Healthy Holiday Recipes from the IDEA Public Schools Child Nutrition Program Cookbook

IDEA Public Schools Child Nutrition Program Cookbook three students

We are proud to share this guest post from IDEA Public Schools featuring healthy holiday recipes from their Child Nutrition Program cookbook.

The holiday season often centers around the kitchen and dining table, with rich meals and favorite desserts. Food can connect us to memories, especially those from childhood, and healthy eating habits start at an early age.

At IDEA Public Schools in San Antonio, our hardworking cafeteria teams know that delicious food doesn’t have to mean unhealthy. Year round, IDEA’s cafeteria staff works to prepare food that appeals to students of all ages and instills habits of making healthy choices in every student. Those are the fundamental goals of our Child Nutrition Program.

As we enter the holiday season and plan for Christmas meals, we’d love to share some healthy and fun recipes students and parents can create together at home.  From IDEA’s cafeteria staff, here are our tips on preparing simple, affordable and nutritious meals the whole family will enjoy, like Pumpkin Parfaits, Beef and Bean Chili, and Gingersnap Apple Dippers. Find more tasty, healthy holiday recipes that families can share at home in our Child Nutrition Program cookbook.

Pumpkin Parfaits


  • 2 cups non-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 cups non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1.5 cups low sugar granola
  • 29 oz. canned pumpkin,
  • 1 1/8 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pepitas (shelled roasted pumpkin seeds)


  1. In a large bowl, mix canned pumpkin, almond milk, brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon. Stir together until fully mixed.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix equal parts Greek yogurt and vanilla yogurt. Stir util completely mixed.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix granola and pepitas to make the topping.
  4. In a large cup, layer the pumpkin mixture and yogurt. Top with 2/3 cup crunchy granola mix and enjoy! Parfaits will keep in the fridge, covered, for 2–3 days.

IDEA Public Schools Child Nutrition Program Cookbook pumpkin parfait healthy holiday recipes

Beef and Bean Chili


  • 1 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon copped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1–14/5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1–16 oz. can kidney beans rinsed
  • 1–16 oz. can pinto beans rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups water


  1. In a large pot (5 quarts), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and garlic. Cook until you can smell the garlic and the onions are see-through.
  2. Add the tomato paste to pot and stir into the onions. Cook for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add ground beef. Cook until all the meat is brown and drain the fat once done.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring mixture to a boil.
  5. Bring heat down to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  6. Add some color to your chili by adding diced onion, reduced fat shredded cheese, a dollop of Greek yogurt. Serve hot!

IDEA Public Schools Child Nutrition Program Cookbook Beef and Bean Chili healthy holiday recipes

Gingersnap Apple Dippers


  • 1 medium apple, cut into 12 slices
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons finely crushed gingersnap cookies


  1. Dip half of the apple slice into the melted chocolate.
  2. Sprinkle the crushed gingersnaps onto the chocolate.
  3. Lay dipped and covered apple slices onto a plate and let dry until chocolate is firm, or cover and chill for up to 1 hour.
For even more tasty treats and meals, especially healthy holiday recipes, please see the IDEA Public Schools Child Nutrition Program cookbook.

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