'Chopped' star Alex Guarnaschelli shares easy back-to-school lunch recipes

The chef also shared some of her top tips for preparing your children's meals.

August 07, 2017, 7:55 AM

— -- "Chopped" star Alex Guarnaschelli shared some of her family favorite back-to-school lunch recipes that she prepares for her daughter, and some of her top tips for packing your child's lunchbox, with "Good Morning America" today.

Guarnaschelli, who stars on a new Food Network show "Chopped Grill Masters," also judged a face-off between two food bloggers who prepared their best lunchbox recipes live on "GMA." Alice Choi of Hip Foodie Mom prepared her Chickpea Veggie Meatballs and Laura Fuentes of Momables created her Lunchbox Burrito Bowl during the competition.

Alex Guarnaschelli's 3 lunchbox tips

1. Make lunch with your kids. Those lopsided lunch bags are one of the things that nurtured my love for cooking. Lunch can be a place to introduce your children to new things. It can also be a place of bonding and experimentation. It can also be just lunch.

2. Put one "cool" thing in your kid's lunch to balance things out. I always put a treat, one that my daughter and I both love, in her lunch. I think it lets your kids know you are thinking about them. It can be encouraging at a critical moment in the day.

3. Add visual variety. Adding visual variety to meal also sparks kid's interest and makes them less likely to notice that they are eating something healthy since they are having such a great time eating it! Instead of a fruit cup covered in syrup, create skewers of strawberries, pineapple and grapes.

Guarnaschelli's turkey sandwich recipe with green apple

Guarnaschelli says the secret to her turkey sandwich is in the details: including a green apple, and the fact that the bread is toasted.

Dressing ingredients:

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar¼ cup mayonnaise

Sandwich ingredients:

1 small head Iceberg lettuce, shredded1 ripe avocado, peeled, quartered and cut into slices1 green apple, washed, cored, halved and cut into thin slices6 slices sourdough bread, toasted1 pound sliced turkey meat, preferably light and dark meat, mixed


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, combine the Cider vinegar and mayonnaise. Whisk to blend. Toss together some of the dressing with the avocado. Refrigerate.

3. Assemble the sandwich: Layer some of the Iceberg on 3 of the bread slices. Top with some layers of turkey. Layer a few slices of avocado and apple on each. Top with lettuce. Top with more dressing. Cut the sandwiches in half. Wrap tightly.

Makes three sandwiches.

Macaroni and Cheese recipe

This recipe can be re-worked using different cheeses, according to Guarnaschelli, and is a simple way to introduce your child to different cheeses without taking them out of their comfort zone. Guarnaschelli adds that you can add roasted vegetables, cooked ground beef or turkey, or other herbs to make it more of a complete meal.


1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups Elbow macaroni1 cup cream1 cup milk1 tablespoon Dijon mustard21/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese1/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


1. Cook the pasta: In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water to a rolling boil. Add the salt and bring the water back to a boil. It should be salty like seawater.

Add the macaroni and stir, with a large slotted spoon, to ensure the macaroni does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the macaroni is “al dente” , 8-12 minutes. Drain, reserving approximately 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

2. Make the sauce and pasta:In the same pot, bring the cream and the reserved cooking liquid to a simmer. Add the Dijon mustard and the Gruyère.

Season with salt to taste. Simmer gently, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted. Use some of the reserved pasta cooking water if needed to loosen the pasta sauce at all. Add the Parmesan, Cheddar and Worcestershire. Stir with a wooden spoon and simmer again until smooth. Cool and pack in small containers.

Serves 6 to 8.

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