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Lunch time with a twist

The morning rush can be hectic and leave parents rushing out the door making sure kids have everything they need for school, including a hearty lunch. Trusty standbys like sandwiches have been pushed aside as meal planning takes the spotlight, but on busy weeks and early mornings, the faithfully reliable is the way to go. With a few tweaks and treats, even the most standard of lunch sandwiches can take on new life and keep kids satiated and satisfied for the second half of the school day.

NB&J - Revamp the classic with a nutty twist: use almond or sunflower butter in place of peanut; and jam, jelly, marmalade or even preserves in flavors your kid likes best. Be wary of any allergies that may be present in your child’s classroom and avoid ingredients that may cause reactions with classmates.

Chicken-Veggie Salad - Chop half a cucumber, half a tomato and 4 ounces of rotisserie chicken into bite-size pieces. Thinly slice a tablespoon of red or green onions, depending on your child’s preference, and finely chop a tablespoon of kalamata olives. Combine all ingredients in a bowl with two tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese, a drizzle each of olive oil and red wine vinegar, a teaspoon of dried oregano and a half-teaspoon of dried dill. Mix to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Spread onto bread, stuff into a pita or wrap up in a tortilla.

Smoked Salmon Roll-ups with Lemon-Dill Spread and Kale - In a medium bowl, mix together 8oz cream cheese, zest of one lemon, one tablespoon lemon juice, two tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread desired amount of mixture onto tortilla, leaving ½-inch border. Add one layer fresh baby kale followed by one layer of outstanding alaska smoked salmon. Roll tortilla tightly, lengthwise from one end to the other, using a swipe of water if needed to seal the seam, and wrap in cling wrap. Refrigerate overnight. In the morning before school, unwrap from cling wrap and cut into 1 ½-inch spirals for easy lunch time transportation.

Roasted Red Pepper, Goat Cheese and Arugula - Tomato season is short in Alaska, but sweet, roasted red pepper can easily take its place in a twist on a BLT (bacon optional). Jarred roasted red peppers work fine, but for an added special touch, roast fresh red bell peppers. Preheat oven to 450°F and place peppers on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until skin is starting to char and is wrinkled, turning every 10 minutes. Set peppers aside for 30 minutes or until cool to the touch. Remove skin, stems and seeds, and cut into quarters or strips. Layer approximately one-quarter of red pepper on bottom slice of bread, top with handful of arugula (or, if too peppery for kiddo, substitute spinach or romaine lettuce) and crumbled one ounce of goat cheese. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and top with bread. If adding bacon, stick pieces between the peppers and arugula.