(Family Features) Back-to-school season means many families are busier than ever, leaving less time to plan weeknight meals. While a new school year brings plenty of exciting moments, it also adds up to early mornings, long days and late evenings, making it tough to keep nutrition top-of-mind.
With new routines and jam-packed calendars, quick and easy recipes can be the solutions you need. Swapping out complicated dishes for simple dinners and make-ahead snacks allows you to make your loved ones’ health a priority while also managing hectic schedules.
To help make those simple yet tasty menu additions a reality, look to a flavor favorite and nutrition powerhouse like pecans. They’re the ideal nut to keep on hand to incorporate into favorite meals and after-school snacks.
Taste is just the beginning when it comes to pecans. Their nutritious punch provides a unique mix of health-promoting nutrients. Plus, they’re a versatile ingredient that can shine in a wide range of flavor profiles from sweet or spicy to salty, smoky and savory.
These benefits make them a delicious, nutrient-dense option to power up school days. Consider them as a better-for-you addition to breakfast in banana bread recipes and energizing snacks like these Superfood Pecan Energy Bars. They’re simple and nutritious, making them an ideal after-school snack and on-the-go solution between activities.
When the whole family comes home after a long day of school, work, games and social commitments, pecans can add a delightful crunch to air-fried favorites like chicken tenders or childhood classics like Mac and Cheese with Pecan Breadcrumbs.
For more back-to-school recipe inspiration, visit EatPecans.com.
Mac and Cheese with Pecan Breadcrumbs
Cook time: 50 minutes
- 8 ounces cavatappi pasta
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional for salting pasta water, to taste
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 block (8 ounces) cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup raw pecan pieces
- 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
- 4 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Cook cavatappi in salted boiling water. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Return pasta to pot and stir in butter.
- Using box grater, shred cheddar cheese.
- Using food processor, combine 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese with pecans. Process to coarse breadcrumb consistency.
- Add remaining cheddar cheese, ricotta, sour cream, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to warm pasta. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add egg; stir. Add 2-4 tablespoons reserved pasta water to loosen mixture; stir until smooth.
- Pour into buttered 9-inch square or round casserole dish and top evenly with pecan topping.
- Bake 30 minutes.
Substitutions: Use pre-shredded cheese in place of cheddar cheese block. Use pasta of choice in place of cavatappi.
Superfood Pecan Energy Bars
Cook time: 40 minutes
- 15 Medjool dates (9 ounces)
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- 1/2 cup gluten-free oats
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 200 F.
- In food processor, process or pulse dates until chopped and rough texture forms. Add pecan pieces, oats, chia seeds, vanilla extract, cinnamon and kosher salt; process about 1 minute until crumbly dough forms.
- Line baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Dump dough into center of parchment paper and use rolling pin to roll into 6-by-10 1/2-inch rectangle. Cut dough into 14 bars about 1 1/2-by-3 inches or into desired shapes.
- Bake bars 30 minutes. Cool bars to room temperature then refrigerate in sealed container between sheets of wax paper.
- To package for on-the-go snacking, cut 4-by-6-inch rectangles of wax paper, wrap around bars and secure with tape.
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