Ad Back to School Lunches for Picky Eaters

This Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters sponsored post is written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. All opinions are entirely my own. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ReimagineYourRoutine #CollectiveBias

If you are like me, you are dreading the thought of the 5:30 am blaring alarm waking you up after sleeping late all summer long. I will have to get up and get my three kids off to school, all three with lunches in hand.

It's almost back-to-school time, which means, I'm gearing up for back-to-school lunches. None of my children have ever attended a school that offered hot lunch, so I have always needed to pack a lunch for them. This year my son will be attending a school that offers hot lunch and this will be our first experience with school lunches.

Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters
I took my son to his new high school this week to purchase gym uniforms, pick up his bus schedule and to take a look at the lunch program. As my son and I were listening to the lunch program and what the options were, I knew right away there was no way my son would ever eat anything this new school offered. Thankfully, Tyson Foods has my back to school lunches covered.
Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters

Packing school lunches is not one of my favorite activities, especially since I have a child who is the world's pickiest eater. For years, my son would eat the exact same lunch, every single day. The same things, day in and day out, for years. It drove me bonkers.

Last year he actually started to eat a ham sandwich for lunch, but that only lasted a few months and he was back to snacks for lunch only. I have literally begged him to try anything and everything to take to school and he refuses every time.

MY GOAL

My goal this year is to provide lunches that all my children will eat and like and with minimal effort from me. I needed some inspiration on what to pack in my kids' lunchboxes so I turned to some of their favorite foods. How could I turn what my kids love to eat into delicious lunches? More importantly, what can I give my picky-eater son that will boost attention span, concentration and memory as he enters the Math, Science and Engineering Academy this year.

In preparation for back to school, I am sharing two delicious recipes that will give my super picky eating son, and my easy going daughters, the protein and energy they need to succeed in the classroom. At the same time, it gives me money saving solutions with minimal effort and less food waste.

Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters

Pack Foods Your Kid Likes

Having a picky eater has been a blessing in disguise because I now only pack what I know my kids will actually eat. Let's face it, if your kid doesn't eat peas at home, they are not going to eat them at school if you pack them in their lunch.

Since my son only eats about 5-10 food items, I have few things that I can actually pack in his school lunch. His lunch at home, everyday this summer, has been Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips, with buffalo sauce. I decided to search for a container where he could take this protein rich lunch to school as well. This is something I know he will eat and it will fuel his brain and keep him alert during the long hours of high school.
Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters

When my alarm wakes me at very early o'clock on school mornings, I head downstairs, turn the oven on, brew some coffee, pop some Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips and Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken in the oven and head back upstairs for a shower. By the time I head back down for a second cup of coffee, the chicken is ready and the kids can help me finish making their lunches.

Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters

My son puts his chicken in his tin with a small squeeze bottle filled with buffalo sauce and he is ready to go with a water bottle. Yes, that is all he eats. Remember, picky eater!

Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters

My girls love the Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips (sans the buffalo sauce), but they love Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken even more. At my daughters' school, there are not any tables for lunch, so everyone has to sit on the gym floor during lunch period. Having their lunch all in one container just makes lunch time so much easier for them. 

In the morning, I set out a variety of bowls of veggies for my daughters to pile on top of quinoa and the Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken goes right on top of everything. We call it our own version of a bibimbap. This is a great way to get rid of leftovers as well. So, how do you make a bibimbap?

Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters

Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken Bibimbap


Ingredients

Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken

sliced cucumbers

grape tomatoes

hard boiled eggs

asparagus

quinoa

snow pea pods

avocados

hearts of palm

Directions

Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters

Cook the quinoa the night before per the instructions. If your kids don't like quinoa, my favorite tip is to add a chicken bouillon cube to the water when boiling.

Use leftover veggies from dinner or pre-cook small bags of veggies and refrigerate for lunches. I usually have a variety of veggies on hand for our bibimbap bowls.

Prepare the chicken while you are in the shower or drinking your morning coffee. You could also pre-heat this the night prior as well. You simply follow the instructions on the bag.

Put the cooked quinoa into a bowl and add the assorted vegetables on top, and the heated Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken. Pack it in a lunch bag. Mix the ingredients well in the bowl at lunch and enjoy!

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Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters

I can pick up all my ingredients for school lunches at my local Walmart, even all my veggies. The Tyson chicken is in the frozen foods aisle. I pass right by Walmart on my way home from school, so it is a quick pop in and out with all my back to school lunch foods for my picky eating son and not so picky girls.

Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters
Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters
Back To School Lunches For Picky Eaters

I hope I have given you some inspiration on what to pack in your kids’ lunch boxes as they head back to school. Everyone is different and has different likes, dislikes and eating habits. Sometimes you are lucky and have a kid who will eat anything and sometimes, like me, you have a super picky eater.

How do you make sure your picky child eats well at school?

Tomato, Cucumber, Avocado Salad

Yesterday I posted about all the snacks we eat while streaming, but I don't think I have ever posted this oh-so-easy and oh-so-delicious recipe for the salad.

It's the end of summer and my garden is overflowing with the long waited for tomatoes and cucumbers that take for-ever to grow here in the midwest. (plus, I had a late start on my garden this year because we were on vacation for half of June).

Here in the midwest, August tends to be pretty steamy and hot and very humid. Too hot and humid to turn the oven on and cook. Which I usually do not do anyway, because in the summer months, I'm outdoor grilling everyday.

I love this month because my garden is overflowing, I can walk two feet out my back door, grab some tomatoes and cucs from my overflowing garden and create a simple and delicious salad. This is the easiest salad to pull together while your proteins are grilling away on your grill.

Tomato, Cucumber, Avocado Salad

Any type of tomato will do, really, whatever is growing in your garden and ripe that day. Beefsteak, Roma, Grape, Cherry . . .  the choice is yours.  We happen to be a family who loves cucumbers, but hates the seeds. So, I only grow English Cucs.

Once you have selected a few choice tomatoes, cucumbers, grab a red onion (or not if you don't like onions, which I don't, but my husband does) and an avocado (which I love and my husband does not) and a lemon.

Oh, and if you are growing any fresh herbs in your garden, grab whatever looks tasty to you that day. We happen to be a little nuts about cilantro and basil - so I grabbed both of those for this salad.

Tomato, Cucumber, Avocado Salad

Tomato, Cucumber, Avocado Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes or about 2 cups of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • ½ medium red onion, chopped
  • 1-2 avocados, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • grated lemon peel
  • handful (about 2 tbsp) fresh cilantro or basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp real sea salt or more if you like
Tomato, Cucumber, Avocado Salad

Instructions

  1. Place tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, avocado, and cilantro into a large salad bowl.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil andlemon juice. Toss gently to combine. Just before serving, toss withsea salt.
Tomato, Cucumber, Avocado Salad
Tomato, Cucumber, Avocado Salad

This salad is so tasty and easy! But what is great about this salad is that you can sort of just about anything else you like as well. Want a bit of cheese, add some feta. Want some olives, toss some in. Hate onions, leave them out. Want sweet, add a bit of sugar. Want more tang, add some vinegar -- which we do often.

Love pepper (which I do not, do not like, for real, I really do not like pepper -- if you put pepper on food - I won't eat it - I despise pepper that much), put some pepper on this salad as well. I happen to be a salt freak, so this salad will be loaded with salt! Wat a lime instead of lemon, grab green instead of yellow - totally works with limes too!

Tomato, Cucumber, Avocado Salad

This salad is on heavy rotation in my house this month! We will miss is once I run out of tomatoes!

What do you make from your garden?

Coming Together Over Food, Music & #Netflix

The best moments happen when my family comes together. My little family, the extended family and the whole gang of us. Great moments occur and I can say that usually food, music and entertainment play a huge parts of these momentous occasions.

For instance whenever I catch a whiff of lavender, I always think of my grandmother. Or when I hear an old song on the radio, I instantly think of a time during my childhood. It's this sort of nostalgia that I want to pass along to my kids.

Speaking of nostalgic music, when was the first time you heard any Beatles music? I have a friend who loves The Beatles and I really didn't listen to them too much until college. Since she introduced me to this band, I have been a fan. I have slowly been introducing The Beatles to my kids and it is hilarious to see their response to this classic music.

Coming Together Over Food & Music

Netflix knows how important it is to pass along inspiring music from various genres.  They have a new original series out with five charming and energetic bug-like creatures called Beat Bugs and it was inspired by the music of the Beatles. I can now have sing along sessions with my kiddos singing Beatles classics with new artists that they love like Pink, and Sia.

And while we are having all this fun singing and memorizing Beatles songs, we decided to cook up some of our favorite foods from all our favorite show we love to stream. Is anyone else inspired to cook what they see other people eating on television?

Here are a few foods we have cooked up after streaming Netflix, seeing them and wanting to eat them! My kids are huge fans of making recipes we see on shows we stream.

Coming Together Over Food, Music & #Netflix
Coming Together Over Food, Music & #Netflix
Coming Together Over Food, Music & #Netflix
Coming Together Over Food, Music & #Netflix

A few of these I have been eating while I finish up my summer Netflix streaming of all things British! My new Netflix crush has been Torchwood. Love this show and its sort of naughty, which is so unlike me to watch! My next British show in line will be Luther and after that Dr Who. Has anyone seen these? Are they good?

What music and food inspires your family to come together and have some fun creating the best memories?

Disclosure: This post is part of my involvement as a Netflix #StreamTeam Member. All opinions are my own. #NetflixKids #NetflixMoms Images provided by Netflix and used with permission  #Netflix Want to learn more about Netflix Streaming? Subscriptions start at $7.99/month.

 

Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms

This Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #OnePanPronto #CollectiveBias

I don't know about you, but my menu planning shifts and changes a bit once school begins. I have been gearing up for back to school meals and Barilla pasta and sauces work great for my busy family. This delicious Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms recipe is made with kale and mushrooms that my family simply loves. The Barilla Pronto Penne Pasta and Barilla sauces are perfect for busy families like mine.

Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms

I have been using Barilla pasta and sauces since my husband and I went to Italy almost two decades ago! Barilla pasta was basically all that was sold at the grocer while we spent three glorious weeks in Tuscany on a vineyard. I even tasted pesto from Barilla for the first time while in Italy. I thought if the Italians use Barilla pasta and sauces in Italy, I will use them at home and I have done just that ever since.

For every box of Barilla® Pronto™ purchased at Walmart between 7/31/2016 and 10/31/2016, Barilla® will donate 10 meals to kids in need through No Kid Hungry, up to half-a-million meals.*

I purchased my back to school pronto boxes at Walmart and Barilla donated 40 boxes for me! The Barilla Pronto Pasta boxes are right in the same aisle as Barilla pasta.
Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms

Get Back To Routine with Barilla Pronto Pasta & Sauces!

Sometimes there are nights when I just do not have time for an elaborate meal or time to even prep a meal for my family. I love when I can cook tasty meals in one pot for my family; delicious and less mess to clean up! With Barilla Pronto Pastas, I do not even need to wait for water to boil, let alone drain the pasta. I cook everything in one pot and on really busy nights, I serve dinner right from the pot as well.

Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms

Barilla Pronto uses less water, less energy and save me tons of time. These pastas and sauces are perfect for those super busy nights when we have very little time to sit down to dinner before we are off to another activity. Plus, it tastes great and my kids love it!

My kids are getting a bit older now and if I need a bit of help in the kitchen due to busy schedules, I can assign some kitchen tasks for my all my kids. I have made my kitchen functional so that my kids can help me on these busy nights of crammed schedules. Don’t under estimate your kiddos, they are fully capable of helping out with meal preparation. And better still, they love it and will eat better for me when they cook the meal!

Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms

Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms


Ingredients

1 box Barilla® Pronto™ Penne

1 ½ cups cold water

1 ½ cups chicken broth

1 onion, chopped

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

4 leaves kale, chiffonade

1 15 ounce jar Barilla tomato sauce OR 1 6.3 ounce jar Barilla Pesto

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (optional)

1½ teaspoons salt (optional)

Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms

Instructions

Add a bit of cooking oil to a pan and the chopped onion and mushrooms. Saute for a couple of minutes.

Pour 1½ cups of cold water and 1½ cups of chicken broth into the pan. Pour the entire box of pronto penne pasta into your pan, ensuring that the liquid covers the pasta.

Cook on medium-high, stirring regularly, until most of the water is absorbed.

When pasta is almost al dente, add the tomato sauce(or the Pesto) and the kale; gently simmer through. Remove from heat and add Italian seasoning and salt to taste. Serve immediately.

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What I like the most about this recipe is that I get not one recipe, but two great family recipes. All I have to do is switch the sauces! One night I use the tomato sauce and another night I use the pesto sauce. Both are huge hits with my kids and my husband and I have great memories of cooking together in Italy.

Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms
Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms
Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms
Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms
Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms
Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms

This meal comes together in less than 30 minutes and when everyone helps out, we are eating in about 20 minutes. Barilla helps me feed my family with hot, family-friendly dinners. We are all eating well and enjoying some time together before we dash off in different directions.

Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms
Summer disappeared in a flash of fun and we are all headed back to school. It is super easy to have some great meal ideas that are quick and affordable for the busy days and nights ahead of us. Here is another great recipe from Barilla to help out with all those busy nights. The next time you are at Walmart, be sure to pick up the Barilla Pronto pastas.
Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms
Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms
Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms

*$1.00 can provide a child 10 healthy meals. This amount is based on individual experiences of grant recipients. Contributions will be used to reach the highest number of children facing hunger in America. Share Our Strength is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.

What are your go-to, pronto dinners?

Pronto Penne Pasta with Kale & Mushrooms

 

 

WellieWishers from American Girl

What does every little girl want? A best friend, of course! A new friend is all a little girl could ever hope for. America Girl Doll delivers five new friends with their new WellieWishers line of dolls.

We are so fortunate that we live near the city and can pop right downtown to the American Girl Doll Store in Chicago. We regularly have tea there and were so excited to be invited to view the new WellieWishers and have lunch with a bunch of our friends in the area.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

Last week I took my children out for a late breakfast as we had just seen a play, The Velveteen Rabbit, and we were near one of our favorite breakfast locations . . . that is actually not anywhere near, where we live . . . so it was a special treat to see a play AND to get to eat breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants.

My kids are pretty predictable at restaurants and basically order the same exact thing every single time. And, I could say the same for myself. I don't usually try anything new, but stick to what I know I like.

However, this time around I saw something new and was intrigued. Intrigued and hungry, so I changed up from what I usually order and picked this something new. Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes.

I am pretty picky about my pancakes in that I don't like them to be large and flat. Do you know what kind of shape I am speaking about? I prefer my pancakes to be small and fluffy. really, really fluffy!

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Schleich Horse Club

Ever since my youngest daughter was a toddler, she has been in awe of horses. We live near a couple of horse farms and each day we would take a walk and feed the horses some apples and flowers. If I didn't take her to the visit horses, she would cry.

When she turned four years old, the only thing she requested was a real horse. I did the next best thing and signed her up for horse riding lessons. At four years old (and a few days), she got up on her first pony and was in heaven. She took to riding perfectly, even though she had to be led around by the reins and her instructor, she loved riding and the pony.

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Strawberry Jalapeno No Churn Ice Cream

We are in the height of summer here in Chicago and all that is on our minds this week is ice cream. During the steaming July months, the freezer should be loaded with ice cream. My freezer was getting low on ice cream, so I decided to make all the ice cream I could with some amazing fresh fruits from the markets.

Do you know you don't need an ice cream maker to make ice cream?? This recipe is all about strawberries, jalapenos and cooling off. This Strawberry Jalapeno No Churn Ice Cream will cure all your summer cravings. Sweet, cold and spicy - all in one lick.

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Life is a Bold Adventure

“Freedom lies in being bold.” Robert Frost

I think I look to summertime the most of all the seasons. A relaxed routine and a slower pace of the day. I am not focused on time, a calendar or appointments and schedules. I like to think of summer as a stress-free zone and I fully take advantage of the summer season. I have quotes from my favorites readings that I like to think about during the day to keep my life as one big bold adventure. 

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The 5 Best Summer TV Shows

I have been on a bit of a British binge of late with Netflix. My son told me the other day I need to be grounded from all things British. I don't know what the draw is for me, perhaps my love of history. But I do love all these period shows that Netflix is currently streaming. My summer nights have been filled with British and Irish accents.

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Watkins Glen State Park: Little Known Facts You Wish You Knew

When we were planning our family vacation to the east of our nation this year, we were including major cities . . . Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York and Niagara Falls. There would be long, boring drives between the cities and I knew we would need a respite from skyscapers and museums at some point.

Whilst perusing maps of routes we would be driving I scoured for state parks and discovered Watkins Glen State Park. Right in between New York and Niagara and right along our driving route. This was a last minute add-in and I changed our schedule around a bit, taking a day away from New York City and Philadelphia, but it was totally worth it.

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The SpongeBob Musical at the Oriental Theatre #SpongeBobBway

The SpongeBob Musical opened June 19 here in Chicago's Oriental Theatre and is there through Sunday, July 10. My kids and I had the pleasure of receiving an invite and saw seeing SpongeBob in Bikini Bottom yesterday!

We first discovered SpongeBob whilst living abroad as expats in Beijing. Television reception in China was very scarce and well, we didn't speak Chinese. My daughter, then 18 months, fell head over heels for SpongeBob and has loved him ever since. We watched SpongeBob on DVD that entire year and have been watching him ever since. He never fails to make us giggle with his silly antics.

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