Lunchbox safety and a snack

School’s once again in session — and so is your daily lunch-making routine. Here are some tips for making lunches that will keep your child healthy and happy all year long!

School Lunch Safety Tips:

• Keep food preparation areas in the kitchen clean. Wash countertops, cutting boards, utensils and your hands in hot, soapy water. And don’t let the family pet jump up on kitchen counters.

• After preparing lunches, remember to immediately return unused portions of perishable foods — like cheeses, deli meats and mayonnaise — to the refrigerator. Don’t let them sit out on the counter.

• Make sure that cold foods are cold before packing them in a lunch box. If possible, prepare the lunch the night before and store it in the refrigerator. (This also takes the edge off the mad morning rush!)

• Insulated lunch bags or boxes are the best way to keep food at a safe temperature until noon. Nestle a frozen juice pouch or ice pack inside, and sandwiches will stay extra cool.

• At school, instruct the kids to store their lunch box out of direct sunlight and away from radiators or other heaters, if possible.

• Sandwiches made with refrigerated items such as luncheon meats, cheese and tuna salad should be carried in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack. That way they should be safe to eat even after going hours without refrigeration.

• Keep hot foods — like soups, stews or chilies — hot. In the morning, bring the food to a boil and then immediately pour into a hot, sterile vacuum bottle. (Sterilize the vacuum bottle with boiling water.)

Lunch foods that can be eaten at room temperature include:

Peanut butter

Jams and jellies

Breads, crackers, cereals

Clean fruits and vegetables

Dried meats, such as beef jerky

Baked products, such as cookies and cakes

Canned meat or poultry products that are eaten immediately after opening

This recipe for Cinnamon Honey Apple Dip is a sweet and healthy finish for school lunches and after-school snacks. Adults will love it, too!

Cinnamon Honey Apple Dip

4 to 6 small apples, cored and cut into four wedges

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup (8 ounces) low-fat cream cheese

4 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Toss apples with lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Beat cream cheese in a small bowl with an electric mixer or in a food processor on medium speed until creamy. Add the honey, vanilla and cinnamon. Beat until well-blended.

2. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons per person in a re-sealable container along with four of the apple wedges for dipping.

Makes 4 to 6 servings. ••

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is www.divapro.com

To see how-to videos, recipes and more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook and go to Hulu.com