The truth about sleep and brain development in children revealed

Sleep is an essential part of everyone’s routine. Studies have shown that kids who regularly get adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behaviour, learning, memory and most importantly, mental and physical health. Most of baby’s brain development happens during sleep. This is the time when the connections between the left and right hemispheres of their brains are being formed. Brain synapses (a junction between two nerve cells) are formed during sleep. Infant sleep development is a highly dynamic process occurring in parallel to and in interaction with cognitive and physical growth. In the womb babies spend about 95% of their time asleep. Your baby’s brain has been developing since they were in your womb. In the first trimester, nerve connections are build that enable your baby to move around in the womb, while in second trimester, more nerve connections and brain tissues are formed. In third trimester, the cerebral cortex (the largest part of brain responsible for thought, memory, language and awareness) starts to take over from the brain stem, preparing your baby for future learning.

The first five years of baby’s life are exceptionally important for the development of brain. This early brain development is essentially the building blocks for your baby’s future learning, health and behavior. The child learns to crawl, eat, sleep, walk, and talk.

Just like you have to recharge your body and brain after a long day, it’s the same for the baby too. But with all that important stuff and learning going on into their tiny head, they need to recharge more frequently than adults. Baby’s brain stores everything they learn on that day during sleep.

Kids with less sleep can suffer from:

  • Crankiness or irritation
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of interest, alertness and motivation
  • Academic struggles
  • Trouble in concentrating
  • Headache from lack of sleep (Yes! this happens in kids too)

There are four vitamins and minerals that are found in food that promote sleep- Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin B6 and Tryptophan, an amino acid that is important for production of serotonin (happy hormone) in the body.

Foods for better sleep:

Eggs: Eggs are loaded with high quality protein and important nutrients like folate, Vitamin A, D, E, choline (excellent for brain development also), iron and calcium. Egg whites help the body prepare for bedtime by producing melatonin that bring on that sleepy feeling. Eggs are also a rich source in the amino acid tryptophan, which helps you sleep better or longer by telling your brain to shut down for the night.

Dairy products: Milk before bed time is certainly a good idea, but apart from milk other dairy products like cottage cheese/ paneer and cheese (especially cheddar cheese) are also packed with tryptophan. Cheddar cheese can have up to 60% more tryptophan than turkey. (What kind of cheese should you buy?)

Chickpeas (chola): Chickpea curry or hummus is high in the amino acid tryptophan, the chemical that can help you fall asleep easily. The versatile beans are also high in folate, which helps regulate sleeping, and vitamin B6 which helps regulate your internal clock of sleep and rise. (Recipe for more nutritious spreads for bread, paratha)

Nuts: Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios and cashews are often considered to be a good food source for sleep. Nuts contain melatonin (sleep hormone) as well as magnesium, vitamin B6, protein and zinc. Magnesium is helpful in promoting sleep because of its ability to reduce inflammation (body heat). It may help reduce level of stress hormone cortisol, which is known to interrupt sleep. (What nuts are easy protein sources?)

Coconut water: This might be surprising for you, but apart from iron, chloride, potassium, sodium, phosphorous and calcium, coconut water has ingredients that can help you sleep better, such as magnesium and potassium, which helps to relax muscles. This drink is also full of vitamin B, helping to reduce stress level, therefore results in sound sleep. A glass of coconut water as an evening beverage can help in quality sleep. (Recipe of a healthy coconut meal?)

Dates: Dates are a super food. They contain most of the vitamins and minerals. They are also high in fiber and antioxidants. (what are they?). Magnesium present in dates is a calming mineral and helps to improve stress, sleep, muscle soreness, pain and inflammation. Sweet craving of your child is best to be fulfilled by dates, as it also contains two key nutrients that play a role in sound sleep- vitaminB6 and potassium. (Recipe of chocolate using dates)

Pumpkin seeds: A study published in 2005 in Nutritional neuroscience suggested that consuming tryptophan alongside a carbohydrates source is one of the best way to treat sleep deprivation. Pumpkin seeds may be small but they are packed with valuable nutrients like healthy fats, magnesium, fiber, antioxidants and zinc. If your kid have trouble sleeping, having few pumpkin seeds before bed with small amount of carbohydrates such as a piece of fruit, may be beneficial in providing body with tryptophan needed for melatonin production, which can lead to better sleep. For younger kids, powdered pumpkin seeds can be an option.

Recipe for nuts, pumpkin seed, Dates sweets

  • ¾ cup water 
  • 6 dates or fig or mix
  • 2 tbsp jaggery (add more for sweetness)
  • 2 fresh cardamom powder 
  • 1 handful cashews
  • 1 handful almonds
  • 1 handful hazelnut
  • 1 handful walnuts
  • 1 handful sunflower seeds
  • 1 handful pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup Milk 
  • 2 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter

Roast nuts and seeds slightly. Let them cool before making powder in grinder. Soak dates in hot water for 5 minutes and purée it.  Now cook dates puree and remaining water along with jaggery in NON STICK pan. Once the syrup becomes thick and starts becoming a darker colour (in 5-7 minutes), add the powder of all the nuts and seeds to the pan. Add milk. Add ghee. Now keep stirring till the mixture starts to come together and becomes like a dough (5-7 minutes). It will start coming off the edge of the pan and become like a big ball. Switch off gas. Add cardamom powder to the mixture and mix. 

You can add any nut or seed you like. Add more milk if required to cook the whole mixture. 

Take butter paper and apply some ghee to it and spread the mixture on it. Let it cool outside or refrigerate once sightly cool. Cut in any shape. Serve!

Sorry for the quick, partly eaten photo. My elder one couldn’t wait 🙂

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Top 10 brain foods for kids

Just like body, brain too needs nutrients for development. Children’s brain develops rapidly from birth to age five and during these years, it’s necessary to provide the right nutrients required to boost their brain’s growth. As a parent, you can help your child to make healthy food choices to develop their positive relationship with food. Once this is done, kids benefit a lifetime.

The early years of child’s life are very important for his/her future growth and development in terms of both physical as well as mental. Brain development in kids is influenced by many factors. In addition to genes, some important factors are nutrition taken during pregnancy, encounter with toxins or infections at an early age, experience with people and exposure to the world around them. Children are ready to learn from they moment their umbilical cord is cut. They depend upon parents, family members to help them develop skills to become more and more independent and learned. Lastly, in combination with others, food too is a key factor behind brain development.

Before going further, to know in detail about foods good for brain, it is important to understand the nutrients that work together to make them a brain food. Key nutrients in brain foods are:

Foods rich in above nutrients which can support memory, cognition and overall brain health among kids:

GREEN VEGIEES

Green veggies are brain’s favorite food. The health benefits attached with them are not only for brain but also eyes (vitamin A), immunity (vitamin C, E), energy (vitamin B) and bones (Vitamin K). Vegetables like spinach, cabbage, mint and kale contributes to brain health as they are rich in vitamin Bs, iron and antioxidants that helps in the growth of new cells and aids in sharp thinking.

CITRUS FRUITS

The daily vitamin C requirements of a kid’s body can be fulfilled by the intake of citrus fruits in natural form. Vitamin C has powerful antioxidant that helps fight off free radicals (what are free radicals?) which can damage brain cells. Vitamin C also supports brain health in your kids growing age by protecting it against cell damage. Other than oranges, kiwi, tomatoes, and strawberries are also some of the rich sources of vitamin C.

NUTS AND SEEDS

All the nuts like almonds, walnut, pista, cashew, brazil nut, hazel nuts, and Pine nuts are rich in vitamin E and helps in boosting memory. They are also antioxidants which protect against cell damage. Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acid is a valuable substance for brain function, memory and thinking abilities. This fatty acid also encourages the cognitive functions. Apart from nuts seeds like flex, chia, melon, sesame and pumpkins also contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin E that protect the brain from free radical damage.

KIDNEY BEANS (Rajma)

Beans are rich in vitamin B1, which act positively to improve memory and enhance cognitive function. Beans encourages the function of compound called acetylcholine which is a neuron transmitter that allows signal to be transmitted through the brain and nerves. Kidney beans contain higher amount of omega3 fatty acids as compare to other beans, which are important for brain’s growth and function.

CHICKPEA (Chola)

The presence of folate (vitamin B9) in chickpeas is not only good for efficient brain development, but also good for smooth functioning of nervous system. Chickpeas are nutritionally high in good fats (like linoleic and oleic) which are important for brain development.

APPLE AND PLUMS

Loaded with lots of nutrients, apple and plums helps in brain development in kids and fight cognitive declines. These fruits are packed with proteins, carbs, vitamins, choline, iron, selenium and antioxidants required for brain development and growth.

SWEET POTATO

Sweet potato contains component (choline and manganese) that helps a kid’s brain to function at its best. Choline is an essential nutrient for brain growth development. The anthocyanin present in purple sweet potato may also have memory enhancing properties.

COCOA POWDER

Pure cocoa powder (unsweetened) contains brain boosting components as it is packed with large number of antioxidants molecule, the main is epicatechin helpful to improve cognition in studies.

LENTILS

Loaded with folate (vitamin B9) and other B vitamins, Lentil has a reputation for strengthening brain power. The high fiber contents of lentils is a key component in keeping your brain in optimal shape.

HONEY

The secret to Honey’s brain booster potential is an antioxidant called pinocembrin. This antioxidant improves brain function and prevents cellular damage within brain. It also has anti- inflammatory properties. Honey helps absorb calcium, which is used by brain in thought and decision making process.

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Recipe for Chocolate seed cake (eggless)

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ baking powder
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter or oil of choice
  • jaggery powder or sweetener (as per taste)
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • ¼ tsp vanila essense (optional)
  • 2 handful melon seeds
  • Milk to make batter consistency
  • Mix all well. Preheat oven for 5 min at 200 celsius. Pour in a baking pan and bake for 20-25 min. Once done, let it cool. Spread melted dark chocolate on top. Refrigerate for some time for the chocolate to harden a bit. Serve!

12 fun and healthy snacks that kids can make with you

Out of many ideas 💡 to make kids eat healthy food, one is to indulge them in cooking. It is always seen that when kids make something by themselves their interest for eating that food is always higher than usual. Kids are fussy eaters. They may like something one day but dislike it the next day. Involving them in making healthy food in a fun and interesting way, including their favourite or approved ingredients, has shown positive results.

So help your kids get out of their comfort zones and boost them to make and innovate some healthy snacks with these easy kids friendly recipes.

  • Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges/ Fries

Pre heat oven for 5 min at 200 celsius, peel the sweet potato 🍠 cut them into wedges or fries shape. Toss the wedges in drops of ghee or oil, salt (we recommend rock salt ). Place the wedges on a baking dish, bake for 25-30 minutes. Healthy snack is ready to serve.

High source of fibre makes it great for digestion and GUT

Rich in vitamins and minerals which boost brain development and Immunity

  • Dates Energy Bars

Clean the dates and remove seeds. Add walnuts, almonds and coconut to a food processor. Pulse till dry fruits are broken into pieces. Now add some seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, melon), add dates and further grind for twenty seconds. Repeat till dates are crushed and mixed with dry-fruits.
Now grease the butter paper in a pan and pour mixture and set it plain and refrigerate till harden. Now cut into pieces. Healthy snack is ready to serve.

Dates are natural substitute of sugar and fulfil kids sweet tooth without harming their health. They are loaded with iron, fibre calcium which are great for digestion, energy.

This nuts are packed with vitamins and minerals like copper, zinc, vitamin A, C and E which are necessary for immunity and eyesight.

  • Cucumber Sandwich
  • Cut the cucumber into thick slices. Layer the cheese slice and peanut butter or mashed avocado between the cucumber slices. Bind together with a toothpick or keep it open . Healthy snacks for your kids late afternoon craving is ready. Try this with red capsicum also.
  • Cucumber is nutrient and water rich veggie that prevents dehydration and ensures healthy eyesight and high energy in kids.
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate balls

Take 1 cup coconut or almond flour in a bowl, add some honey, pinch of salt and ¼ cup peanut butter. Mix it well and make small balls. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to harden. Dip the ball in melted dark chocolate and refrigerate further for 30 min till it hardens. Let your kids enjoy the goodness of peanuts.

  • Peanut is high in protein which is vital for growing kids. It has calcium, magnesium, phosphorus which is essential for bone strength. It boosts immunity, eye sight and brain development.
  • Peanut also contains high amount of vitamin Bs which maintains body’s energy supplies.
  • Apple Cookies
  • Slice an apple and spread a layer of peanut butter on each slice, topped with nuts, chocolate chips and some shredded coconut or nothing at all. Your apple cookies are ready to serve.
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away” this not just a saying but actually apple is loaded with lots of health benefits as it is rich in fiber,vitamin c, antioxidants and potassium,it helps in reducing the risk of obesity.
  • Mint Lassi

Take a grinder and add few mint leaves, ½ cup yogurt, epsom salt and black salt as per taste and ½ cup water. Pour the mixture in a glass and garnish it with mint leaves and cumin powder. Ready to serve.

  • This salted mint lassi not only fullfils your thirst but also saves from adverse effects of dehydrating in summer heat. Mint is suitable for digestion and also instantly cools down the body temperature.
  • Yogurt promotes the growth of healthy bacteria and reduces the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut, keeping the digestion and immunity in check.
  • Epsom salt has magnesium which is great to keep the anxiety in kids under control.
  • Mixed Sprout Chaat

Take mixed sprouts (mung bean, moth beans, black chana etc). Add some finely chopped veggies of your choice (cucumber, onion, coriander, tomato, red capsicum etc), lemon juice, salt to taste and some chaat masala. This tangy and super healthy snack is ready to rock!

  • The sprouting process increases the level of nutrients- protein, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and vitamin B, C, K compared to unsprouted plants.
  • Sprouts also contain lower level of antinutrients, making it easier for the body to absorb all the nutrients, so it is a super healthy food for your little ones.
  • Sprouting also creates enzymes, making is easy for digestion and gut health.
  • Yogurt Honey Fruit cups
  • Cut fresh fruits of your kids choice in a bowl (banana, apple, pear, grapes etc). Add some yogurt (naturally flavoured with orange, vanilla or lime). Add some honey on top. Garnish with choco chips or roasted nuts. Enjoy!
  • Your kids are definitely going to love this colour full combination of fresh fruits and flavoured yogurt. Fruits are an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals. They are high in fibre, boost your kids immunity and helps in brain development.

Strawberry Slush

In a grinder add some frozen strawberries (or any other fruit), lime juice, few spoons of honey. Pour this in a glass, garnish it with some choco chips. Serve.

Packed with vitamins, fiber and high level of antioxidants, strawberries are a sodium free, fat free, cholesterol free, low calorie food.

  • Roasted Makhana (Fox nuts)
  • Take an iron cookware. Add a few drops of ghee. Add Makhanas and continue to stir and roast till they become slightly brown. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. This crunchy healthy snack is ready to serve.
  • Makhana are a great food for brain development. They are also loaded with bone strengthening minerals.
  • Sweet Corn Salad
  • In a bowl mix sweet corn (steamed), spring onion or any other veggies of your choice, add crushed cashew and/ or almond, grated coconut and salt/ epsom salt to taste. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve this healthy snack.
  • Corn is rich in zinc, magnesium, copper, iron and manganese which makes is good for the energy, bones and immunity of kids. It also has a high fibre content which aids in digestion. Corn is a good source of antioxidants (carotenoids, lutein and Zeaxanthin) which promote healthy eyesight.
  • Chocolate Banana Bites
  • In a grinder take some dates, banana, walnuts, coco powder, cinnamon powder, peanut butter or other nut butter, pinch of salt. Grind them well in a paste and add some shredded coconut. Mix well. Apply oil on your kids palm and ask them to make small balls and coat them with some finely chopped nuts. Eat this healthy snack for sweet cravings.
  • Banana are one of the best fruit source of vitamins B6 and C. Loaded with Manganese, Potassium banana can aid digestion and help beat gastric issues.

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IS FAST FOOD OK FOR KIDS?

Over the last two decades, so many fast food restaurant chains have emerged and are on a constant rise. Whether we are travelling, have guests, short on time, hanging around with friends or simply want to relax, pizza, burger and fries are an instant choice, both affordable and comfortable for parents and children. In reality, food with high sugar/ saturated fat/ salt (what does sugar do to kids?) and low nutrient value in terms of protein, fibre, vitamin and mineral is termed as Fast Food. Food that can be served ready to eat fast. Many of our children are fond of such ready-made food. But these foods have negative impact on kid’s health in the long run and some of the concerning outcomes are obesity, stress, hormonal imbalance in kids. A single fast food meal could add 300-500 calories instantly without much added nutrition, terming it as empty calories (Why should kids eat a balanced diet?).

Kids love to enjoy meals with high sugar content. Sugar can be consumed in many forms like Bread which is extremely high in added sugar and one of the most staple food in every household for kids. Other common sources of sugar are white sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, cookies, candy, donut, cake, canned drinks, packed juices, bottled shakes and smoothies, granola bars, sauces, jams and many others. Such intake on a regular basis can deplete four of the best bone-friendly nutrients from your child’s body.

During the early years, the bones of kids develop and grow while also being depleted at the same time. If the consumption of calcium, Vitamin D and other required minerals are sufficient, the health of bones will be positive. If the consumption of required vitamins and minerals are less, the depletion of bones will soon take over resulting is much weaker bones and easy fractures. When sugar is consumed, there is acid that’s released in the body. In order to balance this acid, calcium is extracted from the bones resulting in Calcium deficient weaker bones. Vitamin D assists in absorption of Calcium by the bones. Consumption of sugar increases an enzyme that degrades vitamin D and thereby also results in reduced absorption of calcium by the bones. Double whammy!

Vitamin C helps to make collagen and also delays the decaying process of bones. Sugar intake restricts the absorption of this vitamin into our body cells resulting in weaker bones.

Magnesium works on keeping the bones strong. Sugar strips the body of magnesium too by releasing it out through urine.

BEST SNACKS FOR CHILDREN:

  • Many packaged snacks for kids are extremely unhealthy. They are often full of refined flour, added sugars, and artificial ingredients like colours and flavours. Snack can act as great opportunity to sneak some extra nutrients into your child’s diet. Instead of highly processed fast foods, fill your child’s tummy with healthy whole food snacks that will provide energy and complete nutrition.
  • You may consider popcorn as junk food, but it’s really a nutritious whole grain. As long as you don’t drown it in unhealthy fat like margarine, popcorn can be a snack for kids. It is also love by them. Popcorn actually has 4 grams of fibre per 3-cup serving, which makes it a filling snack and good for digestion.
  • Amongst many minerals and vitamins that contribute towards Brain Health– Developement and Function, a few are Manganese, Vitamin B6 and B9. Just a cup of Makhana is enough to meet 50% of Manganese requirement for the day.
  • It is those rare snacks which is loaded with a good balance of Vitamin Bs. Not just Brain, Makhana also supports strong bone development of a growing child.
  • You can make them healthy when you use the right ingredients. Healthy cookies contain whole grain flour, which provide protein, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. It can be a favourite treat for kids and adults as well. Adding ground seeds like flax, chia or sunflower seeds to the cookie mix makes them more nutritious. By swapping out the added sugar and using other alternate like puree of dates or raisins or dried berries can make the cookie a healthier choice. (Recipe of cookies)
  • Bread is a staple food in many households. Healthy spreads for bread can be a good way to feed essential nutrition to children. It can not only calm down kid’s hunger pangs but also give a dose of good fat, protein and vitamins. Peanut butter mixed with cocoa and dates or honey is a bread spread which is loved by adults and kids alike. It is enough to provide with essential nutrients as well as antioxidants. (Recipe of spreads)
  • Mixed nut balls or laddoo are a great snack for kids to settle their sweet cravings. Peanut butter (or any other nut butter) mixed with almond flour, dipped in melted dark chocolate is just the perfect snack for anytime during the day. Consuming Nuts and seeds is among the best food with protein to meet the daily requirement of the body and also among the best foods for children in their developing years. (Recipe of nut balls)
  • Smoothies are a great way to pack fibre and vitamin rich fruits and vegetables, calcium, protein and good fats into drinkable meal or snack. They are really easy and fast to make at home, and you can create lots of flavour combinations using what you have. An addition of kefir instead of yogurt adds the necessary bacterias to the drink. (Recipe of kefir shake)
  • Cake or cupcake is undoubtedly a kid’s favourite. Using a whole wheat flour and mixing with seeds of Sunflower, Pumpkin and Melon together offer a great source of nourishment to the body. 1 tablespoon of this seed mix provides 5g of protein. A spread of this can easily blend with any dish and wont even get noticed by kids.(Recipe of cupcakes)
  • Recipe of Chocolate chip Oat Cookie with seeds
  • 1/3 cup each semolina, wheat flour, oats and melon seeds
  • Handful Chocolate drops (or more)
  • Honey (as per sweetness)
  • Pinch salt
  • ¼ tsp Cinnamon powder
  • 2 heaped tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
  • Milk as little as to make firm dough
  • Take a big ball of dough
  • Roll in between two baking/parchment papers.
  • Preheat oven for 5 min.
  • Place rolled cookie with baking sheet on the middle rack. Bake as a single piece at 200 for 15 min. Once edges begin to brown, take it out.
  • Cool on rack. Once completely cool, break the cookie as you like or just eat rightaway.  

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TOP 10 FOODS TO BOOST YOUR KID’S BRAIN POWER

Brain develops rapidly from birth to age 5 in children. It affects overall growth of a child. There are four main areas of development in any child: motor (physical), language and communication, social and emotional and cognitive. Brain development is part of cognitive development. The first 8 years can build a foundation for future learning, health and life success. When it comes to kid’s growth and development, meal time is just as important as play time. Activities like listening to music, reading to your child, letting them explore their surroundings all encourage brain development. But, it’s not the only way you can help your child’s brain blossom. Feeding nutritious food is equally important.

Foods that contain antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, choline and complex carbohydrates are helpful in boosting brain health. Lets understand them below.

  • Choline: Vitamin B4, also known as choline, is a nutrient that is essential for brain development, memory and muscle function. It also helps the brain communicate with the rest of the body and can help regulate mood (What other foods help with mood?).

Antioxidants: studies have shown that antioxidants may help to counteract the unstable molecules that comprise free radicals (What are they?), counteracting the negative effects of oxidative stress.

  • Omega 3 fatty acids: these healthy fats are crucial to brain and eye development, and can help stabilize mood. (What kind of fat is good?)
  • Complex carbs: these nutrients not only fuel brain, but also protect brain cells against damage from free radicals released from pollution, stress (Some super tasty carbs for kids)

BRAIN BOOSTER FOOD FOR KIDS

Because the brain demands such high amount of energy, the foods we consume greatly affect brain function. One of the best things you can do for long term brain health is eating right. Here are some power foods for brain development of children. There are numerous choice for kids who are picky eaters too. The goal is to balance nutrition which supports carbs, good fat that are essential for brain cells to develop.

  • Walnuts is plant based omega-3 fatty acid and also possesses more polyphenols (micronutrients) compounds than any other nut. Both polyphenol and omega-3 fatty acids are considered critical brain foods that may counteract oxidative stress and inflammations two drivers of cognitive decline. Eating a handful of walnut a day may help improve memory (5 benefits of walnut for kids?)

  • Flaxseeds are rich source of certain compounds that stimulates omegs-3 fatty acid, which helps improve brain function in kids and eye tissues. It also contains protein and fibre, nutrients necessary for healthy digestion (Other foods than help with digestion?)
  • Diet deficient in folate (vitamin B9) can cause problems like anxiety, depression, fatigue. B- Vitamins are critical to brain function, especially for memory health. Spinach (Try the recipe of spinach wrap) is one of the most potent memory boosters. It is established fact that spinach contains some of the most valuable vitamins and minerals for promoting cognitive development. Spinach contains 65% of the daily requirement of folate and over 20% of daily vitamin b6.
  • Eggs are good source of several nutrients tied to brain health, including vitamin B6, B9 and B12. Eating whole eggs (egg white and yolk) helps regulate memory because of Choline. Research said that regular consumtion of eggs has been associated with improved cognitive performance in kids and adults (What are some more brain food options?)
  • Avocado contains high quantities of unsaturated fatty acids. A study conducted in 2012 found that unsaturated fatty acid helps protect cells in brain which provide support to the information carrying nerves in the brain. They are highly nutritious including 20 different vitamins and minerals. Avocado not only increases nutrient absorption from other foods, but they also are high in antioxidants. A study has shown that they are linked to reducing the risk of common eye-related ailments in individual. So, eating avocado can benefit kid’s long term eye health also (What other foods can help with eyesight?)
  • According to studies, the antioxidant in blueberries may affect areas of your brain that essential for intelligence. Blueberries help to maintain brain function and improve memory. A study says that antioxidants (What are they and why we need them?) in blueberries stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain to help keep the mind fresh.
  • Compounds in broccoli can help children’s brain grasp better. Intelligence can be categorised in two types: fluid and crystallised. Fluid intelligence is ability to solve new problems without help, any from prior knowledge. On the other hand, crystallised intelligence is problem solving ability stemming from experience. Study says that Lutein, a pigment found in green vegetables like broccoli, helps in preserving crystallised intelligence, by protecting the neuron in the brain (What other vegetable are good?)

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Top fruits good for Teens and Kids

Teenagers undergo major physical development during their puberty phase. These physical changes are regulated by changes in the levels of hormones which are produced by the pituitary gland—luteinizing hormone (responsible for menstrual cycle in girls) and follicle-stimulating hormone (responsible for reproductive system in both girls and boys). Surprisingly, a new born baby has high level of these hormones which taper down in a couple of months. At adolescence, these hormones spike up again and cause major physical developments in the body of teens.

In the early puberty phase, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone increase, resulting in major physical changes including weight gain, outbursts of acne, height gain and behavioural change like anxiety, hyper-activity and short-temperedness.

The recent lifestyle trend of teenagers has also added to much higher consumption of food which is high in both carbohydrates and fat (why is this bad?) This not only results in excessive weight gain, but also anxiety and stress leading to further hormonal imbalance.

Some (forgotten) seasonal fruits which can help solve these concerns of the growing kids are mentioned below.

Eating right assures an adequate amount of key nutrients like calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and D. Some teens need more nutrients than average intake, particularly if they extremely active in sports and do not eat variety of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds regularly

SHAHTOOT (MULBERRY)

  • They have unusually high levels of protein and iron for a fruit. They are rich in dietary fibre which helps in fixing digestion issues like bloating, constipation.
  • A single serving of mulberries can meet the daily requirement of vitamin C, keeping the immunity high and lower stress, anxiety.
  • Mulberry is also high in vitamin A which strengthens the eyesight and reduces the strain on eyes.
  • It is rich in antioxidants which reduces early greying of hair and keeps the skin acne free.
  • BER (JUJUBE)
  • It is a good source of calcium, phosphorous that helps in developing and maintaining stronger bones and more height.
  • It also has a calming effect on the body and releases stress and anxiety.
  • This fruit helps in inducing sleep. In certain traditions, it has been used to treat insomnia.
  • Loaded with fibre, this fruit also helps to reduce constipation and other gastrointestinal issues.
  • Lastly, this fruit is loaded with antioxidants and Vitamin C which do wonders for keeping the skin acne-free.
  • JAMUN (INDIAN BLACKBERRY)
  • Just a bowl of this sweetish berry can serve half the daily requirement of vitamin C and Manganese, keeping the immunity of the body high. It is also high in antioxidants which keep the skin healthy.
  • These blackberries are loaded with fibre which is essential for easy digestion and solving bloating and stomach pain. It can give half the daily fibre in just a single bowl serving.
  • Over 35% of daily required Vitamin K in a single serving of this berry can keep the bones strong and control menstrual blood flow.
  • LYCHEE
  • This fruit is exceptionally high in Vitamin C which keeps the immunity of the body high and the skin healthy. A compound present in this food tends to have anti-viral properties also.
  • The high fibre content in the fruit helps to regulate bowel movement thereby solving constipation, bloating, stomach pain, and other tummy troubles.
  • Along with the high fibre content, this fruit also has a lot of water content which aids in maintaining healthy weight.
  • It is also loaded with calcium absorbing minerals resulting in stronger bones.
  • High level of copper and Vitamin Bs in the fruit help with reducing stress.
  • CHIKOO (SAPOTA)
  • This fruit is good for immunity because of its high Vitamin C content. It also keeps the skin healthy and helps treat acne.
  • The high dietary fibre in the food helps to solve the irritable bowel syndrome and works as a laxative to solve constipation.
  • It is also high in calcium and phosphorous which work together to keep the bones strong. Consuming this fruit early in life will take care of bones troubles in future.
  • Many other berries and fruits like Phalse (Wild Blueberry), Amla (Gooseberry), Karonda (Conkerberry), Lasoda (Glueberry), Nargundi
  • (Chasteberry) are loaded with goodness of health for growing kids. They are seasonally available and help to meet the daily Vitamin and Mineral requirements.
  • Some of these are sour in taste and best can be consumed in the form of pickle or sweetened drink. Some are bitter like chaste berries but offer tremendous health benefits in balancing hormones and reducing stress levels. They are available as powder supplements.

Recipe for Wheat Berry cookie

  • ½ cup wheat flour
  • ½ cup semolina
  • Handful of cranberries
  • Pinch salt
  • Honey (as per desired sweetness)
  • Milk (just little to puree cranberries)
  • 2 tbsp Ghee/ Butter unsalted
  • Pinch baking soda
  • Pinch cumin seeds (optional) or choco chips

Puree cranberries with milk. Mix all ingredients (except cumin seeds) into a soft sticky dough. Make balls and press lightly. Sprinkle cumin seeds on top and press. Place on baking sheet. Preheat 5 min at 180 celsius. Bake for 15-20 min. Once done, cool outside on rack. Enjoy!

Saturated and Unsaturated Fatty Acids : Friend or Foe?

Do you know that from the moment we are born, we begin to latch (pun intended) onto Saturated fat? Breast milk is a high source of saturated fat, formed naturally and is unprocessed. Now… if saturated fat is so bad, then why does the world go ga-ga over feeding only breast milk to a new born for as long as possible?

Olive! Another high source of saturated fat, key part of traditional diet of Middle Easterners, naturally occurring and unprocessed.

Coconut, high source of saturated fat, naturally occurring and unprocessed, loved by most of the Asians since forever.

The list is not long but it is intriguing. Nuts, Avocado and Ghee are few more examples.

  • On a very high level- there are two kinds of cholesterol- LDL (bad) and HDL (good). Saturated fat from the natural food sources actually increases both LDL and HDL. However, within LDL, there are two types as well- Type A and Type B. With the consumption of saturated fat from natural food sources, studies reveal that only type A LDL increases which doesn’t impact the heart. It is type B of LDL that impacts the heart, and that’s sourced primarily from refined carbohydrates (processed/comfort foods). Hence, it is advised to eat whole grains where the ratio of fibre to carbs is higher.

Our body needs saturated fat from natural sources. They help to fix hormones that can otherwise cause the body to go haywire impacting weight, mood, acne, bloating, PCOS, thyroid, sleep and the list goes on. Our brain, that is just 2% of our body mass but consumes 25% energy of the body, needs fat to perform efficiently for life. Saturated fat also stays inside the body cells to build a defence system and attack viruses and bacterias.

If you look around to find a food which has both high level of carbohydrates and saturated fat existing together, you might not be able to. Do you know that nature has not designed any food where saturated fat and carbs are combined? Generally speaking, fruits and veggies are mostly carbs or fibre. If you pick up any grain, then they are mostly protein or carbs. Can you think of any example with both saturated fat and carbs?

The most commonly loved and preferred food, nowadays, are fries, burger, chips, doughnuts etc. They are excellent examples of processed foods where both saturated fat and carbs are combined. They don’t occur naturally around us like a fruit or vegetable or whole grains. These are processed foods and hence can be harmful for the body. Interestingly, a study revealed that this kind of a processed food combination confuses and falsely tricks the brain into valuing this meal higher in nutrition (fat and carbs), releasing higher amount of dopamine (a feeling of reward) and ultimately resulting in more craving for the same.

So you can safely go back to those nuts, avocado, coconut and other naturally occurring saturated fats which haven’t been processed and combined with carbs. And keep a distance from saturated fats which are manufactured and combined with carbs in the form of fast-foods.

Read more about Minerals and Vitamins below:

A Paratha meal covering 100% nutrients for Kid’s Brain, Stronger Bones, Improved Digestion, and High Energy.

Serving complete nutrition of the day in just a single dish makes it so easy and achievable. The tough vitamins to get covered are mostly Vitamin Bs. Vitamin Bs are crucial to give us energy, keep our cells healthy (including of the brain). This dish covers all Vitamin Bs (except B12) and most of the Minerals.

  • Banana stem is extremely high in Vitamin B6, which keeps haemoglobin high, gives ample energy and helps kids fight weakness, fatigue and crankiness. Lower haemoglobin results in lower cognition in kids and this can carry on till later in life.
  • Banana stem is 60% fibre, which is a god-sent solution to improper digestion.
  • Broad beans (Sem) is a Brain food. It is exceptionally high in Vitamin B9 (Folic). Combined with Whole wheat flour, this dish serves 40% daily nutrition required for Brain Development.
  • Manganese present in the Broad Beans and Whole wheat flour crosses 100% daily nutrition for stronger bones.

(Nutrition estimate is based on 3 parathas)

Read more on Brain snacks, Bread for kids, Sleep food and wholesome meals below:

How to Store your food right to get the Vitamin B2?

Vitamin B2 is responsible to keep high levels of energy in the child by producing more red blood cells. It also supports healthy eyes and better digestion.

Dairy products, Green leafy vegetables, Soy products, Mushroom, Almond and Whole-grains are some great sources of Vitamin B2 commonly found around us.

Food Items% Daily Requirement for kids (~1mg)
Milk 1 glass45%
Almonds 1035%
Yogurt 1 cup35%
Mushroom 4 pieces35%
Spinach ½ cooked25%
Just a combination of these food items can help meet 100% daily requirement of Vitamin B2
  • Food items high in Vitamin B2 must be stored in a dark place, preferably in opaque containers.
  • Vitamin B2 depletes due to exposure to lightwonder why the milkman use to deliver milk in those huge opaque containers unlike glass bottles now.
  • Unlike other Vitamins, this Vitamin can be cooked at higher temperatures without much loss.
  • Being a water soluble Vitamin, it is best to not boil or soak food items high in this Vitamin as it may evaporate or drain out.
  • This Vitamin should be consumed everyday, since it cannot be stored in the body and any additional intake gets flushed from the body
  • Body needs Vitamin B2 to activate other vitamins (Vitamin B6, B9) and minerals (Iron), which are responsible for brain development and immunity.

Read more about Vitamin-A foods, Whole-meals, Brain snack and much more below.