When we went through foster care/adoption training there was a lot of education. My husband and I went to class weekly that totaled over 30 hours of training, if only every person had to get this kind of training to become a parent! During one of our classes we learned about brain development and nutrition. Many children that come into foster care have not had the right nutrition and their bodies, especially their brains, need the proper nutrients to regulate and function normally. Many studies have show that once a child is on the proper diet, their behavior dramatically changes.
When our foster boys lived with us, we noticed this immediately. They could recognize any fast food restaurant sign and asked for sweets daily. It was a small challenge to change their eating habits but one thing we learned very early on is that they needed protein and healthy fats. On more than one occasion once we had fed them protein their behavior immediately changed. Things became calm again, we could talk with them, their emotions were regulated and their sensitivities were dimmed.
Similarly, we have found the same mood change with our children, who by all accounts, have lived a life away from trauma and separation. If our children have a good balance of protein, fiber and healthy fat, we ALL have a much happier day and time. So this is a recipe I have used for our foster boys and our children. It also doesn’t stop there thought. When I was pregnant I was not gaining enough weight and I ate these to give myself more healthy calories and again when I was breastfeeding because oatmeal is a great milk booster. My husband has eaten them when he was working out and needed that pre- and post-work out protein and carbs.
The best part about this is that the kids LOVE to make it. I personally use a the smaller measuring cups (half cup and one-third cup) so that there is more measuring to help those motor skills as well learning social skills of taking turns measuring and pouring the same items (example: it will take two half-cups to measure out the one cup of oatmeal so each child will have a turn). My daughter is currently two years old and I will slightly assist her to hold the cups or spoons in one hand and pour or dip with the other hand. Honestly, this is not an exact measurement type of recipe, so it is perfect for kids. And they love to get their hands dirty in the process of making it!
NO Bake Energy Bites (adapted from Gimme Some Oven)
1 cup dry old-fashioned oatmeal
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup wheat germ or ground flax seed (whole flax works well too, just add a bit more peanut butter)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey (can sub maple syrup or agave nectar)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
If you haven’t, toast the coconut flakes. I put them on a foil cover pan in my toaster oven and broil for just a few minutes. They should be golden brown.
Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed.
Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like, I prefer 1 inch balls and also small bar size. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 2 week.
Makes about 20-25 balls.
Original recipe from Gimme Some Oven.
Here is a screen shot of the Nutrition based off My Fitness Pal and similar ingredients I used.