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Whole Grain Benefits

7 Lunch Foods That Can Improve Your Kid’s Focus At School



Children’s academic performance (and overall satisfaction) in a school setting depends on a variety of factors, and proper nutrition is critical.

In addition to a well-rounded breakfast and healthy snacks, children of all ages need lunch that will both fill them and provide the fuel to get them through an eight-hour day of school (plus all extracurricular activities). Certain lunch options can even help keep children focused throughout the school day, maximizing their academic potential.

We asked nutritionists what foods they would recommend most for a productivity-focused school lunch, and they made these seven tasty and nutritious suggestions.

Segment and package your child’s citrus fruits to make school eating easier.

1. Oranges

If your child likes fruit, an orange is an ideal school snack or ingredient for lunch. “Oranges are a fantastic source of vitamin C, which is not only an antioxidant but has also been shown to improve focus, focus, and memory,” said Matt Scarfo, a certified trainer who specializes in fitness nutrition. “In fact, just one full-size orange can take up almost a full day of your recommended vitamin C intake, making it a great option for a simple, light snack to toss in a lunch box full of nutrients. ” Vitamin C also supports a healthy immune system, which is more important now than ever when kids go back to school.

“Concentrating and concentrating is a challenge in itself when children are healthy; it’s even harder when they’re dealing with the symptoms of a cold or flu, and especially tough when they’re working extra hard to catch up after a few days, ”noted Scarfo. “Getting the right micronutrients from a healthy, whole-food snack like an orange is a great way to avoid that risk.”

As an alternative, you can give your child a can of orange juice as long as it is 100% orange juice with no added sugar. “Including 100% OJ as a drink provides children with essential nutrients like vitamin C,” said Lauren Manaker, a registered nutritionist and cookbook author. “The data also shows that children who drink 100% OJ tend to be more physically active than non-OJ drinkers.”

2. Canned salmon

With an emphasis on plant-based foods and omega-3 fatty acids, the Mediterranean diet is a huge hit with adults seeking a healthier lifestyle. Fortunately, many of the same principles of the Mediterranean diet apply to school lunches, which can encourage academic focus.

Specifically, nutritionist Monica Auslander Moreno said that canned salmon “would offer benefits in terms of cognition and brain development, which could then have an impact on school performance”. She suggests spreading it on sprouted bread with diced celery, onions, and mustard.

“Salmon is one of the fish with the highest concentration of omega-3s – and canned salmon is a great alternative to canned tuna with less mercury,” added Moreno. “Omega-3 fatty acids are critical to brain growth. The addition of onions and celery would provide prebiotic fiber to probiotic nourish the gut microbiome and possibly support the immune system, and a mustard coating can fight inflammation from the turmeric it contains. The sprouted bread is a good choice when it comes to nutritious fiber and B vitamins and less added sugar than conventional bread from the supermarket. “

Roast beef is a good source of iron and zinc, which can help maintain focus.

Roast beef is a good source of iron and zinc, which can help maintain focus.

3. roast beef

An ideal school lunch includes a balanced selection of products from a variety of food groups, including healthy carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Protein can be obtained through many different foods, but nutritionist Brenna Thompson does recommends roast beef especially for school children.

“There are two minerals that children need for good concentration: iron and zinc. Many children lack that. A good source of both is beef. Send kids a roast beef sandwich or pita bag to give them a good balance between protein and carbohydrates, ”Thompson said.

4. Walnuts and fresh blueberries

As an easy and tasty alternative to store-bought trail mixes (which often appear with school lunches), pediatric nutritionist Aubrey Phelps recommends a mixture of walnuts and fresh blueberries.

“This is a great snack or lunch addition,” she said. “The healthy omega fats in walnuts are great for brain health, and the fat and protein keep kids feeling full and prevent blood sugar spikes and drops that can lead to headaches and difficulty concentrating. The blueberries are full of antioxidants that help the body function properly so that children can stay focused. They also add a natural sweetness. “

5. A bLack of bean and vegetable burrito

Packed with protein and vitamins, a black bean and roasted vegetable filled burrito is a smart and filling substitute for a meat-based lunch sandwich.

An important factor in keeping your child focused at school is packing a lunch that will provide them with sustainable energy throughout the day, ”says nutritionist Nicole Stefanow. “A great lunch option is a black bean and roasted brown rice burrito. According to a 2016 study, plant-based proteins like beans and peas can be even more filling than animal-based protein. Because they contain both protein and fiber, beans add stamina to your meal. “

6. ‘Dips and sticks’

From middle school age onwards, my children always packed their lunches themselves, because responsibility for their diet strengthens and strengthens their importance, ”said Stacey Krawczyk, registered nutritionist. When it comes to the “biggest hits” of their kids’ lunch, Krawcyzk emphasizes a snack that is both nutritious and interactive: “Bean dips, guacamole, nut butters and more are great for fiber, healthy fats and proteins and as well To deliver “sticks”. are a great nutrient-rich pairing, whether made from vegetables (carrots, celery, jicama, peppers, etc.), cereals (pretzels, wholegrain crackers, pita chips, etc.) or fruits (apples, pears, etc.). The more colorful the better! “

Replace sugary jellies and jams with fresh berries in a nut butter sandwich.

Replace sugary jellies and jams with fresh berries in a nut butter sandwich.

7. Sandwiches with almond butter and berries

Instead of the classic PB&J, nutrition specialist and author DR. Gena E. Up likes the equally tasty but nutritionally superior “AB&B”.

Upgrade old-school peanut butter and jelly to make almond butter and berries! Use almond butter on a whole grain bread with seeds with pureed blueberries or thinly sliced ​​strawberries instead of sugary jam, ”said Kadar.

“Almonds are high in essential nutrients and fats that support brain health,” said Kadar. “The berries provide polyphenols that have been proven to support memory. Seeds also support brain health as they are high in iron, zinc, and vitamin E. The fiber in wholemeal bread also helps regulate blood sugar, the preferred source of energy for brain cells. “

More tips

Stay away from processed and prepackaged items.

While snack packs of chips, cookies, and chewy candies have been a crowd puller for generations, according to the nutritionist and medical advisor, they won’t do much to support your child’s alertness and energy throughout the school day Heather Hanks. “Although easy to package, these snacks are often the worst foods you can give your kids as they are full of inflammatory ingredients that negatively affect brain function, such as refined sugar, gluten, processed grains, hydrogenated oils, Food colors and dyes, ”said Hanks.

For younger children, the playful presentation of healthy foods can make a world of difference.

If you’re encouraging picky kids (especially young picky kids) to try something different, nutritionist Katie Thomson is recommends “present eating in a playful way. [It could be sliced] like ‘sushi’, served in bento box style or cut into fun shapes. ”A prime example that Thomson loves is“ ‘SB&J Sushi’, prepared with sunflower seed butter and jam or whole berries / banana spread on a whole grain tortilla, rolled up and cut like sushi. It’s fun, peanut and tree nut free for school, and provides fiber, protein and healthy fats for lasting energy. “

Take some time to find out about the lunch options in the cafeteria at your child’s school.

Don’t automatically assume that the meals served in your child’s cafeteria are not up to date in terms of nutritional value. Indeed, nutritionist Molly Pass tells us that “School feeding programs across the country are working really hard to provide good nutrition and a variety of tasty foods for children.” If you are hesitant, Pass recommends that you “have lunch with your child one day to experience the meal, gain more confidence in the meals, and teach your child what a good lunch looks like.”

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Whole Grain Benefits

Do Grains Go Bad? Yes, But They Don’t Have To



AAre you someone who goes to the grocery store every time you want to eat pasta or rice, or do you stay stocked with your favorite cereal forever? If you’re resonating with the latter, we have some news that may have shocked you: grain goes bad – but how quickly it happens is up to you.

“Grains have a longer shelf life than most foods, which makes them one of the best foods to stock up on at home,” says New York-based nutritionist Jennifer Maeng of Chelsea Nutrition in Manhattan, noting that she has one Offer range of health benefits.

“Compared to refined grains, whole grains contain all parts: bran, endosperm and germs. If all these parts of the grain are left intact, they will be rich in nutrients such as B vitamins, minerals, fiber, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, phytochemicals, healthy fats, vitamin E, carbohydrates and proteins. “

Of these nutrients, she says the most notable is fiber. “The fiber contained in whole grain products slows down the breakdown of starch into glucose and thus prevents a high rise in blood sugar,” says Maeng. “Constant increases in blood sugar can negatively affect your energy levels, weight, and general health.”

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Now that you know the benefits of storing grain in your kitchen, it is time to see the cons, too. Grains actually spoil and, thanks to their typical storage, can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Read on to find out more.

Does Grain Go Bad?

According to Maeng, the reason grain goes bad is because it is often stored incorrectly. With that in mind, she says grain should be stored in airtight containers (like OXO’s Good Grips POP storage containers) in a cool, dry environment.

“Whole grains can usually be stored (dry) for up to six months,” she says, noting that they can be kept for up to a year in the freezer. “Cooked whole grains can be stored in the refrigerator for four days and in the freezer for six months.”

Of all the grains there is, Maeng says that pasta, barley, brown rice, spelled, wheat, corn, farro, and rye are among the grains with the longest shelf life when dry.

And then there is white rice. “When properly (dry) stored, white rice can be stored for 25 to 30 years,” says Maeng. “As a study has shown, polished rice does not spoil and retains its nutritional and flavor profile for up to 30 years.”

Signs that your grains have gone bad

As with most foods, Maeng says you know your grains are spoiled if you notice a change in color, smell, or texture. “They tend to degrade in environments with a lot of humidity, heat, and temperature fluctuations,” she adds.

Speaking of changes in humidity and temperature, grains can serve as an abundant source of foodborne contaminants, according to the National Institutes of Health. “Unfortunately, whole grains usually have more pollutants than refined cereals, but they contain more nutrients that can combat these pollutants,” says Maeng. “The National Institutes of Health emphasize that despite an increased risk of contamination, the benefits of consuming whole grains outweigh the risk of contamination.”

Proper storage of grain

Remember: The best way to avoid spoilage and foodborne contamination is to properly store your grain. While dry and cooked grains require different storage solutions, Maeng says that “both uncooked and cooked grains should not be stored in environments with temperature changes, as this creates condensation and increases the risk of food contamination growth.”

That said, learn how to store your grains below.

1. Dry

As mentioned earlier, airtight containers and dry, cool environments are best for dry grain storage.

“The best temperature for storage is 40 ° F,” adds Maeng, noting that rice stored at 70 ° F (with the help of oxygen absorbers) can be stored for years.

2. Cooked

Cooked grains, on the other hand, have a much shorter shelf life. “Cooked grains that are stored in the refrigerator should be used within a few days, ideally three,” says Maeng, noting that they can be kept in the freezer for up to six months. “The shelf life of already cooked grain is much shorter than that of uncooked grain due to the addition of water and its role in microbial growth.”

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Whole Grain Benefits

What’s the Best Diet for Runners? Nutrition Tips and More



Before shopping for groceries for running, it is important to understand the science behind it.

The three macronutrients that are important to your overall diet are:

In addition, a varied diet ensures that you are also getting micronutrients and antioxidants, which play key roles in muscle function and recovery.


Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and are essential for long distance running.

When you consume them, your body breaks down dietary carbohydrates into their simplest form, the sugar, glucose.

Glucose is a vital source of energy for humans. This is because your body needs it to produce your cells’ energy currency called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) (1, 2).

During a run or exercise, your body can send glucose to muscle cells as an immediate source of energy. Any extra glucose in your bloodstream is sent to your liver and muscle cells to be stored as glycogen (1, 2).

During a run, your body first draws glucose from the blood to keep working muscles powered. When glucose levels start to drop, the body starts converting stored glycogen back to glucose through a process called glycogenolysis (1, 2).

Your VO2max is the maximum rate at which your body can consume oxygen while exercising, and it increases with higher exercise intensity.

This limits the oxygen available for energy production. As a result, your body engages in anaerobic (lack of oxygen) energy production that relies primarily on carbohydrates (3, 4).

When your exercise intensity increases, e.g. For example, when running and sprinting over shorter distances, your body uses carbohydrates as a primary source of energy and fat as a secondary source (2, 3, 5).

Because of the shorter duration of a sprint, most people have adequate blood sugar and glycogen stores to support their run (2, 3, 5).

During longer, lower-intensity runs, your body increasingly relies on fat stores to produce energy. This can happen, for example, on runs longer than 10 km (6 miles) (3, 4, 5, 6).

Additionally, most long distance runners also need to fill up on simple sugars to keep their run going. This is why many long-distance runners consume sports drinks or energy gels (5, 6).

Eating around 45–65% of total daily calories from carbohydrates is a good goal for most runners (7, 8).


Stored body fat is another great source of energy, especially when running long distances.

In general, you should aim to get between 20% and 30% of your total daily calories from mostly unsaturated fats. Avoid eating less than 20% of your caloric intake from fat (8).

Low fat intake is linked to a lack of fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids (8, 9, 10).

During long-lasting endurance training, your body falls back on its fat reserves as the primary source of energy.

It does this through a process called fat oxidation. Stored triglycerides are broken down into fatty acids, which your body then converts into glucose (1, 3, 5, 6).

While the process of fat oxidation is useful in long distance running, it is less efficient than using carbohydrates during high-intensity exercise. Because fat takes more time to be converted into energy, and that process also requires oxygen (8, 9, 10).

In addition, dietary fat is less efficient as a training fuel than carbohydrates, which are consumed very quickly and are more readily available during exercise (8, 9, 10).

So instead of consuming fat specifically for running, you should consume it as part of a balanced diet to support the functions of your body.

Dietary fat is crucial for:

  • healthy joints
  • Hormone production
  • Nerve function
  • General health

It also supports the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), making it an important part of your diet (8, 9, 10).

If you have stomach upset, eat low-fat meals in the few hours before running. Instead, try to eat higher fat meals during recovery periods (10).


Protein is not a primary source of energy during endurance training. Instead, your body supports (11, 12):

  • Muscle growth and regrowth
  • Tissue repair
  • Injury prevention
  • the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells
  • Total recovery

Your muscles break down as you run, which makes protein fueling important in rebuilding those muscles. Without protein, the muscles cannot be rebuilt efficiently, which can lead to muscle wasting, increased risk of injury and poorer performance (11, 12).

Although individual needs vary, most research suggests consuming around 0.6-0.9 grams of protein per pound (1.4-2.0 grams per kg) of your body weight per day.

This is sufficient for recovery and can prevent muscle loss in extreme endurance athletes (8, 10, 11).


Exercise puts a strain on your body’s metabolic pathways, so you need a diet high in micronutrients to support its function.

While every athlete has different needs, some micronutrients are particularly important (8):

  • Calcium. This is a major contributor to bone health and muscle contraction. Most people get enough calcium-rich foods in their diet, including dairy products and leafy greens.
  • Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for bone health as it supports calcium and phosphorus absorption. It can also contribute to muscle metabolism and function. You can get it through sun exposure, supplements, and foods rich in vitamin D.
  • Iron. This is critical to the development of red blood cells, which provide oxygen to working muscle cells. Long distance runners, vegetarians, and vegans may need more than the recommended food intake – more than 18 mg per day for women and 8 mg per day for men.
  • Antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce cell damage from oxidation from intense exercise. Eating foods high in antioxidants – like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds – seems to be more effective than taking antioxidant supplements.
  • Other nutrients and aids. Many athletes use supplements or consume foods to improve performance, such as beetroot, caffeine, beta-alanine, and carnosine. Some of these are backed by more research than others.

For most people, eating a variety of whole foods ensures that you are getting enough micronutrients.

If you think you have a deficiency or want to try a new nutritional supplement, speak to a doctor.


Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy during exercise. As you increase the distance and time of your runs, your body also begins to use stored fat for fuel. Prioritizing your diet can help improve your performance.

Good timing when eating can make all the difference in your runs. Your timing largely depends on:

  • how long and far do you run
  • your personal goals
  • your tolerance
  • Your experience

The best way to find out what works for you is through trial and error.

Diet before the run

Most people who run for less than 60 minutes can safely exercise without eating first. Even so, you may want to have a small, high-carb snack to provide a quick source of glucose. Examples are (13, 14):

  • 2-3 Medjool dates
  • Apple sauce
  • a banana
  • a glass of orange juice
  • Energy gel

If you plan to run for more than 60-90 minutes, have a small meal or snack containing about 15-75 grams of carbohydrates at least 1-3 hours before your workout.

This gives your body enough time to digest your food (8, 13, 14, 15).

Examples of carbohydrates to eat are:

  • a fruit smoothie made from milk and a banana
  • Scrambled eggs and toast
  • a bagel with peanut butter

Avoid high-fiber foods a few hours before running, as these take longer to digest and can cause stomach upset during exercise. Examples are whole grains, beans, lentils, and some vegetables.

After all, people who run for more than 90 minutes may want to recharge with carbohydrates a few days before an event.

This involves consuming a large amount of carbohydrates before a long distance run to make sure your body is storing as much glycogen as possible for quick energy supply (8).

While carbohydrate loading, many people attempt to consume 3.2-4.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound (7-10 grams per kilogram) of their body weight per day 36 to 48 hours before running. The best sources are complex carbohydrates like (8, 9, 10):

  • potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Multigrain bread
  • low fiber cereals

During your run

The only macronutrient that you need to focus on while running is carbohydrates. What you consume should largely depend on the length and intensity of your run.

Here are general guidelines you can follow for different run lengths (8, 9, 10):

  • Less than 45 minutes. No high-carb foods or drinks are required.
  • 45-75 minutes. You might want a high-carbohydrate mouthwash or small sips of a sports drink.
  • 60-150 minutes. You may want to replenish your blood sugar level with 30-60 grams per hour of a sports drink or energy gel.
  • 150 minutes or more. For long distance endurance runs, you may need to fill up with 60-90 grams of carbohydrates per hour. Most people prefer to stock up on high-carb sports drinks, gels, chewy candies, and bananas.


Whether you eat right after your run depends on the intensity of the exercise, the duration of the run, and your personal preferences.

If you want to eat right away, try a small snack with carbohydrates and proteins, such as chocolate milk or an energy bar.

Try to eat a meal that is high in carbohydrates and protein within 2 hours of your run.

Try to consume between 20 and 30 grams of protein. Research has shown that this can promote increased muscle protein synthesis.

Some examples of high protein foods are (8, 9, 10, 16):

  • beef
  • chicken
  • fish
  • Eggs
  • tofu
  • Beans
  • lenses
  • tempeh
  • Protein powder (whey or vegetable based)

You should also replenish your glycogen stores by eating complex carbohydrates like whole wheat pasta, potatoes, brown rice, and whole grain bread, which provide a constant source of glucose for hours after your run (7, 8, 9, 15).


In most cases, food intake before, during and after the run depends on many personal factors. Try out some of these pointers and tweak them as needed to see what works best for you.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The benefits of fiber | 2021-09-21



The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025” state that more than 90% of women and 97% of men do not adhere to the recommended intake of fiber, and such deficits are associated with health risks. This is where fiber fortification in baked goods, a traditional source of intrinsic grain-based fiber, helps consumers get closer to their intake goals. While there is a lot of fiber in it, bakers may want to explore those that give the recipe a function, such as: B. those that can eliminate gluten in bread or reduce sugar in biscuits.

Family-owned and operated Royo Bread Co., New York, launches a low-calorie, keto-friendly artisanal bread that has 30 calories, 2 grams of net carbohydrates, and 11 grams of fiber per slice. Wheat-resistant starch is the first ingredient. Other sources of fiber include wheat protein, wheat bran, whole rye flour, ground flaxseed, and psyllium husk.

“Flax seeds are high in omega-3 fats and fiber,” says Ronit Halaf, a registered nutritionist who started the company in 2019 with her baker husband, Yoel Halaf. “Psyllium husks are an important part of all of our products. It contains soluble fiber and insoluble fiber that will help increase fullness, slow digestion, and most importantly, help you stay regular. Wheat protein, also called wheat gluten, is essential to keep our products together. It contains traces of wheat and is a rich source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. “

For Nature’s Path, Richmond, British Columbia, the focus was on eliminating added sugar in muesli. But ingredient technology also added fiber to it.

“People worry about the amount of sugar they’re consuming,” said Arjan Stephens, general manager of Nature’s Path. “Our new granolas contain 0% added sugar and are still 100% delicious.”

The muesli is available in vanilla-almond butter and mixed berry flavors, with each serving containing 17 grams of whole grain products. That doesn’t mean everything in fiber, however, as one serving only contains 3 grams. This still enables a high-fiber claim. The secret of the muesli’s sweet taste is its main ingredient: date powder.

“Dates are also high in fiber, which is great for digestive health,” said Stephens. “And their fiber content makes dates a low-glycemic food.”

While most Americans are aware that they need to consume more fiber and less sugar, it is not an easy task. You are not ready to forego quality and enjoyment.

According to a study by ADM Outside Voice, more than half of consumers associate fiber with benefits like digestive health. In addition, 56% of consumers report adding or increasing fiber to their diet, the Hartman Group reports in their report, Reimagining Wellbeing Amid COVID-19, 2021.

“However, added fiber can also be linked to digestive problems,” said Sarah Diedrich, Marketing Director, Sweetening Solutions and Fibers, ADM. “Our research has shown that almost 70% of consumers would stop buying a product if it caused gastrointestinal problems.”

This article is an excerpt from the September 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the full fiber optic feature, click here.

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