Toddler's Favourite Chicken Curry

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Nothing gets me more excited as a mom, health coach and foodie than families eating together on the family table. In our household, it's not always possible to achieve this, especially on weeknights, but when we do, i'm overcome by warmth, fuzziness, the occasional bout of frustration and mostly, love. Naturally, a dish that everyone enjoys, especially the tiniest members of the family, makes for a smooth and pleasurable experience. This cumin-inflected chicken curry, often on my family table growing up in India, is just that kind of dish, guaranteed to please the pickiest of palates.

RECIPE

Chicken Curry
Baby led weaning, Toddler, Kid, Adult

Science Corner
As previously discussed, cumin is the perfect spice for babies' unique needs - (1) Pro-digestion, (2) Immunity-boosting, (3) Anti-microbial and (4) Iron-rich - but it has additional powers that also make it ideal for the whole family. Cumin's benefits, in addition to those mentioned above, include:
(5) Anti-cancer / Anti-oxidant
Animal studies have demonstrated cancer prevention effects of cumin in colon, stomach and uterine-cervical cancers. These benefits have been linked to anti-oxidant properties of cumin whereby it can literally mop up free radicals, natural byproducts of metabolism, which can damage DNA, cause mutations and lead to cancer. 
(6) Anti-diabetes
A spate of animal studies have demonstrated anti-diabetic effects of cumin, including improved glucose tolerance, reduction of blood glucose levels and reduced body weight. Cumin also lowered lipid levels, cholesterol, triglycerides and free fatty acids, all of which are often associated with diabetes. Cuminaldehyde, the active ingredient from cumin, has been shown to inhibit two enzymes, aldose reductase and alpha-glucosidase, both of which contribute to diabetic complications. 
(7) Anti-osteoporotic
Cumin contains phytoestrogens, estrogen-like molecules that help retain calcium in bones. How precisely this is accomplished is unclear but one mechanism is thought to entail the inhibition of programmed cell death (known as apoptosis) of bone cells or osteoclasts. In animals given a cumin extract, urinary calcium levels (a measure of excreted calcium) dropped substantially whereas bone calcium content, bone density and its mechanical strength improved. A diet rich in cumin could be a good compensatory strategy for kids who have lost an interest in milk in order to ensure optimal bone health. 
While high doses of spices are often required to see disease modifying effects, a close inspection of the research revealed that levels of cumin attainable through one's diet - 1-2 teaspoons a day - can have positive benefits on measures like cholesterol, lipid levels and body weight. A generous sprinkling on a fried egg for breakfast, in a lentil soup for lunch and in this chicken curry for dinner could be enough to help you see health benefits, no pill required! 

Yield
2 adult & 1 toddler servings

Ingredients
500 grams (~1 lb) boneless chicken thighs chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 yellow onion finely chopped
4 cloves garlic crushed, about 1 tablespoon
1/2 inch ginger root grated or finely chopped, about 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup plain, preferably Greek style yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander / cilantro (optional)

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Method
In a pot for which you have a lid, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté every minutes or so for 10-15 minutes. You want the onion to be golden brown and caramelised but not burnt. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add the tomato paste, turmeric, cumin and coriander powders and mix well into a dry paste. Add the yoghurt, chicken, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for 5 minutes until the meat is sealed and no longer pink on the outside. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for another 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Check the seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Serve garnished with cilantro if using together with rice, quinoa or bread and a side of veg for the perfect, balanced, delicious supper. 






Calcium Conscious Meal Plan - Toddler & Kid Friendly!

I hate meal planning. For me, it takes away the spontaneity of cooking what I 'feel' like on a particular day. But wait, that was a luxury in my past, pre-kid life oops. Now, I find the week is SO much easier with a little planning. It takes about 15-30 minutes while watching Sunday night reality TV for my to get a plan in place, making things flow smoothly week long. And of course, when the plan fails and toddler boycotts a meal, there's always a almond butter jelly sandwich backup option (we're allergic to peanuts ugh) or takeout pizza - yum. 

Since we've been obsessing about the ultra-important mineral Calcium for the last few weeks, I put together a calcium conscious meal plan with MODERATE DAIRY and many delicious, nutritious non-dairy sources of calcium thrown in the mix, like chia seeds, coconut milk, oranges, edamame, tahini and canned salmon. As you'll see below, the most calcium rich day is actually lowest in dairy. Take that milk!

You can always swap the lunch and dinner options - a quicker lunch and more involved dinner works for our household but that's not always the case. Also, every kid is different in terms of milk drinking proclivities. We've kept the plan at under 16oz of dairy per day where the evidence suggests that calcium and vitamin D needs are optimally met without crowding out other important food groups and nutrients. I hope this inspires you to embrace non-dairy sources of calcium while being mindful of adequate dairy consumption for all its important contributions to kids' nutrition. 

So without further ado, here's a 3 day CALCIUM RICH, TODDLER AND KID FRIENDLY MEAL PLAN with links to our delicious, easy, spiced recipes and shopping list to help you along. Bon Appetit!

With Love & Spice

 

RECIPES

 

DAY 1
Spiced Semolina Porridge
Moroccan Lentil Soup
Mango Lassi Popsicles
Non-Fishy Fish Cakes

DAY 2
Bananatini
Turmeric Hummus
Avocado Tomato Edamame Salad
Cardamom Chicken Rice Pilaf

DAY 3
Spiced Coconut Chia Pudding
Sneaky Swiss Chard Frittata
Turmeric Sunshine Smoothie
Goan Fish Curry
 

SHOPPING LISTS
Most of these items make for a healthy, nutritious fridge that can inspire you beyond this 3 day meal plan to eat healthy for the entire week. Feel free to make some swaps and omissions if this list seems too daunting. For instance, use onions instead of shallots, spinach instead of Swiss chard, parsley instead of basil etc to shorten the list. 

MEAT / FISH / EGGS / DAIRY

180 g canned salmon (preferably wild sockeye)
1 kg boneless or bone-in chicken thighs
2 oz prosciutto 
dozen eggs
250 g firm fish like halibut or salmon
milk
plain Greek yoghurt
hard cheese like cheddar or gruyere
parmesan cheese

PANTRY

fine semolina
brown rice
quinoa
green lentils
whole wheat bread
pita bread
bread crumbs
all purpose flour
canned chickpeas
tahini
olive oil
coconut oil and / or canola oil
maple syrup
honey
coconut milk
chia seeds
dried apricots
dates
tamarind paste

 
 


 

PRODUCE                                    

strawberries
blackberries
oranges
bananas
grapes
1 mango
1 peach
3 Onions
1 Shallot
ginger
garlic
1 sweet potato
1 russet potato
3 new potatoes
bunch carrots
small bunch spinach
small bunch Swiss Chard
1 fennel bulb
1 small eggplant
1 head broccoli
1 avocado
1 tomato
edamame (frozen is fine)
peas (frozen is fine)
green beans
fresh parsley
fresh cilantro / coriander
fresh basil
8 curry leaves (optional)
1 lime

SPICES
Where possible, freshly ground for added flavor and amazingness!

cardamom pods
cinnamon, ground and sticks
whole cloves
paprika
cumin, ground
coriander, seeds and ground
turmeric, powder and fresh root, if possible
caraway seeds