(Family Features) Nutritious, well-rounded meals are essential for growth and proper brain development. A complete midday meal also helps boost mental and physical power so kids can keep on learning until the afternoon bell rings.
It’s not always easy to find new and appealing ideas to fuel kids’ bodies and minds as they head back to school, but programs for families and educators such as the Power Your Lunchbox Pledge can help.
“Families are looking for ways to start the year on the right foot and the Power Your Lunchbox Pledge offers everything they need in one spot,” said Trish James, vice president of Produce for Kids. “Families want to know their kids are receiving the right brain food to get them through the day. Our registered dietitian-approved meal inspiration, tips and ideas provide the foundation families need for success.”
In addition to kid-tested, lunchbox-friendly recipe ideas, the program provides resources and lesson plans for educators who want to create activities to inspire healthy eating in the classroom. This year’s program also includes a partnership with The World of Eric Carle, allowing students to win copies of his popular collection of children’s books. Additionally, every online pledge results in a $1 donation to Feeding America programs that support families and children.
Look for recipes, tips and ideas on Instagram and Twitter using #PowerYourLunchbox, and learn more about the program at poweryourlunchbox.com.
Banana Sushi Rolls
Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids
- 1 large (8-inch) whole-wheat tortilla
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter, divided
- 1 banana, peeled
- 1 strawberry, sliced
- 1/2 kiwi, sliced
- 1 tablespoon shredded coconut
- Lay tortilla on flat surface. Spread with half of peanut butter. Place banana on one end of tortilla and roll up. Cut into even slices and place strawberries and kiwi slices on top.
- Microwave remaining peanut butter on high 30 seconds, or until melted, and drizzle over banana sushi. Top with shredded coconut.
Brown Bear Bento Box
Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids
- 1 tablespoon soy butter
- 3 graham cracker squares
- 3 banana slices
- 9 blueberries
- variety of colorful fruit, chopped
- Spread soy butter on graham crackers. Arrange banana slices and blueberries to create eyes and noses to resemble bear faces. In another container, add colorful fruit, such as raspberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, honeydew, blueberries and blackberries, to create a rainbow fruit salad.
Suggested Side: 1 tablespoon ranch dressing and three mini sweet peppers, sliced into strips.
Source: Produce for Kids
(Family Features) The busy pace of back-to-school schedules can make it feel like nearly every aspect of life has you under a time crunch. Fortunately, when it comes to feeding the family, there are some simple foods you likely already have on hand that can provide easy solutions for snacks and mealtime alike.
A go-to fruit like California grapes is a fresh staple you can depend on because they are always ripe and ready to eat when you buy them. While grapes are indeed ideal for snacking because they hold, store and travel well, this healthy and delicious fruit is also a simple addition to meals throughout the day. Grapes require minimal preparation, so they’re equally easy as a side dish or as a fun way to deliver the fresh produce factor in a wide range of family-friendly recipes, such as these Grape and Ricotta Pita Pizzas.
Tips like these show how you can easily incorporate grapes into every meal:
Breakfast: A cup of creamy yogurt and crunchy granola takes on a sweet note when topped with a handful of grapes. Slice or quarter grapes then mix well for a medley of textures and flavors in every bite.
Morning snack: Pair grapes with cheese and crackers for a sweet and savory snack to keep your energy strong and your hunger in check until lunchtime.
Lunch: A handful of grapes can balance out a sandwich and add some sweet indulgence to the midday meal.
After school: Grapes offer hydration and quick energy so they’re the perfect way to fuel up for after school sports or to lend some extra brain power for study time.
Dinnertime rush: Use grapes for an easy side dish that goes with anything. A quick meal like grilled cheese and grapes brings out the kid in everyone.
Evening snack: Toward the end of the day, cravings can creep up but keeping a bowl of fresh grapes on hand for after dinner snacking helps avoid alternative salty, highly processed choices.
Find more great ideas for enjoying grapes throughout the day at grapesfromcalifornia.com.
Grape and Ricotta Pita Pizzas
- 2 whole-wheat pita pocket breads (about 6 inches in diameter)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, divided
- 1 cup seedless red or black California grapes, thinly sliced or halved
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 6 large or 12 small fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
- Heat oven to 450° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Slice pita pockets in half so each forms two rounds, creating four rounds total. Place pita rounds on baking sheets cut-side up and brush top of each with oil.
- Spread 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese on each pita, leaving about 1/2-inch border around edges then arrange sliced grapes in single layer on top of cheese. Bake until edges are crisped and cheese is warmed, 5-7 minutes.
- In small bowl, stir together honey and lemon juice until honey is dissolved.
- When pizzas are done, drizzle each with about 1/2 teaspoon honey-lemon mixture. Sprinkle basil on top of pizzas. Serve immediately.