Back to school time is coming up fast and, as you already know, it’s hectic to say the least! Coming off of a busy summer can leave parents frazzled and overwhelmed before the school year even begins. It’s important to help your children shift gears from summer fun and days by the pool to the more structured days that school work brings.
One major component of concentrating in the classroom is good nutrition. Eating a balanced diet, utilizing real food with whole ingredients and no processed or artificial empty calories, is a key contributing factor in the academic success of a child. We already know that healthy habits start at home, but what can we do as parents to make sure it is fun and effective?
Preparing meals together is a great way to lead by example, and when your kids see you make healthy choices, they will too. Cooking together may sound like a daunting task to add to your family’s already busy schedule, but starting small will get kids interested and involved. It is a wonderful way to get an ongoing family conversation started about where ingredients come from and healthy eating choices. Plus, kids are more likely to try (and enjoy) the end result when they have helped in the making of it.
Try starting with some creative healthy snacks. Even the very little kids can get involved – it’s never too early. They can help stir, identify ingredients, count, and learn colors. Just being exposed to fresh ingredients from a young age will help kids learn that food comes from farms, not from the boxes we get at the supermarket.
Here are a few quick and healthy snack ideas to get your kids through the day and your family cooking together.
Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chickpeas are delicious, packed with protein and easily portable. Plus, they’re a great alternative for the nut-free crowd. You can play with the recipe here – satisfy a sweet-tooth by skipping the garlic and parmesan and use honey and cinnamon instead!
- 2 cans (15.5oz each) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil, melted, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic or more if you like
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Optional: cayenne powder or curry powder
- pepper to taste
- Drain the beans and rinse them well. Lay them on paper towels to dry for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of oil and add chickpeas to coat.
- Add salt, garlic, and cheese and stir well to coat.
- Lay beans on a baking sheet and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of melted coconut oil.
- Bake for 20 minutes, stir and continue to bake for up to an hour or until golden and crispy.
These Pumpkin Cookies are naturally gluten-free and feel like a fun treat – even though they are made with almond flour and honey.
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1 egg
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl until well mixed.
- Spoon dollops of the batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-14 minutes, or until the cookies have set.
- Cool slightly before serving.
Whole Wheat English Muffin Pizzas are a great after-school snack, and it’s easy to get creative with the toppings. You can use leftovers from dinner the night before or just ingredients you have around the house. The combinations are endless, you can even ask the kids for ideas and let them take the lead.
Just assemble and pop them into the toaster oven for 5-10 minutes. Try:
- Marinara sauce, part-skim mozzarella cheese and spinach, broccoli or another favorite veggie
- A slice of tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella
- Peanut butter and banana
- Smashed chickpeas and avocado
Cognitive Cuisine is a school food catering program started by a teacher passionate about reinventing school food. We offer fresh meals that are designed by our culinary trained chef and registered dietitian. All of our food is made from scratch and delivered daily to our schools. We offer Family Style or Individual Lunch Programs as well as our unique online ordering system. To give parents a hassle-free way to get their kids to eat healthy every day, we created a way to order meals that will be delivered right to the school. And the icing on our cake, we combine all-natural, delicious meals with a healthy helping of nutritional education programs for students, parents and staff alike.
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