With exam season almost upon us, parents and guardians countrywide are buckling up to help our young students approach the final hurdle. Often there is little we can do, apart from keeping the home front calm and showing our love and support by providing our scholars with plenty of nutritious foods.
A nutrient-dense diet is important for any young person who is hoping to perform at their best, either physically or academically. Healthy snacks play a vital role in fuelling the mind with essential nutrients required for optimal brain function. Nutritious snacks help to regulate blood sugar levels, which in turn supports the body’s energy levels throughout the day and helps the mind to stay focused.
Wholefood snacks will provide a sufficient energy boost while also feeding the body and brain with vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Fresh fruit such as oranges, apples, grapes, and berries are always a popular choice as they are convenient and nutritious.
Bananas provide the brain with a good boost of energy and can also be enjoyed as a quick snack, but for a more filling option, they pair perfectly with a slice of wholemeal toast or rice cakes.
Raw carrot sticks, celery, radishes, or cucumber slices make for a tasty snack when served alongside some hummus or guacamole, while plain, unsalted nuts and seeds are also something convenient to snack on and they are packed with protein, healthy fats, and fibre.
Snacks rich in protein, such as yoghurts, hard boiled eggs, or a chunk of cheese, are an easy addition to a student’s diet and can help them to feel fuller for longer.
As well as including plenty of brain-boosting snacks to a student’s diet, it’s also especially important for students to keep well hydrated. Even mild dehydration can lead to an inability to focus, tiredness and headaches, hindering how well the student can focus during a study session and how they perform in an exam.
Drinking water regularly throughout the day can prevent dehydration.
It’s always best to avoid energy drinks and high-sugar foods, as even though they’ll give an initial energy boost, an inevitable drop will occur, leading to fatigue and a less productive study session.
These easy-to-make bars are packed with nutrients and energy-rich ingredients; perfect for students to enjoy as a snack.
50g raw cashew nuts
25g sunflower seeds
1tbsp milled chia seeds
125g peanut butter
2 tbsp coconut oil
50g dark chocolate
1tsp coconut oil
1 Line an 8in baking tray with parchment paper.
2 Add the oats, cashews, sunflower seeds and chia seeds to a high-powered processor and blitz until fine.
3 Add the dates and continue to pulse until they’re finely chopped.
4 Add the peanut butter and coconut oil and blitz until combined.
5 Tip into the tray and press into place with the back of a spoon.
6 Prepare the topping by adding the dark chocolate and coconut oil to a small microwavable bowl, and heating in the microwave for about 1 minute, stirring about every 20 seconds.
7 Pour over the chocolate topping, add a little sprinkling of sea salt, and pop in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to set, before cutting into bars.
8 Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
Protein-Rich Hummus with Crudités & Tortilla Chips
This hummus is a rich source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and soluble fibre. It is delicious served with some homemade tortilla chips. Crudités are another nutritious addition to serve with the hummus. They can be prepared by washing, peeling and cutting carrots, cucumber and radishes into ready-to-eat slices. This hummus will keep well for at least three days in a sealed container in the fridge.
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
75g Greek yoghurt
50ml olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp tahini
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sugar
Handful fresh coriander leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large tortilla wraps
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
Half a tsp of onion salt
1 To make the hummus, place all the ingredients into a mini chopper or a food processor and blitz until smooth. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
2. For the tortilla chips, preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C /Gas Mark 6, or the air fryer to 180°C. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil with the smoked paprika and onion salt. Using a pastry brush, coat the tortilla wraps on each side with the flavoured oil, then cut into wedges.
3 Place on a lined tray for the oven, or in an even layer in the air fryer. Cook for about 5-7 minutes in the oven and 4-5 minutes in the air fryer, turning once during cooking and keeping a close eye that the chips don’t start to burn.
4 Tip out onto a plate and allow to cool and crisp up slightly before serving alongside the hummus and some prepared vegetables.