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Back-to-school meals made easy with grapes

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Updated: 11/15/2012 11:11 am
(BPT) - - The summertime probably felt like it whizzed by, and now you're getting into the back-to-school mode. Luckily, you can keep a sweet taste of summer in meals and snacks with refreshing grapes from California. Kids and families getting ready for busy mornings are in need of healthy, energy-packed foods to fuel tightly scheduled and sometimes hectic lifestyles. Start the morning with a Breakfast-to-go Smoothie, a blend of fruit, yogurt and crunchy cereal for a hearty breakfast. Kids - and probably you too - will relish this satisfying and yummy drink featuring grapes and grape juice, both of which, according to mounting research evidence, may help support a healthy heart. Bulgur Salad with Grapes and Kale is also a hearty, very nutritious and delicious meal all by itself, and perfectly packable for bring-from-home lunches. Grapes are really the key to making this salad inviting and flavorful for all ages. The sweet accents and the crisp qualities of the grapes offer a nice contrast to the chewy bulgur, crunchy nuts and shredded kale, which doesn't go limp like most lettuce will. Make a big bowl or container of this salad and have it at the ready for a mini-meal for students going through a growth spurt or who need more calories in general, such as athletes, dancers, marching band members, etc. Adventurous little eaters will also enjoy munching on this salad during lunch or snack breaks at day care or preschool. And don't forget to pack a cluster of grapes, too, for more sweetness and good health during the day. Having a bowl of fresh grapes handy for nibbling after school is a great alternative to chips, cookies and the array of mini-pizzas and hand-held manufactured foods that are generally expensive and high in fat and salt. Grapes are considered a super snack for a variety of reasons: Grapes contain just 90 calories per 3/4 cup serving, are packed with flavor and sweetness, and create virtually no mess - no peeling, no slicing, no coring. In addition, all colors of grapes contain natural plant components known as polyphenols, which recent scientific studies suggest may help protect and maintain healthy cells. Back-to-school may mean families are heading away from summer fun, but make it easier and a bit brighter with the sweet juicy taste of grapes. Breakfast-to-go Grape Smoothies Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups frozen California grapes 1 banana, sliced 1/2 cup vanilla or honey low-fat Greek yogurt 1/2 cup grape juice 1/4 cup wheat flake cereal Directions: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend for 1 minute. Serve immediately. Makes 2 1/3 cups of smoothie. Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 251; Protein 6 g; Carbohydrate 57 g; Fat 1.5 g; 5 percent calories from Fat; Cholesterol 2 mg; Sodium 47 mg; Fiber 3 g. Bulgur Salad with Grapes and Kale Ingredients: 1 cup bulgur Kosher salt 1 cup pecan halves, toasted and roughly chopped 2 cups halved seedless California grapes 2 cups packed finely slivered kale or Swiss chard leaves 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions 1/4 cup lemon juice 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest Pinch cayenne Black pepper Directions: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the bulgur and 1/2 teaspoon salt and remove from the heat. Cover and let stand 20 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed. Drain well and press to extract any excess water. Let cool and stir in the remaining ingredients. Season well with salt and black pepper. Serve room temperature or chilled. Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 289; Protein 5.8 g; Carbohydrate 33 g; Fat 17 g; 50 percent calories from Fat; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 181 mg; Fiber 7.3 g. Grapes from California are available May through January. For more information, go to www.grapesfromcalifornia.com or facebook.com/grapesfromcalifornia.
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