Grand Haven author writes bento-inspired cookbook

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The book features bento-style arrangements made with healthy ingredients, and the recipes are allergen-friendly and gluten-free. Courtesy Page Street Publishing Co.

A local author released a cookbook for parents to create easy grab-and-go lunches for their children.

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook: Easy Real-Food Bento Lunches for Kids on the Go,” written by Grand Haven author Renee Kohley, went on sale Tuesday. The book, published by Page Street Publishing Co., features bento-style arrangements made with healthy ingredients, and the recipes are allergen-friendly and gluten-free.

“I remember being new to packing school lunches when my oldest was in kindergarten,” Kohley said. “I (was) feeling so burned out from trying to make everything in her lunchbox from scratch, and with a baby and toddler at home, it just didn’t work.

“Over the years, I perfected a balanced rhythm to lunch packing that not only nourished my kids for a long school day but also was doable for an entire school year. Each of the recipes features a full, macro-nutrient balanced lunchbox with just one homemade item — a realistic lunch packing flow for any family.”

The cookbook is divided into eight sections and each one offers a new way to make your child’s lunchbox:

  1. Beyond Peanut Butter & Jelly — Fun and Delicious Sandwiches!
  2. Lunchables Copycats
  3. Warm and Comforting Thermos Lunches
  4. Nuggets, Dippers, and Bites
  5. Colorful Kid-Approved Salads
  6. The Finishing Touches — Snacks & Sides
  7. Lunchbox Treats
  8. Real-Food Staples

Kohley said the organization of bento boxes appeals to kids and makes the meal easy to eat, especially for younger children.

“One of my goals in writing the cookbook was to show moms and dads how to accomplish filling the lunchbox with a simple rotation of staple healthy foods from their kitchen stashes,” she said.

Kohley is the author of “Nourished Beginnings Baby Food” and the mom of three behind the website Raising Generation Nourished. She has been a featured writer on Nourished Kitchen, The Prairie Homestead, Mommypotamus and Super Healthy Kids.

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