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Healthy lunches for kids require organization

As the school year nears, plan now so kids don't get tired of the same old options.

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Here are some ideas for lunch.

Shake-up salads are easy. Simply layer salad ingredients in a plastic container that your child can shake up when he or she is ready to eat.

MANDARIN CHICKEN

1/2 cup drained mandarin oranges

1/3 cup shredded cooked chicken breast

1/3 cup steamed broccoli

1/4 cup chow mein noodles

Directions:

Layer ingredients in plastic container and shake when ready to eat.

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MACARONI SALAD

1/4 cup pizza sauce

1 cup cooked elbow macaroni

1/3 cup defrosted frozen peas and carrots

1/4 cup diced mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Layer ingredients in plastic container and shake when ready to eat.

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TACO SALAD

1/4 cup salsa

1/3 cup rinsed black beans

3/4 cup chopped lettuce

1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1/3 cup baked tortilla chips, broken

Directions:

Layer ingredients in plastic container and shake when ready to eat.

—From Parents Magazine

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LEMON HUMMUS

1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon dried cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Direrctions:

Combine ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Serve with pita bread or pita chips.

—From Parents Magazine

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This recipe, found on Pinterest, may be made in advance, and the muffins can be stored in the freezer.

CORN DOG MUFFINS

1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

4 turkey hot dogs, cut into 5 pieces

Directions:

Prepare muffin mix according to package instructions. Grease 20 slots in a mini-muffin tin and spoon a small amount into the bottom of each.

Place a piece of hot dog on top of muffin batter. Cover with a spoonful of muffin batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Makes 20 muffins.

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Here’s a recipe we found on several blogs. Some posts suggest using melted frosting in place of the melted chocolate. Heat the frosting in the microwave in 15- to 20-second intervals until desired consistency and mix with cereal in place of melted white chocolate.

CAKE BATTER TREATS

1 cup white chocolate chips or 10 ounces vanilla-flavored almond bark

2 tablespoons cream cheese

2 tablespoons milk

5 cups Chex cereal (rice or corn)

1 cup boxed red velvet cake mix (or any flavor)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

Make a double boiler with a pot filled with an inch or so of water, and a glass bowl that fits inside the pot; the bottom should not touch the water. Turn heat to medium.

Place white chocolate chips or almond bark in bowl; stir until melted.

Turn off heat and add cream cheese and milk. Stir until cream cheese is melted and everything is combined. Stir in cereal until fully coated.

In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together cake mix and powdered sugar. Transfer cereal to a plastic container, top with cake mix and place lid on container. Shake until mixture is combined.

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