Liven Up Lunch for the Kids

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Busy moms can use all the help they can get when it comes to packing school lunches. Here are some tips I picked up from Disney's Family Fun Magazine:

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* Use A Bento Box: Japanese-style bento boxes and their nesting compartments are perfect for kid-size nibbles. Best of all, when your child pops the lid, the entire spread is at her fingertips, which puts the carrots on par with the PB&J; and grapes for super-easy grazing.

* Sneak In Extra Veggies: If the produce in your kid'??s lunch is making the return trip home, consider hiding it. Add finely grated carrots to tuna and chicken salad, swap lettuce for nutrient-dense baby spinach.

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* Add (More) Whole Grains: Pack whole wheat pretzels instead of other salty snacks. Or take a cue from nutritionist Barbara Storper, author of Janey Junkfood'??s Fresh Adventure!, and make a checkerboard sandwich. Use one slice of whole wheat bread and one of white, then cut the sandwich into quarters and rearrange the squares to create the checkerboard pattern.

* Offer Nutritious Snacks: Apples not making the grade? Try a trendy new Go Go Squeez (it's applesauce in a travel pouch). Momtrends loved the samples (GoGoSqueeZapplestrawberry, Applesauce) they sent over. Another option from chef and school-lunch reformer Ann Cooper: homemade gorp. Kids can choose the ingredients, then mix up their own combinations each night before school.

* Serve Low-Sugar Drinks: In lieu of traditional juice boxes, pack a juice-and-water blend, such as R.W. Knudsen Family Organic Sensible Sippers, or fill a thermos with flavored water (make your own or try a store-bought variety '?? just be on the lookout for artificial sweeteners).

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