Monday, November 24, 2008

How much calcium does a child need?

This is a post which I'm writing more like in a note form, so that I finally am able to publish it.

Hope it is still of help to others too. Please leave your feedback or comments for any other question you think should be answered in this topic or wish to know more. I'll try to include it. Do check the links given at the bottom in this regard. I have tried to keep the list as small as possible and it contains good links to reliable information, which are also the source of information for this post.

Why do children (and adults - to a lesser extent) need calcium?

Required for healthy mental and physical development of the child - by their growing bones and teeth, important for general cellular (body) functioning, especially nerves and muscles, and activating enzymes required by the body to produce energy, and for blood clotting, and many other important body functions.
Long term shortage can lead to rickets among children (osteoporosis among adults-especially 50+).

How much calcium does a child need (a rough estimate)?

Upto 3 years of age: about 500 mg per day calcium - about 1 1/2 - 2 cups milk or plain yoghurt
4 -8 years of age: about 800 mg per day calcium - about 2-3 cups of milk
9-18 years of age: 1,300 mg per day calcium - about 3-4 cups of milk or the equivalent amount of cheese and yoghurt

The calcium in 1 cup of milk = 1 cup of yogurt = 1 and 1/2 ounces of cheese= 2 ounces of processed cheese. 1 ounce = 28 (25-30) g cheese.

For the body to absorb the calcium properly, adequate amounts of Vitamin D is neccsary. A very good source of Vitamin D is the sunlight, which is required by our body to produce vitamin D in our own body.
Good physical activity, like walking, running, jumping, other sports activities which require the legs to carry the body weight, is necessary for children's bones to develop properly and to promote new bone cells to develop and grow.

Food rich in Calcium

Dairy products are supposed to be the best sources of calcium:
Milk, yoghurt and cheese: gouda, chedder, mozarella, ricotta, soft cheese - mould cheese and many others. Cheese is a much more concentrated form of calcium source than milk. Yoghurt is a more easily digestible (proteins) source of calcium than milk. The best option is to include all of them. Cheese also has much lower lactose content than milk or yoghurt, as it has been broken down and used up by microbes present in cheese, which is usually stored for much longer than yoghurt, for example, which is again a better option than milk.

In case of allergies or lactose intolerance or those living on a vegan diet, it can be compensated with many other vegetable sources, beans and fortified products like orange juice fortified with calcium. But in such cases, a doctors advice needs to be taken to see how it can be achieved best.

Calcium rich non-dairy products, some examples:

Tofu (soyabeans)
Soya milk, fortified
Orange juice (packed), fortified
Muesli and cereals, fortified
Green leafy vegetables - like spinach, beet greens and pak choi,
Beans : soya beans- ripe, white beans, baked beans
Crucifers (Brassica spp.): broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, musttard greens, etc.
Other vegetables: Okra
Nuts and seeds: especially sesame seeds, almonds
Grains: amaranth, quinoa

Many common fish varieties, like rainbow trout (cultured), salmon, atlantic sardines

Following is the list of good links to recipes for the above mentioned categories
(I'll update it everytime I find some good information/recipes):

Update: A good source of information on calcium from the Office of Dietery Suppliments (National Institute of Health), USA.
Sources of information for this post (please check the websites below for more detailed answers to the above questions):
Keep kids
iVillage: toddlers
Children need calcium...
calcium for children and teens
good sources of calcium for my child
Calcium: The vegetarian resource group - Nutrition

Other related posts:
What affects calcium absorption?

Update on 11. Jan 2009:
Just found this very informative page on calcium at Bee and Jai's Jugalbandi:
Calcium Q&A

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Easy Peas-y Pasta

I know it's been a while since I've put up any new recipes here and I should have been posting regularly now that I'm home with the Noobie all the time. I've been experimenting with her and at 19 months, she's now eating everything. I don't make anything on the side for her, she usually eats everything we do. We've ever been big on spicy food anyhoo so it wasn't too hard.

This is her all-time favorite. She'll eat this when she won't eat anything else.

A handful of frozen peas
A handful of sweet corn
1 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp onion paste
1/4 tsp ginger-garlic paste + some
Coriander powder
Chicken / Vegetable Stock
A pinch of salt
Cumin and rapeseed
A cup of pasta - I usually go wth the rice-shaped one

1. Cook the pasta in boiling water with salt and very little ginger garlic paste. Drain and keep aside in a colander when ready.
2. In very little olive oil, fry cumin and rapeseed until they splutter. Add the onion paste and cook until the color changes to a light pink. Add the ginger-garlic, tomato puree, salt and coriander powder and cook for a few minutes. Add the peas, and sweet corn and stock. Cover and cook until peas and sweet corn are soft. Add pasta. Mix well and serve.

Noo's liked this with boiled eggs.
Once in a while, much like my everything-rice, I throw in whatever veggie I can find in the fridge - Noo loved the cabbage version as well as the squash version just as much.

I'm looking for a good eggplant/brinjal recipe to get the tyke to like it. Ideas?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Zucchini and Mushroom saute

...or just call it subzi ;)
Since someone requested me to give the recipe, I'm posting it here too:

1/2 zucchini, cut into thin strips
150-200 g small mushrooms, whole or quartered - I used crimini mushrooms, but white ones are fine too, but they should be fresh and should not give in on pressing 1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated finely (optional)
1 small onion, finely chopped - I left it out as sonny boy doesn't like it
1 tsp cumin, whole seeds
1 tbsp coriander, ground
1 pinch hing, ground (or just pressed down with the flat side of a large knife )-optional
chilli powder or black pepper to taste
salt to taste (use sparely for children)
1 tbsp rapeseed oil and some more if required


  • heat rapeseed oil in a saute pan / fry pan on medium high
  • add cumin, let splutter and add the onion if using
  • fry till the onion is golden in colour and / or add the coriander and stir once quickly
  • add the ginger stir again, reduce heat
  • add the zucchini , fry for about 3-4 minutes till half done
  • add the mushrooms and saute (do not stir too much, add some olive oil or rapeseed oil, if desired) on medium heat till they get a nice brownish tinge
  • serve warm with rice or bread or roti / parantha
Sometimes I also add some sesame seeds to the food, as I love them in food. But, I'd do that once you are sure that your child is not allergic and is old enough, maybe 2 years or above.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"My Child is not eating...."

Update: see below.
This is the same old story one hears so often in different versions, but, which I think every mother goes through. How easy is it to say "Don't worry!", but how difficult once it is you yourself as a mother who has to deal with it. I remember how long I was worried about my son's eating habits. But, it is always good to inform oneself about such things to know "Is my child really eating very little.... Is it so little that I need to worry? A lot of times the doctors measure the weight of the child and check his growth curve and say "All is well!" And you "Huh!...that's it?!.... It can't be?!".
Since I'm not a nutritionist I can only tell you what I have learned through experience as a mother and what I read and hear around me from others and which makes sense to me.

But, before I begin, one thing should be clear that the focus should always be the child and his well being and his physical and mental health rather than the (amount of) food. As, a lot of times despite worrying so much, a simple reason is that children's taste buds and sense of smell are much more sensitive and there being so many new tastes which they encounter day in day out that they need time to get used to all of them. Keep offering your child these fruits even if it refuses to eat them. But let it remain to that, let your child decide on its own what it wants.

Some tips which might help you deal with the situation better:

  1. An important rule, which applies to major number of everyday situations with children: "Give them Time". Keep trying, again and again.... and again.... and again.................. That is what motherhood means.
  2. Don't force feed. Do not feed him something which he refuses to eat and shows complete dislike for.
  3. I do want him to try and taste the food, but if he refuses to eat then I have to respect it. I can pester a lot, but he is even more stronger willed, thankfully!
  4. Once, I had read that one has to offer a child the particular food at least 32 times (or more; corresponds to the number of teeth an "ideal" human mouth can have) over a longer period of time before you know if your child really dislikes it. I like the idea a lot.
  5. Here, there is an old saying which is difficult to translate (Ein kind holt sich, was er braucht) but means something like "a child will come and get for himself / eat when its body needs it" - this will apply given the condition that you offer them a balanced diet, offer enough choice and a healthy meal is served on the table, the rest can / should be left to them. I'll be honest - I find it hard to follow this rule. But, it is surely a good line of thought to follow. Trust them a bit more in taking the right decisions on their own.
  6. Involve your child while preparing food, like cutting fruits or vegetables. Let them also lay the table get the spoons for example for them to realise that it is time for lunch or dinner.
  7. Eat together with your child. It is mor fun for them. It applies to toddler age too, onmce they beginn to eat with their spoon, however much they can.
  8. Encourage them to eat on their own, don't refuse. Take time to let them eat, It may mean 20 minutes more. Plan this time whenever possible , if not always. You'll be rewarded wit an independent and enthusiastic eater one day.
  9. With children 3 or 4 years onwards, go shopping with them and ask them what they would like to buy. Try and see how long will the child want to eat the same vegetable every day. One day he might come and say "mom...let's buy something else today.."
  10. One thing which I learned after becoming a mother was that a lot of times children quite often instinctively know what is not good for them and avoid eating it, like in case of allergies or intolerance. Now this may not necessarily be always the case, as in such cases you would also see physical signs of these most of the times. But, one does need to pay heed to it and also respect it.
  11. Don't feed babies and toddlers too many things in one go. Offer just one fruit at a time. Less variety is a much better choice at that age. The lesser number of fruits a child is exposed to at an early age, the better. Only after they reach the age when they start going to school, should one worry about offering them a variety of things.
If you want to start your baby with solids then, two important things one should keep in mind (see also this post on food allergy and intolerance):
  1. Choose one vegetable which is considered hypoallergenic, trust your instincts too in this matter and as to what your child would like.
  2. Do not give anything else for at least a week. Depending upon the age of the baby, you could either stay with this one vegetable for as long as you feel like (1, 2 or 3 months or even longer) and if the baby rejects it even after a week or you feel that it does not suit the baby - watch his stool and any physical reactions like rashes and redness, then try something else. Even if your child is not allergy prone, it may react to the food, as the body's immune system is developing at that age and it needs time to get to know its environment and overexposure is not good.
Good sites to go to for good tips regarding baby food:
Starting babies on solids
Introducing solids to babies and charts at
Recipes for babyfoods at
I highly recommend you to go to for any questions regarding baby foods. It is good guide. Many questions to which your paediatrician cannot give good answers to may be given here, or to questions which pop up in your mind.

This is what my midwife, surely the age of my mother, once said and it impressed me a lot: "...Today's mothers always seem to be in too much of a hurry with their children.... want them to grow so fast ..... do everything and do everything fast...". It's true in different ways, isn't it? Maybe it has reasons, why we are like that, like external pressures, wanting our child to survive in today's speedy world where everybody is wanting to be better and faster than the other. But, for that very reason, we have to teach our children to stay healthy by having a healthy attitude towards food. To learn to enjoy food. And, honestly, do you like all the vegetables? An did this thought ever cross your mind that maybe had we had the chance to choose between eating this particular vegetable or leave it, that today we might actually react totally differently today than we do now, the moment we think of this vegetable. Vegetables are important, but we need to trust our children much more that they will choose to eat healthy if given enough options and time on the longer run. That they will still develop into healthy beings with an healthy mind.
We do need o tell them to keep trying a vegetable, find ways, force or motivation or tricks (fair ones - the child should not feel cheated, the are way smarter than we think, isn't it?),.......... but only to make them try it. Let it be a tiny piece only. Accept their "No, I didn't like it" and don't forget to tell them that you are proud of them that they at least tried it.
And this site was created by Swati just for the purpose of having ideas on offering different thing which your child might like to eat.To share your recipes which were successful with your child. I guess picturee are not even so important ass long as you give ideas and a rough guideline as to how to makeit. And if you can't do that at that moment and give the readers the option of asking you by email for example when they want to prepare the dish you posted about.
This (picture above) is what my sonny boy ate a couple of days back. If you want the recipies then ask me: Zucchini parantha with sauted / stirfried mushrooms and zucchini in some cumin and coriander powder and salt and 'rasa aloo' with ajwain seeds (the zucchini in the mushrooms was the other leftover half I used up for parantha dough).
Please do give me your feedback and suggestions on this topic. Or a link to any good site you know. Looking forward to your feedback as experienced mothers/parents.

Update: Good tips here:
What to Do with a Picky Eater