The summer holidays can be a great time to get kids into the kitchen and kick-start long-term healthy eating habits. We’ve picked three easy recipes that you can have fun recreating at home with the little ones. Our Head of Nutrition, Alice, also shares her thoughts on their brain-boosting properties. Post your best creations on Instagram and tag us @foodforthebrainfoundation.
Sweet Potato Quiche
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin rounds (the rounds should be thin enough to bend easily)
5 eggs, beaten
2 cups fresh spinach
10 slices of sundried tomato, chopped
1 red onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp fresh chives
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Arrange the potato slices in a pie dish in a circular pattern to form a “crust” for the quiche. Drizzle the sweet potatoes with olive oil and season to taste. Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Warm some olive oil in a skillet over a medium heat and add the garlic and onion. Cook until the onion and garlic are soft and fragrant, around 5 minutes.
Add in the spinach. Sauté until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes, and set aside to cool down. When the sweet potatoes are done, lower the oven heat to 375 F.
In a bowl, combine the beaten eggs with the spinach mixture, sundried tomato and chives.
Pour over the sweet potato crust, and place in the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the eggs are set; serve warm.
Alice adds: Sweet potatoes, spinach and red onion are a rich source of antioxidants, which may help to support brain health by reducing the effects of oxidative stress on the brain. Eggs are great for increasing protein and are also a good source of vitamins B6 and B12, folate and choline, which are essential for keeping tiny brains energised throughout the day, as well as supporting a biochemical process called methylation, which is vital for mental and neurological wellbeing.
100g good quality dark chocolate, broken into rough chunks
2 tbsp tahini or unsalted hazelnut butter (from health-food stores)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g mixed unsalted nuts, roughly chopped
50g desiccated coconut
50g pumpkin seeds
A good tbsp of ground or cracked flaxseeds (linseeds)
Melt the chocolate then stir in the tahini. Place ten paper cake cases on a baking sheet. Mix in the dry ingredients until evenly coated then spoon into the cake cases and chill until set.
Alice adds: Kids love chocolate and the above recipe is a luxurious chocolate fix, which also packs a nutritional punch. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, which is important for increasing levels of GABA and modulating dopamine and adrenaline. Cacao is a rich source of magnesium, which similarly to zinc also works to reduce excitability of neurons, as well as reducing levels of oxidative stress in the brain. Flaxseeds are a source of dietary fibre and also contain ALA, a vegan source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain health.
Big Baked Beans
1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 x 400g cans butter beans, rinsed and drained
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
A little salt, or 1 tsp Marigold Reduced Salt Vegetable Bouillon powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onions for 2 minutes to soften. Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer for 2 minutes, then taste to check the seasoning. Serve on wholemeal or rye toast. Tip: You can also purée the mixture before adding the beans to make a smooth sauce like the canned versions.
Alice adds: These baked beans contain no added sugar and are low in salt. Consuming high levels of sugar and refined foods has been indicated to increase hyperactivity and neurocognitive deficits in some studies. Swapping store cupboard staples such as baked beans for low sugar and low salt alternatives, or making your own using the recipe above, is a great way of reducing sugar and salt intake whilst keeping little tummies happy.