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Published: Tuesday, 9/13/2005

That's a wrap: Creative lunches for kids and adults

BY KATHIE SMITH
BLADE FOOD EDITOR
Rainbow Spirals are filled with cheese and meat.                       Rainbow Spirals are filled with cheese and meat.
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A sandwich seems so easy to make: two pieces of bread, meat or cheese, lettuce, and something to slather across the bread to add flavor or interest.

If only it were that simple. There's an art to making a good sandwich and especially one that appeals to school kids who've been back to school only a few weeks.

Lest they tire of sandwiches, prepare a wrap made with a thin tortilla or flatbread and all of their sandwich fixings.

The best part about a wrap is that it can be made the night before, wrapped securely in aluminum foil, and stored refrigerated until the lunch boxes are packed in the morning. Aluminum foil works better than plastic wrap.

You'll discover that these are good enough for adults to pack in lunches to take to work.

Check out the possibilities. At just one local supermarket, I found a dozen varieties of specialty tortillas and flatbreads that can be used for wraps.

Like many others, Father Sam's Wraps (six for $1.99) need to be refrigerated or frozen after opening. Flat-Out flatbread (five for $2.99) was available in original, wheat, spinach, and sun-dried tomato. Tumaro's gourmet tortillas (eight for $2.99) had five varieties: white, sun-dried tomato and basil, honey wheat, pesto and garlic, and garden spinach and vegetables.

You can even make a wrap with thinly rolled white bread. Ham 'N Cheese Bites combines string cheese and ham in a recipe from Pillsbury Kids Cookbook (Wiley, $19.95) that is easy enough for kids to make the night before school.

The way you roll a tortilla depends on the filling.

●For flat or cheese fillings, roll.

●For fillings that have small pieces, spoon the filling into the center of the wrap. Fold in the sides and then fold from the bottom, burrito-style.

Among the sandwich fillings for Deli Wraps (see recipe on Page 2), select from thinly sliced deli roast beef, turkey, ham, or bologna. Add a slice of cheese (American, provolone, Muenster, mozzarella - take your pick). Add leaf lettuce or shredded lettuce. Slather mustard, mayonnaise, or your condiment of choice. Then roll up jellyroll-style or burrito-style; cut in thirds, if desired, and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Refrigerate until ready to pack the lunch box.

For younger children, familiar sandwich fillings are more easily accepted in a wrap sandwich. For example, spread your favorite egg salad, tuna salad, or chicken salad filling on a tortilla.

If you've made a ham for dinner, use leftover ham for ham salad. It is as simple as grinding the ham and then adding mayonnaise and pickle relish. This is delicious whether you use a slice of bread with lettuce for a traditional sandwich or spread the ham salad on the tortilla to roll up as a wrap. Ham salad keeps for several days refrigerated.

For a creamy sandwich spread, layer cream cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla wrap, add grape jelly or strawberry preserves, and roll up. This is one step away from a peanut butter and jelly wrap.

And some wraps, especially for fillings with small pieces such as Grape and Cashew Chicken Salad Wraps, work better if rolled like a burrito to hold everything together. This filling will especially appeal to older kids. It has an awesome flavor with a light fresh dressing. The cashews are an added crunchy surprise.

Wraps should be easy to eat, if wrapped securely. They are also fun enough for adults to enjoy. Create your own versions.

When the Atkins diet took the country by storm, there were plenty of low-carb products, including wraps. Some of these low-carb wrap breads are still available, as well as a few recipes that can translate to school and work lunches.

While I am not an advocate of Atkins, some of the diet's recipes make sense, especially for children and adults who are trying to keep the calories down while providing satisfying lunches that will keep you energetic and alert through an exhausting afternoon.

Atkins For Life by Veronica Atkins (St. Martin's Press, $25.95) has three recipes using wraps. Crunchy Salmon Salad Wrap with Dill is mixed with cucumber, mayonnaise, fresh dill, and lemon juice. The low-carb tortilla is topped with lettuce and the salmon salad and rolled. The author recommends that low-carb tortillas be warmed and then rolled. But you can use any tortilla.

A Smoked Turkey Reuben Wrap is an adult wrap best made if your workplace has a microwave into which you can pop the wrap for 15 seconds to melt the cheese. (Use a toaster oven for seven minutes). To make this wrap, spread a tortilla with mayonnaise followed by 4 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey breast, 1/4 cup well-drained (squeezed) sauerkraut, and 1 ounce shredded Swiss cheese ( 1/4 cup). Roll it up, wrap it in plastic wrap, avoiding aluminum foil in the microwave. At work, microwave the wrap just before eating.

Kids and adults will like Mexican Chicken Wrap. Mix 1 tablespoon mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon salsa and spread on the tortilla. Top with shredded lettuce, cooked chicken breast (sliced), Monterey Jack cheese (with jalapenos if desired), and chopped tomato. Roll and cut in half and then wrap tightly with aluminum foil.

When you are at a loss over what to fix for school lunches, remember creative lunches for your whole family are only a wrap away.

Contact Kathie Smith at: food@theblade.com or 419-724-6155.



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