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Ten ways to make your kids eat more fruits & veggies

I am a mother of a four year old girl who has been a picky eater since the time she ate her first morsel of solid food. Some days were a breeze, but some were bad and most were downright miserable. Being a doctor, I know how important healthy diet and nutrition is, but children are not born with the wisdom of the benefits of healthy eating. It is a gradual learning process, for both children and parents alike. We as parents are well aware of the snowball effect a bad diet can have on our bodies and lives.

Making your child eat a healthy meal can be perplexing and frustrating for many parents. I have met many parents who are petrified at the thought of meal times. I have seen friends shedding tears and lamenting about their children’s eating habits. I was overwrought when my daughter turned picky and gave me a tough time. Children also become anxious when they see or hear that they are the cause of stress in their parent’s life.

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Being on the edge or hyper does not work with handling kids especially those who are picky with their food. First we have to understand that it is a phase that children are going through and they will eventually overcome it with time, love and support from the parents. Giving up and yielding to our children’s demands is the common path we take most times and we feel frustrated and helpless when it comes to parenting.

However, We must try not being too hard on kids and reminding ourselves to enjoy their childhood with matching playfulness and optimism. I attained nirvana when I saw my picky eater improving tremendously over time. Let’s pause and ask ourselves this question: “Is it worth the effort to cajole, negotiate and bribe our children to try to eat healthy foods (including vegetables) or should we give in to their comfort foods (e.g. Milk, formula, Junk)?”

The answer is a definite “yes”. There are a million reasons why incorporating vegetables in your little one’s diet is so important, but if you are not sure yet then below are the four most compelling reasons for you to ensure that your child eats at least 5 servings of fruits & vegetables a day:

It Aids growth
Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, fibre, photo chemicals which are vital for our growth.

Prevents obesity
We all love the look of chubby kids, we always hear “aww, aren’t they are just adorable cotton balls”. However, this is not healthy in the long run. Incidences of obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years. Obese youth are at a greater risk of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. There is also an increased risk of suffering from pre-diabetes (a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk of developing of diabetes). They are prone to bone and joint problems, sleep apnoea and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem. A good intake of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of obesity amongst children greatly.

Immunity boosters
Being absent from school is very common among children below the age of five due to recurrent illness, frequent visits to paediatricians and repeated courses of antibiotics begin to take a toll on the overall immunity of the children. Vegetables & fruits are natural immunity boosters. Children who consume 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day reduce the risk of catching infections from school.

Better digestion
One of the most difficult things as parents is to witness your kids suffering from pain and discomfort caused due to constipation. Children who are on a meat based diet with very low or no servings of fruits and vegetables are more likely to suffer from irregular bowel movement as compared to children who eat a good amount of fruits and vegetables. By increasing their intake it could reduce constipation and irregular bowel movements significantly

I hope you are convinced. If yes, then here are the ten simple ways to incorporate fruits & vegetables in your child’s diet

1. Try similar foods
Try to be slow and consistent when introducing new food in your child’s diet plan. While introducing a new fruit or vegetable, try something that tastes or looks similar to what your child likes. E.g.Sweet potato fries instead of French fries. Instead of crackers, try whole wheat or multi-grain versions Whole wheat pizzas with a variety of vegetable toppings instead of regular pizza. Do not force, terrorise or threaten children to empty their plates, this will eventually lead to eating disorders in children as they will associate meal times with negativity.

2. Eating at home helps
Planning meals ahead of time and eating more often at home helps a lot. Resorting to restaurant food and ready to eat meals is a no brainer but the serving size is typically several times more than a healthy serving at home. According to research, a restaurant meal often contains 18 percent more calories than home cooked food. Do not visit fast food joints which entice children with toys. This leads to impulse eating amongst them.

3. Take Lead
As an adult, set an example yourself for your little ones to emulate. Stop eating foods that you don’t want your kids to eat. If you are not the primary caregiver of your child, instruct and educate your nannies to serve only healthy foods to your little ones. De-clutter your kitchen of all the junk food, discard the energy drinks from the fridge, and get rid of all the mouth-watering bakery items, chocolates and crisps from the cupboards. Simply refuse to visit your favourite bakeries and dessert joints. Fostering healthy eating habits from early childhood is gratifying. However, there is no harm in treating your child once in a week with a small portion of their favourite foods.

4. Variety is the spice of life
Kids get weary and bored of eating the same food again and again. Introduce a “Rainbow Variety” of fruits and vegetables and ensure you don’t repeat the same food in two consecutive meals. Making a schedule and charting out the meal plan in advance is essential so that we don’t resort to unplanned treats. Planning the previous night for the next day is elementary in reducing the stress in the kitchen. Make a repertory of foods that the child likes and repeating it every week is worthwhile.

5. Sneak in vegetables in their regular diets
Incorporate vegetable purees to pasta sauces, add vegetables to their pilaf’s, dish out stuffed parathas, include a variety of vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, beet root and fruits like strawberry, banana etc. in their cakes and muffins.

6. Introduce rewards
Record every successful intake of vegetables in a reward chart and encourage every small victory with a prize (e.g stickers, bubble mixtures, finger paints, water colours, a new book or toy).

7. Role Play
Young kids love “pretend play”. Why not encourage them to become chefs for some time, run restaurants, cafe and supermarkets where they can serve healthy snacks.

8. Increase engagement & participation
In a safe environment, involve older children while cooking meals. Involve younger children making shopping lists and lead in grocery shopping. In this way you are helping them to learn to differentiate between good produce and unhealthy stuff. Stay away from the aisles selling candies, cakes, crisps, juices etc. Growing herbs & vegetables in your backyard and involving your child in gardening it can go a long way in encouraging your child to eat healthy produce.

9. Creative presentation leading to fun mealtimes
Making meal times a fun filled activity goes a long way in promoting healthy eating. Replicate the presentation of restaurant food at home. Children are enticed by creative plating of food. Creating their favourite characters like teddy’s, dinosaurs, cars with fruits and vegetables is time consuming, but worth the effort. Arrange play dates and picnics with other parents and provide healthy menus with vegetables as salads and soups.

10. Creative storytelling
“Talk” to your children about vegetables. Discuss its benefits. Girls from a very tender age become aware of their looks and admire all forms of beauty. Their world revolves around fairies, princesses & magic. Why not tell them an interesting story that eating vegetables will make them healthy and beautiful (e.g. Carrots are good for vision, spinach and green leafy vegetables for long hair etc.) Boys are packed with energy and talk to them about their superheroes eating healthy vegetables to stay strong. Why not create your own character for your kids? A “MangoMan” or “Princess of Brocolli” is not a bad thing if it gets your kids to think of veggies in a positive way.

There are no pre-set rules for healthy parenting. It is a journey which we all need to undertake. There will be days filled with joy and some with difficulties. Let’s try to give the best we can to our children.

All the best!

How to judge the goodness of a food?

Few weeks back I was having an interesting argument with my wife on which is a better fruit? The apple or the banana? She had a bunch of numbers on banana and I had a bunch on apple and we ended up with a classic problem of comparison and I remembered the old saying – “One cannot compare apples with oranges” (in this case bananas). There are so many nutrients that a healthy body needs so it is not easy to conclude which is important & which one is not. This argument threw a larger question in my mind – How can we can decide on the quality of the foods we eat? or how to judge the goodness of a food? based on what?

This set me out for the next few weeks in nomadic search for answers in books and of course the internet. I looked at many places and it took a while before I could find answers which broadly satisfied me. While there was always an inner debate as what are the parameters I should choose, I was able to list four items for now. I narrowed down the list based on criticality of the role played by the nutrient and the availability of the same in our foods. I believe this list will evolve with time but for now I want these listed for you to see.

Pomegranates & kiwi fruits on a white plate

The Fibre content in the foods we eat is a very important and an essential nutrient for our body. It helps in lowering the blood cholesterol level and also reduces the absorption of sugar. It also helps us feel fuller for longer time reduce our craving to eat more. It is also helpful in having regular bowel moment. So in short, more fibre rich foods you eat better it is for you. The good part is that most of the vegetables and fruits have a good amount of fibre but if you are keen on the best fibre rich foods out there then here is a list of foods which are rich in Fibre.

Antioxidants is the other factor which is very important for us as it helps reduce the ill effects of a crucial process called oxidation. Oxidation results in the release of villains called the Free Radicals. These free radicals are independent but unstable chemicals which could set off a series of chain reactions (the state called “oxidative stress”) eventually leading to damage or death of the cell. Antioxidants are our saviours in fighting these free radicals. Antioxidants immediately stop the oxidation process in the cell by removing the free radicals. Oxidative stress has been associated to many problems and diseases and hence foods which have a good amount of antioxidants are considered priceless for human health. Here is a list of foods rich in antioxidants.

Until recently Fat was considered a big bad word without exception. However, lot of research has been able to distinguish the Good fat from the bad fat. The saturated fat has continued to maintain its tag of “bad fat”(we could still eat it in moderation) but Trans fat is a big No-No and you have to find a way to completely avoid it. To make the matter worse, this bloody trans fat might probably be in your favorite cookies, donuts and so many other processed foods.

On the other hand, both monounsaturated fatty acids  and polyunsaturated fatty acids is considered to be very good for our body. Monounsaturated fatty acids are found in nuts and in the likes of Olive oil and healthy for the heart. The polyunsaturated fatty acids are of two types – Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids. Both are good for our health but Omega 3 is much more important and also we get a lot of Omega 6 but not so much of Omega 3.

Lets get to know Omega 3 better. Well, to start with there are 3 types of Omega 3 fatty acids – ALA, EPA and DHA and simply put we need DHA the most. ALA variant can be sourced from many plant-based options prominent being the Flaxseed. Our the body can convert the ALA variant it gets in to the DHA variant but it doesn’t do a good job of it and it gets worse as we age. For EPA and DHA, the primary source is the sea based algae and hence vegans and vegetarians will struggle to get it from their usual sources (non-vegetarians tend to get this from fish and salmon but these sources could have its bad influence on our health because of other undesirable ingredients). So given the importance of DHA variant of Omega 3 fatty acids for the body it is advisable to go for a natural vegan supplement to be consumed regularly.

Lastly I think Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load are too important a factor not to consider. Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of every food we eat which indicates the amount of raise it causes in our blood sugar (or blood glucose) levels. Higher the raise in blood sugar from a food, higher is its GI. When the blood sugar levels rise above normal, the body produce a hormone called Insulin to bring the sugar levels back to normal. The sugar that we consume on a daily basis is considered standard and has a value of 100. All others foods will have a lower value and this will range from 50 to 100. Higher the value, more glycemic the food is. It is worth noting that, unlike in schools where 100 is seen the perfect score to get, here it means it is bad for our body in most cases (except when we are in bad need of energy very quickly).

Glycemic Load (GL) is actually a better measure of the impact on the blood sugar as GI doesn’t take into account of the portion size of the food we take. So basically, GL of the food is derived by multiplying it’s GI with the Carbs it provides for a given portion size. So for example, Watermelon has a GI of 120 but a GL of 4 (for 120 grams) and on the other hand dried dates has a GI of 60 and a GL of 42 (for 60 grams). Here is a list of commonly eaten foods and its GI and GL for a given portion size.

Why GI and GL are important? Well, to put it crudely, if the blood sugar levels keep increasing regularly to very high levels and if this happens for a relatively long period then this could lead to a health condition called Diabetes. So, we should try to eat as foods with lower GI as much as possible.

 

Conclusion

So there you are. Fibre, antioxidants, good fat (esp. Omega 3 fatty acids) and Glycemic load are important aspects that should be considered when judging a food. Mind you not all foods score highly on all factors and as long as the foods you choose score highly on at least one factor (but doesn’t score too badly on others) then it is good enough. Mind you, this is not a definitive list as we still need to be mindful of nutrients like Protein, Vitamins & Minerals. If I do identify something which meets the above criteria then I will come back and update this article (for e.g. vitamin B12 might be able to make it to the list on its own). However, for now, the above gives you an idea and hence should help you to rethink on what you are eating right now and what positive changes you can bring to your diet.

 

Thanks you note

Thanks for reading this article and I am greatful for it. I would very much appreciate if you could let me know your views on this article. If you like this article please press the like button and share it with your friends and family. Let us do our bit to make a healthier and happier place.

Sharon Fruit and Japanese Persimmon Nutrition Value

Persimmon is one of the less known edible fruit which is now becoming popular due to its excellent taste and nutritional properties. Sharon fruit is a variation of Persimmon and in this article we will explore all aspects of this amazing fruit so that you can make it a regular part of your diet and also know Why you are doing so.
There are a number of different types of Persimmon out there and they can be broadly categorised into astringent and non-astringent type. Astringent type Persimmons cannot be eaten when the fruit is raw due to presence of a type of tannin which makes it bitter. The bitter taste fades off as the fruit ripens. 
 

Japanese Persimmon

Japanese Persimmon is one of the well-known variety of Persimmon. It’s lesser known real name is Diospyros kaki (Kaki). It is also known as Kaki Persimmon and Asian permission. It is sweet to taste with a soft to fibrous texture. Japanese persimmon is astringent type and hence it will only be fit to eat when it is ripened and attains crisp firm state. In fact, it is best for Japanese persimmons to be left for a while after harvesting to attain best possible taste.
 

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Sharon Fruit

Japanese Persimmon fruit which has got its astringent property removed is popularly known as Sharon Fruit. Sharon fruits are typically ripened off the tree by exposing them to carbon dioxide. The name of the fruit is mainly due to the fact that this variety of persimmon is grown in Sharon plain of Israel. The Sharon Fruit is also known as Korean Mango. The Sharon fruit has no core and seedless in nature. It is very popular for its sweet taste and it can be eaten whole.
 

Japanese Persimmon & Sharon Fruit – Differences and Similarity

Apart from the differences in astringent properties of these fruits, the other obvious difference between these two fruits is the size of the fruit. Sharon fruit is typically smaller in size compared to Japanese persimmon.
As both Japanese Persimmon and Sharon fruit are two slightly different types of the same fruit, there is not much difference between these two when it comes to nutrition provided by them. So the below section of this article will apply to both Japanese Persimmon and Sharon fruit alike. However, if there are any differences that are there between these two fruits which are of significance, they will be highlighted. 
 

Japanese Persimmon & Sharon Fruit – Basic Nutritional Information

Nutrients Quantity (Grams) % of RDA
Calories 70 g 3.5 %
Carbohydrates 19 g 6%
Sugar 13 g  
Fat ~ 0 NA
Cholesterol ~ 0 NA
Dietary Fiber 4 g 14 %
Protein 0.6 g 1 %
 

Japanese Persimmon & Sharon Fruit – Vitamins and Nutrients

Vitamins Quantity % of RDA
Vitamin A (RAE) 81 µg 9 %
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg 5 %
Vitamin C  7.5 mg 10 %
Vitamin K 2.6 µg 3.2 %
 

Japanese Persimmon & Sharon Fruit – Minerals

Minerals Quantity % of RDA
Calcium 8 mg 1%
Potassium 161 mg 4.5 %
Phosphorus 17 mg 1.7 %
Magnesium 8 mg 2.5 %
Iron 0.15 mg 1 %
 

 

Positives Aspects of Japanese Persimmon Nutrition Value (Sharon Fruit Nutrition Value)

Now let us look at what are the major positives of Persimmon. 
  • Japanese Persimmon is a Rich source of dietary fiber. It beats Apple in this aspect.
  • The fruit acts as a decent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C
  • It provides a varied type of minerals including Manganese, Potassium and Iron
  • Source of a variety of Anti-Oxidants
Now, let’s explore each of the above and their key benefits.
 

Rich Source of Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber is critical need for human body. It is prescribed that an adult human should have around 30 grams of dietary fiber every day. It is beyond the scope of this article to list the benefits of dietary fiber however the key benefits include lowering of cholesterol, reducing chances of high BP, Promote weight loss, reduces constipation among others. 
While Japanese persimmon is smaller in size compared it Apple, it beats the latter when it comes to the amount of dietary fiber this fruit contains. While a raw apple with skin provides 2.4 grams of dietary fiber for every 100 grams, persimmon provides 3.6 grams for the same 100grams and thus, a single persimmon alone contributes 10% of an average dietary fiber need for a day. 
 

Great source for essential Vitamins

Japanese Persimmon is great source of different vitamins which includes Vitamin A and Vitamin C and 100 grams of this fruit (one to two fruits based on the size) contributes 10% of both vitamins. Both of these Vitamin also act as Antioxidants and are both vital and beneficial for functioning of key organs of the human body.
  

Source of essential Minerals and Antioxidants

Japanese Persimmon is good source of different minerals including Manganese, Potassium and Iron.  Japanese Persimmon also supplies us with a good amount of essential antioxidants and hence contribute greatly to our health and well being.. 
 

 

Verdict

Japanese Persimmon is a lesser known fruit due to lack of its availability but has great taste and it can easily challenge well known fruit like Apple on its fiber content. It comes in variety of sizes and most of them are small enough to serve as a perfect evening snack. If your kid is not liking apple that much then look no further as Japanese Persimmon can act as a welcome fruit option.
 

Persimmon Recipes

Fruits and Vegetables have great amount of nutrition and it gets lost when it is processed. Hence I am not a great fan of cooking if the fruit or vegetable is good enough to be eaten raw. Japanese Persimmon is one such fruit which has an amazing taste and hence I suggest to have it raw as much as possible. However, if your taste buds are craving for more then you are welcome to try out these persimmon recipes.
 
Sources for this Article
 

Health Benefits Of Oatmeal Nutrition for Weight Loss

Given the success of oatmeal (which is porridge made of oats) it is a no brainer inclusion into our daily diet (the best benefit of oatmeal is derived when it is had as a breakfast regularly). However there are different versions of story around how healthy oatmeal is and hence there are quite a number of people asking this question – “is Oatmeal Healthy”? Well, if you are after a quick one line answer then I would say “Yes, It surely is”. However, if you are after details as why oatmeal is healthy and what are the actual benefits then do read on. This article on Health Benefits Of Oatmeal Nutrition for Weight Loss will make an honest attempt to explore key health benefits of oatmeal (and oats), in a concise way and hopefully clear main uncertainties around it.

Oats

Image by Farmanac being used here under creative commons licence

 

Oats Nutrition Breakdown

Oatmeal is made from Oats. Oats in its basic form is a whole grain food with high amount of fiber and packed with good amount of protein. It fits the bill for one of the best breakfasts as it keeps you full for long enough to keep you away from those high calorie sugary snack. Taking oatmeal once a day promotes great health by building good body, help in excess weight loss, building immune system and cutting down risks of diseases or ill health.  Its natural to ask what does oatmeal contain for it to contribute in so many ways? Well, oatmeal is made from oats which has some key ingredients which contribute to health. Below are the key components of oats which aid us in many ways

  1. Great Protein Source
  2. Good source of Anti-Oxidants
  3. High in soluble dietary fiber
  4. Good source insoluble dietary fiber
  5. Made up of best type of Carbohydrates, the complex carbohydrates
  6. Contains Phytonutrients and Beta Glucan

These above components bring in some key benefits which are essential for us to know. The below section will touch up on that in detail.

1. Great Protein Source

Oatmeal (oats) are one of the very good source of protein which is one of the most essential nutrients we need for healthy living. Quality of protein available in a food source is defined by the number and the amount of each essential amino acids (EAA) that get supplied by them. As most of our food items don't supply all the 9 EAAs in sufficient levels and hence they require us to eat other food items along with them to make up for the remaining EAAs. This is a critical problem for vegetarian as most of their diets provide an incomplete set of EAAs. On the contrary Oatmeal is a great food which provides all EAAs in suffiecient quantity and hence can be termed as a complete source of Protein.  

To add to this, we humans need roughly 1 gram of protein per kg of our weight and hence it’s essential to have diets which are strong source of protein. Oats is once such diet as it is said to contain nearly 16 grams of protein for 100 grams of oats. If you are a vegetarian, you cannot get a better bargain than this from any of the wholegrain foods.

2. Good source of Anti-oxidants

Oatmeal are also very good source for wide variety of anti-oxidants which have numerous key benefits. For example, Selenium is one such anti-oxidant which is present in oats is said to reduce the risk of Asthma.

3. High in Soluble Dietary Fiber

Importance of soluble dietary fiber is immense for a healthy living. Below are some key benefits.

  • Reduce bad cholesterol levels – Oatmeal contain good amount of soluble fiber which as they get digested will reduces absorption of cholesterol into blood stream and hence aids in reducing bad blood cholesterol (LDL) without affecting the good cholesterol (HDL). LDLs are one of the key contributors for cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks. If you are keen to know more on good and bad cholesterols here.
  • Reduces High Blood Pressure (High BP) – In health studies conducted in recent past, it has been observed that high pressure has been associated with low soluble fiber and protein intake. Hence soluble fiber in oatmeal can add to necessary fiber requirement and subsequently reducing high blood pressure or hypertension possibilities.
  • Promotes weight loss (indirectly) – The soluble fiber in oatmeal results in formation of gels. This gel formation ensures that the person feels fuller for a longer duration of time. This eliminating any need for an inter-meal snack which often tends to be a calorie rich. These snacks are one of the key reasons resulting in derailment of any weight loss plan being executed.

3. High in insoluble Dietary Fiber

Insoluble fiber also contributes heavily for healthy living and some of its key benefits are below.

  • Promote Bowel movements and reduces risk of constipation – Insoluble fiber as it enters the digestive system do not dissolve by its nature. In turn as they are spongy they tend to absorb water which is many times its weight. This promotes healthy bowel movement and reduces the risk of constipation. Due to its high water retention power it enables easy movement of waste through the digestive system.
  • Help keep optimal PH in intestines – Insoluble fiber also helps keep optimal PH levels in intestines which in turn help provide right ambience for healthy bacteria which are essential for our digestive system.

4. Made up of best type of Carbohydrates, the complex carbohydrates

One of the main reasons for weight gain is because our diet is loaded with a lot of refined products which provide a dose of simple carbohydrates. These simple carbohydrates tend to increase our blood sugar levels such that insulin will promote storing fat. The best way to avoid weight gain is by having more complex carbohydrates like oats. Hence having oatmeal as a regular part of your diet will have below benefits.

  • Stabilize blood sugar levels – Unlike simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates present in oats tend to spread the raise in blood sugar levels over a longer period of time. This helps in keeping a tab on insulin levels which plays a pivotal role in both preventing diabetics and weight gain.
  • Release energy at a steady pace – Due to the nature of carbohydrates, the digestion process is slow in nature and it takes time to release energy out of it. Scientific studies have been shown that regular consumption of oats alter metabolism positively to enhance performance when consumed 45 minutes to 1 hour before exercise.

Contains Phytonutrients & Beta Glucan

Oats also contain few special substances which add to the value of oatmeal as a food nutrient. Phytonutrients and Beta glucan are two such components.

  • Phytonutrients (phytochemicals) in researches have shown to processes ability to reduce the risk of different types of hormone related cancer, primarily breast cancer. However there are researches which have shown similar results, albeit on a smaller scale for other hormone related cancers like prostate, endometrial and ovarian cancer.
  • Beta Glucan present in oats is known as biological response modifiers (BRM) for their ability to enhance ability of our immune system. There are also some researches which strongly indicate positive influence in maintaining blood cholesterol levels.

 

Verdict

Simply put, oatmeal is one of the best wholegrain food out there. It should be part of regular diet of every individual as it has numerous benefits and this article only mentions few of them. Unlike in Wheat and Rice, oats contain a good balance of essential fatty acids, which have been linked with longevity and general good health. All of these great benefits makes oats one of the best food item to be incorporated into your diet.

 

References 

1.       Soluble fibre and Cholesterol reduction

2.       About Weight Loss, Reducing Cholesterol levels and Anti-Oxidants

3.       Impact of Soluble fibre on High Blood Pressure – An experimental study

4.       Benefits of Soluble/Insoluble fibre

5.       Insoluble fibre & digestive system

6.       More about Beta-Glucan

7.       Health benefits of Oats

Popcorn Nutritional Value

Popcorn is one of the most famous snacks all over the world. It is almost a "must have" in all shopping malls and cinema multiplexes. It is very tasty and has a great flavour which drag us towards it instantly. Given its done in a constrained manner, Popcorn is one of our recommended healthy snacks for any occasion. Why? Read on to know popcorn nutritional value.

popcorn

 

Popcorn Nutritional Value

Popcorn is a healthy wholegrain food and hence it is ideal for snacking between well timed balanced meals. It is generally filling in nature and has energy enhancing carbohydrates. In addition to its taste, it is the popcorn's nutritional value which makes it such a fantastic snack. It is a very good source of dietary fibre and protein. It is also known for its low sodium and sugar content.

Below is the table which details popcorn’s nutritional value.

Popcorn nutrition (30g)

Content Amount (Typical)
Calories 93
Calories from Fat 10
Carbohydrates 18.7g
Dietary Fibre 15g
Protein 3.1g
Iron 2.7mg
Cholesterol 0mg
Fat 1.1g
source – about.com

 

Antioxidants

Another nutritional benefit of popcorn is its high content of antioxidants, which not only protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, they can reduce risk of getting cancer and heart disease. Below is a list of such key ingredients in 100 grams of popcorn.

Popcorn Types & Calories

Content Amount (mg)
Iron 2.5
Phosphorus 2.8
Calcium 11
Thiamine (B1) 0.39
Riboflavin 0.12
Niacin 2.2
Sodium 2
source – buzzle.com

 

Word of caution!

Care should also be taken when giving popcorn to small children (typically below age of 4) due to chances of choking. Special type of popcorn has been developed with special "hullness".

Please note that it will be a grave mistake to group all available popcorn into a “healthy snack” bracket. Most commercially sold popcorns might have extra oil/sugar/butter added to add more flavour to popcorn. Popcorn, only when it is made using the minimal amount of correct ingredients, can be said to be healthy. Below is a table which gives examples of different type of popcorn and its estimated calories

Popcorn Types & Calories

Popcorn Type Calories (Typical)
Caramel popcorn with peanuts 230
Caramel popcorn 122.5
Cheese Popcorn 58
Oil Popped popcorn 55
Buttered Popcorn 40
Air Popped 31
source – buzzle.com

Summary

Based on the above table we can summerize below nutritional facts about popcorn.

Popcorn – things to remember

1. No cholesterol
2. Very low in saturated fat
3. Very low in sodium
4. Very low in sugar
5. High in dietary fibre
6. Good source of protein

 

Ragi Malt (Salty Hot)

Ragi Malt can be made sweet or salty (and hot). The sweet version is the most common version of Ragi Malt and click here to know how to make them. Salt version is slighly new and its not something I have come across but it does come out to be very tasty. This article details out step by step process to make this newer version of Ragi Malt.

Ragi Malt is famously known as poor man's health drink due to its nutritious value and affordability. It is also a very easy-to-make drink which is very filling in nature. For those of you who are switching towards a healthier lifestyle this is an ideal substitute for your coffee/tea or carbonated drink.



 

Ragi Malt – Short Facts

Aspect Fact
Dish Type Healthy Beverage
Time to Plate 15 (Minutes)
Nutritional Value High
Ingredients Originality Retained Most
Creativity Opportunity Medium

 

Ragi Malt – Ingredients

Item Amount Type Alternatives
Ragi Flour 1/2 Cup Main Ingredient
Salt 1 Table Spoon Main Ingredient
Green Chillies 2 Finely Chopped Main Ingredient Chilly Podwer/Red Chillies
Water 1 Cup, Luke warm Main Ingredient
Yougurt 3 Table Spoons Optional
Ginger 1/2 Table Spoons Optional

 

Ragi Malt – Step by Step Procedure

Step 1: Add small amounts of flour on to heating water accompanied with continuous stirring. Key again is to focus on smooth easy paste. Employ the method that best suits you.
Hint 1: It is essential to get a lump free liquid paste and hence slow careful mixing is essential.
Step 2: Mix yougurt (only if you are not alergic to it), choppied chilles, small amounts of ginger and a cup of water in a mixer or blender. Ensure that they mix well.
Step 4: Slowly mix yougurt soultion with Ragi solution and let them blend.
Step 5: Now add appropriate amount of salt and mix thoroughly.
Hint 2: (Its a known thing but I will state it anyway) Start with adding little quantities of salt and if its not enough add a bit more and try. Risk of adding extra salt is generally high.
Step 6: You can allow the drink to cool down if you want. The drink can be had either cold or hot.

Variations

1. Non sweet dry fruits (e.g. coarsely podwered roasted pistachio) can also be added to make it rich and tasty. Make sure you dont add too much of them.

Verdict

Ragi Malt is a very good health drink to get added as a part of your regular diet. This variation of the drink is also easy-to-make, tasty, nutritious food allows you to make and have them anytime. This drink comes with the added advantage of not using sugar. Replacing your coffee or tea with these would be the best thing to do.

Ragi Malt (Hot & Sweet)

I am guessing that you are here because you know how good Ragi (Finger Millet) is (if you dont know then check our Ragi Nutrition page). If you know good qualities of Ragi and want to explore some easy food items out of it then this article will tell you how to make a healthy drink made out of Ragi called Ragi Malt. If you fancy something more solid then check our Ragi Roti page.

Ragi Malt can be made sweet or salty and slighly hot. The sweet version is the most common version. This article details out step by step process to make sweet version of Ragi Malt which is one of the famous drinks in rural parts of south India. Salt version is slighly new and its not something I have come across. We will talk about it in a different article.

Ragi Malt is famously known as poor man’s health drink due to its nutritious value and affordability. It is also a very easy-to-make drink which is very filling in nature. For those of you who are switching towards a healthier lifestyle this is an ideal substitute for your coffee/tea or carbonated drink.



 

Ragi Malt – Short Facts

Aspect Fact
Dish Type Healthy Beverage
Time to Plate 15 (Minutes)
Nutritional Value High
Ingredients Originality Retained Most
Creativity Opportunity Medium

 

Ragi Malt Ingredients

 

Ragi Malt – Ingredients

Item Amount Type Alternatives
Ragi Flour 1/2 Cup Main Ingredient
Water 1 Cup Main Ingredient
Maple Syrup 3 spoonful Main Ingredient Jaggery/Brown Sugar
Almond/Soy Milk 1/4 Cup Optional Any
Cardamom Powder 1 Table Spoon Optional

 

Ragi Malt – Step by Step Procedure

Step 1: Take the Ragi flour in a cup and add small amounts of water slowly and mix them to get a smooth liquid solution.
Hint 1: It is essential to get a lump free liquid paste and hence slow careful mixing is essential.
Hint 2: However there are chances that lump will still get formed and in those cases attack each lump and break them and mix with watery paste (it might be easier to break the lumps with clean hands).
Hint 3: If you prefer you can also consider adding small amounts of flour on to heating water accompanied with continuous stirring. Key again is to focus on smooth easy paste. Employ the method that best suits you.
Step 2: Once the Ragi paste is ready keep it aside and start heating a glass of water in a different vessel.
Step 3: If you are not allergic you can also use suitable amount of milk instead of a water to enhance the taste.
Step 4: The water/milk mixture must be heated till it starts to boil.
Step 5: Now slowly add already prepared Ragi flour solution to boiling water/milk mixture accompanied with continuous stirring.
Step 6: Add a pinch of cardamom powder followed by suitable amount of sugar or jaggery depending on your comfort.
Step 7: Now heat must be reduced to low-medium and simmer the content for 4-5 minutes with periodic stirring.
Step 8: Turn off the stove after this.
Hint 4: Folks with electric heater/stove might have to amend the heat reduce/alter timings mentioned here as they tend to react slowly to changes you make and could ruin your drink.
Step 9: Let the drink cool down to your needs and hurray! the drink is ready to be served.

Variations

  1. Dry Fruits can also be added to make it rich. Make sure you dont add too much of them.

Sweet Ragi Malt

 

Verdict

Ragi Malt is a very good health drink to get added as a part of your regular diet. This easy-to-make, tasty, nutritious food allows you to make and have them anytime. Replacing your coffee or tea with these would be the best thing to do. However if you dont fancy sweeter version we have a salty-hot version which will be published soon.

Ragi Roti (Ragi Rotti)

You must be knowing how much value there is in Ragi (Finger Millet) and I guess hence you are here (if you dont know then check Ragi Nutrition). If you know good qualities of Ragi but dont know what you can do with it you are at the right place. There are couple of good food items out there which can be made out of Ragi. Two well known food items are Ragi Roti and Ragi Malt.

This article details out step by step process to make Ragi Roti (rotti) which is one of the most famous dishes in south India. This dish is not only delicious but also very easy to make. This can be made and eaten as a main course almost at any time of the day. They are so tasty that they will surely make you crave for more.

Ragi Rotti


 

Ragi Roti – Short Facts

Aspect Fact
Dish Type Main Course
Time to Plate 20 (Minutes)
Nutritional Value High
Ingredients Originality Retained Most
Creativity Opportunity Medium

 

Ragi Roti – Ingredients

Item Amount Type Alternatives
Ragi Flour 2 Cups Main Ingredient
Salt 1 Spoon Main Ingredient
Green Chillies 3 Finely Chopped Main Ingredient Chilly Podwer/Red Chillies
Water 1 Cup, Luke warm Main Ingredient
Cumin/Jeera 1 Spoon Optional
Onions 1 Finely Chopped Optional
Oilve Oil 3 Spoons Optional Sunflower Oil

 

Ragi Roti – Step by Step Procedure

Step 1: Add the Ragi flour, salt, jeera, oil, finely chopped onion and chillies into a bowl and mix well.
Step 2: Start adding little amounts of water at short intervals till you end up getting a soft dough.
Step 3: Take portions of dough and make them into round balls.
Hint 1: Let the size of the resulting dough ball be proportional to diameter of the pan. This round shape of the dough is to ease out spreading the dough on the pan.
Hint 2: Make as many dough balls as the numbers of Rotis you want. This will help reduce the time of preparation of each Rotis (and also those waiting stomachs).
Step 4: Take a frying pan add a spoon of oil as the coat on its base. (Note that pan is not yet ready for heating).
Step 5: Flatten the dough ball on the pan (clean hand can be used for this).
Hint 3: If you need the Roti to be thin and crisp then then spread dough thin all along the pan. This is only possible if you to get correct amount of dough.
Step 6: Make few holes in the flattened Roti if needed. This will help the steam to escape.
Hint 4: Start the stove on a medium flame and cover the pan with a lid if you have.
Step 7: Allow the dough to cook for few minutes. (You can make this out by change in colour of Roti and also smell).
Step 8: Once the Roti is cooked on one side You need not flip it over and cook the other side for few minutes. Typically give some 3-4 mins on first side and 2-3 mins on the second.
Step 9: Now the Roti is ready to be served. Take the Roti out of the pan using a spatula and directly serve if possible.
Hint 5: For the next Roti the Pan needs to be cooled so that you can spread the next dough ball without buring your yourself. For this you can use multiple pans if you have or pour some cold water on the pan after Roti is taken out.
Hint 6: Serve hot with different type of chutney, sauce or pickle and yogurt.

Variations

1. This dish also gives opportunity to be creative by allowing to add different type of vegetables along side onion. My choices are boiled peas (esp. butter peas), slighly fried capsicum, boiled corn.
2. Dry Fruits can also be added to make it rich. Make sure you dont add too much of them.
3. You can also add some rice flour along with Ragi flour to enhance/change the taste.

Verdict

Ragi Roti is a very good diet to have as a part of regular diet. This easy-to-make, tasty, nutritious food allows you to play around with ingredients to get different unique taste. Plain heating is the only processing we do and hence this is a better food as compared to some of the processed foods. So what are you waiting for? Get a pack of Ragi flour and get started.

Ragi Flour Nutritional Value and Health Benefits

Ragi is the common name of Finger Millet in Southern part of India (and known as Nachni in the northern part of India). Along with oats this is one of the most nutritious food and one of the easy one to to digest. It is rich in calcium and protein and also have good amount of iron and other minerals. It is low in fat most of which are unsaturated fats. As any other grains out there it has its shade of good and not so good aspects. Ragi or Nachni is often ground to a fine power and sold and popularly known as Ragi Flour. In this article we will put together all the details Ragi Flour’s Nutritional Value and Health Benefits and what ragi has to offer to us.

To start with we will look at the % share of content of Ragi, second, we will look at the quantity of minerals present and different amino acids present. We will then look at what are the over all health benefits of consuming Ragi or Nachni on a regular basis. Finally we will round it up with comparing Ragi flour to other grains like Wheat, Maize against key staple food ingredients. (check out our article on Health benefits of oatmeal nutrition for weight loss)

 

Ragi Flour Nutritional Value

In this below section depicts the in a typical content in 100 grams of Ragi Flour (edible portion, 12% moisture). Major portion of Ragi Flour is carbohydrate, followed by protein and fiber. It has the least amount of fat in them.

 

Ragi Flour Nutritional Value (Chart)

Content Amount (Typical) Amount (Range)
Carbohydrate 72.6 71.3 – 89.5
Protein 7.7 5.8 – 12.8
Fibre 3.6 3.5 – 3.9
Fat 1.3 1.3 – 2.7

Below is the pie chart which shows the split of above numbers.

Ragi Nutrition Split

Major portion of Ragi Flour is carbohydrate, around 80%. The Fat percentage is quite less which is good. Protein and fiber contents vary but range from less to moderate. 100 grams of Ragi has roughly on an average of 336 KCal of energy in them.

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Minerals

Below table shows typical amount of various minerals present in the Ragi Flour (to be referred as Ragi here after). As you can see in the table that Ragi has high amount of calcium. Calcium is one of the most important ingredients of our body and our daily need is around 350 mg. There are traces of Iron but rest of other minerals are very small.

Ragi Nutrition Chart (Minerals)

Mineral Content Amount
(Typical – mg)
Calcium 350
Iron 3.9
Niacin 1.1
Thiamin 0.42
Riboflavin 0.19

 

Amino Acids

Ragi also has some good number of Essential Amino Acids (EAA) which are essential for human body. Few of the key EAAs which Ragi has are Valine, Methionine, Isoleucine, Threonine and Tryptophan. Below section beiefly explains why these are essential for us

Valine is essential for repair of tissues, muscle coordination and metabolism and also help maintain balance of nitrogen in the body. It also help promote mental calmness and enhance maintain mental vigor.
Isoleucine is essential for ensuring blood formation, keeping a check on blood sugar levels. It also helps heal and repair muscle tissues, bones and skin.
Threonine helps maintain protein levels in the body. It also helps formation of tooth enamel, also prevents formation of fat in the liver.
Tryptophan which act as natural relaxant and help fight anxiety, depression and insomnia. They also help in treating migraine headaches. They reduce excess appetite and help control weight gain; they also release of growth harmones.
Methionoine which is a sulfur based amino acid which is essential for various activities in human body. It is said to help promote growth of healthy skin and hair. The Sulfur which we get from Methionine helps produce a substance called lecithin which helps reduce cholesterol, reduce fat inside the livers and help protect kidneys. This methionine is generally lacking in staple diet of some of the vegetarians and hence regular Ragi intake will help get enough of these amino acids.

Ragi Nutrition Chart (Amino Acids)

Amino Acids Content Amount
(mg/g of protein)
Leucine 594
Valine 413
Phenylalanin 325
Isoleucine 275
Threonine 263
Methionine 194
Tryptophan 191
Lysine 181
Cystine 163

 

Summary of Health Benefits of Ragi Flour

It is easy to get overwhelmed by so many numbers. What we are need to know is how good Ragi is and what health benefits we get by consuming it regularly. So below is a summary of these benefits.

  1. Promote Healthy Eating
  2. Promote Natural Weight Loss
  3. A good Vegan Gluten free source of Protein
  4. Acts as a good baby food due to its rich nutrient content
  5. Great whole grain source of Calcium

Ragi Vs Other Grains (Wheat, Maize, Brown Rice)

Now let us look at How Ragi fairs with other whole grains when it comes to key nutrient content. Below table shows how Ragi (finger millet) stands against other staple grains – Wheat, Maize and Brown Rice.

Ragi Nutrition Chart (Comparison)

Content (grams) Brown Rice Wheat Maize Ragi
Energy (KCal) 362 348 358 336
Carbohydrate 76 71 73 72.6
Protein 7.9 11.6 9.2 7.7
Fibre 1.0 2.0 2.8 3.6
Fat 2.7 2.0 4.6 1.5

We can make out from the chart that Protein content in Ragi is not on the higher side. It is least on Calories, Protein and Fat.

Ragi Nutrition Chart (Mineral Comparison)

Content (mgs) Brown Rice Wheat Maize Ragi
Calcium 33 30 26 350
Iron 1.8 3.5 2.7 3.9
Niacin 4.3 5.1 3.6 1.1
Thiamin 0.41 0.41 0.38 0.42
Riboflavin 0.04 0.1 0.2 0.19

Ragi has very high amount of calcium which are way more than others. The Ragi also have traces of Iron. Other minerals are not present in high numbers

 Verdict

Ragi is a very good to be included as a part of staple diet as it lot of essential nutrients, amino acids and minerals. Add to this is the fact that these have very low amount of fat content and reasonable amount of fibre.

While Ragi is indeed awesome but there is misconception that ragi is good for diabetes patients. As we know, this claim has no scientific basis and in fact it is known to be one of the easiest of the grains to digest. This means that the carbohydrates it has increases the sugar levels faster than other foods like oats.

Excess eating of Ragi could lead to Kidney stones and hence caution is required to ensure moderate eating. This article is a testament of goodness of ragi and including Ragi into diet plan for most people will help a lot.

 

References

1. Finger Millet basics from Wikipedia.org
2. Finger Millet Facts and statistics from blackherbals.com
3. Essential Amino Acids and its need from Realtime.net