BATTLE THE BLAND
প্রকাশিত হয়েছে : ৪:৪৭:২৩,অপরাহ্ন ০১ জুন ২০২২
I have coined this ‘BATTLE THE BLAND’ because we want people to join the mission to abolish BLAND, BEIGE AND BORING food from the kid’s aisle.
My mum is from Trinidad, dad from Sri Lanka and mother-in law from Bangladesh. So our store cupboard, fridge and table were in a constant flux of color, texture and culture. Growing up, I was always acutely aware of how lucky I was to have such a plethora of exotic food around me, but I was also equally aware that access to this type of food was limited. An early goal that I set myself was to one day bring accessibility and convenience to this cuisine.
We live in the City of London- one of the most culturally diverse areas of the world. There are so many exciting, innovative and evolving brands being born every minute, but when I look at the baby/kid food offering, my heart sinks for them. This sector remains trapped in an archaic, dated state. Stagnant use of adventurous ingredients, insipid colours and unimaginative dishes. A parent can either opt for convenience or flavour, but you can’t have both, and you certainly can’t have anything crazier than a Veggie Moussaka.
But why has this aisle seen so little change? Excellent question. It is a challenging arena. There are lots of i’s to dot and t’s to cross.
In my opinion, as the target age group can’t fully articulate their food processing thoughts, there’s been no real reason to change. Sadly, one can deem the kid’s range an afterthought. Babies can and will eat anything, toddlers start making their own food decisions and by 6-7 their taste buds are fully sown and grown. Any chance of untangling the bad weeds is going to take some heavy lifting. We are looking to nourish them as seedlings. By encouraging flavour seeking now, we ultimately give them the right tools to make healthy, balanced and adventurous decisions as adults.
As parents, you might do a late-night phone search to aid what you might feed your little one, but when it comes to buying you lean on bigger brands to do the mighty task of recipe compiling for you. You trust that whatever they are putting in those meals must be good. And if it’s not, then it’s for good reason. It’s almost like medicine- if it tastes bad it must be doing something good. When it comes to baby food, this is not the truth. Have you ever eaten a pouch of baby food? We have. I mean, A LOT. Wow, the vast majority is just…WOW. You have to ask yourself ‘If I wouldn’t eat it, why do I expect my baby to eat it?’ There is absolutely a preconceived idea that spice is bad for young ones. I would have to challenge this with every fibre of my body. Spicy = Bad, but Spice = Sensational. Gut health and good microbes all reside in the key factor of variety; i.e Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts AND spices. By layering all of these elements together you have a super blend that aids digestion, concentration and mental health. All of our dishes are based on this fundamental concept and take strength from key ingredients such as turmeric, curry leaves, cumin and fennel that have been roasted, baked and seasoned into every dish we make.
We’ve left you with much food for ‘thought’ but we also want to leave you with some thought for ‘action’.
With so many of us being stressed and stretched for time and (sometimes) inspiration, here are some top Flavour Injecting tips.
Magi-Mix – Lightly temper a tablespoon of cumin seeds, a tablespoon of fennel seeds and a handful of fresh curry leaves. Once this has cooled, blend and leave in a small pot. This store cupboard mixture is MAGIC as just a sprinkle can and will transform any dish! It’s perfect for roasting vegetables, as a garnish to a soup or into a casserole.
Think about Texture- try to add texture to every meal. This could be through the addition of prawn crackers, poppadoms or croutons. Each of these items has a unique flavour to them and gives a gentle nod to something new and exciting.
Mash, not Mush- A lot of baby food tends to be overcooked- this is partly due to the fact that we are very panicked by the idea of choking. However, do not sacrifice nutrients for nerves. Simply chop your vegetables into smaller sizes that can be mashed with a fork. Opting for provisions like okra, spinach and gelatinous fibres like chia seeds, flax seeds and aloe vera are also a great idea as their natural compounds make them easy to digest.
Exotic Kick- Try to use a ‘Kicker’ ingredient once a day. Whether it’s a little grated ginger, a squeeze of lime, the addition of a cardamom pod to porridge or a sprinkle of cinnamon to a hot chocolate. These short little bursts of flavour might even seem meaningless to the meal at the time, but in a continuous stretch make for confident Flavour Seeking children who will most assuredly be up for everything as growing adults!
If you need any more inspiration or want to try out our Bundles, head over to www.eatmyshorteat.co.uk and join our family of Flavour Seekers. All ages welcome!
Instagram: @eatmy_shorteats. Melissa Bakth : Innovator & writer, London.