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Brown bags that won't make kids gag

Healthy foods can help children do their best in school, but getting kids to eat good-for-you foods can sometimes be a trick.

The SheKnows editors, along with Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension Family and Consumer Science Agent, suggest these tips to jazz up a lunch while also keeping nutritional value in place.

Tips for healthy brown bag lunches

  • Include an apple, orange, pear, kiwi, mango, star fruit, banana, a box of raisins or grapes rather than a fruit roll up or fruit chews.
  • Send non-fat 1 percent milk in place of 2 percent. Also consider soy or rice milk.
  • Send vegetables with dip, or mix chopped vegetables with cream cheese and place on a bagel.
  • Use whole grain bread when possible. Try pita bread, wraps, tortillas and bagels. Variety can make a difference. Leftover waffles with cream cheese, peanut butter or egg salad are a new change.
  • Try macaroni salads, ants on a log (peanut butter on celery topped with raisins), salsa and chips, or meat and cheese.
  • Cut leftover chicken into strips and pack with dippers of ranch dressing, barbecue sauce or mustard sauce.
  • Pack baked chips, pretzels, air-popped popcorn or dry cereal.
  • Limit sweets to once or twice a week. Help your children get used to eating fruit.
  • Small treats can be more fulfilling if they're fun. Think about putting in a fortune cookie or send 3-7 alphabet cookies that spell out a word -- and let your child figure out the puzzle!
  • Send boxes or packets of 100 percent juice. Check labels carefully, since some are only 10 percent juice with added sugar.
  • Is your child tired of juice? For a change and added nutrition, send a yogurt drink.
  • Place an ice pack in the lunch box. Keeping foods cold will reduce the chance of food-borne illness and will help keep foods fresh.
  • Alternatively, freeze pudding, yogurt or applesauce to keep it fresh -- while also helping keep other foods cool.
  • Provide hand wipes and remind kids to use them before eating.
  • Remember to include one food item with protein (meat, cheese or egg), one carbohydrate item (roll, bread, pita, crackers) and at least one fruit and one vegetable for each lunch.
  • To make your job easier, let your children give menu ideas and help with shopping for lunches.
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