Tag Archive for kids nutrition

Backpack Snacks That Boost Brain Power

kid-backpack

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Snacks can help to save your kids mood and attention span during the long days back in school. Having healthy snacks on hand that can enhance focus and prevent meltdowns is easier than you think. Making sure that the snack contains a protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat ratio is imperative for cognitive functioning and keeping moods stable. Many prepackaged and portable foods contain additives, dyes and more sugar than a can of soda. Try these for simple and effective alternatives for boosting brain power.

No Cold Pack Needed!

justins-natural-almond-butter-153218Rice Chips and Nut Butter. Gluten and dairy-free rice crackers, chips, or NutThins and a side of almond or sunflower butter keeps protein and fat contents proportional, while also adding some complex carbohydrates. Justin’s almond butter is a product that has individual packs, or you can simply separate the chips and the nut butter into different containers to keep the chips from getting soggy. Many schools are anti-peanuts these days, so alternative nutbutters are an added bonus.

Trail Mix. Make your own (link) by adding in nuts and cereals that your child likes, as well as some dried fruit or dye-free chocolate bites and you now have a portable healthy snack that is great for any time of the day. Have your kids make their own too, with this reindeer mix. My favorite gluten free and protein filled option; lentil chips, pistachios (without the shell), and dried cranberries (sugar-free). Good fats, protein, and complex carbs.

Edamame. This soy bean can be steamed and stored in any container, add some sea salt and it’s a protein powerhouse. There are roasted versions too, that are easy to snack on and nonperishable.

Jerky. Salmon jerky, soy jerky, and even turkey jerky can all be found with organic labels these days, and they are a great snack to tide hunger over in any kid. The protein content is high, and so is the sodium so watch out, but jerky has a great chewiness factor to keep kids occupied.

Keep it Cool

Cheese to-go. Babybel cheese and crackers or string cheese, grapes and corn chips or crackers.

Roll Ups.  Whole wheat or spelt tortillas (gluten free tortillas if needed), Swiss cheese, and turkey slices, and add some avocado if your kiddo is an adventurous eater or mustard. Vegetarian kiddo’s, can try hummus and extra vegetables.  Or the old-school PB&J can  be jazzed up with almond butter, banana, coconut flakes and honey in a tortilla. Cut into pinwheels and they become more fun to eat.bluediamond-nutthins

Dippers. Hummus and rice chips or baby carrots. You can actually freeze the hummus and 4 hours later its in its dipable form. Use it as an icepack and snack all at once.

Weelicous has amazing recipes for fruit and seedbars that you can make into gluten-free combos and creative fun snacks.

 

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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant.  Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.

 

 

 

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Quick Protein-Filled Snacks

By Emily Roberts

The importance of rotating protein is often under-minded when we are dieting or attempting to get kids to eat whats on their plates.  We often go for whatever is easy and quick rather than whats really beneficial for our brains and bodies.  In our past post The Power of Protein, we talk about the importance of protein and briefly on rotating proteins:

Why Rotate?: If we eat the same thing everyday our body is going to get used to the amino acids in that food, making it difficult to create new strains of amino acids, thus less neurotransmitter availability.  Therefore, making changes in protein increases your availability to create new strains.  Simple fixes are, chose fish instead of chicken on your salad.  Add protein powder to your morning oatmeal instead of just milk, or try adding in a mid morning snack of yogurt and nuts.

Below are some great ideas to get new proteins into your old routine, as well as easy snack ideas for children and adults alike:

Edamame: Instead of chips reach for this heart-healthy, protein filled snack.  With 11 grams for a 1/2 cup, you are doing yourself a favor.  Sprinkle some sea-salt on them, put them in a Tupperware and take them along to the office or in your child’s lunchbox.

Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese: Instead of boring fruit on the bottom yogurt (still a good source of protein) try something exciting like Fage 2% Greek Yogurt, it has 17 grams of protein.  Add a little Agave Nectar and a handful of nuts and you have yourself a perfect snack!  Kids love it with fruit and granola.

Hummus or Baked Chickpeas: Instead of your usual dip or spread try hummus with veggies or baked chips, its a great alternative to or usual spreads.  Kids eat it up, and by adding this in we are getting in protein from a legume, something most of us don’t get unless we are eating beans or lentils.  The snack packs are a great, portable, snack idea or for throwing in a lunch pale. Baked Chickpeas are a fantastic way to appease your crunch and salty cravings and helps to fill you up.

Beef Jerky: Instead of salty chips or rice cakes.  It can be high in sodium, however 1 serving shells out 70 calories and 11 grams of protein, with only 1 gram of fat.  Try a few pieces instead of your usual afternoon snack.  Kids love the chewy texture and its super portable. There are some organic brand out there that are pretty healthy.

Let us know what protien snacks you and your kids like, we’d love to hear them!

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The Power of Protein

By: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Its 3 PM. Your starving, so you reach for that 100 calorie pack of starch to curb your hunger…and your not satisfied?  Well who would be, there is no protein in it, its all carbs.  We all know protein is important for keeping us full and keeping us strong.  However, studies find that most children are not getting enough and many adults fall short on their daily intake as well.  The reason this is so important, is without the rotation of different proteins and the quantity, out bodies will not make the natural amino acids that keep  us focused, stable, and happy. 

The Facts: Amino acids are the building blocks for Neurotransmitters; amino acids are created by our genetic make-up, but also our diet.  Protein and supplementation are the main sources of changing and increasing amino acid availability in ones body. 

Are You Getting Enough?: To calculate how much protein you need on a daily basis take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2, this will give you amount in grams that your body needs at a minimum (unless otherwise noted by your doctor or other health professional).  For example:  140 pound woman needs approximately 64 grams per day.

Where to Get it:Nuts, lean meats, dairy products, soy, legumes, whey protein powder, and seafood are all great sources.  For kids a serving size is approximately 2 oz, depending on their weight. For adults a serving size is 4 to 6 oz.

Protein for Kids:  even for the pickiest eaters daily protein intake can be achieved.  This especially important when school starts and focus is needed.  In the morning try almond or peanut butter and toast, instead of a pop-tart or sugar filled pastry.  For a mid morning snack, freeze a yogurt and put it in their lunch box, it will be cold by the time snack-time rolls around.  For lunch, turkey and cheese roll-ups, rather than pizza. For dinner, adding in tofu or chicken to your child’s meal will increase their amino acid availability and keep them satisfied longer.

***If your child refuses, whey protein powder is easily hidden in smoothies, milk, and oatmeal.

Why Rotate?: If we eat the same thing everyday our body is going to get used to the amino acids in that food, making it difficult to create new strains of amino acids, thus less neurotransmitter availability.  Therefore, making changes in protein increases your availability to create new strains.  Simple fixes are, chose fish instead of chicken on your salad.  Add protein powder to your morning oatmeal instead of just milk, or try adding in a mid morning snack of yogurt and nuts.

So next time your starving, think about this, will that snack fill me up?  Adding in protein keeps you fuller, longer, carbs alone will leave you feeling hungry and tired.  Instead of that bag of chips try a bag of trail mix, or cheese and crackers .  You will find yourself more focused, in a better mood, and best of all SATISFIED.

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