School means big adjustments and big demands for everyone involved: shopping for supplies, shuttling here and there, studying – or overseeing the studying – special projects, and more. It’s easy to forget nutrition in all the hustle and bustle.
Make a pact to embrace healthful eating, whether breakfast on the run, packed lunches or after-school snacks. In other words, plan now to fuel those little bodies with something better than potato chips and cookies and to nourish at regular intervals to avoid big dips in energy and focus.
The first step is to start the day off right. Eating breakfast helps the brain to function and has been shown to improve performance in school. In fact, children who eat breakfast score higher on cognitive tests than those who don’t. With a little forethought, you can stock your pantry with breakfast staples, and orchestrate a fresh and healthful breakfast that is also tasty and quick.
One of the easiest options is to simply mix yogurt with granola and top with California grapes for a balanced and nourishing boost to the morning. Pump up the good stuff even more with a Yogurt Power Bowl. This breakfast-in-a-bowl combines Greek yogurt, fresh grapes, walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds with a touch of cinnamon. The yogurt serves as a great source of protein, the walnuts, flax and chia seeds offer healthy omega-3 fatty acids, while the fresh grapes offer a fresh flavor boost and contribute beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols that support a healthy heart.
Yogurt Power Bowl with California Grapes
1/2 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon flax seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups red, black or green seedless California grapes, halved
Mix the yogurt, walnuts, chia, flax and cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss the grapes into the mixture to coat. Serve chilled.
Next, keep your child’s brainpower on a roll at lunchtime by offering a balanced variety of foods. Grapes from California are an easy component of packed lunches; they complement sandwiches, salads and soups as well. Plump, juicy clusters of grapes help to hydrate and refresh, and won’t likely be traded off for something else. Grapes are easy to share, so you might just want to pack extra.
After school, kids need to refuel and recharge to accomplish the slate of afternoon activities, whether homework, sports, enrichment classes or simply a play date. They aren’t alone, actually: according to a recent study by Technomic, 71 percent of people enjoy a snack in the mid-afternoon, with some 50 percent stating that healthfulness is important to them in a snack.
Fresh grapes are the quintessential healthy, but oh-so-tasty snack. They are the perfect finger food, easy to eat, convenient and portable. Grapes play well with other foods too, complementing cheese, crackers, nuts, yogurts and granola bars. Grapes from California are available May through January, with a wide selection of grape varieties available throughout the fall.
Consider these super snack ideas:
• Let the kids make their own no-brainer burritos: Spread a tortilla with whipped cream cheese, a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar, and line the center with grapes. Roll up for a tasty fruit-filled burrito.
• For a savory roll-up, spread cream cheese on a sun-dried-tomato tortilla, and top with sliced turkey. Roll it up and slice to enjoy.
• Smoothies are a great way to add wholesome fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet. Enhance it with a spoonful of nut butter for extra staying power.
• Set out a platter of hummus, pita bread and fruit. Remember that hummus, while traditionally made from chickpeas, can be made from any type of bean, from black beans to white beans to pinto beans, and edamame (soybeans).
• Top an open-face peanut butter sandwich with bananas and grapes.
• Create a fresh trail mix with nuts, cheese cubes, chocolate chips and fresh grapes instead of raisins.
• Pair almond butter with fruit. Spread directly on apple slices or mix with a little honey for a peanut dip for colorful grape skewers.
• Frozen grapes are always a cool treat.
• Sometimes it is OK to play with your food! Create some grape caterpillars by threading green grapes onto bamboo skewers. To make eyes on the end grape, place a dot of cake icing on the back of each of two mini chocolate chips and stick them to the grape.