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Save time with sweet, savory, salty snacks

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(Family Features) Work, social commitments, kids’ activities and the daily grind can take over schedules and wreak havoc on your opportunities to sit at the table for meals. As your calendar seems to fill up with meetings, family occasions and more, you might just find yourself skipping breakfast or lunch and opting for filling snacks instead.

In fact, according to the International Food Information Council’s 2022 Food and Health Survey, 75% of Americans snack at least once per day, which means 2023 could become the year of the snack. Whether it’s forgoing breakfast at home for a bite on the go or powering up with an afternoon morsel, one flavor favorite and nutritional powerhouse you can turn to is the pecan.

As pecans are used in an increasing number of snack innovations, they’re being hailed as the fastest growing nut in new snack applications, according to Information Resources Inc. They’re an ideal snack for punching up your routine with great taste, plant-based nutrition and an easy-to-pair profile.

For example, they’re poised to remix your snack mix mentality as they complement sweet, savory, spicy and buttery combinations. Ready in less than half an hour, you can add some sweetness to your workday with this Pecan Snack Mix with Cranberries and Chocolate for a fruity, nutty, chocolatey twist on traditional trail mix.

If a saltier treat is more your speed, consider this Salty Pecan Snack Mix for a grab-and-go breakfast as you head out the door or an easy way to keep hunger at bay in the afternoon. Because pecans pair with a variety of ingredients and flavors, they’re a perfect partner for this combination of rolled oats, coconut, honey, cinnamon and more.

Find more sweet and savory recipe inspiration at EatPecans.com.

Pecan Snack Mix with Cranberries and Chocolate

Recipe courtesy of Jess Larson and the American Pecan Promotion Board
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes, plus 10 minutes cooling time

  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup rice squares cereal (wheat or cinnamon)
  • 1/2 cup pretzels
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. In large, microwave-safe bowl, add pecans, rice squares cereal and pretzels. In small, microwave-safe bowl, add butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, salt and nutmeg. Microwave butter mixture 1-2 minutes until melted then pour over dry mix. Toss well to combine.
  2. Microwave snack mix in 45-second intervals, about 4-5 intervals total, until mix is fragrant, golden and toasty.
  3. Cool mix completely then stir in cranberries and dark chocolate chips.

Salty Pecan Snack Mix

Recipe courtesy of Mallory Oniki and the American Pecan Promotion Board
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 15

  • 2 cups rice squares cereal
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 cup oyster crackers
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In bowl, add rice squares cereal, oats and unsweetened coconut.
  3. In small saucepan over medium heat, add honey, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt. Stir until mixture starts to boil then pour over snack mix and stir until well combined.
  4. Transfer to baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes.
  5. In saucepan over medium heat, add butter. Stir until butter browns then add chopped pecans and oyster crackers. Turn heat to low and stir while pecans roast.
  6. Remove snack mix from oven and add brown butter pecan and cracker mixture; stir to combine.


SOURCE:
American Pecan Promotion Board

 

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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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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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Simple, convenient salads to celebrate spring

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(Family Features) Letting in a little fresh air with an open window or a screen door is a sure sign of spring, allowing the natural sights and smells of the outdoors to accompany you at the dinner table. Take that open-air freshness to new heights this spring by pairing it with your own signature spins on salad season.

For example, this Tuna and Rice Nicoise Salad offers a new take on tuna salad with olive tapenade, capers, tomatoes, green beans and cherry tomatoes. Its calling card: swapping out potatoes in favor of Minute Yellow Rice Cups, which cook up fast as a convenient and flavorful alternative that saves the chore of washing, peeling and boiling potatoes. Fully cooked and packaged in BPA-free cups, it features white rice lightly seasoned with onion powder, garlic powder and turmeric for a delightful taste ready in just 1 minute.

As a perfect recipe for those who love veggies, this dish combines classic salad freshness with olive tapenade for a briny bite in every mouthful. Canned tuna mixes with bursts of capers, hard-boiled egg, crisp green beans and sweet cherry tomatoes capped off with tart balsamic dressing to round out the dish.

If you love the taste of crisp, peppery arugula, this Pomegranate and Arugula Rice Salad is practically perfect. Your favorite green shines alongside a delicious mix of sweet pomegranate seeds, crisp almonds and tart balsamic dressing that’s ideal for a starter or side, or you can add a preferred protein to turn it into a satisfying main course.

Incredibly colorful with a lively taste, bright flavors mingle with fluffy grains of Minute Instant Jasmine Rice, ready in just 5 minutes to keep your dinner schedule on track. Aromatic white rice provides a distinct scent, perfect texture and delicious taste that’s fast, fragrant, flavorful and fluffy. It’s simply precooked then dried with nothing added but convenience to help you get tasty meals on the table quickly.

Requiring just 15 minutes to prepare, this salad is ready in an instant and serves up to eight people, making it a solution for anything from family gatherings to meal prepping for a busy week ahead.

Find more spring salads and other flavorful, convenient recipes by visiting MinuteRice.com.

Tuna and Rice Nicoise Salad

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

  • 1 cup Minute Yellow Rice Cups
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic dressing
  • 2 tablespoons olive tapenade
  • 1 teaspoon capers, drained well
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup frozen green beans, thawed
  • 1 can (3 ounces) tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, cut into wedges
  1. Heat rice according to package directions.
  2. In medium bowl, combine rice, balsamic dressing, tapenade and capers. Mix well.
  3. Top with cherry tomatoes, green beans, tuna and hard-boiled egg.
  4. Tip: Serve salad over bed of mixed greens, if desired.

Pomegranate and Arugula Rice Salad

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

  • 2 cups Minute Instant Jasmine Rice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bag (5 ounces) arugula
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  1. Prepare rice according to package directions. Cool completely, about 10 minutes.
  2. In large bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, red onion, mustard, honey, salt and pepper.
  3. Add rice, arugula and pomegranate seeds to bowl; toss to coat thoroughly. Sprinkle with almonds.

Tips: For added flavor, top salad with crumbled goat or blue cheese.

To cool rice quickly, spread evenly on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.


SOURCE:
Minute Rice

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