How to feed your child (and enjoy it)! Is all about feeding your children, right from their baby days, through toddlerhood and as they become school going children, in a way that is traditionally Indian, yet nutritionally sound. This book, and the idea behind it, borrows from the way our mothers and grandmothers fed us; it also examines the methods and ingredients involved, taking the best and modifying the rest to make simple, easy-to-prepare foods that your children will love. And which won’t be a terrible drain on you or your resources!
There are unusual and interesting purees, delectable vegetarian dishes, healthy snacks, innovative school tiffin ideas, festivals foods and plenty more in this book, which will be of immense help and support to new mother everywhere, in particular from the Indian subcontinent and the Indian diaspora worldwide.
How to Feed you Child (and enjoy it)! Recreates you mother’s kitchen keeping in mind the hectic life of a working mother for whom time is a precious commodity but even more important is the need to feet her child the best possible food she can. Keeping this in mind all the recipes gathered here are time-efficient, simple to follow and are often preceded by the author’s personal experiences and nostalgic vignettes, while bringing up two children, far away from the support and guidance of elders and of coping through trial and error, with the sole aim of preparing nutritious, healthy, made-from-scratch food. In a nutshell this book strives to keep alive the traditional methods of feeding children for the future generation while tempering it with scientific knowledge and practical modifications, keeping in view the changing tastes of today’s children.
Dr Tabinda J Burney is a mother of two girls, nine and five years of age and lives in London. She was born and brought up in New Delhi, India. She studied medicine at the Lady Hardinge Medical College and specialized in Respiratory Medicine. After having worked in several major hospitals in Delhi, she moved to UK where she works in a NHS hospital and divides her time between work and looking after her family, cooking especially to ensure that her children eat healthily.
She enjoys gardening, travelling, reading and swimming. She has translated fiction for Urdu short story anthologies and published several academic papers for medical journals.
Few things in life are as rewarding as seeing your baby grow, from a tiny little infant dependant on you for everything, into a strong, healthy kid. But feeding your child can be a very challenging task, one that requires great patience and perseverance. However, to be able to spoon that extra morsel in your baby's mouth and not have it spat out or sprayed all over you can bring immeasurable pleasure to most parents.
As a first-time mother, living far away from the home-comforts of India, coping pretty much on my own, good nutrition for my baby was my first priority. Over the months starting from the weaning stage, her first solid mouthful and progressing towards eating with us, it has been a roller-coaster ride of triumph, tribulations, tears and tantrums! Not to mention food bits on every conceivable surface of our home. Throughout it all, however I have strived to be careful about what goes in my baby's bowl of food. To a large extent it has been wholesome, home-made food, apart from the odd jar while on the move.
I think this predicament is echoed by working mothers in nuclear families in India as well, where the reassuring presence, support and wisdom of grandparents is not readily available for various reasons. With increasingly busy lives and little opportunities to ask for and receive dietary advice, a lot of new mothers struggle in the early years and resort to convenience foods or aggressively marketed commercial products.
I mostly use seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, which are easily available in India as well as the West. So while the ingredients in my recipes come from the local supermarket, the end product is very different from what is available in jars and tins as baby food. I was able to make my own combinations and vary them according to my baby's taste. As a result, I was able to feed her the way my own mother had fed me, which was a very comforting and secure feeling.
This book, based on my experiences and what I learnt along the way is divided into various sections-with a chronological progression. There is a section on Nutrition with helpful age-specific guidelines. Then we talk about starting the first solids (Weaning) followed by Toddler Meals. Following this are the meals for older children that include vegetarian, meat, egg, fish and rice dishes. Keeping in mind that a vast majority of Asians are predominantly vegetarian, a greater emphasis is on easily prepared vegetarian meals, using widely available ingredients and seasonal fruit and vegetables. The traditional food habits are not ignored, rather a happy compromise is attempted in several instances to use local foodstuffs that mayor may not be of Asian origin, such as courgettes, leeks and strawberries, in traditional recipes. To further tempt a picky eater who simply will not eat the vegetables on his plate, there is a section on delicious Soups. A section on refreshing Drinks is also included, again with emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce rather than sugary, artificially favoured fizzy drinks that flood the markets and tempt youngsters. A fun section based on the various cultural and religious festivals, along with the traditional goodies that are enjoyed by children forms an important part of the book (Let’s celebrate).
To cater to the needs of older children, there are sections on Picnic Foods, and Healthy Tiffins.
The section on healthy snacks called Titbits would be particularly useful for school-going children. Each recipe is usually preceded by vignettes of my personal experience or cultural and traditional aspect of the particular dish. All the recipes take into account the nutritive benefits and ease of preparation.
A useful section on Safety Guidelines while feeding children and one on popular Myths and Misconceptions regarding food, which are prevalent in the Indian culture, follow. Finally, there is a section on the spices (Spice, Spice Baby!) used in the recipes and their health benefits.
This book is an effort to initiate and encourage young parents to rediscover Indian wisdom and in a way revisit their own mother's kitchens,and then progressing further to adapt to the needs and tastes of their children as they grow up. Mothers everywhere, not just from the different regions within India, would find it interesting as they would be able to offer a much greater variety to their children.
Why give your child home-made food?
You may argue that it is time-consuming and the last thing you want to do after a hectic day at work, or even at home, coping with domestic chores and running after an active toddler, is to slave away in the kitchen. You may find commercial baby foods a much more attractive and practical option. But what if home-made food were to become a convenient, simple, economical and nutritious option? And more importantly, familiar-the foods you grew up with and probably still eat.
The benefits of home-made food are:
1.The early years of development are crucial. The mind and body are constantly growing at a rapid rate. A home-made healthy, nutritious diet would ensure adequate intake of vitamins and nutrients.
2.Many processed baby foods contain chemicals, additives and, preservatives. With a home cooked meal, you can eliminate these from your baby's diet.
3.You know exactly what goes into your baby's mouth. You may like to exclude certain items or foods from your baby's diet, because of religious or cultural reasons. For instance you may want only a strict vegetarian diet but with greater variety or perhaps halal meat or a pork or beef-free casserole. Or perhaps you are a vegan family. You do not need to compromise on that aspect if you cook it yourself.
4.You can buy the best possible ingredients-organic, fresh and of good quality and still make it fairly cost-effective by preparing it in bulk and freezing.
5.Your baby would be receptive to different natural flavours, colours and later, spices. The transition to grown-up food would be easier. You are less likely to have a fussy or picky eater to deal with later on.
6.Poor eating habits are directly related to many health problems including heart disease, diabetes, bowel diseases and even some cancers later on in life. By giving your baby wholesome, home-cooked food you can actually prevent some of them.
Finally, a lot of Indian food combinations or meals have sound scientific basis. For instance, a meal of lentils with rice, has essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins which in turn are essential for growth. The amino acids in lentils and rice or even wheat complement and complete each other. The combination of the two is therefore a very wise one. On their own they are 'incomplete' proteins, so one has lentils with rice or with wheat (in the form of chapatti). It is this traditional wisdom and common sense that we could try and put to good use. Another practice that is also widely accepted is to introduce one food item at a time when weaning and to avoid strong-tasting items, early on in the weaning period. There is also a great emphasis on breast-feeding in Asian countries. Apart from its numerous medical benefits to the baby, it is also widely accepted that a baby 'senses' a lot of flavours through the breast milk and so accepts food more easily having been familiarised all the while.
Like all parents, you would want to give your child the best possible start in life. It is a universally accepted fact that children who eat well grow up into healthy, strong adults. In the modern society, obesity is a major health problem among youngsters and junk food is largely held responsible for it. Every parent would like to keep their child away from obesity and the related health problems. By inculcating good eating habits and eating home-cooked healthy food as a family, this can be possible.
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