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Food for thought: How do you pack a lunch that's fun and full of fuel to keep your kids wide awake and ready to learn all afternoon? You fill it with these five “lunchtime rechargers” that will help your kids return to class with full bellies, hungry for only one thing: knowledge.
The protein and nutrients in eggs help kids concentrate long after lunch is over. Eggs are full of choline, a vitamin-like substance that is vital for the creation of memory stem cells. The more of these cells we have, the better our memory. Serve it to your kids scrambled in a whole-grain tortilla, hardboiled, deviled or in an egg salad sandwich.
Milk is a great source of protein, vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium. Not only does that mean healthy bones and teeth, but vitamin D has also been said to protect against multiple diseases and conditions like cancer, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. So sending milk in your children's lunch is kind of like sending them with their very own force field.
Power-Packed Leafy Greens
Greens like spinach and kale are full of folate and vitamins, and they aid digestion, so it’s really a no-brainer that these leafy greens should make an appearance in your child’s lunchbox. The real key to getting your kids to eat greens is to introduce them at an early age. But if you’re well past that point and your kids turn up their noses at anything in the green spectrum, try hiding it. Add it to their egg and whole-grain tortilla or whip it into a smoothie (find a great recipe here!). You could even make kale chips, because what kid is going to turn down that crunchy snack? Turn those leafy greens into chips by removing the stems, drizzling with olive oil and salt, and baking until nice and crisp.
Apples are a well-known lunchbox staple—and for good reason. Apples are sweet, making them easy for kids to eat, but they are also full of fiber and vitamin C. Apples might not be “brain food” per se, but tummy troubles and bowel irregularity can hamper kids' learning, and the fiber in apples can help keep little tummies happy. Serve with a fun dipping sauce made of equal parts chocolate milk and peanut (or almond) butter, and your kids will think you packed dessert instead of a healthy snack.
Brain-Boosting Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are packed with protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and may even boost your mood (according to a study linking nuts to higher levels of serotonin), making them a great addition to your child’s lunch. Peanuts are an obvious choice, but with so many peanut allergies in schools these days, it’s also not always an option. A handful of plain almonds, walnuts or cashews is an easy lunchbox addition. But if your child doesn't find that exciting, or is younger and can't eat whole nuts, you can also work nuts into other foods, like sunflower seed butter on bread or crackers, ground-up nuts on yogurt or applesauce, or a pecan coating on baked fish sticks or chicken nuggets.
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