By Dr Seema Khanna
Monsoon is a beautiful and refreshing season, but the weather can take a toll on your health. One must start gearing up to build your immune system to protect kids from water-borne diseases, allergic reactions and others that rains bring with them.
Foods that boost immunity and regulate metabolism should be incorporated in the diet along with regular foods given to children. A major chunk of their diet should contain antioxidants like cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, carom seeds and ginger. Cinnamon powder can be added to cakes, custard, milkshakes, curd and soups. Garlic and turmeric can be added in all veggies and soups. They are commonly used as flouring ingredients in all soups and dal.
Ajwain (carom seeds) and ginger immunise your body from allergic reactions. Children should be made to consume this twice a day as chutney or by adding a pinch of ajwain/ ginger and a teaspoon of honey to boiled water. Other foods include fruits packed with Vit C and antioxidants like plums, blueberries (jamun) and pomegranate. These fruits work as immunity boosters but should be washed thrice with fresh water before consuming. These will help your child fight off any infection.
Dal, egg and paneer should be given to kids as they are rich sources of proteins helping them boost immunity. Tomato egg drop soup with cinnamon and turmeric and a sauté of garlic in ‘desi ghee’ can be given during the monsoons. This is effective for colds and cough as well. Vitamin C is a major immunity booster. Lemonade with crushed mint leaves is extremely refreshing and hydrating for kids and can be served in the form of a green mocktail.
Beetroot is another important antioxidant which can be given grated or in the form of juice. The vibrant colour of this vegetable and quality of detoxification, rich source of potassium and folic acid builds a lot of stamina boosting immunity. The best dishes this season are cooked preparations like besan cheela, uttapams, soups and halwas. Leafy vegetables like spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms and previously peeled/ cooked foods and seafood should be stringently avoided as it could be contaminated and become unhygienic.
Here are some recipes to include in your child’s diet plan:
Tomato Egg Drop Soup recipe
1 tablespoon vegetable oil | 1 spring onion (sliced) | 2 medium tomatoes (coarsely chopped) | 4 cups chicken broth (or stock) | 2 large eggs (lightly beaten) | 1/4 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar | Salt (to taste) | Optional: spring onions (chopped, for garnish) | Optional: sesame oil
Steps to prepare it:
- Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan and stir fry the spring onion until fragrant.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and stir fry for 30 seconds.
- Add chicken broth or stock into the wok and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for 1 to 2 minutes before you add the eggs.
- After adding the eggs to the soup, bring it to a boil again and season with sugar and salt.
- Garnish this soup with spring onions or a drizzle of sesame oil for seasoning.
Stuffed Besan Chilla recipe
For the cheela: 1 cup besan (gram flour) | 1/4 tsp ajwain | 1 tsp red chili powder | 1 tsp coriander powder | 1/4 tsp garam masala | salt to taste | 1/4 cup yoghurt | water to make a thin batter | ghee or oil to fry
For the paneer stuffing: 100 grams paneer, crumbled | 1 carrot grated | 1 small onion, finely chopped | 1 green chilli, finely chopped | 1/2 tsp red chilli powder | 1/2 tsp jeera powder | 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
Steps to prepare it:
- Take besan, ajwain, red chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala and salt in a bowl and mix well. Mix in the yoghurt and little water at a time and make lump free and thin batter.
- Mix all the stuffing ingredients so that spices are well blended. Keep aside.
- Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat. Once hot, drizzle about 1/2 tsp of oil. Once the oil is hot, pour a ladle of batter and spread it to make a round shape like you would pour a dosa. Let the cheela get cooked on one side about 2 minutes or till it gets golden brown. Flip and cook the other side as well.
- Place 2-3 tbsp of stuffing in one side of the cheela and roll to make a cylinder.
- Repeat for all the batter, serve hot with mint and coriander chutney and tomato ketchup.
- Hope these tips help your child grow healthy with power-packed immunity.
(The writer is a consultant nutritionist.)