Resolve to Make Your Lunchbox Healthier
(Family Features) It’s the perfect time of year for families to get back on track and pledge to eat healthy lunches for the remainder of the school year.
Families that take the free Power Your Lunchbox Pledge can access nutritious and delicious ideas for lunch, after-school snacks and weekday family dinners, as well as coupons, tips and ideas for incorporating more fruits and vegetables into lunchboxes. The pledge website also features a collection of registered dietitian-approved recipes, including warm, hearty and healthy lunches like this Alphabet Vegetable Soup and kid-friendly, build-your-own lunchbox ideas like these tasty Wonton Taco Cups.
For teachers who want to incorporate the program into their classrooms, pledge resources such as nutrition-focused lesson plans, certificates for students and take-home materials for families are also available online. Teachers who take the pledge can win a $500 gift card for classroom supplies.
Taking the pledge not only signals a commitment to making healthier meal choices, it helps those in need. From Jan. 4 through Feb. 15, for every online pledge, companies supporting the Power Your Lunchbox Pledge will donate $1 to Feeding America programs that support families and children. For more information, visit poweryourlunchbox.com.
Alphabet Vegetable Soup
Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids
Total time: 45 minutes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 carrots, diced
- 2 cups organic baby kale
- 8 ounces snipped green beans, chopped
- 1 russet potato, peeled and diced
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 quarts low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 can (14 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup alphabet pasta
- In large pot over medium heat, heat oil.
- Add carrots, kale, green beans, potato and onion. Cook 5 minutes, or until softened.
- Add broth, tomatoes, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
- Stir in pasta and cook 10 minutes, or until cooked.
Wonton Taco Cups
Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids
Total time: 25 minutes
- 3/4 pound lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium taco seasoning
- 1 Roma tomato
- 2 mini sweet peppers
- 1/4 small sweet onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 24 wonton wrappers
- 1/2 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
- 2 avocados, sliced
- 1 lime, juiced
- Heat oven to 350° F. Spray 24-cup mini muffin pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
- Heat large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook 5-7 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain and return to pan. Add taco seasoning and mix well.
- Add tomato, peppers, onion and cilantro to food processor and chop until fine (or finely chop by hand). Add to ground beef and mix well.
- Line muffin pans with wonton wrappers, placing one in each cup. Add taco mixture and top with cheese. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until wontons start to brown on edges.
- Meanwhile, toss avocados with lime juice. Top each taco cup with avocado.
Source: Produce for Kids
(Family Features) What do you reach for around 3 in the afternoon? Something salty? Something crunchy? Something creamy, smooth and sweet? These days, more and more snackers are looking for something wholesome and satisfying to get them through the afternoon.
Here’s one snacking choice you may not have thought of: pudding. When pudding is made right — just the way your grandma used to — it’s made with real ingredients like milk and eggs, cooked slowly until it’s creamy and delicious. While cooking up your own pudding is a fun and satisfying weekend or evening project, when you need a quick afternoon snack, that’s probably not in the cards.
Fortunately, there are still some companies making pudding just the way you would at home, slowly simmered to perfection. This is great news for people who want a smooth and creamy snack they can feel good about. There’s a good reason why simple, comforting pudding was a favorite childhood snack — and is still a wholesome snack choice today.
Simple Ideas for a Delicious Snack
Pudding is perfect straight out of the refrigerator, of course, and all you need to enjoy it is a spoon. But you can make it your own with other ingredients that you probably have right in your kitchen. Take a look at your spice rack: You’ve probably got cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. In your pantry, you’ve got crunchy cookies, pretzels and nuts. Fresh and frozen fruit are always good to have on hand. Even canned and shelf-stable packs of tropical fruits can top your pudding. Before you know it, you’ll be seeing surprising pudding pairings everywhere you look.
With a little creativity, you could have a unique pudding snack every day of the week. We’ve got a few ideas to get you started.
Find out more about Kozy Shack® Pudding at www.kozyshack.com.
Banana Split Pudding Snack — Cut a banana in half the long way. Stand one half in a small cup. Spoon chocolate pudding into the cup and top with a maraschino cherry.
Minty Chocolate Pudding — Cut mint and chocolate layered candies into smaller pieces. Spoon Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding into a small bowl. Top with mint pieces.
Chocolate Drizzled Strawberries and Tapioca Pudding — Drizzle strawberries with melted dark chocolate and allow to set. Layer chopped strawberries and Kozy Shack Tapioca Pudding in a small dish. Top with a chocolate-drizzled strawberry.
Bananas & Cinnamon Rice Pudding — Spoon rice pudding into a small dish. Top with sliced bananas and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
Peaches & Blueberries Rice Pudding — Layer diced fresh peaches, Kozy Shack Rice Pudding and blueberries in a small dish. Top with any remaining fruit.
Candied Almond Slivers and Tapioca Pudding — Spoon tapioca pudding into a dish. Top with candied almond slivers.
Chocolate Pudding — Spoon Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding into a colorful cup. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a cookie.
Mango & Coconut Tapioca Pudding — Cut a fresh mango into small pieces. Spoon Kozy Shack Tapioca Pudding into a small dish. Top with mango and sprinkle with toasted coconut.
Blackberry Rice Pudding — Dice a handful of fresh blackberries. Layer blackberries and Kozy Shack Rice Pudding in small dish. Top with any remaining fruit and a mint leaf.
Fresh Raspberries and Chocolate Pudding — Layer fresh raspberries, whipped cream and Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding in a small dish. Top with extra raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream.
Lemon Tapioca Pudding — Crush a couple of lemon shortbread cookies. Spoon into the bottom of a small dish. Top with Kozy Shack Tapioca pudding, a sprinkle of lemon zest and assorted fresh berries.
SOURCE: Kozy Shack
A Simple Twist on After School Snacks
(Family Features) We all know it's important to start the day off with a healthy breakfast. As a parent, you also have lunch covered for your hungry student, whether it's packed in a brown bag or eaten in the cafeteria. But after a busy day of learning, young tummies often need a wholesome after-school snack to tide them over until dinner.
Keeping a stash of kid-friendly snacks handy is a sure-fire way to keep snack time manageable, while making sure kids don't have a full afternoon meal, which would spoil their appetite for dinner.
Instead of potato chips or cookies, try crunchy veggies paired with a flavorful dip. As an added (and educational) bonus, invite kids to help make snacks ahead of time, assigning them age-appropriate tasks like measuring and mixing. This introduces them to family meal prep and helps teach them about healthy eating habits at an early age.
Kick off your new after-school snack routine with a recipe like this one for Ranch Pimento Cheese Celery Logs, created by country music star and busy mom of seven, Sara Evans, on behalf of Hidden Valley. For a little kick, Evans suggests substituting with Hidden Valley® Spicy Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix. If your kids resist celery or you want a little variety, this spread also makes great finger sandwiches when layered between two slices of sandwich bread and cut into small triangles.
For more kid-friendly after-school snack ideas, visit www.HiddenValley.com.
Ranch Pimento Cheese Celery Logs
- 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Hidden Valley® Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
- 1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos, drained
- 30 (2-inch) celery logs, cut from about 1 bunch of celery
- Place cheese, mayonnaise, seasoning mix and pimentos in bowl of food processor. Pulse a few times until well combined but still chunky, taking care not to over mix. Alternatively, you can mix by hand, but it won't be quite as spreadable.
- Divide cheese mixture among celery logs (about 2 teaspoons per log), mounding it into cavity.
- Serve cold.
30 filled celery logs
SOURCE: Hidden Valley