Staples: Strengthen Your Intake



In almost every country and region, cereals give the staple food. The staple food crop of northern region of India is wheat while the staple of the southern parts of India is rice. Corn is a staple in Native American culture and the people living in the Far East regions (Japan, China, Thailand, and Korea) love eating rice as their staple food.

On closer observation you will find the staple food of many cultures around the world revolves around a combination of cereals, pulses and some vegetables. 

Corn/maize and beans in Latin America, rice, fish and beans in Far East regions, millet and ground nuts in the African Sahel, rice and soybeans in Southeast Asia, wheat and garbanzos in the Middle East, rice, wheat and pulses in India, and corn bread and black-eyed peas in the southern United States.

We all dream of a fairy-tale idea of meal times with our children. This seems to be just next to impossible. If you have a fussy eater in your family, mealtime becomes highly stressful. But help is at hand if you study, in detail, your staple diets.

We will discuss two main staple foods here: Rice and wheat.


Rice is nice!

Rice is a staple for millions of people around the world. It is a rich source of dietary energy and contains a whole lot of vitamins. Unmilled rice is high on dietary fibre. Rice is a moderate source of protein (less than 7% but the quality of protein is better).

Rice cannot supply all the nutrients necessary for adequate nutrition. Addition and or a combination of a complementary ingredient can further enhance the nutritional value of a variety of foods that are prepared using rice.

Fried rice with fish/chicken/egg

For non-vegetarians, fish, chicken and eggs are rich sources of proteins. Combining rice with these proteins delivers large amounts of essential amino acids (proteins) and micronutrients for growth and development of our body.

Fried rice with beans and vegetables

For vegetarians, pulses, such as beans, groundnuts and lentils, are also nutritional complements to the rice-based diet as they help to complete the amino acid profile.

The trump card we hold: Idlis

Idli is savoury cake that is popular throughout India. Idlis are made by steaming a batter consisting of fermented black lentils (de-husked) and rice. The fermentation process breaks down the starches so that they are more readily metabolized by the body. Both these processes are very good for the digestive system and involve cooking with no oil at all.

Almost every child relishes these savoury cakes. Idli is an excellent combination of cereal (rice) and black lentils (protein). A variety of vegetables can be added to the batter before steaming. Another alternative is that these idlis can be stir fried with either vegetables or fish or chicken to make them wholesome.

Additional excellent combination

  • Rajmah with rice
  • Dhal with rice
  • Spinach and mushroom rice
  • Chana pulao
  • Biryani (Chicken/fish/mushrooms/vegetables)
  • Rice flakes (poha) with vegetables
  • Puffed rice with Sprout salad.

Wheat is great!

Wheat is the staple food of humankind. It has wide culinary uses, from making breads, pasta and cakes to fermentation of alcoholic beverages.

Wheat-based products are the personification of cultural heritage and pride. Imagine Indians without Chapattis, Italians without pasta, and North Africans without couscous, Chinese without noodles or Americans without steamed bread. Shawarma, a Middle Eastern dish of meat or poultry served on pita bread is also a favourite of most kids. Pita bread is certainly made from wheat.

Wheat too is our source of dietary energy and has proteins along with a whole variety of vitamins and minerals.

Combinations of wheat products, in much the similar way as with rice, can help us in providing healthy wholesome meals to our children.

Chapatti/roti/ Indian FlatBread: Chapattis and rotis (Indian flatbread) are the perfect accompaniment to most Indian dishes.

Roti and its thinner variant, known as Chapatti are a part of  almost every meal in an Indian household, particularly popular in Northern, Central and Western India.

Made from whole wheat flour, the nutritional value of rotis could be enhanced by adding soy flour or Bengal gram flour (besan). This will enhance the protein content of the rotis.

Green leafy vegetables like spinach and fenugreek can be added to increase the nutritive value.

Paratha or  Fried Indian Bread:

Every child loves eating parathas. Stuffed parathas are an excellent way to merge vegetables in the diets of our picky eaters. Pulses or fish or even chicken can be used as a filling for parathas.


Pasta and noodles are also enjoyed by most kids. We can easily sneak a whole lot of vegetables in them and serve them topped with their favourite kind of cheese and a dash of oregano. The aroma on the dinner table would be too difficult to resist for any child.


Buns and sandwiches can easily be layered with any kind of animal /vegetable protein and vegetables. You have the entire range at your disposal. Make sure to use multigrain and Whole Meal Bread.

Additional excellent combination

  • Stuff Bun (with Mix Veg/Mushroom/Chicken/fish)
  • Stuffed rolls (with kebab/chicken tikka/paneer tikka)
  • Spinach pasta with white sauce
  • Vegetable upma
  • Couscous salad
  • Broken wheat (Dalia) with vegetables
  • Hummus with khubus.

As mothers, we need to ensure that our children enjoy their meal times. Also it is in our hands to play around with the staple foods that we eat.

Camouflage the foods and serve them in the form that attracts your children and then sit back and relax as they now not only enjoy your home cooked meals, but they also appreciate you with their plates empty and their hearts satisfied.






About the author
I am a freelance dietitian based in Dubai. I strongly believe that health is the highest form of self-respect that we can gift ourselves. Besides being a dietitian I am also a NLP certified life coach. In my opinion Health is a state of mind, for most of us are emotional eaters. Our diet is influence by the emotional patterns that our mind has created over a period of time. And if we are to keep ourselves healthy we need to create new healthy neuro-connections in our brain. I strongly endorse a lifestyle change rather than just the usual diet change. A practical and sound nutritional guidance backed by logic and scientific research is a guaranteed way to good health. Read my posts to create healthy neuro-connection. Leaving you with a thought to ponder upon….. Life’s not about expecting, hoping, and wishing. It’s about doing, being, and becoming. It’s about the choices you’ve just made, and the ones you’re about to make, It’s about the things you choose to say – today. It’s about what you’re gonna do after you finish reading this. -Mike Dooley

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