School Nutrition Helps Guilford Elementary Introduce PBL Unit

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Written By: Stefanie Dove, RDN, School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator

Last week, School Nutrition worked with the third-grade students at Guilford Elementary to kick off their year-long PBL project. The driving question for this unit is “how can we as young chefs, make healthy choices at school and at home?” Stefanie Dove, RDN and Marketing Coordinator, has collaborated with the teachers at Guilford to guide students with this project through a variety of activities from fruit and vegetable taste tests, recipe writing and development, cooking, and menu planning.

The introduce this project, Willowsford Farm and School Nutrition Services donated produce for all third-grade students, teachers and their parents to sample a variety of seasonal produce. The taste party included: broccoli, purple cabbage, radishes, spinach, carrots, apples, pears, roasted squash and beets. All students tried the items together while discussing the importance of trying new foods and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables to fuel their bodies with essential vitamins and minerals. At the end of the taste party, 10 students were randomly selected to take bags of produce home with them so that they could encourage their families to try new foods as well.

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For more information on this Project-Based Learning (PBL) project or to collaborate on a project or nutrition education activity, please contact Stefanie Dove, RDN at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org

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School Nutrition Hosts District Wide Taste Test

The Harvest of the Month promotion began last school year and continues to be a popular event at all 87 schools in Loudoun County this year.  This farm to school promotion allows all students in the county to try a new seasonal fruit or vegetable at no cost each month.  Students have been able to try everything from parsnips and tricolor cauliflower to locally grown apples.

The feature item for February is starfruit.  This will be available during lunch to all elementary students on Thursday, February 16th as part of the Taste It Thursday promotion and to all middle and high school students on Friday, February 17th as part of the Fear Factor Friday promotion.

Not only does this promotion help expose students to new food items, it has also turned into a successful collaboration between School Nutrition Services and Monroe Technology graphic arts students.  The students design all of the posters for the events and send them to the schools monthly as their One to the World project.

The School Nutrition staff works closely with the students to discuss themes, design, and the Registered Dietitians work with them to provide interesting facts about each item being featured. These events take place each month.  There is a great lineup for the rest of the school year with blood oranges, watermelon radishes and fresh strawberries being the featured items.

Want to know more about this promotion? Visit your school cafeteria or stop by the School Nutrition website to discover some of the other activities we have going on in our schools.

 

Cheesy Chickpea and Broccoli Bake

Looking for a new kid-friendly recipe to serve this Thanksgiving? Why not try this cheesy chickpea broccoli bake?  Our students love eating broccoli for school lunch, so it is a great way for them to also enjoy it at home.  The cheese helps provide ample calcium, broccoli is full of  vitamins and minerals, and chickpeas provide fiber and protein!

While this recipe uses traditional bread crumbs, if you need to make the recipe gluten free, just swap the breadcrumbs to a gluten free version. This recipe is also a wonderful vegetarian side dish and can be transformed into a vegan side dish by swapping the traditional cheese to a vegan variety such as cashew.broccolicheesebake

1 large bunch (about 1 pound) fresh broccoli, rinsed and cut into medium pieces (include tender parts of stems and leaves) or a 1-pound bag frozen broccoli florets (thawed)
1 15½-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Gruyere, cheddar or mozzarella cheese
⅓ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. If using fresh broccoli, lightly steam it first: Place raw broccoli pieces in a steamer basket inside a saucepan filled with 1 inch of water. Steam on medium heat for 5 minutes or until broccoli is just tender and bright green. Or, steam fresh broccoli in the microwave: Place raw broccoli pieces in a large microwave-safe dish or bowl with ½-inch water at bottom. Cover with a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 3 minutes or until just tender and bright green. Drain water.
  3. Toss steamed broccoli and chickpeas with olive oil. Place in a 9-by-9-inch baking pan.
  4. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Top evenly with grated cheese, then top evenly with breadcrumbs.
  5. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs are lightly browned. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Recipe and photo from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 

Celebrate Election Day With Patriotic Fruit Kabobs

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The kids are out of school and the polls are open for Election Day! Why not celebrate with this delicious fruit-filled snack from Better Recipes?

Ingredients:
1 pt Strawberries, sliced
1 cup Blueberries
6 Bananas, cut into pieces
Bamboo Skewers

Directions:
Prepare fruit. On 7 skewers thread strawberries and bananas, alternating between the two. On 5 additional skewers thread strawberries and bananas but follow with 5-6 blueberries. Arrange in a flag design on a platter and serve.

Recipe and image from: www.betterrecipes.com

Harvest of the Month Recipe: Mushroom Quesadilla

Our Harvest of the Month program is back in full swing for the new school year!! All K-12 students will have the opportunity to try a seasonal fruit or vegetable at no cost during school lunch.  This is open to all students, not just those who purchase school lunch that day.  The first feature items will be mushrooms!  Elementary students can try them on September 15th during Taste It Thursday and our Middle and High School students will get to test their fears of trying new foods on September 16th during Fear Factor Friday.

New this year, we are providing recipes that feature the item our students tried that week.  The recipes have few ingredients, are low in cost, and are easy to make in order to help promote more of our families cooking together at home!  Recipe cards will also be available on the day that these items are offered for students to try.

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Photo Courtesy of Hungry Happens

Check out our first recipe of the year below!

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Recipe adapted from Hungry Happens

Cooking With Kids To Win

Children who take an active part in menu planning and cooking meals with their families are more likely to try new things and eat an adequate amount at each meal.  Uncle Ben’s is providing free cooking education lessons for families to download, complete with recipes so that more kids can get in the kitchen with their families! See below for details.

 

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School Nutrition Services Wins “One In A Melon Award” for Virginia

One in a Melon BadgeLoudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) School Nutrition Services received a “One in a Melon” Award from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its efforts to bring fresh, local produce to the students eating in school cafeterias each day.

One district per state received the honor. LCPS was selected from among all of the schools in Virginia with similar initiatives.
School Nutrition Services’ farm-to-school efforts date back to 2014 and include two local farms, Kilmer Farms and Wegmeyer Farms. For example, just last week, LCPS students enjoyed fresh strawberries from Wegmeyer Farms. The berries were actually picked the same day they were served in LCPS cafeterias.
In addition to receiving food from local farms, 31 schools also operate school gardens in an effort to produce some of their own food. Educational programs about farming extend to LCPS classrooms as well. The most successful project to date has been Farmer Trading Cards. The trading cards were released on the opening day of baseball season, which is also the first day of growing season. Instead of featuring baseball players, these trading cards profiled 12 Loudoun County farmers. The trading cards were produced in conjunction with the Loudoun Rural Economic Development Commission.
School Nutrition Services Director Becky Domokos-Bays says that future promotions are planned around Virginia Agriculture Week in October and the creation of more of the popular trading cards.