Super Charged Learning with Protein

Super Charged Learning with Protein!!

We just completed week 3 of the Nutrition Program here at Polaris Tech Charter School and have been having some food fun!  Last week we focused on protein and the students got to get their hands dirty...or “peanut buttery” to be more accurate!  We made some super delicious, super energizing, super easy and super duper affordable Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls.  Stay tuned...Recipe to follow!

Protein is an important subject when it comes to a child’s health.  Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies, so if you think about it, it’s not hard to comprehend that as a growing and developing child, he/she needs to be consuming plenty of these quality proteinaceous building blocks on a regular basis.   

The students learned that our bodies use and assemble over 100,000 different proteins to make up our skin, organs, nervous system, bones, hair, eyes etc…  These proteins are comprised of only 20 amino acids.  Half of those amino acids can be manufactured in the body, but the other 10 are “essential” and must come from our food!  We learned about different sources of proteins offering up these essential amino acids and how these aminos translate to our everyday physical and mental health. The very chemicals involved in keeping us motivated, focused, happy and able to learn come from our food!  These chemicals are a big part of the recipe for a successful learning experience and can be supported with a healthy breakfast!

We learned that Eggs (and other protein sources) contain the amino acid Tyrosine. Tyrosine is needed to make the neurotransmitters:

  • Dopamine

  • Epinephrine

  • Norepinephrine

We need these chemical messengers in order to:

  • Feel Good

  • Have Focus

  • Learn New Things

  • To be Motivated

Something that I really try to impress upon my clients of all ages, but especially to young people is that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  It doesn’t have to be a big meal but it should be balanced and contain some protein.  For most people and especially kids, metabolism is the strongest in the morning after an all night fast.  I like to use the campfire analogy to explain this.  If you feed a roaring fire with a big fat log (protein, fiber and health fats) that fire is going to continue to burn strong and steady for hours.  If you were to throw a bundle of quick burning kindling (simple carbohydrates and sugar) onto the the fire, it will roar like gangbusters for a few minutes or so, then start to burn out as quickly as it started.  

Which scenario sounds better to send your kids off to school with?  Which scenario sounds better for yourself?  I choose scenario #1.  The big fat log of healthy proteins and fats!  This scenario provides sustained energy, blood sugar balance and a source of amino acids to nourish a positive outlook, good behavior, better learning and a brighter future.  

Here are a few good examples of easy peasy balanced breakfasts:

Example # 1 Yogurt Parfait

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt

  • 1/2 cup Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats N’ Dark Chocolate Granola

  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter (may substitute almond butter, sunflower butter, cashew butter)

  • ½ Banana

  • Fresh berries ¼ cup of fresh berries

Example #2 Overnight Chia Seed Pudding

  • 1 Cup of any milk you like, Whole Cows Milk, Almond milk, Cashew milk, Coconut Milk

  • ½ tsp of Orange zest

  • ⅛ Tsp Vanilla Extract

  • 3 Tbsp Chia Seeds

  • Mix above ingredients in a jar, cover and set in refrigerator overnight

  • In the morning, top with a drizzle of honey or fresh fruit maybe some chopped nuts

  • Enjoy!

Example #3 Eggs Anyway (This is how we roll in our house most days)

  • Scrambled Eggs, Over Easy Eggs, Sunny Side Up, Hard Boiled Eggs

  • Butter

  • Whole Grain Organic or Gluten Free toast

  • Side of Avocado Slices, tomatos or fresh fruit

  • Optional: Add ham, quality bacon, sausage leftover meat from dinner???

Example #4 Make Ahead Egg Muffins

  • Tbs Butter or Olive oil

  • 6 eggs

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/2 cup of any veggie you like (good way to sneak in veggies!  Chopping veggies small makes it harder to pick them out!)

  • 1/3 cup crumbled cooked bacon or sausage

  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 6 cups of a muffin tin with butter or olive oil

Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Blend or whisk the eggs until smooth

Add the rest of the ingredients to the egg mixture and stir to combine.

Divide the egg mixture evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until eggs are set.

Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for a quick “grab and go” weekday breakfast

Protein Ball Recipe - Recipe makes about 24 Protein Balls

  • 1 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 2 scoops (about 50-60 grams) chocolate protein powder

  • 2 Tablespoons chocolate chips
     

Instructions:

  • In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until well incorporated.

  • From the mixture, scoop out about a tablespoon and roll into bite sized balls

  • Enjoy!

Note:  This recipe can be modified a zillion different ways!!  For Peanut Allergies, other Nut or Seed Butters can be substituted.  I used Sunflower Butter instead of Peanut Butter and they were amazing!!!

Blog Post By:

Hollie Donelson, NTP

Happy Tummies of The Lowcountry, LLC





 





 

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