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Summer Munching!

Okay, we know that kids all across the country are jumping for joy over summer break!  But, we also know that parents everywhere are cringing. Summer break provides a new set of challenges for parents everywhere. One of those challenges is what to serve for lunch.  When the kids are in school, it is so easy to send them to school with a few dollars to purchase their lunch.  However, that option typically isn’t available during the summer.  So, that’s where we want to help!  We’ve found the ultimate lunch that your kids will enjoy making and will also give them the fuel they need to power through the day! (Kids Cook 1-2-3)

Burger-on-a-Stick

In many Middle Eastern countries, ground beef or lamb is grilled on sticks or skewers. These are known as kebabs. Press the mixture with your hands onto 8-inch wooden skewers and broil (or grill) them to your liking.

¼ pound ground beef chuck

1 small garlic clove

½ teaspoon ground cumin

  1. Turn the broiler (or grill) on high.
  2. Put the ground beef in a medium-sized bowl. Peel the garlic and push it through a garlic press. Add to the beef. Add the cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and freshly ground black pepper and mix well.
  3. Divide the mixture into 4 mounds. Using your ahnds, squeeze the mixture onto 4 wooden skewers, making a long cylinder that is about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide. Flatten the mixture slightly and put the skewers on a rimmed baking sheet (if broiling). Cover the exposed wood of skewers with foil so the skewers don’t burn.
  4. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes (or grill for 8), until just cooked through. Do not overcook. Serve immediately.

Makes 4

Hopefully, this recipe will get you started planning and making nutritious lunches for your active kids. Summer is a great time for all of us, especially kids, to get outside and remain active.  It’s important to remember that our bodies need fuel to operate at their best! We’ve got some great books that will help you as you continue making lunches for your kids. A couple of these books are ‘Bag Lunches and Snacks to Fit your Food Plan’, ‘Funky Lunch’ and ‘Kids Cook 1-2-3’. They can be found by clicking the title or by visiting www.ncescatalog.com.  Ya never know. You may even like them so much that you decide to keep packing your kids a balanced lunch throughout the school year, not just during summer break. And, don’t forget, if you ever have any questions about NCES products, feel free to go online or give us a call to chat live with a dietitian.

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Take a Minute: Plant an Herb Garden

In honor of National Herb Week, we would like to take a minute this morning to encourage you to plant an herb garden of your very own. Do you currently cook with many fresh herbs? If so, you already know how the various flavors can really infuse any meal with intense flavor. If you don’t, you may not quite understand that yet. But, today’s the day, stop by the grocery store on your way home and pick up some fresh herbs to spice up your dinner.  Whether you’re having spaghetti, baked chicken or grilling out, throwing some fresh herbs in the mix will really wake up your taste buds. After you taste the difference, you’ll be excited to plant your own herb garden to enjoy these irresistible flavors all the time!

Now that you’re ready to have your own garden, where do you start?

Where to plant your herbs?

  1. Be sure to plant close to your kitchen. One key to success is making sure that you can access your fresh herbs as easily as you can access your pantry.
  2. Plant your herbs where they will get full sun.  Herbs grown in full sun will be stronger and more flavorful than those grown in the shade.

What to grow your herbs in?

  1. A decorative pot is always a good choice, especially if you are limited for space on a full garden. Planting in a pot allows portability so that you can adjust the level of sun your herbs are receiving.
  2. Soil that is healthy and easy to mix around will help your herbs grow better. Herbs will not grow in just any soil. They need to be cared for similar to any flower that you would plant.

What herbs should you grow?

  1. Be sure to grow some Oregano. This is a very common seasoning. You can use it in almost anything! So, plant plenty of this one so that you don’t run out.
  2. Basil is another great herb to have on hand. Although basil provides a great flavor to the dishes you add it to, it takes a lot to get the flavor to be noticeable. Make sure you plant a few of these so that you don’t deplete your supply for every dish you mix it in to.
  3. Mint is a fun flavor that a lot of us don’t use often. So, planting this may encourage you to incorporate it in to your meals, or dessert.

Now that you know the basics, you can get started planting your very own herb garden. Remember, it doesn’t have to be big or overwhelming. Just start small and let it grow every year. Also, be sure to experiment with different herbs. You never know what flavors you may discover that you’ve never tasted before.

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Dining In is the New Going Out (”7 Nutrition Trends in 2010”)

According to our previous blog post “7 Nutrition Trends in 2010,” one of the big things to do this year will be to make your home the most popular, and affordable, restaurant of all.

One of the biggest, obvious selling points of this is the savings. Since you’re not paying for the cook, the building, the clean dishes, and tipping the waiter, you have the potential for huge savings here.

Portion control is another big factor in the choice to eat out, or stay at home. The average American portion size has more than doubled in the past twenty years, which is bad news for our waistlines. By eating at home, you can roll back on those out of control portions, and ensure that everyone gets as much as they need, but not too much.

Another big bonus is the ability to control what goes into the mouths and stomachs of you and your loved ones. You can have direct control over their health and growth, and rest easy knowing that no matter what they’re eating, they’re not missing out on the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need. There are significant ways to save at the grocery store too, and there are experts who can help you learn how to save.

The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook” is a must have for anyone who’s ever cringed at a grocery receipt. If you can do basic math, and have the ambition to clip a coupon or two, you too can do amazing things to that high grocery bill. The most valuable pages in this book are the first fifty. The rest are fantastic ways to utilize all of the incredible saving techniques you learn in the first section. I was skeptical, until I thought about it. Everything Ms. Chase says is not only common sense, it makes amazing sense!

You can find this book, and many more, in our catalog and on our website at http://www.ncescatalog.com.