CABOT, Vt., Aug. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Hooray – they're going back to school! For busy parents who have spent the summer months juggling work and a house full of kids, back-to-school may seem like their own vacation. But just the opposite may be true. With September around the corner, parents have work to do: school clothes need finding, and backpacks and lunchboxes need filling. Then the not-so-much-fun begins: getting breakfasts ready as early as 6 a.m., lunches packed and ready to go by around 6:30, and dinner on the table when everyone is home from work. It's a tough schedule, but it can be made easier by preparing ingredients – and even whole meals - in advance. Take some tips from some people with really tough schedules.
"The farm families who own Cabot Creamery Cooperative know what a long day is like, and they'll tell you the key to getting through it successfully is by planning ahead. Our family uses this same strategy when it comes to planning meals," says Cabot's Registered Dietitian Regan Jones. "Breakfast would never make it on the table in time for my kids to be on time for school if we weren't prepared in advance."
A good way to start off any early morning meal is by serving something that was prepared the day before. "That way, you don't have to rush out of bed, and if you burn the toast or realize you've already used the last egg in the carton, the kids won't have to go to school hungry," says Regan. "Muffins are always a good option for a quick breakfast, and they are easy to make. You can even bake them on a lazy Sunday, freeze them individually, then warm them in the toaster oven for a few minutes before serving. I suggest Cabot's Apple-Cheddar Muffins with Cheddar Cheese – they're not overly sweet and have a good serving of protein."
When it comes to packing a lunch, simple is best. A traditional sandwich paired with a nutritious snack is the way to go. "Instead of putting prepackaged cookies or cake in your child's lunchbox, satisfy their sweet tooth with something healthy," adds Regan. "Kids love bite-sized foods, so fill a small container with grapes or berries, cubed cheese and nuts. The variety of texture and flavor, like a simple Munch Bowl, will keep them interested and away from the empty calorie desserts."
For a delicious dinner after a long day, there are two key things to remember: (1) a single-dish dinner saves time, and (2) prepare your ingredients in advance. "Any chef de cuisine worth their salt keeps their kitchen running flawlessly by being prepared. Why should your kitchen be any different?" notes Regan. "If you're expecting a tough day at work, prepare your ingredients the night before. This includes chopping vegetables, measuring ingredients, and getting your spices and seasonings in order. You can even take the process a step further by choosing a casserole-style single-dish meal, like Cabot's Tamale Skillet Supper; by preparing all the ingredients and placing them in a baking dish, all you have to do when you get home from work is heat the oven and pop in your dish." Toss together a quick side salad, and dinner is served, leaving you plenty of time to brush up on your algebra.
Makes 12 servings
1 cup King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup peeled, chopped apple
4 ounces Cabot Mild Cheddar or Sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1 cup)
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons Cabot Salted Butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 12 muffin cups or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In mixing bowl, stir together whole-wheat and white flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add apples and cheese and toss to combine.
3. In another bowl, whisk eggs lightly. Whisk in milk and butter. Make well in center of dry ingredients; add milk mixture and gently stir in dry ingredients from side until just combined.
4. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffins feel firm when lightly pressed on top.
*Nutrition analysis based on using Cabot Mild Cheddar.
Calories 182, Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 5g, Cholesterol 57mg, Sodium 288mg, Carbohydrates 20g, Dietary Fiber 2g, Protein 7g, Calcium 164mg
Makes 1 serving
1. Combine in small bowl.
Calories 140, Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 3g, Cholesterol 15mg, Sodium 90mg, Carbohydrates 11g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Protein 6g, Calcium 150mg
Makes 6 servings
1 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 (16-ounce) tube prepared polenta*, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 ounces Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar, grated (about 1 cup)
Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)
1. In large skillet over medium-high heat, combine ground beef, onion and bell pepper; cook until beef is browned, about 5 minutes, breaking it up with spoon. Drain well. Stir in beans and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened, about 10 minutes longer.
2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
3. Coat 1 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Line bottom and sides of dish with some of polenta slices, leaving enough to cover top. Spoon in beef mixture, then sprinkle with cheese. Top with remaining polenta slices.
4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with cilantro or parsley, if desired.
* Find prepared polenta in produce section of supermarket.
Calories 317, Total Fat 13g, Saturated Fat 6g, Cholesterol 56mg, Sodium 687mg, Carbohydrates 28g, Dietary Fiber 4g, Protein 25g, Calcium 166mg
ABOUT CABOT CREAMERY COOPERATIVE
Cabot Creamery Cooperative has been in continuous operation in Vermont since 1919, and we make a full line of cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, and butter. Best known as makers of "The World's Best Cheddar," Cabot is owned by 1275 dairy farm families located throughout New England and upstate New York. For additional information on Cabot Creamery, visit http://www.cabotcheese.coop
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Regan Jones, RD
SOURCE Cabot Creamery Cooperative