Directors of school lunch programs and cafeteria staff have been back to school days and weeks ahead of Oklahoma students planning menus to incorporate both local products and foods into fresh healthy lunches.
School food service personnel from across the state met recently in Norman to share ideas and inspirations to answer that timeless question, “What's for lunch?”
What a great way for us to boost our Oklahoma economy and serve healthy fresh foods to Oklahoma students. Products from Hiland Milk, Shawnee Mills, Garden Club, Chef's Requested, AdvancePierre Foods and Value Added Products are just a few of the Made in Oklahoma Companies providing foods being served by Oklahoma schools in the upcoming school year. Oklahoma farmers are growing an increasing number of vegetables for schools across the state through the Oklahoma's Farm to School program.
It's hard to say who is more excited about lunchtime in more than 500 school districts across the state, the students who get to enjoy farm-fresh lunches or the farmers and producers who supply them.
Have you ever made fresh Watermelon Salsa or Rainbow Salsa? What's a Spunky Vegetable Pizza all about? Have you ever had a Crunchy Vegetable Wrap or a Cantaloupe Cooler? These are just a few of the recipes featured in the farm to school program's new cookbook designed specifically for school lunch personnel.
The book is a kitchen-practical, spiral-bound laminated volume full of healthy ways to incorporate more of Oklahoma's fruits and vegetables into school lunches. The recipes designed to feed groups of 50 are organized by specific produce so that cafeteria staff can easily use them as a guide for making nutrient packed dishes students love: melons, yellow squash and zucchini, greens, broccoli and cauliflower, root vegetables, tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers and green beans, as well as dressings and dips to top salads and chips.
The book even offers storage tips and safe handling procedures that are vital to any school lunch venue.
There is a helpful diagram for making the best use of a walk-in refrigerator when storing vegetables. Heating and holding temperatures for keeping food safe are also included. The recipes contributed by school and heath personnel across the state and other similar farm to school organizations from around the country are clear, concise and easy to follow.
Oklahoma Farm to School has also produced five 22-minute videos that invite students to join in a fun and informative “Kidchen Expedition” visiting several farms and facilities where food are grown and produced. Chef Jeff Denton, who is director of Child Nutrition for Ponca City Public Schools, leads children from gardens, farms, berry patches and peach orchards into kitchens to make some easy healthy snacks. These videos are sure to spur on some opportunities to learn more about nutrition and the foods students will be enjoying in their school cafeterias.
This fresh salsa is perfect for the start of school. Makes six generous half-cup servings.
3 cups watermelon, washed well before cutting and diced in half-inch or smaller pieces
2 tablespoons white onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup green bell pepper, cleaned, diced
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, cleaned, diced
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper (washed, seeds and membranes removed)
2 tablespoons washed and finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of salt
Notes: Allowing flavors to mingle covered in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight for maximum flavor.
Escape to the tropics with this side dish. Serving Size: Makes 6 half-cup servings
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper, washed before chopping
2 teaspoons fresh jalapeno, washed, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh red onion
1/3 cup fresh or frozen mango, diced (optional)
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, washed before chopping
1 1/2 cups canned black beans, drained
2/3 cup canned tomatoes, drained and diced
1/2 cup canned corn, drained
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil (optional)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/8 teaspoon dried cumin
Nutrition Analysis Per Serving: 109 calories, 360 milligrams of sodium, 24.7 percent of calories from fat, 4 percent of calories from saturated fat and 8.6 percent of calories from sugar.
Crunchy Vegetable Wraps
These make a great healthy snack or light lunch.
1/2 teaspoon ranch salad dressing and seasoning
2 tablespoons fat-free cream cheese
1/4 cup carrots, washed, chopped and grated
1/4 cup zucchini, washed and cut into small strips
1/4 cup yellow summer squash, washed and cut into small strips
1/2 tomato, washed and diced
2 tablespoons green bell pepper, washed before cutting
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 spinach or whole-wheat tortillas
Notes: Each half is a single serving for elementary school age children.
Nutrition Analysis: Per Serving: 130 calories, 2.5 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 5 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 220 milligrams sodium, 17 percent of calories from fat and 7 percent of calories from saturated fat.