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Real food: 20/08/2009

Let's face it, kids are fussy little monkeys. My nine-year-old reports that lunches in his class include dry Cheerios, Cream Crackers and Farley's Rusks.

There is one kid who brings in salads ("even lettuce and tomatoes!") but she is clearly deranged.

Consultation is the only solution. Kids can surprise you with what they like. Experiment with fruit and vegetables when they are cheapest and tastiest in September. You may find they like pears, plums or peaches. Apples, bananas, grapes, oranges and mandarins are obvious; but try melon slices, pineapple rings, mangos, passion fruit and cherries. Try dried fruit -- sultanas, raisins, dried apricots, mangos or peaches.

Many kids will eat carrot sticks or strips of celery, particularly with a cream cheese or hummus dip. Fresh nuts and seeds are good protein -- almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts and coconut slices.

Instead of sandwiches, try rolls, baps, wraps, pitta, naans, chapatis or Georgian bread. If they don't like cheddar, try Brie, Gubbeen, Durrus, Comté, Gouda, Emmental or goat cheese.

Here are two quick recipes that are good cold or hot:

Chicken on a Stick Rub raw chicken breast with olive oil and a drop of balsamic, push on to a wooden skewer and grill.

Chicken Goujons Dip chicken strips in seasoned egg and breadcrumbs and fry in butter and oil until brown.

Don't miss Monday's paper for our tips from some of the country's top chefs on how to make the perfect school lunch