Brain Foods for Back to School
As your child is getting ready to head back into the classroom, you want to make sure that they’re as equipped as possible to put their best foot forward, and that means equipping their brain! Food is an essential part of readying the brain, and in this post, we’ll share some of the best brain foods for school time.
Breakfast is the MOST important meal of the day. It sets the tone for energy level, focus, and perseverance. Protein is an imperative nutrient for optimum brain function, and sugar is one of the worst (that means no sugary cereals). Here are some things to try giving your child before they head to school:
- Eggs. Good ol’ eggs. These are super high in protein and most kids love them scrambled with some cheese (which adds more protein). You can add even more protein by serving them with Ezekiel 4:9 toast (or another sprouted grain bread), which packs more of a protein punch than other white or whole grain breads.
- Hot oatmeal, buckwheat or quinoa cereal. While these are grains and thus turn to sugar in your body, they have a slower absorption rate because they’re complex, and you can boost the protein content (sometimes by double) by adding hemp, chia, and flax seeds (or flax meal). You can also add nuts, but if your child doesn’t like the crunch of nuts, try blending them into a fine meal in the blender. Add a tad bit of maple syrup, honey, or mushed banana for some sweetness. Tip: If you make this a thick cereal, you can turn them into pancakes and top with berries.
- Chia pudding. Chia seeds are high in protein, brain-boosting Omega-3 fatty acids, and essential amino acids, making them the perfect little mediator between your child and a better day at school. To make chia pudding, simply mix chia seeds with a liquid of your choice (something low in sugar like coconut water/milk or almond milk) and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Add berries, cacao powder, or even mix into oatmeal. Here are a few recipes to try: https://www.asweetpeachef.com/chia-pudding-recipes/
- Greek yogurt parfait. Greek yogurt contains much more protein than regular yogurt. You’re going to opt for the non-sweetened, plain Greek yogurt. Top with berries and oat granola to give flavor. If your child can’t stand the sourness, try mixing in a nut butter or a tad bit of honey and vanilla extract.
Just about when your loved one is craving something to get them over that noon-time hump, you’re going to want to give them something to provide energy. This means good fats, carbs, a bit more protein, and definitely nutrient-dense snacks. Here are some suggestions:
- Sandwiches, made with sprouted grain bread. If you’re avoiding meat, try egg-salad sandwiches. If you substitute mayo for avocados, you’re adding a boost of good fats. Top with tomatoes and lettuce for some veggies.
- PB&J. A classic. Substitute the jelly with homemade chia jam or sliced ripe bananas to add more nutrients and cut the sugar.
- Snack box. Just give your child an array of small, healthy snacks to munch on at lunch-time. Include things like beans, hummus, and crackers or veggies (crackers full of good seeds are the best), cheese and crackers (not American cheese, but a good protein-rich real cheese, like cheddar or jack) nut butter and celery/carrot sticks, olives, pickles, hard-boiled eggs, etc.
- Fish. Every once-in-a-while you’ll meet a child who likes fish. If this is your kid, take advantage. Sardines are by far the best fish you can pack in a lunch—they have almost the same amount of Omega-3’s as salmon, and the lowest amount of mercury of all fish. Prepare them like a tuna salad (try adding currants and diced green apples into the fish mixture for a sweet flavor pop), and serve with crackers or on a sandwich. If sardines sound too adventurous, try tuna or salmon.
- Any of the breakfast foods mentioned above. Wait, breakfast for lunch?! Not a bad idea if it’s made of brain-fueling nutrients. Cold oatmeal pancakes with a nut-butter spread and berries on the side? Yes, please.
Does your child need a sweet treat after lunch? Don’t fret, dark chocolate actually gives some brain power (yay!). Of course, everything good must be given in moderation. So try just one small cookie made with dark chocolate chips, a dark chocolate granola bar, or even just a few pieces of dark chocolate and berries to satisfy that craving.
Don’t forget the hydration. Try these drinks to help keep your child focused throughout the day:
- Water, water, everywhere! The brain needs this more than any other liquid in order to perform the most necessary functions. Make sure your child gets a good amount at school to keep their brain at optimum function.
- Green tea. Packed with polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) that have a positive effect on the brain. These guys increase dopamine in the brain (a happy hormone) and thus create more of a drive to do well, while also creating a positive association with school. The caffeine in green tea has been found to improve brain function, mood, and vigilance.
Tip: If your child isn’t fond of the non-sweet and seemingly unexciting beverages mentioned above, spice them up with some fresh fruit and mint leaves. This will provide a refreshing, slightly sweet, and colorful addition.
- Green smoothie. Greens (especially kale and spinach) are nutrient-dense plants that give the brain some vital nutrients for performance. Blend your choice of frozen fruit (pineapples, mangoes, berries) with greens and almond milk for a simple, packable smoothie that will be like a thick juice by lunch-time. For added benefit, sneak in a tablespoon of flax oil, which is rife with omegas.
We hope you enjoyed this post about brain-boosting foods. Do you have any healthy food success stories with your child, or have you tried any of the above with a good outcome? Let us know in the comments below.