Kid-Friendly Recipes to Kick Off the School Year

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Everyone back on a normal sleep schedule? Check. New shoes broken in? Check. Backpacks fully loaded? Check. Frozen pizza for dinner? Wait a minute.

Life is hectic, and maybe even more so around the change of seasons when the kids head back to school. Yes, frozen dinners and takeout meals are easy. Yes, they taste good. No, they are not the best option for growing bodies and brains. Not to mention that there are better choices for us adults, too.

You hear a lot about starting the day off right with breakfast, but there's an equally important argument for a balanced sit-down dinner. Studies show that kids who enjoy regular family dinners and have healthier diets overall do better in school and have fewer behavioral problems.

If nightly sit-down dinners seem like a stretch, try making a goal to fit in one more next week. Look ahead at your schedules and choose which days will work.

Offer a variety of healthy options so there is something for everyone to enjoy. Be creative and pick themes. For example, try Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, and use up leftovers on Wacky Wednesday.

Or, try these healthy (but still tasty!) recipes that will please even the pickiest of palates. Not to mention that they might help the kids wake up less cranky. And I doubt any parent would complain about that.

 

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Philly Steak Quesadilla

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 green pepper, thinly sliced
½ medium onion, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons shredded part-skim Mozzarella cheese
4 slices deli-sliced roast beef
2 low-fat 10 inch flour tortillas
Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Cook peppers and onion on medium heat in a non-stick skillet until onions tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet.
  2. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Add one tortilla. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons cheese. Top with 4 slices beef. Add vegetables. Top with tortilla.
  3. Cook on medium heat about 3 minutes. Use spatula to flip the quesadilla. Cook additional 3 minutes. Slide from skillet onto cutting board. Cut into 6 slices.


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Chicken Finger Manicotti

Serves 6

Ingredients

12 manicotti shells
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
24 ounces (1½ pounds) chicken tenders
1½ cups light shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook manicotti shells according to directions.
  2. Heat oven to 350º.
  3. Spread a small amount of spaghetti sauce over the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking pan.
  4. Sprinkle garlic powder on chicken. Put chicken tender into manicotti shell. Place stuffed shells in baking pan.
  5. Pour remaining sauce over shells. Sprinkle with cheese.
  6. Cover baking pan with foil. Bake for 1 hour.

Serve with a side of steamed vegetables or a lightly dressed garden salad.

 

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Pesto Tortellini

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 package frozen tricolor tortellini
2 medium summer squash
2 medium zucchini
¼ cup pesto
¼ cup shredded Parmesan and Romano cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Cook tortellini according to package directions.
  3. Wash and slice zucchini and other squash.
  4. Toss vegetables, tortellini, and pesto together.
  5. Place mixture in baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese.
  6. Bake 20 minutes until cheese is melted.