On rushed school mornings, when vital items of school uniform have gone astray and undone pieces of homework have magically appeared in their place, having time to prepare a nutritious, filling breakfast for the kids can seem an impossible dream. However, research consistently shows that what a child eats for breakfast can impact their academic performance, particularly their ability to process and remember facts. Here are three tasty, no-fuss breakfast ideas that will give your child the brain fuel they need to tackle the school day.
A quick bowl of cereal is many parents’ go-to breakfast option but cereals can contain surprisingly large amounts of sugar. Not only is sugar bad for your child’s teeth, it can cause a spike in blood sugar levels followed by a mid-morning crash. This crash can affect memory and concentration.
An equally speedy but considerably healthier breakfast is overnight oats. Oats release energy slowly, keeping your child full and their brain switched on all morning. Simply put a serving of ordinary oats in a container (a jar, glass or Tupperware container work well) and stir through an equal amount of dairy or non-dairy milk. You can add a few drops of vanilla essence for extra creaminess. Mix the night before and leave ready in the fridge for your child to enjoy in the morning.
For an extra brain boost, add Omega-3 rich nuts and seeds (walnuts and chia seeds are good options), antioxidant-filled fruits (such as blueberries), and protein-packed nut butters including peanut and almond butter.
Avocado on Wholemeal Toast:
Toast is another low-hassle breakfast and, as long as you pick wholemeal or wholegrain bread, it is fibre and nutrient-rich too. However, adding sweet toppings like jam, honey and chocolate spread can lead to a concentration-destroying blood sugar crash.
Mashed avocado can be a delicious and healthy alternative. It is high in protein, which plays a leading role in brain growth and in developing neurotransmitters (the chemicals that carry messages between brain cells). Avocado is packed with Vitamin E, too, which protects the outer layers of nerves in the brain, and plenty of healthy fat. It also contains Vitamin B9, or folate, which is crucial for maintaining cognitive function, especially memory.
Mush ripe avocado with a fork and spread over hot, crisp toast. If you want to prepare the avocado the night before, add a little lemon juice to prevent it going brown. To spice things up and add some extra antioxidants, sprinkle over a little paprika.
Fruit Smoothie with Pumpkin Seeds:
What could be easier than whipping up a quick fruit smoothie in the morning? Combine your chosen fruits, blend with juice, dairy or non-dairy milk and voilà – an instant breakfast! For a smoothie with brain-boosting power, choose fruits that are high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Buying frozen fruit will save you preparation time and often money, too; it is just as healthy as fresh.
To keep your child going all morning, you can add oats, ground nuts and seeds to the mix. An excellent addition is pumpkin seeds. They are full of brain-loving nutrients such as zinc, which has been linked to enhanced memory formation and cognitive function, and magnesium, which can help lower stress levels and create the calm state of mind necessary for learning. Grind a batch of seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor and store for easy use in the mornings.
With the right brain fuel, your child will power through the school morning – and they might even remember where they left their school tie!