What will you find in this post?
- 12 practical and easy breakfast ideas for (working) moms – Link to download breakfast ideas chart (pdf copy)
- Brief discussion about Genetically Modified Crops (GMO)
- 5 Finger Rule & Tips to Indian meal planning
I am going to split the post as STAR – Situation Task Action Result
One item that I find in every home is a box of cereal. It is the most common breakfast served in almost every household that I know. I did it too. Yes! But not any more. I hate to see it in my pantry but as a working mom it is one of the easiest food to serve in the morning. I started with sugar laden cereals in 2009 and now we eat Cherrios (non-sugary one).
As a kid, I remember eating Kelloggs corn cereal. It is mildly sweet but my mom would add milk, sugar and banana to it. She served it in a huge bowl. Yes, literally the size of American football and we ate it thinking that it is more healthy thing ever. Now understand why I was super excited at school. It was all because of the sugar. Gladly it worked the right way for me. Fast forward to 2015, I am better informed.
There are a group of crops that are genetically modified. They are called Genetically Modified Crops (GMO). The scientist changed their genetic makeup to increase food production and make them more nutritious. However the science world is now concerned about the safety of genetically modified crops. Since new genes are introduced into the crops, they may contain allergenic substances and they have used antibiotic resistant genes which could lead to production of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains that are resistant to available antibiotics. This could lead to serious health problems in the society. Imagine the antibiotic which you take for your cold doesn’t really work because it has become resistant to that particular antibiotic. The problems are umimaginable. There is also evidence that GMO crops might contain toxic chemicals in it. More information can be obtained from this article .
For the record none of the cereals brand claim to be genetically modified GMO-free or made with organic ingredients. Breakfast cereals made with the GM corn may turn out to be a threat to human health but that needs further research to confirm. When they say natural in the box, it is not organic or GMO-free. Please remember that. These genetically modified crops might cause a ripple effect from one generation to another. Let’s not get to much into that.
Many inflammatory diseases have unknown causes but many feel better after eating real foods avoiding GMO, dairy and gluten. Did you notice that life is better if we go back to basics? No more food from factory. Eat real food from the farmer’s market, make our bread from flour that are non-GMO.
Now that we discussed the situation about why the current store bought food is not a great option.
Next is the task. The task now is share my meal planning ideas with you.
My take home point is trust locally grown organic produce and follow my 5 FINGER RULE – THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND FOR OUR MEALS:
- Use less sugar (even if it is natural sweeteners (honey, palm sugar and jaggery))
- Whole Grains
- Portion controlled meals.
Take a look at our typical Indian breakfast dish like idli, dokla, dosa,upma,paratha. It will perfectly fit 5 Finger Rule.
As a working mom, the easiest option is to make oats, mini idli, dosa, poha upma, multigrain porridge and toast. My kid’s bowel movement is better on days they are on rice based diet. They are not allergic to gluten but they do better. So I sprinkle bread with whole wheat here and there during the week. My son gets to eat mildly sweetened cereal like Nature’s Path (non-GMO project verified) with fruits and nuts.
I compiled a list of common breakfast I serve for my family. We are set with a routine. I leave home around 7:30 am and rest of them leave around 08:30 am. My kids wake up around 07.00 AM. I give them their milk between 07:14-07:30 am. They spend the next 30-45 minutes to finish breakfast. My poor husband and all he says in that 45 minutes is “Baby, swallow”. Kids are sleepy and they don’t feel like eating anything in the morning. My kids are no different. Oats is the most easily finished breakfast followed by pongal, dalia and lastly dosa, paratha and toast. My pediatrician recommends whole milk for both my kids so they drink about 6-8oz whole milk morning and evening. Some parents will like to serve fresh fruit juice like watermelon, orange and pineapple. I don’t do that as it is packed with sugar. Even though it is real sugar, it is a lot at one go. Instead I encourage to the whole fruit and if you notice, we will not even finish more than ½ cup. Do note that eating entire fruit will add more fiber to your diet.
This list complied after 2 years of testing and re-testing with my family. We grew from 3 member family to four member family in the last 2 years J I make the basic dishes for breakfast during the week and ofcourse during the weekend, I make appam, idhiyappam, paniyaram, poori and other Indian delicacies. All the dishes take about 20 minutes to make. I wake up 1 hour before the kids. That gives me the time to get ready, pack lunch and keep things under control. I also have my cook aunty come one day a week for 2 hours. She makes paratha, roti and few subzi and also helps with laundry and dishes. That is how I am managing everything.
12 Practical Breakfast Ideas for (Working) Moms
- Cooked old fashioned oats: I buy old fashioned oats is 100% whole grain and all varities of oats is made of uknown grain. They are called oat groat. There are steel cut, rolled, old fashioned, quick cooking and instant oats. Oat groats are roasted like how rice is done to make flattened (aval) or puffed (pori). The heat inactivates the enzymes that cause oats to go rancid. The removal of moisture from the grain increases it shelf life. I serve it three ways for my kids – Lion, Car and Spider (click on each word to see the way I plated them). I cook oats in bulk for the week. All I do it reheat it in microwave and grind them to a smooth puree so my kids can eat it easily. My husband and I eat it with fruits and nuts all mixed together with milk. We try to avoid sweet so add salt per taste along with milk (soy milk, almond milk or cow’s milk). You can also any natural sweetener. It takes 15 minutes to put them together.
- Idli: I am true blue Madrasi (yeah lol!) and my week is incomplete without a tub of idli/dosa batter(recipe here). It is a fermented food. Yogurt is another example of fermented and it is known to fuill our intestine with good bacteria. Every food expert in this whole sweet world is talking about fermented food when we Indian made it centuries ago. The gut is the largest part of our immune system and fermented food heals the damage caused in the gut by processed food. Like Idli/Dosa to Indians, there is Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) to Germans, Kombucha (fermented black/green teas) to Chinese , Miso and Tempeh to Japanese (fermented soy beans) and Kimchi to Koreans, Kefir to Bulgarians. I serve idlies with chutney or idli podi or sambhar. My kids eat it with yogurt and left over beans/carrot or any vegetable poriyal along with idli podi. Left over can also be served as snack in the evening. The same applies to Dhokla. It takes 15 minutes to make idli and the breakfast is set within 20 minutes as I have left over sambhar or idli podi in hand. You can also make quick chutney in the mean time as the idli is steaming. I will also pack this as lunch on some days.
- Multi grain porridge (sathumaavu kanji): Mix 3 tablespoon flour with 1 cup water to form a paste without any lumps. Cook in medium heat until it bubbles and raw smell disappears. Add milk (soy milk, almond milk or cow’s milk) and salt/sweetener. You can add finely chopped nuts. I serve one cup of the kanji with 1 boiled or scrambled egg. It takes less than 15 minutes to make this breakfast.
- Multigrain (Egg) Dosa: Make mini dosas with batter by mixing multigrain flours, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and salt. It will be like pancakes. My son eats 2 dosas, about 3.5 cm radius (size of your palm). Serve 2 mini egg dosa with idli podi. It takes 20 minutes for me to make 6 dosas for all of us. Pick a small container of dosa batter from Indian grocery store and mix 1/4 cup dosa batter with little bit soy flour + sathumaavu health mix ( mannah brand) + 2 tablespoon urad dahl powder or eggs to bind them together + any whole grain flour or nut flour of your choice. You can make multigrain dosa but each time change the toppings – murungai keerai (malangai leaves)-cabbage; beets-zucchini orcarrots and cauliflower. Serve it with a drizzle of sesame oil and paruppu podi or cilantro thokku.
- Energy Ladoo (recipe below) + 1 Small Egg Dosa + Grated Vegetable: I make a energy ladoo with all possible nuts, seeds and dry fruits. As a family we eat 1or 2 a day. It is filled with tons of nutrition and is rich in fibre. My son things that his bowl movement is regular because of this and that is also true. So he reminds me to give it him and also asks us to eat it. I serve 1 ladoo with 1 dosa, about 3.5 cm radius (size of your palm). It takes about 20 minutes to make 6 dosas.
- Egg Toast: Beat 3 eggs with milk, grated ginger, honey, salt & pepper. Dip bread into it and cook it over a saucepan with ghee or butter. Serve it with a 10 grapes or 5 strawberry or half banana or any small fruit. It takes 20 minutes to make 6 toasts.
- Vegetable-Cheese Paratha: Vegetable-Cheese (cauliflower, potato, carrot, beets, daikon) paratha served with honey and yogurt. I make it paneer. You can make it with mozzarella too. I make fresh paneer at home. Please find the recipe here. I don’t make them fresh in the morning. I have a hired help who makes fresh Indian breads (roti/paratha) for us. Recipe for beets paratha is here.
- Pongal: It is a one pot wonder. It has lentils and grains together in a consistency that kids can just swallow. Typically it is made yellow mung dahl (pasi pauppu) and rice. I have made it with quinoa and brown rice too. I serve it with mint chutney. Everytime we have a talk about mint chutney at home, my father in law mentions that it is so important as it is a diuretic. Diuretic helps to excrete waste from the body and detoxifies the body. In India, banana stem (vazha thandu) is included in the diet for this reason. Since I don’t find them in the US, he insists that mint chutney should be included in our weekly diet. My son eats little than 1 cup with mint chutney and any fruit. Recipe here. I make it in the pressure cooker and takes 20 minutes from start to finish.
- Dalia Kichdi: It is a one pot wonder. It has lentils and grains together in a consistency that kids can just swallow. I add finely chopped vegetable. You can find the recipe here. I pack it for lunch as well. I make it in the pressure cooker and takes 20 minutes from start to finish. Recipe here.
- Poha Upma or Cereal: There are two ideas here: 1. Make typical Mahatrastian poha 2. Use poha as cereal and build your breakfast. I add warm milk, brown sugar or honey or jaggery, crumbled energy ladoo and fruits. It’s a meal by itself. My daughter likes it more than my son. It takes 15 minutes to make it if you have roasted peanuts in hand.
- Dhokla: Another steamed food (close sister ofidli). Left over batter can also be served as snack in the evening. My son likes it with mint-cilantro chutney. It takes 20 minutes to put them together and serve. Recipe here.
- Pesarattu: This is an easy peesy dosa made with mung bean and rice. It is super easy because it needs no fermentation. When I was pregnant, I made it often as I find it highly nutritious and easy to make. I add steamed broccoli, celery, fresh spinach, arugula, kale and/or every green vegetable in it. Try to add 2 or 3 vegetable only. I serve it with tomato chutney which my kids love. Recipe here. My It takes 20 minutes to make 6 dosas. Recipe here.
It’s all about getting our act together and staying organized. If I can manage work-family, then anyone can. Good luck and do share your story with me.