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Healthy lunch and snack ideas for back to school season

A wellness coach gives healthy back to school lunch ideas. (Amanda Kinseth/WPDE)

Back to school means back to packing lunches and making after-school snacks.

And some healthy ideas can make for a fun mid-day surprise for kids at school.

"School starts so early in the morning," said Leslie O'Neill, a holistic health and wellness coach and owner of Be Well Meals. "The day is long and they need nutrition. They need real food in their day."

Real food gives children nutrients, minerals and energy and O'Neill has plenty of ideas.

"Cut some apples up. You put a little lemon over the apple and it keeps it from bruising," said O'Neill.

Send them with a little bit of nut butter or hummus or bean dip, and then they can make the apples sandwiches themselves.

It's fun, nutritious and a healthier alternative to prepackaged foods.

"I always worried whether or not they would trade their lunch for somebody else's lunch. I bet you a lot of kids would want to trade for this, right. It's like an art and craft project," said O'Neill.

Fresh fruit dipped in low sugar homemade chocolate makes a great after school snack.

For breakfast on-the-go, O'Neill said to try overnight oats or overnight smoothies.

Let the kids pick the fruits and veggies, and put them in the fridge

"They put it in a blender and boom, they've got something healthy they can start the day with," said O'Neill.

Protein muffins, made with protein powder, egg whites, baking powder and a smidgen of maple syrup, pack four grams of protein each. They're a great grab and go as you're running out the house.

"You don't have to feel guilty about your child or yourself...eating something that looks decadent but is filled with so much nutrition," said O'Neill.

O'Neill also suggests involving the kids in the meal preps to make it fun family time.

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