Lunchbox Fun, Flavor And Nutrition

Packed lunches are a smart choice for school-they help ensure balanced nutrition for kids of all ages. And with a little prep time, packing a lunch can be a fun and educational activity for children, while also creating a foundation for healthy eating.

However, a packed lunch does not necessarily mean an eaten one. Making it fun, flavorful and nutritious will decrease the likelihood of it being traded. Remember, if it looks and tastes good, chances are they'll not only eat it, but want it all to themselves!

Following are inspirational lunchbox ideas to get started:

• Send your love. Include a surprise note of encouragement for a test or a simple "I love you." Decorate messages with fun stickers to add a special touch they will look forward to each day.

• Keep it colorful. Wrap foods in vibrant cellophane or rainbow bento boxes for a festive packaging twist. For added fun, place plastic fruit-shaped or sports-themed ice cubes inside to keep lunches cool.

• Make it special. When you have extra time, surprise kids with home-baked snacks such as this recipe for Pumpkin Apple Bread-they'll feel the love in each and every bite!


(Makes 2 loaves or 32 slices)

Nonstick cooking spray

2 cups all-purpose flour

11/3 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 can (15 ounce) Libby's® 100% Pure Pumpkin

1 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product

3/4 cup sugar blend for baking (such as Splenda®)

1/2 cup Apple Nestlé® Juicy Juice® All Natural 100% Juice

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/2 cup peeled, chopped green apple

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Spray two 8 x 4-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.

COMBINE all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in large bowl; stir.

STIR together pumpkin, egg product, sugar blend, Juicy Juice, honey, oil and orange peel in large bowl. Stir pumpkin mixture into flour mixture just until combined. Stir in apple. Divide between prepared pans.

BAKE for 50 to 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

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About The Author, Wendy Mitchell