CHENNAI: It takes only a couple of minutes off your daily schedule to try out something new at home. Sharmila Ribeiro, an agricultural economist and a mother of three boys, decided to give her boys a healthy diet, which is also delicious. “I used to buy whatever junk food the kids would ask for. I started reading up about the various nutritious values on the labels of food boxes, and that’s when I decided to take some time for my family. I staunchly follow the ‘no junk food’ motto and it has transformed my kids’ life,” says the author of the award-winning family cookbook Everyday Love- A Mother’s Guide to Healthy Cooking for Kids. The book is the result of five years of experimentation with recipes. Born and raised in Mumbai, Sharmila moved to Chennai 20 years back.
Despite coming from a Goan family, she didn’t find it difficult to adapt to south Indian dishes because she grew up tasting diverse cuisines as a child. “My mother, Stella Ashok, inspires me. She would learn recipes of various items like appam, chole from her neighbours. Later she started making pickles, jams, and mayonnaise. Learning to bake a cake was one of my first attempts and most of it would end up getting burned,” laughs Sharmila. While growing up, family time was at the dinner table. The communities in Sharmila’s neighbourhood played a great role in influencing her and people shared food during festivals. “Over the last few years, this culture of sharing food is decreasing. People have fallen prey to commercialisation. Anything that’s attractive on the outset grabs our attention,” she adds.
In an effort to motivate busy mothers to take some time for their family’s well being, Sharmila has given importance to Indian and western recipes equally in her book. She believes it’s important to teach a bit of cooking to children. She has made it a point for the whole family to participate in cooking activities at home. “When every family member is involved in cooking, everybody feels important. My husband cooks dal and alu gobi very well. The kids can also prepare basic pasta sauce and other easy items.
They love my dosa and coconut chicken curry. Once I made beetroot chocolate cake. As much as the kids love the taste, they lament about my experimenting skills,” she says. The author believes that whether you live independently or with your family, healthy eating comes by conscious practice. Even leftover items can be used wisely in preparing tasty recipes. A bit of preparation, organisation and meal planning, help cook effectively for a healthier future.
About the book
Everyday Love contains tips, guidelines for healthy eating, 170 recipes for dips and spreads, breakfast, lunch, snacks, breads and soups, treats and home-made fast food. The book was declared the Best Family Cookbook for 2018 at the World Gourmand Awards in China.
Soak the rajma and lobia overnight. Pressure-cook the rajma for 25-30 minutes, until the beans are soft but firm. Pressure-cook lobia separately, they cook in 15 minutes or less.
Make sure you have really fresh and tender green beans to start with. Steam or boil them until just done, around five minutes. They should be crunchy but cooked and bright green in colour. Immediately immerse in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process and retain the green colour.
Deseed the tomatoes and cut into small pieces. Keep aside in the fridge.
Prepare the dressing, blending all the ingredients thoroughly.
Marinate all three beans in the dressing and refrigerate for three or four hours. Just before serving, add the chopped tomatoes and gently mix. For a party, serve in a white or clear glass bowl to bring out the pretty look of this colourful and nutritious salad.