Back to School Recipes and Nutrition


Bug Bites

Bite into this nut-free bug. 

Photo credit: Amy Lynn Schereck

Prep Time: 
20 minutes
Number of Servings: 
1 Dragonfly Sandwich
Recipe Source: 

Bean Appétit by Shannon Payette Seip and Kelly Parthen with Carisa Dixon ($14.99, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2009

  • 1/2 whole-wheat pita
  • 1 baby dill pickle
  • 2 thin carrot matchsticks
  • 1/4 c lowfat cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 slices honey-baked turkey breast
  • 4 thin orange slices
  • 4 thin red apple slices
  • You will also need: Clean scissors
  1. Flap your arms 4 times. Now use clean children’s scissors to cut pita bread into four 1-inch ovals to help shape the wings. Use a butter knife to slice one-third of the pickle off the top and set aside for dragonfly’s head. The rest of the pickle will be its tail.
  2. Use a toothpick to make 2 small holes on the top of the pickle head. Slide 1 small carrot stick into each of the holes for the antennae. 
  3. Buzz like a bug as you combine cream cheese, yogurt, turmeric, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl. Spread it on top of your pita bread.
  4. Place turkey slices on top of each other and roll them up tightly. Place turkey roll-up in center of plate. Place pickle head at one end, and rest of pickle at other end.
  5. To help our dragonfly fly, it needs wings. Place 2 pita ovals on each side of turkey body. Stack sliced oranges and sliced apples on the wings, making sure all tips are pointing in. Run around the house like you’re a dragonfly whooshing through the air before landing at your lunch table for a scrumptious sandwich!


Nutrition Info: 

Per serving: 417 Calories, 28 g Protein, 38 g Carbohydrates, 5 g Fiber, 17 g Total fat (9 g sat, 6 g mono, 2 g poly), 830 mg Sodium, HHHH Vitamin A, B3 (niacin), HHH Vitamin C, Manganese, Phosphorus, HH Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), B6, Iron, Selenium, Zinc, H Vitamin B1 (thiamine), B12, Folate, Pantothenic acid, Calcium, Copper, Magnesium, Potassium

Pack an Organic Lunch for Kids

If Tater Tots, pizza, and vending machine fare are on the menu at your child’s school, it’s time to reinvent the brown-bag lunch with tasty, healthy options and no-waste packaging. Take a look at our suggestions and make-ahead recipes.

Growing bodies need fuel—the healthier the better. Make the wise choice for your family and the environment by selecting organically grown foods and ingredients for your child’s lunchbox. Certified organic items reduce kids’ exposure to harmful pesticide residue, and the number of fresh and packaged organic options continues to rise.

To make sure your kids eat what you pack, involve them in selecting foods—provided they’re nutritious choices, of course. A sandwich every day can get boring fast, so try rice cakes with almond butter, hummus with flatbread, or muffins with apple butter. A hard-boiled egg makes a great meat alternative and is packed with protein. Kids love dipping things, so pack fresh fruits and vegetables with a variety of dips. With fruit, try yogurt or applesauce. Veggies can get a dunk with low-fat ranch dip or hummus. To make lunch preparation that much easier, cut vegetables at the beginning of the week and keep them in the fridge. Carrot and celery sticks will stay fresh longer if you store them in water for a couple of days inside the refrigerator.

To make lunch a meal youngsters look forward to, include a healthy treat. You can ask them to help choose it, but sneak in a surprise every now and then for fun. Ideas include high-fiber cereal, granola bars, homemade pudding, trail mix, or dried fruit.

Family Meals: Have Fun Feeding the Kids

In partnership with Natural Vitality

By Ashley Koff

For most parents, the past few weeks have been a blur of last-minute shopping trips for school supplies and clothes for kids returning to class. Now it’s back to making breakfasts, school lunches and dinners for a busy family. Follow this list to get you and your family ready for the school year, bite by bite.

  1. Do-It-Themselves. Tired of being a short-order cook? Then stop! You have one job and that’s to ensure that quality ingredients are in the house. Grab toppings like pesto, tomato sauce, organic chicken sausage, organic tofu crumbles, organic dairy-free cheese, etc., and put them all out with pizza dough and everyone gets to make it their way. Have one vegan child and the other a meat or cheese lover? No, you don’t make three different pizzas; they make their own. The best news? Not just the time and energy you save, but the fact that they are more likely to “like” it (and eat it) when they make it. Win, WIN!
  2. Don’t Learn a New Language. Today’s food product packages can require learning a whole new language, with new ingredients and marketing phrases popping up by the hundreds. Does that mean you have to learn a whole new language to know what “food” your family should eat? NO! The stuff the body recognizes easily—food—is still called by the same name it always has had, or at least it should be. So your only job is to stock the cupboards, fridge and freezer with food—not go back to school to become a food scientist capable of deciphering a new “food” language.
  3. Pack This, Not That. When it comes to school lunches, pack quality leftovers that they WILL want to eat again. Remember the ravioli from last night? Well, if you send it as is the next day, it might get frowned upon (read: traded or ignored); after all, who wants the same thing twice? BUT, if you remake it into something new—pasta salad with chicken sausage cubes and a vinaigrette dressing—they’re bound to think you stayed up all night making a new meal (no need to let them know how much you enjoyed your hot bath or catching up with your friends on Facebook).
  4. Freezer Friend. We often forget about the freezer, but when summer’s fresh bounty is gone, as is our spare time, the best place to ensure you have quality food options is in the freezer, where frozen organic fruits, vegetables, whole-grain pizza crusts, nuts, seeds and spices can always be readily available.

Ashley Koff is an internationally renowned registered dietitian on a mission to improve the health of people across America and beyond through raising public awareness of the value of quality eating. Visit her site at:

Natural Vitality Organic Connections Magazine

Natural Vitality

Organic Connections Magazine is brought to you by Natural Vitality, a purpose-driven human nutrition company. Natural Vitality Living offers fun tips, delicious recipes, inspiring profiles and features to empower readers to find balance in a stressful world.

Visit to sign up for the weekly newsletters that will get you eating, drinking, gardening, shopping and learning in a whole new shade of green.

Nutrition Basics For School-Aged Kids

In addition to a diet of whole foods, a daily multivitamin/mineral supports your child’s growth and development.

It’s “insurance to prevent nutrient deficiencies,” says Elson M. Haas, MD, and it supports learning and mood too.

Research suggests that kids who take a multi accomplish school tasks more quickly and concentrate longer than kids taking a placebo.

Zinc, for example, may support cognition. One study found that students given 20 milligrams daily scored higher on tests of visual memory, word recognition, and sustained attention than children who didn’t get a supplement.

Omega-3s for Kids

Omega-3 fatty acids support focus and concentration, as well as physical well-being by reducing the risks for allergies, asthma, and infections. They promote learning and mental health, especially during childhood, says Patrick Holford, author of Optimum Nutrition for Your Child’s Mind.

Children who do not regularly eat fish such as tuna or salmon may benefit from supplementation. Look for omega-3 supplements in a balanced formula that contains both DHA and EPA. 

More Support for Focused Attention

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) impact not only a child’s learning but also his mental and emotional health. Magnesium has been found to help address inattention, excitability, and aggression related to low nutrient status. Magnesium plays a key role in the production of noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter that may be responsible for filtering out unimportant stimuli.

Another supplement linked to improved attention and memory in children with diagnosed ADD and ADHD is Pycnogenol, a proprietary extract from the bark of the French maritime pine.

Boosting Your Child's Immunity

No sooner does the school bell ring than the sniffles begin. 

Probiotics help restore balance to the gastrointestinal tract, especially following a round of antibiotics. These healthy bacteria assist in the regulation of immune response in the intestines.

Low doses of zinc  have been shown to boost the immune system and reduce the severity and duration of colds and other viruses.

The herb astragalus contains immune-enhancing substances. A sweet, buttery taste makes this remedy appealing for kids. It's useful both as an antiviral and for its long-term immune-boosting effects.

Get a Jump on the Jitters

Many kids, from kindergarten through high school, experience stomach aches and sleepless nights before they fall back into the school-year routine (some teachers do too!). These symptoms often rear their heads before tests too. Help kids chill with chamomile tea for relaxation and peppermint or ginger tea for digestive upsets. 

Homeopathic medicines can also help. Ignatia eases homesickness younger children may experience when school starts, while Gelsemium helps them overcome performance anxiety before a big test or event.

Kali phosphoricum is useful for children who experience physical ailments when they are worried or anxious. When a restless child can’t fall asleep or stay asleep, try homeopathic Passiflora, a general sleep remedy than helps quiet an overactive mind.


"Astragalus Extract Attenuates Allergic Airway Inflammation . . ." by Z. C. Yang et al., Am J Med Sci, 12/21/12

"Astragalus in the Prevention of Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in Children . . ." by C. Zou et al., Evid Based Complent Alternat Med, 4/19/13

"Discovery of Human Zinc Deficiency: Its Impact on Human Health and Disease" by A. S. Prasad, Adv Nutr, 3/13

"Essential Role of Vitamin C and Zinc in Child Immunity and Health" by S. Maggini et al., J Int Med Res, 3-4/10

"Probiotics, Immunity and Pediatric Health" by J. M. Saavedra, Gac Med Mex, 2011

"Supplementation of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Magnesium and Zinc in Children Seeking Medical Advice for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Problems . . ." by M. Huss et al., Lipids Health Dis, 9/24/10