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9 Brain-Boosting Foods for Back-to-School Meals

9 Brain-Boosting Foods for Back-to-School Meals

When asked how they boost memory and promote healthy brain function, most people will tell you that they get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, listen to certain types of music, or play games designed to give their brain a workout. Few people will tell you that they consider diet a key factor in brain health. But plenty of research shows that the foods we eat can have a role in sharpening our memories, increasing our concentration, preventing mental decline, and improving overall cognitive functioning. So, which foods are best for brain health then, and why? And, how to you incorporate them into healthy meals you make for school-age children?

Click here to see the 9 Brain-Boosting Foods for Back-to-School Meals (Slideshow)

Many plant-based foods are good sources of nutrition for the body in general, including the brain. Plant-based foods have a wide variety of vitamins and antioxidants to prevent certain types of damage within the body. When you’re cooking back-to-school meals, be sure to incorporate plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (in a wide variety of colors), whole grains, beans, seeds, and nuts. These foods are natural sources of the nutrients necessary for a healthy brain.

If you’re not familiar with a particular food, or if you have a picky eater in your family, seek out new and creative ways to use healthy ingredients; vegetables can be more appealing when paired with fruit (think fruit salsa) and salty items like seeds and nuts can enhance both sweet and savory flavors in dishes. Try adding salty seeds or nuts to melted dark chocolate or creamy yogurt parfaits.

Looking for more healthy back-to-school ideas? We’ve got nine foods that are proven to promote brain function and a few creative ideas for incorporating them into your cooking routine.

(Credit: Shutterstock)
Coconut oil, which is found in the meat of the coconut, is being studied as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Try using coconut oil in your baking or add fresh coconut meat to breakfast smoothies.

(Credit: Shutterstock)
Dark berries are good for the brain and improve memory, learning, and cognitive function. Add fresh blueberries to cereal in the morning or cook them down in a pan to make a sweet glaze for grilled chicken.

Click here to see more of the brain-boosting foods for back-to-school meals

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

This article was originally published September 5, 2014

Our Top 6 Brain-Boosting Seafood Recipes for Back to School

We know that many of you (and your little seafoodies) are either back in school or preparing to head back after the Labor Day holiday. It’s important to start off the new school season strong, with new notebooks, freshly sharpened pencils, and our personal favorite: brain food.

As we’ve talked about on the blog before, seafood is full of the brain-boosting nutrients such as Omega-3s. Since half of our brain and eyes are comprised of the omega-3 DHA, it’s essential for young children to consume DHA regularly for optimal development in these areas. Additionally, these nutrients may help increase our brain matter as we age, which is important for processing information, memories, and emotions.

To help you and your family fuel up before the new school year, we rounded up a few of our favorite brain-boosting seafood recipes below. In addition to seafood, each of these recipes also contains another brain-healthy ingredient. Talk about a winner, winner, top notch seafood dinner!

Pro tip: If it’s a struggle getting your child to try seafood, be sure to check our tips and tricks for turning your picky eater into a seafoodie here.

Lightened Honey Walnut Shrimp

We’re nutty for this scrumptious shrimp dish! Walnuts are a great source of the brain-boosting nutrients vitamin B12 and B6, as well as omega-3s.

Get this Brain-Boosting Seafood recipe here.

Spinach & Salmon Mac ’n’ Cheese

The classic kid favorite gets a boost with the addition of brain-friendly salmon and spinach.

Get this Brain-Boosting Seafood recipe here.

Garlic Parmesan Salmon & Asparagus

Packed with nutrients like folate and omega-3s and easy to throw together on a school night, this salmon dinner gets an A+.

Get this Brain-Boosting Seafood recipe here.

Pomegranate Orange Glazed Salmon

Two of our favorite antioxidant-rich fruits come together for this gorgeously glazed salmon dish.

Source: Lean Green Nutrition Fiend

Get this Brain-Boosting Seafood recipe here.

Avocado Ranch Tuna Salad

Give your kids a midday brain boost with this tasty twist on a traditional tuna salad sandwich.

Get this Brain-Boosting Seafood recipe here.

Stovetop Tuna Orzo Casserole with Broccoli

This brain-fueling tuna noodle casserole can be on the table in just 30 minutes. Perfect after a long day of school or work!

1. Brain Food: Salmon

Fatty fish like salmon are an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA -- both essential for brain growth and function, says Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, a Los Angeles nutritionist and ADA spokeswoman.

In fact, recent research has also shown that people who get more of these fatty acids in their diet have sharper minds and do better at mental skills tests.

While tuna is also a source of omega-3s, it's not a rich source like salmon, Giancoli tells WebMD.
"Tuna is definitely a good source of lean protein, but because it's so lean it's not very high in omega-3s like canned salmon is," Giancoli tells WebMD. Also, albacore "white" tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna, so the EPA advises eating no more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna weekly.

Eat more salmon: Instead of tuna sandwiches, make salmon salad for sandwiches -- canned salmon mixed with reduced-fat mayo or non-fat plain yogurt, raisins, chopped celery, and carrots (plus a little Dijon mustard if your child likes the taste). Serve on whole-grain bread -- which is also a brain food.

Soup idea: Add canned salmon to creamy broccoli soup -- plus frozen chopped broccoli for extra nutrition and soft texture. Boxed soups make this an easy meal, and are generally low in fat and calories, Giancoli says. Look for organic boxed soups in the health food section.

Make salmon patties -- using 14 oz. canned salmon, 1 lb. frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained), 1/2 onion (finely chopped), 2 garlic cloves (pressed), 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste. Combine ingredients. Mix well. Form into small balls. Heat olive oil in pan, flatten spinach balls with spatula. Cook over medium heat. Serve over brown rice (instant or frozen).


Here are some of the best brain foods you can include in your little Einstein&rsquos diet to keep his brain ticking:

1. Spinach

Spinach contains antioxidants that help rectify the damage caused by free-radicals (toxic by-products produced due to various factors). It is thought that free-radicals damage brain cells and lead to mental decline. Spinach also contains folate that helps in all-round brain development.

How to Serve

Getting kids to eat spinach by itself can be a complicated affair. The trick lies in combining spinach with a dish that compliments its tastes. One can try serving it with macaroni, chicken, and cheese. Be sure to finely chop the spinach so that it is small enough for your child to notice but big enough to give a pleasant green colour to the dish.

2. Eggs

Eggs contain choline, a nutrient that helps in retaining neural pathways to keep memories intact. Did you know that a single egg is enough to supply a kid with a quarter of their choline needs? Now that you know, that&rsquos what you should include in your child&rsquos diet.

How to Serve

A boiled egg neatly cut into thin slices can be served in a sandwich made of whole-grain bread. Make sure you slap in some lettuce for that extra crunch along with some ketchup.

3. Curd

Curd improves gut health and reduces inflammation. Good health is always important for good brain development in children. Therefore, curd/yoghurt is another brain food we highly recommend.

How to Serve

Many kids love curd, and it wouldn&rsquot be a surprise if they devour it alone without a second thought. To those kids who have some difficulty eating curd, add a teaspoon of honey, and they&rsquore bound to be satisfied.

4. Fish

Fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids which are vital for brain development. Omega-3 fatty acids improve the structure of brain cells. The power of this is so widely accepted that numerous manufacturers of baby formula often boast of their product containing Omega-3 fatty acids.

How to Serve

Fish can be marinated in curd, lemon, turmeric and other spices before being baked and served. While fried fish may seem delicious, its nutritional value may get diminished if fried, so it&rsquos best avoided.

5. Berries

Just like spinach, berries too contain antioxidants that help stop or even reverse the harmful effects of free radicals on the brain. Another brain-enhancing component found in berries is flavonoids that make their way to the hippocampus and are known to help improve learning capabilities.

How to Serve

Berries that can be consumed include blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. You can serve them in a variety of forms or as accompaniments to various dishes like pancakes. You could also make a smoothie with a cupful of berries, a cup of yoghurt, some orange juice, a banana and honey for taste.

6. Turmeric

One of the overlooked foods to improve kids&rsquo brainpower is turmeric. The main compound that gives turmeric its magic is curcumin which has anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidative properties. And both properties reduce any damage the brain may have sustained over time. Another benefit of turmeric is its ability to stop the growth of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain.

How to Serve

Turmeric blends well with milk and a smoothie filled with fruits such as pineapples, mangoes or oranges. Make sure you add some pepper as it can help in the absorption of curcumin in the blood. Serve chilled with some honey to get those taste buds tingling.

7. Walnuts

The Omega-3 fatty acids present in walnuts help improve memory as well as reduce inflammations in the brain. If that weren&rsquot enough, it also removes excess protein deposits in the brain which helps in revamping memory power.

How to Serve

You could mix walnuts with some other healthy foods, preferably yoghurt. A combination of yoghurt, bananas, walnuts with a dash of honey will have your kids asking for more.

8. Oatmeal

While oats are famous for their power to aid the digestive system, they haven&rsquot received due credit when it comes to helping in brain development. Children who eat oats for breakfast consistently perform better at school as it regulates blood sugar in the body.

How to Serve

While oats by themselves are bland and tasteless, they work well by adding a couple of fruits to the mix. Put in half a pomegranate and a kiwi fruit to a bowl of oats and you&rsquoll find it all empty every single time. And, you won&rsquot even need to add sugar as the fruits are naturally sweet.

9. Beans

Beans are rich in protein and have important minerals that together aid brain development. Beans and lentils also provide a good amount of iron, which is also essential or the development of the human brain.

How to Serve

Beans, specifically kidney beans, are great for the brain. Serve your kids some traditional rajma-chawal (kidney beans and rice), or go for a lentil soup as a warm mid-day or evening snack.

10. Apples

Apples can help in the production of a chemical called acetylcholine which helps in the transmission of messages between nerves in the brain. The presence of antioxidants is a bonus that helps to reverse any damage done by free radicals to the brain.

How to Serve

The best part about an apple is that it requires no fancy presentation. Just make sure you thoroughly clean the apple or peel off the skin as some producers add wax to the skin to increase its shelf life.

11. Avocados

These exotic fruits are coveted by health enthusiasts around the world for their high nutritional content. Apart from Vitamin K and potassium, they contain folate, which helps in brain development. In fact, pregnant women are advised to have a regular supply of folate in their diet to prevent any neural birth defects in the foetus.

How to Serve

Avocados are creamy in nature and can be easily used as a bread spread or a dip. Add some cucumbers along with some cheese and your kids will keep wanting more.

12. Amla

Also known as the Indian Gooseberry, amla is known for numerous health benefits such as boosting immunity and improving eyesight. Amla contains antioxidants that help in fighting off harmful free radicals in the brain.

How to Serve

Amla can be made into chutney and goes well with South Indian dishes such as idlis, dosas and upma.

13. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are also an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. They also provide fibre, protein, and several other minerals that together enhance brain development.

How to Serve

If you enjoy baking, you can add flaxseeds to multigrain bread doughs or breakfast muffins. Flaxseeds smoothies tend to become an instant hit with kids if it has their favourite fruit. You can also make a chutney by grinding roasted flaxseeds, a few cloves of garlic, some red chilli powder and salt. This chutney can be enjoyed with rotis, parathas, and even dosas.

Now that you know what the best foods are, that can be used to give your child&rsquos brain development a boost, feel free to tweak the ingredients in the recipes to cater to your kid&rsquos palette. Over time, you&rsquoll have the best combination of brain food available for every day of the week.

Bacon, egg, and cheese are the 3 Musketeers when it comes to breakfast. Make a rich, flavorful, melty breakfast hash with just a few ingredients.

Brittany Arnett

You don't need a blowtorch to make yourself this sophisticated, refreshing, and unique breakfast. Honey brûléed grapefruit is the perfect combination of sweet, sour, and bitter. Try it with oatmeal or even whipped cream.

10 Healthy (and Delicious) Breakfasts That Boost Your Brain Function

Jump-start your morning with leafy greens, fatty fish, and fresh berries.

Whether or not you agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you probably know that a healthy morning meal can serve as fuel, making you feel more energetic and sharper.

When it comes to boosting your brain power, your goal should be to get the right amount of calories (or energy), plus a balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, says Danielle Levy-Wolins, R.D., in-house dietitian at the healthy meal-delivery service Thistle. &ldquoTaking a look at your breakfast plate, consider making half the plate fruits and veggies, a quarter of the plate protein and a quarter whole grains,&rdquo she explains. &ldquoHealthy fats are more of an addition and can include avocado, olive oil, and any type of nut or seed.&rdquo

Meanwhile, you should try to cut back on processed foods, added sugar, and simple carbs, which can cause your energy to tank (and your mind to become foggy) before lunch rolls around.

To keep your brain sharp, consider adding these foods to your breakfast plate:

  • Berries, which contain flavonoids that have been linked to slower rates of cognitive decline.
  • Fatty fish is especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have long been understood to protect and bolster cognition.
  • Leafy greens provide brain-boosting nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin K, and folate.
  • Eggs are a great source of choline, which has been shown to improve brain health throughout life&mdashbut only in their yolks.
  • Nuts provide protein, and walnuts in particular have tons of omega-3s and are associated with healthier brains.

Beyond boosting cognition, these foods provide the calories, protein, and nutrients you need to feel your best throughout the day. One 2015 study even found that &ldquobrain foods&rdquo such as these can promote mental health, meaning they&rsquoll leave you feeling better overall.

According to Levy-Wolins, an ideal brain-boosting breakfast would be a half-cup of oatmeal, a two-egg omelet with veggies, and some berries. The Mediterranean diet is also a good guide to cognition-enhancing breakfasts&mdashtons of its staples, including leafy greens, fish, whole grains, and yogurt, have been linked to slower cognitive decline and better overall health.

Ready for more brain-boosting breakfast ideas? Read on for 10 recipes that will make you (and your taste buds) happy.

38 Back-to-School Breakfast Recipes and Ideas

Getting kids to eat a healthy breakfast can be a next to impossible task. Depending on their ages and morning moods, we might be lucky to get a glass of instant breakfast drink into our kids before they're out the door. No matter what their ages, it can a real chore to lure kids to the breakfast table!

Kids going to school need breakfast but often balk at the thought of eating in their morning rush out the door.

Kids really want to do their best! Let your kids know why breakfast is important, and how it WILL make a difference in how they do in school. Ask them to take part in grocery shopping or help with the shopping list.

Like adults, kids have different tastes, and they know what they like. Some kids like cold cereal, some like hot, while others turn up their nose at any cereal and choose a donut or muffin. Pre-made breakfast bars are another alternative, but be sure to check the labels for nutritional value and consider making your own.

Back To School Lunch Box Recipes For Kids of All Ages

School is nearly here. Isn’t it about time to start thinking up what kind of lunches you’ll be packing for your young scholar? Well, that’s why we are here. We found some great, healthy lunch box recipes for kids perfect for back-to-school.

Healthy and Tasty Lunch Box Recipes for Kids

From zucchini slices to turkey ranch rollups these recipes are sure to please every student of from any age!

So give these great lunch box recipes for kids a try! You and your child won’t regret it!

Check Out These Other Great Resources:

9 Back-to-School Ideas!

Is it just us, or is summer is flying by? It&rsquos hard to believe, but school will be starting before we know it! As we prepare for all things back-to-school, the thought of packing school lunches every day can make us want to lie down and take a nap. To gear up and adjust our attitudes, we combed Food & Friends for some fresh ideas to help us earn an A+ in school lunch. The following are some great recipes that we think are contenders to be go-to lunchbox items this year. We&rsquove got alternatives to the basic sandwich, homemade nut butters, delicious granola bars and more!

You Rule! Cookies. Yes, school means no more sleeping in. But cookies make everything&mdasheven homework&mdasha little better!

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread. This bread can transform even a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich into a special treat.

5 Pinwheel Sandwiches for Lunch Boxes. The kids will enjoy these colorful sandwiches, and these are easy enough for them to make on their own!

5 Gluten-Free Lunchbox Ideas. Can&rsquot do regular wraps and sandwiches? These gluten-free options are just what you need to escape the lunchbox rut.

How to Prep Veggies for the Week. Take control of your busy schedule with these tips for prepping veggies ahead of time. Then you can easily incorporate them into your weekly menu!

How to Make Granola Bars. Better than store-bought, and easily customizable to include their favorite ingredients.

Baked Apple Chips. Give them a healthy alternative to regular chips. For an added protein boost, dip these in almond butter or go nut-free with chocolate sunflower butter spread.

Fruit and Nut Energy Bites. These morsels are the best thing ever. Make extra for yourself!

How to Make Chocolate Pudding. Perfect for their lunchboxes, or for an after-school treat!

We hope these recipes help you introduce some fresh, homemade options to your lunch packing game. Please tell us in the comments if you have favorite lunchbox meals or tricks to keep them interesting. And enjoy your summer while it lasts!

Our Top 6 Brain-boosting Seafood Recipes for Back to School

We know that many of you (and your little seafoodies) are either back in school or preparing to head back after the Labor Day holiday. It’s important to start off the new school season strong, with new notebooks, freshly sharpened pencils, and our personal favorite: brain food.

Seafood is full of the brain-boosting nutrients such as Omega-3s. Since half of our brain and eyes are comprised of the omega-3 DHA, it’s essential for young children to consume DHA regularly for optimal development in these areas. Additionally, these nutrients may help increase our brain matter as we age, which is important for processing information, memories, and emotions.

To help you and your family fuel up before the new school year, we rounded up a few of our favorite brain-boosting seafood recipes below. In addition to seafood, each of these recipes also contains another brain-healthy ingredient. Talk about a winner, winner, top notch seafood dinner!

Shrimp Bruschetta Zoodle Bowls

There’s nothing fresher than this bowl featuring gorgeously grilled shrimp!