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Out of the Box

Smart Lunchtime Solutions for Kids

Breakfast for Lunch

Spread peanut butter or SunButter on multi-grain waffles. Or make an easy fruit compote for a dip: Combine 1 cup of blueberries/blackberries/cherries in a small sauce pan with 1/3 cup orange juice, 1 cinnamon stick, and ½ tsp vanilla extract. Bring to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and add a slurry of 1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp water. Stir together and let sit until cool. Store in a jar or container in the refrigerator. Waffles with peanut butter and a banana is a healthy, protein-packed lunch.


To prepare the kebabs, preferably the night before, cut two boneless, skinless chicken breast into 2-in. Cubes. Marinate in a simple mix of ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar and fresh Italian spices. Soak bamboo skewers in water ½ hour prior to grilling. To assemble skewers, alternate cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, and summer squash (all cut bite-size for kebabs), with the marinated chicken cubes. Place on a high heat grill or grill pan and cook until chicken is cooked through, turning once during cooking, or about 8 to 10 minutes per side. Pack the kebabs with some pita bread. (Don’t send skewers to school!) Makes 4 to 6 kebabs.

Asian Invasion

This is such a versatile dish and so quick and easy. In a large sauté pan or wok, heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil until hot, but not smoking. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and ½ Tbsp grated ginger and cook. Remove from pan, leaving oil in pan, and add one 8-oz bag of broccoli slaw and cook until soft; add the garlic and ginger back to the pan. Season with 1 Tbsp soy sauce or your favorite stir-fry sauce. Cook 1 bundle of buckwheat soba noodles according to the package. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss with ½ Tbsp sesame seed oil. Combine the stir fry with the noodles. You can now add tofu, cooked shrimp, shredded chicken, or pork to your noodle dish. This makes a great lunch hot or cold. Pack with a few fortune cookies – and see what the rest of the day has in store.

South of the Border

Use your favorite flavored tortilla (spinach or sundried tomato) or whole wheat. Sprinkle one side with a Mexican cheese blend and top with another tortilla. In a 12-in. Nonstick skillet, melt 1 Tbsp unsalted butter and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Once hot, gently place the tortilla in the pan and cook until the cheese has melted. Flip and cook the other side. Each side will be a nice golden brown and a bit crisp. You can also add shredded chicken to the filling, or spread a layer of refried beans before adding the cheese. Allow the tortilla to cool and cut into wedges for lunch the next day. Add on a simple corn, black bean, and tomato salad: Combine ¼ cup of each ingredient, toss with 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, and ½ Tbsp finely chopped cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Christine Wansleben, chef and owner of Mise En Place Cooking School, lives in the West End, where she enjoys cooking up a storm with her husband and their twins.

Christine Wansleben, chef and owner of Mise En Place Cooking School, lives in the West End, where she cooks up a storm with her husband and their twins.
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