Quick-N-Easy Back-To-School Foods for Kids
Suggested for Breakfast or After-School Snack FROZEN BANANA FRUIT SHAKE 1 cup crushed ice 1 cup cold water 1/3 can frozen orange juice concentrate 3/4 tsp. vanilla 1 cup strawberry-banana yogurt 1/4 cup sugar 2 bananas, chilled and peeled
In a heavy-duty blender, drop in the ice, the water, the orange juice and the vanilla. Blend on medium high until most of the ice converts to a "slushy" consistency. Then add to the blender the yogurt and the sugar and cream them together until smooth. Finally, break the bananas into small pieces and drop them into the mixture. Then, on high speed, process the ingredients until the shake is thick and frosty. Serve immediately. This recipe has several ingredient substitutions you can make to suit your individual tastes. For example, use frozen apple juice or grape juice concentrates for the orange juice, whichever flavor of yogurt you desire, and any selection of fresh fruit (plums, pears, peaches, grapes, black berries, strawberries, or blueberries) you prefer.
You can make these hot sandwich treats in a SnackMaster pocket sandwich machine, on a waffle press, or on your George Foreman Grill (but they really come out best on the SnackMaster). Using only super-fresh sliced white bread, you first take two slices from the loaf and brush them with either butter or margarine on both sides of the slices (you can substitute mayonnaise if you prefer). Then "build" a sandwich using shredded cheese (cheddar or mozzarella), thinly-sliced hotdog wieners, chopped hardboiled eggs and diced ham, minced precooked breakfast sausage, or peanut butter and mashed bananas. Then when the sandwich is made, place it into the SnackMaster, close and lock down the lid, and cook until the bread forms two, sealed, triangular pockets that are nicely browned and toasted. If you chose not to buy a SnackMaster back in the 50's or you never got one for a birthday or anniversary present, you can use your waffle iron (sandwich plate side) or even the old George Foreman Grill to get a similar "toasted sandwich" effect. To make it easy for the older kids to prepare these creations by themselves, you can keep the "ingredients" (the chopped weenies, the shredded cheese, the minced sausage, the diced ham, or even boiled and peeled shrimp) in Ziploc bags in your refrigerator. That way, they're ready to use in a snap!
KIDDIE PITAS or TORTILLAS Equally as easy for kids to prepare and eat are such items as Kiddie Pitas or Kiddie Tortillas. With a stash of corn or flour tortillas in the fridge at all times, connoisseurs from toddler to teen levels can whip up magnificent (and healthful) culinary concoctions in the microwave in a matter of minutes. They can place a pita bread or a tortilla round between two paper towels, zap 'em in the microwave for 12 to 15 seconds, then place them on the countertop and either stuff the pita halves or roll the tortillas with any combination of. . . Cooked and crumbled bacon Poached and chopped chicken meat Imitation bacon bits Finely diced ham Cooked and minced sausage Stripped hot dog wieners Assorted kinds of cold cuts Stacks of pepperoni slices, and Grated cheeses of all types Easily "kid-dressed" with mayonnaise, mustard, or ketchup, they can be finished with a couple of spoonfuls of ragu pizza sauce or a generous splash of taco sauce right from the bottle. You gotta remember that with a jar of pizza sauce and a bottle of taco sauce kids can make any sandwich truly "gourmet." And you know that whatever they manage to come up with has got to be healthier than a bag of gooey chocolate candy and cheezy chips.
KIDS AL A CARTE!
Here are some other Back-To-School meal and snack suggestions that you might find a tad more on the healthy side than a bowl of ice cream, candy bars, and potato chips. When they tell you they're hungry, try fixin' 'em: Bagel With Peanut Butter And Apple Butter: Just slice the bagel, toast it lightly, spread it with some chunky peanut butter, and sweeten it up with a tablespoon or two of apple butter. You might get a higher approval rating if you slice the bagel in bitesize pieces before you serve it to them. (Kids can do it all).
Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Jelly Rolled Inside A Tortilla: Heat the tortilla in the microwave. Then spread the cream cheese evenly across the face and top with a layer of junior's favorite jelly-mayhaw, seedless blackberry, grape, currant, etc. (Most kids can do it all, but grownups should help the younger ones take the tortilla from the microwave).
Salt-And-Peppered Hardboiled Eggs: These you can keep chopped in a Ziploc for the SnackMaster sandwiches or stuffed pitas, but be sure to keep another batch in the fridge "whole" for eating out of hand. Kids just love to snack on salted hardboiled eggs (and it's a great source of protein and calcium). Of course, whenever grownups muster up the energy and feel more creative, they can always convert plain hardboiled eggs to "stuffed or deviled eggs."
Instant Oatmeal: Never pass up an opportunity to offer your kids a nutritious bowl of oatmeal. And if you don't have time to cook the old fashioned ones from scratch, you can even let them make their own from the instant variety. All it takes is a single packet, a little water, a bowl, and a microwave oven. A few quick stirs and viola! Hot and hearty oatmeal! And to keep this offering from becoming boring, you can buy the variety packs that include all the flavors from brown sugar and maple, to cinnamon pecan, to vanilla raisin. (Kids can do this themselves and it's a great meal for breakfast or supper).
Instant Grits: Not just for breakfast anymore (but a great hot breakfast for most kids off to school!), it's one of the "instants" most kids can fix for themselves when you don't have time to do the longer version. Full of nutrition, most kids like grits with just a little butter. But to transform this bowl of Southern hominy into a full-blown meal, don't hesitate to stir in shredded cheese, or diced ham, or chopped breakfast sausages, or a combination of all three. (Again, because instant grits are microwaveable, kids can do this).
Granola bars: Certainly nothing wrong with these, especially for a quick breakfast on the go or a tasty and satisfying after-school snack.
Fresh fruit with Cool Whip: Head and shoulders above all the competition, kids should be offered and encouraged to eat fresh fruit whenever the opportunity arises. That means for breakfast, for a snack, at lunch, after supper, and even before bedtime. Of course, to give it "Kiddie Flare," spoon on the low-fat Cool Whip. You'll be surprised just how much they'll enjoy it with just the addition of a creamy topping.
(If you keep the fruit cut up in the fridge, kids can spoon it out into a bowl and cover it with Cool Whip all by themselves).
Toaster Waffles/Toaster Strudel/Toaster Scrambles: Among the breakfast items most popular with the younger set are the so-called "toaster foods." These are the creations that kids pop into the toaster for quick eats after oversleeping or running late for the school bus. Pop-Tarts and Eggos allegedly conceived the fad, but here lately just about anything edible can be dropped into the toaster-eggs and ham, cheese fajitas, cheese-burgers, German strudel, and sausage biscuits. (Once again, kids can do these with only the minimal of supervision).
Pizza: This is the day-in day-out, year-around nutrition staple for most kids. Whether you serve it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime snack or anytime, pizza is primo in ultimate kiddie gourmet. The American Dietary Association confirms that of all the so-called "junk food" kids develop a palate for, it's pizza that provides them the most complete source of nutrition. So feel okay about giving your kids a slice of pizza when they ask for it, even if it's for breakfast. By the way, if you don't have any leftover pizza you can find what's called "mini-pizzas" in the frozen food section at most supermarkets. Just pop them out of the freezer, put them into the microwave (kids can do this themselves) or convection oven, and in just minutes you got kids with full bellies.
Now, as I've showcased in previous shows in previous weeks, there's also French toast, eggs and hash browns and bacon, and one-pot jambalayas to make "back-to-school" menus quick and easy. Of course, even with all these suggestions, should you get caught in a pinch you can always resort to the old reliable standbys-Froot Loops and milk, Aunt Jemima pancakes, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese!