I don’t know if this sounds familiar, but around here, school lunches usually taste and look like they languished in a package in a freezer for a few months before being served to the kids on sad little Styrofoam lunch trays. Not surprisingly, my kids refuse to eat them and have always brought lunches to school that we pack at home. Many kids though, rely on school lunches for a good portion of their nutrition.
But what if an Iron Chef and a James Beard award-winning chef came to your school district to prepare a healthy and delicious, fresh lunch? If that happened here, I’d give my all to get a lunch reservation for a table in the school cafeteria!
Well that’s exactly what happened in two school districts last month as part of the
2013 Great American School Lunch Challenge, sponsored by the Partnership for a Healthier America and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.
You can see the video
Last month, I had a chance to watch the competition and taste the meals at the Partnership for a Healthier America’s summit in Washington, DC, and afterwards I asked
Food Network host Anne Burrell why she had taken time to be part of this competition:
“I’m interested in teaching people how to cook, because when they know how, they can start off with ingredients from scratch, which is inherently healthier than premade foods,” according to Burrell. I sure hope that concept catches on in more US schools!
Burrell teamed up with students and cafeteria managers from the Houston Independent School District, which was the runner up in the competition.
One of the contest judges was my friend Amie Valpone, Editor in Chief of
the Healthy Apple, who said, “It’s amazing that so many of us are working to get healthy food into schools and showing kids how easy it is to eat healthy with a few basic whole foods without compromising taste!”
The winning menu came from
Colonial School District in New Castle, Delaware, which worked with Chef Jose Garces of Philadelphia.
The school lunch menu they created consisted of
Chicken and Black Bean Chilaquiles, Pan Roasted Sweet Potatoes (recipe below), and a Pear Cup with Graham Topping. Next month the lucky students in New Castle School District will get to enjoy the meal in school cafeterias.
Your family can enjoy those pan roasted sweet potatoes with spinach tonight.
How do you feel about the lunches in your kids’ schools? Please share your observations below.
Recipe: Pan Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Delicious, nutritious, and colorful!
2 large Sweet Potatoes, med diced
12 Spinach leaves, fresh
3 teaspoon Honey
1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary
2 Pinches Chili Powder
3 tablespoon canola oil
2 pinches of salt
Heat sauté pan on medium heat.
Dice potatoes in medium sized dice.
Add oil to pan, let the oil get hot and add potatoes, cook until fork tender with no lid.
Potatoes should be fork tender, about 10 minutes.
Add honey, rosemary, salt, and chili powder and cook for one more minute.
Add spinach and stir until spinach is wilted.