It has been almost a decade since she won the first runner up at MasterChef India, and you still can’t expect small things from Shazia Khan. With two cookbooks and multiple master classes across the country, under her belt, Bengaluru’s very own culinary star is hosting a LF’s latest show, Mother’s Menu. The show caters to moms and moms-to-be and explores the world of nutrition for them as well as children up to the age of nine years. Think tips and tricks to boost a child’s development and yoga exercises for a mother’s well-being.
In a conversation with LF, Khan talks about Mother’s Menu, shares her secrets to making kids eat healthy food, and much more. Scroll through to discover.
From being a happy homemaker to the first runner up of India’s popular reality TV cooking show, and now, a TV host, how has the journey been like? Any challenges?Frankly speaking, it has been a life-altering journey – in a good way. A journey full of learning and growing into a better version of myself. Talking about challenges, there weren’t many since my family has been supportive throughout. Of the few, staying away from home for a long time was a challenge. But we (she and her family) sailed through it together.
Apart from that, one challenge that I still face is keeping myself is keeping up with newer trends and upgrading my skills. The culinary industry is evolving by the minute and keeping up with it is quite a challenge since I don’t have a background or formal training. Whatever I’ve learnt is self-taught.
Think of it as a complete guide to a mother and child’s nutrition from conception to the time the child turns nine. Mother’s Menu revolves around healthy eating and making well-informed choices by a family for new moms and children. The show also busts common myths regarding pregnancy food, child nourishment and more.
What must parents expect from Mother’s Menu?
The best thing about this show is that it doesn’t give you a one-sided view, but a holistic one. While I focus on how to make appealing and delicious dishes for children, we’ve got two experts on board - nutritionist Vasudha Sainik and yoga trainer Sabrina Merchant – who share tip and tricks to create a complete package for the viewers. The message is clear, nutrition alone can’t ensure a healthy child. It has to be a combination of things.
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What’s your philosophy when it comes to cooking for kids?When cooking for little ones, I feel one should be creative and innovative. Be ready to put in some extra efforts to make the food appealing. Also, I would suggest, you try to involve them in the process, even if it means giving them easy jobs like mixing a cake batter or cleaning veggies. You can also make them sit around and have a conversation, while you cook. This may also help in inculcating healthy habits in your kids.
With all the junk food advertisements surrounding children today, how do you think parents can get them excited about healthy food?The awareness and availability of unhealthy or junk food is much more compared to when we were kids. We were aware of a dish called pizza, but it wasn’t readily available. We quietly ate home food. But that’s not the case with the children now. My suggestion is to add a dose of health to junk food at home. Swap processed and unhealthy ingredients from junk food with healthy alternatives. For instance, make a pizza base with a multigrain flour/grated cauliflower florets or baked sweet potato fries instead of the regular French fries. Switching to nutritious ingredients is key. However, once in a while indulgence is good, I am not someone who completely says no to junk.
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From the time when you were a child to now as a mother, how has children's nutrition and feeding patterns evolved?
I think now-a-days parents are overprotective about their children. When we were kids, all we got was simple, home-cooked food. We were not so pampered. Today, many parents use food as bribes to persuade their little ones to get things done - “If you do this, we will give you this”. A lot of times, parents’ life is so hectic that they find it easier to buy food and chocolates to get things done. I think parents need to encourage children to eat more home-cooked meals. They need to inculcate these habits very early on.
Children have a very keen observation, they will imitate whatever their parents do. As parents a few alterations in their daily diet can show great results. Also, sitting together as a family during meal times is a great way to set an example for children.
What is that one memorable food experience from your childhood that you will never forget?I can’t forget those days when, after school, at home, we were treated to a big bowl of dal-chawal with ghee. Another memory that I cherish is sitting with my grandma and helping her make gulab jamuns.
Banner image: Sohail Joshi for Mother's Menu