Monday, September 12, 2011

White House Lunchbox Recipe: Chef In A Pocket

A video cooking lesson from Executive Chef Cris Comerford: A kid-friendly MyPlate lunch...
White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford has created a series of healthy recipes for homemade school lunches that are in keeping with USDA's MyPlate project, unveiled by First Lady Obama in June.  Comerford's kid-friendly lunchbox meal is anchored by Chef In A Pocket(Above: Comerford holds the sandwich, mid-prep)

"Basically it's a Chef's Salad that we're gonna like put inside a Pita bread," Comerford says in an instructional video for the meal, created by  She uses ham for the sandwich she makes onscreen, but says that any kind of lean meat can be used.  

The MyPlate icon encourages citizens to fill half their plates at each meal with fruit and vegetables, and include a serving each of lean protein, whole grain and dairy, following the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Top Toque is mother to Danielle, a middle schooler, so in addition to cooking for the Obamas and every First Family since 1995, as well as world leaders, royalty, and celebrities, Comerford has plenty of personal experience with school lunches. (Above: Comerford with Mrs. Obama in the White House kitchen)

To give kids a big dose of fruit and vegetables, Comerford adds Veggie Chips with Hummus Dip and Melon Kebabs with Yogurt Dip to the meal.  Special packaging for kids' lunches is key to making fruit and vegetables a must-eat, Comerford says.  Her Melon Kebabs are tiny chunks of melon on mini skewers; kids "love anything on a stick," Comerford says.

"It's cool for them to see," Comerford says. "When they open their lunch box, isn't it nice to like get a surprise in there?"

The open-for-interpretation lunch recipes issued by the White House are below; the video is a must-watch for the hummus recipe.  Be sure to pack the meal in air-tight containers, and include an ice pack in the lunchbox.  Check out another of Comerford's White House Lunchbox Recipes:  Whole Wheat Pasta Primavera with Grilled Chicken.  More info on MyPlate is at

White House Chef In A Pocket


*Whole Wheat Pita Bread

*Any kind of lean meat and cheese




Pack everything into the Pita, and top with Hummus.  Instructions for making the Hummus are in the video.

Veggie Chips (or Sticks) with Hummus Dip

*Cucumbers, celery, blanched string beans or tomatoes


*Slice vegetables for dipping.  Instructions for making the Hummus are in the video.

Melon Kebabs With Yogurt Dip

*Use two types of melon for variety: Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Honeydew Melon, or Crenshaw.
Cut melon in small chunks, and place on mini wood skewers.

Yogurt Dip
*1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt

*1 Tblsp Honey

*1 Tsp Vanilla

Blend all ingredients together in a blender. 

*Video from