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Packing a Punch with Lunch

Shake up your kids' lunches with these creative tasty spins that'll make back-to-school time just a bit more fun

With little time in the morning, and tighter budgets, many parents might be falling into the sandwich-crackers-fruit rut when it comes to making lunch. These "classics" can be nutritious, but they may get – well – a little boring for your kids.

Mix things up by taking time every once in awhile to create more appealing meals. Foods that will not only have your kids excited to find out what's in their lunchboxes, but will also give them extra energy to make it through the school day! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Pita perfection

Add a few shakes of salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste into about 1/4 cup of plain yogurt. Glop the yogurt mixture in a line down the middle of a pita. Add sliced pieces of grilled chicken. Toss in some finely chopped lettuce and wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil. (You can also use mini-pita pockets.)

Bagel bonanza

Coat the insides of mini-bagels with flavored cream cheese. Put two or three in your child's lunch, depending on his appetite. Mix and match flavors, like strawberry (make your own with fruit preserves added to softened, plain cream cheese) or peanut butter cream cheese (follow the same procedure).

Spectacular sliders

Purchase soft dinner rolls. Make your own sliders by putting in different meat, vegetable, and cheese combos – turkey and a slice of pickle in one, roast beef and sharp cheddar in another. Better yet, let your child choose!

Fun wraps

Flavor sour cream or cream cheese with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder to taste. Smear about 1/4 cup of this mixture on one half of a tortilla. Add a few thin slices of deli meat. Sprinkle with cheese or shredded carrots, if desired. Roll into a cylinder and pack in aluminum foil. There are several new varieties of tortillas, including different colors and vitamin-enriched offerings.
To keep your creations fresh, cool and safe for eating, don't forget to put a cold pack in your child's lunch box!

Super foods

Susanne Gunsorek, a registered dietitian and the director of food and nutrition at Providence Park Hospital in Novi, says that if you want foods that will help your children maintain their concentration, think B for brain foods, vitamin B, that is. Examples include granola, tuna, yogurt, cheese, meats, milk and dark, leafy greens.

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