(Family Features) Most parents know the first few weeks of school season and new daily routines can be hectic. From stocking up on school supplies to finishing up homework, there's few unused minutes in the day.
One thing that's particularly easy to forget in the mad dash to catch the bus or make it to morning drop-off is a well-balanced, protein-packed breakfast. According to a No Kid Hungry study, when students have a balanced breakfast in the morning, they are more likely to attend school and perform better on standardized tests.
Start the school year off right by giving your kids a breakfast they'll love that also provides the protein they need to kick-start their day. Recipes like Simple Ham and Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches or Baked Eggs in Avocado can be ready in minutes and provide fuel long past the first morning school bell.
As a simple time-saver, Smithfield offers pre-diced, cubed and sliced ham that can make breakfast a breeze any day of the week. Incorporate it into a simple breakfast sandwich for a protein boost you can enjoy on-the-go. Served crispy or chewy depending on your preference, Thick Cut Bacon also puts a savory spin on nearly any breakfast plate, whether paired with eggs and avocado or a simple side of toast.
For more information and breakfast ideas, visit smithfield.com.
Simple Ham and Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 8 frozen prepared waffles, toasted
- 8 ounces Smithfield Anytime Favorites Quarter Boneless Sliced Ham, any flavor
- 4 large eggs
- 4 slices cheddar or American cheese
- maple syrup (optional)
- Prepare waffles according to package directions; keep warm.
- In nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook ham slices until lightly browned, about 30 seconds per side; keep warm. In same skillet over medium heat, fry eggs until desired doneness.
- Lay out four waffles and top each with sliced cheese, ham and fried egg, topping with remaining waffles to finish. Serve warm with maple syrup, if desired.
Tip: Try spreading fruit jam on your sandwich for a change of pace.
Baked Eggs in Avocado
Cook time: 10 minutes
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 3 large avocados
- 6 eggs
- 4 strips Smithfield Thick Cut Bacon, diced and cooked until crispy
- 1 cup blue cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- Heat oven to 450 F. Spray baking sheet or glass baking pan with cooking spray. Cut avocados in half. Scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of avocado to create well for eggs. Place avocados flesh-side up on prepared baking sheet or glass pan.
- Gently crack one egg in each avocado well, making sure to keep yolk intact. Bake 10 minutes, or until eggs reach desired temperature. Remove.
- Top with bacon pieces, blue cheese and cilantro.
(Family Features) When the school bells start ringing, putting wholesome and tasty family dinners on the table can get a lot harder to schedule. These simple, seasonal recipes – from one-pot taco skillets to sheet pan pork tenderloin – can help you own the school-year dinner routine.
Fall Skillet Pot Pie
Store-bought rotisserie chicken, refrigerated biscuits and an oven-proof skillet can make this comfort food favorite a weeknight reality. Chicken stock mixed with a blend of seasonings adds savory richness to the sweet potatoes and peas for a meal that warms you inside and out.
Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Lo Mein
This dish features everything you love about the Asian take-out favorite – carrots, bell pepper and shrimp – all flavored with a savory mixture of soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Using the microwave to cook the squash means you’ll have it on the table for your family in no time.
Open-Faced Hot Turkey Sandwiches
Prepared turkey gravy makes this a sandwich you can really sink your teeth into. Stack your bread with spinach, turkey and cranberry sauce and serve it warm for a taste of Thanksgiving any time of year.
Easy Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Apples
Brush pork with brown sugar and a robust blend of seasonings for a meal that’s equal parts sweet and savory. Bake on a single sheet pan with sliced apples and onions for an easy dinner in no time.
Chicken and Vegetable Lo Mein
Simply combine noodles, fresh veggies, chicken breast strips and a tangy stir-fry sauce. You’ll be left with an Asian-inspired dish that’s ready faster than you could order in a restaurant and every bit as tasty.
Slow Cooker Korean Beef
Make everybody’s favorite Korean barbecue at home – in the slow cooker. Beef bone broth contributes to the robust, Asian-inspired flavor of this dish, and is complemented by ginger and Korean red pepper.
Quinoa Taco Skillet
Give taco night a wholesome twist with this simple skillet dish. Season ground turkey, quinoa, fresh tomatoes and corn with taco seasoning mix for a kid-friendly meal the whole family will taco-bout.
(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.
(Family Features) Most families are looking for ways to spend more time together, but managing the family schedule can be a daunting task, especially with the additions of nightly homework and extracurricular activities a new school year brings.
Hectic weeknight schedules during back-to-school season don’t need to get in the way of quality time spent around the dinner table with these simple tips for enjoying dinner together.
Designate a time. Write dinner time on a calendar in the kitchen so every family member is aware of this special time and can look forward to sitting down together. Even if your schedule is overwhelming, pick a specific day each week and block out time to have a meal as a family.
Rely on foods rooted in tradition. Experimenting with recipes can add quick and easy new favorites to the family meal repertoire like Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs, a modern twist on the nostalgic family classic. As food trends come and go, RAGÚ continues to be a culinary staple for family meals. For 80 years, RAGÚ has gathered families at the table to celebrate the tradition of creating memories around a mouthwatering meal. Whether that’s a new take on ravioli or a family-favorite pasta dish, families can count on serving up delicious pasta sauces rich with bold, Italian flavors and vine-ripened tomatoes.
Create rituals. To build a tradition in the kitchen, try involving the whole family by showing your kids age-appropriate ways to contribute to their favorite meal. Let them measure ingredients to create better-for-you turkey meatballs, carry ingredients from one place to another, mix and pour ingredients, and set the table. Creating a ritual of cooking a favorite back-to-school meal with your kids is a good way to help them build healthy habits and skills that will last a lifetime.
Step away from your cell phone. Designate dinnertime as a no-cellphone zone. Leave your mobile devices in another room to allow for time to reconnect with your loved ones and be fully present.
Create fun dinner table topics. Making the table a fun place to be is the best strategy for getting your family to dinner and keeping them at the table longer. Make a game out of sharing the best parts of your day with each other. This can be a great way to laugh together as well as an opportunity to offer much-needed advice and support.
Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 10 ounces spaghetti
- 1 pound (85 percent lean) ground turkey
- 1/2 cup Italian-seasoned, dry bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3/4 cup water, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 jar RAGÚ Homestyle Thick and Hearty Traditional Sauce
- Cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt; keep warm.
- Combine turkey, bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, egg, 1/4 cup water and salt. Shape mixture into 25 (1 1/4-inch) meatballs.
- In large, nonstick saute pan on medium heat, heat olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. Add sauce and remaining water once garlic is golden.
- Arrange meatballs in sauce; cover and cook 10 minutes, or until cooked through (165° F), stirring occasionally. Serve with cooked spaghetti and additional Parmesan, if desired.
Tip: Use a small ice cream scoop or melon baller to easily make evenly sized meatballs.
How a breakfast with milk can help lead the way to academic success
(Family Features) As kids get ready to start a new school year, moms are also getting back into the swing of a morning routine. One thing that can’t be missed? A complete breakfast! Research shows eating breakfast helps kids concentrate and focus at school, giving moms good reason to serve up balanced nutrition before that first morning bell.
This back-to-school season, start the day off strong and pair your little one’s breakfast with a glass of milk. An 8-ounce glass of milk gives kids 8 grams of high-quality protein plus other essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D to the morning meal.
Most days, finding time for a balanced breakfast may be easier said than done. One way to help alleviate the morning rush is to make breakfast ahead of time, so it’s ready to go before sending kids off to school. These make-ahead Protein-Packed Eggs in a Nest are simple and fun to make. Served with an 8-ounce glass of milk, they make for a delicious breakfast to help start everyone’s school day off right.
Find more nutritious recipes to pair with milk at milklife.com.
Protein-Packed Eggs in a Nest
Servings: 6 (2 nests per serving)
- Nonstick olive oil spray
- 4 cups frozen shredded potatoes, defrosted
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/4 cup fat free milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/3 cup cooked, lean ground turkey sausage, crumbled
- 1/3 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 1/3 cup tomatoes, chopped
- 1/3 cup part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Heat oven to 400° F and spray 12-well muffin tin with nonstick olive oil spray.
- Place a scoop of shredded potatoes into each muffin hole, pressing around edges to create “nest”. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove pan from oven and using spoon, gently press any fallen potatoes back up against sides of each muffin hole. Turn oven down to 350° F.
- In a bowl, add eggs, egg whites, 1/4 cup milk, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and place in fridge while preparing green pepper, tomatoes or additional vegetables.
- Stir cooked meat and vegetables into the bowl with egg mixture and pour equally between all “nests.” Sprinkle a pinch of cheese over each nest. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until egg is set.
- Remove from oven and serve with remaining 8-ounce glass of milk.
Note: Nests can also be stored in airtight bags in fridge once cool for 3-4 days, and be reheated for an on the go breakfast.
Nutritional information per serving: 200 calories; 4.5 g fat; 1.5 g saturated fat; 105 mg cholesterol; 17 g protein; 23 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 510 mg sodium; 381 mg calcium (40% of daily value). Nutrition figures based on using fat free milk, and include an 8-ounce glass of fat free milk.