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Back-to-School Eats

5 Brain Boosting Foods for Kids (and Berry French Toast Panzanella Recipe!)

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(BPT) – As summer draws to an end, many families are gearing up for an exciting new school year. And while picking out new pencils and notebooks is a fun way to prepare, it’s even more important to make sure your child is mentally ready to return to the classroom — whether that be virtually or in person.

“To help them stay focused and learn more efficiently, fuel your kids with foods that are scientifically proven to boost focus and improve brain performance,” says Marissa Meshulam, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and founder of MPM Nutrition. Instead of stocking up on sugary cereals and processed meals, Meshulam shares her go-to foods for feeding little minds:

1. Berries

Strong evidence suggests that blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and other berries have beneficial effects on the brain. Their high levels of antioxidants help protect and boost memory functioning. Try sending the kids off to school with a berry smoothie or pack a fruit cup with berries for lunch to help keep their minds sharp throughout the day.

2. Eggs

A versatile and easy option for any healthy, filling meal, eggs contain a variety of nutrients such as choline and lutein that are essential for brain health. To ensure your family is getting the most out of their favorite egg-centric snack or recipe, choose Eggland’s Best eggs. Compared to ordinary eggs, EB eggs contain more than double the Vitamin B12 and Omega-3s, which help regulate sugar levels in the brain and can improve memory function.

3. Nuts

Most nuts have brain-boosting benefits, but walnuts are especially high in Omega-3s, Vitamin E, antioxidants and folate content. Nuts make a great snack and also pair well with fruit or as part of a granola.

4. Avocado

Avocados have nutrients that protect the nerve cells in the brain that carry information. Try spreading avocado on a sandwich for lunch or mashing up with some garlic, salt, chopped tomatoes and lemon juice for a quick dip with chips or veggies for an after-school snack.

5. Leafy greens

Leafy-green vegetables are rich in so many vitamins, including Vitamin K, lutein and beta-carotene, which all contribute to healthy brain functioning. If you have trouble getting your kids to eat fruits and veggies, try sneaking them into smoothies or blended soups.

Looking for recipe inspiration? Try this nutrient-filled breakfast that will help fuel your kids for a successful day of learning at school.

Berry Exciting French Toast Panzanella

Berry French Toast Panzanella

A delicious, fruity brain-healthy panzanella recipe kids love.
Course: Breakfast, Brunch
Keyword: breakfast, brunch, french toast, fruit, panzanella

Ingredients

French Toast

  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 slices thick bread
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Maple Glaze

  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp milk

Panzanella

  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup granola
  • 2 tbsp sliced almonds

Additionally:

  • Cooking Spray for sheet pan

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, yogurt, maple syrup, vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until combined.
  • Heat the griddle pan on medium heat. Spray with cooking spray.
  • Dip four slices of bread in the egg mixture separately, then place on the griddle. Cook for abour four minutes per side, or until golden brown. Spray the griddle and repeat for the remaning slices.
  • Treat large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Cut each bread slice into large cubes. Place the bread cubes in single layer on treated pan. Lightly spray the cubes with cooking spray.
  • Bake 10 minutes, then flip and continue baking for five more minutes.
  • Make the glaze by combining the confectioner's sugar, maple syrup and milk in a small bowl.
  • Using a large serving bowl, toss the bread cubes and granola. Drizzle maple glaze and toss again until bread cubes and granola are lightly coated. Add all berries and toss until combined. Top with almonds.
  • Serve immediately and ENJOY!

 

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Meg A. Watt

Meg is relatively new to the Pittsburgh scene but she's already made herself a community fixture through her involvement in community events, boards, and this site. She started her career as a journalist and still writes daily as a Content Director, and loves that this publication lets her come full circle with those skills - and her love of the North Boroughs. You can also find her writing on www.lit.buzz where she waxes poetic about all the books she loves. If you see her around Lincoln Avenue, she likely has her husband, grown daughters or a pack of dogs around; don't worry, no one bites! (And before you ask, yes; that is really her name)

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