It’s no secret it can be tough to serve smart choices your kids will actually enjoy again and again….
(Family Features) During the hustle and bustle of a busy school week, juggling after-school activities, homework, dinners and next day lunch prep can be exhausting. Finding ways to simplify evenings while running a more efficient kitchen routine can make life more delicious for parents and children alike.
Consider these ways to make family meals work overtime for you.
Plan for leftovers. One easy way to make the most of your time in the evening is to make dinners that serve dual purpose – choosing recipes that shine when leftovers are reinvented for lunch the next day, like an all-time classic: chicken fingers. Making them at home is not only healthier than typical restaurant offerings, but leftovers can be used in a recipe like this Chicken Tender Smart Pocket, perfect for packing in your child’s lunchbox.
Use kid-friendly, better-for-you ingredients. It’s no secret it can be tough to serve smart choices your kids will actually reach for again and again. Set up a simple toppings bar with a favorite protein, chopped crunchy veggies and simple sauces alongside fun, do-it-yourself foods like stuff-able Toufayan Smart Pockets. Available in Original, 100% Whole Wheat, Everything and Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat varieties, they’re easy to hold, fun to stuff and only 80 calories each.
Focus on family favorites. When you’re busy making a meal the whole family loves, your time spent in the kitchen may not feel so much like a drain on the evening. Throw it back to childhood with these Sloppy Joe Smart Pockets, an easier-to-eat version with the timeless taste of seasoned beef.
(Family Features) Back-to-school season means busy schedules filled with extracurricular activities, homework and carpools. It can be challenging to find quality time to spend with loved ones, let alone get a wholesome, homemade meal on the table.
A simple way to create more moments with your family and still serve up nutritious and delicious dinners is to make sure you have canned foods on-hand.
According to a study published in “Nutrients,” a pantry stocked with canned produce helps adults and kids eat more nutrient-rich foods, leading to healthier overall diets. Canned foods also help cut down on meal prep, so you spend less time in the kitchen and more time together with your family doing the things you love.
“As a busy mom, canned foods are my secret weapon in the kitchen and ensure that I always have the makings of a nutritious meal for my family all year long, and especially when the kids are back in school,” said Holley Grainger, registered dietitian and mother of two. “Fresh fruits and vegetables are harvested at the peak of ripeness and canned within only four hours after being picked, sealing in their nutrition and flavor. So, I know I have year-round access to my family’s favorite seasonal fruits and vegetables right in my pantry.”
Canned foods also make it easy to get the kids involved in the kitchen, with recipes like Pumpkin Mac and Cheese or Hearty Chickpea Vegetable Soup, so you can help build a positive connection to healthy eating for your children. Plus, the family can “go green” and recycle the cans after they’re used; in fact, cans are the most recycled food and beverage containers in America. For more flavorful recipes, and to learn more about the benefits of cooking with canned foods, visit CansGetYouCooking.com.
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
8 ounces rotini or medium shell pasta
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
Heat oven to 375° F.
Grease 1 1/2-quart baking dish. In 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Stir in flour; cook 1 minute. Gradually stir in evaporated milk and milk; cook until mixture is thickened and smooth. Stir in pumpkin, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Remove from heat; whisk in cheeses until smooth. Stir in cooked pasta; toss to mix well. Spoon into baking dish.
Melt remaining butter; stir in breadcrumbs to coat well. Sprinkle on top of casserole. Bake 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and mixture is golden.
You can make the most of snack time with simple, fun recipe ideas like Harvest Fruit and Oat Energy Bites
(Family Features) The early morning chaos and activity-packed evenings of the back-to-school season can make finding time to connect challenging. Throughout the day, there can be small windows of time that your family can make the most of – even if only for a few moments that matter.
“As a busy mom, I know how hard it can be to find time to slow down with the kids,” said Dr. Tanya Altmann, pediatrician and parenting expert. “After-school snack time is my secret weapon. It’s a time we can all pause for a few minutes before running out the door to soccer or starting homework. As a doctor, I’ll take any extra opportunity to provide the nutrients my kids need. That’s why I focus on nutrient-rich snacks, which always include milk in our house.”
Most Americans, including kids, fall short on the recommended three daily servings of real milk and milk products for kids ages 9 and up, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Adding real dairy milk to afternoon snack time is an easy way to get kids nutrients they need to grow up strong, which is one less thing for parents to worry about.
“The great thing about milk is that kids already love it, so it’s an easy way to get protein and other essential nutrients they need to fuel their after-school activities and meals,” pediatrician Dr. Ilan Shapiro said. “It’s not a battle to get them to drink it like so many foods can be.”
You can make the most of snack time with simple, fun recipe ideas like Harvest Fruit and Oat Energy Bites, which are a quick way to fuel up. Pairing these with an 8-ounce glass of real milk provides protein and essential nutrients kids need to power through after-school homework or activities.
Snacking recipes are not only easy to make, but also easy to plan. For more tasty on-the-go recipe ideas to try this back-to-school season, and to shop for ingredients, visit milklife.com.
Recipe courtesy of Emily Caruso of Jelly Toast on behalf of Milk. Love What’s Real Servings: 10, 2 bites per serving
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups rolled oats, divided
2 tablespoons almond nut butter
2/3 cup dried apple rings, chopped (soft variety)
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried tart cherries
2 tablespoons chopped pecans or almonds
1 glass milk (8 ounces each) per serving
In bowl of food processor or high-speed blender, combine milk, 1 cup rolled oats, nut butter, dried apple rings, apple pie spice and salt. Pulse until mixture becomes fairly smooth and holds together when rolled. Transfer mixture to medium size bowl.
Stir in remaining oats, dried cranberries and chopped nuts. Roll mixture into tablespoon-sized balls and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Chill 1 hour, or until firm. Keep bites covered and refrigerated up to 3 days.
Pair each serving with 8-ounce glass milk.
Nutritional information per serving: 190 calories; 3.5 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 12 g protein; 28 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 150 mg sodium; 334 mg calcium. Nutrition figures based on using fat-free milk and include 8-ounce glass fat-free milk.
Family-friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner
(Family Features) Morning routines, homework, practices and more are all part of back-to-school season, and even when time is short, flavorful meals can be, too.
Whether it’s breakfast and dinner together as a family or sending your little learner out the door with a nutritious lunch, making tasty recipes in your own kitchen doesn’t have to be a drain on an already busy schedule. With dishes like a new take on French toast to a quickly packed lunchbox and bolder burgers, you can keep your loved ones fueled for everything the school year brings your way.
Recipe courtesy of chef Rob Corliss on behalf of the National Honey Board Servings: 4
2 tablespoons blueberry honey
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup light coconut milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup blueberry honey
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 small slices premade pound cake
nonstick cooking spray
To make Honey Leches: In mixing bowl, whisk blueberry honey, evaporated milk, coconut milk, eggs, vanilla extract and cinnamon to evenly combine. Keep chilled.
To make Berry Garnish: In mixing bowl, lightly toss raspberries, blueberries and strawberries to evenly combine. Keep chilled.
To make Hot Honey: In small mixing bowl, whisk blueberry honey and cayenne pepper to evenly combine. Keep warm so hot honey is pourable.
Heat electric griddle to 375° F.
Arrange pound cake slices, side by side, flat, in casserole dish or pan with sides. Pour Honey Leches over and around pound cake slices; soak 1 minute.
Lightly coat griddle with nonstick cooking spray. Remove pound cake slices from Honey Leches, allowing liquid to drain off, then place each slice on hot griddle.
On griddle, cook pound cake slices approximately 2 minutes on each side until golden crispy and hot throughout.
To serve, place two overlapping pound cake slices on plate (four plates total). Top each with approximately 1/4 cup mixed berries then drizzle each with approximately 2 tablespoons hot honey.
A Healthy, Happy Midday Meal
Back to school means back to packing daily lunches, and for parents aspiring to send healthier options with their children, look no further than a bento box loaded with the nutritional values of fruits, dairy and protein.
Surprise your little one with this Happy Lunchbox, a sweet treat to help keep him or her hydrated throughout the school day. Start with watermelon, a portable, versatile and easy-to-serve staple composed of 92% water for a hydrating snack. Add in a favorite yogurt flavor, mixed berries, cheddar cheese cubes and smoked turkey breast for a well-rounded lunch to maintain energy all day.
By assembling this nutritious meal using a divided bento box, you can add a little fun to an already flavorful lunch. Find more refreshing recipes for back-to-school season at watermelon.org.
Recipe courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board
Watermelon, cut into sticks
yogurt, for dipping berries
18 cubes (1 inch each) seedless watermelon
6 cubes smoked turkey breast
6 cubes cheddar cheese
6 coffee stirrers or beverage straws
In small plate with dividers, assemble watermelon sticks with yogurt in one section and berries in separate section.
To make Watermelon Kebabs: Skewer watermelon, turkey and cheese cubes on stirrers or straws. Assemble in third section of plate.
A Bigger, Bolder Burger
Making a meal everyone loves can sometimes be a challenge when tastes differ and each member of the family craves something different. However, turning to a nearly universally enjoyed staple – a burger – may be just the solution.
Next time your group debates the night’s dinner menu, turn to a customizable creation like the Brooklyn Bacon Bonanza Burger created by celebrity chef and author George Duran for Jarlsberg’s Global Burger Campaign. Topped with melted cheese and optional garnishes like fried eggs and tomato slices, this burger can be personalized to appease the taste buds of everyone under your roof.
Omelets are simple to make and pack plenty of protein….
(Family Features) A filling yet nutritious breakfast is a productive way to start any day, especially one loaded with flavor. Spanish Potato and Onion Omelets are simple to make and pack plenty of protein with diced ham and eggs paired with the complementary tastes of onion and potatoes.
4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices (about 4 cups)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
2 medium onions, thinly sliced (2-2 1/2 cups)
4 ounces cured, cooked ham or prosciutto, diced
In large saute pan, heat 3/4 cup olive oil. Cook half potatoes until tender and golden, turning often. Drain. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Repeat with remaining potatoes.
Add 4 tablespoons olive oil to pan. Cook onions until soft, about 15 minutes. Add potatoes to onions.
In large bowl, beat eggs. Add eggs to potato and onion mixture. Stir in diced ham or prosciutto. Reduce heat to low and cook 8-10 minutes until golden brown on bottom. Invert platter on pan and flip omelet onto plate. Add remaining olive oil to pan; slide omelet back into pan.
Cook until golden brown on bottom.
Slide omelet onto serving plate. Let cool. Cut into wedges.
(Family Features) As parents and kids navigate back-to-school routines and extracurricular activities, making healthy food choices is essential to keep everyone energized and engaged.
When it comes to selecting snacks and preparing meals, keep it simple and stock up on foods that are easy to prep and can be used in more than one way. One such food: fresh California grapes, which are abundant throughout the fall and into January. Crisp, juicy grapes can be eaten nearly anytime and anywhere, including school, the office and during after-school activities, at home or away.
Whether eaten fresh or frozen for a cool treat, grapes are a healthy, hydrating alternative to highly processed and calorie-rich foods. They can also be used as an ingredient in easy weeknight meals like California-Style Pizza, cousin to Hawaiian pizza, where fresh grapes star instead of pineapple and prepared pizza dough gives the cook a head start. Frozen Yogurt-Dipped Grapes are an easy, fun snack or dessert that kids can help prepare.
Divide dough into eight equal portions. Spread into pizza rounds on baking sheets.
Spread with pizza sauce; sprinkle with grapes, ham and cheese. Bake until dough is lightly browned and cheese melted, about 12-14 minutes.
Nutritional information per serving: 220 calories; 11 g protein; 32 g carbohydrates; 6.2 g fat (24% calories from fat); 15 mg cholesterol; 573 mg sodium; 121 mg calcium; 1.4 g fiber.
Frozen Yogurt-Dipped Grapes
Servings: 6 (10 grapes per serving)
60 California grapes, any color, rinsed and patted dry
3/4 cup 2% vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 cup graham cracker flour or almond flour
Insert toothpick into each grape. Place yogurt in small bowl. Pour graham cracker or almond flour onto plate. Line 9-by-13-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
Dip each grape into yogurt, coating two-thirds of grape, then dip yogurt-covered grape into desired flour to coat bottom. Place each dipped grape on baking dish; repeat until all grapes are yogurt-covered and dipped in flour. Freeze at least two hours, or until grapes are frozen solid.
Nutritional information per serving with graham cracker crumbs: 100 calories; 3 g protein; 20 g carbohydrates; 1.5 g fat (14% calories from fat); 0 g saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 55 mg sodium; 0 g fiber.
Nutritional information per serving with almond flour: 110 calories; 4 g protein; 14 g carbohydrates; 4.5 g fat (37% calories from fat); 0.5 g saturated fat (4% calories from saturated fat); 5 mg cholesterol; 15 mg sodium; 1 g fiber.
It only takes a few minutes to embark on a creative approach to lunch…..
(Family Features) Packing and prepping wholesome lunches doesn’t have to be a chore. You can kick health into high gear this school year with new ideas to make creative, nutrient-rich meals.
Fit to satisfy various dietary restrictions, the Power Your Lunchbox program offers kid-friendly options and allergy-sensitive selections. The program, which is dedicated to helping families make healthier lunches during the school year, features more than 80 registered dietitian-approved, family-tested meal ideas with produce as a focal point.
Consider skipping the typical sandwich, chips and apple. Instead, it only takes a few minutes to embark on a creative approach to lunch. Get the kids involved by having them use small cookie cutters to make fresh fruits and vegetables into fun shapes. Try complementing the produce with wraps or soups to add extra excitement to typical lunchbox fare.
Regardless if your child is a picky eater or is on the more adventurous side, bento box lunches such as Chinese Mandarin Pasta Salad Bento Box and Turkey Taco Salad Bento Box can prove to be satisfying, power-packed meals.
(Family Features) Back-to-school season can be cluttered between after-school activities, weekend sports and evening homework – as well as making dinner each night. Creating a master meal plan with quick, simple and nutritious meals is an easy way to take control of your family’s hectic schedule. Start by stocking the pantry with staple ingredients that amp up the nutrition and flavor of your family favorites.
For example, American Pecans are a nutritious ingredient to have on-hand – among the highest in “good” monounsaturated fats and packed with plant protein, fiber and essential minerals – and “The Original Supernut” is versatile enough for breakfast, lunchboxes, dinners and on-the-go snacking. Adding one bag to your weekly grocery list provides a canvas for exploring new dishes that are both nutritious and delicious.
In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration, scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1 1/2 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pecans, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving (28 grams) of pecans contains 18 grams of unsaturated fat and only 2 grams of saturated fat.
Updating your dinner repertoire doesn’t have to be complicated. Fuss-free recipes such as Pizza with Pecan-Herb Topping, Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders and Pecan-Crusted Air Fryer Pork Chops can be ready in less than an hour and put a fresh twist on classic favorites to please parents and kids alike.
Discover more back-to-school meal-planning recipe inspiration and cooking tips at AmericanPecan.com.
Pecan-Crusted Air Fryer Pork Chops
Cook time: 22 minutes
1 cup pecan pieces
1/3 cup arrowroot starch
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus additional, to taste
1 large egg
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, plus additional for serving
1 tablespoon water
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 medium boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat
Heat air fryer to 400° F.
In medium bowl, mix pecans, arrowroot starch, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt.
In separate bowl, whisk egg, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, water and garlic.
Cover pork chops in egg mixture then transfer to bowl with pecan mixture to coat all sides. Repeat with remaining pork chops. Place three pork chops in air fryer basket.
Cook pork chops 6 minutes, flip, then cook additional 6 minutes. Set aside on plate.
Repeat with remaining pork chops.
Serve hot with Dijon mustard, if desired.
Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders
Cook time: 35 minutes
2 cups raw pecan halves or pieces
1 cup panko or gluten-free bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional, to taste
1 1/2-2 pounds chicken breast tenders or chicken strips
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
pepper, to taste
Buttermilk Ranch Dip:
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat oven to 425° F.
In food processor, pulse pecans until fine as breadcrumbs. In shallow bowl, mix pecans with panko, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.
In separate shallow bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. In third shallow bowl, add flour.
Lightly season chicken tenders with salt and pepper, to taste. Working with one chicken tender at a time, dip in eggs, flour then pecan mixture. Be sure to press pecan mixture into chicken to be sure it is completely coated. Set chicken on baking sheet lined with cooling rack or parchment paper. Repeat with remaining chicken.
Place chicken on center rack and bake 20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
To make Buttermilk Ranch Dip: In small bowl, whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, dried dill and salt until smooth.
Serve pecan-crusted chicken tenders warm paired with Buttermilk Ranch Dip.
Pizza with Pecan-Herb Topping
Cook time: 40 minutes
1 store-bought pizza dough
1 cup raw pecan halves or pieces
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
1/2 cup jarred pizza sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced red pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onion
Heat oven to 400° F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lightly flour clean surface. Using rolling pin, roll out pizza dough to 1/8-inch thick and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Gently pierce dough with fork to prevent air pockets. Bake crust 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden in color.
In food processor, pulse pecans, parsley and garlic powder until mixture becomes coarse crumbs. Transfer to bowl and stir in Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes (if desired), salt and pepper. Set aside.
Using spoon, evenly spread pizza sauce over crust. Top with mozzarella cheese, red pepper slices and onion slices. Sprinkle 1/3 cup pecan mixture evenly over pizza.
Transfer pizza to oven and bake 10-15 minutes, or until crust is crispy and cheese is melted. Serve with remaining pecan-herb mixture.
Notes: If dough instructions differ from recipe, use package instructions. Additional topping options include: pepperoni, olives, ham, bacon and roasted veggies. Leftover pecan-herb topping can be used for pasta and salads.
Make your weeknight meals less stressful with a one-dish dinner solution like Pasta and Chicken in Garlic Cream Sauce. Requiring less than an hour of kitchen duty, it’s an ideal dish when a quick comfort food solution is just what you’re looking for.
As a dairy-fueled dinner, it’s a kid-friendly and nutritious option for the entire family to enjoy. Find more weeknight meal solutions at milkmeansmore.org.
Watch video to see how to make this recipe!
Pasta and Chicken in Garlic Cream Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Milk Means More Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes Servings: 8
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
10 ounces (about 4 cups) farfalle (bow tie) pasta
2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, for garnish
Place removable pan inside programmable pressure cooker. Using saute function, cook bacon, uncovered, until crisp. Use slotted spoon to remove bacon from pan. Drain bacon on paper towels. Leave 1 tablespoon drippings in pan; discard remaining.
Add chicken to bacon drippings in pan in two batches. Using saute function, stir-fry chicken 2-3 minutes, or until cooked through. Use slotted spoon to remove chicken from pan. Repeat until all chicken is cooked. Press cancel.
Stir pasta, broth, garlic, Italian seasoning and pepper into drippings in pan. Secure lid and set pressure release to sealing function. Select high pressure setting and cook 5 minutes. Press cancel.
Allow pressure to release naturally 5 minutes. Move pressure release to venting function to release any remaining steam. Remove lid.
Stir cream into pasta mixture. Using saute function, cook and stir, uncovered, until boiling. Boil, uncovered, about 4 minutes, or until sauce generously coats pasta, stirring frequently. Press cancel. Stir in chicken and Parmesan cheese.
Place spinach and bacon in large bowl. Pour pasta mixture over top. Toss until combined. Ladle into serving bowls. Top each serving with tomatoes.
Save time by creating quick recipes made with nutritious, fresh milk ….
(Family Features) Summer is busy, so a helping of no-cook options, especially those you can make in advance, are welcomed by many home chefs. When you shop online for groceries and include fresh, cold milk in your basket, you can make every second of summer count.
When you mix summer favorites with real dairy milk, you serve nutrients your kids need with the flavors they love. Try these five flavorful recipes that feature fresh milk so you can “breakfast and chill” with your kids this summer.
Creamy Green Goddess Smoothie– Drink your vegetables with this take on your favorite salad that kids love, too. The goodness of this Green Goddess Smoothie starts with fresh milk mixed with avocado, spinach, banana and pineapple.
Acai Bowl– You’ll say “ahh” to acai when you blend a batch of this antioxidant-rich Brazilian berry with ice-cold, fresh milk and top your bowl with coconut, granola and fresh fruit.
Creamy Vanilla Berry Ice Pops – These Creamy Vanilla Berry Ice Pops are perfect for breakfast or as a snack. This recipe includes farm-fresh milk and in-season berries, so this homemade option is a more nutritious option than store-bought ice pops.
Berry Berry Smoothie– There’s a reason not to mess with the classics – almost everyone loves them. For an easy and delicious summertime smoothie, simply mix ice-cold milk with fresh berries, honey and vanilla. This chilled combination can satisfy even the pickiest palates.
Super Food Smoothie– Fresh ingredients, including cold milk, make this smoothie super tasty, super fast and super easy. Blend blueberries and bananas with your pantry staples, including honey and vanilla extract, for a tall, frosty glass of delicious.