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Yesterday wrapped up the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference – an amazing and overwhelming gathering of school nutrition professionals. The content of the meeting was awesome – ideas to inspire school-meal greatness. One particular subject addressed throughout meeting was snacking – specifically smarter snacking. Starting this year, snacks sold at school must meet specific guidelines to be considered a smart snack (Download the USDA Fact Sheet). Smart snacks include more nutrients per calorie, they emphasize whole grains and incorporate fruits and vegetables, and schools all over the nation have been working to change their snacks to fit these new guidelines.
Healthy snacks are important to provide kids with the essential nutrients and energy they need. Not only are smart snacks important when your child is at school, but also at home. So here are 8 quick and easy tips to get you thinking smarter about snacking.
Make Snacking Fun.
- Dip: My little two year old loves dipping. If we are having a tough time getting him to eat something, making it more fun with a dip sometimes yields success. Salsa, yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, and hummus are all good options, and occasionally we even take a little fruit & veggie squeeze pack and squeeze some colorful yumminess onto sandwiches and other foods.
- Fun Shapes: Instead of carrot sticks, try round carrot slices or long slices of banana instead of short round ones. Consider making banana sushi (recipe below) instead of a plan PB&J or PB& banana sandwich
Have Smart Snacks Available.
- When hunger hits, it’s easy to grab the first thing available in the pantry. If I’m hungry, I’ll eat the first thing in sight, whether it’s nutritious or not. Make it easy for your child to choose healthy snacks by making them readily available. Make fruits and veggies easily available. Create a snack drawer or a shelf on the pantry full of healthy options.
Keep it balanced – carb + protein
- A straight, carb-rich snack won’t keep that little tummy satisfied quite as long as a snack that packs a bit of protein. Pair graham crackers with some peanut butter or some pretzels with a cheese stick.
- Be sure to have a mixture of different fruits and veggies available. The more colors you can offer your child the greater variety of nutrients.
- Fruits and veggies don’t have to be fresh – freeze dried, traditional dried fruit, and frozen can be great options.
Have “on-the-go” options.
- Life is busy and sometimes it is near impossible for your child take the time to sit down and eat a snack. Provide healthy on-the-go options by slicing up fruit and veggies and measuring out large bags into small snack size containers in advance. Purchase pre packaged snack size options like string cheese, individual yogurt containers, nuts, and whole grain crackers.
- Shelf stable, single-serve milks are a great on-the-go protein source as are individual peanut butter packs.
Grocery shop together.
- When children help chose what they want, they are more likely to eat it. Makes since right? Go grocery shopping together and help your child to choose a variety of healthy, fun snacks.
Provide proper portion sizes.
- If a snack is too large it may end up taking the place of a meal. Use snack size bags and check portion sizes. Find ways to teach your child proper portions.
Grab a healthy drink
- Milk, chocolate milk, and juice are great options when time is limited. With more time you may try making a fruit smoothie. Blend milk or yogurt with your choice of fruit to make a fun tasty treat.
–Kristi Spence & Kayli Cummings – Dairy Council Staff
Becky Low shares another family food tradition…this one from our own Jenn Harrison and her family. It’s quick, easy, and sure to please a crowd.
Summer in Utah means sleep-overs, sleep-outs, and sleep-ins. With our State and National holidays, we have lots of family reunions, class reunions and gatherings – and we hate to spend time away from the group to cook. And so we share this Hawaiian Egg Casserole, a 4th generation family tradition.
What makes a fast recipe?
In my book, a fast recipe must meet these criteria:
- Favorite / comfort food
- Simple (few ingredients or little prep)
- make ahead – not essential, but a nice bonus!
For Jenn, these criteria are crucial. Unlike me, Jenn isn’t so fond of cooking. If a recipe has too many ingredients or too many instructions, she tosses it. With her hectic lifestyle, she wants something simple and fast. This recipe does the trick and, it’s been a family staple for generations. Passed on from her grandmother, Dorothy Ecker to her mother, Sue North to she and her sisters, Jenn is almost ready to pass it on to her own daughters. It is one that will endure.
How Fast is it?
Perhaps the reason Jenn shared this recipe, the reason it is an enduring part of her culinary repertoire, is that it meets her criteria. Having had it since she can remember, Jenn is familiar with it, and she likes it. It also has very few ingredients and almost no prep-work – canned soups and pre-cooked bacon (from Costco). Once you have hard boiled the eggs (which you can do in advance), the whole recipe goes together in just 5 minutes. Then pop in the oven and bake.
During the summer, not everyone gets up at the same time, or you may want a little special twist to it…this recipe can accommodate:
Avoid leftovers, by prepping the recipe in ramekins, then bake on demand and save the others. Uncooked casserole will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Egg casseroles are typically breakfast fare, but this recipe is an easy, weeknight protein-packed dinner.
Pair with other things: Jenn’s family loves to serve this egg casserole with ham and pineapple.
- 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
- 2 cups cooked, crumbled bacon or cooked sausage
- 2 cans cream of chicken soup
- 2 cans cream of potato soup
- milk ~1 1/3 cup
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 cups shredded cheese (any kind you like
- ham slices (optional)
- pineapple slices (optional)
- sliced green onions (optional)
Note: Recipe may be prepared ahead and stored in refrigerator overnight.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 9×13 pan, or 12, 1-cup ramekins. Line ramekins with 3-4 thin slices of optional ham.
Eggs and bacon should be cooked ahead; dice and place in mixing bowl. Add cream of chicken and cream of potato soups. Fill one soup can with milk and add to bowl. Gently stir ingredients to mix. Note – additional milk may be added if you prefer a thinner consistency. Place casserole in prepared 9×13 baking dish or individual 1-cup ramekins and cover with foil.
Bake until hot and bubbly: 50-60 minutes for 9×13 pan; 35-40 minutes for 1-cup ramekins. For a browned top, remove foil at least partway through baking time.
Garnish with optional sliced green onions; serve with pineapple slices. If casserole was baked in a 9×13 pan serve with a slice of ham.
Today is National Fettuccine Alfredo Day. Who doesn’t love Alfredo with it’s creamy, cheesy goodness? It is comfort food at it’s finest, but for those looking to lose weight it might not fit in your calorie limit. Well I have an option that will give you all the flavor with far fewer calories.
My skinny Alfredo is quick to whip up, lower in calories, but packs great flavor. For even fewer calories, I serve it over baked spaghetti squash instead of noodles. If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash in place of pasta give it a try.
To bake, simply cut your squash in half vertically, scoop out the seeds, poke it with a fork, and lay it on a foil lined cookie sheet, skin up. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes. Once baked, you can scoop out the middles and you have what looks like yellow spaghetti noodles (hence the name)
Whether you want to try the spaghetti squash or stick with fettuccine noodles, this sauce is sure to be a hit with your family.
Skinny Alfredo Sauce
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 c. flour
- 3 1/2 c. milk (1% is what I used )
- 3/4 cup parmesan (more for garnish)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Tarragon for garnish
Melt butter in a large saucepan on low heat. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Next add flour to melted butter and mix until a thin paste forms. Add milk and bring to a boil while whisking in the paste to the milk. Add more milk for a thinner consistency. Once desired consistency reached add parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Serve hot over pasta or spaghetti squash and garnish with tarragon and parmesan cheese.
Your mother probably told you breakfast is the most important meal of the day and research is now proving her right. Students who consume a nutrient rich breakfast are more likely to have higher nutrient intake, improved cognition, and improved academic performance. Breakfast is too important to miss, but can be hard during busy mornings. Here are some ideas to help you eat a nutrient rich breakfast.
The FUTP60 program teaches students the importance of breakfast, fueling your body with a healthy diet, and getting active. We wanted to highlight two Utah schools are using the program to promote breakfast among their student bodies.
WestField Elementary – Alpine district
In conjunction with the BYU Community Nutrition Class, Westfield Elementary put on a FUTP60 School Assembly with Alex Smith. The PE teacher used the assembly to promote Westfield’s Breakfast Picnics. During these picnics, students gather regularly in the cafeteria to eat breakfast together. Some bring breakfast from home, but most purchase the school breakfast. These breakfast picnics teach kids the importance of eating a healthy breakfast and provide them a time to get breakfast and socialize.
Orem Jr High – Alpine District
The Orem Junior High FUTP60 Student Team promotes breakfast and their new healthy Grab and Go Breakfast Kiosk by having special events monthly during breakfast. They even had a breakfast carnival and featured music and games that encouraged physical activity like shooting on a soccer goal in the corner of the cafeteria, shooting baskets, and doing push ups. Kids earned tickets by:
1) Eating breakfast at school
2) Show a selfie of you eating a healthy breakfast at home
3) Successfully complete the physical activity challenge.
The tickets could be turned in for prizes. The new Grab and Go Breakfast Kiosk at Orem Junior High allows students to eat breakfast up until class starts. Because of this, more students are able to eat a healthy breakfast every day.
We are so excited to see the fun ideas being implemented in our local schools and to see more kids getting active and eating a healthy breakfast. If you are interested in getting involved with FUTP60, contact Becky Low for more information. (Becky@dairycouncilutnv.com)
This recipe was adapted from Cooking Together by Erin and Tatum Quon
What is your favorite game day treats? Do you favor the wings, chips and dips, or the veggie tray? I love all game day food, but one of my favorites is popcorn. I love it sweet, salty, buttery, or spicy.
With little prep and endless varieties, you are going to want to add this popcorn to your Super Bowl Menu.
For this recipe, I popped the corn on the stove top. I had never done this, and it was so fun. I was giggling as I watched the kernels jumping and turning into little puffs of goodness. If you are doing this with kids, I would highly recommend popping on the stove. You can also air-pop or microwave for a less fun, but still tasty option.
After your corn is popped, simply add your choice of toppings.
I did a sweet one, a cheesy one, and a spicy one. Then I mixed the sweet and cheesy and it created an awesome sweet and salty flavor! Okay lets get popping!
Super Bowl Popcorn
Stove top popcorn
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 recipe popped corn (about 5 cups)
2 tsp salt, more or less to taste
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 recipe popped corn (about 5 cups)
1 tsp salt, more or less to taste
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 recipe popped corn (about 5 cups)
1 tsp salt, more or less to taste
2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp Chipotle BBQ Dry Seasoning mix, or more to taste ( I used Buffalo Wild Wings)
Pour the canola oil into a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover, and cook, shaking the pan often. Continue until you start to hear and see popcorn pop. Shake continuously, until the popping slows to 3-5 seconds between pops. Remove and divide into two bowls.
Pour desired toppings over popcorn and with clean hands or a large spoon, toss until the toppings evenly coat popcorn. Enjoy!
Is there snow at your house? Currently there is not much around mine and the deceivingly warm days are making me dream of spring. I keep thinking, “I can go outside without a coat today” and am quickly reminded it is January!
Even though it is the dead of winter…. I have found a way to warm-up and enjoy the cold days. Soup! As a registered dietitian, I love that soup can be full of veggies and loved by the pickiest eaters. As a busy wife, I love that it freezes well and makes great leftovers. As a foodie, I love the versatility and seemingly endless options.
I can….. and often do, eat soup multiple times a week in the winter, so it seems only fitting that January is National Soup Month. To celebrate we have 20 amazing soups to share.
- Roasted Tomato Curry Soup – Becky Low
- Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Soup– Two Peas and Their Pod
- Chicken and Cheese Enchilada Chowder– Taste and Tell
- Golden Baked Potato Soup– Oh Sweet basil
- Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff Soup– Carlsbad Cravings
- Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup– Cooking Classy
- Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup– Foxes Love Lemons
- Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup- Two Peas and Their Pod
- Italian Chicken Soup– The Pioneer Women
- The Best Cheeseburger Soup– Foodie Crush
- White Chicken Chili– Cooking Classy
- Slow Cooker Chicken Fajita Soup– The Recipe Critic
- Mexican Pinto Bean Soup– The Wanderlust Kitchen
- Chicken Pot Pie Soup– Shugary Sweets
- Lasagna Soup– Cooking Classy
- Philly Cheesesteak Stew– The Cozy Apron
- Cream Of Mushroom Soup– Lauren’s Latest
- Creamy Corn Soup with Queso Fresco– Skinnytaste.com
- Spaghetti Meatball Soup– Chef In Training
- Creamy Cajan Chicken Pasta Soup– Carlsbad Cravings
Want more ideas? Check out out Savory Soups Pinterest page!