By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
Warning: This mom’s lunch box recipes will put your kid’s Lunchables to shame.
Not only that, it might make you wish she was your mom.
Reshma Seetharam’s food blog, My Foodarama, has meals to whet the appetites of the whole fam damily. Click on the blog’s menu bar that includes vegetarian, meat, seafood, kids lunches, cakes and bakes. Recipes range from ninja cookies and fusion cuisine to pizza and pilaf.
Other than watching her two sons play soccer, nothing excites her more than creating a new recipe or taking on a cake project. Seetharam is a Herald web developer by day, food blogger by night and mother 24/7.
She’s steadfast on her mission to give her family healthy food, especially when they are not at the table with her.
Older son Pratham, 8, is a foodie who adores her cooking. Rishith, 5, is a picky eater and her hard-to-please food critic. Her husband, Paramesh, a Boeing design engineer, is a meat lover by heart. If the recipe doesn’t have meat, it won’t be on his plate.
Seetharam packs lunches for all three of her guys. She doesn’t just slap something between bread, throw in a banana and call it good. For her sons, she cuts up fruit in bite-sized pieces and mixes up noodles or rice with their favorite meats and veggies. It’s arranged in colorful compartments to give it a “wow” factor.
“I have to win them over opening that box,” she said. “Give them enthusiasm to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to eat this.’”
Hubby doesn’t require pretty packaging. He’s easy to please with curry and other traditional India food.
Her strategy: “Play it safe for what they like,” she said. “Take the kids grocery shopping to choose what they like.”
Do her sons appreciate it?
Yes and, well, no.
“They want to be like their friends,” she said.
Pratham has been known to ask, “Mom, can you give me PB&J and bag of chips and juice boxes?”
Once a week, on Friday, he can have whatever he wants, even the Lunchables.
Seetharam also gets a pass. “I don’t cook on Friday,” she said. “I’m done. I need a break.”
The Bangalore, India, native came to the U.S. in 2001, far away from her family and friends.
“Food was the only thing that kept me grounded, kept me close to home,” she said. “That comfort zone came from cooking.”
She moved from Detroit to Mukilteo in 2007. After being downsized from her web developer telecommuting job with IBM in 2009, she still had the job of being a mom.
“It was a blessing. I was a mom of two little boys under three who kept me on my toes. Yet, I craved something to put my brain cells to work, “ Seetharam said.
She started a food blog in 2010. “Quite a few friends asked me for recipes,” Seetharam said. “I found blogging to be a way to share those recipes. India has lot of different cuisines. I started off with Indian, but fusion food was popular. People wanted to have modified quick recipes with ingredients they can find here. Recipes for today’s lifestyles, not hours and hours of cooking.”
Seetharam traces her love of cooking to her childhood. She and her sisters would whisk eggs for numerous cakes while their mom would juggle lunch, grease cake pans, sift, measure … and still find time to say “Not fluffy enough!”
“Even now,” Seetharam writes on her blog, “if I ask Mom a recipe she says, ‘Watch and learn.’ By the time I jot what she’s added in the blender, she is tending to the stir-fry on the stove and she’s chopping the onions. At the same time, somehow, she is washing dishes and clearing the sink, the pots are boiling, blenders are running, the aromas are truly intoxicating. And there I go, lost in her world, miss getting her recipe. We can’t laze and graze around her. She is good!”
Is she any match for her mom?
“No one can ever match their mom, or outdo them,” she said. “Every mom has her own unique way of showering love to her kids.”
See some of Seetharam’s kid-friendly lunchbox meal recipes on The Herald’s The Dish blog.
1. Send the right portions. Not too little, not too much.
2. Cookie cutters are your friend. They may be silly, but kids love them.
3. Plan a serving of protein, calcium, veggies, fruits, nuts and carbs in every lunch box.
4. The lunch box needs to be colorful enough to entice the child into eating.
5. Have an ample supply of lunch boxes, small containers, drink bottles.
6. Write little notes to tuck in the box to encourage them to eat. It’s OK if they don’t eat 100 percent of it.
7. Freeze drink bottles, desserts, smoothies the night before. Pack the night before if your mornings are rushed.
8. Hang a little sanitizer on their lunch bag or coach them to wash their hands before meal times.
9. Always give them a hearty breakfast, so even if they skip half the lunch some days, it’s OK.
10. Coach your child to bring home leftovers instead of dumping it in the garbage. You will know what nutrition they missed out and fulfill that for dinner.
Source: Reshma Seetharam