpful with the baby and in the house to look for positive attention and learn to enjoy being an elder sibling. Children are like fresh clay, it is us who have to mould them beautifully. When Krishiv tries to retort we make his Aunt and Grandfather hug him together to teach him that he is always going to remain his grand dad.

There is positivity in everything around us, it’s on us how we look at things. Similarly, it is good to indulge in sweets and chocolates even for our young ones. I am afraid off cavities and all too, but I do not believe in refraining my baby from enjoying chocolates and desserts. Rather I try to make it healthy for him and all of us.

Thus instead of just chocolate mousse I made avocado chocolate mousse recently. It is a healthy combination of ingredients that come together to create a creamy rich and silky smooth pudding. It is really simple and hassle free to make too.

CHOCOLATE AVOCADO MOUSSE

Ingredients:

  • 2 very ripe Avocados
  • 90 gms Agave
  • 1/3 cup Cocoa Powder, unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp Milk
  • ½ tsp Vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp Chia powder

Method :

  • Scoop out the flesh of avocados into a blender.
  • Add all the other ingredients and mix for a minute or until smooth.
  • Taste and adjust sweetness with more agave if required.
  • Spoon into desired containers using a piping bag. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
  • Serve as it is or decorate with cream/choco chips/ fresh berries/chia seeds.

Tips:

  • You can replace the agave with honey or maple syrup.
  • You can use almond or cashew or coconut milk instead of plain milk to make it healthier.

While the avocados give the rich creamy texture, there is just a faint hint of its taste in the mousse. Why not let the kids have whatever they want if we can twist it into whatever we want the kids to have? This one is so much better in terms of health than the classic chocolate mousse, just hitting the right spots.

#23. When The Going Gets Tough

Parenting is a journey not the destination. And there is no same or similar route to it even if you are doing it for two. Because every child is different. Becoming a parent is a lifetime commitment. It is as challenging as it is beautiful. And it is of course infinite learning, not about the new life you are nurturing but about yourself. The reason for me to delve into this is a memory that suddenly flashed.

My dad met with a small accident recently. He came home hurt, in pain, but the first aid done. I was luckily there that day. I saw that he could barely walk, forget getting up from bed and picking up things. But as soon as he saw Krishiv, he sprang up to play with him. Obviously we did not let him pick up the boy, but the pain vanished from his face.

This reminded me of a recent flight journey I took to Ahmedabad with my husband and son. I have a problem of air pressure in ears that builds up into excruciating pain in both my ears. This has been there since childhood and every time I took a flight I would dread the last 30 minutes before landing. I would not speak a single word, just keep my head down holding my ears and areas around it tightly in a futile attempt to avoid the pain from spreading. Slowly everything used to become inaudible due to the air trapped in my ear canal.

Over the ears, this condition got cured with medication, but has re-occurred now. Ever since I was expecting, I was really bothered about my little baby going through a similar pain. I have seen other infants and kids crying incessantly on the flight. Krishiv has been flying since he was 4 months old. Each time I am afraid that the trauma will kick in. But things aren’t bad yet. During my last flight, I had a bout of pain like the yesteryears. But even then I was holding on to Krishiv, fed him and rocked him to sleep. My husband was helpless as Krishiv refused to leave me. That day I realized the super powers a mother acquires with the delivery of the child.

Last December and January Krishiv wasn’t keeping well due to the cold and the fact that he was teething too. As such he had started looking a lot feeble. He had stopped eating for almost three weeks. But what bothered me more is others complaining about his health and how I don’t pay attention to him. It irked me no end when he was compared with some other kid and advice on what to make him eat would flow. But the mother in me also got agitated. What am I missing? What more or what different can I do for him? I knew it was a matter of time, but I couldn’t sleep.

I found out about the miracle food- flax seeds. A friend mentioned it to me first when I was expecting. I started reading about flax. It turns out that we are missing out on such a super food. Flax has been cultivated for centuries. It is a flowering perennial and it is the seeds of the flax plant that we consume. It is safe to give to your babies after they are 7-8 months, but no more than 3 teaspoons per day on a rotating basis. Flaxseeds are one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids from plant sources. For us vegetarians it is an excellent catch. It is abundant in calcium and phosphorus which is required for stronger bones, iron for producing haemoglobin, dietary fibers which helps in reducing constipation. Flax surely delivers for it’s size!

flax

So while I was studyng about flax, I stumbled upon recipes too. I wanted to make it convenient and simple to be fed and that’s I found on americanprofile.com

FLAXSEED AND RAISIN BREAD

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Raisins
  • 1 cup Boiling Water
  • 1tsp Baking Soda
  • ¾ cup Flaxseed, powdered
  • 1 cup Whole-Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1tsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Milk

Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 180C. Grease a loaf pan.
  • Take raisins in a large bowl, pour boiling water on top and add baking soda. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Now add all the other ingredients and give it a quick mix. Pour into greased moulds.
  • Bake for 65-75 minutes. It will be a very brown bread. Cool it completely before serving.

bread

Tips:

  • You can add a dash of cinnamon to the batter.
  • You can also replace sugar with honey.

I tried them as it is, just added some chopped dates to the batter. It turned out nice and healthy, something you can pick up on the go. So nutritious, so hassle free, approved by kids.

#22. Vegging Out

It was late afternoon, the sun shone brightly in the sky and the winds reminded just that. I was in my bedroom, keeping everything in its place. Krishiv comes running to me, a book in his hand. So now i am lying on my bed, with Krishiv lying next to me, and both of us are staring into the book. It was a pictorial book on introduction of colours to babies.

We were in our own sweet world, playing with the book. I was trying to make Krishiv recognize the different animals and veggies and fruits etc. Suddenly my husband, Akash, entered the room and goes  “whats up  buddy?”. I answered we are just vegging out! He started to laugh, making Krishiv more happy and excited. Akash then pointed out what I had not realized that my son too loved books. I could not be happier. Both of us loves books and will do everything possible to inculcate the same love in our baby.

Now it was the three of us, chilling on the bed, digging our heads in one book, and making animated gestures of all kinds and giggling to glory. It was almost tea time. I asked Akash what will he prefer as a snack. He replied just veg out some broccoli, pun intended! He knew that way I will not have to make two different things, one separately for our son.

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Broccoli belongs to the cabbage family, resembles a cauliflower, but still is a cool vegetable, as in exotic. The green florets has a bold flavour and is packed with benefits. Broccoli is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, in addition to fiber. A cup of cooked broccoli offers as much vitamin C as an orange, and is a good source of beta-carotene. Broccoli contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc too. It is a storehouse of vitamin A – important for good vision and Vitamin K – essential for the functioning of many proteins involved in blood clotting. It also contains folate (folic acid) which is essential for production and maintenance of new cells in the body.

I am glad that Krishiv likes and takes active interest in books already. One more thing that makes me happy is the fact that he is also developing a palate for different foods. The following snack is healthy, easy to make, tasty and very very nutritious.

BAKED BROCCOLI TOTS

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Broccoli florets, blanched
  • ¼ cup Breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp Mixed Dried Herbs
  • 1tbsp Cornflour
  • Olive oil

Method:

  • Blanch the broccoli florets and drain the water completely. Finely chop the blanched florets.
  • In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together and divide in equal bite size portions. Cill for 15 minutes.
  • Brush the tots with some olive oil. Bake in a pre heated oven at 180C for about 20 minutes or till crisp and done. Serve hot.

tots

Tips:

  • If the mixture seems to have moisture and is difficult to bind, add about 2tbsp of semolina.
  • You can also add mashed potatoes to it to make it more pliable.
  • You can add your choice of fresh herbs instead of mixed dried herbs.
  • These tots can be grilled or fried too.
  • You can serve ketchup or a mayonnaise dip to go with it.
  • You can add chilli flakes too if making for adults.

Just veg out and enjoy the tater tots with your darling tots.

#21. Urban Desi

In ancient times babies were born in the comfort of homes with the help of midwives. There was nothing called a ceaserian delivery. It was believed to be a low risk arrangement and safe for quicker recovery of new mothers. In fact my own aunt is born in her maternal grandparents’ home in her mother’s village. She still doesn’t have a birth certificate! Until the advent of modern medicine home birth was the only method of delivery. And this is not just about India. Even in western countries the practice is still alive.

Rather my personal experience says that nowadays medical practitioners take advantage of our fears. Till my 39th week I had a healthy pregnancy. It was the last week of December, festivities all around. My family was overjoyed at the thought of the baby arriving any moment. Suddenly I was advised sonograms and check-ups. We got tensed. Till date my family members think that our fear about the well-being of baby was taken advantage of. But since there was a family friend cum doctor inside the operation theatre we know that the situation was real and no way I could have delivered my baby normally.

So I guess it is always a good idea to match your steps with time and flow with it. Even our lifestyle is not spared. Who knew that Toddlers will teach us to operate smartphones! But here again I am a little conservative. I am proud to say that 16 months and still my baby is not use to phones. I know it has to happen but the later the better. Similarly, the food which we make our kids eat has gone through a lot of changes. But basics are there to stay. Hence how much ever risottos and pastas and noodles and beans we give, the staples will not change. I make sure that Krishiv eats 1 1/2 to 2 chapatis with dal (lentils) everyday. He loves potato stuffed flat breads too. But I gave his favourite desi parathas a unique urban twist and added avocados to them. And the result was soft, fantastic parathas.

Avocado, as we all know is the nature’s perfect fruit. Native to Central America, it is a storehouse of goodness and a healthy treat. It is known to contain more potassium than a banana. It supplies essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, vitamin B-6, niacin, thiamin, calcium, iron, magnesium phosphorous, potassium, zinc and sodium. These vitamins and minerals are essential for the overall development of the baby. Avocado is also a good source of unsaturated fats. These fats are healthy for babies and they are needed for brain and vision development.

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Besides supplying essential vitamins, minerals and fats, avocado is easy to digest, even by babies. They are also good in controlling the irritable stomach walls or an acidic stomach. Avocado juice is prescribed for colic and chills of stomach. Avocado is also beneficial for liver. it is known to help heal the wounds faster and control inflammation. most importantly, for vegetarians it compensates as the excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids essential for baby’s brain development. It is indeed the perfect fruit.

AVOCADO PARATHAS

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Avacado
  • 1/2 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Coriander, chopped finely
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • Olive oil as required, to make parathas

Method:

  • In a bowl, take the avocado pulp and all other ingredients except flour. Using a fork, mix everything together.
  • Add the flour and blend it nicely with the fruit pulp. Water, if required at all, should be lukewarm. The dough should be a bit tight. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into equal parts and make balls. Dust some flour on the surface and roll out the dough balls into round discs.
  • On a medium hot girdle (tawa) or a non stick pan, roast the paratha from both the sides using olive oil. Serve hot with yoghurt.

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Tips:

  • You can add your choice of green herbs.
  • Add red chilli powder if not making for kids.
  • This paratha/ flat bread can be served as rolls with a filling of your choice. For example you can fill it with Mexican black bean chilli and cheese.
  • It makes up for a very tasty and healthy lunch box dish.

 

 

 

#20. Trick or Treat!

No no no… we are not celebrating Halloween here. Halloween, I assume it is the day when Christians pray for the departed souls of their near and dear ones. So what is there to celebrate about it. Isn’t it just like Mahalaya in Bengal, or the 15 day long period Hindus observe to mourn the loss of their dear ones.

Nevertheless, we are not here to talk about these things. We are here to trick and treat our little ones. Because of popularity of Halloween, whenever I see a pumpkin, the first thing that comes to my mind is a jack-o-lantern J But after Krishiv started eating solids, whenever I see the nutrients loaded fruit, all I remember is its healthy benefits and how to trick my baby into eating this treat.

Though widely considered as a vegetable, pumpkin is a fruit. It belongs to the squash family. It is packed with minerals like calcium, manganese, iron, potassium, phosphorus and zinc. It is a storehouse of potassium which is a great source of energy. Calcium makes bones stronger, iron increases blood and phosphorus aids brain development. It is a storehouse of vitamin A, which is useful for good vision, especially night vision. It also contains vitamin C and other biochemicals that help in boosting immunity. It is a great source of fiber too thus aiding smoother bowel functioning and relieving constipation. Babies are prone to not just infections but also worms and other macroscopic organisms. Pumpkin, which is rich in anthelmintic properties, can come to your rescue in such cases.

kumro

All in all pumpkins are a big yes for growing babies and can be started as early as 6 months.  Pumpkins have a sort of spicy sweet taste and can be prepared into variety of things whether for a curry, or a pie, or a cake , a soup or just pureed.

Krishiv did not take a second sip of the pumpkin soup I had made for him earlier. May be that soup wasn’t good, my bad I had never tried it before nor had anyone else I know. In my house, when I was growing up, we got pumpkins to be made with potatoes into a curry and had with fried breads (puris) which I hated. And in that curry, the pumpkin used to get really squished among the potatoes. So I never really ate any pumpkin as such. But it is important that I give it to my son from the beginning and develop his palate. I had to trick him! Here’s how.

PUMPKIN SPINACH LASAGNA

Ingredients:

For the lasagne

  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • ½ cup warm Milk
  • Salt

For the filling

  • 2 medium Onions, chopped
  • 2 bunches Spinach, washed
  • 4-5 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 cup Ricotta
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Italian seasoning (mixed dried herbs)
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 cups Pumpkin Puree
  • ½ cup Heavy Cream
  • Grated Amul Cheese as required

Method:

  • In a bowl take flour and salt. Make a well and add the milk as required to make a dough. The dough must be stiff. Cover and keep the dough aside.
  • In a pan, heat oil and add onion. Sauté for few minutes, add spinach and let it cook until it wilts. Now add minced garlic, salt and pepper. Cook it out till everything comes together.
  • Take it in a separate bowl and let cool. After it cools, add the ricotta and Italian seasonings.
  • Take the pumpkin puree and whisk in the cream into it. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Roll out the dough about 2-3mm thick. Cut into squares.
  • In an oven proof dish, spread the first layer of pumpkin puree. Lay the rolled lasagne sheet on top of the puree and layer again with pumpkin puree, followed by spinach filling. Add a layer of cheese, followed by second layer of lasagne then spinach filling, pumpkin puree and top up with lots of cheese.
  • Bake it at 190C for about 25-30 minutes. Enjoy hot.

lasagna.jpg

Tip:

  • You can add a bit of cinnamon and red paprika powder to the pumpkin puree.
  • You can use the store bought lasagne sheets too. Increase oven timing by 10 minutes for that.
  • You can layer up the lasagna and cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. It is a good make ahead recipe. Bring it back to room temperature before heating.

#19. Shooting Star

It is said that when you see a shooting star, you have to close your eyes and make a wish. A shooting star means that you have a chance to make your dreams come true. Do I believe in this? I can’t say Yes, nor a No! But what I certainly know is that my baby is my shooting star, for he is the most beautiful dream I ever saw, luckiest wish that ever came true.

Krishiv just loves stars. He has a rattle which is shaped like a star. Everyone in my house would make him play with that rattle saying ‘this is a star, Krishiv is my superstar’. On that my husband casually remarked “we only put performance pressure on kids even before they are born”. I didn’t take it that way but his remark sent me into a deep thought. I made a pact with my son that I will not push him into any rat race ever. Suddenly Krishiv broke my chain of thoughts and came to me running with a pen “mumma staaar”. According to him anything scribbled or written is a star since I draw a star and a moon in each of his palms when he doesn’t let me work. The star keeps him busy for a while.

Meanwhile it also occurred to me that it will be so easy and interesting for him to feed him a star shaped food. My choices reeled from a cookie to a sandwich and then a paratha or a hashbrown. Then I saw a packet of cornmeal on the kitchen shelf. That’s it. I knew what I am going to make.

Polenta is basically a dish made of coarsely ground cornmeal. It is like we derive broken wheat (dalia)  from wheat. The cornmeal is cooked slowly with milk to make Polenta, which can be served as it is like a porridge or may be tweaked with condiments and sauces. It is no doubt a very healthy choice of food for the babies and adults alike. In western countries it is the comfort food at its best. It is a rich source of dietary fiber, gluten free, and a good source of carbohydrates too. It boasts of a large array of nutrients like folate, vitamin B6,C and E, selenium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, thiamine and niacin. It has been scientifically proven that polenta can reduce the risk of some serious diseases like cancer and haemorrhoids. It contains karitenoids, which helps in better bowel movements.Corn is the key reason why polenta is loaded with so much goodness. After wheat and rice, it is one of the most important cereals.

Its easy to cook, whether in milk, or vegetable stock or chicken stock. It can be served as a side dish for meals or had all by itself with vegetables. It is a very comforting and versatile deal. So 5 stars  to Polenta!

SHOOTING STARS

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Cornmeal (yellow/white/both)
  • 3 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Butter

Method:

  • In a large saucepan bring the stock to a boil. Grease an oven tray with olive oil.
  • Gradually add the cornmeal in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to medium low. Add seasonings.
  • Keep whisking until the mixture comes to a boil and becomes thick, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, add the parmesan and butter. Give a good stir.
  • Spread it on the tray, even the surface, and cover with a cling film.
  • Chill it for at least 30-45 minutes. You can also keep it in the fridge overnight.
  • Take the polenta out and cut desired shapes. I did stars.
  • Drizzle some olive oil and grill them on a girdle or a griller till crisp. Serve with ketchup or dip of your choice.

stars.jpg

Tips:

  • You can also bake the chilled polenta in oven at 180C for 12-15 minutes.
  • You can flavour the polenta with garlic and herbs.
  • This polenta can also be made with milk. If you haven’t started giving cow’s milk/ whole milk to your baby yet use your milk instead. 1 cup of cornmeal will require approximately 2 cups milk and 2 cups of water.

The smooth creamy warmth of each spoonful of this yummy dish is nothing but celestial.

#18. Rainbow of Love

Your clear eye, is the most beautiful thing

Like sunrise over the sea

And when you smile with the day

Your eyes are the warmest thing

You shed yesterday’s skin

And a new day begins

                                                                                         Ben Onono/ Alain Wisniak

This is exactly how I feel every morning when Krishiv opens his eyes, cuddles up to me with a smile and says “Mumma” in his sweet voice. A rainbow is nature’s most exquisite gift to us. They are like miracles, just as our little angels. Rainbows symbolise that it is the brightest and most cheerful after the storm. Just like a look at her baby is enough for a mother to smile be it whatever.

What attracts us most to the rainbow is the spectrum of colours. These colours can add life to anything. Even food. You must be aware of my struggle with semolina and Krishiv. Although the Italian Semolina Quiche was well received by my toddler, but it wasn’t enough. I mean I can’t let him get hooked to the flavour of pizza.

Idlis are a common breakfast dish not just in southern parts of India but other parts as well, at least in Bengal. We love idlis at my place and Krishiv too has developed the taste for it. So I tweaked this semolina preparation which, thankfully Krishiv likes on most of the days. Traditionally they are made of rice and urad dal but this one is an instant fix. I made them colourful using veggies, which adds on to the nutritious semolina.

RAINBOW IDLI

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Semolina
  • 1 cup Curd
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • Salt as required
  • 2-3 tbsp Spinach Puree
  • 2-3 tbsp Roasted Red Bell Pepper Puree
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • A sprig of Curry leaves
  • ½ tsp Mustard Seeds

Method:

  • In a bowl, add semolina, whipped curd and salt. Mix everything together into a smooth batter.
  • Divide the batter into three equal parts.
  • For white Idlis, leave the batter as it is, and add a pinch of baking soda and few drops of lemon juice. Stir it.
  • To make red idlis, add roasted bell pepper puree, a pinch of baking soda and a few drops of lemon juice and mix nicely.
  • For the green ones add spinach puree, a pinch of baking soda and few drops of lemon juice and give it a stir.
  • Grease the idli mould with cooking oil. Pour the three types of batter in different moulds. Tap the mould to make sure there are no air bubbles.
  • Steam the idlis according to the instructions on the steamer or on the gas stove usind s double boiler set up.
  • Once they are done, let it cool for a bit and then take them out of the mould.
  • In a small pan, heat remaining oil, and crackle some mustard seeds and curry leaves. Pour it evenly on the idli. Serve hot with coconut chutney.

rainbow

Tips:

  • You can use your imagination to give different colours to the batter. For example, I used a good pinch of turmeric to make yellow idlis later. I obviously don’t have to go into benefits of turmeric. Use beet root puree for a dark magenta colour.
  • Roast about half a cup chopped red bell peppers in cooking oil, let cool and puree it in a blender.
  • Blanch the spinach leaves in salted water, squeeze out all the water and puree it.
  • Instead of adding purees separately, you can also add finely chopped veggies to the batter to make it look like tutii frutti.

Let the vibrant colours attract your kid and enjoy the rainbow of steamed goodness with healthy coconut dip.