SUPERFOODS AND SUPERFOOD RECIPES FOR YOUR CHILDREN AND YOU

SUPERFOODS AND SUPERFOOD RECIPES FOR YOUR CHILDREN AND YOU

Notice how the title made you make a beeline towards this article?

You owe this attraction to the growing claims about ‘immunity-boosting food’, ‘superfoods’ and the like. 

Living in the time we do, it is understandable to be worried about your family’s well-being, even more so if you’re the parent to a young one. 

But with all the stirring buzz about superfoods, you find yourself in a conundrum: to believe, or not to believe?

To deliver you from your (known or unknown) confusions, here is a shocking (for some) revelation about your favourite superfoods and what you can do instead of fuelling their reign:

How super is a superfood?

The term superfood is no novelty for any of us. But did you know that it is a relatively recent phenomenon? 

The term was coined in the early 1900s as a marketing gimmick to push the sales of bananas, the world’s first ‘superfood’. Trade groups funded research to back a major import of bananas. 

Many researchers and experts since have said that no such thing as a superfood exists. Putting all your faith (and money) in buying a certain food item as an end-all remedy is against science and, pardon the pertinence, beyond common sense.

Facts or Fiction?

Likewise, many food myths have cropped up since to boost sales of various food products. Such a deluge of misinformation is enough to make one doubt the claims on food labels and those made by trade-group funded research.

Let’s uncover some such myths and see what’s factual and what’s fictitious in the wide world of nutrition and immunity (which is a buzzword of its own in these times of health-ambiguity):

Claim 1- The more immune-boosting foods you consume, the healthier your immune system gets, and the better equipped it is to keep away diseases.

FICTION- Let’s begin by reiterating the age-old saying: too much of anything is harmful. And nothing rings true to this ancient piece of wisdom. 

It is a less-known fact that an overactive immune system (yes it’s possible to have one) is linked to diseases like lupus, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. It also causes the flaring up of allergic reactions.

Having a hyperactive immune system leads to its reacting against run-of-the-mill substances in and around your body.

ADVICE- Having a hyperactive immune system as you’ve seen, isn’t ideal. What’s required is an optimal immune system which does its job just enough to keep infections and pathogens at bay. 

It does not mean that you will not fall sick. A healthy immune system means having fevers and a runny nose at times, which is necessary to expel irritants from your nose and to kill germs that invade your body by raising its core temperature.

Claim 2: Taking supplements of immunity-boosting nutrients is healthier (or) supplements are mandatory to fulfil your daily nutritional requirements

FICTION- It has become a general belief that supplements are indispensable to have good health and to fulfil daily nutritional requirements. But this is a myth too.

ADVICE- A balanced diet provides the right nutrients in the right amount. Supplements are only required by those who follow vegetarian or vegan diets, or by persons suffering from nutrient deficiencies caused by a lack of particular nutrients in their diet.

Taking supplements is not necessary if you have good food habits. They can often do more harm than good if taken without prescriptions.

Moreover, taking too much of a nutrient or vitamin can also be problematic. Once again, practise moderation and do not DIY in matters as such.

Claim 3: Exotic foods claimed to be superfoods are better than local fruits and seasonal vegetables as they are more nutrient-dense

FICTION- Yes folks, it’s true this also a false fact shoved down our throats to boost sales of certain imported (and expensive) food items. It is not necessary that you consume chia seeds or cranberries because they have a higher concentration of a certain nutrient you want. 

ADVICE- Locally grown fruits and veg, preferably seasonal are more beneficial for the body than any imported or exotic food. This is because the food sourced from local regions has adapted to its current form after thousands of years of evolving in the region. It provides a better combination of nutrients than exotic food, depending on the season. 

Moreover, it provides a boost to the local economy and is not pricey, owing to the lack of import duty. So, instead of a cherry, eat an Indian gooseberry (or amla) when you need a boost of Vitamin C next time.

Claim 4: Instead of having a range of healthy food, one can have a few nutrient-dense foods instead

FICTION- This is what marketers and superfood PR strategists want you to believe. The truth remains that nothing is better than having a balanced diet, and eating a selective diet can lead your body to over-consumption of particular nutrients, which is counter-productive.

ADVICE- Your body requires an array of nutrients and ideally from varied sources. Not eating a balanced diet is an invitation to infections and diseases as every nutrient has its role in maintaining bodily functions going smooth and co-ordinated. 

So, the takeaway here is that you need a balanced diet, lest your bodily functions get impaired, and you become prone to diseases.

Claim 5- Certain foods act as medicine

FICTION- The fact still remains. Every nutrient present in food plays a role in maintaining a body-function. No particular food item or nutrient can ‘cure’ your ailment.

ADVICE- The easiest way to say this has been already covered: a balanced diet. Eat a varied diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and you can prevent diseases. The cure? Well, what’re the medical experts for?

EASY KID-FRIENDLY RECIPE OPTIONS FOR WINTER FESTIVITIES

As a bonus, we are offering you a few recipes for your kids and you.

They’re easy enough and made of winter-friendly ingredients.

1. Nuts and seeds Laddoos

Festivity Delights with some Laddoos made of Nuts and seeds. Happy Culinary Celebrations!

SERVING SUGGESTION- Ditch your store-bought, sugar-loaded laddoos for Nuts and seeds ladoos this Diwali. 

Made with pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds and flax seeds and nuts like almonds, cashew and walnuts, it provides Omega-3 fats, minerals like magnesium and phosphorus and small amounts of protein.

Additionally, using jaggery and/or honey as a sweetener instead of sugar leads to a guilt-free gorge session!

2. Chatpata Bhel with Berries

Festivity Delights with some Chatpata Bhel & berries. Happy Culinary Celebrations!

SERVING SUGGESTION- Instead of namkeen, you can make bhel at home and add the goodness of berries (increasing the daily fruit intake of your family. Well, aren’t you the sneak!)

Just like an ordinary homemade bhel, you can add sprouted pulses and beans, sprouted or fermented millets and berries with a dash of lime juice on the top. Don’t forget to add berries like pomegranate seeds to give the sweet kick!

This makes for a healthier alternative to fried food, keeping you and your kids away from trans fats and polyunsaturated fats. Also, it is wonderfully easy to make and not to mention, delicious!

3. Leafy Vegetables

Festivity Delights with some leafy greens- Palak paneer. Happy Culinary Celebrations!

SERVING SUGGESTION- For dinner, you can easily whip up some Palak Paneer, or a Punjabi classic, Sarso da Saag. You can also make kale crisps in the microwave or incorporate them in fried rice. If not, you can make a Palak-ki-daal and serve it with buttery naans. 

After all, winter is the time for indulgence too!

Remember to practise moderation and try not to turn your Diwali and Christmas celebrations into a fest of your nutrition anxieties. It is okay to binge on delicacies sometimes if you strike a balance.

You and your kids deserve a healthy life and its reinforcement begins at home. Inculcating these habits goes a long way in your child’s life, and although they make faces when you make them eat their veggies, you know they’ll thank you one day!

Don’t forget to fact-check marketing claims on your next grocery run. 
Be a responsible consumer, a mindful parent, and a happy person!
Happy Celebrations!

As a parting gift, here is a reading list you might want to go through:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/what-can-you-do-to-improve-your-immune-system

https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2018/10/26/superfood

https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/boost-immune-system#2

https://factsforlife.org/05/2.html

https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2017/11/20/blueberries-healthy

Effective Routine, Explore, and Experiment

‘The 3Es for the Higher Education Segment’

The need for the Higher Education segment to adapt to the changing world scenario due to the novel coronavirus is way greater than what we have discussed with regard to pre-schooling and primary schooling. This greater need arises from a relatively rigid and demanding curriculum and associated worry for quality grades, increased pressure to manage studies from home, adapting to the online mode of classes after years of experience with in-person learning at institutions. All this results in mental pressure, anxiety, lack of motivation, and decreased productivity.

If you are a student who can connect to these feelings or a parent reading whose child might be having a tough time adapting to the changing education environment, we want to take a moment to assure you this is normal and the way you are feeling is genuine, we are all together in this!

Unprecedented times bring unprecedented challenges, and that’s how innovation is born. Where the hard time is presenting us with challenges even with routine activities, it is also an opportunity to innovate and experiment. The core truth in this situation is that it’s going to take time, and uncertainty is going to prevail for the time being. But there are always some ways we can think of to make things easier for us to adapt and enrich the learning experience ‘at one’s own pace’, isn’t it?

Making the Routine Effective 

  • A good and consistent sleep routine, often ignored by older students, is the key to good health and ensures a better mental and productive state. A body that has had a restful night’s sleep is way more ready than a body that has pulled an all-nighter of binge-watching to take on the new day.  
  • Attention span issues are common with distractions around. And we would say, don’t say a strict no to distractions like social media, instead make time for them. If studying two hours on a stretch is posing to be a challenge, then instead try experimenting with smaller studying sessions. Try studying for 45 minutes after which you give yourself a 20 minutes’ break. You can use this break time to enjoy all that you want. But keep it to the ‘break-time’ only. Similarly, resist the desire to complete a Netflix show in a single-day and instead reward yourself with one episode a day, maybe with a meal or later towards the end of your workday. 
  • You can also try ‘focus music’ in the background with apps like Headspace while studying if it fits you. Try making a concise to-do-list (‘to-accomplish-list’, much better!) every day and start by taking small steps. After all, only those who are strong enough to take small steps when times are tough can brave enough to take the leap!
  • Build a habit! Personally, this is what I practice. Whenever I have a hard time keeping up with my routine or rituals, I try incorporating a new thing or a new activity to my routine or rituals. So now I have something to take along in parallel, and the likelihood of me managing both increases! Reading a book, a new form of workout, meditation, it could be anything.  
  • Take a day off! Being at home has also blurred the lines between weekdays and weekends. After a week of work, we all deserve one day off and indulge in some recreation or simply sit back and relax. Spend time with your family, get on a video call with your friends, play with your pet! 
  • Take it easy. We are often drawn to thoughts ‘no one will understand’ and resist sharing our problems and feelings. In case, if something is not working out for you, seek help, from your parents, your siblings, friends, teachers. And sometimes we don’t even need a solution, all we need to do to make things better is just talk it out with someone or free-write all the feelings or indulge in something we like doing, to allow the inspired actions to flow in. Don’t worry, it will all be fine!

Explore and Experiment 

This is a perfect time to explore your interest and delve deeper into various career opportunities as the market needs change after the global crisis.

Various global platforms are standing in support of students by providing free courses*. Even certifications and forms of vocation that might cost some amount are worth exploring as they add to the students’ learning curve and aid in realizing what they are drawn to, their ‘calling’. Webinars led by industry leaders and professors of reputed universities can broaden their perspective and give direction in their field of interest.

Also, if you are passionate about some form of art like music, dance, craft, writing, or any other sphere, now is the time to devote some. Incorporate them in your routine, dedicate some time and energy, learn more, and you can even consider sharing what you learn, which is easier than ever as the world functions online! Make a move! If it works, fabulous, and if it doesn’t, we can always keep learning and working! Whatever you will do in this phase, will add to your experience, and that’s the best thing one can gain.

And once again, a gentle reminder, we are all together in this, and it will all be fine!

*Links to a few online resources that might help and interest you,

  1. Harvard University 
    https://online-learning.harvard.edu/catalog/free 
  2. Coursera
    https://www.coursera.org/courses?query=free
  3. edX
    https://www.edx.org/

Be blessed!

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE PRIMARY STAGE CHILDREN?

India has made remarkable progress in access to enrolment & schooling at the primary education stage.  The role of primary education (grades 1-5 in India) is to develop the cognitive, emotional, physical, cultural, and social skills of children. The academic subjects taught are mathematics, science, history, geography, and social sciences.

For primary stages, virtual learning was never explored. But the current pandemic has made it the need of the hour. Due to the current public health worries and to contain the spread of virus, educational institutions moved online, some yet to achieve for all the grades. As per a UNESCO report, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected more than 157 crore students across 191 countries.  In India alone, the number is more than 32 crore students who have been affected by the lockdown.  Nearly 1/5th of the world’s numbers.

Parents’ concerns about their children’s academic year and how to prepare their children for the next level/next grade during this period is genuine. Another group is that of the teaching staff where some teachers are working remotely from their educational centers and some imparting knowledge virtually aiding children in adapting to the new mode of education seamlessly. Furthermore, our children-the virtual learners are coping up in the transition phase too, adapting both socially and academically. So, virtual learning & teaching is a bit challenging & demanding for all- parents, teachers, and children. The shift towards virtual learning ensures a shift towards cooperative and guided learning as opposed to the routine learning of the classroom. Teachers can guide the parents about various assignments, important notices through calls or emails or WhatsApp or virtual tours, etc. Parents can guide & help the children in independent learning by teaching them how to navigate the school portals, respond during the virtual classes, access study materials, and upload assignments.

One line: We (parents, teachers, and children) are all adapting collectively, so co-operating in co-creation with one another can help us emerge magnificently.

For improved learning, a calendar based list of activities prepared with the help of teachers (or any parenting expert) for the children is a great approach.  This will ensure school readiness and sustain early learning of children at home. Also, refer to our blog on the duration of study and the importance of brain breaks here.

To engage the children usefully ‘National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)’ has come up with an alternative academic calendar. This calendar guides the teachers on the use of social media and technology tools available for education in interesting and fun-filled ways.  The calendar also guides the parents and advises the teachers through mobile phones where there is no internet connectivity.  The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) together with NCERT, has launched e-Pathshala online portal and mobile app for students to understand the NCERT chapters.

Besides academic studies:

Children in the primary stage need stimulating and engaging activities. There are plenty of DIY art projects available online for children that help bust boredom for good, giving a fun twist to learning which keeps them engaged and entertained for hours. When studies get too much, children can download coloring sheets for coloring. A number of videos available online teach origami, navigational charts, and mosaic painting. However, parents may make the best out of this situation by using this time to make their kids play independently with blocks, Legos, solving puzzles, Sudoku, coloring, etc., anything to keep kids engaged for longer duration productively.

Safety skills are essential at this age, and this time can be used perfectly to learn some of these.  Children can learn to write their full name, address, and phone number, make calls on emergency numbers. Children can learn to identify money denomination and how to handle and manage money. Allow your children to help you with simple household and cleaning chores, and activities like cold cooking. Also, activities like reading (e-books and storybooks), listening to audio stories, writing (letters, poems, stories), dancing, exercising, meditating, playing with board games, Legos, blocks, and puzzles can be a great way to combine learning with fun. Communication with friends, classmates, and teachers is a good way to keep the children involved and in reassuring them that it will all be fine and everyone is together in this!

At a time like this, when we are all confined within the walls, virtual field trips are the best way to absorb different cultures and feast the eyes on some fine arts. Visit the museums in India such as the National Museum, New Delhi, Indian Museum, Kolkata, Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, and even the world’s largest museums via the internet.

Children can learn all about genetics, archaeology, or astronomy in the most entertaining way through the Ology science website. Learning about space and other planets becomes more fun with the Discovery center of space learning. There are some brilliant educational websites for children like National Geographic kids, STEM works, Exploratorium, how stuff works, science buddies, and many more. Early childhood coding can also be initiated for primary stage children and enrolling them to live online coding classes by WhiteHat Jr can be considered. Learning how to code is helpful in developing abstract thinking.

To prepare the child to be independent, teaching life skills is not only important for self-sufficiency and self-care but also a vital step towards developing healthy self-esteem and a sense of empowerment.  Age-appropriate skills will help the child from preschool until they complete high school.

Every parent and teacher now understand that every child is different from one another.  So, some children may easily adapt and adjust to the new learning environment; others may find it difficult.  It is essential to devise a customized learning format for the child to make it work constructively.  We need to allow our children to grow through this situation at ‘their own pace’, and a supportive environment built together by schools, teachers, parents, and friends can be a foundation towards personalized learning, helping them sail through the present unprecedented times.

Happy parenting and happy schooling! 

No Normal

No Normal‘ a new and a startling phrase…

Dr Graeme Codrington in an interview with the ‘Asia Professional Speakers Convention‘ sheds light on what to expect in the near future, as the global Covid-19 pandemic will subdue, leaving the world economy in a reset mode.  

Dr Graeme Codrington is a futurist, digging deeper into scenarios, and analysing trends to anticipate the future, to help us prepare to combat threats and adapt to the changes efficiently. On being asked about how long the pandemic is going to last, basing the answer on historical accounts of previous pandemics, he expects the COVID-19 pandemic to last around 2-3 years after which the community can be expected to build herd immunity. But in the worst-case scenario, it might extend to 5-10 years. 

Rebutting the commonly used phrase ‘the new normal’, he highlights that there will be ‘No Normal’. He highlights that ultimately we will be living with deep disruption affecting all spheres of life and business.

When asked about the impact on the community, especially that of speakers, coaches, and trainers, he brings out the positives of the situation. He highlights how the ‘have to’ situations have made us learn and adapt inevitably. Most of the online services and the usage of advanced technologies should be seen as an enhanced reach that can possibly continue in the future.  The key takeaway from his interview was that the current scenario is all about recognizing all possible choices to extend services online and work upon the technique, style, and content to adapt to the ‘new default setting’ where people would want to avoid physical contact. 

Key Highlights:

  • Complaining about government regulations unless the global Covid-19 pandemic subdues would not be useful. Instead, keeping a positive attitude and a problem-solving approach would serve us. Our choices will ultimately shape us and our environment.
  • Not to panic, just a lot of preparation because there is going to be a change in the way we will now engage with the world around us.
  • Post Covid-19, there would be an exponential rise in the digitisation of businesses fuelling innovations in healthcare, online education, almost all across the board. 
  • Hope is not a strategy. Look at what’s probable and plan accordingly. 
  • The balance between fear and confidence will shape the future of businesses and our community as a whole. 
  • Spend lockdown time not just to enhance technology, but also your style and technique of delivering or imparting knowledge; taking it as an opportunity.

Personal reflections on the New Normal – Part 2

Hello! Here, in this blog, you would get to know me better, my likes and dislikes, and a few uplifting words/phrases for you and me to munch on.

We begin with an acrostic poem which briefs us of the term ‘NEW NORMAL’.

Researchers say that a new activity takes 50 to 70 days to become a habit. In the first 21 days, the brain starts firing a new neural pathway, and the more often we repeat an activity, the more we begin internalizing it as a daily habit.  We did get 50-70 days, over the four phases of the lockdown in India. Let us not break the new healthy habits. New normal after the fourth phase is the time to reflect and see how much we have internalized what we practised during the past four phases.

And now my reflections on what my new normal would be – work-life, habits and routines I’d like to stay with, after having experimented with a mix & match of what felt good to do and what not, especially in the past three months.

Things that I have been practising since 2018 & would continue doing the rest of my life are mediation, gratitude journaling, writing or singing affirmations, practising mindfulness, eating frequent moderate meals.

Below is a list of things which I did for the first time out of nowhere and a few which I carried out more intentionally during the last three months:

  1. I am a person who’d not cook as an everyday chore. I was more in the kitchen at this time around. Many a times trying out new dishes. It actually worked as a therapy for me. I also listened to inspirational Karen Drucker and Tina Turner’s song to add positive vibes to the meal preparation time. Their songs are affirmation based or mantra chants. I’d love to try out new dishes more often in an ethereal way… Below is a collage of a few new food items, I made:



  2. Uncertainties of the time brought me to write more blogs for my website- She Narrates, more than ever before. I would keep at it as my new normal now. You would get to hear more often from me now. I made more posts public during this period. I was also sharing posts on Instagram from shenarrates.in handle more often, either musings or acrostic poems. Earlier I was writing as a hobby only, or I would write and not make posts public because I was somewhere not embracing my vulnerabilities of going public. I am a self-trained-extrovert person trying to shun my introvert nature. It is not natural to me, but I am getting better day by day. Cheers!

  3. I will be working from home until my son’s school reopens in September. Earlier, my son used to stay in day-care when I was out for work. The lockdown period saw me sitting with my son for his virtual classes, and it felt so good. Now, he is attending summer camp, and we are making craft-work memories together. He has made a few car models and contraptions. I’d continue with this practice rather than sitting with him only on weekends.
    Here is a collage of a few activities of my little one:

4. Take a nature walk daily. Be it for 5 minutes or 20 minutes. Observe nature mindfully using all the senses- sights, smells, shapes, textures, sounds. Listening to the birdsongs, watching shapes of clouds and greenery all around is actually uplifting.

5. Exercise at least 30 minutes 6 days a week and swing my body and free dance (Qoya dance) for body flexibility and stamina. I have become a regular with Qoya dance now. Yay!

6. My family and I were eating healthy most of the time. We are choosing to keep at it forever now, with cheat meals once a week maybe!

7. Sanitizing of groceries, washing hands frequently, increasing fluid intakes, wearing a mask whenever I step out of the house, returning to our Namaste culture of greeting people, maintaining a safe hand-distance in public, calling friends and family once a week. Most of these things are indispensable, to live with the new virus and might be followed by all.

8. Changing the look and feel of my workstation helped me look at things with different perspectives – in a positive way, of course. We all had the spikes of fearsome thoughts come and go, isn’t it?

9. I was also switching off the phone two hours before going to bed and check WhatsApp, Facebook and LinkedIn after 10:00 am only- simply to be more present with family and at work. I’d maintain that as well.

10. Panic of grocery buying got me to declutter seriously and more purposefully. I had decluttered the kitchen and made an inventory of necessary things. Still, I could feel the extras of everything in my life. We were in a position to give away the extras to those who needed them.

11. Cosmic Writing was something new for me. I had never done this sort of writing before; this was the first form of journaling activity I picked up to get back to writing. I gave myself a 21-days challenge for this as a beginning for my writing spirit. I have discussed this in a separate blog. Coming up here.

Things that I would like to cut down on or eliminate are:

  1. Eating outside every Sunday: This had become our Sundays’ ritual. My family is cutting down on this purposely.
  2. Junk foods: We are considering less-junk and canned foods. We may keep cheat meals; otherwise, it would be like going too harsh at one go.
  3. Social media: Cut back on social media time and frequency of visits. Use social media more purposely.
  4. Screen time: less screen time, less watching TV for all.
  5. News: I’d refrain from watching the news all the time.

Uplifting Phrases or Words that kept me going are:

  1. Treating the quarantine period as the ‘Gift of time’,
  2. Taking the ‘leap of faith’,
  3. Reviving of the new (Reawakening),
  4. The word ‘discipline’ changed to ‘orchestration‘ for me,
  5. Slowing down helps in increasing the number of productive hours, and it was much relatable at this time for me.

I hope the above reflections may help you in making your list. Please feel free to share which new habits would you like to keep, in the comment section below.

Thank you! Stay happy, calm and healthy!