Today is Part 1 in a series of three posts featuring recipes that contain brain-boosting ingredients. I’ve got a round-up of healthy breakfast recipes for kids in this first post. Part 2 will focus on healthy lunch recipes for kids, and Part 3 will focus on healthy snack recipes for kids, all in the name of improving brain health. Of course, these are just as healthy for adults.
With kids headed back-to-school soon, I’ve put together this roundup of healthy recipes for kids that are good for the brain – Brain-Boosting foods that will help kids start the day off right, and keep them going throughout the day. Yes, that’s right – there are certain foods that are especially good for the brain – these foods contain nutrients that help improve and maintain focus, and improve brain health.
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s so true. If you think about it, about 12 hours pass between the time you eat dinner and breakfast the next morning, so if your child skips breakfast, he is missing out on a whole host of nutrients to get him through the morning. Research has shown that kids who eat breakfast do better academically and have fewer behavior problems than kids who skip breakfast. Makes sense doesn’t it? I know if I’m hungry, it’s hard to focus on work, and it can make me crabby.
Brain health is just as important for older kids and adults, so I will be trying these healthy brain-boosting recipes for all my kids as well as myself. Although I was not a big breakfast eater as a kid or young adult, as a mom, I have been trying to make sure my boys eat a healthy breakfast each morning, and include as many brain-boosting foods as possible.
So, what are some foods that are good for the brain?
- Berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries) are high in antioxidants which may boost cognitive functioning.
- Apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin that helps protect brain cells. Most of the quercetin in apples is found in the skin, so buy organic apples whenever possible and leave the peel on.
- Eggs – the yolk contains choline, which is essential for brain development and memory function. Nuts and seeds also contain choline.
- Yogurt contains Vitamin B12, which helps in the formation of myelin, which in turn forms a sheath around the nerve fibers and acts as insulation. Vitamin B12 is also found in meat.
- Whole grains (Oatmeal, Quinoa, Amaranth, Whole Wheat) are fiber-rich complex carbohydrates that help slow the absorption of energy which makes sure the brain gets a steady and slow supply of fuel.
- Leafy Green Vegetables (especially Spinach and Kale) and other vegetables are full of brain-friendly carotenoids, flavonoids and folate.
- Fatty Fish (Salmon, Chunk Light Tuna, Sardines) contains DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which improves learning ability; in fact, deficiencies of DHA are associated with deficits in learning.
- Nuts and seeds (Almonds, Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts) contain vitamin E which protects brain-cell membranes from damage; walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
- Iron Rich Foods (Beans, Dark Leafy Greens, Lean Meats and Fish, Soybeans) are important for the normal functioning of the brain.
Since getting kids to eat leafy green vegetables and fish at breakfast time can be tricky, I’ve focused on brain-boosting recipes and ideas that are sure to please most kids and help them start off the school year right.
So let’s get cooking. After all, what’s more important than our children’s health.
This Strawberry Banana French Toast Casserole is one of my kids’ favorites. You can assemble the casseroles in mini-casseroles or ramekins the night before and bake them the next morning in the toaster oven. What I love about this breakfast recipe is that it is full of fruit, whole grains and protein.
What kid could resist this beautiful Strawberry Fruit and Yogurt Granola Parfait from Kevin and Amanda for breakfast.
Or, how about letting your kids make their own berry yogurt parfait with this homemade Coconut Granola from What’s Gaby Cooking, some berries (fresh or frozen), yogurt and toasted walnuts (chia seeds also make a fun topping).
Eggs contain choline which is important for brain health, so plan ahead an make a batch of hard boiled eggs for the week, or try these Quick Egg, Mushroom and Ham Cups from Cookin’ Canuck (they can be made ahead of time and reheated the next day.) Serve with a bowl of berries and a piece of whole grain toast for a complete breakfast.
Kids love pancakes and these Rolled Oat Pancakes from Food Wanderings made with oats and whole grain self-rising flour fit the bill. Just top them off with some fresh berries and serve with a glass of low-fat milk for a complete breakfast.
Nothing beats waking up to this make-ahead Crockpot Apple Pie Oatmeal from Kalyn’s Kitchen, full of brain boosting whole grains and apples. Be sure to leave the skin on the apples for maximum benefit (see Apples above).
To keep things interesting, I like to switch things up throughout the week. How about these Carrot Cake Breakfast Muffins from Edible Mosaic. Made with whole grain flour and packed with carrots, apples and walnuts, these muffins are perfect for a morning when you’re short on time. Just make a batch ahead of time, keep them in the freezer, and pull them out whenever you want.
Another one of my kids’ favorites are these Whole Grain Pumpkin Streusel Mini Muffins – kids love pumpkin bread, and who can resist a crunchy topping. All you need to round out these muffins is a Fruit Smoothie full of brain-boosting fruit.
Here are some more simple brain-boosting breakfast ideas that I’ve shared on Facebook and Instagram.
Egg In A Hat or Pirate’s Eye, made with whole grain bread.
For even more breakfast inspiration, check out my Start The Day Off Right Pinterest board.
More Healthy Breakfast Recipes:
Easy Rice Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Whole Grain Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Gluten/Dairy/Egg-Free Fluffy Pancakes (vegan)
Gluten/Dairy/Egg-Free Carrot Coconut Pineapple Muffins (vegan)
Steel Cut Oatmeal with Blueberry Compote
Warm Red Quinoa with Fresh Berries and Toasted Pecans
Easy Fruit Smoothie
Beginner Green Tea Green Smoothie (use decaf green tea for kids)
Easy Chocolate Mousse for Breakfast
Kid’s Brain Foods, Prevention
Foods That Boost Brain Power, Eating Well
Foods That Boost Brainpower, Prevention
Eat for a Sharper Mind: 5 Brain-Boosting Foods, Eating Well
Brain-Boosting Food for Kids, What To Expect
Folic Acid, University of Maryland Medical Center
Health Benefits of DHA, NCBI
Nourishing Your Noggin, MedicineNet
Iron in brain function and dysfunction with emphasis on Parkinson’s disease, NCBI
10 Foods To Help Boost Your Brain Power, CNN
An Apple or Two a Day Can Save Your Brain – The Buffalo News
This post has been linked up to Beyond the Peel’s Keep It Real Thursdays.