In my house, I'm the lunch lady. One of the tasks that fall on my side of our family's "chore chart" is to pack lunch for our son. This may not seems like a big deal, but I take my job very seriously.

While we're apart for the day, I want him to have food that's healthy, tasty and will feed his developing mind. But which foods will deliver the nutrients he needs for healthy cognitive function and memory?

I asked my friend, Brierley Wright, M.S. R.D., EatingWell's associate editor of nutrition, for advice about foods for fueling young brains. For optimal brain development she suggested two key nutrients: eating slower-burning carbohydrates for breakfast and getting enough iron.

Here are two foods she suggested to help kids get their fill and start the school year off on the right foot.

  • 1. Oats:Studies show that fueling the brain with breakfast is important for thinking, acting and learning. Children who are undernourished perform poorly on cognitive tasks. Be choosy about breakfast: research shows that fueling your kids with slower-burning carbohydrates (also called low-glycemic-index foods) like oatmeal, instead of faster-burning, or high-glycemic-index, breakfast foods (like sugary cereals) helps them maintain their concentration and attention throughout the morning.
  • Make it:Send your kid off to school with grab-and-goAlmond-Honey Power Barsfor breakfast. Or pack anOatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookiefor a post-lunch treat.
  • More food sources ofslower-burning carbohydrates:Bran cereals or whole-wheat bagels.
  • 2. Beans:Beans are a good source of iron and are a convenient item to keep on hand in your kitchen. Research shows that being even mildly iron-deficient affects learning, memory and attention. (About 10 percent of young women are anemic because of their monthly loss of iron-rich blood.) Luckily, restoring iron levels to normal also restores cognitive function.
  • Make it:Pair beans with tomato-based salsa, as inZesty Bean Dip, for a tasty snack served with corn tortilla chips (the tomatoes provide a good amount of Vitamin C, which will help you to absorb the type of iron that's found in plant-based foods).
  • More foods to help you get more iron:Dark leafy greens, meat, poultry, fish or soy.