Carmin HartyBy Carmin Harty, a mother, wife,  founder of Arty Tots Workshops South Africa. She helps mothers and tots to bond through art and play and assists mothers to start up their own workshops in their communities. 

I am always so amazed at the cereal isles in the supermarkets with the advertising on what children should eat for optimum health. Even more distressing is to see moms pile the breakfast cereals into their shopping trolley believing that they are giving their kids “the best”. As South African consumers we are so ill informed about what exactly is in our food and we believe almost anything that we see on the TV.

Many children simply do not get sufficient nutrients and because their diets are laden with sugar and sodium they simply can’t cope at school. Healthy food might take a bit longer to prepare but in the long run your children and your budget will benefit.

Do you want your child to perform better at school? The brain is a hungry organ and it needs a lot of nutrients to function and grow.

The brain is the first organ to absorb the nutrients from the food we eat.

So here goes! Top 10 Brain Foods for children are:

brain food1.  Salmon.
Tinned Salmon is much cheaper than fresh Salmon and just as good. It is rich in omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA which assist in brain growth and function. Tuna is a lean protein and does not have as much omega 3 in it.

2.  Eggs.
It is a great source of protein and the yolk is loaded with choline which helps memory development.

3.  Peanut Butter.
Peanut Butter contains vitamin E which helps protect nervous membranes. So dip fruit in peanut butter for a healthy treat or make peanut and banana ice cream!

4. Whole grains. Whole grain bread, pop corn, whole wheat couscous. Whole grain wraps, and snacks.

5.  Oats.
Oats also called the grain for the brain. Oats provides excellent energy for the brain. It is also loaded with potassium, Vit E n Vit B. Make oats from scratch add fresh berries, yoghurt and honey and some cinnamon. Delicious!

6.  Berries.
Berries in all forms shapes and flavours. Excellent source of vit C. Freeze berries and blend into smoothies or make delicious frozen ice cream in your blender.berries

7.  Beans.
Loaded with Vitamins and also provides energy from complex carbs and fibre.

8.  Veggies.
Become creative with veggies. Cut them into sticks and wedges and bake them as chips in the oven. We make snacky platters and chop up all kinds of veggies on a plate with a fun dip.

9.  Milk and Yoghurt.
Rich in vit B which is essential for the growth of brain tissue and neurotransmitters. Make your own yoghurt and kefir. It is easier than you think.

10.  Lean Beef or Meat Alternative.
Iron is essential to keep children energised and able to concentrate. Lean beef is one of the best absorbed sources of iron. For vegetarians black Bean and soy burgers are a great iron rich meatless option.

Stir fries are an excellent way to get children to eat all kinds of veggies. Add brown rice and you have a mighty nutrious dinner which doubles up as lunch the next day.

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