Happy is typically the feeling we experience when we pack a lunch box and wave goodbye to our kids as they head back to school. This year, given the recent pandemic, some parents are concerned with the safety, health and wellness of their kids and are looking for ways to ensure all household members are seizing the day with healthy immunity. This is where we come in — ensuring wholesome, nourishing food is paramount to a strong immune system.
While providing healthy foods is always our intention as parents, our busy day-to-days set in and reality often defaults to shoving bags of sugar-loaded refined carbs in backpacks, alongside the promises that tomorrow will be different. Sound familiar? Yup, us too!!! Let’s get this school year started on the right foot with some easy ways to keep our health and immunity at the forefront, not just for our kids, but for the entire family, through our food choices. Below is a list of a food standards to implement daily, plus a kids on-the-go breakfast smoothie that will set us all up for success:
Choose Fruits, Veggies & Whole Grains
Encourage fruit and vegetables at every meal and choose whole grains instead of refined convenience/processed foods. Include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to provide a wide range of phytonutrients with antioxidant fighting powers! Worried about fruit going bad fast? Try frozen! Our high-quality, sustainably farmed and affordable super-fruits are available online or at your local grocer.
Keep up on Vitamin C
Our long-time go-to for immune boosting support is still one of our best proactive defenses. This potent vitamin is a powerhouse antioxidant and is found in citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers and passion fruit. Regularly include these in smoothies, on top of oatmeal bowls or enjoy them on their own for a snack, like sliced peppers with hummus or a simple fruit plate.
Vitamins C’s immune boosting side-kick, Zinc is an important micronutrient that aides in normal immune function. Zinc can be found in many protein sources like red meat, chicken, beans and nuts. Cook up a batch of slow-cooker beans to have on hand for quick dinners or encourage your little ones to snack on nuts and seeds.
Optimal Brain Health: keep cognitive function, heart health and eye function optimal with Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) which also assist in the development of the central nervous system, and have anti-inflammatory effects! A few great sources include; walnuts, flax and chia seeds, cold water fish, such as salmon and tuna, and pasture-raised eggs.
Stay H20 Hydrated
Hydration is key to optimizing immunity! Your body needs water to move precious vitamins and minerals and to keep you energized. Skip the sugary beverages that come with a crash and make sure your child has plenty of water in a fun, reusable water bottle to load into their backpacks on their way out the door. We love these stainless steel options from S’well and Corkcicle!
Healthy Snacking for Healthy Blood Sugar: when picking out snacks for recess time, most kids get plenty of the carb-heavy hitters like crackers, pretzels, chips and cookies. While these kid-favorite snacks are hard to do without, adding a protein or healthy fat with your carbohydrate-rich snack will help control blood sugar spikes and supply long lasting energy! Controlling sugar spikes and holding your child’s appetite until lunch time, will allow them to focus on their schoolwork and perform their best. A few easy snacks include, string cheese and crackers, apple slices with sunflower seed butter, pretzels with cottage cheese, roasted chickpeas, tortilla chips and guacamole.
Aim for Stress Free Mornings school mornings can be a rush when trying to get kids ready and out the door. Here are a few simple tips to make life a bit more easy-going and stress-free:
Plan Ahead: when you can, pack lunches or prep breakfast the night before. Make hard-boiled eggs, prep overnight oats or a pre-mixed smoothie blend, or chop up a fruit/veggie salad.
Did you know that 70% of our immune system is located in our gut? Foods rich in probiotics and prebiotics help strengthen our gut health, like Yogurt which contains “live active cultures,” the perfect addition to a breakfast or lunch smoothie. PLUS, quality yogurt contains a hefty dose of protein and calcium for growing bones! Prebiotic foods help feed the probiotics found in our gut and are rich in foods such as leeks, asparagus, garlic and onions. Try garlic and onions in your morning eggs or asparagus as a new side breakfast. Other more “breakfast-friendly” prebiotic-rich foods include, oats, bananas (green ones), flaxseeds and honey. Fun fact: honey is also rich in antibacterial and antiviral properties that aid in protecting our immune systems!
Make a Smoothie: when you’re really in a time-crunch, make a smoothie! Pre-mix your smoothie ingredients in a mason jar the night before to ensure you have a tasty and complete meal-in-glass. This go-to recipe is a complete balanced meal with carbs, protein, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, antioxidants, and pre and probiotics! Whew, we packed it all in there!
Healthy & Easy On-The-Go Breakfast Smoothie
3/4 cup Pitaya Passion Fruit Pieces - Full of immune-boosting Vitamin C
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt* - a hearty dose of protein and gut-friendly probiotics. (*Use plain yogurt to avoid added sugars).
1/2 frozen banana - source of fiber, antioxidants, and prebiotics
1/4 cup old fashioned oats - great source of fiber and prebiotics
1/2 cup plant-based milk - we’re loving Three Trees Oat & Seed Milk
1 Tbsp flaxseed - healthy omega’3 fatty acids
1 Tbsp honey - Rich in antioxidants, anti-viral, anti-bacteria properties.
Bonus Additions - throw in a handful of spinach to knock off a serving of veggies for the day!
BETTER QUALITY BETTER HEALTH: Keep your kids immune system thriving this school year by focusing on these immune-boosting, healthy habits and choices, and remember that while healthy nutritious food is needed for a healthy immune system, daily exercise and a good night’s sleep is imperative! Exercise has limitless benefits, but most notably keeps our bodies strong and ready to fight off any unwanted invaders when the time comes, while sleep allows our bodies the proper opportunity to rest and recover. So for healthy kids and healthier life, keep it simple: choose nutritious, quality foods, get restorative sleep and stay moving!