According to Ayurvedic principles, dinner should be light on the stomach and nutritious. However, these days we often succumb to the easy way out rather than the healthy way out. Dinner becomes a takeout option, or last night’s leftovers. The prana or life-force in plants is what makes them nourish our body, and Ayurvedic principles state that foods that are not cooked fresh tend to not be very good for balancing one’s doshas. Here are some easy you can try as a dinner substitute for a change.
- Quick pongal/khitchri: Khitchri is a nourishing, simple and easy-to-make dish that is also easily digestible. It is made by combining rice and moong dal together and cooking them until soft. You can garnish with coriander and black pepper. Coriander helps to pacify all the doshas and helps in counteracting the heating effects of onion. Turmeric (bitter) and rice (sweet) are considered the best balancing tastes. Pitta and Vata types can add vegetables also for more flavour and taste. A filling, healthy and nutritious dinner substitute. Serve with roasted papads for that extra crunch for your kids.
- Zucchini Soup: If you are looking for a very light dinner that will help you sleep well, a simple zucchini soup will help. It is light and smooth yet rich. You can eat it with bread as an accompaniment. Slice zucchini with 1 cm thickness and cook with a bit of vegetable oil (rice bran or sunflower oil are good options). After a few minutes add 1 cup or water and cook for about 5 minutes. Cook chopped onion and garlic until slightly brown. Finally blend the zucchini and garlic/onion with water using a blender until smooth. You can add water depending on how thick you want the soup to be, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Rice with green beans sabzi: Beans are an excellent source of protein and cooked the right way can be a filling healthy dinner substitute. Boil green beans and cook them. Take sesame seeds, curry leaves and chilli and roast them in a tablespoon of coconut oil till they start sputtering. Add this to the cooked beans and put in grated coconut. Stir for a few minutes till the beans is cooked and ready. Serve with rice and sambar
- Cauliflower is an easy to cook and healthy vegetable fortified with vitamins and minerals. Prepare a light cauliflower sabzi which can be eaten with whole wheat chapatis made from organic flour. Cook it with chopped onions, tomatoes and blanched almonds for a healthy twist. Saunf or fennel seeds add a lovely flavour to this dish and chopped coriander completes the garnish. Add spices like garam masala and red chilli powder very sparingly to make it easy on the stomach.
These are some of the dinner substitutes you can make to your regular daily meals – they are very easy to prepare and light on digestion, while keeping doshas in check.
Ayurveda bases its principles on a lot of elements from nature, and the fact that children are simple, uncomplicated and carefree, a lot of basic healthy Ayurvedic habits can be taught to them. Food and the consumption of the right kind of food are at the cornerstone of Ayurveda. Inculcating good eating habits in your kids will help them develop into healthy adults and enable them to make better food choices. Here are some ideas for fresh, natural and healthy Ayurvedic snacks for your kids. The next time they reach for a chips packet or a fizzy drink, give them one of these healthier options:
- Dates: Dates are a rich source of calcium and contribute to strong teeth and bones in children. In Ayurveda, dates pacify the Pitta dosha and promote positive emotions. Dates soaked in water for 5-6 hours can be a good Ayurvedic snacks option accompanied with milk after playtime.
- Coconut-jaggery balls: If your child craves something sweet, you can make this easy and delicious sweet for him/her. Grate a coconut finely. Boil some jaggery till it becomes a thick syrup. Once it cools, create small balls by rolling the grated coconut in the syrup. A simple and healthy option from Ayurvedic snacks that can be stored for upto a week.
- Sprouted sandwiches: Sprouts are considered as fresh and natural ‘living foods’. While plain sprouts may not be as popular with your kids, try boiling sprouts with fresh tomatoes and onions and putting them as a filling for grilled sandwiches.
- Vegetable soups & smoothies: Raw and fresh vegetables like carrot, beetroot, cabbage etc. are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals. You can infuse them into healthy home-made soups and smoothies to get your child interested in eating them. Eating them regularly will strengthen your child’s immunity and reduce their craving for junk food.
- Fresh fruits with yoghurt: According to Ayurveda, ripe fruits eaten at the right time and right season are like nectar for the body. Fresh fruit enhances ojas energies which aid digestion. Mango, watermelon, grapes, bananas, apples, amla, pomegranate and pears are fruits that help balance the The best time to eat fruits is a little while before meals or separately as a snack.
- Fresh corn: Corn on the cob, or bhutta, is a tasty after-school snack that is infused with complex vitamins and fibre content. Roast a cob of corn and rub it with lemon for a tangy, tasty snack for your child. Or you could also boil sweet corn and add a pinch of red chilli powder and lemon to it as a nourishing bite that is full of the goodness of nature.
Finally, for better digestion you could also give your child our Thaleesapatradi Choornam. It promotes better digestion.
Healthy habits begin at a young age at home. The above are just some of the many wholesome Ayurvedic snacks you can give your kids. Limit candy and other junk food as a special treat once in a while. Use interesting shapes and ways to present these snacks to make them more fun and appealing. Your kids are likely to continue these great eating habits well into teenage and adulthood.