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Easy healthy snacks for back to school season, 30-minute dinner ideas

While back to school season may look a bit different this year, one thing we still need plenty of is easy, healthy snacks. Michelle Dudash, registered dietitian and author of Clean Eating for Busy Families, joined us today to share snacks that will be a hit with everyone in your family.

1. With all of the physical activity kids get, their growing bodies need a few snacks throughout the day. Michelle always keeps some go-to snacks on hand for when hunger strikes.

Muffin tins make great snack trays, and kids love how they look! You can give each child or family their own snack tray, too.

Fill them with fruits, veggies with dip, cheese, and nuts for an easy, healthy nosh. Add some exciting new flavors by tossing together a homemade snack mix.

2. Michelle is obsessed with this craveworthy Chili Lime Pecan Snack Mix, a recipe from American Pecan, who she partners with. The pecans get extra crunchy when you bake them, with a buttery, naturally sweet taste.

It’s super easy to make, with whole-grain cereal, pretzels, spices, and American Pecans. Pecans can superfy your snacks by making them more nutritious and delicious. Each 1-ounce serving of pecans provides 3 g of plant-based protein and 3 g fiber, minerals, and 12 g of ‘good’ monounsaturated fats, and only 2 g saturated fat.

To make this, we whisk together egg white, lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt until well blended. Then we fold in the pecan halves and cereal to coat. Spread it out on a sheet pan and bake at 275 degrees until toasted, about 45 minutes. Let it cool and then stir in the pretzels.

American Pecans are also known as the “Original Supernut”—original since they are one of the only tree nuts native to America.

3. Get kids involved with “snacktivities.”

Michelle’s kids love freezer pops, including these Chocolate-Dipped Bananas with Pecans. These are so easy to make. You just melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in the microwave. Dip the banana halves into the chocolate. Dip into the pecans.

You can see how versatile pecans are. You can chop them up and sprinkle them on all sorts of different snacks, like in granola bars and muffins, to top yogurt, or just eat them straight from the bag.

Place the bananas on a lined tray or container, and freeze. 

Also, keep an easy access assortment of in-season whole fruit.

Late-summer apples are here! Pair them with your kid’s favorite nut butter. For something new and just in time for fall, whip up some homemade Pecan Butter in your food processor. It’s simple with just pecans, salt, and a touch of cinnamon.

You can find all of these recipes, plus more info about the nutritional benefits of pecans, at AmericanPecan.com.

Busy weeknights are back, so chef Michelle Dudash, RD brought her easy 30-minute recipes.

1. 3-Ingredient Spaghetti Meat Sauce

All you need is Dash Dinners Marinara Spice Kit, canned crushed tomatoes, and a protein of your choice, like ground beef. Serve over spaghetti or zoodles.

The spice kit contains all gluten-free ingredients and no added sugar: basil, oregano, minced garlic, onion, rosemary, thyme, and more.

Kids love this marinara sauce!

2. Shrimp and Green Bean Stir-Fry

Skip the takeout and make your own authentic and healthy dinner in just 30 minutes.

Fresh green beans are in peak season right now—tender and bright vegetable to add to your menus. Black bean sauce makes for a satisfying and authentic-tasting sauce.

3.  Try soba noodles in place of rice

Soba noodles are Japanese whole-grain noodles that cook in under 5 minutes. They are really satisfying with stir-fry dishes.

Sizzling Sichuan Shrimp & String Bean Stir-Fry

This recipe offers a way to use green beans in a main course, another option for peak season when beans are so abundant. Black bean sauce lasts awhile in the refrigerator, so you’ll be able to use it over time in stir-fries.

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) black bean sauce (found in Asian food section)
  • 2 tablespoons (28 ml) rice wine (or mirin, vermouth, or dry sherry)
  • 2 tablespoons (28 ml) reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons (13 g) honey

FOR THE STIR-FRY:

  • 4 teaspoons (20 ml) high-heat oil like avocado or rice bran, divided
  • 1 pound (455 g) green beans, trimmed and blotted dry
  • 1 pound (455 g) peeled and deveined large shrimp (21/25 count), tails removed
  • 3 dried red chiles, more or less to adjust spiciness
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (10 g) minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon (6 g) minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 4 cups (780 g) cooked brown rice (or brown rice noodles)

TO MAKE THE SAUCE: Blend all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons (28 ml) of water.

TO MAKE THE STIR-FRY: Heat a wok or a large pot over medium heat and add oil. When oil is shimmering, add beans and cook until slightly wrinkled, stir-frying every 60 seconds, about 5 minutes. Place beans on a plate. Put the wok back on the heat, add shrimp, chiles, scallions, garlic, ginger and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) soy sauce, and cook just until shrimp are opaque in the center, about 3 minutes. Remove chiles and swirl in the sauce. Add beans to reheat, mixing well. Serve over rice.

Total prep and cook time: 30 minutes • yield: 4 servings, 1 cup (232 g) stir-fry each (with 1 cup [195 g] rice)

Per serving: 394 calories; 8 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 23 g protein; 59 g carbohydrate; 7 g dietary fiber; 137 mg cholesterol.

Recipe by Michelle Dudash, RDN, author of Clean Eating for Busy Families, revised & expanded (Fair Winds Press, 2019).

For more from Michelle visit her blog and Dash Dinners website. You can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

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