This school season, use stasher bags to pack high-powered, low-waste “brain food” snacks for your favorite student (yes, your favorite student can be yourself- we see you, overworked college students!). Each one of these healthy snacks offers incredible nutrients to support memory and focus for all that learning. And, they can all be stashed ahead of time in the fridge or pantry, making it super easy to grab and go. stasher's sturdy, airtight seal will keep your snacks fresher longer! So, without further ado, here are a few great ideas for healthy back-to-school snacks!
Brain Food for School Snacking
Kids and grown-ups alike love the chewy texture and mild flavor of pumpkin seeds. They’re packed with nutrients that assist in healthy brain development; like omega fatty acids and zinc. In addition, pumpkin seeds contain high levels of magnesium, which supports good mental health by calming the brain. Pack pumpkin seeds plain, or as part of a trail mix. For added flavor, you can roast pumpkin seeds in the oven with olive or coconut oil and various spices (we love curry powder, yum!)- just be sure to not roast for more than 15-20 minutes to preserve the seeds’ health benefits. Check your local grocery store or co-op for raw pumpkin seeds sold in bulk!
Blueberries have earned a reputation as “brain berries” because of the sheer amount of antioxidants that are packed into their skins. Bonus: blueberries boost the immune system, helping to ward off sickness spread around by fellow students. Experts recommend a cup of blueberries a day. Pack a simple snack of fresh blueberries, or blend them into a smoothie that’s easy to grab on-the-go!
Two words: healthy fat. Our brains and bodies need it in order to perform their best! Avocado fats help to regulate blood flow and blood pressure and improve your blood’s oxygenation. The monounsaturated fatty acids contained in avocados keep brain cell membranes healthy and flexible. Slice avocados and sprinkle a little pink salt on them (your stasher bag will help to keep the slices from browning too quickly, or sneak them into a delicious chocolate pudding!
Like avocados and pumpkin seeds, walnuts contain healthy fat. Like strawberries and blueberries, they contain antioxidants. The combination of these two nutrients creates a superfood that not only increases focus and improves memory, but regulates moods as well.
Strawberries = brain food because of their amazing ability to help the brain focus and to boost memory function. Packed with antioxidants and Vitamin C, strawberries are a great lunchtime treat or mid-afternoon snack to beat that inevitable slump after 2pm! Strawberries also contain nutrients that support good eye health, another plus for students who spend hours looking at printed pages and screens.
Your brain primarily runs on glucose, which comes from carb-rich foods like oats! The carbohydrates in oats break down slowly, fueling the brain through the day. Granola bars are a convenient way to add oats into your snacking routine, but they often include a heaping helping of refined sugar and preservatives. Plus, granola bars that aren’t wrapped in single use plastic are hard to come by. For a wholesome homemade + package free snack that includes oats plus two more of the brain-boosting ingredients listed above, try whipping up a batch of blueberry walnut granola bars!
A Wholesome homemade granola bar recipe:
- 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 3/4 cup dried blueberries
If desired, lightly toast the oats and walnuts in a 350 degree oven until the edges are barely browned.
Mix brown sugar, coconut oil, and honey in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar is melted and the mixture is slightly thickened. Add salt, then pour the mixture over oats and walnuts in a large bowl.
Stir in blueberries until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Transfer to a parchment-lined 8x8 pan and press evenly with a spatula or well-greased hands (be sure the mixture is cooled enough, first!).
Chill granola bars overnight (or at least 2 hours), cut into bars or squares, and enjoy!
Note: an increased amount of honey can be used instead of sugar for a more natural treat, but the bars may not hold together as well when not refrigerated.
(Recipe adapted from Bless This Mess Please)