Healthy cooking for kids with Bay Area cookbook author/mom Jennifer Tyler Lee

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- January is the time to start anew, and that includes your kids' school lunches! If you've been stuck in the same rut, or running out of time to prepare healthy favorites, Burlingame mom Jennifer Tyler Lee, author of The 52 New Foods Challenge, has some great tips for busy parents.

Lee's school lunch makeover has 3 simple steps.

1. Follow a formula.
2. Prep Ahead.
3. Mix it Up

The formula to follow is: 2 colors, 1 protein and 1 healthy grains. For example, red tomatoes and green cucumbers for the colors. The protein can be animal or plant, such as sunflower butter. Spread it on whole wheat bread with a little jam with no-extra sugar added, and you have a balanced and visually enticing lunch.

Prep ahead means making even just one thing before the school week starts. Maybe that's ranch dip made with Greek yogurt and your favorite herbs. Or maybe that's a nut-free home-made energy bar that's great for a grab-and-go snack after school or before a game.

Mix it up means you take your kids' tried and true favorites and give them a twist to keep their interest. If they love ham and cheese sandwiches, try cutting ham, cheese and whole grains bread into cubes and present them on a stick like a kebab. If they love chocolate-hazelnut spread with banana, try flattening the bread, putting the spread and thin banana slices on it and rolling it up like a sushi roll. Then cut it up into bite-sized pieces they can share with friends.

Lee says kids eat with their eyes first, so making it fun and different will encourage them to eat more healthfully and adventurously.

RECIPE: Nut Free Homemade Energy Bars

(Photo: Erin Scott)
Recipe by: Jennifer Tyler Lee

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