Tiffin Tales

With mothers getting innovative, lunch boxes take on a healthier avatar

A handful of dry fruits and a bowl of sprouts at 9.30 am, followed by chapatis made of soyabean flour and a sabji around 12.30 pm sounds like a weight-watching 25-year-old's diet plan? Here's news for you: This is what six-year-old Kinjal Panchal takes in her tiffin box to school. Kinjal is no exception. Mothers of toddlers and adolescents alike are making sure they match up to their child's nutritional needs while keeping the food tasty and appetising.

Kinjal's mother Sheetal Panchal says school authorities are also keeping a tab on what children bring in their lunch boxes since at least two meals of the day are now eaten in school. She believes it is her job to add a dash of variety to the prescribed menu so that Kinjal does not get bored. "My daughter drinks very little water so fruits such as figs help. Sometimes, I pack some traditional dishes such as sheera (halwa). At other times, I make mixed-veg paranthas and chapatis with soyabean and Bengal gram flour mixed together in the dough. I also combine leafy vegetables with potatoes so that Kinjal enjoys it while getting all the nutrients from the green leaves," she says.

Girish Kulkarni, administrative officer at Podar International School, where Kinjal is a student, says junk food is not allowed in the school. "On Saturdays, four out of six periods are for sports so we ask students to bring fruits on that day," he adds. Rashmi Korde, mother of a five-year-old girl, says it is tempting to pack some food bought from the market because it is both easily available and eagerly gorged on. But, Korde is willing to go the extra mile and make home food exciting. "Kids love eating attractive food so that's what I serve my daughter. Children also play a lot during recess so I pack some fruit juice or a whole fruit that is easy to have, and a quick energy supplier," she says. Giving a thumbs up to parents who are conscious about their child's diet, nutritionist and food writer Rita Date says, "Tiffins are very important. They should contain fibres and proteins. There should be no maida because it is unbleached flour that contains chemicals causing diabetes at an early age."

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