Being a fussy eater and a mother of a fussier eater, I knew I had a tough task in hand when it came to feeding my daughter nutritious yet healthy food. Over the years with lots of research, experimenting , success and failure; we have a few go-to recipes that work well at home, in lunch box and are mostly quick fixes with everyday ingredients.
Spicy Chickpea Sandwich
This is a recipe that we discovered while she was still a toddler and one of the cartoon characters loved eating this sandwich. Over the years, I have modified it, made it healthier and it has been relished every time.
For a fussy eater like my daughter, this is the best way to sneak veggies and lentils in her daily diet. While I have modified this recipe based on my daughter’s preferences, honestly, any vegetable works well with chickpeas.
1 cup soaked and boiled chickpeas.
1 grated carrot
1/2 cup grated broccoli
1/4th cup grated zucchini
3 spoons chopped coriander/dhaniya
Salt to taste
Asofetida/ Hing as needed
You will also need:
4 slices sandwich bread, could be brown, white or multigrain based on your choice.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 spoons green chutney
Butter, as needed
How to make:
In a big bowl, take the earlier soaked and boiled chickpeas and mash it completely. Add the grated veggies (I have taken broccoli, zucchini and carrot) to the mashed chickpeas and add salt and hing accordingly. Add the chopped Dhaniya and make into a nice mushy dough. Since chat masala has salt, as well- add the salt accordingly.
Now, you have two alternatives: you can shape them to cutlets or spread the mashed dough directly to the bread.
I cut the edges of the bread and spread some butter on it. On one bread spread some mayonnaise and on the other bread spread some green chutney. Alternatively, you could also spread mayonnaise on both the slices or chutney on both the slices.
While the mashed chickpeas can be made into cutlets, cooked on the tava and then placed between both the breads. I usually spread the mashed chickpeas as a paste between the breads, this makes the sandwich crunchy and still soft enough to be eaten in the lunch box when cold.
Once the sandwich is made, spread some butter on top and toast on both sides till the sandwich is golden brown.
Alternatively, you can also cut the sandwich bread in different shapes using cookie moulders and then spread the chutney and chickpeas and toast it.
The toasted sandwich when packed in the aluminium foil remains fresh and crunchy to be relished by kids and adults alike, for a refreshing change.
You can also modify the spread by using ketchup or pizza sauce or any mild flavour that your child enjoys.
If your child enjoys cutlets, the chickpeas can also be made as cutlets and served with ketchup and green chutney.
If your child enjoys wraps, the mashed chickpeas can also be spread in a tortilla wrap and you can add cucumber, tomato and onion for a crunchy, refreshing chickpea wrap.
Hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we do!
The eternal quest to feed the hungry tummy with something nutritious, different yet tasty is what got me scouting vegetables that I don’t usually buy. Honestly, purple yam is something I never even considered, let alone make it a part of my weekly vegetable haul but the something different is what drew me to it.
My daughter loves pink and the idea that her lunch box could contain a pink meal excited me and her both. The ideal purple yam is something which when you cut is soft and purplish pink inside. You can also get a purple yam with a white interior which is not bad but the sweetness and distinctive colour and taste that I was seeking for came with the purple interior.
The best way to cook the yam is remove the skin, dice into 2-3 pieces and pressure cook it for upto 2-3 whistles. Once cooked, it should be soft and easy to mash, quite similar to mashed potatoes.
1 purple yam
1 cup grated broccoli
1/2 cup finely diced capsicum
1/2 cup coriander
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala
Oregano seasoning (to taste)
1 tomato cut in thin round circles
1/4 cup finely chopped iceberg lettuce
1 cup mayonnaise
2 slices cheese (optional)
How to make:
The most important thing in making tasty burgers is the cutlet. And since purple yam is the primary ingredient, the right purple yam ensures half your job done.
Peel and chop the purple yam and cook up to 3 whistles. Alternatively, you can also boil it in water with a little salt for 20 minutes or until soft to touch.
If you have opted for a yam with a darker (purple/pink) interior, it will get a bit darker once boiled which is totally normal.
Let the yam cool down and mash it finely with a masher.
Add the grated broccoli and diced capsicum to the mashed yam.
Also, add finely chopped coriander to the mixture. You can also add chopped mint for an enhanced flavour.
Mix it well.
Add a spoon of garam masala, some oregano and salt to taste.
Shape it into small round cutlets that can be baked, fried or pan fried. Alternatively, you can also use the mashed purple mixture as a spread without cooking it as cutlets. For burgers, however, cutlets, look and taste better.
For purple sandwiches,
Take two slices of bread, remove the edges or keep the edges (if you are like me) and spread mayonnaise on both the slices.
Place the cooked cutlet or alternatively, spread the mashed purple mixture on the bread and top it with tomato, lettuce and some shredded cheese or 1 cheese slice and place the other bread on top of this.
This can be served, as it is or toasted until crispy brown.
The beauty of this sandwich is that it can be eaten soft or hard, hot or cold. And, if wrapped in aluminium foil and packed in your lunch box, it tastes fresh and warm for up to five hours.
Some additional tips:
The cutlets taste best with mayonnaise but it can be served with ketchup and mint chutney for a healthy afters school snack.
The boiled yam tastes fresh for up to 48 hours but its best to cook and make the cutlets/mixture the day it’s cooked.
This recipe works well as a vegan burger and can be served as mini burgers with the same filling and steps for the sandwich in the lunch box.
Since purple yam has no distinct smell, the ingredients you pair it with makes all the difference in the taste.
It can also be paired with beetroot and amaranth (red leaf vegetable) instead of capsicum, broccoli and coriander for only pink colour cutlets.
My daughter loves these burgers and they are her Friday lunch box specials! Hope you enjoy this ‘something different’ too.
A while ago, when we had just returned back to India from the US, my daughter was on a taco binge. She wanted to eat tacos every week but the challenge was, she didn’t want the same fillings and taste every time.
The conventional tacos contain boiled red kidney beans with lettuce and salsa but my darling daughter’s quest for something interesting and different is what got me experimenting with the fillings, as well.
We don’t buy ready tacos as I prefer making fresh taco rotis with maize flour every time. The tacos are softer, fresher and at home, we prefer this to the teeth breaking crunchy tacos.
How to make Tacos:
1 cup maize flour
Salt, as needed
1 teaspoon Ajwain (optional)
Warm water, to knead dough
2 spoons vegetable/olive oil
Take a big plate, add in one cup maize flour, 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of salt. Mix it well with a spoon of oil and once the dough is nice and sticky, add in warm water as necessary to make a slightly hard dough.
The dough should be soft enough to knead and roll but a little hard so that the taco rotis don’t tear when rolled.
Keep the tava on and slightly cook the rotis from both the sides. The important thing to remember is that the rotis should be half cooked but not raw. The rotis can be made, stored and frozen well in advance but fresh taco rotis work best.
2 mashed potatoes
1 finely chopped capsicum of all colors
1/2 cup corn, boiled and slightly salted
1 tomato, deseeded and cut finely
1/4th cup pomegranate, peeled and washed
1/4th cup pumpkin and sunflower seeds
1 broccoli, finely chopped and grated
5 spoons green chutney
2 spoons cheese spread
Taco/ Chat masala- 1 spoon
Chilli powder- 1 spoon
Salt to taste
How to make:
Take a big bowl and add the mashed potatoes, boiled corn and pomegranates, chopped capsicum and broccoli and mix them well.
At this stage, add a little salt, chilli powder and mix the pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
The chat/taco masala is completely optional but I usually add 1 spoon to give it a nice flavour. Adjust the salt as the ready masalas contain salt, as well.
In another small bowl, mix five spoons of green chutney with two spoons of cheese spread/sauce for a light green chutney cheese sauce. This will be used as a base instead of the conventional salsa in tacos.
Once the mix is ready, the preparation of tacos is similar to roti pizzas except that I bake them in the oven. You can also cook it till they are crunchy on both the sides.
Take a taco roti, spread some chutney cheese sauce evenly on it. Spread the vegetable mix neatly on the roti. The filling should not be excess as this can cause the roti to tear.
Fold the roti, as similar to roti pizza.
For oven cooking:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and place the tacos individually and vertically on a taco stand (available at shops).
The tacos get crunchy and done in 10 minutes but it depends on your oven.
For tawa cooking:
Spread some olive oil on the tawa and place the tacos and cook them in low flame.
Once one side is done, gently pat it and turn it the other side till both sides are evenly cooked and crunchy.
The tacos taste best when hot but my daughter also carries them in her lunch box and they remain perfect.
The chutney cheese sauce can also be replaced with the conventional salsa sauce or ketchup.
It is ideal to not add too many veggies as the taco should be small, bite sized and not overflowing with stuffing.
The veggie tacos can also be replaced with shredded chicken to make chicken tacos.
Since school has begun and lunch boxes have become a daily thing, I have exhausted all my options, creative and ordinary trying to come up with snacks which are easy yet healthy. A result of one such experiment was finger pops.
My daughter, ever the fussy eater, doesn’t like poha, upma and other ‘easy’ snacks. For me to sneak in the health benefits of these daily Indian pulses, I resorted to combining them with veggies and other ingredients for her lunch box.
At school, when she’s hungry, all she cares about is the taste and that gives me a lot more than leeway to experiment with her food options.
While these finger pops are fried, you can also bake them and shallow fry them.
2 cup poha, soaked and washed
1 boiled potato
1 cup boiled green peas
1/2 grated carrot
2 bread slices
1/4 cup coriander, washed and finely chopped
1 cup grated cheese
Salt to taste
How to make:
In similar to how we wash and soak the poha i.e. flattened rice for making Poha Upma; wash and squeeze out the excess water of the poha and keep it in a strainer.
Meanwhile, in another vessel, take 1 boiled potato and 1 cup boiled green peas, along with 1/2 grated carrot and 1/4 cup finely chopped coriander and mix them all well.
Mash up all the veggies and make it into one big ball. Add salt, oregano and chilli flakes as per your taste.
Next, take two bread slices, wet them in water and mash them into the veggie ball. The bread slices act as a binder and ensure the finger pops don’t break when deep fried.
At this stage, you can add cheese slices or 1 cup of grated cheese to the mixture before rolling them with your hands for a long, thin roll like your finger.
I make the finger pops and pack them in a Tupperware container overnight. They can be fried, baked or shallow fried as per your choice.
Since these are for children, I don’t store and use finger pops beyond a day old. This helps retain the freshness and health benefits of the ingredients.