Brain Food: Smarter Meals Make Smarter People

By Aimée Capellan

Let’s be honest.  When people inquire about our perception of oatmeal, most of us will respond with a “Yuck!” or “Uhm, how about: no?” But the truth is that many of us have never even tried to make it ourselves. We’ve only tasted it as made by our moms, grandmas, or some random chef in the kitchen of a restaurant. What most of us don’t know, or care to learn, is that oatmeal can totally be manipulated to suit your taste buds. Too mushy? Add less water. Too dry? Add more water. It’s simple.
The following recipe is quite basic but it can be customized, and will give you some ideas on how to start.  As an added plus, this recipe is super-quick so you’ll probably be deducting about 5-10 minutes off your morning schedule.

½ cup of instant oatmeal.
1- ½ cup of water or milk (amount depends on the desired consistency).
¼ (approx.) cup of granola.
Fruit of your choice (sliced apples, bananas, and peaches go great with this).
Sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

Add the oatmeal and water into a bowl. Place in the microwave for 1 minute (plus or minus 30 seconds). Add cut up fruit and granola then sprinkle your cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

Feeling adventurous? If prepared with water rather than milk, oatmeal tastes great with a ¼ cup of your favorite yogurt or cottage cheese (Yes, cheese.  Just trust me, okay?)
Wanna go nuts?! Add some nut butter and /or raw nuts to your oatmeal at the end of microwave preparation.

Health benefits:
1) Oatmeal is a great source of whole grains and protein.
2) Nuts provide a great amount of protein and good fats.
3) Milk, as we all know, is a great source of calcium.

    Although it might not be “the most important meal of the day”, having lunch becomes essential when 5 to 4 classes are left in the school day. That means 4 to 5 hours in which we must focus and think critically, which is a intense brain workout!  And remember, just like a sports workout, mental effort needs food as fuel. In this case, that fuel would be a good lunch.

The following lunch idea will have the classic sandwich as the “entrée”. However, this one will be composed of ingredients designed to keep you full and concentrated all throughout your next classes.

Two slices of 100% whole wheat bread* (see below).
Lettuce** (see below).
2-4 slices of Turkey (depending on how thick the slices are).
Cheese*** (see below).

Sides (pick two): (Because a sandwich is not a complete lunch…).
1 cup of baby carrots.
Fruit of your choice.
1 oz. or a handful of wholesome “chips” (ex. natural popcorn or lightly salted/unsalted pretzels).
Celery sticks.
Handful of nuts (unsalted).

Preparation: I’m pretty sure you guys know how to make a sandwich!

*You can be very versatile with breads. You can find whole wheat bagel thins, pita bread, and wraps.

** I recommended going with darker veggies such as spinach or kale. Lettuce is good, but the darker green the veggie is, the more rich it is in nutrients.
*** I recommend Swiss, Monterey Jack, and Ricotta cheese.

Health Benefits:
1) 100% Whole wheat bread and wholesome chips will provide you with good energizing carbohydrates and fiber.
2) The leafy greens (specially the darker ones) and all the veggies have an abundance of vitamins and some even contain protein!
3) Nuts are high in protein and have good fats.
4) Cheese is a good source of protein (select cheeses are low in sodium have moderate amounts of fat, like the ones mentioned).

These meals are deliciously nutritious and your body should respond to them positively.  Why not switch your usual pizza and fries for one of these meals for a couple of days? Why not try these recipes and feel satisfied that you have made the right choice? After trying these meals, you can make them your own and before you know it, eating healthy will become natural. Remember, being healthy starts with the mind then your diet.

“Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.” – Hippocrates