Lentils- The Miracle Food – Its Benefits & Easy Recipes for Kids
We all know a balanced diet is very important for young children. This is the time when the child’s body and other organs are developing, and when they need maximum nutrition. Sometimes we are so busy focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, and we forget the importance of the humble lentils in a child’s diet. Lentils are an excellent source of protein, calcium, fiber, vitamins, and essential amino acids and are low in fat and cholesterol. There are many benefits of lentils. Some of these are: Immunity: Lentils are rich in zinc. Zinc helps to boost immunity and also helps to boost brain functions such as memory and learning. Digestion: Lentils are known to be rich in fiber. Fiber is required in the body to prevent constipation and also in the formation of fecal matter. Bone Development: Lentils promote bone development. They are high in calcium and are essential for a child to have strong and healthy bones. Brain development: Lentils are rich in iron. Apart from helping your child stay active and energetic, iron is also required for brain development. Cell Development: Lentils are rich in Vitamin B, specifically Vitamin B9. Vitamin B9 is necessary to create a new cell and in making DNA too. Lentils are available in a wide variety. Some of the lentils you can start off with are green gram (sabutmoong), red lentils (lalmasoor dal), and yellow lentils (moongdhuli dal). Start off slowly at the age of 6 months with a few spoonful, and then you can gradually increase the quantity as well as the variety. These lentils are light on the stomach and are easily digestible as compared to other lentils such as kidney beans, chickpeas, horse gram, etc. Keep the lentils thin and watery when starting with them. Here are a few easy recipes to start off with.
Khichadi is a very popular Indian dish, and people of all ages relish it. You can make this with green moong dal or yellow dal. All you need to do is add some ghee to a pressure cooker, along with some turmeric. Add some washed rice and double the number of lentils. Add enough water to cover the rice and dal and a little more. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. Once done, check the consistency. Add salt if you want to. As your baby grows older, you can add any spices you prefer, such as cumin, asafoetida, etc. You can also add vegetables such as bottle gourd, carrots, etc. when your child has adjusted to the khichdi. The addition of ‘dalia’ is another healthy option.
You can use any lentils for this recipe, even rajma or chickpeas. Add cooked lentils to boiled and mashed potatoes. Add any vegetables such as boiled carrots, beans, cabbage, and peas. Add some breadcrumbs. Mash it well and mix it all together. Season with salt. Shallow fry or deep fry as per your preference. This is a delicious option, suitable for children who are 10 months and above and have a better idea of how to chew.
Lentil soup is a very healthy and delicious meal for babies and adults. Saute some garlic and onion in a pressure cooker. Add red lentils, chopped carrots, and some bottle gourd, along with enough water to cover all the vegetables and a little extra. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. Once done, let it cool. Drain the water and save it for later use. Grind the lentils and vegetables together. Heat in a pan, and add the water that we had saved from earlier. Add salt and pepper as per taste.
Use green or yellow moong lentils for this. Soak for a few hours in water. Discard the water and grind the lentils well. Adjust the consistency to get an easily spreadable batter. Add vegetables as per your choice. Tomatoes, onions, carrots, coriander are a good option. You can also add finely grated cottage cheese to the batter—season as per your choice. Heat a dosa Tawa and add some ghee or oil. Spread the batter thinly. Let is cook on one side, then flip to cook the other side. This cheese is high in protein and fiber, especially after the addition of cottage cheese. This is a good option for children who are above 10 months of age. Other interesting dishes you can make with lentils are dosas, falafels, parathas, etc. Don’t let your child be deprived of this wonderful food, which is a powerhouse of some essential nutrients. A healthy and balanced diet forms the base for a healthy lifestyle later on.