Parents faced with the daily

round of lunch packing may benefit from the system of five. Each item goes into a separate compartment in the bento, box-style lunchbox. Many also offer a space for a “chiller” to keep foods safely cool.

Easy Options Protein: turkey breast, chicken

breast, hardboiled egg cut in half, nuts, beans, almond butter, string cheese, yogurt

Fruit: blueberries, apple slices, plums, grapes—something easy for kids to eat Vegetable: carrots, English cucumbers, celery sticks, bell pepper strips—easy finger foods; kids might eat more veggies if provided with a dip such as hummus or natural homemade ranch dressing Whole grain: ancient or whole grain crackers, pita bread, non- GMO blue corn chips Treat: a happy surprise could


Holley Grainger, a mother of two in Birmingham, Alabama, took photos of the healthy lunches she packed—all 125 of them. Check them out at

Kelly Kwok, cookbook author and mother of two schoolchildren in Buffalo, New York, shares many perfect-for-a-lunchbox recipes on her blog LifeMade- Here are three of them.

Egg ‘Salad’ Sandwich:Kwok makes a healthier egg salad sandwich for her children by blending scrambled eggs with Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper as a spread on multigrain bread.

Brownie Bite Dough

Yields: 1 pound dough Brownie Dough 1½ cups raw, unsalted walnuts ¾ cup, cocoa powder 2 cups soſt dates (preferably Medjool)

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Place the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until lightly colored and fragrant, 7 to 10 min- utes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts until they are finely ground. Add the cocoa and salt. Pulse to combine.

Pit the dates and add them one at a time through the feed tube of the food processor while it’s running. Te resulting mixture should resem- ble cake crumbs but, when pressed, will easily stick together (if not, add more dates).

Use the dough to make the Brownie Bites. Leſtover dough (one-third of the batch) will keep in the freezer for up to one month.

be a piece of wrapped dark chocolate, a crayon or a funny, loving or encouraging note from a parent

Lunch: a Key Meal

“When children are fueled with nutritious foods, they are more alert and focused throughout the day, leading to better behavior, concentration and test scores,” says Grainger.

“Tey also have the opportuni- ty to fill up on many of the es-

Healthy Sides: Cooked corn on the cob, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries, apple slices with or without almond butter

Hummus Wraps: Store-bought hummus, a bag of baby kale or spinach, a few shredded carrots and a whole-grain tortilla come together for an easy wrap.

Healthy Sides: Stemmed sweet cherries, banana chips, yogurt

Rainbow Skewers: On short wooden skewers, slide on tiny mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes and cooked tortellini with a tiny container of pesto or marinara sauce for dipping.

Healthy Sides: Mixed fresh berries and bell pepper strips, healthy granola bar

sential vitamins and minerals oſten lacking in away-from- home meals. I’ve found that my children are hungrier at lunch than at other meals, so they tend to fill up on whatev- er is being offered.”

Judith Fertig writes award-win-

ning cookbooks plus foodie fiction from Overland Park, KS (

Vanilla Coconut Brownie Bites

Yields: about 10 balls (servings)

⅓ batch (about ⅓ lb) of brownie dough 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 3 Tbsp unsweetened, desiccated coconut, toasted

Combine the dough with the vanilla and 1½ teaspoons of the coconut, using both hands to fully incorpo- rate the ingredients.

Shape the dough into 10 small, bite-size balls, then roll them in the remaining coconut.

Freeze the balls until ready to eat. Store in the freezer for up to one month.

Reprinted from Naturally

Nourished: Healthy, Delicious Meals Made with Everyday Ingre- dients. Book and photos ©2017 by Sarah Britton.

September 2018 37

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