Brains need fuel. It's as simple as that and our brains and nervous systems need good sources of fat to function optimally. But wait, there's more! This isn't just about the abstract idea of gears spinning in our heads to make us think more clearly. We can feel it. It's called cognitive function and if we're not getting the right nutrients, it's often our brains that suffer first. We know what it feels like when we're thinking clearly and feel energized and calm at the same time. More so, we can see it in our kids.
I've seen it in my own. When my son turned three, he began asking for all the carbs. He wanted his noodles plain (no chance), his toast plain (nice try), and his rice with nothing on it (not happening).
Feeding into the high carb, low everything else habit creates a challenging cycle to break free from. The result of this cycle is most often quick-burning fuel followed by more erratic, less agreeable behaviour. This applies equally, by the way, in both adults and kids, it's often just more acute in kids because they don't yet have the skills to fully moderate their instinctual triggers and behaviour.
It works like clockwork. Give someone sugar and within 30 to 45 minutes, you can usually see (or experience for yourself) that crash happening.
The challenge of breaking out of this cycle is that it's much like a rollercoaster, and the crash-like feeling is easily alleviated by more sugar or refined carbs.
Hence, the super powers of fat. We need quality sources of fat in the diet and our kids need even more as their brains are growing rapidly and their nervous systems are still developing. In the event you're still having a hard time letting go of the fat-phobia that's been drilled into us for the last 30 years, it's time to shake it off, and try not to pass that along to your kids.
Kids need it. We need it.
And if none of what I've written so far convinces you to try it, maybe this will: In most cases, it is dramatically easier to parent a child that is fuelled on quality fat and protein, than one fuelled mostly on sugar.
Short of feeding your kids spoonfuls of coconut oil, ghee and olive oil, the trick is to make snacks that are delicious and fat-rich and this is what I have for you here. An extra bonus with these rich-tasting treats is that they are rich in calories in the best possible way and the flavours are balanced so you feel deeply satiated without overindulging.
They are great as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. As we eat dinner around 5:30 pm with our son, I'll often have one around 8:00 pm (with the cacao powder omitted). And if you've got some kiddos in your home going through a selective eating stage, offer this up once you're sure they're fully done eating, so at least they've got some goodness to keep that blood glucose level stable and the brain humming smoothly.
Easy to make, delicious and brain fuelling. Winning all around.
Yield: 12 snack size pieces
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup hazelnut butter (or whole hazelnuts, see note) + ¼ cup chopped for garnish
- ½ cup sunflower seeds (or sunflower seed butter, see note)
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup (add more if desired to taste)
- 2 Tbsp cacao (optional)
- pinch of salt
- In your high-speed blender or food processor, combine coconut oil and nut and seed butters, maple syrup, cacao and salt.
- Blend until smooth and pour mixture into silicone molds to set. Can also use a glass pyrex.
- Sprinkle with hazelnuts to garnish and transfer to fridge to set for one hour.
- Pop out of mold, or cut to desired size and store in an airtight container with the fridge for up to two weeks.
- Serve directly from the fridge and keep chilled.