Some foods help the brain work better. Be smart and feed your kids food that will make them smart (and eat these foods yourself).
There are several brain building foods but some are easier to sneak into picky eater’s diet than others. Asparagus and spinach are not so easy to hide but if the children in your care like them, then you are fortunate. For those of us who feed finicky eaters, here are four easy- to -sneak ingredients.
Wheat Germ – This ingredient is rich in Vitamin E and selenium ( a very potent antioxidant ingredient that helps protect brain cells from free-radical damage caused by enviromental pollution. It’s also high in choline (as are peanuts) and magnesium.
~ Substitute 1/2 cup wheat germ for 1/2 cup of the flour when baking muffins, pancakes etc.
~ Add 1/2 Tbsp into oatmeal. Maybe add a little more as the child gets used to it but don’t push it.
~Sprinkle it on yogurt or cereal.
~Add it to smoothies or even milkshakes before blending.
~Substitute for breadcrumbs on a mac and cheese casserole or in meatloaf. Use it to coat chicken.
~Mix into crumbles atop pies or into the pie crust.
~Sprinkle on cakes before baking or afterwards.
~Use wheat germ oil in dressings and sauces (not for frying). It loses it’s nutrients in high heat. Substitute the oil for other oils in baking cakes.
Flaxseed oil – The oil from these seeds are used in medicine. Flaxseed oil is thought to decrease inflammation. There is some evidence that taking flaxseed oil might improve ADHD and prevent hardening of the arteries because of the linolenic acid (Omega 3) in flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil loses it’s nutrients through heat and even light. (Store it in the refridgerator). Keep serving size for young children at 3 tsp per day or less until you see how their body reacts. Too much can cause diarrhea.
~if your child is a dipper, add some to his/her dressing, dips and sauces.
~drizzle it instead of butter on veggies/potatoes (after cooking) and spread it on toast, waffles and pancakes.
~ add a small amount of flaxseed oil to smoothies or milkshakes.
Eggs – Older people who suffer from Vitamin D deficiency show faster rates of cognative decline than people with satisfactory levels of Vitamin D (according to a new research from the University of Califoria Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rutgers University) The good news is that you and your child can get your daily dose of D in eggs! Be sure you eat the yolks, that is where the brain-protective nutrients are located. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. Hard-boiled, scrambled, deviled, or sunny side up, the texture of eggs changes depending on how you cook it. Experiment to find out how your child favors his but if he is reluctant to eat eggs however you present them, here are some sneakier ways to pass the egg.
~Pasta carbonara (using whatever veggies, cheese and meat your child likes)
~Crack one in his soup and stir it.
~Chop a hard boiled egg into whatever food they already like; mac and cheese, rice, quesadilla, guacamole.
`Egg sandwich (try scrambled, fried / hard boiled)
~Banana pancakes; blend 2 eggs and one ripe banana and pour it on a griddle as if it were pancake batter. Bonus for adding chia or ground flaxseeds, but don’t get greedy and scare them off.
Peanut butter (or even better, almond butter) – Store bought or home made with peanuts and a pinch of salt in a blender, this spread has thiamine and magnesium that enables brain activity but also has a calming affect on the central nervous system helping kids to focus. Try chunky and smooth to see which your child prefers.
~smear it on waffles. Extra credit for adding a banana/ raisin face on the waffle.
~Make nut butter with your child, using whichever nuts she likes. Spanish peanuts work well, roasted or raw, because they have more oil than other peanuts. Whole Foods and other grocery stores sometimes have a machine to grind your own.
~ Spread it on toast. Top with fruit if they like. (apple/banana)
~Add a spoonful to a smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal.
~Straight from the jar with a spoon. They might think that is fun if it’s usually forbidden.
~Peanut butter sandwich. Preferably on whole grain, sprouted bread but that might be pushing too much. If they like jelly, spread peanut butter on both pieces of bread and the jelly in the middle. The peanut butter keeps the jelly from soaking into the bread and making it soggy. Other substitutes for jelly could be banana, honey, Nutella, or marshmallow fluff. Ask your kids what they would like in there. I watched kids put potato chips on the peanut butter and loved it. For a twist put the peanut butter and topping on one slice of bread, cut off the crust, roll the bread tightly and slice it sushi style.
~If your child won’t eat peanut butter but does like peanut butter cup candy, make your own using dark chocolate and don’t add sugar to the peanut butter. There are so many things to make with peanut butter from cookies to protein balls.
“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““Mealtimes should be fun and not a battleground so keep it light in offering food. Offer healthy foods and then don’t stress if they eat the same things over and over. Try not to have less sugary foods in the house. Let them play with their food. That asparagus spear sword fight could lead to tasting it and liking it. Have a utensil free meal to get the kids laughing. Praying before you eat helps everyone start the meal feeling grateful and focused on something bigger than the food.