(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) Americans are snacking more and more these days, with the average person consuming 25 percent of daily calories in the form of snacks. This school year, aim for an A-plus in nutrition by snacking smarter on nutrient-rich dairy products.
Snacking goes hand-in-hand with dairy products since they are a tasty, convenient and cost-effective way to fuel up throughout the day. There are a variety of grab-and-go milk, cheese and yogurt products that provide portable nutrition.
What’s more, dairy packs a nutritious punch. Together, milk, cheese and yogurt provide nine essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, an important nutrient to include in snacks since it helps you feel fuller longer.
Boost your snacking IQ with these smart tips:
- Add dairy to your favorite treats for a well-rounded snack. Pair cheese sticks with fresh fruit, such as an apple, pear or grapes. Reach for cheese cubes and whole-grain crackers when you want something savory. Or dip strawberries in yogurt for a tasty, sweet treat. For a kid-friendly snack, make it hands-on fun by creating colorful fruit and cheese kabobs.
- Flavored milk provides the same nine essential nutrients as unflavored milk. The only difference is the addition of flavorings and minimal amounts of sugar, which can lead to improved consumption, especially among children.
- Whip up a dairy-based smoothie made for an on-the-go snack or create your own yogurt parfait, such as this flavorful recipe that combines favorites like peanut butter and bananas in a deliciously refreshing treat.
For more tips and recipes to help you snack smarter, and for stories about dairy farm families and where dairy foods come from, visit MidwestDairy.com.
Peanut Butter Banana Crunch Yogurt Parfait
Recipe courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Council
Prep time: 10 minutes
- 1 cup nonfat, light vanilla yogurt
- 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
- 4 pretzel twists, crumbled (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 banana, sliced
- In small bowl, mix yogurt and peanut butter together. In separate bowl, toss walnuts and pretzels together.
- In tall glass, build parfait. Layer 1/2 cup yogurt, half of banana slices and 1 tablespoon of walnut/pretzel mixture. Repeat layers. Serve immediately.
Rainbow Fruit and Cheese Kabobs
Recipe courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Council
Prep time: 15 minutes
- 8 wooden skewers
- 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 18 cubes
- 1/2 cup strawberries, halved
- 1/2 cup cantaloupe, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup pineapple, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 kiwi, peeled and cut into 6 pieces
- 1/4 cup blueberries
- 6 purple grapes
- Thread each skewer with one piece of cheese, one strawberry half, one cantaloupe cube, one pineapple cube, another piece of cheese, one piece of kiwi, two blueberries, one grape and another piece of cheese. Repeat pattern with remaining skewers.
(Family Features) Eating for heart health is actually easier — and more delicious — than you might think. When you have a good plan and plenty of mouthwatering recipes, you’ll enjoy taking care of your heart.
According to the FDA, diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Here are some tips to help you make these kinds of heart-smart choices:
- Choose leaner cuts of meat. You can find plenty of delicious options such as skinless chicken, lean pork and beef. And you can make smart substitutions, too — use ground turkey instead of ground beef to make meatloaf or burgers even leaner.
- Add fruits and veggies to every meal. Strawberries in yogurt, blueberries on a salad, carrots and hummus as a snack, roasted sweet potatoes with dinner — it’s easier than you think to add nutrient-dense produce to your diet. Eat plenty of different colored produce for variety and a wider range of health benefits.
- Enjoy more whole grains. Whole grains add carbohydrates for energy, fiber to fill you up, and nutrients important for good health. And, according to a recent national survey, 4 out of 5 doctors recommend Post Shredded Wheat as part of a healthy, low-sodium diet, to maintain a healthy heart, reduce the risk of heart disease, and support healthy blood pressure levels.
These recipes are a great start to adding more whole grains — and they’re so good, you might forget they are heart smart. Get more tips and heart-smart recipes at www.PostShreddedWheat.com.
Total Time: 65 minutes
Makes: 6 servings
- 5 cups peeled apple slices
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon tapioca
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups Post Original Shredded Wheat Spoon Size Cereal, finely crushed
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine, melted
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Mix apples, 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, tapioca and cinnamon in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes.
- To make topping: stir crushed cereal, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and margarine in medium bowl until well blended.
- Spread apple mixture in ungreased 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with cereal topping.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until topping is browned and apples are tender when pierced with fork.
Total Time: 75 minutes
Makes: 12 servings
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 3 biscuits Post Original Shredded Wheat Cereal, crushed
- 1 can (8 ounces) stewed tomatoes, undrained
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Beat eggs and milk in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Add remaining ingredients; mix well.
- Shape meat mixture into oval loaf in shallow baking pan.
- Bake 1 hour or until cooked through (160°F).
Variation: Prepare as directed, using fat-free milk and substituting 1/2 cup cholesterol-free egg product for the eggs and 2 pounds thawed frozen ground turkey for the ground beef.
Grab ’n Go Peanut Butter Bars
Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 16 servings (1 bar per serving)
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup reduced fat peanut butter
- 3 cups Post Original Shredded Wheat Spoon Size Cereal, coarsely crushed
- 3/4 cup raisins
- Mix sugar, honey and peanut butter in large microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until bubbly at edge; stir until well blended.
- Stir in cereal and raisins.
- Press firmly into 8-inch square pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into bars.
- Store in airtight container.
Take Along Tip: After completely cooled, wrap bars individually in plastic wrap. Leave in bowl on kitchen counter for a great grab-and-go snack.
Total Time: 65 minutes
Makes: 16 servings (1 slice per serving)
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1 cup Post Original Shredded Wheat Spoon Size Cereal, finely crushed
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup fat-free milk
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, cereal, spice, baking powder and baking soda in medium bowl; set aside.
- Beat sugar and margarine in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs; mix well. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Blend in bananas.
- Pour into greased 9x5-inch loaf pan. Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on wire rack; remove from pan.
- Cool completely.
Special Extra: Toast the bread slices and top each with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate sorbet and a drizzle of strawberry sauce for a different kind of banana split.
Source: Post Foods, LLC
(Family Features) School means a return to packing lunches and preparing after-school snacks. Make this school year fun with a new collection of easy-to-make snack recipes from the National Honey Board.
Instead of giving your kids the same boring sandwich, jazz up their lunch box and snacks with a few easy tips:
Update a classic
Honey gives a new twist to an old favorite. Try a PB&H by switching out the jelly for honey, and this sandwich will be a new lunch box staple.
Wrap, roll and skewer
Wrap fixings in a tortilla for a handy “to go” snack. Cut sandwiches into small, flattened, crustless squares; spread bread with honey and chopped fruit, and roll into kid-friendly rolls or fashion them into kabobs.
Prepare for snack attacks
Make a double batch of snacks and keep them on hand when hungry bellies come calling. Honey-sweetened granola bars stay fresh in tightly sealed containers and banana pops store perfectly in the freezer. Honey is also a natural preservative that will keep your snacks extra fresh.
Customize to fit cravings
Snack time is more fun with your favorite and colorful toppings. Roll a banana pop in graham cracker crumbs, dried fruit or coconut for a fun, individualized sweet treat.
Reach for a quick dip
Eating fruit is twice as fun with a naturally sweetened dip. Keep individual serving-sized packages of honey fruit dip in the refrigerator where it’s ready to grab and go.
Add energy and brainpower to your kid’s school day with good-for-you snacks made with pure honey. Honey is a great all-natural sweetener with no added ingredients. Read the label to make sure you purchase 100 percent, pure honey.
The National Honey Board provides a full collection of snack recipes and tips in the Honey Snack Recipe Brochure, complete with colorful photography. To receive a free copy of the brochure, visit www.honey.com or send your mailing address to Pure Honey Snacks Brochure, P.O. Box 14636, Madison, WI 53708-0636.
For more recipes using pure honey, or to find out more about the benefits of using honey, visit www.honey.com. To find a local honey producer or special honey variety, visit www.honeylocator.com.
Peanut Butter & Honey Roll-Ups
Makes 2 servings
- 4 slices wheat bread
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds or walnuts)
- 1/4 cup strawberries, finely diced
- 4 skewers (optional)
- Additional fresh fruit such as kiwi, strawberries, grapes or pineapple (optional)
- Trim crusts from bread. Gently press bread or flatten with a rolling pin. Spread each slice with 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 2 tablespoons honey. Sprinkle 2 bread slices with 1 tablespoon nuts each. Sprinkle remaining slices with strawberries.
- Cut each slice in half. Firmly roll up each slice and serve, or thread the roll-ups and fruit onto skewers and serve as kabobs.
Honey Cherry Granola Bars
Makes 12 to 16 bars
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 3 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
- 3 cups low-fat granola
- 1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup dried cherries
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together honey, butter, egg whites, cinnamon and almond flavoring. Stir in granola, almonds and cherries. Spoon granola mixture into a 9-inch nonstick (or well-greased) square pan. Using a piece of wax paper, firmly press granola mixture in pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove pan from oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool completely; cut into bars.
Frozen Honey Banana Pops
Makes 8 pops
- 4 just-ripe bananas, peeled
- 8 craft sticks
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1-1/3 cups finely chopped nuts, coconut, carob chips, dried fruit, graham cracker crumbs, etc.
- Cut bananas in half cross-wise. Insert a craft stick into each cut end. Freeze for at least 30 minutes on a wax paper-lined tray.
- Meanwhile, spread desired toppings onto separate plates. Spoon about 1 tablespoon honey over each slightly frozen banana, rotating and smoothing honey with back of spoon to coat all sides. Roll banana in desired topping until coated on all sides, pressing with fingertips to help toppings adhere. Return pop to wax paper-lined tray and repeat with remaining bananas.
- Freeze pops 15 minutes or more to set toppings. Serve.
Source: National Honey Board
Fluffy Peanut Butter Pie
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Makes one (9-inch) pie
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- 2 cups finely crushed crème-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 20 cookies)
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter
- 1 (14-ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (1/2 pint) whipping cream, whipped
- In small saucepan, melt butter; stir in cookie crumbs. Press crumb mixture firmly on bottom and sides of 9-inch pie plate; chill while preparing filling.
- In large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy; add peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk, beating until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla; fold in whipped cream.
- Pour into crust. Chill 4 hours or until set. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.
Boost every moment with versatile peanut butter
(Family Features) Whether you’re a fitness junkie, busy parent, sleep-deprived student or diehard sweet tooth, peanut butter is an ingredient that sticks for all of life’s moments. With a healthy boost of protein and energy, peanut butter is perfect as an on-the-go snack, fuel for a workout, a reliable family meal or a decadent dessert.
There’s no shortage of delicious ways to pack peanut butter into diverse dishes throughout the day:
- Add peanut butter to your favorite fruit smoothie for a nutty new flavor.
- Encourage children to experiment with the essential spread and go beyond PB and J by replacing fruit for the jelly or stirring peanut butter or peanut butter powder into their yogurt.
- A simple peanut butter and honey sandwich makes a great on-the-go snack you can throw in your gym bag or tuck away in a drawer at work.
- Add peanut butter to a sauce or salad dressing for an extra zip of flavor and protein.
Find more creative ways to enjoy peanut butter with these winning recipes from Southern Peanut Growers’ annual PB My Way recipe contest, and explore additional dishes that celebrate this versatile ingredient at peanutbutterlovers.com.
Veggie Sammies with Peanut Butter Satay Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Ben M., San Francisco, California
- 4 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sriracha
- 2 French baguette rolls (6 inches each)
- 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
- 1/2 cup white onion
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup purple cabbage
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- In small bowl, combine peanut butter, lime juice, water, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and sriracha. Mix well.
- Spread sauce on both sides of bread then layer with cucumber, onion and bell pepper. Top with cabbage and cilantro leaves.
Graceland Mini Cupcakes
Recipe courtesy of Linda D., Coconut Creek, Florida
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large egg white, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Peanut Butter Filling:
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 4 slices bacon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners and lightly spray with cooking spray.
- To make batter: In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine and set aside.
- In small bowl, mash bananas and add sour cream. Mix well and set aside.
- Using electric hand mixer, beat butter, oil and sugar until incorporated, about 3-5 minutes. Add eggs, egg white and vanilla. Mix until combined. Slowly add half the dry ingredients and mix until almost incorporated. Add sour cream and banana mixture and gently fold into batter. Add rest of dry ingredients until combined.
- Spoon batter into lined cupcake pans. Bake 18-20 minutes and let cool.
- After cooling about 30-45 minutes, use paring knife to cut small circle in middle of top of cupcakes and remove plug, creating a well about halfway down cupcake. Add peanut butter to piping bag and fill each hole. Set aside.
- In medium bowl, dredge both sides of bacon slices in brown sugar. Place on foil-lined baking sheet; bake 10 minutes. Flip and bake another 6-8 minutes. Remove bacon from oven and place on plate to cool. Once cool, chop bacon and set aside.
- To make frosting: In large bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until well-combined.
- Add frosting to piping bag. Pipe a dollop of frosting onto each cupcake and sprinkle with candied bacon pieces.
Peanut Apple Chicken Curry
Recipe courtesy of Jess A., Berkeley, California
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 3/4 cups apple juice
- 1 3/4 cups coconut milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch strips
- 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- cooked rice (optional)
- To make sauce: In medium to large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, curry powder and scallions. Saute 1 minute.
- Add peanut butter, vinegar, apple juice, coconut milk, brown sugar and cayenne. Bring to simmer, reduce heat and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, about 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat oil. Add onion and stir fry about 2-3 minutes until onions start to become opaque.
- Add chicken and apples, and stir until chicken is cooked completely. Add peanut sauce and cook until heated evenly, about 2-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm over rice, if desired.
Source: Peanut Growers
- 2 Mission Small / Fajita Flour Tortillas
- 4 tablespoons Jif Creamy Peanut Butter
- 2 tablespoons Smucker's Strawberry Jam, Jelly, or Preserves
- 2 bananas, peeled
- Place tortillas on a paper towel and microwave for 10 seconds.
- Spread 2 tablespoons peanut butter on each tortilla. Add 1 tablespoon jelly to each tortilla.
- Place the banana near the edge of the tortilla and fold up the ends of the tortilla. Roll-up and enjoy!
SOURCE: Mission Foods
- 4 (9-inch) whole wheat tortillas
- 6 tablespoons smooth peanut butter or reduced-fat cream cheese
- 1 cup fresh spinach or torn romaine leaves
- 1 large stalk celery, cut into thin 3- to 4-inch sticks (12 sticks total)
- 1/2 cup carrots, shredded or matchstick
- 1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt or low-fat ranch dressing (optional)
- Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter or reduced-fat cream cheese on each tortilla, leaving 1 inch of clean space at the top edge of each tortilla. Layer spinach leaves on top of peanut butter. Place three celery sticks across the middle on top of the spinach; sprinkle with shredded carrot.
- Keeping the clean edge at the top, roll tortillas up tightly from the bottom, folding in the sides after the first roll. Wrap each burrito tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove plastic wrap. Cut each roll into 1/2-inch slices, inserting a toothpick into the burrito before each cut is made.
- Serve with yogurt or ranch dressing.
Yields 4 servings - Serving size 1 tortilla roll-up
Source Wheat Foods Council