It’s back to school time! That means it’s also time to pack lunches and ensure children have a healthy breakfast before rushing out the door.
But, what does healthy mean?
Before you grab the breakfast cereal or pack yet another standard lunch sandwich, make sure you’re offering your child some variety in their diet. While a ham sandwich is great, if possible, it’s good to avoid getting into a rut where you serve your child the same thing everyday. Instead, include a variety of foods, particularly foods that will give your child the energy and brain power they need to succeed at school.
You can help ensure that your kids get the nutrition they need by including these impressive brain foods in the meals you prepare:
Practically a superfood, eggs are full of nutrition. Eggs are packed with protein and choline, both of which are important for your brain. Protein is a great source of energy for the body that releases slowly, meaning your child will be alert after eating their eggs. Choline on the other hand may even help increase happiness! At school, the better the attitude your child has, the better, so give them a boost with choline. This B-complex vitamin is also generally associated with better neurological function, making eggs the perfect brain food.
How to Serve Them:
Offer your child a scrambled egg for breakfast or make an omelette. You can even mix in some greens like spinach if you serve your child one of these two breakfast options. For lunch, you can send your child an egg salad sandwich or even deviled eggs
2) Greek Yogurt
Any yogurt is great, but Greek yogurt is known for its higher protein content. Children especially can use full-fat yogurt, so skip the low-fat options. Full-fat dairy products have a bad rap, but they actually offer a range of health benefits. The energy offered by the fat will keep your child’s brain going and reduce their cravings for sugar. In addition, if you choose a probiotic greek yogurt, there are additional brain benefits. The probiotics in yogurt can boost mental capacities, and may even ward off depression and anxiety.
How to Serve It:
Send it along in your child’s lunch along with some high-fiber cereal or fresh fruit like strawberries, blueberries or sliced banana. You can also add in greek yogurt to a smoothie to make the perfect breakfast drink or after-school snack.
Full of omega-3s which are super important for brain health, fish is easy to incorporate into your child’s lunch. Tuna is the obvious choice for lunch sandwiches, however you can also make sure you serve salmon as a weekly dinner choice.
How to Serve It:
Make a quick tuna salad to pack in a sandwich for lunch. Alternatively, pack some whole wheat crackers so that your child can dip the tuna for lunch.
Oatmeal is a great, healthy breakfast choice that will boost your child’s memory performance at school. It’s known for offering a great protein content and also for its high fiber content. Make sure you choose whole rolled oats.
How to Serve It:
The perfect breakfast, quickly cook some oatmeal in the morning for the whole family. Stir in some extras for flavor such as: nuts or a nut butter for extra protein and brain benefits, honey for sweetness, fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, cooked apple or bananas, milk for additional protein and healthy fats.
If you want to offer oatmeal for lunch, you could make your own low-sugar granola bars or granola trail mix. Include plenty of nuts and dried fruit for a healthy mix that will give your child the brain power they need to get through the day.
We all know it’s important to get enough servings of vegetables. However, it can be challenging to serve these up to your kids. Here are some great choices: carrots, romaine, spinach, broccoli, celery, and any other vegetables your child loves.
In particular, the dark green vegetables are known for their folate content which is known to reduce chances of getting dementia later in life. Broccoli has great choline content (just like eggs!) and celery offers a good dose of antioxidants. Carrots another great choice and are also kid-friendly! Carrots are one of many vegetables that contain lutein which is good for your child’s eyesight and brain development as well.
How to Serve Them:
With a great dressing or dip, most kids will enjoy vegetables. Don’t shy away from offering a yogurt based ranch style dip, guacamole or hummus along with vegetable sticks or a salad. Alternatively, hide greens like spinach and broccoli in eggs or even sneak spinach into lasagna. Tuck romaine lettuce into a sandwich or wrap and grate carrots into your chicken or egg salad. Your kids will never know the difference.
With a bit of planning, you can make sure that you include these healthy brain foods in your child’s regular breakfasts and lunches. If you need help planning, use Picniic’s meal planner and recipe features to help keep everything organized. You can even add these foods to your Picniic shopping list so that you aren’t scrambling for ingredients on those rushed school mornings.
Eating healthy brain foods will set your child up for success in the classroom and in life. Remember, healthy eating habits start young. So, the sooner you can get your child into a routine of enjoying a variety of healthy, brain-boosting foods, the better off they’ll be.
Do you have favorite recipes to incorporate these brain foods into your child’s diet? Tell us about your recipes and healthy eating tips in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!