So here is how one can start eating healthy without resorting to noodles and other fried foodstuffs, which are fast to cook, good to eat, but do not have really proper nutritional value or ingredients. Let us start with the wholegrain cereals.
Multi-grain bread is about 15 per cent more expensive than ordinary bread.
Thus, instead of spending your money on an expensive fad, get some soya beans. Grind them and use them with atta. Not only is this a healthy substitute for multi-grain cereals, but it is going to be quite economical. If your children really cannot do without noodles, why do you not make them yourself at home with soya bean and atta. It will take a little bit of effort, but you know that they are going to eat some thing which is hundred per cent natural and healthy.
So how do you make healthy noodles at home?
1 cup atta, which may or may not have soya bean atta added, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, 2 large eggs, 1/4 cup milk, and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter. I also add some spices like nutmeg, ajwain and jeera but you can do without them. I normally make these noodles when I am ready to cook a noodle dish. These noodles do not need any drying.
Mix the salt, pepper, spices, and the atta in one bowl. Beat the milk and the eggs in another bowl and pour this mixture into the atta mix. Then knead into a thick and smooth dough. Cover it with a wet cloth and allow it to rest for half an hour. Now, take a colander with large holes and push the dough through the holes with a spoon over a pot full of boiling water with some salt added to it.
Bring to a simmer and cook for about three to five minutes, until these noodles float on the surface. Stir slowly and gently so that they do not stick. Now, rinse in cold water. Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the noodles so that they are completely coated with the butter. Add your favourite vegetables, grated cheese, or anything else to make it tastier.
If you want, buy a noodle maker, but that is only if you are ready to prepare noodles at home. Is it really worth the expense?
Forget about the colas, chips, biscuits and burgers. Unfortunately, a large number of school canteens offer these items on the menu, and that is why children get addicted to them. On the other hand, if you start encouraging your children to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and drink fresh fruit juices, you are going to find a drastic difference in their health and well-being. But hey, fruits are boring, fruits are expensive. Nevertheless, fruits with spices, garlic, salt and chaat masala sprinkled on them are delicious. If you are living near the coast, going in for coconut water is really good for your health. Apart from that, buttermilk is really healthy and yummy.
Cannot do without processed foods and soups? Try making healthy soups with mixed vegetables and corn. Baby corn is expensive, so you can use fully grown bhuttas in the making of corn soup. Boil them, and then grate the boiled pieces of corn.
Extract the sticky glutinous material by sieving through a vegetable sieve or colander with large holes (petal ya steel ki chalani). This is going to get rid of all those uncomfortably large pieces of corn. I was looking in the market for a mung sprout maker and found that they were priced somewhere between Rs.150 and Rs. 600! So I came back home and found that my dad had found a really nice mung daal maker substitute by using two brand new non-cotton mops (commonly known as pochas!) He did not use them for dusting and wiping the floor!
He just spread one in a chalani – to drain away the water – spread a layer of mung daal on the mop, covered it with another mop, and poured a mugful of water on his home-made sprout maker. Non-cotton mops do not stink when wet. Pouring a mugful of water on the sprouts whenever he remembered, ensured that he had a fresh supply of sprouted mung beans to add to the vegetables, and as healthy snacks.
You can either eat them raw or sprinkled with salt, pepper, chillies, masala and lemon juice. Or just sprinkle your already-cooked vegetables with really delicious mung sprouts. In fact, I munch on them whenever I am watching TV instead of snacking on highly salted popcorn or fries. You might also want to sprout white channas for a change.
In the winter, a budget-conscious person can go to the fresh vegetable market and buy fresh, green, young and medium-sized peas. Shell them, wash them thoroughly, put them in plastic containers and store them in your freezer. The same thing can be done to freshly washed spinach, boiled with a tablespoon of salt and ground in a sil-batta, or mixer.
Whenever you need them, take them out and remove a portion to be cooked. Peas should be boiled with a teaspoon of salt to keep its green colour intact. After that, you can add the once frozen boiled peas to your cooked vegetable dishes. Frozen peas put straight into the potatoes or cauliflowers are going to lose their green colour.
Here are some other food items which are quite easy to make or obtain and they are quite delicious. Fruit and boiled potato chaats are really good snacks. Vegetable sandwiches with capsicum, tomato and cabbage leaves are nice, healthy and crunchy. One should try not to do without yoghurt every day. It keeps the good little digestive bacteria in your tummy moving around. I saw one of my friends feeding her children with vegetable and paneer pizzas.
If they wanted junk food, she was going to make sure that the topping on them was healthy. The pizza base was made up of whole grain and obtained at the bakery. The topping consisted of vegetable slices, pieces of boiled chicken, with a topping of cheese and tomatoes, with a sprinkling of salt, pepper, and spices. Yummy!
Here is my favourite recipe for a really good spicy salt, which can add a lot of pep to your healthy food items like fruit chaat or sprouts.
- 12 parts salt
- 3 parts sugar
- 3 parts fine red chillies
- 3 parts fine ground black pepper
- 1 part powdered ajwain
- 1 part fried jeera (cumin seed) powder
- A couple of pinches of powdered cinnamon, cloves and green elaichi (cardamom)
- 1 part onion powder
- 1 part garlic powder
- Some amchoor if you like more spice.
Just grind all these together and there you are – you have a really healthy and delicious spice mixture. I made a really stylish sprinkler with the help of a plastic Dabur gulab water bottle! I made holes in the pretty pink lid with a needle and a small nail. Then I put the spice in the sprinkler, and peppered my fruit chaat with masala mix! So, if you think that your child is accustomed to spicy food and junk food, you are going to be surprised that he or she can be weaned away from them and initiated into healthy eating as long as you do not say, “You have to eat this, it is good for your health.” That automatically makes a child feel, “Kyaa yaar, she persists on feeding me boring, bland food, because it is supposedly good for my health.”
And then, parents also need to change their attitudes towards healthy food and the making of it. I was shocked when I saw a one-year-old child being fed with Coca-Cola and coffee.
No wonder, the poor child was suffering from heart problems. His parents are to blame because they thought feeding their child with cold drinks and snacks, instead of putting him onto a healthy diet, was stylish and sophi sticated! You are going to be surprised to know that a large number of parents are under the impression that snacks, junk food and cold drinks are proper food substitutes for their children. Healthy eating is a matter of proper education – and a little bit of common sense.
Feel free to comment or share your thoughts on this "Healthy Food Tips for Budget-Conscious Homemakers" article from Awesome Cuisine.