Why everyone should learn how to cook

We live in the era of fast food where we prefer grabbing meals that are prepared in a jiffy. We eat salad mixed with a packaged salad dressing, a commercially prepared jam/pickle roti, or home-made tortillas/nachos with ready-made salsa. Our fast-paced lifestyles have drastically changed our food choices.

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With mothers juggling between home and work, preparing 3 proper meals at home poses a huge challenge. Today, food and beverage companies are targeting children to foster brand-building and influence food product purchase behaviour. And with this kind of exposure and crammed schedule, commercially prepared food is a win-win situation for the mother and child.

The shortcut is often the wrong cut. This statement holds true in case of packed foods too!

  • Though processed foods are super convenient, they come along with a baggage of preservatives, excess sodium and sugar, which put the children at risk for future health ailments.
  • The type of ingredients used, for instance, the fat/oil used in mayo, cookies, cakes or cheese spread are of an inferior quality.

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  • The nutrients of the ingredients are lost because of an elevated level of processing.
  • Since packaged food is stored in plastic or metallic cans, there is a risk of chemicals being released in food which creates havoc with the hormones.

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Now, these side-effects sound quite scary but unfortunately, they are 100% accurate.

So, as a mother, for ensuring your child’s health, squeeze in a little time and prepare these packaged foods at home. Since you are aware of the quality of ingredients used, you can be assured of its quality and your child’s nutritional requirements.

And guess what, it can be made in less than half the cost of the stuff you pick up from the supermarket, despite the amazing discounts.

Advocating the smart way of eating, bon happetee presents some of your favourite foods that can be prepared hassle-free at home:

  • Peanut butter:

Everyone loves PBJ sandwiches. It’s quick, convenient and nutritious. And surprisingly, making peanut butter at home is as easy as a PBJ sandwich.

All you need to do is take a cup of lightly roasted peanuts, ¼ th  cup honey, 1 tablespoon of butter or peanut oil, salt to taste and blend them well in a mixer.

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  • Jam:

Jam roll or jam toast, anyone? Sure, all the kids’ hands would go up for these two much-loved and easy-to-prepare dishes.

While commercially prepared jams are packed with sugar and fruit essences, you can prepare its healthier version at home.

All you need to do is properly wash and/or peel a cup of your favourite fruit and cook it till it becomes soft with ¾ cup of sugar. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Once it cools, voila your hand-made jam is ready.

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  • Pizza sauce:

The combination of cheese, toppings and pizza sauce makes pizza one of children’s favourite dishes. And guess what? The home-prepared pizza sauce tastes much better than its packaged version and is preservative-free.

For preparing home-made pizza sauce, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and add 2 tablespoons garlic. Add a cup each of chopped onions and tomato puree, sugar, salt, pepper, oregano, chilli flakes and basil leaves cook for 10-15 minutes. Your pizza sauce is good to go!

  • Hummus:

Hummus makes our taste buds happy and provides wholesome nutrition as well. Preparing hummus at home and serving it with pita bread or trying some fusion will make your house party an instant hit!

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Making hummus at home calls for blending 1 ½ cup boiled chickpeas, 2 tablespoon garlic, 2 tablespoon powdered white sesame seeds, salt, olive oil and ¼ the cup of lemon juice in a mixer to a fine paste.

Yeah, that’s how easy it is to make home-made hummus. Amazing, isn’t it?

  • Salsa:

Nachos with salsa – It’s one dish every child loves. And making salsa at home is super-duper easy and quick!

All you need is to combine 2 cups tomatoes, ½ cup onions, 2 tablespoons each of green chillies, lime juice and coriander; 2 cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of jeera powder and ¼th teaspoon salt in a food processor until the mixture mixes well yet remains chunky.

Salsa can work as a healthier alternative to packaged tomato ketchup. You can give wraps and sandwiches a Mexican makeover with this easy-to-prepare salsa.

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  • Cheese spread:

Now, which kid doesn’t love cheese spread?

It works as a sandwich spread or a perfect accompaniment to parathas, theplas in your tiffin.

To prepare cheese spread at home, blend 2 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons of oil, 1 cup of natural cheddar cheese and 1 teaspoon white pepper powder and it is ready. You can add garlic powder or mixed herbs for different variants of cheese spread.

  • Mayonnaise:

More than the burger patty, it’s the dollops of mayo that make the burger so delicious, isn’t it?

Making mayo at home, calls for whisking 2 egg yolks with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a cup of neutral-flavoured oil (olive oil, grapeseed oil) till it forms a thick mixture.

You can prepare eggless mayonnaise by beating ½ cup hung curd, salt, ½ teaspoon each of lemon juice, and black pepper powder along with ½ cup of oil till it becomes a fluffy mixture.

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  • Granola bars:

They are a wholesome snack that packs in the goodness of dried fruits, nuts and oats.

With nutritionists advocating granola bars for its health benefits, steer away from the commercially available ones that are packed with sugar, chemicals and flavouring agents. Instead, make this healthy bar at home for your child.

Roast 1 cup almonds and 1½ cups oatmeal in an oven and blend a cup of dried dates in a mixer and combine. Warm ¼th cup each of maple syrup/honey and peanut butter in a saucepan. Stir and pour over the oats mixture and once it gets mixed properly, transfer to a baking dish with a parchment paper. Press it lightly with your hands till you flatten it evenly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and chop into bars. Store in an air-tight container.

With these easy-peasy recipes, you can don the supermom’s hat. You can now serve healthy and tasty food to your child just by investing some time in preparing these packaged foods at home.

Happy cooking from team bon happetee ?

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Vishruta is a nutritionist by profession and a writer by heart. Content writing and menu planning have become her passions over the past few years. Love food, love life — is her mantra.

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