USE YOUR LOAF!
Can intelligence really be enhanced by the food we eat?
Sorry to break this to you, but there is unfortunately no secret recipe to boost your IQ or actually make you smarter!
Evidence suggests, however, that the right types of foods can help concentration, focus, behaviour and mood.
And, no real surprise here, these are the same types of foods that help sustain energy to enhance sports performance!
A little bit of science ...
The human brain is a highly metabolically active tissue which
depends on a constant supply of blood glucose to meet its energy needs.
The brain is composed principally of fat and water and is made up of billions of cells,
or neurons which require macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) as well as
micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
Energy, generated from food, regulates the growth and change of the cells in the brain.
Scientific evidence that some foods can actually help you focus and concentrate better is still in its infancy, although there have been many studies over the past ten years on the influence of diet on mental function in young people. If you're looking for evidence, have a look at the recent research by the Human Appetite Research Unit at the University of Leeds, which shows that habitual breakfast eating and school breakfast programmes have a positive effect on children’s academic performance, with the clearest effects being measured on the mathematical and arithmetic grades of undernourished children. According to the report, children who skip breakfast have more difficulty focussing on classroom tasks and concentrating in class, which is apparent in both well and undernourished children and children from deprived backgrounds. Also, according to a study of over 7000 children by researchers at Bristol University, does suggest that eating the right types of foods can enhance concentration, focus, behaviour and mood.
Nourishing the body with a healthy, unprocessed, nutrient-rich diet will certainly help towards
fueling the brain for effective learning, optimising a child's ability to engage with their work
and therefore achieve his or her potential.
That's a good balance of slow-release carbohydrate to keep blood sugar levels steady, good quality protein, healthy unsaturated fat (e.g. omega-3's) and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Try this banana malt loaf, or rather BRAINY BANANA BREAD, as we like to call it - it's guaranteed to get the brain in gear!
180g self-raising wholemeal flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tbsp milled Chia seeds
20g sunflower seeds
20g nuts - pecans, almonds or walnuts, roughly chopped
100g glace cherries, dates or dried apricots, or a mix of all three, roughly chopped
100g unsalted butter, softened
75g soft dark brown muscovado sugar
2 tbsp malt extract
1 large, free-range egg
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 large ripe banana, mashed with a fork
1 tbsp Demerara sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Prep time - 5 mins
Cook time - 1-1 1/4 hours
Equipment needed - 2 bowls, fork, spoon, electric whisk, 1 litre loaf tin, wire rack.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and lightly grease a 1 litre loaf tin.
Put the flour into a bowl with the cinnamon, baking powder, chia seeds and salt.
Add the dried fruit, sunflower seeds and nuts.
In another bowl, cream together the butter, the sugar and the malt extract with an electric whisk, until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Stir in the yoghurt and the banana.
Fold in the flour mixture until combined. The mixture will be fairly stiff.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and sprinkle generously with the Demerara sugar/cinnamon mix.
Bake in the oven for about 1 - 1 1/4 hours or until golden brown and cooked through.
Place the tin on a wire rack to cool. Do not remove from the tin until the cake is completely cold.
Slice and eat on its own or spread with cold, unsalted butter.
This depends on how thick your slices are, but here's a guestimate, per slice:
Energy (kcal) 229
Protein (g) 4
Carbohydrate (g) 35 (Of which sugars (g) 24)
Fat (g) 8.5 (Of which saturates (g) 1.5)
Salt (g) 0.5
Fibre (g) 3
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Kids love to make this banana bread in food tech. For more vegetable-and fruit-themed recipes, see www.gofasterfood.com,
or get the book!
Brainy Banana Bread
Use your loaf!
This banana bread not only tastes great, it's also packed with amazing nutrients which can
help brain function and boost
your immune system.
Packed with omega 3s from the nuts and seeds, sweetened with banana (providing potassium and other important minerals), immune-boosting malt extract and sustaining wholemeal flour, we like to call this banana maltloaf our 'brainy banana bread'. It will keep for a while, wrapped in greaseproof paper or foil, and does, in fact, improve over the days. Sandwich a couple of slices with unsalted butter and wrap in foil to eat at breaktime!
If you make this bread in food tech and you're a nut-free school, just replace the nuts for seeds.
It's loaded with good, sustaining energy too, making this bread an effective (and very tasty) after-school
booster to keep kids going for an evening's sports activities or as a brain-boosting snack in between exams.