Refreshing summer foods to keep kids healthy

Children are busy and energetic, frequently expending more energy than they consume. Add to that the unrelenting summer heat and the resulting dehydration. It is thus critical to ensure that their nutrition is changed appropriately to fuel them along.

Here are ten refreshing summer meals that your kids will devour:

1. Watermelon - Who doesn't enjoy a succulent, refreshing slice of watermelon? Although they are available all year in supermarkets, it is still a treat to see fresh local ones in storage when summer arrives. The bright red ones are typically the most delicious. They are excellent for hydration and help clean out toxins from the body because they are 92% water. The Vitamin A concentration maintains the skin's appearance. Here's a hint: look for one with a golden splotch and that appears to be heavy for its size (it's likely to be ripe and sweet).

2. Cucumber - This veggie is commonly served on Indian dinner tables as part of a "green salad." Summer also brings a relative known as 'kakdi,' which is long and thin. Cucumbers serve to cool the body and contain fiber, which prevents constipation. If your kid is picky about food, simply place a bowl of cucumber sticks on her table and watch them vanish.

3. Tomatoes - Did you know that tomatoes are scientifically categorized as a fruit rather than a vegetable? Yes, you are right. They act as a natural sunblock, preventing skin pigmentation and tanning. Make tomato juice or simply offer raw slices as a salad or snack.

4. Dahi/yogurt - Yogurt could be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and supper by my daughter. And my Punjabi mother is overjoyed. Punjab's response to the scorching heat is yogurt. Each entrée is accompanied by lassi, raita, or plain dahi. Probiotics aid digestion, and yogurt maintains the body cool from within. You could sprinkle some sugar on top, or even better, add some fruits; it's a tasty treat for toddlers.

5. Mint Leaves/ Pudina - Flavors are some of my most vivid memories from summers spent at my grandmother's home in Ludhiana. The first of these is a mint chutney she used to prepare with raw onion and a pinch of sugar. The cool chutney was the ideal antidote to the hot weather outside. What my grandma always knew is now supported by research. Mint reduces gastric juices and thus'settles' the stomach.

6. Coconut Water - Coconut water is a panacea for both children and adults. The delicate flavor appeals to children (who also enjoy scooping up the malai at the bottom), and it is high in potassium, electrolytes, and nutrients, keeping the body hydrated and healthy. Purchase fresh coconuts rather than packaged coconut water from supermarket aisles.

7. Nimbu Pani/Lime - WaterInstead of pre-made juices, prepare fresh nimbu pani for your kids when they return from play. The tangy flavor appeals to children, and the Vitamin C boosts their health. Lemon, like many of the other wonderful foods on this list, aids digestion and cleanses the body from within.

8. Fennel Seeds - Firm believer that traditions are generally founded on sound reasoning. We frequently finish our dinners (and thus this list) with a half-spoon of saunf or fennel seeds. What you may not realize is that this is more than just a mouthwash. Fennel seeds help digestion by inhibiting acid production and stimulating intestinal fluids. The ideal method to cap off a delicious meal.

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