(Family Features) Back-to-school season means many families are busier than ever, leaving less time to plan weeknight meals. While a new school year brings plenty of exciting moments, it also adds up to early mornings, long days and late evenings, making it tough to keep nutrition top-of-mind.
With new routines and jam-packed calendars, quick and easy recipes can be the solutions you need. Swapping out complicated dishes for simple dinners and make-ahead snacks allows you to make your loved ones’ health a priority while also managing hectic schedules.
To help make those simple yet tasty menu additions a reality, look to a flavor favorite and nutrition powerhouse like pecans. They’re the ideal nut to keep on hand to incorporate into favorite meals and after-school snacks.
Taste is just the beginning when it comes to pecans. Their nutritious punch provides a unique mix of health-promoting nutrients. Plus, they’re a versatile ingredient that can shine in a wide range of flavor profiles from sweet or spicy to salty, smoky and savory.
These benefits make them a delicious, nutrient-dense option to power up school days. Consider them as a better-for-you addition to breakfast in banana bread recipes and energizing snacks like these Superfood Pecan Energy Bars. They’re simple and nutritious, making them an ideal after-school snack and on-the-go solution between activities.
When the whole family comes home after a long day of school, work, games and social commitments, pecans can add a delightful crunch to air-fried favorites like chicken tenders or childhood classics like Mac and Cheese with Pecan Breadcrumbs.
For more back-to-school recipe inspiration, visit EatPecans.com.
Mac and Cheese with Pecan Breadcrumbs
Cook time: 50 minutes
- 8 ounces cavatappi pasta
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional for salting pasta water, to taste
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 block (8 ounces) cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup raw pecan pieces
- 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
- 4 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Cook cavatappi in salted boiling water. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Return pasta to pot and stir in butter.
- Using box grater, shred cheddar cheese.
- Using food processor, combine 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese with pecans. Process to coarse breadcrumb consistency.
- Add remaining cheddar cheese, ricotta, sour cream, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to warm pasta. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add egg; stir. Add 2-4 tablespoons reserved pasta water to loosen mixture; stir until smooth.
- Pour into buttered 9-inch square or round casserole dish and top evenly with pecan topping.
- Bake 30 minutes.
Substitutions: Use pre-shredded cheese in place of cheddar cheese block. Use pasta of choice in place of cavatappi.
Superfood Pecan Energy Bars
Cook time: 40 minutes
- 15 Medjool dates (9 ounces)
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- 1/2 cup gluten-free oats
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 200 F.
- In food processor, process or pulse dates until chopped and rough texture forms. Add pecan pieces, oats, chia seeds, vanilla extract, cinnamon and kosher salt; process about 1 minute until crumbly dough forms.
- Line baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Dump dough into center of parchment paper and use rolling pin to roll into 6-by-10 1/2-inch rectangle. Cut dough into 14 bars about 1 1/2-by-3 inches or into desired shapes.
- Bake bars 30 minutes. Cool bars to room temperature then refrigerate in sealed container between sheets of wax paper.
- To package for on-the-go snacking, cut 4-by-6-inch rectangles of wax paper, wrap around bars and secure with tape.
Source: American Pecan Promotion Board
(Family Features) The hustle and bustle of back-to-school season can cause chaos in households. Class time, field trips and homework typically rule each day, which can make sitting down for a meal seem like a far-off dream. One easy way to save time is simplifying family recipes and prioritizing meal-planning.
Consider these meal-planning tips from the experts at Healthy Family Project, whose partners are donating $16,000 to the Foundation for Fresh Produce to support children’s accessibility to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Choose the meals you plan to make for the week. Cut down on prep time by planning dishes with overlapping ingredients then write out a grocery list to keep from overbuying. Recipes like this Southwest Quiche Muffins Bento Box that include a brief list of widely used ingredients can help you avoid buying items you may only use once.
Stock the kitchen with ingredients your family often uses. Ensure you have the spices, seasonings, condiments, sauces and canned foods to prepare favorite meals at a moment’s notice.
Save time by washing and prepping produce once each week. For example, if you’re using sweet peppers in these Mini Sweet Pepper Sheet Pan Nachos and again in another meal that week, prep all at once so they’re ready when it’s time to cook – just be sure to store in an airtight container.
Serve quick snacks that won’t spoil dinner. Kids often need a little fuel for homework, but complicated snacks can cut into already busy schedules. Keep ingredients on hand for simple options like trail mix, fruit parfaits and meat and cheese wraps.
Use kitchen tools that speed up the process. Pressure cookers and air fryers can help you put nutritious meals on the table faster while slow cookers let you prep in the morning and come home to a hot, delicious dinner.
Visit HealthyFamilyProject.com to find more back-to-school recipes.
Mini Sweet Pepper Sheet Pan Nachos
Recipe courtesy of Healthy Family Project
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
- 8 ounces Pero Family Farms Mini Sweet Peppers, cut into chip shapes
- 7 ounces tortilla chips
- 1/2 cup sweet or red onion, diced.
- 1/2 cup canned or fresh corn
- 1/2 cup queso fresco cheese
- 1/4 cup black olives
- 1/4 cup jalapeno peppers, fresh sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, for garnish
- 1 lime, cut into thin wedges, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Place peppers and tortilla chips on sheet pan. Layer onion, corn, cheese, black olives and jalapeno peppers. Bake 3-5 minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.
Southwest Quiche Muffins Bento Box
Recipe courtesy of Healthy Family Project
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 8 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- nonstick cooking spray
- 3/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup chopped Nature Fresh Farms Tomz tomatoes
- 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 small RealSweet sweet onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup granola
- 1/2 Zespri SunGold kiwi, chopped
- 1 Bee Sweet Citrus mandarin, peeled and segmented
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- In large bowl, whisk eggs and milk.
- Coat 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray or use silicone muffin liners. Evenly divide beans, tomatoes, cheese and onion among cups. Pour eggs over top.
- Bake 20-25 minutes, or until eggs are set and lightly browned.
- Remove from oven and cool in pan 2-3 minutes. Use knife to loosen edges and remove.
- In cup or bowl, mix yogurt, granola and kiwi.
- Assemble bento box with two quiche muffins, kiwi parfait and mandarin slices.
Source: Healthy Family Project
(Family Features) Putting a delicious, kid-friendly meal on the table in an hour or less is goal No. 1 for many families. When the hectic schedules of back-to-school season are in full effect, saving some precious time in the kitchen can make all the difference.
Take a homework timeout and bring loved ones running to the dining room for family favorites like Sweet Heat Pickled Beet Grilled Cheese. This modern take on a childhood classic pairs sourdough bread with brie cheese, a spicy-sweet hit of hot honey and juicy Aunt Nellie’s Diced Pickled Beets.
If letting your oven do the work is an even more appealing solution, try an easy recipe like Bacon Wrapped Potato Stuffed Chicken. As a meal and side dish all in one, this simple weeknight dinner starts with cutting a pocket into boneless, skinless chicken breasts before filling with cheesy goodness.
Layer cheddar cheese slices inside the chicken then spoon in READ German Potato Salad made with thinly sliced potatoes, bacon and a sweet-piquant dressing. Finally, fold the chicken breasts closed, wrap with bacon slices and bake 40 minutes to tender, juicy perfection with a final broil to crisp the bacon.
Recipe courtesy of MacKenzie Smith of “Grilled Cheese Social”
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Yield: 2 sandwiches
- 4 slices (3 ounces each) sourdough bread
- 2 tablespoons hot honey
- 1 small wheel (8 ounces) brie, at room temperature, cut into thin strips
- 8 ounces Aunt Nellie’s Diced Pickled Beets (1/2 jar or 2 individual diced pickled beet cups)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into thin strips
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, or to taste
- Place two bread slices on cutting board. Drizzle with hot honey then add 4 ounces brie evenly across bread.
- Drain beets and pat dry. Add evenly on top of brie followed by basil and remaining brie.
- Spread 1 tablespoon butter on one side of remaining bread slices. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt. Place top piece of bread on each sandwich.
- Heat cast-iron or frying pan over medium-low heat then add sandwiches butter sides down. Butter top sides and add remaining garlic salt.
- Cook about 5 minutes on each side, or until bread is golden brown and cheese has melted, flipping halfway through.
- Once sandwiches have cooked on both sides, remove from heat and serve.
Recipe courtesy of “EZPZMealz”
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
- 2 pounds (approximately 4 large) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 can READ German Potato Salad with sauce
- 8-12 bacon slices
- nonstick cooking spray
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Using sharp knife, slice pocket or slit into each chicken breast and fold open.
- Place two slices sharp cheddar cheese in pockets then spoon 4 ounces potato salad onto cheese.
- Fold chicken over and close so cheese and potatoes are inside pockets.
- Take 2-3 bacon slices and completely wrap stuffed chicken breasts, tucking loose ends of bacon on undersides of chicken.
- Spray baking dish with nonstick cooking spray then place bacon wrapped chicken on tray. Season chicken with pepper, to taste.
- Bake approximately 40 minutes until internal temperature of chicken reaches 160 F.
- Turn oven to broil on high (500 F) and broil 2-3 minutes to crisp bacon until chicken reaches 165 F.
- Remove from the oven and rest 5 minutes then serve.
(Family Features) Getting back in the swing of the school year routine can be hectic. With the right ingredients, though, lunchtime doesn’t have to be.
Kickstart your school lunch routine with these ideas for building easy-to-make, gourmet sandwiches sure to inspire envy in the lunchroom.
Bread – The foundation for nearly every sandwich, switching up your bread from traditional slices to something more creative, such as ciabatta, rye, pita or even a dinner roll like in this Hot Honey Ham Rolls recipe, can keep things interesting at lunchtime.
Meat – The main ingredient, choosing high-quality meat can make or break your sandwich experience. Inspired by bold flavors from around the globe, Kretschmar Master’s Cuts Deli Meats are gluten-free and feature no MSG or added hormones for a taste experience you can feel good about serving your family. When pressed for time, the line of premade deli sandwiches can make for a perfect grab-and-go meal.
Toppings and Condiments – Meant to boost flavor and add texture, a variety of toppings and condiments such as lettuce, mayonnaise, peppers, mustard and tomatoes are sandwich favorites. However, less common garnishes like fried eggs, hummus and avocado take this Maple Turkey Breast, Egg, Avocado Mash and Hummus Sandwich to the next level.
Cheese – Choosing a less common cheese, like Swiss or mozzarella, can be an easy way to experiment with the flavor of your sandwiches. An option like Kretschmar’s handcrafted gourmet cheeses possesses refined textures and fine flavors perfect for lunchtime or serving as part of a platter of meats and crackers as a snack or appetizer.
Find more quick and easy recipes at kretschmardeli.com. With the See It Live Sweepstakes, fans get more than just access, but an experience, a feeling of belonging, where you can enter for a chance to win tickets for a year.
Maple Turkey Breast, Egg, Avocado Mash and Hummus Sandwich
Prep time: 8 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
- 1/4 avocado
- 1/2 lemon, juice only
- 2 slices flaxseed bread, toasted
- 1 tablespoon hummus, any flavor
- 1 fried egg, cooked over-medium
- 3-4 slices Kretschmar Master’s Cut Maple Turkey Breast
- fresh mozzarella cheese, thick sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 handful baby spinach
- In bowl, mash avocado and combine with lemon juice. Set aside.
- Spread one bread slice with hummus and second with avocado mash.
- Add fried egg, maple turkey breast, mozzarella, red bell pepper and spinach.
- Stack and cut in half.
Hot Honey Ham Rolls
Prep time: 3 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 8 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 12 premade rolls
- 12 thick-cut slices Kretschmar Master’s Cut Hot Honey Ham
- 12 slices Kretschmar Swiss Cheese
- To make topping: In small saucepan over medium heat, whisk honey, Dijon mustard, parsley and melted butter. Bring to simmer and remove from heat.
- To make rolls: Heat oven to broil.
- Split rolls in half and place on baking sheet cut-side up. Brush cut sides with honey butter. Place two halved hot honey ham pieces on bottom of each roll and top each with Swiss cheese slice.
- Broil until cheese is melted, 1-2 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and pour on remaining honey butter. Place tops on rolls and serve.
(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.
Photo courtesy of Emily Caruso of Jelly Toast on behalf of Milk. Love What’s Real
(Family Features) With each school morning comes the importance of getting children up, ready and out the door for a day of learning and adventure. To help your little learner truly make the most of each lesson, a nutritious breakfast can be just the right way to get the morning started.
By beginning the morning routine with a protein-packed meal, such as these Egg and Sausage Muffins, you’re ensuring that important nutrients fill your child’s tummy before math, science and reading fill his or her brain.
Plus, families can help children in need by incorporating participating Gwaltney items in their homemade breakfasts. Through Sept. 15, a portion of proceeds will benefit the Roc Solid Foundation, which works to build hope for children battling cancer by offering opportunities for them to do what they do best as kids – play – through initiatives such as building custom playsets.
“We’re all about family, food, fun and giving back to the community, which is why we believe our partnership with Roc Solid is a perfect fit,” said Erin Thacker, Gwaltney associate brand manager. “We believe that children and their families should have the opportunity to truly enjoy life. If we can help take their minds off their challenges for a few moments, it is all worth it.”
Visit gwaltneyfoods.com for details and additional busy morning breakfast ideas.
Egg and Sausage Muffins
Prep time: 10 minutes
- 1/2 pound Gwaltney Sausage
- 8 eggs
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1/2 bell pepper (optional)
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- In skillet, brown and drain sausage.
- In bowl, beat eggs. Add sausage, cheese, salt, pepper and bell pepper, if desired. Mix and pour into greased muffin pan until two-thirds full.
- Bake 30 minutes. Insert toothpick in center to check for doneness.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
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.
For more back-to-school recipes, visit Culinary.net.
Freshen Up Family Breakfasts
A truly beneficial start to the day is usually centered around breakfast. Start your family on the right foot with a meal that delivers sweet flavor along with nutritious fruits.
This Honey Leches French Toast recipe swaps out syrup for hot honey combined with the crisp taste of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.
Visit honey.com for more family-friendly recipes.
Honey Leches French Toast
Recipe courtesy of chef Rob Corliss on behalf of the National Honey Board
- 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.
Find more back-to-school meal solutions at jarlsberg.com.
Brooklyn Bacon Bonanza Burger
Recipe courtesy of chef George Duran on behalf of Jarlsberg
- 4 thick chunks Jarlsberg cheese
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup chopped cooked bacon
- 3 tablespoons sundried tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- nonstick cooking spray
- 4 eggs for frying (optional)
- 4 hamburger buns
- 8 thin slices tomato
- Place cheese in freezer about 1 hour ahead of time.
- Heat grill to medium-high heat. In small bowl, mix hot sauce and mayonnaise; set aside.
- In large bowl, season beef, pork, onion, bacon, tomato paste and breadcrumbs with salt and pepper. Using hands, mix until well combined.
- Using hands, form meat mixture into four balls. With thumb, make indentation in centers of balls and place one chunk cheese in center of each. Begin shaping burgers around cheese until patties form.
- Spray grill grates with nonstick spray. Grill burgers, turning frequently, until cooked through and cheese begins to ooze out, about 8-10 minutes.
- In nonstick skillet, fry eggs, if desired; set aside. Serve burgers on hamburger buns with chipotle-mayo, tomato slices and fried eggs.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (French toast)
(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.
Discover more family meal solutions at Toufayan.com.
Chicken Tender Smart Pocket
- 3 breaded chicken tenders
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 Toufayan Smart Pocket, any variety
- 2 pieces curly lettuce, washed and dried
- 2 thinly sliced tomatoes
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- Bake chicken tenders according to package instructions.
- Spread mayonnaise evenly on insides of pita bread pocket.
- Layer lettuce then tomatoes and place chicken tenders evenly across pita bread pocket. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve immediately.
Sloppy Joe Smart Pockets
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 cup water
- 4 Toufayan Smart Pockets, any variety
- In large skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef, celery, onion, carrot, garlic, salt and pepper, breaking up beef until browned and no longer pink, approximately 6-8 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and water; mix well.
- Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook 15-20 minutes until sauce thickens and flavors meld.
- Remove from heat; taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
- Divide evenly among pita bread pockets and serve.
(Family Features) The school year can be an exciting time for parents and children alike. However, between getting ready and rushing to get out the door, making a nutritious and delicious lunch can sometimes fall by the wayside.
Whether preparing meals the night before or using quick and easy ingredients to help cut back on prep time, make the most of your kids' lunches and add a little personalized touch to give them comfort as they transition back to school.
Try these tips, tricks and ideas to help you put a smile on your children's faces and give you some peace of mind during the busy back-to-school season.
Prepare the Night Before
School mornings can get hectic. Recipes like these Spinach Ham Rollups or Ham Sandwich and Veggie Bento Box are perfect, nutritious meals to prepare the evening before, allowing you to spend more time with your little ones before they leave for school.
Incorporate Easy-to-Use Ingredients
When you're crunched for time, hardly anything can beat an easy-to-make lunch. Keeping high-quality, flavorful and versatile ingredients on-hand like Farmer John Sliced Ham or Turkey can help you make something different each day and pack your way to a better lunchbox in a matter of minutes.
Add a Handwritten Note
With everyone in the family juggling activities and busy schedules during the school year, a heartfelt message can be a nice surprise. A short message wishing your children a good day, or a simple note of love and appreciation can give them a piece of home while they're away.
For more quick, easy recipes for back-to-school season and beyond, visit farmerjohn.com.
Spinach Ham Rollups
Prep time: 10 minutes
- 1 container (8 ounces) chive and onion cream cheese spread
- 6 spinach tortillas
- 1 package Farmer John Black Forest Ham
- 12 leaves lettuce
- 12 thin tomato slices
- Spread cream cheese on each tortilla.
- Layer two lettuce leaves, two tomato slices and two ham slices on each tortilla.
- Roll tortillas; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until serving time.
- When ready to serve, remove plastic wrap. Cut each rollup into four servings.
Ham Sandwich and Veggie Bento Box
Prep time: 5 minutes
- 3 slices Farmer John Classic Cooked Ham
- 1 slice cheese
- 2 slices bread
- 1/4 cup carrots
- 1/2 cup grapes
- 1/4 cup blueberries
- 3 strawberries
- Layer ham and cheese on bottom bread slice to assemble sandwich.
- Use cookie cutter or knife to cut sandwich into desired shape. Place sandwich in larger section of bento box.
- Add carrots, grapes, blueberries and strawberries to remaining spaces in bento box.
Source: Farmer John
(Family Features) School is back in session and so are hectic weeknights with little time to cook dinner. Instead of reaching for ready-made meals or takeout, make a kid-friendly, south-of-the-border casserole. All of the ingredients – from the whole grain elbow macaroni to the ground beef – are cooked in one skillet, meaning minimal cleanup and maximum quality time spent reconnecting around the dinner table.
“This simple three-step recipe is perfect for busy weeknights because it’s quick, family-friendly and just as good re-heated for leftovers,” said McCormick Executive Chef Kevan Vetter. “You don’t need a second pot to cook the pasta; it’s cooked in the skillet along with the ground beef, fresh tomatoes and corn. Season with organic taco seasoning and sprinkle with cheddar cheese and you’re sure to have a meal the kids will beg to add to the dinner rotation.”
Tex-Mex Macaroni Casserole
Makes 8 (1-cup) servings
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 package McCormick Organics Taco Seasoning Mix
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
- 2 cups uncooked whole grain elbow macaroni
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- Brown beef and onion in large skillet on medium-high heat. Drain fat.
- Stir in seasoning mix, water, chopped tomatoes and corn. Bring to boil. Add pasta. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Sprinkle with cheese, cover. Let stand 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.