Eat With Your Eyes
KIPP Austin students enjoy scratch-made chicken pozole
KIPP Austin’s chicken pozole recipe is a modified version of a family recipe. Kitchen Manager Cirilo Perez and Chef Lori Nelson worked collaboratively to take an original family recipe and adjust it to meet NSLP guidelines. Pozole is traditionally served with various toppings designed to be added to the bowl. KIPP serves their pozole with corn tostadas and pairs it with cilantro lime slaw and spiced corn for a cultural meal with a small piece of food history. The interactive tray is popular at KIPP since it allows students to mix their own version of traditional pozole. A variety of color, flavor and texture give this tray visual appeal to influence student preference, a priority for KIPP. It is easy for students to choose healthy options when they can eat with their eyes. Find KIPP’s recipe for chicken pozole here, and many more below!
Look ahead with cycle menus for the 2017-2018 school year
Now is the time to plan successful National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program menus for the 2017-2018 school year. Cycle menus reduce menu planning time, streamline purchasing processes, provide guidance on USDA Foods selections, and standardize food production within your operation. Here are some tips to develop your cycle menu:
- Use local produce to enhance color, aroma, and flavor variety. ---The Farm Fresh Network makes it easy to find fresh produce available near you.
- Consider food trends students see outside of school based on local, fresh, and sustainable options and recreate similar concepts.
- Conduct student taste tests that feature seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Visit the USDA Mixing Bowl
to search standardized recipes, build a cookbook, create healthy menus and get a shopping list.
Partner with local chef to boost school meal program
The Chefs Move to Schools program provides schools with the exciting opportunity to connect with volunteer chefs in the community. These connections focus on the unique needs of each school and the individual expertise of each chef. Schools and chefs can work in partnership to incorporate new menu items, offer culinary training to Child Nutrition staff, teach students the importance of healthy meals, and more. The creativity that chef’s bring to school meals can also build enthusiasm for the program among students, parents and teachers. Comal ISD presents beautiful service lines under the auspices of the Chefs Move to Schools program (photo above). Visit the Chefs Move to Schools webpage to find a chef in your area and continue to encourage healthy eating habits!
Chef Kelly Waldron, the Chefs Move to Schools specialist at Region 13 ESC, provides an array of services to districts, such as culinary classes, recipe development, classroom demonstrations, and sanitation training. Click on the Region 13 Chef Network link to view regional chef profiles and contact information, or to generate a similar network for your region!
Crazy for Cranberries! Introduce Students to USDA Cranberries
TDA is excited that our USDA Foods orders now include dried cranberries! Dried fruits are a great way to introduce variety into school menus. And as a bonus, remember that dried fruit credits as twice the volume served. This means that ¼ cup of dried cranberries will credit as ½ cup of fruit. Elgin ISD Child Nutrition Director Elizabeth Guajardo offers a beautiful Chicken Fajita Salad recipe with dried craisins that all the students love to eat (see photo).
In order to select this USDA Food for your school meals, look for item USDA Material #100301 – Dried Cranberries Pkg. 5/5 lb. located in the Surplus Column of the Delivery Order Section in Food Distribution (TX-UNPS).
Taste Test for Success
Give Students the Healthy Meals They Want
If you want to know how your students feel about the food items offered in your cafeteria, just ask! Taste tests are a great opportunity for students to give their opinion and feel valued for their input. Taste tests can also help you identify which foods will be the most successful when included in the menu. Clear Creek ISD conducts taste tests with their students to determine what to include in their cycle menu. They offer the following tips for successful taste tests:
Healthy Whole Grain Cooking
- Keep it simple. Offer two-three items at each taste test to avoid confusion.
- Incorporate taste tests into structured learning classes such as culinary arts, health or physical education.
- Provide evaluation sheets for students to rate their liking of a tested item.
- Let students know which items were selected for inclusion in the menu.
- Follow up on the feedback and verify the students are indeed eating the items they tested.
Whole grains typically require slightly different cooking times and procedures. For example, whole grain flours tend to be denser than white flours and may require an increase in leaving agent when used in baked good recipes. Whole grain pastas and brown rice can also take just a few minutes longer to cook than their refined grain versions. As such, simply replacing the original ingredient with the whole grain version of an ingredient may result in yielding an undesirable texture, taste and appearance. Also, the altered recipe may not provide the same grain crediting and thus no longer be considered a “standardized” recipe. For further guidance on standardization of recipes, please refer to section 9 of the Administrative Reference Manual.
Plan for Student Choice
Encourage students to try new items and participate in the school meals program by allowing them to make individualized choices about their meals, to the extent possible. This can be as simple as planning a menu that offers a daily variety of entrée items and side dishes. Salad bars are another excellent way to offer a colorful variety of fresh choices for students to build their own meals. The Sub Bar at River Road ISD in Amarillo (shown in photo above) offers a twist on the traditional salad bar. Middle and high school students enthusiastically build their own reimbursable sandwiches or wraps from an assortment of fresh vegetables and measured amounts of meats and cheeses.