(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) For many looking to make healthy dietary changes, weight loss is a primary concern. Because the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 45-65% of daily calories come from carbohydrates, an eating plan like the ketogenic diet (or keto, for short), which involves consuming a low amount of carbs and replacing them with healthy fats, can be a popular choice for achieving weight loss goals.
Replacing carb intake with fat can put your body in a metabolic state called ketosis, which makes you more efficient at burning fat for energy. The keto diet can also help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels and lower risk for certain diseases.
Those following the keto eating plan typically significantly reduce or avoid consuming bread, pasta, rice and baked goods, which are all traditionally high in carbohydrates. However, Toufayan Bakeries introduced a line of keto-friendly wraps, pitas and flatbreads that are high in fiber and protein while containing no sugar and being lower in carbs than traditional bread.
“We take great pride in baking our family’s favorite breads for families across the U.S.,” said Karen Toufayan, VP of marketing for Toufayan. “Across the country, people following the keto diet have been missing their favorite bread products. We are thrilled to introduce Toufayan’s first line of keto-friendly breads and hope they love them as much as we do.”
Try serving these satisfyingly light solutions as the base ingredients in these delicious recipes for a Keto Egg and Sausage Flatbread or Keto Enchilada Quesadilla from chef George Duran.
Find more recipes to support a ketogenic eating plan at Toufayan.com.
Keto Enchilada Quesadilla
Recipe courtesy of chef George Duran
Yield: 1 quesadilla
- Rotisserie chicken, pulled and chopped
- enchilada Sauce
- olive oil
- Toufayan Bakeries Keto Wraps
- Tex-Mex cheese, grated
- jarred or fresh jalapenos, thinly sliced
- cilantro, chopped
- salsa, for serving
- In bowl, mix pulled chicken and enchilada sauce until fully covered. Set aside.
- Spray or brush olive on both sides of keto wrap and place on nonstick pan or skillet over medium heat. Once wrap is heated on one side, flip and heavily top entire wrap with grated cheese. Allow cheese to melt then disperse chicken mixture, sliced jalapenos and chopped cilantro on half of wrap. Fold wrap over ingredients and cook until quesadilla is golden brown on both sides.
- Cut into three triangles and serve with salsa.
Keto Egg and Sausage Flatbread
Yield: 1 flatbread
- 1 Toufayan Keto Flatbread
- 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 cooked sausage links (approximately 2 ounces each), cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to broil.
- On foil-lined baking sheet, place flatbread and top with mozzarella cheese; add sausage pieces and bell pepper.
- Crack egg in center of flatbread and broil 5-8 minutes, or until egg is cooked to desired firmness.
- Remove from oven and top with chives.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.
Nutritional information per serving (1 flatbread): 435 calories; 29.1 g protein; 25.6 g fat; 8.6 net carbs.
(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) With hectic day-to-day schedules and varying dietary needs, many families face the dreaded daily question: “What sounds good for dinner?” In contrast, millions struggle to put food on the table each night, impacting about 1 in 8 children, according to Feeding America.
You can help support those in need through Safeway and Albertsons’ “Fight Hunger, Serve Hope” cause program – an initiative to fight hunger in local communities during summer months when households with school-aged children face higher rates of food insecurity. The company’s private label will donate one meal for every O Organics® product purchased, up to $7 million and the equivalent of 28 million meals. Donations will be made to Nourishing Neighbors, a program of Albertsons Companies Foundation, to fund grants dedicated to providing healthy meals for at-risk youth throughout the summer.
“While summertime sparks excitement for countless students, it also marks the unfortunate reality that millions of children face when they lose access to school cafeteria lunches and breakfasts they depend on throughout the school year,” said Jennifer Saenz, EVP and chief merchandising officer at Albertsons Companies. “As a company, we are committed to making a difference in the lives of children in need. For the first time, we are making it easier than ever for our customers to support this mission by connecting each purchase of our O Organics brand to hunger relief efforts in the communities we serve.”
Following the campaign period, families looking to help in their communities can give back in a variety of ways.
Donate Canned Goods
Once school is in session, many classrooms participate in canned food drives for a variety of causes while serving a dual purpose: feeding those in need and teaching children the importance of giving back. Sending your students to school with canned goods can show them the value of helping others and instill a sense of responsibility.
Volunteer at a Food Pantry
Sharing valuable resources like canned goods helps make a difference in communities, but local food pantries also need willing volunteers to sort and distribute food, among other duties. It can provide a unique sense of perspective as you meet other volunteers, improve the lives of people in your community and gain new skills.
Promote the Power of Family Meals
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or all three, sharing a meal with neighbors can be a powerful moment. It provides an opportunity to connect while enjoying easy-to-make recipes like Ribeye Steak, Grape Tomato and Mushroom Kebabs; Grilled Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese, Fresh Raspberries and Pecans; and Mixed Berry-Lime Smoothie Bowl with Banana and Granola.
Ribeye Steak, Grape Tomato and Mushroom Kebabs
Recipe courtesy of Safeway and Albertsons
Total time: 30 minutes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 small bunch Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- 1/4 cup O Organics extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons O Organics Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 pound O Organics ribeye steak
- 1/2 pint O Organics grape tomatoes
- 1/4 pound O Organics white mushrooms
- green pepper, sliced (optional)
- 1/2 medium red onion
- 6 skewers
- Peel and mince garlic. Wash and dry parsley. Shave leaves off stems; discard stems and mince leaves.
- In large bowl, whisk minced garlic, half the minced parsley (reserve remainder for garnish), olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
- Cut steak into cubes; transfer to marinade bowl and toss to coat.
- Wash tomatoes, mushrooms and green pepper. Halve mushrooms. Add tomatoes, mushrooms and green pepper to marinade. Peel onion and cut into chunks; add to marinade. Toss beef and vegetables until well coated.
- Heat grill pan, outdoor grill or skillet to medium-high heat.
- Thread steak and vegetables onto six skewers.
- Cook kebabs in batches until steak is browned and vegetables are tender, 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining kebabs.
- To serve, plate kebabs and sprinkle with remaining minced parsley.
Grilled Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese, Fresh Blueberries and Pecans
Recipe courtesy of Safeway and Albertsons
Total time: 20 minutes
- 3/4 pound boneless, skinless O Organics chicken breasts
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons O Organics extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 package (5 ounces) O Organics spring mix
- 1 package (6 ounces) O Organics blueberries (or desired berry)
- 1/4 cup O Organics pecan halves
- 3 tablespoons O Organics olive oil
- 1 tablespoon O Organics balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 log (4 ounces) O Organics goat cheese
- Pat chicken dry with paper towels and place on cutting board. Cut chicken in half horizontally to form thin cutlets. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Preheat grill pan, outdoor grill or skillet to medium-high heat.
- Once pan is hot, coat with oil. Add chicken to pan and grill, turning once, until cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side.
- Wash and dry spring mix. Place in medium bowl.
- Wash and dry blueberries. Add to bowl with mixed greens. Using clean cutting board, roughly chop pecans. Add to bowl.
- Transfer cooked chicken to cutting board and cut into thin strips.
- In bowl, mix olive oil and balsamic vinegar to create dressing.
- Add chicken and dressing to salad bowl; toss to combine.
- To serve, divide salad between plates or bowls and crumble goat cheese over top.
Mixed Berry-Lime Smoothie Bowl with Banana and Granola
Recipe courtesy of Safeway and Albertsons
Total time: 10 minutes
Yield: 3 cups
- 1 banana
- 1/2 package (6 ounces) O Organics blackberries
- 1/2 lime
- 2 cups O Organics frozen mixed berries
- 1 cup plain O Organics Greek yogurt
- 4 fluid ounces O Organics whole milk
- 1/8 cup O Organics honey
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup O Organics granola of choice
- Wash and dry banana and blackberries.
- Peel and thinly slice banana; set aside.
- Zest and juice lime into blender. Add frozen mixed berries, yogurt, milk, honey and cinnamon. Blend on high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.
- To serve, divide smoothie between bowls and top with banana, blackberries and granola.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (kebabs)