Back-to-School Brain Food by Susan Greeley, MS, RD
As the kids head back to school, many moms (and dads) hit the books too — cookbooks, that is! Back to school means back to the kitchen. Good nutrition habits may have gone on vacation with the family this summer, but when it’s time to get back into a routine, parents look for ways to get nutritious meals on the plate every day. Moms in particular start thinking about making meals that keep kids focused and fight the flu. Eating fish can help with both! It is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital in brain development of infants and young children and also support a healthy immune system. These good fatty acids may even help children who deal with anxiety and attention issues, and the lean protein and minerals found in fish are needed for young growing bodies.
Tips for getting young ones to eat fish
There’s knowing and then there’s doing. Parents can tell their children that the fish on their plate is good for them or may even help make them the smartest kid in class, but how do you get them to actually eat and enjoy this brain food? The following tips may help make meal time more pleasant by making fish a family favorite.
1. Keep it simple. Most kids don’t want fancy or gourmet or UFO’s (unidentified food objects) when it comes to dinner time. If they can’t identify what they’re eating, they often turn up their noses.
2. Make it crispy or crunchy. There’s a reason breaded and fried foods, such as fish sticks and nuggets, are kid pleasers. They offer texture and flavor that kids like, and there’s nothing unhealthy about making fish this way at home. Breadcrumbs, cereal, and even potato chips can be used to make a tasty, crispy fish enjoyed by the entire family.
3. Fun food tastes better. Okay, maybe not, but kids are more likely to eat it if you give a dish a silly name, so why not try it?!
For a favorite back-to-school dinner that can teach basic shapes to young ones or simply amuse your older geometry student, try my easy recipe for a cornflake-encrusted pan-fried tilapia that guarantees clean plates. As a nutrition side note that parents will feel good about, you can get as much as 160 mg omega-3’s per 3-ounce serving of tilapia.