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Kitchen Helpers

You can never start too early getting children involved in the kitchen. The holidays bring lots of food and endless opportunities for cooking time. Cooking is an exciting experience for kids to uses their creativity while learning new skills.

First, start by teaching your child the basics and as they progresses allow them to have more kitchen responsibility. Throughout their experience teach them about the time and patience involved in building a recipe. Introduce them to new flavors and textures and let their imagination go wild!

Don’t forget! While your child is becoming a chef master continually educated them on the number of hazards in the kitchen. Teach them about proper hygiene and how to correctly wash their hands.

The Basics (4-7 years old)

Measuring: Using small measuring spoons to measure ingredients into a bowl

Weighing: Spooning ingredients on to kitchen scales

Mixing: Using a whisk, spoon or hands to mix ingredients together

Kneading: Assist in kneading dough

Spreading: Spreading jam or butter on toast or icing a cake

Washing: Rinse fruits and vegetables

Picking: Have them pick fruits and veggies from a garden or at the store

Super Skills (8-11 years old)

Cutting: Begin teaching children knife skills, practice first with a butter knife the proper way to hold and use. Have them slice soft foods like berries, butter and bread until they are they become comfortable.

Measuring: Have them start measuring out larger quantities of ingredients. Practicing their math skills!

Beating: Teach them how to uses an electric mixer to beat eggs and cakes batter

Greasing: Have them uses butter and cooking spray on cooking pans

Cleaning: Help wipe down tables and counters, help rinse spoons and small dishes

The Little Chef (12 and up)

Recipes: Have them follow simple recipes. Let them brainstorm ideas for creative snacks and meals!

Heating: Teach them how to properly use the microwave, watch food on the stove, and place food in the oven.

Equipment: Explain the use of different kitchen equipment and how to safely use

Opening: Show them how to use a can opener and open a variety of containers

Shopping List: Have them look in the fridge and cupboards to help create a grocery list

Peeling: Show them how to uses a potato peeler on different items

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Let’s Get Grillin’

Memorial Day weekend is synonymous with barbecuing. Before you finish planning your gathering, check out these ideas and recipes for a healthy and delicious get-together.

MEAT

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Choosing the right cut of meat for the grill is all about you and your crowd. Just feeding your family or are you having a lot of guests? Want to be health conscientious or do you want to impress? This cheat sheet from Rachaelraymag.com is super helpful:

  • If you’re on a tight budget, try: chicken legs, flank steak, ground beef or pork chops
  • If you’re watching your weight, try: chicken breasts, flank steak or ground beef
  • If you’re feeding a crowd, try: baby back ribs, chicken breasts, chicken legs or pork chops
  • If you’re looking to impress, try: baby back ribs, chicken legs or t-bone steak

We have different ways to FLAVOR your meats, in honor of national BBQ month for you to try out at your first barbeque parties of the year. We have developed ways for you to cool your meat with little calories, little mess and packed with flavor! The whole party will be asking for your recipe.

Using a dry rub before grilling and roasting your meats means you can manipulate it to any flavor you’d like and it avoids the sticky mess that traditional BBQ sauce leaves behind. Try this recipe:

BBQ Rub Recipe

Jackfruit dry rub close RS

  • 6 tbsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Thyme
  • 1 tbsp Mustard Powder
  • 1 tbsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Cayenne Pepper (optional for heat)

Mix all the spices in a small mixing bowl. Pat meat dry with a paper towel, then literally “rub” spices into the meat – you can wear gloves if you don’t want your hands smelling like garlic and onion later.

A dry rub can be applied to the meat right before grilling – For more flavor, it can also sit for a couple hours or over night.

If you don’t want to pack a punch with flavor, and want something subtle and moist, you can use a marinade to flavor your meat. Marinades are easy to manipulate flavor too, they just take a little more preparation and time. They can be as simple as letting your meat rest in BBQ sauce overnight!

 

VEGGIES

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Trying to find a perfect poolside snack or a side for your BBQ meats? Grill your vegetables!

Here are some great choices:

  • asparagus
  • onion slices
  • bell peppers
  • corn
  • potatoes
  • zucchini and yellow squash
  • cabbage steaks
  • tomato slices
  • mushrooms

Grilled vegetables make for great side dishes when you already have the grill fired up or an easy snack for the kids. Simply brush a little olive oil onto large slices of vegetables, sprinkle salt and pepper and grill until tender. Also, use small wooden skewers to keep your smaller vegetables from falling through the cracks. They are popular side dishes and you’ll be surprised at how fast the kids eat them up!

 

FRUIT

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Think of all the foods you have placed on a grill… did FRUIT cross your mind?

This summer is the perfect time to try new things and grilled fruit should be on your list! The natural sugars in the fruit caramelize, which makes for a tasty treat; but if you’re feeling really indulgent, add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream to go with your warm grilled fruits!

Try:

  • pineapple
  • watermelon
  • peaches
  • apples
  • bananas
  • cantaloupe
  • coconut

 

Grilled Peaches Recipe

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  • 4 Peaches
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter or vegetable oil

 

After washing, cut peaches into halves and remove pit. Brush a small amount of oil or butter onto peaches and place cut side down onto the hot grill – grill peaches for 3 minutes or until they have nice grill marks on them. While the peaches are on the grill mix the honey, cinnamon and vanilla together in a small mixing bowl. Once the peaches are done, drizzle the honey mixture onto the peaches.

Add a scoop of your favorite low-fat ice cream and enjoy!

St Patrick’s Day Treat

Celebrating St. Patty’s day this year? St. Patrick’s day is an old Irish Holiday that has made its way around the world and is perfect for silly and tasty treats. Try this fun themed recipe with your kids, as a party favor or just for a fun snack!

Lucky Charms Cereal Bar Treats

6 Tablespoons Coconut oil
16-ounce bag of Mini Marshmallows
12 cups whole grain Lucky Charms Cereal
3 Tablespoons Chia or Flax seed (optional)
1/3 cup Coconut Shreds (optional)
1-cup nut butter (optional)
½ cup cocoa nibs (optional)
Green Food Coloring (optional)

Melt coconut oil in a large pot on medium heat.
Mix in mini marshmallows until completely melted – (add optional green food coloring or nut butter).
Remove from burner and turn heat off.
Quickly add the cereal to marshmallow mixture – (before marshmallow charms melt)
Add other optional ingredients – (Coconut shreds, chia/flax seeds, cocoa nibs)
Spread and press mixture into a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Chill sheet pan in refrigerator or freezer until firm.
Once set, cut into small bars. Enjoy!

Not a fan of Lucky Charms Cereal? Use your favorite light colored cereal (Kix, Chex, Cheerios) and put a couple drops of green coloring into the marshmallow mixture! Also, mix half granola, oats or another favorite cereal to make a unique cereal treat.

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Frozen Treats: Popsicles

It’s starting to heat up here in the valley of the sun! In addition to National Nutrition Month, it is National Frozen Food month. Here are some frozen treats to keep you cool over this warm spring break.

You will need:
Popsicle molds (or paper / plastic cups)
Wooden Popsicle sticks
Jell-O mix – 3 to 4 packages
Fresh Fruit – Raspberries, blueberries, chopped strawberries
Low fat Vanilla or Flavored Yogurt – 32 ounces

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JELL-O Popsicle
Pick out your favorite Jell-O flavor (we recommend the Jolly Rancher flavors)
Follow the directions on the package.
Add your favorite fruit (optional, raspberries or blueberries)
Pour liquid mixture into a Popsicle mold.
Freeze for 4 hours, or until frozen.
Enjoy your homemade Jell-O Popsicle!

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Low Fat Yogurt Popsicle
Vanilla or Strawberry Low Fat Yogurt
Add your favorite fresh fruit (raspberries, strawberries or blueberries)
Mix yogurt and fruit into a bowl.
Pour Yogurt mixture into Popsicle mold.
Freeze for 3 to 4 hours.
Enjoy!

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Making CLEAN Changes

It’s National Nutrition Month! This school year has been very exciting for CUSD Nutrition, as we have made many big changes and launched our Clean Label Initiative. We are working everyday towards our Clean Label vision, and that starts with converting our traditional recipes into meals with clean homemade ingredients. What better way to celebrate National Nutrition than to start developing new traditions for generations to come by teaching them homemade and clean recipes?
Did you know we have a working fully staffed bakery at our central kitchen? Our bakery is one of the significant things that sets us apart from other school districts. Having our own bakery allows us to produce more clean and homemade baked goods. Our hard working staff make many of the muffins, cookies and breads that we serve on our menu from SCRATCH. Recently we have analyzed many recipes that we serve such as our chocolate chip cookie and our zucchini bread slice. These processed food items were bought from a vendor and are now minimally processed, homemade CUSD recipes.

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Bonzer Ultimate Reduced Fat Chocolate Chip Cookie

WHOLE GRAIN BLEND (WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, WHOLE OATS), ENRICHED FLOUR (UNBLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), SUGAR, BROWN SUGAR, COCOA CONFECTIONARY DROPS (SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYRDOGENATED VEGETABLE OIL [PALM KERNEL, COTTONSEED], COCOA POWDER [PROCESSED WITH ALKALI], CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, SOY LECITHIN [AN EMULSIFIER], VANILLIN [AN ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR], SALT), 0g TRANS FAT PALM OIL MARGARINE (PALM OIL, SOYBEAN OIL, WATER, SALT, VEGETABLE MONO & DIGLYCERIDES, SOY LECITHIN [AN EMULSIFIER], SODIUM BENZOATE [A PRESERVATIVE], CITRIC ACID, NATURAL & ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, VITAMIN A PALMITATE ADDED, BETA CAROTENE [FOR COLOR]. DAIRY WHEY), NATURAL MARGARINE (LIQUID AND PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL, WATER, SALT, SOY LECITHIN [AN EMULSIFIER]. BETA CAROTENE [FOR COLOR], VITAMIN A PALMITATE ADDED), UNSWEETENED APPLESAUCE, EGGS, OAT FIBER, ARTIFICIAL VANILLA FLAVOR, BAKING SODA (LEAVENING), SOY LECITHIN (AN EMULSIFIER).

CONTAINS: MILK, WHEAT, SOY & EGGS

CUSD Nutrition Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie

WHOLE GRAIN WHITE WHEAT FLOUR (100% WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR FROM HARD WHITE SPRING WHEAT), ALL PURPOSE FLOUR (BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), GRANULATED SUGAR (PURE SUCROSE), BROWN SUGAR, APPLESAUCE, EGGS, VANILLA EXTRACT, VEGETABLE OIL, BAKING SODA, BAKING POWDER, SALT, SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS.
CONTAINS: WHEAT, SOY & EGGS

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Ultra Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread Slice

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), WATER, SUGAR, ZUCCHINI, SOYBEAN OIL, WHOLE EGG SOLIDS, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, DISTILLED MONOGLYCERIDE, LEAVENING (SODIUM BICARBONATE, CALCIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE), DEFATTED SOY FLOUR, VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN, SALT, DRY HONEY SOLIDS, DEXTROSE, SPICE (CINNAMON, NUTMEG) XANTHAN GUM.

CONTAINS: WHEAT, SOY & EGGS

CUSD Nutrition Homemade Zucchini Pineapple Muffin 

WHOLE WHITE WHEAT FLOUR (100% WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR FROM HARD WHITE SPRING WHEAT), GRANULATED SUGAR (PURE SUCROSE), BROWN SUGAR, APPLESAUCE, ZUCCHINI, PINEAPPLE, EGGS, VANNILA EXTRACT, VEGETABLE OIL, BAKING SODA, BAKING POWDER, SALT, SPICE (CINNAMON, NUTMEG).

CONTAINS: WHEAT, SOY & EGG

While this zucchini muffin looks like it has the same amount of ingredients as the processed bread, the ingredients are cleaner, meaning they have minimal preservatives and less harmful ingredients. They are also lower in calories and carbohydrates! The prepackaged and made zucchini bread was 270 kcals and had 43 g of carbohydrates; our cleaner zucchini bread is 240 kcals and has 38 g carbohydrates. It’s these little steps that will make a big impact on our nutrition!

Tell us what you think about these changes we’ve made, and if you have any other ideas for us!

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Managing stress

There’s no doubt about it, we lead busy lives. Commitments may include anything and everything from work, school, family, social, spiritual, recreational and chores. Other obligations, needs and temporary situations can also be contributing factors, such as finances or moving, also impact us, leaving one with a feeling of being stressed out.

With so much on our plates, it’s no wonder we can feel overwhelmed from time to time, but knowing how to manage stress is key to maneuvering through each day to maintain a healthy balance.  As we continue to recognize American Hearth Month, here are some ways to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being:

1.    Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit! They contain antioxidants that help protect against free radicals within your body that damage your cells, helps reduce inflammation within your body, and increases your immunity!
2.    Get sufficient sleep, which generally ranges from 7 – 10 hours, depending on your age. Children, adolescents and teens need more, and as you age, your body tends to require less sleep. Remember that sleep allows your body to reset, restore, and heal.
3.    Exercise! Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate (or higher) exercise at least 4 times per week. You’ll probably notice improved mental performance and overall boost in your mood!
4.    Drink plenty of water, which keeps your entire body hydrated, from a cellular level to your skin, and keep you moving more effectively.
5.    Meditation has been reported to help improve mental clarity and also provides you with a few minutes to relax and reflect on what’s important to you. Spend 5 minutes in a quiet, dimly lit room either sitting or lying down with no noise or distractions and concentrate on positive things in your life or things you want to achieve.
6.    Pick up a hobby and work on it a little every day or week. This could be cooking, coloring, painting, knitting, gardening, puzzles, volunteering, or anything else you enjoy!
7.    Sometimes having help can lighten the load! Consider assigning chores or tasks to family members, and you can even make a game out of it! Once they’re done, go outside to play a game, or every week celebrate your accomplishments and have a picnic! This also creates good bonding time!
8.    Make sure you have a monthly budget so you can feel confident knowing your financial needs. It can be a simple piece of paper, a spreadsheet, or finance software that guides you through this process. Be sure to make a list of all your monthly expenses and your income, and make any adjustments as needed.
9.    To maximize the time you have each day to conquer the world, write down what you need to do, either by priority or by time of day. Having a way to track your daily to-do’s will help keep you on track and focused, which leads to …
10.    Take some time for YOU each day, whether it’s 5 minutes or 2 hours. However you can spend time doing something you enjoy benefits not only you, but those around you. You are the best you for others when you are the best you to yourself!

Now that you’ve just discovered a little more free time, seize the day!

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Less salt, plenty of taste

February is American Hearth Month and we will be focusing on ways to improve your heart health this month!

 

It is well recognized among doctors and nutrition professionals that too much salt is a bad thing. High levels of sodium leads to hypertension and high blood pressure, of which both are major stressors on the heart and makes it work much harder than it should. So why not be as good to your heart as it is to you? Here are a number of easy ways to decrease sodium intake:

 

  • Cut out (or decrease) the amount of processed foods you consume, especially deli meats, frozen meals, soups, condiments and snack items.
  • Use fresh herbs when cooking for added flavor, such as cilantro, thyme, lemon juice, parsley, rosemary, basil, and dill just to name a few.
  • Enjoy spices to enhance flavors! Some favorites include garlic, oregano, black pepper, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, curry powders, turmeric, chili, and so many other wonderful options.
  • Add a little vinegar, wine, lemon, lime or other citrus to add a zesty kick to foods when cooking.
  • Use salt only sparingly when cooking and avoid adding any at the table when eating.
  • Look for nutrition labels that indicate the food is low-sodium (140 mg per serving) or no salt has been added to the food.
  • Beware of how much cheese you use as it contains a lot of sodium.

 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily up to the age of 50, and reducing that amount to 1,500 mg daily for persons age 51 and older. You’ll be pleased to find that as you start to decrease the amount of sodium you consume, the more your palate will change and not desire salty foods as much.

 

Here’s to a healthy, happy heart!