As back to school time quickly approaches, here are some great fun ideas to liven up lunchboxes in a healthy way!

1. Arrange fruit and veggies into silly shapes or faces to bring fun to lunchtime!

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2. Add colour! Carrots, berries, peppers, oranges and apples can brighten up lunchtime.

3. Buy lunch containers with dividers so it is easy to portion fruits and veggies

via Eat Good 4 Life

4. Bring your kids grocery shopping with you and let them choose new fruits and veggies they haven’t tried for lunchtime variety.

5. Be prepared! Pre-portion healthy afterschool snacks and store them in an easy to reach spot.

6. Create mini salad skewers! Layer cherry tomatoes, low-fat mozzarella cheese, and basil on a lollipop stick for an easy to eat fun salad

via Skinnytaste

7. Cucumber pinwheels! Slice cucumber thinly with a mandolin, layer with a bit of hummus or low-fat cream cheese, a slice of turkey, then roll into cute pinwheels for a healthy alternative to the typical sandwich!

8. Use cookie cutters to slice fruits and veggies into fun shapes! Pineapple slices make great butterflies, cucumbers and carrots make great mini-flowers!

via Kids in the Kitchen

9. Make any day a pizza day! Fill lunchboxes with a couple mini pitas or crackers, some tomato sauce, slices of low-fat mozzarella, and tons of veggies for easy to make lunchtime pizzas.

via Biting the Hand that Feeds You

10. Salad at lunch made easy! Start with a mason jar with dressing at the bottom, then layer veggies and lettuce on top. Just shake when it’s time to eat.

Salad in a mason jar!

Do you have some great half your plate back to school lunch ideas? Share them with us below or on facebook or Twitter!

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When I toss romaine hearts into my shopping cart, chances are I'm heading home to make my family’s favourite salad. Every cook should know the joy of crafting a true Caesar salad while avoiding the also-ran dressings at the supermarket that never quite measure up to the real thing. Over time we’ve experimented with lots of additional flavours in this salad but, more often than not, I toss in lots of fresh basil leaves and brightly flavoured cherry tomatoes. What a great way to fill Half Your Plate! SERVES 4 TO 6 For the croutons 1 baguette, cut into large bite-sized cubes 1/4 cup (60 mL) of water 1/4 cup (60 mL) of your best olive oil For the dressing 6 thick slices of bacon, finely cut 1/4 cup (60 mL) of extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup (60 mL) of Dijon mustard 4 cloves of garlic a full 2-ounce (50 g) can of anchovies the zest and juice of 2 lemons 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of honey a dash or two of your favourite hot sauce For the salad 3 hearts of romaine lettuce, rinsed and sliced into bite sized pieces 1 large bunch of basil leaves 2-ounces or so of Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved into thin pieces with a vegetable peeler 1 pound of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Turn on your convection fan if you have one. Begin with the croutons. Sprinkle the bread cubes with water and toss until evenly absorbed. Continue tossing with the oil until it too is absorbed. Spread the works out on a baking tray and bake until the croutons are crispy, crunchy and thoroughly golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove and cool while you prepare the rest of the salad. Make the dressing. Toss the bacon and a big splash of water into a pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the bacon is fully browned and evenly crispy, 10 minutes or so. Strain off the bacon bits and reserve for garnishing. Reserve all, some or none of the tasty fat. Measure the oil, Dijon, garlic, anchovies, lemon zest and juice, honey and hot sauce into your blender or food processor. Add the reserved bacon fat. Purée until smooth. Make the salad. In a large salad bowl toss together the romaine leaves, basil leaves, croutons and tomatoes. Pour in the dressing and toss the works until the salad is evenly dressed. Top with the bacon and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve and share! Freestyle Flavour You can easily elevate this salad into an entire meal by adding lots of your favourite protein. Try grilling off a few chicken breasts and thinly slicing them into the works. A filet or two of salmon, grilled steak, pork tenderloin, even chunks of tofu can be added for a full protein kick.
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