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Brown Bag Brain Boosts: Power-Packed Lunches for Kids

Eating right has never been more important.  When kids are e-learning, they often need a little help with concentration and focus (or is that just my kid??).  And if they’re physically attending school and coming into contact with their classmates and teachers, their daily nutrition can play a vital role in their immune health.  Here are a few tips on slipping power-packed nutrients into your kiddo’s lunch bag that they’ll actually eat  - and if school’s out, throw the food in a picnic basket and enjoy some fresh air!

Here’s what it does:

Using salmon instead of tuna provides a fresh twist and extra oomph to a classic recipe: it’s pink hue makes it fun for kids, and salmon beats tuna hands-down as a rich source of omegas-3s, an essential fatty acid that plays a vital role in brain health, memory, and learning.  Research indicates that children with omega-3 deficiencies are more likely to develop ADHD, and that children with ADHD often respond positively to increasing their intake of omegas. 

Celery not only provides a satisfying crunch, the luteolin in celery can significantly reduce brain inflammation.

Cranberries are a superfood packed with powerful antioxidants that provide immune boosting benefits.  They’re also rich in ursolic acid, which can actually help sharpen cognitive functions & prevent brain cell deterioration. 

And egg-based mayonnaise contains choline, a nutrient which helps memory development. 

TIP: When picking a mayonnaise, try an avocado oil or olive oil based product, and look for brands that avoid soybean oil, corn oil, and other vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids.  I like Primal Kitchen Mayo.

Apples satisfy that sweet craving common for kids (and for me!).  But they also deliver quercetin, an antioxidant that may fight decline in mental skills.  They’re also high in vitamin C, an immune-building  antioxidant.

Greek yogurt contains healthy fats.  A full-fat Greek yogurt (which has more protein than other yogurts) can help keep brain cells in good form for sending and receiving information.  A fat brain is a smart brain!

Here’s what it does:

Packed with protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, nuts and seeds provide an incredible brain boost which may help balance mood and support your kiddo’s nervous system. For this PB&J, you don’t HAVE to use peanut butter.  Especially if your school is a nut-free zone, sunflower seed butter is a delicious alternative.  And it’s rich in vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that protects nervous membranes, selenium, a key nutrient for brain health, & folate to boot!  Use slices of strawberries instead of jam to add a fun twist, reduce sugar, and increase antioxidants & vitamin C.  Research indicates that strawberry extract may improve memory, and since berry seeds contain omega-3s, they give another mini brain-boost!  Put it all between whole grain bread to feed the brain with glucose.  Whole grains also have B-vitamins, which nourish a healthy nervous system and provide the energy your little peanut needs. Tip: pick a nut/seed butter brand with 2 ingredients tops (beware excess salt, sugar, and additives). Tip: pick a gluten-free whole grain bread, or an organic non-GMO whole wheat bread. Carrots Colorful veggies like carrots offer a variety of nutritional benefits. Their rich, vibrant color is nature’s clue as to their high antioxidant levels, helping to prevent and reduce the normal wear and tear on your kiddos noggin & body. Tip: always go organic with baby carrots. Popcorn You may think of popcorn as junk-food, but without all the toppings, popcorn is actually a nutritious whole grain.  I prefer Bodykey popcorn for it’s simple ingredients and additional antioxidants.

Bon appetit!

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