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35 Quick and Healthy School Night Dinners Your Kids Will Actually Eat

What’s for dinner is the most impossible question to answer on our best nights, but during the chaos and rush of back to school it feels nearly hopeless. Adjusting to new schedules and adding extracurriculars to an already crammed-tight calendar and you’ve got a recipe for another drive-through dinner.

This year, don’t sweat it. Put prioritizing dinner on your back to school list. Any of these dinners can be thrown together and in the mouths of your hungry family in 30 minutes or less. They’re also healthier meals you can feel good about serving. And in many cases you can eat them on the run.

We may not change how you see dinner as a necessary evil, but we can certainly take the devil out of the details!

Mexican and Southwest

quesadilla black beans

Black Bean and Mushroom Quesadillas

For meatless Monday or exclusive vegetarians, hearty black beans and mushrooms melted together with cheese is simple and satisfying.

BBQ Chicken Tacos with Avocado Coleslaw

Fire up the grill and you’re only 30 minutes away from the best tacos ever! Buy pre-shredded coleslaw to really save prep time.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers - Barr and Table

These peppers use protein-rich quinoa instead of rice and can be prepped and served in just 30 minutes with on-hand ingredients.

Chorizo Nachos

Biggest Loser has a homemade chorizo recipe that tastes and looks like the real deal but is much better for you (just make it in advance).

Apple Sausage Quesadillas

The kids can practically make these themselves and will love every last comforting bite.

Classic Comforts

meatloaf mug

Meatloaf in a Mug - My Recipes

Individual meatloaves are made in minutes in the microwave. Not only are they adorable, but they practically make themselves.

Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders

This drive-thru favorite is better than ever when you use panko to get that crispy crunch the kids crave.

BBQ Pork Sliders

It takes only 30 minutes to roast a tenderloin, which you can then shred, toss in your favorite BBQ sauce, and serve!

Turkey Meatball Subs

The sandwich shop has nothing on our effortless meatball subs, made lighter with ground turkey. Serve in hot dog buns for tiny hands.

Pumpkin Chili

Chili in 30 minutes is possible. The pumpkin adds delicious nutrition without influencing the flavor much at all.

Sandwiches

finished pita

Mediterranean Chicken, Pear, and Arugula Stuffed Pitas - Fit Bottomed Eats

Our original recipe for FBE starts with a store-bought rotisserie chicken for the ultimate in hand-held, get-out-the-door meals.

Best Club Sandwich Ever

We use Applegate Farms ham, turkey, and bacon to craft a cleaner sandwich that’s finished with avocados and veggies.

Oprah’s Love Sandwich

This grilled panini sandwich presses turkey and cheese together for a super-quick, hot and ready dinner.

Almond Butter Banana Crazy

It doesn’t get any easier – we fold almond butter with banana slices and sprinkle a few dried cranberries.

Super Sloppy Joes - Meal Makeover Moms

This family favorite is made lighter with ground turkey and always gets two messy thumbs up from the kids.

 

Meals On a Stick

chicken stick

Maple Ginger Chicken on a Stick - Green Lite Bites

Make the marinade in the morning and dinner is literally minutes away when you get home. Roni says kids will eat anything on a stick!

Bayou Kabobs

Shrimp, sausages, and peppers take less than 15 minutes on the grill.

Fancy Fish Sticks

A Jillian Michaels creation that is super family friendly and way better than any frozen fish stick in a box.

Jalapeno Cheddar Burger Bite Kabobs

Hand-held burgers without the bun are stuffed with gooey cheddar cheese and a bit of jalapeno pepper for big flavor.

Stuffed Almond Butter and Jam French Toast Kabobs - Nibbles by Nic

It’s breakfast for dinner in a whole new way! You could even add bites of ham to the kabobs if you’re looking for more protein.

 

Pasta and Noodles

butternut squash macaroni

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

An Abra Pappa original that uses less, but higher quality cheese and a butternut squash puree for a kid-approved mac!

Creamy Avocado Pasta - In Good Taste

One of our very favorite 15-minute dinners. Prepare it meatless or top with shrimp.

Tomato Basil Alphabet Soup

A super simple homemade soup that easily fills thermoses for feel-good brown bag lunches all week long!

Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce

It’s a no-noodle pasta dish and they’ll never know the difference! More nutritious and just as fast as a heap of spaghetti.

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli - Picky Eater Blog

Turn a package of store-bought ravioli in to a quick and easy feel good dinner the kids will rave about!

Breakfast for Dinner

waffle panini

Prosciutto and Apple Waffle Paninis – HelloGiggles

If you’ve made the waffles in advance, or have frozen available, the prep time on these is dramatically reduced!

Pigs in Comforters

Biggest Loser’s Chef Devin Alexanders rolls all-beef hot dogs in buttermilk biscuits.

Cornbread Waffles - Edible Perspective

Prepare these heartier waffles with our oven-baked chicken tenders for a better take on chicken and waffles!

Egg and Kielbasa Sausage Pizza – Kid Friendly Home

The eggs form a breadless crust that holds kielbasa sausage, fresh herbs, and both cheddar and parmesan cheeses.

Carrot Cake Pancakes – Grimmway Farms

We crafted these using Grimmway’s famous baby carrots. Topped with cream cheese and walnuts, they’re quite satisfying.

 

Mediterr-Asian

Hoppin Johns Hummus

Black Eyed Pea Hummus

Our “new year” hummus will bring good luck to your pupils. Serve with warm pita and fresh veggies for an easy, filling dinner.

Crispy Pork Wontons

Another winner of a dinner from Chef Devin, these wontons bake up in minutes and are easily eaten on the go.

Mediterranean Fish Tacos - Food Network

A Rachael Ray original that takes only 30 minutes to prep and serve and offers a lighter, cooler meal for those hot and busy nights.

Chinese Potstickers with Turkey - Super Healthy Kids

If you’ve got about 20 minutes, a food processor, and a pot of boiling water, you’ve got time to make a super lean take-out-inspired meal!

Caprese Grilled Cheese

The grilled cheese is all grown up! We make it better with real mozzarella, fresh basil, and juicy tomatoes.

meal planner

Keep it all organized! Download our FREE meal planner worksheets HERE!



Why Americans Trust Themselves When it Comes to Their Health

According to a recent health survey conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC), Americans are a lot of things, but trusting is not one of them.

In its seventh annual food and health survey, the IFIC – a non-profit association in Washington, D.C. – found some interesting trends and a few setbacks regarding the health of Americans.

A few of the biggest highlights were that taste still reigns supreme when considering food purchases, technology such as mobile weight apps may be the health coach of the future, and conflicting information regarding nutrition has led many Americans to trust themselves when it comes to discerning their health.

The web-based survey included 1,057 participants, and was designed to reflect the American population ages 18-80. The report sought to gain a deeper understanding of consumer behaviors concerning health and food from both from a year to year standpoint, and over a long length of time. Although there was much information presented in this year’s report, here are a few of the most relevant and revealing highlights.
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Early Puberty Poses Health Risks for Young Girls

American girls are reaching puberty at an earlier age. This has medical and health experts very concerned about the health consequences and risk factors associated with early development. Here’s why:

According to a report issued in the journal Pediatrics, about 15 percent of 1,239 girls studied showed the beginnings of breast development at age 7. One in 10 white girls showed breast growth by age 7 as did 23 percent of black girls and 15 percent of Hispanic girls. These percentages are twice the figures reported in 1997.

The long-term health risks associated with early development are increased risk for estrogen-dependent cancers like breast cancer and endometrial cancers. But the more immediate effects of premature puberty are the social, emotional and mental consequences of developing breasts early or getting a period before the third grade. Risk of confusion, depression, low self-esteem, body image challenges and eating disorders are all increased.
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Pop-Tarts Cafe Offers Fun But Unhealthy Food

Pop-Tarts World Store. Image via: AP Photo/Richard Drew.

Leave it to NYC to create a culinary creation called the Pop-Tart World Store. Located in nowhere else but Times Square, the Pop-Tarts Cafe is fun and funky take on one of the country’s most processed iconic foods: The Pop-Tart.

According to the New York Times, the Pop-Tarts World Store also features the Pop-Tarts Cafe, which will offer about 30 different menu selections from Pop-Tarts Sushi to “Fluffer Butter” (“marshmallow spread sandwiched between two Pop-Tarts frosted fudge pastries”).

The fun and zaniness factor of the Pop-Tarts Cafe is clearly off the charts but sadly, its nutritional statistics are also pretty extreme.
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Americans Lie About Their Weight

The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one. This may be happening for Americans and their perception of their own weight.

According to a new government survey released this week, after polling 400,000 people by phone, they found that 27 percent of Americans are obese. The problem is, a more accurate and scientific study on the number has it closer to 34 percent.

What this means is that not enough people are being honest about their weight. The good news is that the gap between fact and fiction is closing.
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