I’ve always held on to the belief that it is important to expose our kids to a wide spectrum of food choices. This will help them come to a place where they can be adventurous with their palates and in the course of it, absorb a variety of nutrients from these wide range of foods.
While we are still in the Exam Season, here are what I call ‘Brain Foods’ and suggestions of how you can incorporate them into your child’s everyday meals!
1) Almond Butter & Mixed Nuts (except peanuts)
Almonds are often considered one of the best brain foods around! Almond butter, with a high concentration of Vitamin E, helps with your child’s memory and they have been shown to positively affect brain activity and help reduce the risk of cognitive impairment. In addition to that, it fills your child up and helps to lower obesity.
Almonds assist in healthy development, and it is a better alternative to snacking as it keeps you full on a longer period. It’s definitely a better brain food than junk food or processed snacks.
Walnuts top the list for brain health. They have a significantly high concentration of DHA, a type of Omega-3 fatty acid that makes up the majority of your brain’s fatty acids.
Almonds and Hazelnuts contain concentrated sources of Vitamin E, and Vitamin E intake helps with cognitive decline and boosts memory.
- Spread 2 slices of toasts (preferably whole meal and multigrain) with butter and a generous layer of Almond Butter.
- Add a tablespoon of Almond Butter to rolled oats porridge for natural sweetness.
- Roasting your Almonds or Cashews can be great fun. Pre heat the oven to 176.6 c. Pre melt 1 tablespoon of butter and mix in a pinch of sea salt. Set aside. Spread 2 to 3 cups of nuts in a single layer on your baking tray. Bake for 3 minutes then stir well to ensure an even roast. Continue baking for another 4 to 5 minutes or until it turns golden/light brown after 4 minutes. Remove from the oven. Pour the hot baked nuts immediately into melted butter and toss well. Bottle after cooling and pack it for snacks to school.
2) Rolled Oats
Oats contain nutrients that help brain development and aid the brain to function at its full capacity. Oats contain nutrients such as iron, zinc, potassium and Vitamin B. The fuel for our brain is glucose, which comes from carbohydrates—such as those abundant in oats!
Research shows that children who eat oatmeal for breakfast score up to 20 percent higher on tests than children who eat sugary cereal. This is most likely due to the fact that consuming sugary foods leads to a dip in blood sugar, this affecting memory and concentration.
Fiber in oats ease bowel movement, improves immunity, assists in lowering the risk of high cholesterol level and Type 2 diabetes. Oats also stabilize blood sugar and contain antioxidants.
- Eat it for breakfast or an occasional meal replacement. Cook about 4 to 5 tablespoons of rolled oats in a bowl of boiling water. Add in 100ml of fresh full cream milk/low sugar soy milk/almond milk and stir well. After it is slightly cooled, add raw or baked nuts and cut up dried fruits.
- Cooked about 5 to 6 tablespoons of rolled oats in a bowl of boiling water, add a pinch of salt, and pepper, as well as 2 to 3 tablespoons of minced meat (lightly seasoned with sesame oil, salt and pepper). You may crack an egg in, stir and cook through. Serve warm.
3) Salmon n fish
Omega 3 fatty acid is vital for brain power. A consistent diet of food containing such fatty acids helps in concentration and mental skills.
Salmon offers a sizeable portion of omega (DHA), which makes up two-thirds of the fatty acids in the majority of your brain. DHA boosts neuron functions in your brain and is also good for the heart.
- Lightly salt and pepper the fillet and coat the flesh with sesame seeds Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a non-stick pan with medium fire. Grill the skin side down for about 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Turn over to grill the seeds crusted side till golden (not burnt). Turn over to the right side, then left side of the fillet to brown slightly. Check for doneness and serve with a wedge of lemon.
- Mince 150g of salmon flesh and season it with salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs or chopped up rolled oats, an egg and 1 tablespoon of minced onions. Mix it well. Pat it into 2 patties, then chill slightly in the fridge to firm it (about 30 min). Heat pan to medium fire, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then pan fry the 2 patties. Turn over when golden brown. Serve with rice or pasta.
4) Beef (preferably lean)
Beef contains iron that keeps children energetic and improves their concentration level in school. It also contains zinc, which assists in memory power. Red meat contains “creatin”, a substance shown to boost memory and intelligence. Just by adding a little of it to someone’s diet can significantly improve memory as well as increase general intelligence.
- If your child is still young and beef slices are too tough for him/her, you may start off with minced beef. Use 100g of minced beef, lightly seasoned with half a teaspoon of cornstarch, salt and pepper. Heat the pan with medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic and minced onion; sauté without browning it. Add in the beef and sauté for 1 minute. Pour in half to 2/3 bowl of canned tomato puree. Bring to boil, then simmer for 2 minutes. Serve with rice, or cooked pasta.
- Use 150g of minced beef, lightly season with salt and pepper. Add to it 1 tablespoon of minced onion, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs or chopped rolled oats. Mix well. Divide the mixture into 4 portions. Select 100 to 150g of cheese (mozzarella is great) and separate into 2 portions. Gently flatten each portion of beef and place 1 portion of cheese in the center of the patty. Cover up the cheese with another flattened patty and press gently to seal edge. Repeat for the other 2 patties and cheese. Heat pan on high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Grill the 2 burger patties for 2 to 3 minutes on one side, and about 2 minutes for the other side. Serve with burger buns spread with mayonnaise or butter. You may add lettuce.
Avocado helps in lowering cholesterol and improves the heart’s health. It is high in good fats that assist in cognitive abilities, high in fiber and helps improve our skin from the inside.
- Mash avocado on multi grain toast with Almond Butter or plain butter. Sprinkle crushed nuts on it.
- Mash 1 ripened avocado with a fork, and add a pinch of salt, fresh cracked pepper, half to 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (depending on your preference), chopped quarter of an onion (if kids like it) and diced quarter of a tomato without the pips. Mix well and serve with corn chips as a healthy and hearty snack.
Visit Yong’s Instagram @yongtechong for more tempting food ideas!