Cook every kind of Asian rice, perfectly.
Comprehensive nutrition is the key to ensure your child grows up active, happy and keen to learn. But as every parent knows, that’s not always an easy task. Kids can be picky and nutritious food may not be to their still-developing preferences. Luckily, this also means that there are many great opportunities to introduce them to the myriad tasty wonders of healthy foods, and packing lunchbox for school is one such everyday activity.
Although Asian child-raising often gives the false impression of overly stern or demanding academic excellence; like all parents around the world, they are actually never short of love and devotion. And, when it comes to giving their kids the best nutrition in the most delicious ways, Asian parents certainly have their own bag of nurturing tricks. Not to mention the vast diversity of easy snacks, dishes and goodies to provide for little ones at school.
Children need all the nourishment from the major food groups. That means your kids’ lunchbox should always include at least one of each type. Grain food such as rice, noodles or bread provides the carbs and energy, as well as to fill your little one’s belly. Dairy, eggs and meat for the calcium, protein and healthy fats. Vegetables and fruits are rich in fibre to ensure healthy digestion, as well as to provide essential vitamins and minerals for overall wellbeing and development. This is why Asian parents always pack a variety for their kids’ lunchbox, with all-inclusive recipes such as fried rice or noodles with pork strips, chicken slices, omelette bits or shrimps and mixed veggies, plus an accompanying fruit. Plain rice with a tasty dish is also common. Always keep to simple foods without too much sauce or gravy that may leak. Also, don’t forget to wrap a clean utensil like a spoon or fork when needed.
To ensure your children actually finish their lunchbox, Asian parents will cook it extra yummy, and make it different every day. Allowing your kids to choose, make and taste their own food beforehand is a great way to gauge their taste, and make them look forward to eating their lunchbox. However, do remember to give healthy options, praise them for making the best choices, and explain why each food is good for them. Also teach, remind and encourage your little ones to eat before playtime at school.
For busy parents, prep the ingredients the night before so you can quickly whip it up in the morning. Or, just cook, keep it in the fridge and reheat it the next day before school. Use an insulated lunch bag or vacuum flask that can keep the food warm. Some schools may have microwaves for children to heat their lunches, so be sure to check. For cold dishes such as sushi and Korean Gimbap, fit a freezer pack or a small bottle of frozen water to ensure the food stays fresh, and to curb bacterial growth.
For drinks, plain water or milk is best. Avoid sweetened juices and carbonated drinks as those can contribute to tooth decay, and fill your children’s belly before they can finish the food.
With all that in mind, here are 8 simple, nutritious and yummy Asian recipes for your kids to enjoy.
Crispy Pork Sandwich
Sandwiches are probably the easiest lunchbox food to prep. Go extra sumptuous with this authentic Japanese pork chop goodie with egg, cabbage leaves and special tonkatsu sauce.
Potatoes are rich in fibre, healthy carbs, potassium, vitamins C and B6, with no cholesterol; as well as easy to cook and yummy to eat. Make it tender and fluffy in this delicious Japanese salad that includes eggs, ham, cucumber, carrot and onions.
Mild Chicken Curry Puff
Not all curries have to be spicy. Here’s a mild but flavourful baked Malaysian pastry that you can make with your kids over the weekend; filled with chicken cubes and onions for a delightful lunchbox snack. Also delicious when accompanied with cooked veggies and fresh fruits for a full meal.
Grilled Pork Rice Paper Rolls
Vietnamese delicacies are often packed with fragrant flavours and ingredients including meat, vermicelli, herbs and lots of veggies. Let your kids try this unique rice paper roll special, tasty warm or cold – perfect for the lunchbox.
Dumplings are easy to make, simple to eat, and filled with minced meat and veggies. This cute Japanese Gyoza delight is sure to please your kids.
Easy Sushi Roll
Want to give your kids the grains, protein and veggies in one simple, yummy dish that’s also super easy to prep and pack? Sushi is one of your best options. Make more for an extra filling lunchbox, and skip the wasabi for a milder soy sauce that your kids may prefer.
Springy, hearty and absolutely satisfying, this classic Chinese meatball packs a punch of yummy texture, flavours and goodness in every bite. Pair it with plain cooked rice and a simple blanched vegetable like broccoli for your kids’ lunchbox.
Pack a vibrant and joyful lunch dish with this Korean favourite. Great on its own or accompanied with rice, noodles or veggies. Filling and delicious!