The evidence that processed and fast foods are responsible for negative behaviour and poor performance at school is growing, as is our understanding of the benefits of certain foods on the brain. So, Hazel Key, who’s a mum and former tuck-shop lady, has put 2 and 2 together and is providing some solutions to help our kids at school in her new book The Clever Packed Lunch.
“We can do so much these days with the knowledge we have about diet – we can actively support our children at school simply by including certain foods in the lunch box” says Hazel. She adds “We all want our children to do well, and there’s tremendous pressure on kids to get results these days. So lunch-boxes are a great opportunity for parents to help their kids; to boost their ability to focus, remember and learn”. She points to growing evidence indicating that too much sugar, refined carbohydrate and certain types of fat can block learning, and in contrast emphasises the use of foods such as salmon, spinach and eggs that do the opposite.
This article is by Hazel Key.
But how can these ingredients, such as seaweed, blueberries and seeds, which support optimal brain function, be introduced to children who are resistant to change and hooked on cheese, white bread and good ‘ole Vegemite? And how can parents find the time on busy mornings to create these wonderful lunchboxes and escape the clutches of convenience foods with their unwanted ingredients?
‘We’ve the knowledge these days to actively promote, not just healthy bodies but optimal brain function through diet, so that kids can excel at school. Now that’s really exciting for parents!’ says Hazel. In her experience as a mum and ex-tuckshop lady, she found that obscure foods don’t go down well in the lunch box. And over the years she developed a repertoire of recipes that do work. “Sushi, Muesli Cookies, Meatballs and Blueberry Pancakes are all foods that kids in general already enjoy.”
From her book, The Clever Packed Lunch, she’s sharing one of her recipes with us below. “It’s just about using the healthiest ingredients and knowing how to put it all together. It’s important to use organic and high-quality ingredients” she says. “For example I tend to choose organic frozen blueberries for this recipe, which retain all the nutrients.”
Blueberry Egg Pudding
Makes 12 puddings
60g (2oz) Butter
1½ cups low gluten Cake Flour (available in supermarkets)
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/3 cup Rapadura Sugar*
1½ cups cultured Buttermilk**
1½ cups frozen or fresh Blueberries
*Rapadura: pure juice extracted from sugar cane (using a press), which is evaporated over low heat. The molasses hasn’t been taken out.
**Greek yogurt and milk, at a ratio of 1:3 can be whisked together to replace the buttermilk.
Frozen blueberries are best for this recipe because they hold their shape well when stirred into the batter.
• Turn the oven on to Moderately Slow. Put the butter into a medium heatproof bowl and into the oven to melt (about 10 minutes).
• Thoroughly oil a 12-hole muffin tray (or line with squares of greaseproof baking paper). Note the mixture will stick to ordinary patty papers.
• Remove the melted butter from the oven and turn the temperature up to Moderately Hot.
• In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and sugar.
• Add the buttermilk to the melted butter and whisk in the eggs.
• Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk together until just combined.
• Gently stir in the blueberries.
• Using a jug with a large spout, and a spoon to control the flow, almost fill the muffin cups with the batter.
• Bake the puddings for 20-25 minutes until browned a little on top.
• Serve immediately or cool completely before freezing in an airtight container between layers of non-stick paper.
These go really well with a little Pure Maple Syrup. Maple syrup (made from the sap of the Maple tree), while very high in sugar, also contains some useful micronutrients, including minerals such as zinc, and vitamins too. It’s a natural, unprocessed food that can be enjoyed in moderation.
The Clever Packed Lunch
At the Harbord Homeopathic Clinic, we love this new book. It offers a simple, efficient system for providing healthy packed lunches for busy families. Edited and approved by a Nutritionist, the book includes 25 recipes (some Gluten-Free) and a complete two-week lunch menu, all photographed in colour.
In it, Hazel shows that preparing a daily lunch containing home-made food is an opportunity to express love and, at the same time, to support children through the challenges of school life.
The ebook is for sale here.