Sweet, Simple After-School Snacking

Smoothie bowls work well as a snack….

 

(Family Features) With school back in full swing, the days will be full, packed with classes, homework and after-school sports, music and other extracurricular activities. To make the most of all these endeavors, it’s important to eat well to sustain the critical energy and focus required throughout the day.

Smart fueling includes keeping nourishing snacks such as heart-healthy grapes on-hand – whether at home, in the car or coming off the field. Fresh California grapes – simple, convenient and nutritious – can make for a delicious snack on their own.

Available in three appealing colors – red, green and black – crisp, juicy grapes can add a tasty touch when hunger calls for an afternoon energy boost. Grapes also pair well with crackers, cheese and nuts for other snack combos.

Yet another way to enjoy fresh grapes is to blend them with other fruits and vegetables to create smoothie bowls, a nutritious option to help ensure that a variety of healthy ingredients are part of a balanced day.

Smoothie bowls work well as a snack or even a quick breakfast, and also provide a way for parents to introduce their kids to new, healthier bites.

This Grape Smoothie Bowl is fresh, flavorful and full of sweet grape taste for a quick fix that can leave bodies fueled and ready to take on the rest of the day.

Find more information and snack ideas at GrapesfromCalifornia.com.

Grape Smoothie Bowl

Prep time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2

  • 1/2       avocado
  • 2          medium bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 1          cup packed baby spinach
  • 2          cups green California grapes, divided
  • 1          cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1          piece fresh ginger (1-inch length), peeled and sliced (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1          tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 1/2    tablespoons toasted coconut chips
  1. In blender, combine avocado, bananas, spinach, 1 cup grapes, almond milk, ginger and salt; blend until smooth. Pour into two bowls. Halve remaining grapes and place on top of smoothie bowls along with chia seeds and coconut chips.

Nutritional information per serving: 370 calories; 5 g protein; 66 g carbohydrates; 13 g fat (32% calories from fat); 3.5 g saturated fat (9% calories from saturated fat); 200 mg sodium; 10 g fiber.

SOURCE:
California Table Grape Commission

Save Time on School Nights

Simple, savory recipes for busy families…..

(Family Features) Back-to-school season means plenty of evening hours spent completing homework, attending extracurricular activities and preparing to repeat the school-day routine the next day. For many families, having time to prepare and cook quality, nutritious meals can be next to impossible.

Instead of choosing between valuable family time and hours spent in the kitchen, RAGÚ blogger, fitness enthusiast and busy mom Jamie Krauss Hess recommends stocking up on go-to pantry staples you feel good about and including them in quick, nutritious recipes everyone can enjoy together.

Try recipes such as Mini Turkey Sloppy Joes, which swap out beef for ground turkey to provide a flavorful alternative while offering a special twist to a classic family favorite. Quinoa Penne with Savory Tomato-Basil Sauce can hit the spot with just a handful of ingredients. Or, if the little ones clamor for a more kid-friendly dish and the adults don’t mind a throwback to childhood, Grown-Up Tomato Mac and Cheese can provide the best of both worlds.

All three recipes take less than an hour to make and feature RAGÚ Simply pasta sauces, which are made with 100 percent olive oil and contain no added sugar. They’re available in four varieties including: Traditional, Chunky Marinara, Chunky Garden Vegetable and Flavored with Meat. By using simple ingredients like California vine-ripened tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, zucchini, onions and spices, the result is a taste-tempting sauce with recipe versatility.

Find more family-pleasing and simple-to-prepare recipes ideal for busy school nights at ragu.com.

Grown-Up Tomato Mac and Cheese

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8

  • 1          box (16 ounces) gemelli pasta
  • 4          cups water
  • 2 1/2    cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
  • 1/2       cup (2 ounces) Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1          tablespoon corn starch
  • 1          can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1          jar (24 ounces) RAGÚ Simply Traditional Pasta Sauce
  • 2          teaspoons cracked black pepper
  1. In large pot, combine pasta and water. Cook over medium-high heat 20-22 minutes, or until pasta is done, stirring occasionally.
  2. In bowl, combine 2 cups cheddar cheese, Pecorino Romano cheese and corn starch. Reduce heat to medium; stir milk, cheese mixture and sauce together with cooked pasta. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted and mixture is thickened, stirring frequently.
  3. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and pepper; serve immediately.

Tip: This stovetop method eliminates the need to drain the pasta after cooking. The starchy pasta water gets stirred in and helps create an extra-rich sauce. Elevate this dish by sprinkling crushed Parmesan cheese crisps on top before serving.

Mini Turkey Sloppy Joes

Recipe courtesy of Honey and Birch
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8

  • 1          teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1          cup onion, diced
  • 3          cloves garlic, minced
  • 1          pound ground turkey
  • 1          cup carrots, finely diced
  • 1          medium green pepper, diced
  • 1          medium red pepper, diced
  • 1          jar (24 ounces) RAGÚ Simply Chunky Marinara Sauce
  • 1          tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1          teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2       teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2       teaspoon black pepper
  • 8          mini buns
  1. In large skillet over medium heat, heat extra-virgin olive oil. When hot, add onion and garlic; sauté until onion is translucent.
  2. Add ground turkey to pan. Break up meat and stir frequently until meat is browned. Add carrots, green pepper and red pepper. Cook 5 minutes so vegetables can begin to soften.
  3. Add marinara sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ground mustard, kosher salt and black pepper. Stir and bring to boil. Reduce heat so it simmers; partially cover pan. Cook 10 minutes.
  4. Serve on mini buns.

Quinoa Penne with Savory Tomato-Basil Sauce

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 minutes
Servings: 6

  • 12        ounces (about 5 cups) uncooked quinoa penne pasta
  • 2          tablespoons olive oil
  • 1          large shallot, chopped
  • 4          cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4       cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/2       teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1          jar (24 ounces) RAGÚ Simply Chunky Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce
  • 1 1/4    cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves, chopped, divided
  1. Cook pasta as directed on package.
  2. In large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add shallots; cook 5-7 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add garlic, tomatoes and paprika; cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in sauce and basil, reserving small amount of basil for garnish.
  3. Drain pasta; add to sauce mixture. Mix well. Cook 1-2 minutes until heated through. Sprinkle with reserved basil before serving.

Tip: For extra protein, add 1 pound sliced, grilled chicken when stirring in pasta.

SOURCE:
RAGÚ

Make the Grade with Back-to-School Lunches

Look for fresh, make-ahead options your kids will enjoy…..

(Family Features) Back-to-school time means it’s back to being busy before, during and after school, so it’s time for parents and kids to create new routines. From early wakeup calls to shuttling kids to school and activities, ease the morning mayhem by incorporating a simple meal-planning strategy.

As a parent, look for fresh, make-ahead options your kids will enjoy. Serve up lunchbox love by mixing up the classic sandwich with a spin on sushi in this Bento Box Lunch recipe. It’s a creative way to deliver nutritious, wholesome ingredients that will make the whole lunchroom drool. Plus, it’s something you can take for lunch too.

No matter what meals you’re prepping, a store like ALDI can be your solution for packing tasty and better-for-you choices for lunches and on-the-go snacks. With high-quality ingredients at affordable prices, ALDI offers what you need to get ready for the days ahead.

For more recipes and meal prepping ideas, visit aldi.us.

Bento Box Lunch

Recipe courtesy of Chef Alyssa, ALDI Test Kitchen
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

Sushi Roll”:

  • 4          slices SimplyNature Knock Your Sprouts Off Sprouted Low Sodium 7 Grain Bread
  • 4          slices Lunch Mate Never Any! Turkey
  • 1          teaspoon Burman’s Yellow Mustard
  • 1/2       avocado, sliced
  • 1          mini cucumber, cut into 3-inch-by-1/4-inch sticks

Quinoa Salad:

  • 1 cup SimplyNature Organic Quinoa, cooked
  • 1/4       cup Southern Grove Sliced Almonds
  • 2 mandarin oranges, peeled and separated
  • 1/4       cup Southern Grove Dried Cranberries
  • 1 bunches green onions, sliced
  • 1          teaspoon Carlini Pure Olive Oil
  • Stonemill Iodized Salt, to taste
  • Stonemill Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Broccoli Salad:

  • 1          large head broccoli, chopped
  • 1/4       cup Southern Grove Sliced Almonds
  • 1/4       cup Southern Grove Dried Cranberries
  • 1          teaspoon Fusia Soy Sauce
  • 1/2       cup Friendly Farms Vanilla Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • Stonemill Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Cinnamon Apples:

  • 1          Granny Smith apple, sliced
  • 1          tablespoon Nature’s Nectar Lemon Juice
  • 1          teaspoon Stonemill Ground Cinnamon

 

  1. To make “Sushi Roll”: Trim crust from bread. Using rolling pin, roll out bread slices to 1/8-inch thickness. Top with turkey, mustard, avocado and cucumber. Roll into cylinder, wrap with plastic wrap and cut in half.
  2. To make Quinoa Salad: In medium bowl, combine quinoa, almonds, oranges, cranberries, green onions and olive oil; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. To make Broccoli Salad: In medium bowl, combine broccoli, almonds, cranberries, soy sauce and yogurt; season to taste with pepper.
  4. To make Cinnamon Apples: Toss apples with lemon juice and cinnamon. Place in sandwich bags and wrap tightly.
  5. Organize equal amounts of “Sushi Rolls,” Quinoa Salad, Broccoli Salad and Cinnamon Apples in separate bento box compartments.

SOURCE:
ALDI

Back-to-School Meals in Minutes

Mexican menu ideas for simple family dinners…….

(Family Features) When the school year is back in full swing, families often find themselves battling the mealtime crunch. Mexican-inspired meals bursting with flavor are known family-friendly picks that can be easily prepared and put on the table on those frenzied weeknights.

These simple ideas from the experts at Ortega can help make “taco night” and other Mexican meals better than ever.

Encourage kids to get hands-on. It’s no secret that kids like finger foods, and many Mexican dishes are best enjoyed by hand. Tacos are an obvious favorite, but other options like quesadillas, taquitos and Ortega Fiesta Flats are also easy to enjoy sans silverware.

Step outside of tradition. If you’re looking for something that makes mealtime feel extra special, skip the basic taco and choose a meal kit that lets you serve up a restaurant-style experience at home. For example, Ortega’s Bakeable Tortilla Bowl Kits bring a new and simple way to change up your Mexican meals. Just bake and fill with your favorite ingredients.

Offer a variety of ingredients. One of the benefits of a Mexican meal is all the ways each family member can customize plates to their own tastes. Try setting out a wide range of ingredients and encourage the kids to experiment with toppings they may not have tried before, like olives and guacamole.

Don’t forget the sauce. Taco sauces can bring unique, unexpected flavor to recipes. One to try is Ortega’s line of bold and creamy Flavor Craver Taco Sauces. Varieties include Taco Ranch, Chipotle and Jalapeno Lime, all perfect for tacos, taco salads, dips, burgers and more.

Stock Your Pantry for Mexican Cooking

You can enjoy the flavors of a Mexican cantina in your kitchen anytime if you’re stocked up with the right goods.

Pantry and Dry Goods

  1. Keep dried or canned chiles of all sorts on-hand. Dried chiles include ancho, chipotle, guajillo, negro and mulato.
  2. Expand your spice rack with Mexican staples like chili powder, cayenne pepper and paprika, as well as oregano and cumin.
  3. Buy white rice in bulk so you can create Spanish rice to accompany any dish.
  4. Stock up on canned refried beans, black beans and pinto beans for use in your favorite Mexican dishes.

 

Refrigerator and Produce

  1. Keep ready-made salsa and spicy sauces chilled and serve them alongside chips, tacos and other Mexican dishes.
  2. Always have garlic, onions and fresh cilantro handy. Keep lemons and limes within reach to add bright flavor to your dishes. Also, buy fresh chiles like jalapeno and pasilla to spice up a variety of dishes. If possible, grow them yourself.
  3. Store flour and corn tortillas in your cupboard or refrigerator to create burritos, tacos, enchiladas and wraps.
  4. Keep Monterey Jack, queso fresco and cotija cheese on-hand to include in enchiladas and burritos.

Find more recipes and ideas to add a unique twist to any Mexican meal at Ortega.com.

Poblano Ranch Tacos

Makes: 8 tacos

  • 2          tablespoons olive oil
  • 4          poblano peppers, sliced
  • 1          yellow onion, sliced
  • 1          tablespoon fresh lime juice (optional)
  • 1          box Ortega Yellow Corn Taco Shells
  • 6          radishes, sliced
  • 1          cup corn kernels
  • 1          cup cotija cheese
  • 1          bottle Ortega Flavor Craver Ranch Taco Sauce, to taste
  1. Add olive oil to skillet over medium heat. Add sliced poblano peppers and yellow onion to pan. Saute until cooked through. Add squeeze of lime to pepper and onion mixture, if desired.
  2. Bake taco shells according to package directions. To assemble tacos, add poblano and onion mixture to base of taco. Top with sliced radishes, corn and cotija cheese. Finish with taco sauce.

Steak Fajita Burrito Bowl

Makes: 4 bowls

3          tablespoons olive oil, divided
1          pound skirt steak
1          red pepper, sliced
1          yellow pepper, sliced
1          package instant rice
1          tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2       packet Ortega Original Taco Seasoning
1          Ortega Bakeable Tortilla Bowl Kit
3          cups green leaf lettuce, sliced
2          avocados, diced
1          cup corn kernels
1/2       cup cotija cheese
1          bottle Ortega Green Taco Sauce, to taste

  1. Add 2 tablespoons oil to skillet over medium-high heat. Cook skirt steak 5 minutes on each side. Remove steak from pan and let rest. When cooled, slice into strips.
  2. Add remaining olive oil to skillet over medium-high heat. Saute red and yellow peppers until cooked through.
  3. Prepare rice as directed on package. Add squeeze of lime and taco seasoning. Stir to combine.
  4. Prepare tortilla bowls as directed on package. Fill with rice, shredded lettuce, sliced steak and peppers. Top with diced avocado, corn and cotija cheese. Finish with taco sauce.

Southwest Chicken Salad

Makes: 4 bowls

  • 2          tablespoons olive oil
  • 4          chicken breasts
  • 2          teaspoons chili powder
  • 1          Ortega Bakeable Tortilla Bowl Kit
  • 3          cups green leaf lettuce, sliced
  • 1          can Ortega Black Beans
  • 1          cup corn kernels
  • 2          avocados, diced
  • 1          tomato, diced
  • 1          cup cotija cheese
  • 1          bottle Ortega Flavor Craver Ranch Taco Sauce, to taste
  1. Add olive oil to skillet over medium heat. Coat chicken with chili powder. Cook chicken 8 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and let rest. Slice chicken into strips when cooled.
  2. Prepare tortilla bowls as directed on package. Fill with shredded lettuce, black beans, corn and sliced chicken. Top with diced avocado, tomato and cotija cheese. Finish with taco sauce.

SOURCE:
Ortega

Making the Back-to-School Transition Seamless and Stress-Free

Creating a designated space in the house for doing homework can get your kids ready to start schoolwork again…..

(Family Features) It’s not always easy to make the transition from family road trips, backyard barbecues and longer days to school bus pickups, homeroom assignments and school supply lists.

These tips can help get your busy household organized and make the transition easier to ensure your kids look and feel their best when they head back to the classroom.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Make Shopping for Supplies Fun. Take a special shopping trip with your kids to get all the supplies they need. Be sure to stock up on essentials, but try to make it fun by letting them pick out personalized folders for each of their classes or colorful pens to take notes. A shopping trip is also an opportunity to get your children excited about their classes. Remember to shop early so kids can pick from a variety of options and items will be less likely to be out of stock.

Prepare a Homework Space. Creating a designated space in the house for doing homework can get your kids ready to start schoolwork again. A designated space stocked with necessities like pens, pencils and other supplies can also limit distractions so they can focus on their schoolwork.

Simplify Your Laundry Routine. Between school clothes, sports uniforms, linens and play clothes, laundry can easily pile up. To simplify your laundry routine, try a detergent like all mighty pacs 4-in-1 with Odor Lifter, which provides four aspects of clean by tackling odors, fighting stains, whitening and brightening.

If your children have sensitive skin, consider all free clear mighty pacs, which are tough on stains but still gentle enough for sensitive skin with a hypoallergenic formula that is free of fragrances, dyes and irritating residues. To learn more, visit all-laundry.com.

Ease into the Routine. Make the switch to busy school mornings seamless by easing into your morning routine in the weeks leading up to the start of school. Set your alarms, go through morning rituals and make sure your children are comfortable with how they are getting to school whether they are taking the bus, walking or carpooling with friends. Practicing the routine can make everyone feel confident and prepared when the school bells start ringing.

By implementing these simple tips, you can make the transition both seamless and stress-free, and set your kids up for a successful and fun school year.

Content courtesy of all®

 

SOURCE:
all

Fast, Family-Friendly Recipes Make Dinner Doable

Between work, the carpool line and shuttling kids to extracurriculars, the increase in family commitments often leaves little time in the kitchen or at the dining table….

 

(Family Features) As the fall season begins, kids go back to school and schedules once again book up with activities.

Between work, the carpool line and shuttling kids to extracurriculars, the increase in family commitments often leaves little time in the kitchen or at the dining table. Although the drive-thru is an easy solution, healthier options can be scarce and the cost of takeout piles up. Instead, add some quick family meals to your arsenal.

Southwestern Bean Mexican Pizza made with READ Southwestern Bean Salad is a fun twist on the Italian favorite that pairs perfectly with fruit, carrot sticks or a salad for a complete, family-friendly meal.

For an easy make-ahead option, grab a jar of Aunt Nellie’s Beets and make Beef, Beet and Horseradish Wraps. Both recipes can help you have dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less.

For more quick and easy dinner ideas, visit READSalads.com and AuntNellies.com.

Southwestern Bean Mexican Pizza

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8-10

  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) READ Southwestern Bean Salad
  • 1 pre-baked pizza crust (10-12-inch diameter)
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled (about 1/4 cup crumbled)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup thin bell pepper strips (1/4-inch thick), any color or combination
  • 3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • chopped avocado (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
  1. Drain bean salads. Place half of beans in bowl of food processor; process until pureed but chunky.
  2. Spread puree evenly over pizza crust. Spoon remaining drained beans over puree. Sprinkle with bacon, bell pepper and cheese.
  3. Bake as directed on pizza crust package until heated through and cheese is melted, about 10-12 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve with avocado and sour cream, if desired.

Nutritional information per serving: 276 calories; 11 g protein; 35 g carbohydrates; 10 g fat; 648 mg sodium; 14 mg cholesterol; 5 g dietary fiber; 11 mg iron; .02 mg thiamin; 575 IU vitamin A; 7 mg vitamin C.

Beef, Beet and Horseradish Wraps

Prep time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Sliced Pickled Beets
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 cup spreadable cheese (such as goat cheese or herb soft cheese)
  • 2 large soft flour tortillas (about 10-12-inch diameter)
  • 10 green onions (green parts only)
  • 10 thin slices deli roast beef
  1. Drain beets; chop. Discard beet liquid. In medium bowl, combine beets, carrots and horseradish.
  2. Spread 1/4 cup cheese evenly over each tortilla, leaving 1-inch border. Arrange five green onions (do not chop) on each; press lightly into cheese. Place five slices roast beef on each tortilla to cover green onions then sprinkle beet mixture evenly over beef.
  3. Roll up tortillas in parallel direction of green onions. Wrap each roll tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate up to 4 hours.
  4. To serve, remove plastic wrap; cut each tortilla into two pieces.

Substitution: If horseradish is too pungent, omit or replace with diced jarred roasted red peppers or Dijon mustard.

Nutrition information per serving: 300 calories; 17 g protein; 34 g carbohydrates; 10 g fat; 520 mg sodium; 35 mg cholesterol; 2 g fiber; 3.18 mg iron; .26 mg thiamin; 2963.87 IU vitamin A; 8.79 mg vitamin C.

SOURCE:
Seneca Foods
Aunt Nellies

School Mornings Made Easy

Start the school year off right by giving your kids a breakfast they’ll love that also provides the protein they need to kick-start their day…….

 

(Family Features) Most parents know the first few weeks of school season and new daily routines can be hectic. From stocking up on school supplies to finishing up homework, there’s few unused minutes in the day.

One thing that’s particularly easy to forget in the mad dash to catch the bus or make it to morning drop-off is a well-balanced, protein-packed breakfast. According to a No Kid Hungry study, when students have a balanced breakfast in the morning, they are more likely to attend school and perform better on standardized tests.

Start the school year off right by giving your kids a breakfast they’ll love that also provides the protein they need to kick-start their day. Recipes like Simple Ham and Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches or Baked Eggs in Avocado can be ready in minutes and provide fuel long past the first morning school bell.

As a simple time-saver, Smithfield offers pre-diced, cubed and sliced ham that can make breakfast a breeze any day of the week. Incorporate it into a simple breakfast sandwich for a protein boost you can enjoy on-the-go. Served crispy or chewy depending on your preference, Thick Cut Bacon also puts a savory spin on nearly any breakfast plate, whether paired with eggs and avocado or a simple side of toast.

For more information and breakfast ideas, visit smithfield.com.

Simple Ham and Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches

Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 8 frozen prepared waffles, toasted
  • 8 ounces Smithfield Anytime Favorites Quarter Boneless Sliced Ham, any flavor
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 slices cheddar or American cheese
  • maple syrup (optional)
  1. Prepare waffles according to package directions; keep warm.
  2. In nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook ham slices until lightly browned, about 30 seconds per side; keep warm. In same skillet over medium heat, fry eggs until desired doneness.
  3. Lay out four waffles and top each with sliced cheese, ham and fried egg, topping with remaining waffles to finish. Serve warm with maple syrup, if desired.

Tip: Try spreading fruit jam on your sandwich for a change of pace.

Baked Eggs in Avocado

Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 large avocados
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 strips Smithfield Thick Cut Bacon, diced and cooked until crispy
  • 1 cup blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  1. Heat oven to 450 F. Spray baking sheet or glass baking pan with cooking spray. Cut avocados in half. Scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of avocado to create well for eggs. Place avocados flesh-side up on prepared baking sheet or glass pan.
  2. Gently crack one egg in each avocado well, making sure to keep yolk intact. Bake 10 minutes, or until eggs reach desired temperature. Remove.
  3. Top with bacon pieces, blue cheese and cilantro.

SOURCE:
Smithfield

5 Tips for a Smooth Back-to-School Transition

From weekly meetings to extracurricular activities and weekend sports, try using lists and charts to stay organized…..

(Family Features) Just when it seems like you have gotten into your summer groove, it’s time to get back into your school routine, which can be cause both relief and stress at the same time for parents and students alike. Even if your kids are fairly adaptable, big changes like heading back to school after a summer of limited scheduling can be stressful.

Head off potential problems as you transition into the busy back-to-school season with these family-friendly tips to get everyone back on the school-time track:

Set a Family Schedule
Rather than rushing into school season all at once, try to plan your schedule ahead of time. Easing into school season can make for a much smoother transition. This means gradually tapering off later bedtimes and enforcing an earlier wake up call. If meal times have gotten lax, it’s also a good idea to start working back toward your school-time schedule.

Pack Easier
Getting everyone up and on their way can be one of the greatest challenges on school days. Serve breakfast, pack lunches and make it out the door with a cup of still-hot coffee with an option like the Chinet Comfort Cup insulated hot cup. It’s designed to help keep drinks the perfect temperature while remaining cool to the touch, and with the snap-and-go lid, you can avoid messes during busy mornings.

Stay Organized
From weekly meetings to extracurricular activities and weekend sports, try using lists and charts to stay organized. Especially as kids grow older and their activities lists and school deadlines expand, keeping track of everyone can become a real chore. Find a place in the house where you can post calendars and lists that everyone can see. Try color-coding by child or type of activity (school, work, sports, etc.) for extra organization.

List Family Goals
Have each person in the family list out his or her goals for this school year. They can be small or challenging, but it can give everyone something to strive for. It’s also a good way to remind kids about family values like encouraging one another and making time to support everyone’s individual interests.

Buy Supplies Ahead of Time
Don’t wait until the last minute to search for school supplies like notebooks, pencils and paper or the bigger ticket items like backpacks. Seeking out necessary items ahead of time can alleviate the stress of not being able to find what you need, and spreading out purchases over time can eliminate a major one-time hit to the family budget.

Find more ideas to ease your family’s transition back to school at MyChinet.com.

SOURCE:
Chinet

NBHS Band/Choir/Drama Building Alumni Database

The North Baltimore High School Music & Drama Departments are trying to assemble a usable database of NBHS alumni who were involved in band, choir, and/or drama.

The North Baltimore High School Music & Drama Departments are trying to assemble a usable database of NBHS alumni who were involved in band, choir, and/or drama.
Please follow this link:  https://goo.gl/forms/1XFgiJFnjeYbpLqb2
To complete the following form:
Contact Emily Meyerson, Choral Director, P-12 Music at North Baltimore Local Schools
419-257-3464

Chowline: Back-to-School? Food Safety Tips for Packed Lunches

Prepare snack-sized bags of fruits and veggies in advance and let your children choose which ones they want in their lunch that day….

My kids are starting back to school next week, and this year they are packing their lunch for the first time. Any tips on what I need to do to make sure their packed lunch is safe and healthy?

Photo: Getty Images

Wow – is it that time of year already?

If your child wants to bring a packed lunch to school, there are several ways to make sure their lunch is both healthy and safe from pathogens that could cause a foodborne illness.

This is an important distinction to make, as children are among the most vulnerable to food poisoning. That’s partly due to the fact that their immune systems are not as effective at fighting off bacteria and viruses compared to those of adults, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

When packing a lunch for your child to take to school, it’s important to remember that cold foods need to stay cold and hot foods need to stay hot, to avoid the development of harmful bacteria that could cause a foodborne illness.

In order to make sure your child’s perishable foods stay cold until lunchtime, the U.S. Department of Agriculture advises that you pack two cold sources that will keep the contents out of the Danger Zone, which is when a food’s temperature reaches between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, at which bacteria grows most rapidly.

Frozen water bottles or frozen juice boxes can count as a cold source, as well as a freezer pack that you stick in their lunch box. Lunches that contain perishable food items like luncheon meats, eggs, cheese, or yogurt should be kept cold in this manner.

If you plan to send soup, stew or chili for your child’s lunch, you will need to use an insulated container. Before adding in the hot item, you can fill the container with boiling water, let it stand for a few minutes, empty it and then add the hot food, advises the USDA. Also, tell your child to keep the lid on the container closed until lunchtime to help prevent bacterial contamination and growth.

Other safe lunch-packing tips from USDA and FDA include:

  • If you pack your child’s lunch the night before, leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The meal will stay cold longer because everything will be refrigerator temperature when it is placed in the lunchbox.
  • Clean the insulated box or bag with hot soapy water after each use, and don’t re-use paper bags.
  • If possible, your child’s lunch should be stored in a refrigerator or cooler with ice upon arrival at school. Leave the lid of the lunchbox or bag open in the fridge so that cold air can better circulate and keep the food cold.
  • While it’s best if your children wash their hands before eating lunch, that doesn’t always happen at school right before lunchtime. So make sure you pack disposable wipes for your children to wipe their hands before and after eating lunch.
  • After lunch, make sure your children discard any leftover food, used food packaging, and paper bags. Don’t reuse the packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.

Remember, healthy lunches include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. If preparing sandwiches, opt for whole grain bread and add veggies for toppings. Additionally, you can make sandwiches fun for your children by cutting them into shapes using a cookie cutter.

As far as sides are concerned, prepare snack-sized bags of fruits and veggies in advance and let your children choose which ones they want in their lunch that day. Whole fruit such as apples, peaches, pears, bananas and tangerines are also good choices.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.