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Better Boxed Lunch and After-School Snack Ideas

/ -- MISSION, KS -- (Marketwired) -- 08/15/16 -- (Family Features) Making food fun is a simple way to get kids excited about smart eating. Bring on the fun this back-to-school season with bento box lunches: a selection of kid-size portions filled with bite-size finger foods.

Bento box-style eating is gaining popularity among both adults and kids, because it makes it easy to manage portion sizes, and is a great way to encourage variety at mealtime. Learn how to create a bento box that will make your child the envy of the lunch table with these tips:

  • Choose a container with ample space for a variety of foods. Some containers feature detachable units, which can be handy for changing up your configuration.

  • When it comes to filling your box, the more creative your approach, the better. Mix and match colors and textures for a well-rounded, fun and flavorful meal. Because they require no chopping, peeling or coring, fresh grapes are an easy add-in to bento box lunches. Healthy, great tasting and refreshing, they pair well with a wide range of box-friendly items, such as sandwiches, crackers and cheese, nuts and yogurt.

  • Get kids involved by turning lunch assembly into age-appropriate education. Little ones can practice their colors, while older kids can put math skills to use by counting, adding and subtracting.

  • Invest in a few simple tools to boost the fun factor. Cookie cutters transform boring sandwiches into exciting nibble-worthy shapes. Silicone baking cups are ideal for smaller items if you're using a container without dividers (and they add a colorful touch to the divider styles, too).

Photo courtesy of California Table Grape Commission

After school, put a fresh twist on favorites, such as pizza, with ingredients that pair well and can be easily assembled. This Chocolate Pizza features a hazelnut spread and red California grapes, which add a burst of juicy flavor and freshness.

Find more recipes to make lunchtime fun time, as well as snacks to fuel up for homework and other after-school activities, at

Chocolate Pizza with Grapes
Servings: 4

4     small (4-inch) whole-wheat pocket-less pita bread rounds
1/4   cup chocolate hazelnut spread
1     cup halved red California grapes

Spread each pita with chocolate hazelnut spread then top with grapes. Serve.

Optional: Heat broiler to high. Broil pita bread on both sides until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes per side then top with chocolate hazelnut spread and grapes. Serve.

Nutritional information per serving: 216 calories; 4 g protein; 34 g carbohydrates; 8 g fat (33% calories from fat); 2 g saturated fat (8% calories from saturated fat); 3 mg cholesterol; 138 mg sodium; 3 g fiber.

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Michael French