Check It Out: Creative lunch ideas for the back-to-school crowd

With the new school year starting Tuesday, many parents are spending at least a part of this holiday weekend wrapping up their kids' back-to-school shopping. If you have school-age children, you know the drill. New school supplies: check. New shoes and clothes: check. Maybe even a shiny new lunch box.

What about something new and exciting to pack into your kids' lunches? Delicious, wholesome lunches and snacks will pique your children's appetites and give them the energy they need to excel in school.

Treat yourself to these and other kid-friendly cookbooks available at the Newport Beach Public Library:

"Real Food for Healthy Kids: 200+ Easy, Wholesome Recipes" by Tracy Seaman and Tanya Wenman Steel: Seaman and Steel share their culinary expertise in preparing nutritious meals that are designed to please the most finicky of eaters. This indispensable resource offers child-rearing advice and practical tips on nutritional guidelines, food etiquette and essential kitchen equipment. The more than 200 recipes include carrot cake oatmeal, turkey pinwheels, harvest tomato tarts and other healthy dishes.

"Vegan Lunch Box: 130 Amazing Animal-Free Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups will Love" by Jennifer McCann: McCann, creator of the award-winning Vegan Lunch Box blog, presents more than 130 innovative vegan recipes for delicious lunch box menus. Each lunch, which was "kid-tested" by the author's son, includes a description, commentary and success rating. The allergen-free recipe index is especially helpful for those who have food sensitivities or allergies to nuts, soy, gluten or wheat.

"Paula Deen's Cookbook for the Lunch-Box Set" by Paula Deen: Popular Food Network personality Paula Deen inspires young chefs in this delightful children's cookbook. In addition to lunch box fare, readers will find creative recipes for muffins, bake sales, picnics, theme parties and various holidays. This beautifully illustrated title also includes cooking tips, safety precautions and a brief section on manners at the beginning of each chapter.

"Sandwiches & Snacks" by Susannah Blake: Children who are eager to learn how to make their own sandwiches and snacks will relish this visually appealing guide. Step-by-step instructions are accompanied by color photographs, which make following the directions a snap. Recipes include tuna melts, hummus wraps, bruschetta, classic egg salad sandwiches, quesadilla wedges and more!

"The Sneaky Chef to the Rescue: 101 All-New Recipes and 'Sneaky' Tricks for Creating Healthy Meals Kids will Love" by Missy Chase Lapine: The author shares her ingenious methods of substituting and disguising healthy ingredients into kid-friendly recipes. Discover tried-and-true techniques to optimize the nutritional content of your family's meals with make-ahead purees, holiday treats and other dishes that are low calorie, low fat, dairy-free, egg-free or gluten-free. This book is a lifesaver for parents who have children with special dietary needs or fussy appetites.

"Cool Lunches to Make &Take: Easy Recipes for Kids to Cook" by Lisa Wagner: Wagner encourages youngsters to experiment and have fun while they learn how to cook. This handy little guide provides basic cooking instructions, a glossary, suggested websites and detailed photographs. The entire family will enjoy super-duper subs, pasta salad presto, fruit kebabs and other kid-approved recipes.

Kick off the new school year with a trip to the library today!

If you're looking for ways to cut calories but still make delicious meals, don't miss What's Cooking at the Library with chef Susan Irby, author of "Substitute Yourself Skinny" at 7 p.m. Sept. 21. Register by clicking on the Event Calendar link at The cost is $20 per person.

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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