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Food Facts: Articles

Brain Boosting Foods To Fuel School Children's Mental Performance

I was recently asked a few questions about what foods are best for children in order to ensure that they can perform at their best whilst at school; there are actually a number of key food ingredients which help power mental activity and give children a boost for their brain as well as for their body. Here are some frequently asked questions (and the answers) related to this subject:- 


Q. 1) Is it nutritionally better to give my kids a packed lunch or cooked school dinner?

Every child needs a hearty meal during the middle of the day to maintain their concentration and physical energy levels, particularly with the demands of school, sports and studies. In most cases School lunches, whether cooked or cold, will meet set nutritional standards, however, to be absolutely sure that your child is getting as much of the  goodness and flavour as possible from the food they eat, it’s best to prepare a tasty, yet wholesome, packed lunch for them to take to school. You will then be able to create lunch snacks that are healthy, fresh and flavourful as well as being unique to their taste-buds, whilst also meeting any allergy needs that they may have; this will ensure that they will eat every last bite of their tailor-made packed lunch. 

Q. 2) What is the best breakfast to set children up for the day?

Without doubt, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and children need to have a breakfast that kick-starts their system and boosts both their body and their brain, at least enough to keep their energy levels powered-up until lunch time.


A great breakfast will include portions of protein as well as complex carbohydrates. In fact, the best brain foods known to improve memory include eggs (containing memory boosting choline in egg yolk) and whole grain cereal such as oatmeal porridge (to flood the body with B vitamins which are great for information recall).


When boiled, poached or made into an omelette, eggs will give you a tasty, yet very healthy, and satisfyingly filling breakfast especially when combined with other ingredients such as tomatoes, mushrooms, herbs and even with salmon.


Adding different fresh fruits such as chopped apple or kiwi, dates and superfood berries (brain boosting blueberries, strawberries, blackberries) to your porridge will give you a delicious breakfast all on its own if time is short. You can even change the fruit combination to give a different flavour for ever day of the week; children love the variety! If porridge with fruit is not to your child’s tastes, then honey is a great alterative; in fact, studies show that adding a spoonful of antioxidant-packed honey will improve spatial memory, (University of Waikato, New Zealand)


Finally, a great way to end a deliciously filling and healthy breakfast is with a yoghurt cup; this is wonderfully tasty yet simple, consisting of some fresh low fat Greek yoghurt  with either honey, chopped fresh fruit, fresh berries or even some fresh fruit pulp that has been pre-prepared and chilled in the fridge. This can also be prepared as a great lunch time snack for children as part of their packed lunch for school.


As an alternative, a traditional Middle Eastern breakfast can also be tweaked to make it suitable as a breakfast for school-going children. When combined together, each of the foods contains all of the aspects of a great breakfast to make sure your child remains energetic and alert from the start of the day until lunchtime. A piece of grilled Halloumi cheese, with a boiled egg, some green and black olives, humous and manakish zaatar can be eaten by children alongside parents at the breakfast table, so there’s no need to prepare a separate breakfast especially for the kids.


Q. 3) Can You Recommend Three Recipes For After-School Fuel?

Three quick recipes that are easy to prepare and also help sustain physical and mental performance in both adults and children include: Chicken Caesar Wraps,Lamb Kofta, and Salmon Citrus Sizzler with Tomatoes and Mint. Try these dishes to givie your kids some tasty, and flavour-filled, after-school fuel.


By Shahena Ali, as featured in 'Time Out Dubai' Magazine

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