Chef Solves One St. Louis Mom’s Picky Eater Problem

St. Louis mom Jenn Christofferson shops with celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli. Jenn won a visit from Alex through the Sara Lee Deli Lunchtime Challenge contest.

Every family has one: a picky eater that makes getting through mealtime a task worthy of a gold medal. St. Louis mom, Jenn Christofferson, struggled to get her son Bennet to eat something, anything, besides cheese. Then Jenn saw a golden opportunity, she entered a contest hosted by Sara Lee Deli and won the opportunity to have celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli come to her home and whip up special recipes for her family that would help Bennet’s food pyramid grow beyond just the dairy group.

Jenn said, “As a parent, I struggled with how to find a way to get my kids to eat well-balanced meals, but in Bennett’s case that seemed impossible. Until one day, he expressed interest in becoming a chef when he gets older and I knew that he was already putting himself at a disadvantage compared to other children who grew up eating a wide variety of foods. So, when I saw that Sara Lee Deli was asking parents to write in about their Lunchtime Challenge, I thought this would truly help me find new ways to get my son to eat more than just cheese.”

Alex Guarnaschelli, a parent herself, understood how challenging getting kids to eat nutritionally balanced meals can be, which motivated her to partner with Sara Lee Deli for the Lunchtime Challenge. She Jenn  over the weekend and shared with her family and friends tips and customized recipes to help ease the lunchtime burden, and now she is sharing those same tips and recipes with readers, too!

Alex shared several tips to get your child involved in the lunch packing process, to tips on making lunchtime more fun and interesting for the kids. Here are a few of the tips she passed along during her visit:

  1. Make lunch with your child! They will feel an extra amount of pride and connectedness to their food when they open their lunchboxes.
  2. Use cookie cutters (they also sell jigsaw puzzle shapes) and two different kinds of breads to make multi-colored sandwiches (and sneak in the extra benefits of a whole-grain bread) that add a visually amusing factor to a healthy lunch sandwich.
  3. Have a child that will only eat certain foods? Try mixing up the delivery method. For example, if your child only likes cheese, try wrapping a piece of cheese filled will ingredients such as Sara Lee Fresh Ideas turkey or ham and a thinly sliced carrot stick as fun way to introduce some new foods to your child’s repertoire. Also, a fun name, or incorporating your child’s favorite storybook hero, can sometimes help parents overcome the barrier.
  4. As an adult, I still respond to food more when it has a little twist involved. Making kebabs” with some cubed vegetables, cheese and Sara Lee Fresh Ideas deli meat can be a great way to make lunch fun and healthy to eat. The kebabs work great with various seasonal fruits, too. Try pineapple or grapes for an easy choice or add plums and melon when it is in season. If you have some extra time, try one with some cubed apple roasted in the oven with some cinnamon and honey (discolored raw fruits won’t be appealing). Avoid lunchbox surprises by exposing your child at home first to make sure it’s familiar before packing it for lunch.

Alex also created several custom recipes for Jenn’s family during her visit. We thought her Cheese Biscuits with Sara Lee Fresh Ideas® Turkey and Ham Centers was a great recipe for both the picky eaters in your house, both old and young. Here is the recipe she is shared with us:

Makes about 24 biscuits If you don’t have time to make your own biscuits, a pre-packaged biscuit flour or refrigerated biscuit dough works great as well. Simply follow the package directions and add cheese, turkey and ham. Get your kids involved by having them help roll out the dough and filling the biscuits once baked.

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus some additional for rolling
1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons salt
2 ½ cups heavy cream
½ cup grated, sharp cheddar cheese (or cheddar or Swiss slices cut into strips and chopped up)
1 slice Sara Lee Fresh Ideas Honey Ham for each biscuit
1 slice Sara Lee Fresh Ideas Oven Roasted Turkey for each biscuit

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Sifting not only assures that the dry ingredients will be free of lumps but also mixes them together.
3. Add the cream and cheese to the dry ingredients. Use your hands to mix together the wet and dry ingredients. Take care there is not remaining flour in the bottom of the bowl. Note: If using pre-made dough unroll and start the recipe by rolling out the dough and adding the cheese.
4. Turn the biscuit mixture onto a lightly floured flat surface and with floured hands, pat the biscuit mix down until it is about 1-inch thick. Note: if the outside edges start to show cracks, cup the outer edge with your hands and push the dough towards its own center.
5. Pat the edges so the dough is a 1-inch square. Lightly flour a knife (to avoid sticking as you cut) and slice the biscuits into 1 ½ inch by 1 ½ inch squares. This way, you won’t make scraps and all will be used.
6. Arrange the biscuits (with some distance between each) on a non-stick baking sheet or one layered with a sheet of parchment. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to all for “resting” time before baking.
7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they start to brown lightly. Remember the biscuits will continue to cook even after they are removed from the oven.
8. Hollow a hole in the bottom (is the hole in the middle?) of each biscuit and insert a few slices of turkey or ham (rolled up) in the centers. Arrange them on a serving platter.

You can find more recipes and tips from Alex and Sara Lee by visiting their Facebook page, www.facebook/saraleedeli.

Interested in trying out some of these tips and tricks to ease your family’s lunchtime challenges? Sara Lee Deli is giving away ten coupons for a free Sara Lee deli product (up to $8.99 value) to our readers! Just leave a comment below describing your biggest lunchtime challenge before midnight CST on Tuesday January 25th to be entered for your chance to win one of the coupons. Good luck!

Photo courtesy of Sara Lee.

Melody Meiners is the Lifestyles Editor for, and she blogs about all manners of domesticity on her personal blog You can email her at melody [dot] meiners [at] gmail [dot] com, or follow her on Twitter, @cosmosgirl.

80 thoughts on “Chef Solves One St. Louis Mom’s Picky Eater Problem

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Chef Solves One St. Louis Mom’s Picky Eater Problem | Stl Family Life --

  2. Alicia Webster

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is trying to please my three kids and my husband without breaking the bank. My husband wants roast beef sandwiches, my youngest wants tuna, my middle child wants cheese (preferably grilled), and my oldest wants a PB and J. I am tired just thinking about it.

  3. David

    My biggest challenge is to actually get to take a lunch break at work. It has been a struggle lately.

  4. Lynda E.

    My son eats at school and my husband goes home for lunch, so my biggest challenge is me! I have to force myself to make my lunch the night before so I don’t end up going out and buying something unhealthy. The Sara Lee cold cuts and cheese are perfect for a chef salad.

  5. Ellie W

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is finding healthy things to send in my little guy’s lunch bag. I’m afraid that half the time he throws away the good stuff and only eats the fruit snacks.

  6. wcc

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is finding condiments that I actually like to put on my sandwiches and are good for me. Thanks for the chance! :)

  7. Kathleen

    My lunchtime challenge is trying to come up with new ideas so I don’t get bored eating the same things over and over.

    kport207 at gmail dot com

  8. Rachel Higgs

    I work in an elementary cafeteria my biggest challenge is feeding 1000 kids everyday with healthy nutritious foods they will eat
    crazyred61 at yahoo dot com

  9. ky2here

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is finding time to eat weekdays. I love lunch on the weekends but it’s difficult to find the time when something’s always going on and I’m the only one minding the store.

    ky2here at msn dot com

  10. Kimberly

    My biggest challenge is having enough time in the morning to prepare lunches. My husband doesn’t like the way his sandwich gets if it is made the night before, so I have to hustle in the morning. :)

  11. Marcia Goss

    My husband is on Weight Watchers and takes his lunch to work every day. My biggest challenge is to find a variety of foods that taste good and let him stay under the amount of points he is allowed.

  12. Ashley

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is that my 4 yr old and my 20 month old don’t like the same things. My 19 month old is a vegetarian and my 4 yr old hates veggies!! So I end up having to fix 2 separate meals at lunch!

  13. Liz

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is finding things to make that are quick, portable, and healthy… but not having the same things over and over again.

    egenevieve at gmail dot com

  14. Jaclyn Reynolds

    Biggest challenge is finding something my kids will eat, they are all pretty picky and I get tired of making 3 separate mini meals.

  15. Erin

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is forcing myself to actually sit down and have a proper lunch.

    glycinemax at gmail dot com

  16. amber gi

    my biggest lunchtime challenge is trying to get nutritious food ,fast!
    tattgiff at centurytel dot net

  17. Erica C.

    My biggest challenge is that everyone wants a different thing for lunch so I have to have so many options!

  18. Mike

    My biggest challenge is that I don’t have a fridge or a microwave (or silverware usually) at work so I need to bring or buy a lunch that is inexpensive and tasty and healthy and doesn’t require cold or heat to eat or store for long periods. I usually make a turkey and swiss sandwich and pack a lunch for myself like my mom did for me when I was in grade school.

  19. Paula Hafner

    My biggest challenge is getting my 3 year old to sit still long enough to eat. He doesn’t like to stop.

  20. sara

    Biggest challenge is to make something that each child will eat, and that it something good for them.

  21. Katie R.

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is finding enough time to prepare a healthy lunch in between my classes.

  22. amie d

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is getting tired of eating the same thing (usually soup) every day. Thanks for the giveaway!

  23. Mandala

    My biggest luncheon challenge is preparing quick, delicious and healthy meals. Being in school, I often have to rush and there is the temptation to get a quick lunch which may not be very healthy. Hence, I am always on the lookout for meals that are easy to prepare yet still nutritious. Thanks for the giveaway
    mandalarctic at gmail dot com

  24. Melanie

    My biggest challenge is not having enough to time to try something new. All of our lunches are pretty routine.

  25. Erin Cook

    My biggest challenge is having my kids agree on a type of meat for lunch. ONe is extremely picky and the other one would eat just about anything.

  26. Summer

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is trying to find something that both of my children will eat. They are both picky and usually only eat a few bites of whatever I feed them. I feel like I waste a lot of food on them.

  27. susanmeep

    what is hardest for me at lunch, is getting something that tastes good and it not that expensive.

  28. Amy Delong

    trying to find something that is good and my picky picky 4 yr old will eat

  29. Ed Nemmers

    Making lunches in the morning was so difficult, that it is now done as a family the evening before!

  30. Erin G

    Having enough time to make lunches in the morning is probably the biggest challenge


  31. Ani

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is finding something I can whip together quickly so that I actually have time to eat it.

  32. Chris N

    My luncheon challenge is finding something that holds up if I don’t have time to eat until several hours later.


  33. Debra F

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is that each kid likes something different so it takes forever to make lunches.

  34. susan smoaks

    my biggest lunchtime challenge is getting our lunches packed in time to leave for work in the morning

  35. Julie L

    I would have to say one of my biggest challenges is trying to figure
    something different instead of the same old stuff…plus I have one kid who doesn’t like lunch meat and is a very fussy eater ugh :)

  36. Kristi

    My biggest challenge is giving the kids variety while still keeping it healthy. My Easy Lunchboxes that I have do help though.

  37. James Coyne

    My biggest challenge is to add a variety to my lunches and not eat the same thing week after week

  38. Justine

    My biggest lunchtime challenge is that I have a son like yours and he doesn’t eat any vegetables or fruits! Seriously, my son is a carb kid and he survives on them! I do try to get him to at least eat a piece of apple or a carrot stick…