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Recipe corner: apple nachos and smoothie bowls

Apples, bananas, and peanut butter are three foods that come to mind this month as kids begin their new school year. Teachers will see many students toting these fruits, and some PB&J sandwiches, in their lunchboxes or backpacks. These popular foods aren’t for kids only, though. Adults can appreciate these familiar favorites while pumping up their nutrition.

Apples are good sources of soluble fiber which can help aid digestion, and lower cholesterol. The colorful skins contain health-promoting antioxidants, so don’t peel and toss the skins-eat them! Try a new type of apple each time you go to the grocery store.  If you prefer sweet apples, try a tart one, or vice versa. You may find a new favorite.

Bananas, like apples, are available year-round. They’re easy to eat, making a quick snack after school or during sports practice. Bananas have soluble fiber, too, but are most known for their high potassium, which can help lower blood pressure.

Need a protein source that doesn’t require refrigeration? Peanut butter is the answer! It may be high in fat, but it’s monounsaturated fat, the type that’s good for your heart. Some schools are peanut-free zones, due to possible peanut allergies. You can find other nut butters like almond, cashew, sesame seed, soy nut, or sunflower seed, locally and online.

Enjoy apples and bananas alone, or try them with peanut butter in these recipes for apple nachos, and peanut butter and banana smoothie bowls.

Apple nachos

Who doesn’t like nachos? This healthier, fruity version replaces tortilla chips with apples. Kids will enjoy it as an after school treat, and some can help with preparation. It’s also a crowd-pleaser as an appetizer at adult parties, too.  Be sure to use tongs for ease of serving or make into individual servings.

Makes 6 servings


  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup sliced unsalted almonds
  • 3 red or green apples, cored and thinly sliced into about 12 pieces each
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey

In a small bowl, combine dried cranberries, and almonds.  Set aside.

Core each apple, and thinly slice into about 12 slices each. Layer half the apples on a large plate or platter. If the apple slices will be sitting out for a while, sprinkle a little lemon juice over them to prevent browning.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, microwave 2 tablespoons of water to boiling. Add peanut butter and honey, stirring until the mixture is smooth.

Using a spoon, drizzle half the peanut butter mixture over the plated apple slices. Sprinkle with half the cranberry-nut mixture. Layer the remaining apples on top, then drizzle the remaining peanut butter and cranberry mixture over them.

Approximate nutrients per serving: 170 calories, 4 grams protein, 8 grams fat, 25 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 66 milligrams sodium. 5 milligrams calcium.

Adapted from an American Heart Association recipe found at

(Pictured made with 1% milk and optional toppers: chia seeds, banana slices, crushed graham crackers, O-shaped cereal, chopped walnuts)

Peanut butter and banana smoothie bowls

Smoothie bowls are thicker than traditional smoothies and made to eat with a spoon. It’s easy to individualize by choosing your favorite low fat milk-dairy, soy or nut milk beverages. This chocolatey flavor tastes so good—almost like dessert—but is naturally sweetened with fruit instead of sugar. Vary your toppings, but remember, the more toppings, the higher the calories.

For a quick breakfast on the run, add a little more milk to make it thinner, omit the toppings and take it with you.                 

Makes 3 Servings (about ¾ cup each) 


(Optional toppers for smoothie bowls: O-shaped whole grain cereal, crushed Graham crackers, chopped nuts, chia seeds, sliced banana) 

  • 1 cup low fat milk of your choice
  • 2 bananas, sliced then frozen
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter, or other nut butter
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place the milk, bananas, peanut butter, cocoa, chia seeds, and vanilla in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into individual cups, or for smoothie bowls, pour into individual bowls and garnish with your choice of optional toppers.

Approximate nutrients per 1 serving made with 1% milk (without optional toppings):   235 calories, 9 grams protein, 12 grams fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams fiber, 95 milligrams sodium, 147 milligrams calcium.

Recipe courtesy Liz Weiss, MS, RD at


Recipes provided by Mary-Jo Sawyer, R.D., registered dietitian in the Outpatient Nutrition Clinic at VCU Health. 

Written by: Massey Communications Office

Posted on: August 31, 2017