Super Starts Here.

Best and Worst Ways To Cook Veggies

Think a raw veggie diet is the best way to go for optimal nutrition? Think again. Cooking vegetables helps to soften their tough fibrous exteriors and loosen up all the nutritional good stuff that lies inside. In fact, some vegetables are actually more healthful if you eat them cooked.  The only problem is, not all cooking methods are the same as some provide more nutrition while others add unwanted fat and calories.

Microwaving: When in doubt, microwave your veggies for maximum antioxidant preservation. Exception: Keep cauliflower out of the microwave; it loses more than 50 percent of its antioxidants when microwaved!

Griddle: Who says that your griddle should be reserved only for pancakes? Beets, celery, onions, Swiss chard, and green beans cook particularly well on the griddle. Griddles allow vegetables to retain as many antioxidants as microwaving.

Baking/Roasting: Baking, or roasting, is hit-or-miss. Bake your artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, and peppers, all of which retained their antioxidant values, but not your carrots, Brussels sprouts, leeks, cauliflower, peas, zucchini, onions, beans, celery, beets, and garlic, which all saw decreases in nutrient levels. The veggies you should really bake are green beans, eggplant, corn, Swiss chard, and spinach, all of which saw their antioxidant levels increase after baking. Toss a handful of those veggies into your next casserole!

Frying: It’s probably no surprise that this method fails the test when it comes to antioxidants and nutrition levels. In addition to adding way too much fat to your meal, it caused a loss of between 5 and 50 percent of each vegetable’s nutrients.

Pressure Cooking/Boiling: Don’t use these methods if you want to retain antioxidants in your vegetables. Peas, cauliflower, and zucchini are particularly susceptible to losing nutrients through boiling. If you do need to boil your vegetables, save the nutrient-rich boiling water and use it the next time you make a soup or sauce. There are always exceptions, and in this case, it’s carrots. Boiling carrots boosts their carotenoid content more so than steaming or frying them.

Steaming: Steaming is the best method for preserving antioxidants found in broccoli and zucchini. Contrary to what you may think, this may not be the healthiest way to prep vegetables anyway. Many of the vitamins and nutrients in vegetables are fat soluble, meaning your body absorbs them better in the presence of fat. If you prefer steaming your vegetables, toss them with a small amount of olive oil before serving to boost nutrient absorption.

Sauteing:  The process of sautéing is similar to that of microwaving. Cooking your vegetables over high heat in a short amount of time,  minimizes nutrient loss, and the oil in which you’re sautéing them helps your body absorb more of the nutrients.


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A New “Added Sugar” Label On Packaged Foods?

While we all know processed foods typically contain larger amounts of sugars than natural foods and now the FDA wants to add an additional label onto food packages to let consumers know exactly how much added sugar is in the products.  There are many arguments for an against this proposal.  Some organizations such as the National Baker’s Association is against it as they feel that since natural and added sugars are chemically the same, adding an extra label could cause confusion and defer consumers from purchasing products that are otherwise nutritious because of confusion with the labels.

The American Heart Association is supportive of this as the FDA could rewrite current sugar labels so that the consumer could tell the difference between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars which will help them make better food choices while shopping. “t is, of course, true that people can be misled if they overly focus on one particular facet of a food and that current labels on food packages are very good at helping us get confused that way. “Low-fat” items can contain just as many calories as higher-fat foods, and “organic” processed foods can be just as junky as any other kind, and just because Lucky Charms are made with whole grains, that does not make them a health food.”


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A Few Healthy After School Snack Ideas

We all know diets that are high in refined sugars and calories have been shown to contribute to obesity in kids, and adults for that matter. It can be so easy for them to grab a bag of chips to snack on in the afternoon but, as research continues to show, simple carbohydrates aren’t necessarily your kids’ friends.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80 percent of 10- to 15-year-olds who are overweight become obese adults by the age of 25. One way to be sure your kids are on a healthy track? Pay attention to how they snack.  The best after-school snacks are those that are full of protein and lots of complex carbohydrates, and we have five tasty suggestions to get the snacking started.

Cheese: The protein in this kid-friendly snack keeps energy levels high until dinnertime. We like to stick salt-free pretzel sticks into cubes of low-fat cheese to make “satellite snacks,” but you can also make cheese more interesting to kids by cutting it into fun shapes with a cookie cutter and making kabobs with your favorite fruit.

Peanut Butter: This versatile childhood favorite has plenty of protein and fiber, just make sure to stick with all natural. For a change, try making silly PB&J sandwiches with toasted mini waffles or rice cakes instead of bread, or try it with yogurt and raspberries in a yummy frozen treat that’s super fun to eat.

Monkey Bars: This soon to be favorite is packed with Vitamin C and potassium-rich bananas are teamed with oats and currants and flavored with a hint of cinnamon.

Monkey Bars

vegetable cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup warm water
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup dried currants


1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with vegetable cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. can add the oats, cinnamon and flour and mix well.

3. Make it a . In a small bowl, combine the apple juice, vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of warm water. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in the banana and currants. can help spread the dough into the prepared pan.

4. Bake until the top is golden, about 1 hour.

5. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into 12 squares and serve. These bars can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Mixed Berry Smoothie: Packed with fiber and protein a small serving of this will hold the kids over until dinner while also giving them the added nutrients they need!

Mixed Berry Smoothie

1 cup orange juice
2 cups plain, low-fat yogurt
3/4 cup washed, stemmed raspberries
3/4 cup washed, stemmed blackberries
3/4 cup washed, stemmed blueberries
honey to taste


1. Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth.

Cucumber Hummus: We all know that kids love things that they can dip their food in so why not slice up some veggies or give them a few pita chips and try this great veggie-filled dip!

Cucumber Hummus

1 cup diced cucumber (from about 1/2 large cucumber, peeled)
1-2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon flax seeds
15 ounces cooked chickpeas (or canned, drained and rinsed)
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon sumac, optional for garnish

1. Put the cucumber, water, garlic, and flax seed into a blender or food processor and blend on high speed until frothy. Add the remaining ingredients (except sumac) and blend on high until smooth. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until chilled and slightly thicker. Sprinkle with sumac and serve.

Variations: Add one or more of the following to taste: ground cumin, chipotle chile powder, 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped green olives, 1 tablespoon chopped green onions, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or mint, roasted red pepper


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37 Tips For Creating A Healthy Lunchbox For Your Kids

  1. Leave your child a fun healthy note in their lunch box.
  2. The USDA recommends that K to 5th graders need around 645 calories for lunch per day.
  3. Some kids don’t like peanut butter but will enjoy cashew or almond butter as a spread. (Meatless)
  4. Your child’s lunch could include perishable items (sandwiches, fresh fruit) and shelf-stable items (packaged pudding). Use an insulated lunch box, with an insulated bottle for hot foods or a frozen gel pack or a frozen juice box to keep foods cold.
  5. Sliced mango, kiwi, or apples are a good snack (use orange juice to help prevent browning) (Meatless)
  6. Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home.
  7. When packing egg or meat sandwiches for school lunches, include an ice pack to ensure these items stay cold.
  8. Next time you make a sandwich for your child’s lunch, switch from regular mayonnaise to low fat or fat-free.
  9. Use leftovers for school lunch. If your child ate the beef stew last night for dinner, serve it up for lunch (place an ice pack in the lunch box though to prevent food illness).
  10. Get out the cookie cutters – no not for cookies, but for sandwiches. Kids love food in shapes. Surprise them with different shapes over the week.
  11. Breakfast for lunch? Make pancakes on Sunday and freeze the leftovers. You can warm them up and pack them up for a fun lunch. Scrambled eggs or a sliced boiled egg can be a hit too (remember the ice pack though). (Meatless)
  12. Cube cheese and offer it on a toothpick. (Meatless)
  13. Other bite-sized food includes cucumber and avocado rolls (many grocery stores now have a section of Japanese food). (Meatless)
  14. Toothpicks can add some fun too – kids love bite-sized food. So make a mini-sandwich and place a toothpick in it.
  15. Make your own Japanese rolls: Use Korean roasted seaweed (this has a nice sesame flavor to it) and sticky rice. Just roll up the rice like into a mini-cylinder shape. Have your kids help you make it the night before.
  16. Edamame (soybean) or sugar snap peas (good source of protein) (Meatless)
  17. Try a garbanzo and kidney bean salad. (Meatless)
  18. Fresh mozzarella cheese in a tortilla. (Meatless)
  19. Offer half of a sweet potato with a sprinkle of brown sugar or even slice it into circular shapes, Take advantage of tropical fruits such as mango slices or kiwi (easy to scoop out with a spoon). (Meatless)
  20. Vanilla yogurt with raspberries and granola or nuts on top (place it in a small plastic container (use an ice pack to keep it cold) (Meatless)
  21. Pasta: Use mini-penne or bowtie pasta. Just throw on some pasta sauce. If you make it the night before, add a tsp of olive oil to prevent sticking. (Meatless)
  22. Use these thin, curly noodles and serve with peanut sauce or just plain. During winter months, use a thermos to serve up warm noodles (boil them in vegetable broth and use about 1/3 of the liquid for added flavor). (Meatless)
  23. Add dips- kids love dipping foods – Fruits and veggies are great for dipping! Serve mini-carrots or jicama with ranch dressing, or slightly steamed broccoli with light mayo. (Meatless)
  24. Burritos: Just use mini-tortillas and serve with beans and cheese. Many kids don’t need to have their foods warmed up to enjoy. Similarly, offer baked beans and a whole wheat tortilla separate; many kids like to enjoy food separately and may not enjoy pinto or black beans. (Meatless)
  25. Serve sliced ham, chicken, tuna or egg salad sandwiches on 100% whole wheat or other bran. Go with what your child likes.
  26. Let the kids help plan their lunches for the week.
  27. Try to get your child’s school to stock healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, water and 100 percent fruit juice in the vending machines.
  28. Healthy lunches have at least 3-4 of the food groups that means including fruits and vegetables.
  29. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat.
  30. Cereal. Just make sure it is high in fiber (5 grams) and low in sugar (under 10 grams). Provide a container with a top and a spoon; your child can add the milk provided at school. (Meatless)
  31. Trail mix (nuts, dried cranberries stick pretzels) (Meatless)
  32. Make a face – Open faced bagel with cream cheese and a face (use raisin for the eyes, a cashew for the nose etc.) Kids love to help create a face. (Meatless)
  33. Serve sliced meat rolled up into tubes and offer the bread separate.
  34. Tuna salad can be offered with crackers. Remember, bread doesn’t have to be sliced bread; offer whole wheat bagels or tortillas. Even just plain sticky brown rice or couscous can be a hit.
  35. Peanut butter and banana sandwich – apples will work too. (Meatless)
  36. Tea sandwiches: These are bite-sized sandwiches. You can make your child a cream cheese tea sandwich with very thin cucumber slices. (Meatless)
  37. Use leftover chicken from dinner last night and make a sandwich vs. processed sandwich meat which is high in sodium (salt).


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Meal Planning Tips To Help Make It Easier

With school and work schedules back to normal, it can be difficult to get back into the weekly family dinner routine after a summer of BBQ’s, parties, vacations, and excursions so we came up with a list of helpful tips to get back on track with meal planning.  Not only does planning the meals for your family take the guess work out of “what’s for dinner,” it helps you become more efficient while grocery shopping and you have more time to spend with the family!

  • First is make a list of 30 meals you know the kids will eat, and then modify the recipe to a healthier version. Generally, most families will eat the same 30 meals over and over.
  • Have the kids help with making the list. Make this list personal to your family. Once you have your list, simply assign them a day during the month. The next month, mix it up.
  • The other way is to get ONE cookbook, or one website, and plan all your meals from that book. That way, you aren’t overwhelmed by the options of 20 cookbooks on your table. Plus when you go to make the meal, you will remember where you saw the recipe!
  • Why do you plan a salad or other fruits and vegetables at every meal? 50% of our diet (kids included) should come from fruits and vegetables! A plant based diet not only ensures your kids are getting the proper nutrients necessary to grow, but also contributes to disease prevention, better behavior, more energy, better skin, better academic performance, and HAPPIER CHILDREN! The younger you teach this to your kids, the more likely they will adopt these behaviors for LIFE.
  • Take a look at the family diary. Think about regular classes or after school activities or if you or your partner have to work late on certain days.You will be able to make your weekly menu plan far easier if you know who is going to be around and how much time you have to make & serve up meals.
  • Plan ahead and think about batch cooking & freezing. If you plan to make something that freezes well like spaghetti sauce, a stew or casserole make double and freeze the second portion for those days where you won’t have any time to cook.
  • Here is an adorable meal planning chart that you can put on the fridge for an easy reference!


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Healthy Breakfast Ideas For The Kids

Yesterday we talked about the importance of starting the day with a healthy breakfast and today we have a few great recipes to try out this week!  They are easy to make and are great alternatives to more traditional items that are not as nutritionally balanced.

Whole Grain and Flax Blueberry Muffins

1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup hot tap water
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup agave nectar or honey
1/2 cup organic sugar
1 cup plain yogurt (or soy yogurt)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flax seed meal
1 pint fresh blueberries


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the top of 2 standard size muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray and line with 24 paper liners. Set aside. In a large liquid measuring cup, combine oats and water. Set aside.

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda baking powder, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together agave nectar, sugar, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, oil, and flax meal. Add in oatmeal and dry ingredients, and stir until just combined. Fold in blueberries.

4. Fill liners about three fourths of the way full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center muffins comes out clean.

Super C Smoothie

1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh orange juice
1/2 cup (120 ml) filtered water
2 tsp camu camu powder
3/4 cup (130 g) chopped fresh mango
1 cup (115 g) frozen strawberries
1 frozen banana, sliced


1. Combine the orange juice, water, and camu camu powder in a blender. Add the mango, strawberries, and banana. Blend until smooth.

On-The-Go Morning PB&J Granola Wrap

1 whole grain flatbread or light wrap of your choice.  Quinoa wraps work great here!
1 Tbs reduced fat peanut butter
1 Tbs sugar-free jam
2 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 banana, cut in half lengthwise
2 Tbs low fat granola


1. Spread peanut butter evenly over entire Flatbread. On one rounded end, spread jam. Layer strawberry, banana and granola. Roll, cut and enjoy!

Creamy Wheat Berry Hot Cereal

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups nonfat milk, or reduced-fat soymilk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups Cooked Wheat Berries, (recipe follows)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted


1. Place oats, raisins, milk (or soymilk) and salt in a large, microwave-safe bowl. (No microwave? See Stovetop Variation.) Stir to combine. Microwave on High, uncovered, for 3 minutes.

2. Stir in cooked wheat berries and microwave again until hot, 1 to 2 minutes more. Let stand for 1 minute. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon.

3. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve. Stovetop Variation: Bring milk (or soymilk) to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in oats, raisins and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in cooked wheat berries and cook until heated through, about 1 minute more.

4. Remove from the heat. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon; let stand for 1 minute. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.



A Good Breakfast Is Important For School Performance

While we have all heard that breakfast is the most important part of the day, have you ever wondered why that is?  When we wake up each morning, our bodies have been fasting for several hours during sleep.  Eating a good breakfast provides energy for your bode and brain to function.

Studies show that over 40% of children do not eat breakfast regularly.  Letting children skip breakfast can lead to short and long-term effects.  Children tend to have poor concentration and are unable to learn complex concepts.  Meanwhile, children who eat breakfast achieved higher test scores and were more likely to be active participants in class.  Children’s metabolic rates are also lowered when they skip breakfast which can cause lack of energy and the likelihood to overeat later in the day which can lead to obesity.

It is also important to make sure that you are providing a balanced breakfast for your children.  Try to avoid doughnuts and pastries as they contain a lot of calories and sugar while providing little nutritional value.


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A Few Lunchbox Recipes The Kids Will Love!

When you are just starting to get back into the school routine and packing lunches, it can be difficult to come up with new items to pack. Here are two sandwich options that are not only flavorful but packed with lots of nutrients!  Studies show that children tend to be healthier eaters when they are actively involved in making their own food and these recipes are easy to assemble so why not let them help.  Try one of these in the lunchbox tomorrow!

Mini Veggie Burgers

1/2 cup bulgur wheat
1 cup water
1 15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, grated
1/2 cup carrot, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon oil


1. Place the bulgar wheat and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for 13 minutes.

2. After the bulgur has cooked, place in a bowl and let cool.

3. Place 1 can of rinsed and drained pinto beans in a food processor and puree.

4. Add the pureed beans, cheese, carrot, salt, garlic and onion powder to cooked bulgur and mix thoroughly.

5. Form into patties.

6. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and cook the burgers for 3 minutes on each side.

7. Serve with accompaniments.

To Freeze: After forming patties and before cooking, place patties on a baking sheet in the freezer for 1 hour, then transfer to a zippered bag or other food-safe freezer container. Defrost in the refrigerator then follow recipe direction.

Snail Spirals

Snail Spirals

lavash wrap (flat, rectangle, ultra thin pita-like bread.)
hummus, any flavor
a variety of raw veggies and fillings ( I like using edamame, spinach and tomatoes)


1. spread the hummus on the lavash wrap – thinly and evenly.

2. Add your fillings.

3. Roll.

4. Slice into one inch thick rolls.

Lunch Packing Tip: Skewer the rolls on a long wooden kabob stick to keep the spirals in tact. Or use flat tupperware and lay the rolls flat like sushi.

Veggie Rainbow Wraps

Veggie Rainbow Wraps

Veggie Rainbows. For a more savory rainbow wrap choose an array of veggies:
Red: roasted bell pepper, tomato, radish
Orange: bell pepper, carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin
Yellow: corn, squash, yellow tomato, yellow beets
Green: greens (assorted varieties), edamame, peas, avocado, broccoli, asparagus, bell pepper, zucchini, celery
Blue/Purple: Radicchio, olives, purple potatoes, onion, beets, eggplant, cabbage

1 whole wheat wrap (lavash wrap)
3 Tbsp vegan cream cheese
2 cups chopped veggies, rainbow colors
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
dash or pepper (optional)


1.  Slice your large wrap into two smaller rectangle pieces.

2.  Spread 1 1/2 Tbsp of vegan cream cheese on each wrap.

3.  Sprinkle a bit of salt and/or pepper on the cheese (optional). Set aside.

4.  Chop all your veggies into small flat cubes, about the size of a large raisin. Place in a large bowl or arrange by color on a plate.

5.  Spritz veggies with lemon juice to preserve colors and prevent oxidation.

6.  Set up the workspace and instruct the kids on what to do-build a rainbow out of the veggies.

7.  Before rolling the wrap, you can spread the veggies around a bit if needed. Roll up! (Adults may need to do this part.)

8.  Eating time! Slice the wrap into 5 small spirals. Time to munch your rainbow rolls.


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Peanut Butter Apple Sandwich

This week is all about back to school!  Here is a new spin on a peanut butter sandwich that is a great way to get that apple a day in for the little ones.

Peanut Butter Apple Sandwich

1 apple

Some nut or seed butter like peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter


Lemon ( to keep apple from turning brown)


1. Cut off the top of the apple and then make the first thin slice (a.k.a. the top of the sandwich).

2. Make another slice, which will become the bottom of the sandwich. If you started cutting near the top of the apple you can get four slices (2 sandwiches) out of one apple.

3. Cut out the core with a small round cookie cutter. You can also use a table knife and go around in a circular motion, but it’s not nearly as pretty.

4. Add some nut or seed butter (like peanut butter).

5. If desired, add some raisins as well.

6. Put on the top of the sandwich.

7. If you don’t trust your child to keep their lunchbox in one position all day long then secure with wooden toothpicks (plastic ones can break in apple). Also be sure to instruct your child to remove the toothpicks before taking a bite.

8. Squirt with lemon juice to help keep apple from turning brown. You can also mix lemon with a little water so it doesn’t taste so “lemony”.


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Our Favorite Lunchbox Accessories

While packing school lunches each day can turn into a daunting task, it is still the best way to ensure that you children are receiving the proper balance of nutrition.  Here are a few of our favorite lunchbox accessories that can help make packing lunches a little easier!

Reusies are an eco-friendly alternative to plastic baggies.  They are cloth bags with a special liner that allows them to hold foods.  Even better is that they are dishwasher safe!

FooGo Thermos is one of the best containers for keeping liquids cold or hot.  It has a special layer that helps keep food at the desired temperature for longer which means there is less of a risk of sickness due to bacteria, etc.  They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including ones designed specifically for toddlers and infants!

Klean Kanteen are BPA- free, reusable water bottles.  They come in a lot of fun colors and have a special clip that can attach to either the lunchbox or the backpack if water is allowed in school!

My Sweet Muffin is a great site for a variety of adorable storage containers, bento boxes, and lunch boxes.  They have adorable animal shaped bags, vintage scenes, and nautical inspired items!

Eco By Design Non Toxic Ice Packs are a great alternative to the bulkier ice packs and also come with sweat free covers!

Non-toxic Sporks are the great alternative to utensils as they are more compact and you only have to worry about putting one utensil in the lunchbox!

Lunch Bots Bento Box is made from high quality stainless steel and is the perfect eco-friendly bento box option!  Lunch Bots also carries a variety of other lunchbox options such as stainless steel containers and water bottles!

LunchSkins sandwich bags are larger than reusies so are the perfect eco-friendly alternative to sandwich baggies!  Even better is that you can find them at most Target’s!!

Skip The Zoo Lunchies are the perfect lunch boxes for toddlers and preschoolers because they are smaller in size so easier for them to carry!  The added bonus is that they come in a lot of colors and styles!

Built NY lunch bags are known as the indestructible lunchbox because they are made of neoprene which is the same material that wetsuits are made out of.  There are a lot of shapes and styles to choose from also!

Oots makes a lunchbox that has several levels and compartments which stack neatly on top of each other.  This helps to prevent spills and messes in the lunchbox!

Wean Green containers are one of my favorite eco-friendly containers.  They are made from tempered glass which helps make them more durable and they come in lots of fun colors and sizes!


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