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Prune by any other name

October 14, 2002

To make school lunches healthier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been developing innovative new foods that also help out American farmers by using their surplus of low-demand fruits and vegetables.

Kid favorites that might appear on lunch trays this school year include: hamburgers with dried-plum or cherry puree mixed in, barbecue sauce made with raisins or figs, pizza topped with dried-plum sauce, sweet-potato pancakes and cherry applesauce.

Foods that didn't make the cut: yogurt-covered cherries, grapefruit juice blend, date-and-almond bars and "broccamole" (broccoli guacamole).

Off the shelf

Ease the after-school feeding frenzy by designating areas of the refrigerator and pantry as snack shelves for kids.

Kathy Walsten, a nutrition educator with Kansas State University Research and Extension, says good choices for the pantry shelf include canned fruit, tuna, vegetable soup, nuts, peanut butter, pretzels, whole grain crackers, ginger snaps, bagels and pita bread.

In the fridge or freezer, good choices include yogurt, cheese sticks, low-fat milk, fruit-juice pops and fresh fruit.


Sealing in color

Keep the colorful leaves of autumn all year round with this fun activity from Nancy Blakey's "Go Outside! Over 130 Activities for Outdoor Adventures" (Tricycle Press, $13.95):

  • Collect fallen leaves and place them between the pages of a magazine until you're ready to use them.

  • Tear two pieces of wax paper, each about 18 inches long. Place one piece on an ironing board and lay a nice arrangement of leaves on top of the paper. Don't put leaves too close to the edge.

  • Place the other piece of wax paper on top of the leaf design, and with a hot iron, seal the pieces together. Trim the mat if necessary, and seal edges with colored masking tape.
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