The Big 3 for Brain Health | How to Hook Your Kids on Healthy Eating
Well it’s that time of year again. Summer is winding down and it’s back to the books. With that comes getting back into great, new habits and ditching those summer vibes. Even though I’m no longer in school, I love what the turn of the season brings.
As a Holistic Nutritionist and Chef, I get a lot of parents asking me about how to cook for their kids. They’re interested in lunch ideas, how to sneak in vegetables, how to eat for brain health and above all, how to provide optimal nutrition for their kids so they’re set up early in life with good habits that often extend into adulthood. Here are my top 3 tips (plus a few bonuses) to get you and your family through the school year . . . and then some.
- GET THE KIDS INVOLVED: There have been ample studies to prove that involving kids in the process of shopping, choosing recipes and cooking keeps them more interested in what they eat and LESS picky. Once a month I plan an “Auntie Rach Cooking Day” with my good friend’s kids (4 and 6). They always eat more knowing they had a hand in it. Another great fall/winter activity (sorry to bring it up) is batch cooking. It’s not only fun, you also get to throw extras into the freezer for those busy school nights.
- BRAIN FOODS: Ever notice that walnuts resemble a brain?? Well, what if I told you that they were loaded with monounsaturated fats and omega-3s and eating them has been associated with better memory and brain function? Avocados, which contain both vitamin K and folate, help prevent blood clots and improve cognitive function (especially memory and concentration). Finally, the natural nitrates in beets actually boost blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance.
- PROBIOTICS: Have you ever heard of the brain-gut connection? Basically, our guts are filled with hundreds of types of bacteria that are essential to good health. Antibiotics, stress, nutrition and the food we eat can disrupt the balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria. This is a huge factor in dictating digestive health and, in recent studies, has been linked to brain health as well. If your child is feeling less energetic and unhealthy, improper digestion could be to blame. The job of probiotics (pro means FOR and biotic means LIFE), is to enter our digestive tracts and pump us full of healthy microbes (flora, microbiome or microbiota) so we can achieve optimal health.
- BONUS IDEAS: Drink plenty of WATER, Make sure you MOVE and make family dates that support good health (bowling, cooking classes, etc.)
So there you have it, plenty of tips and tricks that I hope you’ll find useful. NOW, to pull this all together nicely, I’ve included my favourite fall hummus recipe: white bean, walnut and beet! This will set your brain on fire with nutrients and healthy fats . . . and your kids will love it (hopefully)!
RBN White bean, walnut and beet HUMMUS
- 1 can organic white kidney beans (save the juice)
- 2 small beets, steamed and cut into quarters
- 1 small garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- sea salt
- ½ lemon, squeezed and zested
- ⅓ cup raw walnuts, chopped
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- Blend beans until broken down.
- Add in remaining ingredients (minus walnuts) and blend until smooth (if needed use the reserve liquid from beans).
- Taste and season. Add more salt or lemon if needed.
- Garnish with walnuts.
- Serve with vegetables, organic corn chips or spread on sandwiches.