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Lunch box survival & recipes

Lisa is a mother of two and is currently working as a consultant and instructor at several Los Angeles Unified School District schools teaching "Kidding Around in the Kitchen" hands-on cooking classes such as "Cooks and Books," and "Food...

Lunches your kids will love

It can be a big challenge for parents to create lunches that are reasonably healthy and tasty. The more you involve your children in planning and preparing their school lunches, the more likely they will be to eat them. The place to begin is at the grocery store where you can involve your kids in the food selection, a process that may require a little compromise at first.

Mommy's Little Monkey Mix Monkey mix

A great grab-and-go snack!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup dried banana chips
  • 1 cup each dried papaya and mango
  • 1/4 cup each sliced almonds and sunflower seeds, or your favorite nuts
  • 1/4 cup dried coconut (optional)
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (substitute raisins, cranberries, or dried apricots, if desired)

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients and enjoy!
  2. Keep in a zip lock bag and let your "little monkeys" pack a handful for a school treat or grab a handful for an after school snack

Out of this Universe Tortilla Chips

Here's a tasty, toasty snack that will satisfy celestial lovers large and small. These crunchy chips bake up in minutes and are low in fat, too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large flour tortilla
  • Cooking spray
  • Sea salt

Directions:

  1. Use celestial-shaped cookie cutters (stars, crescents, circles, etc.) to cut shapes from a large flour tortilla.
  2. Arrange the shapes on a baking sheet, lightly coat them with cooking spray, and sprinkle them with sea salt.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 5 to 7 minutes and your chips are ready for a dip in salsa or guacamole.
  4. For a sweet treat, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Banana Bites

Makes 14 balls

These nutritious bites are easy to mass produce and just as easy for kids to pop into their mouths when they need a boost. Great for a mid-game snack as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small banana
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • Finely chopped peanuts or almonds, mini chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbs, or shredded coconut for coating.

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mash together the banana and the peanut butter.
  2. Stir in the wheat germ. Roll individual tablespoons of the mixture into balls and then roll the balls into one, or a combination, of the coatings listed above. Chill until firm. You can freeze these as well.
  3. Variations:
  4. For a peanut-free version, substitute sunflower seeds, almond butter, or soy-nut butter for the peanut butter and omit the peanuts and chocolate chips, which may contain traces of peanuts.

Stickwichs

How do you turn a sandwich into a fun lunch? Make it a stickwich!

Ingredients:

  • Bread
  • Cheese
  • Lunch meats
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Pickles

Directions:

  1. Cut up cubes of bread, cheese, and lunch meat (we ordered 1/2-inch thick slices of ham and turkey at the deli counter).
  2. Slide the cubes onto a skewer with other foods your child likes, such as a grape tomatoes, a piece of lettuce, a pickle, or an olive.
  3. Send with a side of mayo or mustard for dipping.

More school lunch ideas

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