Is this the school year you're finally going to feed your family healthfully? January may be the typical season for resolutions, but for families, the start of a school year often leaves parents craving routine and improved eating patterns and triggers feelings of opportunity and a fresh start.I, too, have goals for the school year, including more family meals that include my 5-year-old, now that her bedtime has been pushed a bit later. Of course, effective meal planning, a stocked pantry and good recipes are all integral to successful healthy eating, but this fall, to ensure dinner hits the table in time for my daughter, I am also embracing the old faithful muffin pan.Almost anything can be made in a muffin pan, and the result is perfectly portioned breakfasts, lunches, snacks or dinners made by the dozen that can be stored in the fridge, ready to eat. Muffins make excellent on-the-go nourishment, cut down on the cooking times of larger pans and are easily frozen for more advanced meal planning.Muffins make obvious breakfasts, but think beyond blueberry or banana nut; instead, try egg-and-cheese sandwiches made 12 at a time, or a veggie quiche in serving-size portions. Kids can heat these up in a jiffy and even eat them on the way to school if a morning is particularly hectic.Muffins also make easy lunchbox stuffers for the little ones, or afternoon snacks for the older kids heading to sports practice. Make a pile of mac-and-cheese muffins (or, for a healthier twist, try millet and cheese) to leave for your children when they arrive home from school.After a long day, when everyone is grouchy and starving, how nice would it be if meatloaf muffins, little lasagnas, mini chicken potpies, small spanakopitas or pint-size quinoa cakes were waiting? Magic in a muffin tin. Well, maybe not magic, but one more tool to make this the healthiest school year yet.
1. Meatloaf Mufﬁns24 servings (8 to 12 main-course servings)Meatloaf makes a budget-friendly meal, but it takes a long time to bake; this version bakes in standard-size muffin pans, cutting the cooking time in half. That makes it a weeknight-friendly option, too.The muffins also are great as an after-school snack, served at room temperature. An instant-read thermometer is good for monitoring doneness.MAKE AHEAD: The meatloaf muffins can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 months.From nutrition consultant Casey Seidenberg of Nourish Schools.Ingredients1 1/2 pounds ground beef (90-10), turkey (mix of light and dark meat) or ground bison2 cups quick-cooking oats1/2 cup ketchup1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce1/2 cup grated carrots (from 2 medium carrots, scrubbed well)1/2 cup (about 3/4 ounce) packed spinach leaves, finely chopped1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped3 cloves garlic, minced2 large eggs, beatenPinch salt1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepperStepsPreheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease the wells of two muffin pans (12 each) with cooking oil spray.Use a flexible spatula or your clean hands to gently combine the ground meat, oats, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, carrots, spinach, red bell pepper, garlic, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl until just incorporated.Form the mixture into 24 large balls of equal size - an ice cream scoop can help - and place one in each muffin well, which should almost fill it. Bake (middle rack) for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins are browned and the center of each one registers an internal temperature of 160 degrees (for turkey and bison) or 165 degrees (for beef).Serve warm or at room temperature.Nutrition: Per muffin: 90 calories, 6 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 90 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar
2. Quinoa Mufﬁns12 servingsThese muffins pack a healthy dose of protein and provide B vitamins for energy, iron for blood health and vitamin E for healthy skin.They are delicious served with a dollop of Greek yogurt. You'll need a standard 12-well muffin pan.MAKE AHEAD: The cooled muffins can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 week.From nutrition consultant Casey Seidenberg of Nourish Schools.Ingredients1 1/4 cups cooked quinoa1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs2 large eggs, lightly beaten1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) shredded Manchego cheese1/2 cup chopped scallions (from 3 scallions, white and light-green parts)2 cloves garlic, minced1/2 teaspoon sea salt1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepperStepsPreheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking oil spray.Use a flexible spatula to combine the cooked quinoa, bread crumbs, eggs, cheese, scallions, garlic, sea salt and pepper in a mixing bowl until well combined. Spoon equal amounts into each well, filling them about three-quarters full and pressing them in a bit. Bake (middle rack) for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the muffins are light golden around the edges.Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes before serving, or cool completely before storing.Nutrition: Per muffin: 70 calories, 4 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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