Go Ask Mom

Need lunch help? Celebrity chef offers some tips

Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli, executive chef at Butter in New York and star of Food Network shows, helps us out with the noon meal.

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Celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
Thanks to Sara Lee Deli, WRAL.com is offering a contest to win a day with celebrity chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli, along with a year supply of Sara Lee pre-sliced deli meat. All you need to do to enter is share your lunchtime challenge on the contest website.

The contest runs through Oct. 3.You can vote for your favorite submission (and encourage your friends and family to vote for yours) from Oct. 4 to Oct. 13. The winner is announced Nov. 3.

Guarnaschelli, a mother and daughter of a cookbook author, is executive chef at Butter in New York and the star of "Alex's Day Off" and a judge on the show "Chopped," both on Food Network.

She took some time out of her busy schedule recently to answer a few of my questions about lunch, a tricky meal in my house and, I suspect, a tricky meal in some of your houses too.

Go Ask Mom: You always hear about how breakfast is the most important meal of the day and we all need to sit down to family dinners, but lunch seems to get forgotten in all the talk. Why do you think that is?
Alex Guarnaschelli: Lunch is the forgotten meal because so many of us are doing other things in the middle of our day! You start your day with breakfast and end it with dinner, so both of those are easy to remember, and your kids are home at those time. At lunch, your kids are at school so you don’t see them, and you might be eating at your desk or in your car while running errands. I am so excited to have partnered with Sara Lee Deli for the “What’s You Lunchtime Challenge?” contest to that I can help moms take back lunch!
GAM: What makes lunch so difficult for some of us moms to figure out?
AG: By talking with moms across the country, Sara Lee Deli identified lunchtime as one area they struggle with consistently. How do you make it portable? How do you come up with a week’s worth of lunches without making it boring? How do you create lunches your kids will actually eat? So, when they approached me to help them tackle mom’s lunchtime challenges, I was thrilled because I’ve been there.
GAM: What are some tips for branching out from the usual lunch at home and in the lunch box (it's ham and cheese all the time at my house)?
AG: Try mixing up the delivery for a change of pace. Take your favorite Sara Lee Deli meat and wrap it around a piece of cheese for fun roll-ups. You can also include your child’s favorite fruit or veggie in the roll for some extra pep. Or take out the cheese and just roll it around fruit or veggies or even pickles. Instead of using mustard or mayo on your favorite sandwich, put your child’s favorite salad

dressing in a container and have them drizzle it on the sandwich when they eat their lunch. Making kids part of the process will help them be more engaged and enjoy their lunch more!

GAM: You're a working mom. Do you have a favorite lunch recipe or two you could share that are popular at your house?
AG: I have a lot of pressure at lunch time because I’m a chef so everyone wants to know what my daughter is eating! I like to use reusable containers to pack a sandwich in parts and allow my daughter to assemble when she gets to school. That way I know she won’t have a soggy sandwich when lunch rolls around and she feels like she is taking part in the process.

Here is a great recipe that is a favorite in our house:

Sara Lee Fresh Ideas Honey Turkey and Swiss Sandwich

I love the added touch that a sprinkle of salad dressing can add to a sandwich. It makes me feel like I am in a real deli! If you don’t have time to make the dressing, simply use your child’s favorite store-bought dressing. Either put it in a separate container for your child to put on the sandwich just before eating (a little container can make it even more fun) or put it on between the meat and

the cheese so the bread doesn’t get soggy before lunchtime.

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 “dash” dried oregano
1 Kaiser Roll, split (or use your child’s favorite sandwich bread)
½ cup shredded Romaine leaves
2-3 slices Sara Lee Fresh Ideas Honey Turkey Breast
2 thick slices Beefsteak Tomato

2 slices Sara Lee Fresh Ideas Baby Swiss Cheese (or use your child’s favorite cheese)

1. In a small bowl, mix together the red wine vinegar, olive oil and oregano. Stir to blend.

2. Arrange the lettuce on the bottom of the roll or bread and lay the turkey meat over the lettuce. If putting the dressing on in advance, sprinkle over the turkey. Top with the tomato and then the slices of cheese. Close the sandwich with the top of the roll or bread. Alternatively, put the dressing in a container on the side and have your child sprinkle it on just before eating.

GAM: Any other tips?
AG: Keep it simple, and don’t beat yourself up if not every lunch is a homerun. You know your family and their tastes, try to make lunch fun and not a chore! Check out the Sara Lee Deli Facebook page for more of my tips and recipes and join the conversation with other moms. There are so many other moms out there that are struggling with similar issues it is great to see their thoughts and get solutions you may not have previously thought of. And don’t forget to enter the “What’s Your Lunchtime Challenge?” contest for a chance to win a day with me!
Thanks Alex! And don't forget ... you have until Oct. 3 to enter the contest. Click here for the details. Alex will help solve the winner's lunchtime challenge by taking the winner shopping and teaching her and 10 friends new ways to approach lunch.

Good luck!

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