People’s lifestyles have changed in many ways in the past few decades. The patterns that we would so religiously follow are slowly dwindling. One area that has particularly suffered is our eating habits. With both parents working, it is difficult to have the same eating habits as before. Even sitting down as a family and eating every meal together has become a thing of the past. We hurry through our feeds, seldom having time to relish what we are eating because our lifestyle has become hectic. It’s not just the adults but the children’s daily schedule to has become heated.
While eating out or ordering in is the new normal, people have also realized that this is not sustainable as it is beginning to take its toll on their health. So now the era of smart eating dawns, where you try to pack in as many nutrients as possible in smaller meals. From food to drink, we must make conscious choices to stay healthy. Children learn how to get the best healthy drinks and maintain a balanced diet as part of their everyday routine at Eurokids preschool.
Mom’s today have become very innovative and creative, sneaking vegetables into pasta, burgers, pizzas, noodles and even parathas, putting oats into idlis, and so on, but when it comes to drinks, most often they stick to the basics or use readymade products. However, the best healthy drinks for your kids are the ones you make at home.
Here’s why homemade health drinks for your kids are the best
- They are healthier than carbonated drinks as they contain nutrients in it.
- You are aware of the ingredients you put into the drink.
- There are no harmful chemicals or preservatives in it.
- You can monitor the amount of sugar added or substitute it with healthier versions like jaggery, honey etc.
- There is no hidden sugar, so you can avoid unwanted weight gain in your child.
- It is cheaper than branded health drinks.
Apart from the initial preparation that might need to be done. Homemade health drinks for kids are just as easy as commercially available ones but with familiar ingredients available at home. Though tasty, children should be discouraged from consuming carbonated drinks as they have very high amounts of sugar, artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives.
Children’s health drinks made at home can be just as delicious, and here’s why it should be encouraged.
- Nutritious and helps build immunity – Homemade drinks are high in vitamins and minerals, which also help in building the child’s immunity. Simple drinks like ‘nimbu-pani’ are rich in vitamin C. Those made with milk contain calcium, fats and proteins.
- Helps regulate body temperature – drinks like ‘aam panha’, ‘Kokum sharbat’, and Coconut water help keep you cool in the hot summer, while drinks like ‘Badam milk’, malted drinks, and herbal teas are great winter warmers.
- Versatile – many kids’ health drinks can be easily modified at home to your liking. For example, if you’d like to reduce sugar intake, honey or fruits like bananas could be added to milkshakes and smoothies. To make the children’s health drink interesting, a combination of fruits could also be used in milkshakes, like bananas, strawberries milkshakes, mango and banana. Swap out the milk and use coconut milk like pineapple and coconut milk drinks, even substitute milk for yogurt or experiment with blending in different juices. The list is endless.
- Convenient – The best health drinks for kids can be made in under 10 minutes, provided the ingredients are kept handy. These are so easy to make that the older kids can make them themselves.
- Prevents Excess weight gain – Readymade or store-bought milkshakes contain excess cream or ice cream to give them that rich, creamy texture. This, coupled with the extra sugar to make it sweet for children, is a sure-shot way to put on weight the unhealthy way. Juices also contain a lot of sugar, much too much than what the body requires. The health issues that come with this can simply be voided by making these drinks at home.
- Helps in digestion – Drinks like chaos and lassi are filled with good bacteria and natural probiotics that promote gut health and aids in digestion. They are also a good source of calcium and improve bone and teeth health.
- Delicious – The words’ health drink’ is not synonymous with unappetizing, tasteless, bland or yucky. On the contrary, health drinks for kids are delicious, with vibrant flavours. Adding a few nut butter like peanut/cashew/almond butter not only changes the taste but also increases the drink’s nutritional value. Adding some drinking chocolate powder can also put the flavour profile of a kid’s health drink in a new direction.
Health awareness is everywhere and gaining ground. Eating and drinking healthy has become trendy, and rightfully so. Keeping ‘everything in moderation as a rule of thumb, let’s get some fancy glasses out and our aprons on to make the best health drinks for child growth in India.
Here are a few suggestions and their nutritional value-
This is the delicious water you get after cracking open a coconut. It is refreshing, neutral and, best of all, packed with nutrients like potassium, iron, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, and much more. It can be drunk as it is or even slightly chilled on a warm summer day.
Nimbu Pani/ Lemonade
Translated as lime/ lemon water is made simply by mixing the juice of a lime with water, Sugar/ honey/ jaggery, and maybe a pinch of salt. A thirst-quenching drink that is rich in vitamin c and improves the immune system. This drink also prevents dehydration and digestive disorders.
This drink is made primarily from the pulp of raw mangoes, sugar/ jaggery, and a bit of spice. It has major health benefits and reduces the effects of sunstroke. It contains nutrients like carbohydrates, vitamins like A, B1, B2, B3, and C, folic acid and minerals like potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.
Kokum is a fruit native to Goa and Maharashtra. The cooling and refreshing juice are made to beat the hot summers. This juice has tremendous cooling properties and prevents heat rashes. It controls acidity and prevents indigestion and flatulence. Kokum is rich in antioxidants and nutrients like vitamins A, B3, and C, folic acid, iron, potassium and zinc. The concentrated syrup can be easily made at home and stored for months.
Rose Sharbat/ Milk
Rose Syrup, or sharbat, is known for its cooling properties and helps reduce stress and anxiety. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce acidity. Its antioxidant properties keep your child’s skin and hair healthy. The syrup can be found in the local markets and transformed into delightful drinks, either by itself or by adding a squirt of lime and mint. It even tastes great with milk.
Lassi and Chaas
Lassi and its savoury counterpart, chaas/buttermilk, are versatile yogurt-based drinks and can easily be made at home in minutes. Lassi is sweet, and flavours like cardamom, rosewater saffron etc., can be used for variety. In contrast, chaos/Buttermilk can be tempered and flavoured with herbs and spices like coriander, mint, ginger, roasted cumin, black salt and so on. These drinks aid digestion, prevent stomach problems like bloating, are a good source of probiotics, and are even good for bone and dental health as they are rich in calcium.
Bananas smoothie is made using ripe bananas and milk. There is no need to add sugar as the ripe bananas are naturally sweet. Bananas are a powerhouse of nutrients like potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, Vitamin C and fibre. In contrast, milk contains calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, B12, and D. Mixing these two makes a delightfully delicious and healthy drink. Adding nut butter like peanut/almond/cashew butter can increase the protein content, or add different fruits like strawberry or mango and enjoy the benefits of those fruits as well.
Malt- based Drinks
Malt drinks are made from grains like wheat and ragi. In this, the grain is allowed to sprout. It is then dried, roasted and powdered. Roasted nut powder, Milk powder, cardamom powder and sugar powder can be mixed to get a ready-to-use malt drink. This drink contains antioxidants and vitamin E that enhance brain development in kids. Since it is made with sprouted grain, it is easier to digest. It is rich in Vitamin B6, B12, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate and thiamine, which provides energy and boosts metabolism in children.
Badam Milk/doodh (not to be confused with almond milk) is a dairy-based beverage made by mixing crushed almonds, cardamom and saffron into milk. It can be consumed either warm or cold, depending on the weather. It helps build immunity and is rich in proteins and vitamin E, which is good for brain development, and this, coupled with the calcium and proteins of milk, makes it a good health drink for kids.
Thandai is an exotic milk-based beverage made in the warmer months, containing crushed almonds, cardamoms and saffron, a mixture of fennel seeds, watermelon kernels, rose petals, pepper, poppy seeds, milk and sugar. Besides being nourishing, it gives children a sense of fullness, so it is a great option for breakfast or as an evening snack. Thandai contains nutrients like protein, omega-3, vitamins, and zinc.
Fruit and vegetable juices
Fruits and vegetables pack the maximum nutrients when consumed raw. However, children may refuse to consume a few raw vegetables or fruit for various reasons. However, they may be open to juice. When consuming juice, as convenient as it may be, fresh juice at home is always better and when possible, refrain from straining it so that you get the goodness of the fibre too. The juices can be had by themselves, or you can mix and match a few, like mango and carrot, spinach, cucumber and apple. The combinations are endless, healthy and delicious too.
While dwelling on all the children’s health drinks,. let us not forget the quintessential drink of utmost importance for our health. As humble as it is, a glass of water doesn’t have any nutritional value, yet it is solely responsible for many functions that assure our well-being. It is the best healthy drink you can ever give your child. Water helps transport and absorption of nutrients in our body, helps maintain our body temperature, aids digestion, prevents constipation, helps eliminate waste and excess electrolytes in our body, is important to maintain the right viscosity of the blood, and so much more. So don’t forget your daily dose of this life-saving drink as well.
Through this article, we have hoped to bring about some awareness to help you make an informed choice. After all, we are solely responsible for our health and the health of our children. So the next time you casually reach out for a drink to give your child, as convenient as it might be, just take a pause and reflect on whether it will benefit or cause your child harm. When in doubt, there is always a refreshing glass of water. Click here to explore a centre closest to you.