{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

10 Super Quick, Super Healthy Kid-Friendly Dinners

1.png

Easy recipes to get your whole family eating well.

Eating well should not be an unattainable fantasy for you and your family. These recipes from the Trim Healthy Table cookbook take the traditional meals you and your family already love, and make them healthier. They will help you reach your goal of staying fit as well as improve the overall well-being of your family. Never assume you are too busy to make health a priority. The tips and tricks in these meals make it simple, and help you take baby steps to living a healthier lifestyle.

Deconstructed Fajitas

Feeds 6 To 8 (Halve if your family is smaller, or make full and freeze half.)

This is such a quick no-brainer for busy nights when you need dinner on the table in ten minutes. We enjoy this on dinner plates over a bunch of cut lettuce, but if you prefer you can stuff into low-carb tortillas.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter 1 large onion and 2 to 3 green or red peppers, sliced
4 to 6 cups sliced precooked chicken breast
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional for heat lovers)

1 teaspoon Mineral Salt
1 teaspoon paprika (smoked or regular)
2 fresh tomatoes, sliced, or 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced, re-roasted tomatoes, drained Lots of cut lettuce (e.g., a couple hearts of romaine at least) 
Greek yogurt Sour cream
 Sliced avocado Grated cheese Brown rice or quinoa

Directions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil. Add the peppers and onions, tossing frequently for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the chicken, sprinkle on the chili powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne (if using), salt, and paprika, and toss with the veggies for a couple more minutes. Add the tomatoes. Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.

  2. Serve on generous beds of lettuce and add toppings according to which fuel you decide on.

Black Pepper Chicken

 

Quick, Healthy, Kid-friendly Dinners

 

Who wouldn’t love healthy Chinese takeout?

Trim Healthy Table

Feeds 6 To 8 (Halve if your family is smaller, or make full and freeze half.)

Think Chinese takeout, but ultra-healthy and made in a jiffy! Here’s a time-saving tip—the night before, or the morning of, you can put the chicken in the marinade in a gallon-size baggie and refrigerate so it is all ready to go right before dinnertime. While you are at it, you may want to make double the amount of chicken and marinade. Put one of the bags in the freezer for a no-think, no-fuss dinner another night.

Ingredients

2 1⁄2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, thawed if frozen, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces (easily done with kitchen scissors)
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder
21⁄2 teaspoons black pepper, or
 3 teaspoons if you like more heat
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
4 tablespoons coconut oil

1 onion, sliced
 6 celery stalks, finely sliced

1⁄2 large head cabbage, finely sliced, or 1 (16-ounce) bag pre-sliced cabbage or coleslaw

Directions

  1. Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and add 1⁄4 cup of the soy sauce, the ginger, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and vinegar. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes or so while you chop the vegetables (or do as described above and start marinating the night before or in the morning).

  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once hot, add the marinated chicken. Allow the chicken to cook for a couple minutes on one side, then toss periodically in the hot oil for 3 to 4 more minutes or until just done. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

  3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons coconut oil and all the veggies to the skillet. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce and toss the veggies for 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly wilted but still a bit crispy. Return the chicken to the pan, toss through and serve.

World’s Laziest Lasagna Skillet

 

Quick, Healthy, Kid-friendly Dinners

 

Any recipe with ‘lazy’ in the title is bound to be perfect for busy weeknights.

Trim Healthy Table

Feeds 6 To 8 (Halve if your family is smaller, or make full and freeze half)

We gave you Lazy Lasagna, one of the most popular recipes in Trim Healthy Mama cookbook, but now we have an even lazier version. No baking time—just throw it all in your skillet, then scoop into your mouth. Kids love this, too, and it makes sure they get a good dose of healthy greens in their dinner!

Ingredients

2 pounds ground beef, turkey, or venison, thawed if frozen
20 ounces no-sugar-added pizza or spaghetti sauce
11⁄2 tablespoons dried oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon Mineral Salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 to 2 doonks Pure Stevia Extract Powder
16 ounces fresh spinach

1 (8-ounce) package 1⁄3 less fat cream cheese

1 (14-ounce) container 1% cottage cheese

8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated

Directions

  1. Brown the meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then drain off any excess fat.

  2. Add the pizza sauce, oregano, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, and stevia powder (if using). Add the spinach (you may need to add half the spinach, stir until it wilts a little, then add the rest). Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer.

  3. Place the cream cheese and cottage cheese in a food processor and process until smooth. Add to the skillet. Allow all the ingredients to simmer a few more minutes, then you’re done.

  4. Top each plate with grated mozzarella.

Sesame Lo Mein

 

Quick, Healthy, Kid-friendly Dinners

 

Carbs you can feel good about.

Trim Healthy Table

Feeds 6 To 8 (Halve if your family is smaller, but do not freeze, as Konjac noodles don’t freeze well.)

Load your plate high with scrumptious noodles and slim down! Bet nobody has told you that before. Before you even have time to make a phone call for Chinese takeout, you can have this deliciousness ready for your table within 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll save time and you’ll save your waistline! We use two kinds of noodles in this dish for double the slimming power. It has konjac-based noodles, which are so fat-blasting and wonderful, and zucchini or yellow squash noodles, which we call “Troodles.” If you are not yet a fan of konjac-based noodles, you can use all Troodles, just double up on the zucchini.

Ingredients

2 teaspoons butter or coconut oil
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups of any chopped veggies you have lying around such as onion, red bell peppers, zucchini, radishes, and carrots; you can also include a few tablespoons frozen peas
3 single-serve bags konjac noodles, such as our Trim Healthy Noodles or Not Naughty Noodles, well rinsed and drained
1 to 2 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast (optional)
1⁄4 cup soy sauce, or a few good squirts Bragg liquid aminos or coconut aminos
Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to taste
2 to 4 medium zucchini or yellow squash, spiralized into Troodles (zucchini noodles)
4 large eggs
2 to 3 cups precooked or canned meat, such as diced chicken breast, salmon, or ground meat
3 to 4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 to 4 green onions (optional), diced

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and toss in the butter for about a minute. Add the seasoning blend or chopped veggies and toss for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened. If using frozen veggies, toss on high.

  2. Add the Trim Healthy Noodles or Not Naughty Noodles to the pan, increase the heat to high, and stir with a fork as they cook. While they are cooking, add the nutritional yeast (if using), soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. Toss them over high heat for a couple minutes, then add the Troodles and allow to cook for few minutes, tossing well. At first you think there are too many Troodles … have faith, they will wilt.

  3. Push the noodles and veggies to one side of your skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and crack the eggs into the skillet. Stir and cut the eggs with your spatula, flip a few times while they cook, then toss them with all the other ingredients in the skillet. Add your precooked protein, continuing to heat the ingredients until the meat is warmed through. Top with the sesame oil and green onions (if using). Stir and lift the noodles so that they get coated with the sesame oil. Taste, then add more soy sauce, pepper, or other favorite Asian seasoning until it makes you say “Yeah Baby!”

Chicken, Broccoli, Mushroom Stir-Fry

 

Quick, Healthy, Kid-friendly Dinners

 

Make your life easier by preparing the sauce in advance.

Trim Healthy Table

Feeds 6 To 8 (Halve if your family is smaller, or make full and freeze half.)

Your house will smell as wondrous as a Japanese restaurant when you make this. Watch your family wolf it down, never knowing there is a healthy secret ingredient in the sauce (so long as you don’t tell!).

Ingredients

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup frozen diced okra

1⁄3 cup soy sauce, or several generous squirts Bragg liquid aminos

21⁄2 teaspoons Pure Stevia Extract Powder
1⁄2 teaspoon Gluccie
2 tablespoons coconut oil or sesame oil

21⁄2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thawed if frozen), cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces (quickest with kitchen scissors)
Mineral Salt and black pepper

3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

1 generous teaspoon finely grated or minced fresh ginger

2 (12-ounce) bags frozen broccoli, or fresh broccoli florets from a large head

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions

  1. Prepare the sauce in advance. Put the chicken broth, okra, soy sauce, sweetener, and Gluccie in a blender and blend on high until completely broken down … we mean blend the daylights out of it so no bits of okra are left.

  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, add them to the skillet, and cook for 4 minutes, turning once. Remove them from the pan and set aside.

  3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the garlic and ginger. Toss in the oil for about 30 seconds, then stir in the frozen broccoli. Increase the heat to medium-high, cover, and cook for about 2 1⁄2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, cover, and cook for another 21⁄2 minutes (if using fresh broccoli, add later with the mushrooms and cook without covering for several minutes, tossing often).

  4. Uncover, pour in the sauce, and cook on high for 5 to 6 more minutes, returning the chicken for the last 3 minutes and adding the pepper flakes (if using).

Save My Sanity Chili

 

Quick, Healthy, Kid-friendly Dinners

 

It’s all in the title of the recipe.

Trim Healthy Table

Feeds 6 To 8 (Halve if your family is smaller, or make full and freeze half.)

When life gets chaotic, this meal can come to your rescue. Throw it in the crockpot in the morning and you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that supper is taken care of (or make it in a jiffy in your pressure cooker). This tasty chili is a no-brainer since it saves you a whole prep step. Most chili recipes that call for ground meat ask you to brown the meat and onions first, but we know life can be crazy busy and sometimes that just might be the 10 to 15 minutes you don’t have! We don’t want you giving in and considering picking up drive-thru food because you don’t have time to cook. So no more excuses—extra steps are outta here! Throw all the ingredients in your trusty crockpot and come back in the evening to deliciousness! Now, let’s say your life is extra crazy and you forget to prepare your crockpot meal in the morning but you don’t have an electric pressure cooker. No worries—this can be made in a pot on the stove in about 30 minutes—just brown your meat and onions, add all the other ingredients, and let it bubble away.

Ingredients

2 pounds ultra-lean (96%) ground turkey or venison, thawed if frozen
2 (10- to 12-ounce) bags frozen small-cut vegetables, such as green and red bell peppers
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (10-ounce) can Rotel-style diced tomatoes and green chilies (hot, medium, or mild)

2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained

2 (15-ounce) cans white beans, such as cannellini or Great Northern, rinsed and drained

1 quart chicken broth

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

11⁄2 teaspoons Mineral Salt

1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, depending on your heat preference)

Directions

  1. Place the meat in the bottom of a crockpot and break up with a fork to spread around the bottom of the crock. Add all the other ingredients and mix well.

  2. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours. Once the chili is ready, break up any larger chunks of meat.

ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER DIRECTIONS: Cook the meat on sauté mode, then add all the other ingredients. Seal and cook at low pressure for 10 minutes. Use the quick pressure release.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

 

Quick, Healthy, Kid-friendly Dinners

 

Original Frank’s hot sauce tastes delicious on anything and everything.

Trim Healthy Table

Feeds 6 To 8 (Halve if your family is smaller, or make full and freeze half.)

This is flavorful, hearty and so versatile! Please don’t be scared if you are not a spice lover. Just be sure to buy the original Frank’s hot sauce, not the “hot” kind. And if you’re still timid, pull back the amount of sauce to 1 or even 1⁄2 cup. That will give you a very mild heat level but still lots of flavor.

Ingredients

21⁄2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, thawed if frozen
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) butter

11⁄4 cups Frank’s original hot sauce (reduce if you don’t like heat)
1 (10- to 12-ounce) bag frozen small-cut veggies
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder

1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder

1⁄2 teaspoon Mineral Salt

1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper

1⁄2 cup sour cream (optional)

Directions

  1. Put the seasoning blend at the bottom of a slow cooker. Add all the other ingredients except for the sour cream. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Shred the chicken with 2 forks (it will fall apart easily). If using sour cream, stir it in well.

ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER DIRECTIONS: Add all the ingredients except the sour cream to a pressure cooker. Seal and cook at high pressure for 12 minutes. Use natural pressure release for at least 10 minutes, followed by quick pressure release. Stir in the sour cream and shred the chicken.

NOTE: When wrapping or stuffing this into lettuce or tortillas, use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the chicken from the slow cooker and try not to get too much of the broth so it won’t be too messy.

Succulent Barbacoa Beef

 

Quick, Healthy, Kid-friendly Dinners

 

Bring Chipotle-style bowls to your kitchen table.

Trim Healthy Table

Feeds 6 To 8 (Halve if your family is smaller, or make full and freeze half.)

We love Chipotle restaurants—so easy to stay on plan there using their bowl option. We love ordering their barbacoa beef or chicken, including the sautéed veggies, and putting it all over lettuce and salsa, then topping with lots of guac and a sprinkle of cheese. Mmmm … Amazing! Or sometimes we add some brown rice and beans. You can make something similar to their succulent beef (our very favorite menu item there) at home. Here is our version.

Ingredients

2 1⁄2 to 3 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into thirds
1 onion, cut into chunks

1 to 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce from a can (using 3 is lovely and spicy, but if you don’t like a whole lot of spice, pull back to 1 or 2 and rinse the sauce off a little)
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons lime juice (fresh or bottled)

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3⁄4 cup water or beef broth

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

11⁄2 teaspoons Mineral Salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Place the beef in the bottom of a slow cooker. Put all the other ingredients in a blender and blend well. Pour the contents of the blender over the beef. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. Break the beef apart once cooked … you don’t have to completely shred, but pulling most of it apart allows it to drink up all the delicious juices.

ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER DIRECTIONS: Coat the pressure cooker pot with coconut oil spray and place all the ingredients in the pot, including the blended sauce. Seal and cook at high pressure for 50 minutes. Use natural pressure release.

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

 

Quick, Healthy, Kid-friendly Dinners

 

Cheesy noodles without the fat.

Trim Healthy Table

Feeds 6 to 8 (Halve if your family is smaller, but do not freeze, as Konjac noodles don’t freeze well.)

This is ooey-gooey, noodley, cheesy goodness. Regular white noodles when mixed with cheese are one of the most fattening and health-destroying foods on this planet. Konjac noodles, such as our Trim Healthy or Not Naughty noodles, allow you to enjoy that oh-so-magnificent combination of cheese and noodles without widening your waistline.

Ingredients

4 single-serve bags of konjac noddles, such as out Trim Healthy Noodles or Not Naughty Noodles, well rinsed and drained
5 cups diced cooked chicken breast, or diced rotisserie chicken
1 (10-ounce can) Rotel-style diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
11⁄2 (8-ounce) packages 1⁄3 less fat cream cheese
1⁄2 cup chicken broth

11⁄2 teaspoons Mineral Salt

1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder

3 cups (12 ounces) grated cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Snip the noodles a bit smaller with kitchen scissors so they are not too terribly long. Put the diced chicken, noodles, and diced tomatoes and chilies in a 9 × 13-inch baking dish.

  3. Put the cream cheese, broth, salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder in a blender and blend until smooth. Scrape the mixture into the baking dish using a spatula. Mix in 2 cups of the cheddar. Top with the remaining cheddar and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Broil for just a couple minutes at the end to make sure all the cheese is golden brown and bubbling, but watch it doesn’t burn.

Flaky Parmesan Tilapia

 

Quick, Healthy, Kid-friendly Dinners

 

An inexpensive way to try something new with your family.

Trim Healthy Table

Feeds 6 To 8 (Halve if your family is smaller)

This is a quick and easy way to include more fish in your life. There is only so much chicken and red meat you can eat, so please make room for fish! It is a wonderful, slimming part of a balanced-protein approach. This recipe is incredibly flaky and full of flavor, and it’s a great way to get your children to start liking fish. It need not be expensive, either. You can buy 2 pounds of frozen tilapia fillets from any landlocked grocery store inexpensively and thaw them before cooking. If you don’t like the idea of using tilapia, use any other thin white fish of your liking.

Ingredients

2 pounds tilapia or other thin white fish fillets, thawed if frozen
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) butter, melted
Black pepper

Red pepper flakes (optional)

3⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 

1⁄4 cup mayonnaise

2 heaping tablespoons Greek yogurt

3⁄4 teaspoon dried dill

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to a high broil.

  2. Rinse the fish and pat it dry. Place it in a single layer (no overlap) in an extra-large baking dish or 2 medium baking dishes. Pour the melted butter over the top and turn each fillet in the butter to coat well on both sides. Sprinkle lightly with black pepper and pepper flakes (if using).

  3. Combine the Parmesan, mayo, yogurt, and dill in a bowl and stir until a paste forms. Set aside.

  4. Put the fish on the second rack from the top of the oven and broil for 3 minutes.

  5. Remove from the oven, turn each piece over, and smear with some Parmesan paste to cover the top of the fish (easily done with a fork). Broil for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it’s bubbling and golden brown on the top and flaky in the middle.

 

This article was written by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

6 Healthy Foods You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen

Zz05YzM5ZWUyNjcyZGIxMWU4YTY0MjBhODdkMDdiZTNhZQ==.jpg

We all know how to eat healthy — fruits, vegetables, protein — but actually doing it can feel overwhelming. To simplify things, it’s best to keep your kitchen stocked with a few essentials that you can reach for again and again.

While this isn’t a complete list of every healthy food on the planet, it’s a starter list of foods that can help you make simple changes to your meals and add more nutrients. Plus, they won’t require a trip to some top-secret specialty grocery store.

My advice? Take it one ingredient at a time and one meal at a time. So what if you crushed a bowl of cinnamon toast cereal for breakfast? Make a hearty salad for lunch and plan on scrambled eggs with a smoothie on the side for tomorrow’s breakfast.

1. Chickpeas

There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests ditching meat and eating more plant-based foods is critical for warding off disease. The critics then say, “No meat? How do I get my protein?” One answer: Chickpeas! They’re high in protein, packing 39 grams into each cup.

Try making: Skillet Chickpeas and Broccoli

2. Eggs

Eggs are packed with protein, vitamin D and vitamin B12, and one study in the journal Nutrition and Food Science actually found that yolks contain antioxidants, which are good for you as you age. But not all eggs are created equal. What hens eat affects the quality of eggs. For example, Eggland’s Best eggs have twice as much vitamin B12 and omega-3s, six times the amount of vitamin D and 25 percent less saturated fat than ordinary eggs, thanks to the all-vegetarian feed it gives its hens.

Try making: Smashed Eggs on Toast with Spring Herbs

3. Greens

Here’s something you’ve probably heard a million times: Eat more salad. True, salad is good — as long as it’s not doused in creamy, sugary dressing or made only with iceberg lettuce. And it’s not that iceberg lettuce is bad for you; it’s just that, well, there’s nothing to it. Instead, keep cabbage or other green-leaf lettuces on hand to chop up and add into premixed bags of salad where iceberg reigns supreme. Cabbage also makes a great, healthy garnish for tacos. And I’m just gonna say it: Kale chips are not the worst.

4. Lemons

Just one lemon has 50 percent of your daily intake of vitamin C. That said, you’re probably not exactly eager to bite into a lemon. Instead, squeeze the juice into hot water or green tea and incorporate the zest into your dinners. (It has flavor perks, too.)

5. Greek yogurt

Love guac and other creamy sauces and dressings? You can almost always sub in greek yogurt and ditch the mayo and sour cream without tasting a difference. Plus, if you’re on the plant-based train, it’s another good source of protein. Good source of protein? Check. Good for your gut? Check. Deserving of a place in your fridge? Definitely.

6. Bananas

Bananas don’t need an introduction for their health benefits, but did you know that low potassium (a star nutrient in the banana) and depression are closely linked? A 2008 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found a high-potassium diet can mitigate depression. So, in addition to being a sweet addition to smoothies and having a role as a tasty breakfast side, bananas can help keep your mood stable. Win.

This post is sponsored by Eggland’s Best.

 

This article was written by Catherine Conelly from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Road Trip Snacks That Won’t Make a Mess in Your Car (and the Snacks to Avoid)

Roadtrip 1.jpg

Keep fueled on your upcoming road trip with these relatively clean, easy-to-eat road trip snacks.

As the summer winds up, there might be a road trip somewhere in your future. Whether it’s just a couple of hours in the car on your way to grandma’s, a weekend away at a lakefront resort, or a week long cross-country journey, you’re surely going to need a backseat full of road trip snacks. And, unfortunately, good road trip snacks probably aren’t the first thing you’re thinking about when you’re planning for your trip—likely, they’re one of the last things you do before heading off, either stopping at the grocery store the night before you leave or, let’s be real, even when you’re already on your way!

But this year, we can all aim to do better and plan ahead to make sure you’ve packed the best road trip snacks possible. Thankfully, we’re here to do the heavy lifting for you (you’re the one that has to lug those heavy suitcases to the car, after all!). Here, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts in regards to good road trip snacks (because who wants to come home with a sticky backseat to deal with?), healthy road trip snacks to make, and of course, the best road trip snacks to buy (because you’re probably not going to be all packed the night before). Read on for your road trip survival guide:

Good Road Trip Snacks, Dos and Don’ts

Do: Pack individually portioned treats. The fact that you’re strapped into a moving vehicle makes passing handfuls or ripping off portions a little tenuous. Make things easier for everyone by separating snacks into individual zip-lock baggies or buying pre-portioned snacks in bulk.
Do: Bring two bags. Bring a cooler bag for things that should be kept chilled like sliced cheese, fruit, carrot sticks, sandwiches, drinks, and more. Your pantry bag can be filled with trail mix, cookies, crackers, etc. Keeping the two separate make sure that the dry pantry foods don’t get soggy from condensation or spills.
Do: Focus on dry foods. While you might have the aspirational urge to become a health guru on your road trip, it’s a good idea to stick to self-contained fruits like bananas, apples, and oranges. Although they do leave waste, they’re relatively clean compared to melons and berries, which are prone to dripping and leave behind a wetness that can expand outside of its container.
Don’t: Pack anything that could melt or spoil. It may feel like a no-brainer, but many yummy pre-packaged foods won’t last long without refrigeration. Instead of packing chicken salad or milk for the kids, just plan to make stops to pick up along the way. And while chocolate may seem like a fun treat, it melts quicker than you’d think—so keep it to a rest stop treat unless you want to deal with a sticky mess in your backseat.
Don’t: Pack foods that need utensils. Avoid a last minute lunch meltdown when you realized you forgot to pack forks or spoons and just plan to have everything edible by hand and bite-sized. Since you’re likely to be eating out of the packaging, these foods are logistically easier to eat than those that would need forks and knifes.
Don’t: Pack messy foods. Unless you’re planning on a full car detailing post-trip, stay away from foods like crumbly granola bars, croissants, cheese puffs, and quinoa. “Foods that make you brush off your pants while eating are a no go,” says Food Director, Dawn Perry. Additionally, you might want to stay away from things that come with shells like pistachios or peanuts
Do: Pack food in mason jars. Just because you’re driving doesn’t mean that you have to skip out on the road trip snacks. Fill up a mason jar that easily fits into a cup holder so the person at the wheel (or the trusty, hungry copilot) can snack along too.

Healthy Road Trip Snacks to Make

Trying to stay away from processed foods? Load up your cooler with these homemade healthy road trip snacks. From DIY Kind bars to addictive party mixes, these snacks will help the time roll by.

Kamut-Banana-Walnut Muffins
Break and Bake Kitchen Sink Cookies
Pizza Pretzel Nuggets
Cookies and Cream Crispy Treats
Honey Mustard Snack Mix
Nutty Superfood Breakfast Bites
No-Bake Lemon-Chia Bars

Best Road Trip Snacks to Buy

Planning on taking the “There’s No Way I Can Get Snacks in Order Before I Leave” route? No worries at all! There are plenty of delicious, healthy, and fun snack options to be found at the warehouse club, grocery store, or even gas station! Pick a couple of options from this Real Simple-editor approved list.

Oreos
Nuts
Water
Granola or nut bars
Grapes
Beef jerky (We tested more than 100 and these were our favorite jerkies!)
Cheese and crackers
Popcorn

 

This article was written by Liz Steelman from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 Quick Things to Make for Dinner When You’re Way Too Tired

dinner 1.jpg

After a long day, sometimes the last thing we want to do is cook. When you gotta eat but don’t want to resort to takeout, you need quick things to make for dinner at your fingertips. Whether you love to throw down in the kitchen or can’t tell a parsnip from a rutabaga, these quick recipes will help you get dinner on the table in a flash.

1. Get the family to eat their veggies with spaghetti and kale

dinner 2.jpg

Sneak veggies into a pasta dish. | iStock.com/VeselovaElena

Do your kids hate kale? They won’t when they meet it in this rich, garlicky pasta dish. Spaghetti Aglio e Olio adds a hearty helping of kale to pasta with garlic and olive oil, sprinkled with Parmesan for that umami hit. Don’t worry — the metric ton of kale will all cook down as it goes. As easy dinner ideas go, this one is simple and healthy.

2. These chicken tacos come with a shortcut

 

dinner 3.jpg

Use a rotisserie chicken. | iStock.com/amberleeknight

If you need to get dinner on the table pronto, forget about takeout. These easy chicken tacos will satisfy your cravings without the sodium bomb that comes in many fast food Mexican meals. Pick up a rotisserie chicken on the way home to make it even simpler, or grill up some chicken thighs. They’ll be done by the time you finish assembling the other ingredients.

3. Salmon and fennel salad is fresh and simple

dinner 3.jpg

Fish cooks quickly. | iStock/Getty Images

Think fish is too fancy for a Tuesday? Think again! Salmon roasts to perfection in under 15 minutes, making this one a regular in our quick things to make for dinner rotation. You can even spend that time tossing together this quick and healthy cucumber and fennel salad. Add a side of rye bread for a Nordic-inspired nosh. Want to make it even quicker? Make the salad the night before and let the flavors meld, then you can take a breather while the salmon finishes.

4. Indulge your inner child with baked chicken strips

dinner 4.jpg

It’s easier than you think. | fotyma/iStock/Getty Images

Once you try breading and baking your own chicken fingers, you will never go back to the frozen variety. Seasoning the panko breadcrumbs with lemon zest and herbs give them a nice zing, and mustard sauce on side makes for delicious dipping. Feel free to tone down the spice to make them more kid-friendly, or play with the profile to fit your preferences. Make a big batch: This easy dinner idea will keep for awhile in the refrigerator.

5. 1-pot cheesy tortellini saves time at the sink

dinner 5.jpg

Don’t spend all night washing dishes. | iStock.com/EzumeImages

The best weeknight dinners save time on both ends of the meal — prep time and cleaning up. This easy, cheesy tortellini dish will satisfy your comfort food cravings, all in one pot. The savory ham and velvety cheese pumps up the pasta better than plain sauce, while sneaking some healthy veggies into your diet. It’s a win-win all around.

6. Hamburger casserole will satisfy your cheese cravings

dinner 7.jpg

It’s a comfort dish. | iStock.com/bhofack2

If your family loves boxed casserole starters like Hamburger Helper, do we have a recipe for you. This gooey hamburger casserole tastes even better than the box, without all of those hard-to-pronounce additives. Since it also uses canned tomato soup and cream of mushroom soup as the base, you may already have the ingredients on hand. A delicious dinner without a trip to the store? We’re all in.

7. Make your own black bean burrito bowls in no time

dinner 8.jpg

Think outside the tortilla. | iStock.com/rainingphotos

Think outside the wrap with these speedy black bean burrito bowls. Quick-cooking or frozen rice makes them even faster. You can substitute your family’s favorite burrito protein for the black beans, or add in any toppings you prefer. In the time it takes to say “order up,” you can get chowing down. Stash this one in your quick things to make for dinner file — the variations are endless.

8. Shake up some fun with these baked pork chops

dinner 9.jpg

Just shake and bake. | iStock.com/valeniker

Get your little ones in on the act with these baked pork chops. Just measure all of the topping ingredients into a large plastic bag, toss in the chops, and shake it like a Polaroid picture. While they spend half an hour baking, toss together a simple side for a well-rounded meal that looks a lot harder than it is.

9. Homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese is Mmm-Mmm good

dinner 10.jpg

The simple soup comes together quickly. | iStock.com/tvirbickis

If the words “homemade soup” make you think of slaving over a long simmer stove, this recipe will change your mind. This simple tomato soup recipe comes together in just over half an hour and it’s easy enough to let the kids help. Whip up a batch of grilled cheese sandwiches for dipping and you have a warming classic meal on your hands. Pro tip: Grill the sandwiches with mayonnaise instead of butter for the crunchiest, crispiest exterior.

10. Steak dinner in a sitcom worth of time? You betcha

 

dinner 11.jpg

It’s quick, easy, and satisfying. | iStock.com/Lisovskaya

Yes, you can make this steak and veggies skillet in the amount of time it takes your family to finish an episode of their favorite show. By the time they come asking about chow, you can slide this easy weeknight dinner onto the table. Peas and asparagus brighten up the rich protein, and mustard sauce gives it all a great zing. For sensitive palates, go ahead and omit the cayenne.

 

 

This article was written by Lizz Schumer from The Cheat Sheet and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

These Simple Tips Can Trick You Into Eating Healthier

Health food 1.jpg

“There’s no shame in buying pre-packed, pre-cut veggies ― riced cauliflower, cut-up broccoli florets, pre-made zucchini noodles, pre-chopped and pre-washed kale,” said Andrea Moss, holistic nutrition coach and founder of Moss Wellness. “Same with frozen veggies. Anything that gets you to eat veggies and makes it easier for you to do so is a win.”

If your schedule doesn’t leave a lot of extra time to prepare those foods, many stores offer fruits and vegetables that are ideal for on-the-go folks. 

Bonus points if you can complete this task on a Sunday and get your food ready for the week. Another food prep hack from Moore: If you prep soup for the week, store in the freezer in a clear bag, making sure it’s flat so it’ll save you space for more goodies. 

“If you have a whole pineapple, you’re less likely to eat it than if you go ahead and cut it up into smaller pieces,” she said.

Marisa Moore, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Atlanta, encourages her clients to wash the fruits and veggies they buy when they get home from grocery shopping and then chop them up into bite-sized pieces.

Do the dirty work first

Making this tip effective at home and keeping those better options to the front means you’re more likely to grab healthy food to munch on for a snack or add that food to a meal you’re already cooking. Plus, since you can have your eye on it, the food is less likely to go bad and you won’t be deterred from buying fruits and vegetables in the future (this is a common annoyance for people trying to eat healthy, according to several of our experts). It’s a win-win. 

“We focus on making it as easy as possible to make great choices by making the most nutritious foods highly visible, while indulgent options are just a little harder to find,” he said. “Because we know hydration is important, water is the first thing you see in our refrigerators. Seasonal fruits are placed in bowls on open counters while packaged snacks and sweets are relegated to drawers or opaque jars.”

To encourage their employees to eat healthy, Google uses a similar strategy. Scott Giambastiani, the company’s global food program chef and operations manager, told HuffPost that the offices offer less healthy options, but they’re tucked away in favor of healthier foods.

″Put healthy food where you can see it [in the fridge] and keep foods you want to cut back on in the fridge drawers,” said Katie Serbinski, the registered dietitian behind Mom to Mom Nutrition. “You can even go a step further and store healthy foods in clear containers or bags, so you can easily see and grab them without having to rinse or wash, assuming that step has been done ahead of time.”

Having healthy snacks ― fruits, vegetables, grains ― visible and within reach can change your snacking habits, according to the food and health experts we interviewed. 

Fruits (and other healthy items) to the front

We chatted with dietitians and nutritionists about simple ways you can arrange your fridge, prepare your food and store your snacks to promote a healthier lifestyle. Here are their tips. 

Looking to eat healthier? With a few subtle changes in your kitchen, you might just be able to trick yourself into making it happen. 

Trinette Reed via Getty Images

We talked to experts about simple ways you can prep, store and arrange your food to get the most out of a healthier lifestyle.

Healthy food 2.jpeg

Preparing food (washing, cutting, etc.) as soon as you get home from the grocery store can encourage you to munch on healthier snacks and put together more well-balanced meals. Also, keep the healthier food in clear containers so you always know what you have in stock.

Dorling Kindersley: Dave King via Getty Images

Divide the fridge into sections (and CLEAN IT.)

Many people keep fruits and vegetables in the crisper drawer of their fridge and fill their pantries with boxed and canned goods, but how many of us really go beyond that? 

Molly Lee, holistic health coach and founder and director of Energizing Nutrition, said that further organizing your fridge and the rest of your kitchen can make it easier when you’re cooking.

“Have different sections for different categories of food,” she said. “It prevents cross contamination, but it also is organized so you can make a well-balanced meal.”

If you have kids who can pack their own lunch or grab their own after-school snack, consider having a drawer in the fridge and/or a section of the pantry just for them, suggests Serbinski. You’re establishing both independence and good eating habits. 

Also don’t forget ― seriously, don’t forget ― to clean your fridge.

“A tidy fridge is an inviting fridge! Throw out those leftovers weekly,” Moss said.

Consider revamping your dishes (and don’t forget about mason jars)

Lee told HuffPost that “organization is the key” when it comes to a kitchen that will help you eat healthier, but having an appealing kitchen can also help. 

“If you have chipped plates or you don’t have the right equipment, it’s not going to be pleasurable to make food,” she said. “A beautiful bowl, plate and mug that you love can really go a long way for making sort of a ritual.”

Don’t sleep on mason jars, either.

“You just stack your favorite ingredients,” Lee said. “You can stack greens, nuts and seeds, chickpeas, tuna or leftover chicken or feta cheese, and it’s easy. Plus, it looks beautiful and you won’t forget about it because it’s clear.”

For those with a sweet tooth, Lee suggested adding organic Greek or plain yogurt to fresh berries and low-sugar granola (make sure it’s naturally sweet, not made with a ton of added sugar).  

Don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to indulgences

Whether you’ve got a sweet tooth or are always craving something salty, ridding yourself of all your cravings doesn’t always work. For a more realistic balance, Moore suggests having only “one indulgent thing” in your living space at a time and leaving the rest at the store (that midnight snack craving won’t be as difficult to overcome if you’ve only got one option).

Lee sticks to encouraging her clients to eat “the highest quality of your favorite dessert.” Think organic dark chocolate or raw honey, perhaps mixed with another healthy snack.

“It’s more expensive so you really savor it, and it tastes really good because it’s using really good ingredients,” she said. 

However you deal with those cravings, a good rule is to somewhat fool yourself and tuck them away somewhere.

“Maybe you have chips or you have cookies in the back of the bottom shelf,” Moore said.

Out of sight, out of mind, and hopefully out of your healthier lifestyle.

 

This article was written by Taylor Pittman from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

What Nutritionists Give Their Kids For After-School Snacks

“An afternoon snack at our house is usually either a smoothie or fruit with protein, such as apples with peanut butter or orange and cheese slices. Other favorites include yogurt-based Popsicles, trail mix or homemade popcorn.” ― Kath Younger, a registered dietitian and blogger at Kath Eats Real Food 

“For an after-school snack, my kids have enjoyed fresh fruit like banana or any combination of cut-up cantaloupe and grapes and berries (e.g., raspberries, blueberries or strawberries) plus warm cashews. They’ve also enjoyed Triscuits and cheese, and plain low-fat yogurt with berries, or unsweetened applesauce and a sprinkle of cinnamon.” ― Elisa Zied, a certified dietitian nutritionist and author of Feed Your Family Right!

Fruit

A group of nutritionists shared the general guidelines and kid-approved picks they use in their own homes for after-school snacks.

But how do you choose a snack for your kids that will fill them up enough to stop the “when’s dinner ready?” nagging without spoiling their appetites or loading them up on empty calories. 

The lag between lunch at school and dinner at home can feel like a lifetime to kids. The after-school snack, therefore, is a time-honored tradition in many homes. 

Nut 2.jpeg

Jupiterimages via Getty Images

Nutritionists share the go-to snacks they feed their kids.

“Since my kids are 12, 10, 7 and 5, they do a pretty good job of getting their own after-school snacks from the fruit bowl or the snack cupboard containing: graham crackers, peanut butter, pecans, raisins, prunes and peanuts in the shell. The big thing I encourage is drinking water or herbal tea with a drizzle of honey. They don’t get much time to drink many liquids at school. Tea with honey helps them drink more to stay hydrated in the winter and chilly spring when they aren’t ‘hot and thirsty’ like in the summer. Plus the honey soothes their sore throats when they have colds and has antioxidant polyphenols, which may help boost their immunity to prevent future colds.” ― Serena Ball, a registered dietitian and health blogger at Teaspoon Of Spice 

Tea

“I’m a big believer in the concept of small, frequent eating. Many schools start lunch too early in the day and don’t have opportunities for eating after that. If kids are starting lunch at 10:30 a.m. and don’t have dinner until 6 p.m., after-school snacks should be an option. I prefer to fill them up on vegetables and fruits during this time of day, with moderate amounts of proteins and fats that can be obtained from a slice of cheese, peanut butter or milk. Generally, kids don’t eat enough produce, so my children are typically offered sliced bell peppers or cucumbers with hummus or cheese.” ― Rick Hall, a clinical professor and registered dietitian at Arizona State University

“Some of our favorite after-school snacks are cut-up vegetables (carrots, peppers, celery, tomatoes) and hummus as a dip.” ― Katja Leccisi, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of How To Feed Your Kids: Four Steps To Raising Healthy Eaters 

Hummus

“My kids love apple “nachos,” which are sliced apples, melted nut butter with a sprinkle of dried cranberries and chia seeds.” ― Lauren Kelly, a nutritionist and author of The Everything Wheat-Free Diet Cookbook

“I always offer an after-school snack to my boys each day. If I don’t, the cries of ‘Mom! When is dinner going to be ready?’ start earlier than my sanity can handle. I try to focus on a balance of protein and carbs, offering a variety of choices throughout the week, and I try to make sure it includes fruit to help boost their fruit/veggie count for the day. That may mean a combo of cheese and apple slices, peanut butter and banana or even something like a simple trail mix of whole-grain cereal, raisins and nuts.” ― Regan Jones, a registered dietitian and founding editor at Healthy Aperture

Nut 1.jpg

Natalie Board/EyeEm via Getty Images

Apples with peanut butter or cheese is one snack option.

“I have four kids ages 10 to 17, and I give them various snacks. I sometimes make organic air-popped popcorn with Himalayan pink salt and Barlean’s butter-flavored coconut oil.” ― Rebecca H. Lazar, a registered holistic nutritionist and founder of Real Health and Fitness

Popcorn

“My kids love chocolate avocado mousse and of course peanut butter chocolate chip energy bites!” ― Kelly

“The old-fashioned favorite is homemade cookies (ginger, chocolate chip or oatmeal) with a glass of milk or hot chocolate.” ― Leccisi

Treats

“After-school snacks can be tricky because you don’t want them to eat so much that they’re not hungry for what’s probably their main meal of the day … When my kids played sports, after school they needed a heartier but high-carb snack such as a fruit smoothie with Greek yogurt, oats, a few nuts or peanut butter powder, a grilled cheese sandwich or a bowl of cereal with fruit and milk.” ― Bridget Swinney, a registered dietitian and founder of Eat Right Mama

Carbs

“After school, my kids will grab a yogurt or a few cookies, but I generally serve them dinner around 4:30 p.m. so they aren’t snacking for hours between getting home and having their next meal! That’s my strategy, but I work from home, so this method won’t work for everyone.” ― Abby Langer, a registered dietitian and founder of Abby Langer Nutrition

“A favorite is fruit and yogurt, either separately, as a dip, or in a sort of ‘parfait.’” ― Leccisi

“I make low-fat Greek yogurt dips with fresh or dried herbs. The herbs provide potent antioxidants and lots of flavor without added salt. My daughter also loves red bell pepper slices or baby sweet peppers with dip.” ― Melissa Halas-Liang, registered dietitian and founder of SuperKids Nutrition

Yogurt

nut 4.jpeg

Vesna Jovanovic/EyeEm via Getty Images

Tea can help with hydration.

“My daughter is 13 and prefers to make her own snacks. Her two go-tos are half a baked sweet potato drizzled with natural peanut butter and a side of mixed berries or apple slices with almond butter and cacao powder sprinkled on top.” ― Jacqueline Carly, an integrative and functional nutritionist and creator of Get Planty

Sweet Potato

“My daughter isn’t a big milk fan, so I often make low-fat milk and add a little sugar and vanilla extract. I use a tiny handheld milk frother. It makes it seem fancy but it takes seconds to make and it’s easy to wash. I’ll serve that with any fresh or frozen fruit (served cold).” ― Halas-Liang

 nut 6.jpeg

A baked sweet potato can be the base for a snack.

The Picture Pantry via Getty Images

Milk

“Sometimes I’ll make a vegan chocolate protein shake with banana and almond butter or another type of smoothie … Other snacks are cut-up fruit, or Siggi’s Icelandic yogurt with organic granola added as a topping.” ― Lazar

Protein Shake

“If we are on the go I’ll split a peanut butter sandwich between my toddlers. I always try to pair a protein choice with either a fruit, vegetable, or whole grain so the snack isn’t too filling, but is just enough to hold my children over until dinnertime.” ― Katie Serbinski, a registered dietitian and founder of Mom to Mom Nutrition

Peanut Butter

“A classic is a peanut butter sandwich. Other favorites include fruit pieces like apple or pear with peanut butter as a dip or spread and crackers with cheddar cheese and fruit pieces (apples, pears or clementines), with some olives and pickles on the side.” ― Leccisi 

nut 5.jpeg

KidStock via Getty Images

Air-popped popcorn can be a fun snack.

Sandwich

“If my teenage boys are really hungry, I’ll make an organic mozzarella sandwich with whole-grain spelt bread.” ― Lazar

Soup

“I meal prep soup every week, so sometimes they’ll have a cup of that if it’s ready at the right time.” ― Alaya Wyndham, an intuitive holistic nutritionist

Car-Friendly Food

“I have three kids, and they all have slightly different food preferences. We generally pick them up with the minivan, at least in the winter months, so I choose snacks that are both nutritious as well as non-messy. For my 3-year-old, I often bring shelled pistachios in a snack cup or a banana. My 6-year-old son is ravenous by the time we get him, so I’ll bring him a cheese stick and a granola bar or goodnessKnows snack squares, something with protein. My almost 9-year-old is a carb lover and also gets car sick easily, so I bring her some type of cheddar cracker or veggie chips. She also really likes dried seaweed. When it’s hot outside, they tend to be more thirsty than hungry, so an organic juice, like Capri Sun, is often what I’ll bring them.” ― Frances Largeman-Roth, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Eating in Color

‘Mini Meals’

“Snacking has definitely taken on some negative connotations since typical snack foods tend to be synonymous with foods high in fat, sugar and salt. However, I am actually a big proponent of snacks as a way to maintain energy levels and satiate hunger between meals. I think of snacks as mini-meals, meaning, smaller portions but still containing a healthful variety of foods. When it comes to after-school snacks, I generally stick to the following criteria: no more than 200 calories, at least 2 grams of fiber per serving, low in saturated fat (percentage daily value of 5 percent or less per serving), low in sodium (140 milligrams or less per serving), low in added sugar (6 grams or less per serving) and at least two food groups per snack.” ― Ilaria St. Florian, a clinical dietitian at Stamford Hospital

These quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity. 

 

This article was written by Caroline Bologna from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Picky Eaters

When children start learning to feed themselves, they can become picky about the foods they will try out. Here are a few ways to encourage picky eaters to try new foods.

twenty20_1ad13024-2946-44f7-91e6-ce5c05c208c4

  1. Have your children assist with cooking easy dishes; they will be more likely to eat it if they helped create it.
  2. Keep meal and snack times consistent. If your children eat a snack at the same time every day, they will get used to being hungry for dinner around the same time every day.
  3. Cook a variety of foods regularly. This way your children become accustomed to seeing new foods and trying them out will become a routine.
  4. Finally, be a role model. Your children will be more enticed to try new foods if they see you doing it.

Portrsit of a young Asian boy eating yummy burger with oozing facial expression

What are some ways you encourage your little ones to try new foods?

What Nutritionists Pack Their Kids For Lunch

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Kids aren’t exactly known for their refined palates, which can cause issues for parents who want to pack healthy lunches for them to take to school.

But delicious and nutritious options are available ― and they don’t always take a long time to put together.

HuffPost asked a group of nutritionists what they pack in their children’s lunch boxes, and they shared their general guidelines and kid-approved dish ideas.

Edamame

“Like many parents, my wife and I work hard to find the balance between what our kids like and what is good for them. It’s important to us to reduce high-sugar and high-sodium options, which limits options, as many convenience foods tend to be saturated in these ingredients. It’s helpful for us to prepare healthier options at the beginning of the week and keep them in the refrigerator so they’re readily available and convenient when we need them. Our oldest daughter, as an example, likes edamame. Often, when we pack that in her lunch, she ends up sharing with friends who also like to eat them.”  ― Rick Hall, a clinical professor and registered dietitian at Arizona State University

Favorite fruits and veggies

“While my goal is to pack all five food groups in my preschooler’s lunch, I really strive to serve a fruit, vegetable and healthy protein option. My preschooler is given a snack at school that is usually a whole grain, so I load up on his favorite fruits (apples, grapes, bananas) and veggies (cucumber slices, red bell pepper sticks, carrots). And when it comes to protein, he loves individual hummus cups and crackers, or cheese and turkey roll-ups.” ― Katie Serbinski, a registered dietitian and founder of Mom to Mom Nutrition

“Vegetables and fruit top up my kids’ vitamin needs, and add variety and color. Kids eat with their eyes first!” ― Cara Rosenbloom, a registered dietitian and founder of Words To Eat By

 

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Healthier PB&J

“A typical lunch for our kiddos includes a half sandwich with peanut butter and instead of jelly, fruit like grapes, banana, pomegranates, etc. We combine our professional knowledge in nutrition with our practical knowledge of ‘what will my kids eat’ ― we also often have them help us make their lunches so they have a say in what goes in there. Building off the base of always having a fruit (in this case on the sandwich), veggie (usually to dip), protein (peanut butter) and grain (sprouted grain bread), they can pick and choose from what we have. They love helping and getting involved, and it also teaches autonomy and teaches them how to balance their plates.” ― Christopher Mohr, a registered dietitian and co-founder of Mohr Results with Kara Mohr

“I’m a firm believer in serving something familiar or ‘liked’ when it comes to school lunch, with both something healthy and ‘treats’ mixed in. School is a time when your child might be missing Mom or Dad, so their favorite PB&J or Cheerios trail mix every day isn’t the end of their diet. Just serve a new fruit or veggie with their dinner to make up for it!” ― Serbinski

Whole-grain pasta salad

“One family favorite is pasta primavera salad with roasted tomatoes and chicken with baby spinach. I use whole-grain pasta (bowtie or pinwheel) with tomatoes roasted with crushed garlic (fresh or canned); chicken (shredded or cubed, which I cook in bulk and freeze in individual portions); and pre-washed baby spinach, which I quickly wilt in the microwave (kids like it more than grown-up spinach). Then I add a little lemon juice and olive oil, which makes everything taste better, and toss it all together. For sides, we’re partial to golden kiwi or frozen or fresh chopped mango.” ― Melissa Halas-Liang, registered dietitian and founder of SuperKids Nutrition

 

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Chicken quesadillas

“One of my kids’ favorite items that my wife packs for them are spicy chicken quesadillas. She prepares them the night before school using organic tortillas, diced pre-cooked spicy chicken and a cheese blend. After cooking on a frying pan, we cut them into triangles and keep in the fridge overnight. They are easy to pack, hold and eat ― and the kids love them. They are often asked to trade with friends who want to eat them. It’s the most popular item we pack and super easy to make.” ― Hall

Yogurt

“I have two children who both have great palates, so I feel lucky that packing lunch is not too much of a challenge. Every day, I pack a mid-morning snack that usually consists of a Siggi’s yogurt tube or goat milk squeeze pouch, cucumbers, baby bell peppers and a portion with a side of hummus for my son. For my daughter, I pack a Siggi’s yogurt tube or goat milk squeeze pouch, cucumbers, berries, cherry tomatoes. On occasion I’ll swap the yogurt out for one hardboiled egg with seaweed.” ― Maya Feller, registered dietitian and owner of Maya Feller Nutrition

Dips for veggies

“We also pack mini peppers, cucumbers or baby carrots and hummus or guacamole to dip the veggies.” ― Mohr

“Sometimes I make Greek yogurt dip with veggies and whole grain crackers, chickpea salad and fruit.” ― Rosenbloom

“I keep pre-bought sliced jicama in stock and we make a lot of dips like this homemade ranch: 2 tablespoons of mayo, 2 tablespoons of nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese, half a teaspoon garlic powder and half a teaspoon dried parsley.” ― Halas-Liang

 

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Nuts (when possible)

“Other popular items for our kids include foods with peanut butter or nuts.  Unfortunately, they are sometimes limited in taking these foods because of nut allergies of classmates ― but nuts tend to be high in healthy fats and proteins that are both healthy and tasty treats.”  ― Hall

Bean and cheese sushi wrap

“A fun lunch is a bean-and-cheese sushi wrap. Spread mashed black beans with a bit of lemon juice on a whole grain tortilla, sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese, and roll into a tight log. Cut slices just like sushi. Add in orange sunshine. Peel an orange and slice them into thick circles. Veggies would be edamame or sugar snap peas.” ― Halas-Liang

Bento boxes

“When my daughter was in preschool, she loved bento box meal assembly dishes, like smoked Gouda chunks with whole wheat woven crackers (with no added sugar), frozen peas or corn (which she ate frozen), berries or baked apple chunks. We microwaved the chopped apple, then chilled in the fridge. It keeps it from browning and it’s sweeter. We grow cucumbers well into late fall so we add those in too. It was always a hit!” ― Halas-Liang

Quality protein

“My background in nutrition has taught me that kids fare better in school ― both academically and physically ― when their lunch is nutritious and provides long-lasting energy. That’s why there is always a source of good-quality protein in their lunchbox (chickpeas, cheese, Greek yogurt, chicken, lentils, etc.) and some slow-burning, high-fiber whole grains, like quinoa, whole-grain pasta or oats.

My kids’ lunches are made with vegetables, fruit, whole grains and something high in protein. Some of their favorite combos are: cubes of chicken, grape tomatoes and cucumbers on a skewer, with whole grain crackers and fruit; a turkey or cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole grain, and fruit; and quinoa and bean salad with string cheese, carrots, peppers and fruit.” ― Rosenbloom

 

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Flavor, texture and variety

“When I’m building my kids’ meals I think about variety, temperature, texture, flavor and of course nutrition. Lunch is usually one of the following with a side of fruit and vegetable: bean and rice burrito, veggie dumplings (tofu and cabbage), soup with a side of fruit, spinach and cheese tortellini with a nut-free sauce (the school has a strong nut policy), homemade salmon salad with carrots and celery topped with tzatziki on a whole wheat English muffin, or a spinach and potato patty inside of a whole wheat English muffin.

Children are in a phase of growth and development and ideally their foods should support this. My goal for my children is to give them healthy options that they love, so they will eat and have the energy they need to focus and engage during school hours, play and continue to grow. I aim to send them with a tasty balanced meal that supplies vitamins and minerals from whole and minimally processed sources.” ― Feller

Leftovers

“Lunches for my children are nearly always leftovers from dinner the night before. I like to start with the vegetables first, such as sautéed broccoli, roasted Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower mash. We always supplement with additional vegetables, which are typically raw, such as avocado, cherry tomatoes, peppers (though never green ones) and celery. If we include animal protein in the lunch, it can be roasted chicken, hard-cooked eggs, lamb or beef ― basically whatever we may have had for dinner. If there is no animal protein available or if that’s not preferred, we add sunflower butter in an individual packets, raw almonds or walnuts, or hemp seeds. Juices, carbonated beverages, sweetened drinks and milk are never included. Always pure water.” ― Laura Lagano, a registered dietitian and owner of Laura Lagano Nutrition

“Family favorites include supper leftovers in a thermos (pasta, soup, stew) along with fruit (of kids’ choosing) and a couple of homemade cookies.” ― Katja Leccisi, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of How To Feed Your Kids: Four Steps To Raising Healthy Eaters

Dessert?

“People always ask about dessert. In an effort to encourage children to focus on vegetables first, I suggest not putting fruit in the lunch box until you’re certain that your youngster craves the vegetables. And, when you do include fruit, start by opting for the lower-sugar fruit such as organic strawberries and raspberries.” ― Lagano

“Sometimes I add a small treat, like some chocolate chips or my homemade no-bake granola bites.” ― Rosenbloom

“My kids always also get a dessert ― usually something homemade, like cookies, muffins or date squares.” ― Leccisi

 

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Safe choices

“When I pack my children’s lunches, I always think food safety first and include adequate ice packs to keep cold foods cold.” ― Halas-Liang

“My expertise in nutrition shaped my choices by thinking about food safety, temperature controls and balanced nutrition to prevent childhood obesity and reducing refined products. I also teach my kids to recognize foods as ‘everyday’ versus ‘sometimes’ foods. Therefore they are aware of what foods make them healthy eaters, readers and leaders.” ― Tambra Raye Stevenson, founder and culinary nutritionist at NativSol Kitchen

Rule of three

“I avoid the three S’s: stinky (like fish); sticky (like maple syrup); and soft drinks (too much sugar).” ― Rosenbloom

“For a balanced lunch, I aim for three plant-based colors, plenty of fiber and a good source of protein. ― Halas-Liang

Meal prep

“It’s not just about what you pack, but when you pack it. Make packing lunch the night before part of the nighttime routine ― for us, it’s eat dinner, clean up kitchen and pack lunches. You’re not rushed and can make better decisions vs. adding one more thing to the already crazy mornings as everyone is trying to get out the door.” ― Mohr

“I think it’s easy to get stressed out about packing lunch. To avoid this, I usually pack after dinner or during the after-school snack if I’m home. That way the food is already out. Plus I keep a few sets of containers, some of which are dishwasher-safe. I also don’t make everything from scratch, but do a lot of meal assembly! It’s quicker and with so many healthy options, like beans from a can or pre-washed spinach, it’s easier. And I like to include a quote or little note when I have time.” ― Halas-Liang

Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.

 

This article was written by Caroline Bologna from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Chocolate-Banana Yogurt Sundae

Spruce up snack time or dessert with this delicious chocolate-banana yogurt sundae!

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

Ingredients

  • Non-fat vanilla yogurt
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Banana
  • Shredded coconut

Spoon a desired amount of yogurt into a dish. Slice up the banana, and place the slices in the yogurt. Then drizzle with chocolate sauce. Sprinkle shredded coconut over the sundae.

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

How to Make Edible Nut- or Seed-Based Butter Play Dough

Inspire your child’s creativity (and appetite) with some edible nut- or seed-based butter play dough!

twenty20_14f34c2d-5e74-4106-94df-dbe2200313bb

Ingredients

  • 1 cup smooth nut- or seed-based butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey or agave
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar or milk

Combine nut- or seed-based butter and honey in a bowl and stir. Add powdered sugar or milk, ¼ cup at a time, kneading into mixture until it is no longer sticky and has the consistency of play dough. Ask your child to wash his or her hands before handling play dough if he or she plans on eating it afterward.

 

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.