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Inspire creativity with fun snack hacks

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(Family Features) School days offer nearly endless opportunities for learning and exploration in the classroom, but education doesn’t have to end with the final bell. Parents can ensure their students feel energetic, creative and confident by inspiring snack choices that are as smart as they are fun to make together.

Whether you’re whipping up a snack to send to school or your little learners need an energy boost before starting afternoon homework, creative snacking can help encourage inspiration. As a trusted ally with better-for-you and convenient whole-fruit lunchbox snacks kids can enjoy, Sun-Maid offers these easy tips and ways to embrace the fun side of snack time.

  • Keep It Simple: Look for recipes with five ingredients or less so your children can show their artful nature without becoming overwhelmed. Plus, this often leads to a more budget-friendly at-home treat.
  • Shop Together: Gathering ingredients and equipment is an important part of any recipe, and bringing your future chefs along helps them feel like it’s their creation from start to finish. Additionally, some important life lessons can be learned along the way, like how to navigate the store and compare costs.
  • Provide Kid-Friendly Instructions: There are many ways kids can lend a hand in making their own snacks, like mixing ingredients, washing produce or arranging a plate or platter. However, some steps are best left to the adults – make sure to do any cutting, slicing or dicing before letting children take the reins, for example, then just enjoy the creative fun.

With childhood favorites like crackers, marshmallows and vanilla yogurt covered raisins, Gimme S’mores Trail Mix offers a perfect way to get young minds thinking in the kitchen. A little guidance is all it takes to teach them each step of the recipe to make a crafty, delicious treat. Plus, with only a few simple ingredients that just need to be mixed together, it’s a low-stress, low-mess way to cook up creativity.

For a healthier version of a snack time superstar, Apple Nachos combine sweet apples like Honeycrisp, peanut butter and versatile, whole-fruit Sun-Maid Raisins. Naturally made with nothing but grapes and California sunshine, these sweet raisins have been trusted as a better-for-you snack for kids and grown-up kids alike since 1912.

With zero grams of added sugars, they give parents the confidence they need to choose snacks that provide both great taste and nutrition for a happy and healthy family. As a household staple, they can be enjoyed as part of tasty recipes or as a standalone treat kids crave and parents approve.

Find more sweet ideas to inspire confidence and creativity at sunmaid.com.

Gimme S’mores Trail Mix

Prep time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6

  • 1/2       cup Sun-Maid Vanilla Yogurt Covered Raisins
  • 3          cups graham crackers, assorted flavors
  • 1 1/2    cups colored mini marshmallows
  • 2          cups slivered almonds
  • 1          cup chocolate chips
  1. In large bowl, mix raisins, graham crackers, marshmallows, almonds and chocolate chips.
  2. Serve immediately, or store in airtight container up to 1 week.

Apple Nachos

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 minute
Servings: 4

  • 5          sweet apples, such as Honeycrisp
  • lemon juice (optional)
  • 2          tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2       cup Sun-Maid California Sun-Dried Raisins
  1. Wash and slice apples.
  2. Arrange one layer of sliced apples on serving plate. To keep apples from browning quickly, squeeze lemon juice on top, if desired.
  3. In microwave, melt peanut butter about 30 seconds until smooth.
  4. Drizzle 1 tablespoon peanut butter over first layer of apples. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup raisins.
  5. Repeat with remaining apples, peanut butter and raisins.


SOURCE:
Sun-Maid Raisins

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EDIBLES

Serve up a summertime spread

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(Family Features) Few things complement warm weather like a summer spread with everyone’s favorite foods. From fresh appetizers and classics like grilled hot dogs to skewered sides and sweet, sugary desserts, these summertime recipes are sure to bring friends, family and neighbors running to get in on the action.

To find more recipe ideas that bring the heat to summer cookouts, visit Culinary.net.

Up Your Grilling Game with Beloved Toppings

Hot dogs and brats are summer favorites for a reason: the delicious (and personalized) add-ons. Make sure your spread fits everyone’s taste buds with an assortment of tasty toppings like these:

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Relish
  • Hot sauce
  • Onions
  • Pickles
  • Sauerkraut
  • Cole slaw
  • Jalapenos
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Guacamole
  • Nacho cheese
  • Shredded cheese

Start Summer Meals with a Bright, Fresh Salad

Bright colors and fresh flavor bring out the best in summer meals, starting with seasonal salads that look as though the ingredients were just picked from a garden.

Orange, grapefruit and avocado are perfect accompaniments in this Citrus Spring Mix Salad when paired with Fresh Express Spring Mix. This garden-fresh blend combines carefully selected tender baby butter and red and green leaf lettuces with baby greens including spinach, arugula and kale that are picked when the tiny leaves are perfect and whole.

With more than 100 varieties of fresh, healthy and convenient ready-to-eat salads, as well as an assortment of salad greens you can use to create your ideal summer dishes, the kits and lettuce blends are available in the refrigerated product department of your favorite grocery store.

Visit freshexpress.com to discover more than 300 fresh recipes and find availability near you.

Citrus Spring Mix Salad

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Salad:

  • 1 package (5 ounces) Fresh Express Spring Mix
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and sectioned
  • 1 red grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  1. To make dressing: In small bowl, whisk orange juice, orange zest, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar and salt. Set aside.
  2. To make salad: In large bowl, toss spring mix with salad dressing. Divide salad evenly among two plates. Top with oranges, grapefruit, avocado and onion.

A Simple, Skewered Side

Keep your summer meals simple by leaning into versatile ingredients that can help you whip up a variety of side dishes.

These Grilled Red Potato Skewers display the delicious, nutritious, versatile qualities of Wisconsin Potatoes. With a multitude of varieties, they’re a favorite among world-class chefs, home cooks, large and small supermarkets and even the pickiest of eaters.

It can be love at first bite with these 100% gluten-free potatoes that can add a touch of nutrition to summer cookouts. They’re a good source of vitamin B6, high in vitamin C, rich in potassium and an excellent source of fiber.

Find more recipe ideas by visiting eatwisconsinpotatoes.com.

Grilled Red Potato Skewers

Recipe courtesy of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 2 medium russet or Yukon gold Wisconsin potatoes or 6 red Wisconsin potatoes
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 smoked sausage rope
  • 4 skewers (12 inches each)
  • 1/2 cup Italian dressing
  1. Preheat grill to medium heat. Cut potatoes in half. Cut zucchini and sausage same width as potatoes. Skewer potatoes, zucchini and sausage. Repeat for each skewer.
  2. Place skewers in dish and cover with Italian dressing. Marinate 5 minutes.
  3. Place skewers on grill and cook 5 minutes on each side, or until potatoes are done. Remove from grill and serve.

Cap the Night with a Brown Sugar Delight

Summer meals from small plates to grilled fare may be tasty, but don’t fill up entirely on the main course. Remember to save room for your favorite warm-weather sweets.

These Brown Sugar Meringues provide bursting summertime flavor in a little, handheld bite. They’re ideal for sharing with loved ones after a weekend barbecue or birthday celebration and, with just a few ingredients, they’re as easy to make as they are to enjoy.

To help bake this delicious dessert, you can trust Domino to deliver quality, consistency and results that only a century of experience can bring. Its Light Brown Sugar offers a buttery, caramel flavor, making it a perfect choice for sweets of all kinds.

Find more summery sweets at DominoSugar.com.

Brown Sugar Meringues

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, plus 1 hour rest time
Yield: 3 dozen meringues

  1. Preheat oven to 225 F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Pour 1 inch of water into medium saucepan and heat it until simmering. In heat-proof bowl, mix egg whites, brown sugar, granulated sugar and salt. Put bowl on top of saucepan and warm mixture until it reaches 125 F. Stir continuously and make sure mixture does not touch water.
  3. Carefully remove from heat. Using electric mixer, beat mixture at high speed 8-10 minutes. Transfer meringue into piping bag fitted with star tip. Pipe 12 meringues per baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on top of meringues, if desired. Bake 1 hour. Turn off oven and allow meringues to rest inside oven 1 hour. Remove from oven and enjoy.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock (hot dogs)


SOURCE:
Fresh Express

Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association

Domino Sugar

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EDIBLES

Bring joy to mealtimes by dining together: Benefits of a Mediterranean lifestyle

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(Family Features) The renowned Mediterranean Diet, celebrated for its myriad benefits, has been rated as a top diet in the world for years. 

Recognizing the benefits of the foods included in the Mediterranean Diet, it’s important to broaden the understanding beyond its ingredients to embrace the elements of the Mediterranean lifestyle, which also contribute to these benefits. Essentially, it’s not just about what you eat; it’s also about how you enjoy it and with whom you share the experience.

Nutrition, physical activity, sleep and togetherness comprise this balanced way of living, with preparing, eating and enjoying food together being key elements of the Mediterranean lifestyle. You can immerse yourself in the vibrant spirit of the Mediterranean lifestyle simply by inviting friends or family to gather around the table for a meal – like a family favorite pasta dish.

The benefits of gathering around the table are abundant, ranging from fostering stronger connections and communication among family members to enhancing overall well-being. In fact, first-of-its-kind research conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota and supported by Barilla, the world’s leading pasta maker, demonstrates that people experience greater happiness when they share meals with others, highlighting the importance of togetherness.

Published in “Families, Systems, & Health,” the research shows a strong positive correlation between how often people gather around the table during mealtimes and enhanced connectedness, reduced depressive symptoms and an improvement in overall mood.

Semolina pasta is a staple for many people in the Mediterranean region, playing a significant role in culinary history and making it a favorite ingredient in dishes aligned with the Mediterranean lifestyle and gathering around the table. For example, these recipes for Cellentani Caprese Pasta Salad and Linguine with Zucchini Carbonara are perfect for sharing, whether you’re hosting friends and neighbors or enjoying a meal with someone special.

A high-quality, minimally processed carbohydrate, semolina pasta is naturally low in sodium, a good source of fiber and contains a variety of micronutrients.

“Eating together is a joyful and important practice of the Mediterranean lifestyle that truly contributes to overall well-being,” said Michele Lefebvre, registered dietitian nutritionist and manager of nutrition and well-being at Barilla America. “As a traditional yet versatile food, pasta brings a sense of nostalgia to meals as people gather together around the table and connect in an impactful way.”

Visit barilla.com/recipes to discover more dishes that can help you follow the Mediterranean lifestyle.

Cellentani Caprese Pasta Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 7

  • 1 box Barilla Protein+ Cellentanii pasta
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, mixed color, halved
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 8 basil leaves, julienned
  • 2 cups small mozzarella cheese balls, halved
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Bring large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Drizzle pasta with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place on sheet tray to cool. Set aside.
  2. In large bowl, combine tomatoes, lemon juice, basil, remaining olive oil and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add pasta and stir.

Linguine with Zucchini Carbonara

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, julienned
  • 1 box Barilla Linguine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Bring large pot of water to boil.
  2. In bowl, mix egg yolks, 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese and milk. Season with salt, to taste. Set aside.
  3. In large skillet, heat olive oil and cook zucchini.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.
  5. Mix pasta in pan with zucchini. Add egg yolk mixture and 2 tablespoons cooking water. Combine well.
  6. Add remaining cheese and mint; mix. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


SOURCE:
Barilla

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EDIBLES

Create a family-friendly grazing board

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(Family Features) A beautifully designed charcuterie board may feel more like a grown-up treat, but with the right ingredients, delicious grazing boards can provide fun and nutrition for the whole family.

No matter what you call it, charcuterie boards, grazing boards and snack platters are all basically the same thing. The boards make a trendy addition to an entertaining menu, but a platter or kid-friendly board can be equally pleasing.

What you serve on a grazing board is entirely up to you. Most include a selection of meats and cheeses, and many incorporate nuts, crackers, dips and jams. Some also incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables. Creating your own board means there really are no rules; you can add just about anything you want.

To build a successful board, keep these tips in mind:

Choose ingredients and elements that don’t require temperature control. The idea of a grazing board is that it sits out for a while. Avoid anything that needs refrigeration, heat or will lose its shape or flavor if it rests for an extended amount of time.

Select a surface large enough to hold a variety of food. It can be a simple cutting board or a cute platter. There’s no specific size requirement but err on the side of bigger; spacing out your goodies can be more attractive and less messy.

Use high-quality ingredients to ensure every bite is delicious and nutritious. While shopping, remember to look for the Produce for Kids and Healthy Family Project logos next to favorite items in the produce department, as adding these flavorful fruits and veggies to your cart can help make a difference in your community.

Build your board around a theme to add an extra element of fun. Use mini cookie cutters to make fun, kid-friendly shapes out of cheese and meats. Be mindful of colors; a rainbow platter is vibrant and appealing, and colorful fruits and veggies offer a strong mix of nutrients.

Remember it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Classic favorites are all you need. Even kid favorites like sections of mandarin oranges, carrot sticks and chocolate chips are fair game for a family-friendly board.

Find more ideas for creating family-friendly treats at healthyfamilyproject.com.

Taco Tuesday Board

Recipe courtesy of Healthy Family Project’s “Come Graze With Us” e-cookbook

  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Queso
  • Hard and soft taco shells
  • Ground turkey, seasoned and browned
  • Lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded cheese
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped peppers
  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  1. On grazing board or platter, arrange guacamole, salsa, queso, taco shells, ground turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, onions, peppers, sour cream, cilantro and lime wedges.

Weekend Breakfast Grazing Board

Recipe courtesy of Healthy Family Project’s “Come Graze With Us” e-cookbook

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cooked sausage links
  • Mini frozen waffles, toasted
  • Mini frozen pancakes, toasted
  • Mini muffins
  • Yogurt
  • Fresh fruit
  • Syrup
  • Jelly
  1. On grazing board or platter, arrange eggs, sausage links, toasted waffles, toasted pancakes, muffins, yogurt, fruit, syrup and jelly.


SOURCE:
Healthy Family Project

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