Spring has finally sprung and that means there is loads of great new season produce to brighten up packed lunch boxes and help young minds concentrate and maintain energy levels on the run up to exam season.

If your child takes a packed lunch to school, now is the ideal time to mix up what goes into their bag / lunch box and add fresh, bright new options to give them a boost following months of heavier autumn and winter snacks.

We all know the food we eat has a massive impact on how we feel but, as it also powers the brain, aids concentration and keeps energy levels consistent to ward off lethargy and tiredness, having some delicious, tasty brain foods to tuck into a mid-day can see your kids through to dinner time with everything they need to focus on lessons, retain information and get ready to ace their exam prep.

So, what tasty treats can you add that even the pickiest of teenage eaters will wolf down?

  1. Seeded crackers with guacamole – if you’re a keen cook, you can whip up your own seeded crackers at the weekend to see you through the week otherwise simply pick some up on the weekly shop. Look for whole wheat with added seeds and nuts (provided you don’t have any allergies of course) and top with homemade guacamole. Mash up a ripe avocado with lots of lemon juice, coriander, and halved cherry tomatoes to get another portion of veg in.
  1. Hummus and veggies – there is nothing easier to make for a tasty snack than hummus, Just whiz up a drained tin of chickpeas with a couple of spoons of tahini, lemon juice and a garlic clove for a basic version. You can mix it up with spices and other veg such as beetroot (to give a vibrant pink colour) carrot tops and all manner of other additions including nutritious beans, cauliflower or sweet potato. Pack with crackers for dipping or chunks of celery, carrot, pepper and tomatoes.
  1. Banana bread – if your children have a sweet tooth and love a mid-morning snack or a slice of cake with lunch, try healthier banana bread instead of the usual cake. This can be topped with things like walnuts, poppy seeds or pistachios for some added crunch and healthy fats. Try adding a fresh orange frosting (just mix up orange juice and icing sugar) or zesty lemon frosting (lemon juice and icing sugar). If you want to add chocolate chips, use cacao nibs instead of traditional chocolate to keep it healthy. You could even grate in carrot and add cinnamon to make a carrot cake version.
  1. Falafel and wholemeal pita – falafel is a great filling, nutritious lunch option and it can be meal prepped at the start of the week to save time on weekdays. Just add chickpeas, lots of fresh herbs such as coriander, mint and parsley plus a few spices such as cumin and coriander along with a spoon or two of flour and a drizzle of oil to a food processor and blitz. Shape with wet hands and then pop into the oven to cook (traditionally falafel are fried but oven baking makes it a healthier option). Stuff into a wholemeal pita with a drizzle of hot sauce and some leafy green veg.

Want more nutritious and delicious snack ideas? See our guide to brain food breakfasts here!