20 Brain-Boosting Foods for Kids – Once Upon a Farm
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20 Brain-Boosting Foods for Kids

 Note: This blog is not medical advice and is for informational purposes only. For any specific recommendations, please refer to your child’s pediatrician. These foods are known to support brain health, when paired with a healthy diet and active lifestyle.

We all want our kids to grow up happy and healthy, and one of the best ways to ensure that (aside from lots of love!) is by fueling them with the right foods. Introducing them to a variety of healthy foods from an early age will not only help support their growth early on—it’ll also help inspire a lifetime of healthy eating.

Food also happens to be a great way to support brain health as your little ones grow and develop. Of course, food is just one piece of the puzzle. A healthy diet and active lifestyle—including exercise, learning, sleep, socialization, and play—are the fundamentals of brain health.

As a start, here are 20 colorful and flavorful brain-boosting foods for kids. Keep these in mind when you’re making your grocery list or reading ingredient lists on prepared items!

1. Avocado

avocado illustration on a pink background

Creamy, dreamy, and versatile, too! We love that avocado’s soft texture makes it an ideal food for babies and big kids. Serve it diced or mashed on its own, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or spread on a sandwich.

Why it’s great: Fats for vitamin absorption and brain health + B vitamins for brain development

Taste it in: Wild Rumpus Avocado, Apple, Banana, Spinach & Avocado 

2. Beet

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Rich & earthy, but slightly sweet, beets can be an acquired taste. But if you find the right way to prepare and introduce them, your kids should love them! Try making beet hummus or serving roasted beets with goat cheese and a little oil & vinegar.

Why it’s great: Iron for brain development

Taste it in: OhMyMega Veggie!, Apple Carrot Beet & Ginger

3. Broccoli

broccoli

Yummy when raw, equally yummy when cooked. Broccoli can be crunchy or soft or somewhere in between, making it great for introducing textures as your little ones grow. Tastes great with just a little bit of butter or olive oil, and it pairs well with ranch dressing, cheese, or hummus.

Why it’s great: B vitamins and iron for brain development

Taste it in: Advanced Nutrition Power Bowl, Broccoli, Pea & Navy Bean

4. Cauliflower

cauliflower

This cruciferous veggie is still having a moment—and for good reason. Aside from being used in place of bread or rice, cauliflower is just a really good vegetable. Raw or roasted, steamed or sautéed, there are tons of kid-friendly ways to prepare it.

Why it’s great: B vitamins and choline to support brain development

Taste it in: Advanced Nutrition Cauliflower Fields, Quinoa, Pineapple, Cauliflower & Coconut Milk, Quinoa, Cauliflower & Kale, Carrot, Cauliflower & Hemp Seed

5. Chia Seeds

chia seeds

Though they don’t have much flavor on their own, they can be added to just about anything for an extra boost. Aside from the ever-popular chia seed pudding, they’re great additions to smoothies, yogurt, or sautés.

Why they’re great: Fiber-filled superfood packed with omega 3 fatty acids for brain development

Taste it in: Sweet Potato, Mango & Coconut Milk, Quinoa, Banana, Spinach & Coconut Butter, Sweet Potato, Raspberry & Coconut Butter

6. Cherry

cherry  illustration on a pink background

A ripe, juicy, in-season cherry? The—dare we say—cherry on top of summer fruits. They pair well with other fruits and taste great in cobblers and other desserts, but we love them on their own just as much. Be sure to remove the pits if giving them to your little ones!

Why it’s great: Choline for brain development + vitamin C for immunity

Taste it in: Apple, Cherry & Elderberry Immunity Blend

7. Coconut Milk

coconut milk  illustration on a pink background

This rich and yummy alternative to cow’s milk can be enjoyed on its own, as the base of a smoothie, within dessert recipes, or in savory dishes like curries. Great for cereal and overnight oats, too!

Why it’s great: Known to contain lauric acid + fats for brain development and vitamin absorption.

Taste it in: All of our Dairy-Free Smoothies

8. Dragon Fruit

dragon fruit  illustration on a pink background

Dragon fruit (aka pitaya) is a tropical fruit with a bright pink skin and equally vibrant flavor. We love it cut into cubes on its own or combined with other tropical fruits in a fruit salad or smoothie.

Why it’s great: Vitamin C for immunity + iron for brain development

Taste it in: Pineapple, Banana & Dragon Fruit Immunity Blend

9. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

olive oil  illustration on a pink background

Unlike a lot of these foods, you probably won’t be serving EVOO by itself, but it’s one of our favorite oils to cook with or to add a little extra flavor as a finishing touch. We particularly love it drizzled over ripe avocado or tomato (coincidentally, both fruits that act like veggies).

Why it’s great: Omega 3 and 6 for brain development + fats for brain health and vitamin absorption.

Taste it in: Broccoli, Pea & Navy Bean

10. Flax Seed

flax seed  illustration on a pink background

A superfood easily added to so many different foods, flax seed delivers a slight crunch, but when added to something like a smoothie, it’s nearly indetectable. We love it with oatmeal or sprinkled atop a salad.

Why it’s great: Omega 3s support brain health + prebiotic source to boost beneficial gut bacteria

Taste it in: Pineapple, Banana & Kale, Apple Carrot Beet & Ginger, OhMyMega Veggie!

11. Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

chickpeas illustration on a pink background

Garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) are super versatile legumes. Serve them cooked + cooled, make them into hummus, season & roast them, toss them into a salad, the possibilities go on…

Why they’re great: Iron for brain development + protein for growing bodies

Taste them in: This yummy recipe: Mango & Carrot Veggie Burgers

12. Hemp Seeds

hemp seeds  illustration on a pink background

Technically a nut, hemp seeds (aka hemp hearts) have a mild flavor. While they can be eaten raw and by themselves, they’re most commonly added to yogurts, smoothies, and salads or used to make “milk.” Sprinkle them on any entrée for an extra boost!

Why they’re great: Contains all essential amino acids for brain development and growing bodies

Taste them in: Green Kale & Apples, Pea, Zucchini & Basil

13. Mango

mango  illustration on a pink background

Sweet, juicy, and soft when ripe, mango is definitely a favorite fruit among the O’Farm team. Perfect on its own, mango also pairs well with other tropical fruits, yogurt, seafood, and it complements anything with a hint of spice as well.

Why it’s great: Vitamin A eye development + vitamin B6 for brain development

Taste it in: Mango fruit blend, Mango, Coconut & Carrot, Sweet Potato, Mango & Coconut Milk, Mango, Carrot, Navy Bean & Coconut Butter (+ mango recipe ideas here!)

14. Navy Beans

navy beans  illustration on a pink background

Navy beans (aka pea beans) are a small variety of white beans that have a pretty mild flavor and are soft (easy to mash!) when cooked. They’re especially great in soups!

Why they’re great: Zinc and iron for brain development + protein for cell generation and growth

Taste them in: Mango, Carrot, Navy Bean & Coconut Butter, Broccoli, Pea & Navy Bean

15. Pumpkin Seed

pumpkin seeds illustration on a pink background

Raw or roasted, whole or ground, this powerhouse seed packs a lot of flavor and benefits. We love it in smoothies to add thickness and protein, just as much as we love a savory roasted seed with a touch of spice.

Why it’s great: Zinc and iron for sharp minds + protein for growing bodies

Taste it in: All of our Dairy-Free Smoothies, Pear-y Blueberry & Spinach Smart Blend, Ras-Pear-y Kale Smart Blend

16. Red Bell Pepper 

red bell pepper illustration on a pink background

Loaded with flavor and benefits, red bell pepper is generally the sweetest of the bell pepper varieties. Crunchy when raw and soft when cooked, it lends itself well to all types of cuisines. We love it cooked with black beans and rice or raw inside a spring roll with other fresh veggies.

Why it’s great: Vitamin C for immunity + iron for brain development

Taste it in: Black Bean, Red Pepper, Sweet Potato & Cilantro

17. Spinach

spinach illustration on a pink background

That Popeye was onto something! Spinach is a great veggie for helping kids grow up smart and strong. We love it in salads, on sandwiches, mixed into smoothies, scrambled with eggs—so many options!

Why it’s great: Zinc for sharp minds + calcium for strong bones

Taste it in: Apple, Banana, Spinach & Avocado, Pear-y Blueberry & Spinach Smart Blend, Go-Go Greens Dairy-Free Smoothie

18. Spirulina 

spirulina  illustration on a pink background

Certainly a less common food than others on this list, but what IS spirulina? This superfood is actually a type of algae, and it’s got a vibrant blue-green color and tons of great benefits. Since it’s most commonly available as a powder, it’s best within smoothies or mixed into yogurt.

Why it’s great: B vitamins for brain development and to support the immune system + protein for growing bodies

Taste it in: Mango, Banana & Spirulina Immunity Blend

19. Quinoa

quinoa  illustration on a pink background

A seed commonly used as an alternative to rice, quinoa comes in a few different varieties: white, red, black, and tri-color. They vary ever so slightly in flavor, but all boast great benefits. Once cooked, quinoa makes a great base for savory or sweet dishes.

Why it’s great: A complete protein for growth and development, fiber for digestion, iron and zinc for brain development

Taste it in: Quinoa, Banana, Spinach & Coconut Butter, Butternut Squash, Quinoa, Banana & Coconut Butter, Quinoa, Cauliflower & Kale, Quinoa, Pineapple, Cauliflower & Coconut Milk

20. Zucchini 

zucchini illustration on a pink background

It looks like a cucumber, but it tastes quite different. Zucchini is a summer squash that—unlike cucumber—should be cooked before eating. Sautéed, roasted, or steamed, zucchini can be soft or crunchy, depending on how it’s prepared.

Why it’s great: Fiber for digestion + B vitamins for brain development

Taste it in: Pea, Zucchini & Basil

 

Bonus: Once Upon a Farm Smart Blends

We’ve developed three blends with growing minds in mind. Designed for toddlers but suitable for 12+ months, our Smart Blends support brain health∞ with 50 mg Omega-3s and choline, plus fat and protein from pint-sized pumpkin seeds. Click below to learn more about each one.

 ∞When paired with a healthy diet and active lifestyle.

Discover Smart Blends