Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Foods for kids with special needs: Eat your oatmeal, it's good for your brain

It's Sunday morning, and I am making a bowl of oatmeal for Max—Cinnamon Spice, an organic instant variety we get at Trader Joe's. Max can down two packets in one sitting. He eats it year round, every morning, although on occasion he breaks out and has scrambled eggs. Sabrina is a sunny-side-up, yogurt or turkey bacon kid.

I pour the packets into a bowl and add hot water. Then I grab a few ingredients from the fridge. First up, a teaspoon of Omega 3•6•9 Junior by Nordic Naturals. It's got a lemon flavor and its oily, but blended into the oatmeal, the taste is imperceptible. After Max was born, another mom of a baby who had a stroke told me to feed Max Omega-3 fish oil; the fatty acids it contains can boost brain development. It fell into the school of "Couldn't hurt, might help" so we double-checked with the neurologist and went for it. When Max was a baby we used Coromega, this mousse-like substance with Omega-3s. Next, I add a teaspoon of flax seed, which also contains Omega-3s. Then I sprinkle in wheat germ, rich in Vitamins E and B and Other Good Stuff. Last, I mash in a banana, full of potassium.

Every single time I prepare Max's uber-healthy oatmeal, I think of my dad. When I was a kid, he was into nutrition, way before other parents were. He used to make us home-cooked oatmeal on weekend mornings that included wheat germ and bran. I thought it was the most foul concoction ever and called it "Yuckle."

"We're not going to the park till you finish your oatmeal," my dad would say. Sometimes, when he wasn't looking, I would dash to my bedroom where a big hulk of a floor-to-ceiling wooden cabinet stood and drop the stuff into the crack between wall and cabinet. When we were cleaning out my dad's place this spring, I half expected to see hardened glop there, but it was mysteriously gone.

My father was determined to fill my body with healthy stuff, same as I'm doing for Max. Only the stakes are higher. Max has brain damage—a fair amount of it, because he had a bilateral stroke. When I watch him eat his bowl of oatmeal, I am seriously hoping those nutrients make their way to his head and work some magic on his brain. The oatmeal isn't just good nutrition; it's medicinal.

My version of yuckle (although Max has yet to resist it) is also a tribute to my dad. He is surely smiling down at me as I make it for Max...and wondering why I'm not having any.

What sort of good-for-you foods do you feed your kids?

Photo/Carly & Art


  1. Nutrition and supplements have come so far in the past 13 years! My son has multiple food allergies, and feeding him as an infant, toddler, and young boy was beyond hard. I wish I'd known about the supplements you list here! Writing them down for future reference, and because some of my son's allergy symptoms are suddenly back despite assurances, test results, and experiences that led us to believe he'd outgrown most of his allergies...sigh...

    PS - Every time I see the picture at the top of your blog, I smile. Max seems like a really happy boy.

  2. we also feed our son and daughter oatmeal with flax seed oil (brain), probiotic powder (allergies--although it has yet to help!) and iron drops (raising them vegetarian, this is my insurance). we add cinnamon and honey. it looks really gross but our kids love it! one of these days i expect they will wake up and wonder why they are downing such a foul concoction, but reading that Max still eats his gives me hope!

  3. I will have to try your oatmeal "enhancements" - it sounds tasty and healthy! Except the fish oil - my daughter takes hers "straight up"!

  4. I have got to get my kids eating oatmeal! We do fish oil as well as a multi-vitamin. When I think of it, I make healthy muffins or cookies, since Moe is a carb fanatic.

    Lately, I've been doing smoothies a few times a week. Both kids love them, and I can sneak veggies in, something they resist.

  5. And isn't a very important benefit the high fiber? Keeping the children on a "regular" routine?

  6. Avocado sandwich try it I LOVE it's got good fats and fiber and please keep the wheat germ to the minimum or else I come over there and rescue Max myself LOL :)

  7. Yes, fiber is good too!

    Karen, impressed that your daughter can down fish oil like that. Now that's talent!

    Jennie, do smoothies once in a while too, the kids like them as well and they also hide a multitude of sneaky stuff!

    Nisha, you made me laugh! Just a little wheat germ, I promise. Max used to adore avocado as a tot, we'd feed it to him straight up, but he grew out of it. Maybe I will reintroduce! He is not yet doing sandwiches, but that's a good one to try, especially with whole grain bread.

  8. Oatmeal is a great choice. Fish is another good one.

  9. I hate the texture of oatmeal so I eat a multigrain toaster waffle.

  10. I feed Amelia fruits and vegetables once a day. She also has brown rice and I give her two kinds of oils twice a day. I restrict sugary foods and drinks Amelia has then sometimes as a treat. Same applies to dairy products. Bread is also a part of her diet.


Thanks for sharing!

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