Side Dish: How to pack the best lunch children will eat

“BEST LUNCH BOX EVER: IDEAS AND RECIPES FOR SCHOOL LUNCHES KIDS WILL LOVE”

by Katie Sullivan Morford.

Chronicle Books. $24.95.

156-page hardcover.

As the mother of three daughters, registered dietitian Katie Sullivan Morford is a veteran packer of school lunches. She says she’s learned a lot about preparing nutritious lunches kids will actually eat.

In her cookbook, “Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love,” she offers 75 healthful recipes for simple lunches, snacks and after-school treats that are easy to put together in the morning. The recipes are flexible so you can change them to suit whatever is in your refrigerator and your children’s preferences.

Morford opens the book with what she calls “brown bag basics,” including nutritional information, food safety tips and how to tweak ingredients to make healthier choices. She also suggests high-calcium sources and provides tricks for keeping food cool.

Next comes a guide on planning and organizing the school lunch chore and troubleshooting tips on what to do when the child comes home with the lunch untouched.

She says a good school lunch should include a main course — sandwich, salad or thermos of beans and rice; fruit; vegetable, if the main course isn’t filled with vegetables; side or snack; drink; and an occasional sweet.

Recipes are divided into eight chapters, including those for sandwiches; pizzas and roll-ups; leftovers made over; fruit and vegetable sides; crunchy extras; treats and after-school “tide-me-overs.”

Many include make-ahead notes and other tips.

There are recipes for Turkey and Veggie Dagwood, Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese, BLT Roll-Ups, Shortcut Chicken Noodle Soup, Chinese Tacos, Juice Box Applesauce, Coconut Granola Bark, Everybody Loves Chocolate Pudding and Italian Quesadilla.

The book is brightly illustrated with full-color photographs by Jennifer Martiné.

Both kids and their parents will enjoy the book’s easy, healthful lunch box ideas.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s Food editor. Her email address is csonnier@theadvocate.com. Cinnamon Wonton Crisps

Makes 48 crisps; 6 to 8 crisps per serving. Recipe is in the “crunchy extras” chapter of “Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love” by Katie Morford, who says, “For a variation, mix together 2 tablespoons sugar with 11/2 tablespoons finely chopped fennel seed to use in place of the cinnamon-sugar.”

2 tbls. sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

24 square wonton wrappers (see note)

1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.

3. Arrange the wonton wrappers in two stacks on your work surface and cut them in half on the diagonal. Place the wontons on two ungreased baking sheets, being sure that they don’t overlap.

4. In another small bowl, whisk the egg with a fork. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the top of the wonton wrappers on one of the baking sheets (work with just one pan at a time so the egg doesn’t dry out before you add the cinnamon-sugar.)

5. Sprinkle each egg-brushed wonton with a generous pinch or two of cinnamon-sugar. Repeat with the second sheet of wontons.

6. Bake until the edges of the wontons turn golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 20 minutes. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

N ote: Wonton wrappers are sold in the produce or refrigerated section (near the tofu) or many supermarkets, organic markets and Asian markets. You can freeze wrappers you don’t use.