Photo Credit: Thomas Hayme ( Flickr)
You want to supercharge your child’s brain? The world is filled with so many delicious, nutritious natural foods. Some of them are particularly well suited for our brains, making them also the perfect foods to start off your kid’s day and use them for school lunch or snacks.
To start the day Fruits and Vegetables: Green Smoothie! Loaded with the best, most nutrient dense foods on the planet, a green smoothie for breakfast and even one sent off in a bottle for lunch time. Bananas provide quick energy to the brain, and they are abundant in this recipe:
Handful of greens ( baby spinach or baby kale)
Two or three ripe bananas
1 cup of mixed berries
Blend everything with water or milk substitute.
Blueberries: Antioxidant-rich protect the heart and the brain from stress, increase learning capacity and strengthen motor skills. This is am easy food to get kids to love. One cup of blueberries a day in any form will do the trick.
Whole grains: These are a tricky one, there are so many packaged products that are advertised as “whole grains” or “all natural” that really are not at all. You have to be a nutrition label detective and make sure the first ingredient is 100% whole grain, or you might end up with a refined product stripped of its nutrients. Whole grain oatmeal is a great breakfast option, if you send sandwiches for lunch you can look for whole grain breads or sprouted grains breads.
Fish: The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are important for the brain, but sending fish to school can be a challenge! A good option can be a tuna salad sandwich on a whole grain bread, you can substitute the mayo with mashed avocado or homemade mayo.
Nuts and seeds: Excellent sources of vitamin E, which enhance cognitive abilities. Add an ounce a day of any kind of nuts or nut butter such as peanut, almond or sunflower butter. Raw is better than toasted, which means they will naturally come without salt and prevent an overload of sodium. A traditional “brain food” is peanut butter and jelly …as long as you use whole grain bread, natural sugar free ( not sugar added) peanut or sunflower butter, and a blueberry jam that hasn’t been sweetened with anything other than juice fruit.
Avocados: Are another good brain food, use it to make guacamole dip, send it off with carrots, cucumbers or organic tortilla chips. For a sweet option, you can send some homemade chocolate avocado pudding instead of the store-bought one.
Beans: Whoever says that eating healthy costs too much has yet to be introduced to beans. Beans are filling, healthy, and help stabilize blood sugar levels. Beans offer a consistent stream of energy to the body, vital for cognitive functioning. You can easily put a nice portion of black beans and brown rice or quinoa together in a cold salad, combine them with lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes, and wrap in a whole grain tortilla. Maybe even slather some of your homemade guacamole on there.
Dark Chocolate: Yes! okay, maybe you’ll want to save the chocolate for yourself. But send your kids with up to an ounce for a treat int the lunch box, too. Dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa, is a triple treat: it is packed with antioxidants and natural brain stimulants, and it stimulates the production of endorphins, which improve mood. So if a math test is coming after lunch, it can certainly help brighten your child’s attitude about it!
Remember that a lifestyle including fresh air, exercise and a good night’s sleep is critical to proper brain function… not just for your child, but for you, too.