6 Immunity-Boosting Foods for Kids This Monsoon

While we want to make the most of the rainy season, the thought of catching infections and flu persistently lurks at the back of the mind and the concern grows even greater when it comes to children. Children with their developing immunity system are especially prone to catching such infections in this weather. The damp weather makes them susceptible to many diseases which are commonly associated with the monsoon season like cold and flu, throat infections and stomach problems.

According to Bangalore-based Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood, “During the monsoon season, your immunity goes down as the microorganisms have sufficient moisture to grow and therefore, you become more susceptible to diseases. Since children are more carefree and like to stay mostly outdoors, they are definitely more vulnerable to infections and health issues. To keep them healthy, powerful antioxidants are needed which are rich in vitamin C. Staying hydrated at all times, eating green leafy vegetables and loading up nuts and seeds daily are some preventive measures.”

 6 Immunity-Boosting Foods for Kids This Monsoon

Shilpa Arora, Macrobiotic Nutritionist and Health Practitioner also believes that parents must exercise extra care for children during the monsoon season. She suggests, “A pinch of turmeric in a glass of lukewarm water first thing in the morning especially in this season can work well to build a stronger immunity. It must be ensured that you keep them away of all processed and fast food items and the worst health enemy – white sugar. Stay clear of white flour, it affects the health and immunity of your child in way more ways than you think. Research has shown that having a teaspoon of extra virgin coconut oil daily can also boost your immunity.”

Immunity-boosting foods that your children should have right now

1. Turmeric

Turmeric is a great immunity boosting spice which should be included in your daily diet. Nutritionist Meher Rajput of FITPASS explains, “Turmeric’s active component ‘curcumin’ makes it a powerful antioxidant. Add pinch of turmeric to milk and give it to them before bed time. Adding some saffron (kesar) will further enhance the healing properties of the milk.”

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2. Vitamin C rich foods

According to Shilpa Arora, “Seasonal veggies and fruits have phytonutrients which are needed to fight bacteria and infections. Jamun, cherries, peaches and guava have abundant vitamin C.”


3. Dry fruits and nuts and seeds

Children can be fussy about fruits and vegetables, but they may like to chomp on crunchy dry fruits and nuts like cashews, almonds and walnuts. You can make an interesting trail mix for them. Nutritionist Meher Rajput also backs the idea of loading up on nuts, “Have them in any form, dry or roasted. Walnuts, almonds, dates and raisins are good sources of vitamins and antioxidants. They are high in protein and sources of good fats which would also ensure that the energy levels of your child are always high.”

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4. Mushrooms

According to Nutritionist Meher Rajput, mushrooms are loaded with vitamin D and antioxidants which play a role in building immunity. To make it fun for children, include them in sandwiches and spruce them up with other seasonal veggies. You can also give them a hot mushroom soup to slurp on.


5. Meat and Fish

Have them in soups, curries, sandwiches or salads. Whether it’s chicken, mutton or fish and seafood, all of them are rich in protein. Not only does our body need protein to build and repair its tissues, but it also plays a vital role in boosting white blood cells that are responsible for fighting infections. Meat also supplies Vitamin B, zinc, iron and even Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish and seafoods) -our body uses in keeping up its defense mechanism.

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6. Dairy Products

Milkshakes, smoothies and fruit yogurt can break the monotony of having to gulp down a tall glass of milk while boosting their immunity.

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Make monsoon fun for you kids by keeping them safe, protected and energised with these nutritious foods.

6 Tips That Will Help You Take The Best Food Photographs

Do you wonder how some people always manage to ace their food pictures and the ones you click, in contrast, look all dull and boring? Social media platforms are now overloaded with pictures of food that are beautiful, tasteful, enticing and sometime just plain gorgeous. Food photography is a skill that can be developed over a course time with the right knowledge and know-how. Because, if you are not tempted while looking at your own food pictures, then something must be wrong, right?

It is essential to note that some of the most appetizing photographs of food across social media haven’t been captured using a high-tech, expensive camera equipment. Thus, while DSLR cameras may give you a slight edge over others, getting an aesthetic food photograph needs more than just hi-end gadgetry. You humble smartphone can deliver good pictures too if you follow a few important points. To begin with, a well-captured food photograph possesses the capability to reflect the inherent taste of the food item that is clicked. That is how powerful the photograph must be.

6 simple, and important, things to keep in mind to get the best food photographs.

 6 Tips That Will Help You Take The Best Food Photographs

1. Light will guide you: 

For any photograph, whether it’s a portrait of a person, a landscape view or a food picture, adequate light is the most important aspect that must be taken into consideration. Natural light beats any other source of artificial lighting. It helps capture the nitty-gritties of the dish thus making it more appealing. Light must always come from the front or the side and make sure never to shoot in excess light as it defeats the purpose of the photograph. Avoid using the flash mode while clicking pictures of food, as the flash tends to create reflections giving the food a different orientation.

2. Angle: Depending on the food item, the most suitable angle helps enhance the photograph. While certain items will look best when shot directly from top, others will stand out when shot from the side, for instance, a multi-layered cake.  Some items like a burger will look best when shot at eye level. The angle is a subjective yet an essential characteristic in food photography. Try framing the shot using a few different angles before you zero-in on your preferred choice.

3. Pick a point of focus:

Here, we mean the ‘hero’ of the shot and the part you want people to pay attention to most. This is especially helpful when shooting in crowded or cluttered spaces. You should be able to pick the dish/platter and make that the hero of your photo. If one is shooting on a dining table, for example, make sure you include only the essential items on the table in the photograph. Otherwise, the attention is diverted away from the dish. Decide what is significant for the composition of the picture and what is not. Focus on what will make the photo look complete and avoid over crowding the shot.

4. Close up or not?

How ‘close’ do you want to see the food in your picture? A lot of people like taking only close-up shots of food and ingredients, and in most cases this works. Plated dishes, with a play of colours could look good in a wider view too. Try a few and see what does justice to the dish you are taking pictures of.

5. Interaction is the key: 

Food photographs look a hundred times more appealing by adding a human element. It increases the level of engagement for the viewer, making it appear more real. Thus, while shooting, make it a point to hold the item in your hand, for instance. Compose the picture in a manner that incorporates some human element.

6. Props make all the difference: 

Even the most palatable dish can look unappealing if not presented well. Thus, props make all the difference. It is of paramount importance that the correct cutlery, utensils, mats etc be used in food photography. Use clean plates and try and make use of white cutlery, which enables the food colors to stand out.

Ansel Adams once said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”, and with the essential steps mentioned above, you are sure to make the best photograph possible. Happy clicking!

6 Easy Gym Ball Exercises for Beginners

A gym ball or an exercise ball is made of soft elastic with a diameter of approximately 35 to 85 centimeters and it is filled with air. It is used in physical therapy, weight training, athletic training and regular exercise. There are numerous names for this ball like the balance ball, fitness ball, pilates ball, or the birth ball. It has been proved to be of great help in improving cardio endurance, balance and strength. For those recovering from injuries, gym ball exercises are very effective as they reduce spinal and muscle strain during movements. Most people may think that these exercises are more child-like, but they aren’t as easy as they appear and need to be performed in the right manner to produce results. Here are a few gym ball exercises that you can try if you are a beginner.

6 Easy Gym Ball Exercises for Beginners

1. Over-Head Ball Squat

In this exercise, both your arms and legs are put to use. While holding the ball over your head, bend your knees and do a squat. Performing 10 to 15 of these, strengthens your arms, shoulders and deltoid muscles. This is an easy and effective exercise and all that is required is a gym ball.

2. Standing Ball Squeeze

This exercise works on your hips, lower back and inner thighs. First, stand straight and place the ball between your legs, next to your knees. Then squat down, forming a 90-degree angle and squeeze the ball. Remain in this position for as long as possible and stay balanced. The bigger the ball, the tougher it is to perform this exercise. Beginners can take the support of a wall or chair, if they find it too hard to stand straight. Perform this 10 times for 35-45 seconds for effective results.

3. Standing Plank

This exercise benefits your shoulders and arms and increases the intensity of a normal plank. Take your left leg and stretch it behind, while resting your arms and elbows on the ball. Take your right leg and stretch it behind, making both the feet meet. Do this 6 times, 30 seconds per set.

4. Triceps Dip

This exercise works on your upper body and strengthens your triceps and biceps. To perform it, you need to sit on the ball with your legs forming a 90-degree angle. Keep your knees apart from each other and place your hands on your hips. Slowly move your hips forward so that they are a few inches in front of the ball. Then, use your triceps to lower your arms down a few inches and return to the starting position. Make sure your back remains upright and repeat this 10-15 times.

5. Ball Jog

This exercise strengthens your core and makes it firm. Sit up straight on the ball with your feet firmly pressed on the ground. Move your knees up and down to bounce on the ball. Try to bounce as high as possible and for 2 to 5 minutes for 5 sets. This will keep your heart rate up and can also be used as a warm-up exercise.

6. Hands off

This exercise works on your abs and core. To perform it you need to lie flat on your back on the ground, with your arms and legs stretched out. Hold the ball over your head with both your hands and transfer the ball from your hands to your feet. Continue this movement repeatedly and make sure that only your hips and butt touch the ground.

Always remember to get proper guidance from your fitness trainer before you embark on a new journey.

6 Dishes from Udupi Every South Indian Food Lover Must Try

If there’s one Indian dish that can give Butter Chicken a serious run in terms of International presence, it’s the Masala Dosa. I’ve stumbled upon multiple versions of this crispy dosa slathered with a potato filling (known as palya in Karnataka) from Denver to Melbourne. The Masala Dosa is one of the most ordered dishes in restaurants in Chennai, Bengaluru and other parts of South India but many foodies agree that the origins of this dish point in one direction. Udupi might be a tiny town north of Mangaluru but Udupi and neighbouring towns like Kundapura are a haven for foodies. One of Udupi’s best known contributions is its now ubiquitous Masala Dosa, but that’s just one of the many unique snacks that you can savour in and around Udupi. From cylindrical idlis to dosas crafted in rice flour, we pick some of Udupi’s must try snacks:

6 Dishes from Udupi Every South Indian Food Lover Must Try

1. Masala Dosa


This is one dish you won’t have trouble finding across India. The classical Udupi version is golden brown and crispy. I love how it gently disintegrates into tinier crispy bits, some restaurants (like Woodlands in Chennai and Bengaluru) used to insert a tiny banana leafwith freshly churned butter inside the dosa. This butter would melt inside the dosaalong with the masala on its way to your table. Pangala in Manipal (Udupi’s twin town) serves one of the best Masala Dosas in and around Udupi and is a big hit with the town’s large student population.

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2. Kaddubu or Moode

My first memory of the Kadubbu takes me back to the iconic Dasaprakash restaurant in Chennai. From Kadubbu to Moode (or Mude) to Gunda, the locals use quite a few terms to describe this uniquely shaped cylindrical idli. It’s the same batter cooked in a different mould. The conical moulds are crafted with jackfruit leaves and placed in a large vessel inside a conventional pressure cooker. It’s also cooked in Kedige (the local name for screw pine or a type of pandanus leaf). Some local restaurants in Udupi serve it with etty (prawn) chutney.


3. Bajjari Dosa or Neer Dosa

This airy, incredibly light dosa can probably be folded to fit into your palm. Made with a thin batter – that’s almost the same consistency as a Rava Dosa batter, with rice (better when soaked overnight) and coconut. It’s why it’s called Neer (water) Dosa. It makes a perfect accompaniment with some of the region’s meat and seafood gravies. Mathsya, one of Chennai’s true-blue Udupi restaurant, serves this dosa with a simple mixture of freshly ground coconut with jaggery.

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4. Goli Baje (aka) Mangalore Bonda

Mitra Samaj located next to Udupi’s iconic Shri Krishna temple is one of the town’s best known food institutions. This modest eatery serves a variety of Udupi snacks all day but it’s their Goli Baje that is their signature dish and usually available around 4 pm – tiffin time. This delectable deep-fried snack combines maida (Flour), rice flour and curdwith a smattering of green chillies and ginger. You can sample authentic versions of this dish at Palmgrove Hotel in Chennai or Ballal Residency in Bengaluru.


5. Mangalore Buns

Sweet or savoury? The only way to know is to sample this unique dish that can pass of for a poori or even a katchori but tastes distinctly different. Locals call this fluffy poorilookalike, a bun. The bun gets its subtle sweet taste from overripe bananas that are mashed into the maida and let to ferment for a few hours (overnight is even better). The flavours are further enhanced with a few cumin seeds, sugar and curd before they are deep fried just like pooris. There’s a tiny Woodlands restaurant in Udupi that serves an authentic version of this dish, you can also sample this at restaurants like Mathsya and Ashoka Hotel in Chennai.