(BPT) - When it comes to packing a school lunch, you know the drill: Lay out two slices of bread. Spread one with peanut butter, the other with jelly. Press together, slice diagonally and place in sandwich bag. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
Of course good ol' PB&J is a lunchbox staple, but who doesn't crave something just a little different every now and then? Here are some quick and easy ideas that are sure to earn an A-plus with your kids:
*Add halved grapes to chicken salad for a refreshing take on this timeless sandwich filling. Pack it in a separate container, and provide crackers for a crunchy alternative to bread.
*Offer a mix of baby carrots and sugar snap peas with hummus for a smashing side.
For creative sandwich substitutes, think outside the bread box:
* Create a bento-box-style, snackable lunch combo: include cheese and crackers, fresh grapes from California, and a small handful of nuts.
* Make a sandwich rollup, using flatbread or flour tortillas as the base, or stuff pita pockets with filling, as a fun replacement for sliced bread.
* Tuck whole-grain tortilla chips and salsa, a side of black bean and corn salad, plus cheese and grapes for a Mexican spin on lunch.
* Looking for a gluten-free alterative? Try a cheese stick rolled with a slice of ham, with grapes on the side.
*Shape-shift familiar lunch items to add interest: offer cheese cubes, apple rings, carrot coins, and tortilla pinwheels.
*Tuck in a cluster of fresh grapes from California for an easy finger food that's juicy and hydrating too.
After school, a good snack can revive and refresh your student for homework time and afterschool activities. Smoothies are a great-tasting option, offering unlimited possibilities for ingredient combos and the ability to customize to everyone's liking. Plus, they're a nutritious way to tide over tummies until dinner, or even start the day at breakfast, by providing an excellent source of protein.
Grapes and yogurt are a classic combination, and this great-tasting smoothie proves the point: creamy and naturally sweet, simple to make and easy to embellish as desired. Just whirl all the ingredients in the blender and you've got a delicious superfood smoothie.
1 cup lowfat vanilla yogurt
2 cups red California seedless grapes
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 banana (optional)
Place all ingredients in blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour and serve.
Yield: Makes 1 3/4 cups.
Note: To make a green smoothie, use green California grapes instead of red, and toss in a handful of spinach leaves.
Nutritional analysis per serving: calories 192; protein 5 g; carbohydrate 39 g; fat 1.5 g; 7 percent calories from fat; cholesterol 7.5 mg; sodium 100 mg; calcium 205 mg; fiber 1.5 g.