Lunchbox safety and a snack

School’s once again in ses­sion — and so is your daily lunch-mak­ing routine. Here are some tips for mak­ing lunches that will keep your child healthy and happy all year long!

School Lunch Safety Tips:

• Keep food pre­par­a­tion areas in the kit­chen clean. Wash coun­ter­tops, cut­ting boards, utensils and your hands in hot, soapy wa­ter. And don’t let the fam­ily pet jump up on kit­chen coun­ters. 

• After pre­par­ing lunches, re­mem­ber to im­me­di­ately re­turn un­used por­tions of per­ish­able foods — like cheeses, deli meats and may­on­naise — to the re­fri­ger­at­or. Don’t let them sit out on the counter.

• Make sure that cold foods are cold be­fore pack­ing them in a lunch box. If pos­sible, pre­pare the lunch the night be­fore and store it in the re­fri­ger­at­or. (This also takes the edge off the mad morn­ing rush!) 

• In­su­lated lunch bags or boxes are the best way to keep food at a safe tem­per­at­ure un­til noon. Nestle a frozen juice pouch or ice pack in­side, and sand­wiches will stay ex­tra cool. 

• At school, in­struct the kids to store their lunch box out of dir­ect sun­light and away from ra­di­at­ors or oth­er heat­ers, if pos­sible. 

• Sand­wiches made with re­fri­ger­ated items such as lunch­eon meats, cheese and tuna salad should be car­ried in an in­su­lated lunch bag with an ice pack. That way they should be safe to eat even after go­ing hours without re­fri­ger­a­tion.

• Keep hot foods — like soups, stews or chilies — hot. In the morn­ing, bring the food to a boil and then im­me­di­ately pour in­to a hot, sterile va­cu­um bottle. (Ster­il­ize the va­cu­um bottle with boil­ing wa­ter.) 

Lunch foods that can be eaten at room tem­per­at­ure in­clude:

Pea­nut but­ter 

Jams and jel­lies 

Breads, crack­ers, cer­eals 

Clean fruits and ve­get­ables 

Dried meats, such as beef jerky 

Baked products, such as cook­ies and cakes 

Canned meat or poultry products that are eaten im­me­di­ately after open­ing 

This re­cipe for Cin­na­mon Honey Apple Dip is a sweet and healthy fin­ish for school lunches and after-school snacks. Adults will love it, too!

Cin­na­mon Honey Apple Dip

4 to 6 small apples, cored and cut in­to four wedges

2 ta­ble­spoons lem­on juice

1 cup (8 ounces) low-fat cream cheese

4 tea­spoons honey

1/2 tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract

1/4 tea­spoon ground cin­na­mon

1. Toss apples with lem­on juice to pre­vent them from turn­ing brown. Beat cream cheese in a small bowl with an elec­tric mix­er or in a food pro­cessor on me­di­um speed un­til creamy. Add the honey, vanilla and cin­na­mon. Beat un­til well-blen­ded.

2. Place 2 to 3 ta­ble­spoons per per­son in a re-seal­able con­tain­er along with four of the apple wedges for dip­ping. 

Makes 4 to 6 servings. ••

An­gela Shelf Medear­is is an award-win­ning chil­dren’s au­thor, culin­ary his­tor­i­an and the au­thor of sev­en cook­books. Her new cook­book is “The Kit­chen Diva’s Dia­bet­ic Cook­book.” Her web­site is www.di­ 

  To see how-to videos, re­cipes and more, Like An­gela Shelf Medear­is, The Kit­chen Diva! on Face­book and go to

You can reach at .

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