Monday, September 30, 2013

What's for lunch 10/1/13

From the Ranch to you…
Beef Taco Tuesday!
Hard Corn Tortilla— GF
or Soft Flour Tortilla
Romaine Le􀆩uce, Cheese,
Salsa, Sour Cream,
Brown Rice & Black Beans
Veggie Sticks
Fresh Fruit 

Our district has contracted with a New York State farm to provide beef raised without antibiotics and hormones. It is more expensive and there is less beef on the menu as a result but it is a huge improvement in the quality of our lunches. We season and prepare this dish. 

The hard taco shells from Mission foodservice contain: whole grain corn, water, vegetable oil (one or more of the following: cottonseed oil, corn oil or palm oil), contains 2% or less of niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin lime. No sodium - 6g of fat (2 of which are saturated) 

 The soft shells are from Tyson and contain:  Bleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Contains one or more of the following: Cottonseed Oil, Soybean Oil), Mono- and Diglycerides, Contains 2% or less of the following: Salt, Baking Powder (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate), Fumaric Acid, Sodium Bicarbonate, Dough Conditioner (Wheat Flour, Calcium Sulfate, Sorbic Acid), Preservative (Sodium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate).  Sodium is 380mg. 5g of fat (1 of which is saturated). 

The brown rice is a whole grain but as previously discussed cannot be cooked in a way that minimizes the arsenic content. The black beans are canned and the ingredients are "BLACK BEANS, WATER, SALT, AND CALCIUM CHLORIDE" with 140mg of sodium. The salsa is homemade and the fruit is fresh.  

Sunday, September 29, 2013

What's for lunch 9/30/13

French Bread “Ziti” Pizza
French Bread Plain Pizza
Sauteed Broccoli w/Garlic & Oil
Fresh Fruit

Whole grain bread. The pizza sauce is from Red Pack and the ingredients are: Tomato concentrate (water, tomato paste), salt, citric acid, basil. Fresh broccoli -- we are making these pizzas - not frozen!
The cheese is a USDA commodity part skim mozzarella.  Ingredients are cultured pasteurized milk, salt, enzymes. The sodium is 240mg/oz - I think we use 2 ounces.

The ziti is a white flour pasta with some protein by Barilla Plus. The ingredients are:  Semolina, Grain and Legume Flour, Blend (Lentils, Chickpeas, Egg Whites, Spelt, Barley, Flaxseed, Oat Fiber, Oats), Durum Flour, Niacin, Iron (Ferrous Sulfate), Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid.  The broccoli and the fruit are fresh. 

Not a fan of this menu choice way too many refined carbs and the President of Barilla discriminates.  Read for yourself  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What's for lunch 9/26/13

Better than a Pizzeria...
Thin Crust Pizza “Margherita”
Fresh Tomato Sauce
Basil and Fresh Mozzarella
Romaine Salad
with Chickpeas
Fresh Fruit 

Unlike many schools, we do make these pizzas. This is a white-flour pizza (not whole grain). The sauce is a Red Pack vitamin enhanced tomato sauce. The sodium at 140mg is much lower than we previously used.  Here are the ingredients: Tomato Concentrate (Water, Tomato Paste), Sugar, Soybean Oil, Potassium Chloride, Onion Powder, Salt, Citric Acid, Spice, Garlic Powder, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Black Pepper, Vitamin E (DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Natural Flavor, Vitamin A (Retinol Palmitate). The tomato, basil and mozzarella are fresh. 

The salad is romaine lettuce with chickpeas.  Which are canned but do pack quite a bit of protein. The fruit is fresh.  

My kids coming home starving after school.  Today I am making this fall inspired soup.  I think they will love it ! 

Pumpkin-Coconut Bisque

Healthy Pumpkin Soup Recipe


1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups solid-pack pumpkin, canned
2 cups low-salt vegetable broth
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk, divided
Salt and pepper
Pepitas, for garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté until golden, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the pumpkin, broth, sugar, allspice, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Cover and simmer until flavors blend, about 30 minutes.
  3. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot. Bring the soup to a simmer, thinning with coconut milk to the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the pepita seeds, drizzle with a teaspoon of coconut milk, and serve.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's for lunch 9/25/13

Whole Wheat Grilled Cheese
With Ham or Plain
Sweet Potato Wedges
Fresh Fruit 


Boar’s Head® Ham Nutrition Facts
Serv Size 2 oz (56g)
Serving Per Container Varied

Amount Per Serving
Calories 60
Calories fom Fat10 % Daily Value
Total Fat 1g

Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.5g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0%
Cholesterol 25mg
Sodium 590mg
Total Carbohydrate 2g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 2g
Protein 9g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C0%Calcium 0%
Iron 4%

Sweet potato wedges are flash-fried and frozen with 4.5g of fat and 140mg of sodium. Ingredients are Sweet Potatoes, Potato Starch - Modified, Vegetable Oil (Contains One Or More Of The Following Oils: Canola, Soybean, Cottonseed, Sunflower, Corn). Contains 2% or less of Annatto (color), Baking Soda, Beta Carotene (color), Caramel(Color), Natural Flavors, Rice Flour, Salt, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate(Maintains Natural Color & Leavening), Sugar, Tapioca Dextrin,Xanthan Gum.  The fruit is fresh. 

If your child is purchasing this lunch you need to encourage them to load up on the salad bar.  This entire meal besides the fresh fruit is processed and contains quite a bit of carbs.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

What's for lunch 9/24/13

Marinated Chicken with
Sweet Peppers & Onions on a
Warm Whole Wheat Pita
Tzatziki Sauce
Greek Salad
Fresh Fruit
Gluten Free if taken without the pita

The  chicken is a processed USDA commodity food from Tyson and described as "fully cooked boneless skinless chicken dark meat chicken fajita strips -smoke flavor added." Here are the ingredients: "Chicken dark meat, water, seasoning [salt, spices, dehydrated garlic, dehydrated onion, sugar, chili powder (chili pepper, cumin, oregano, salt, garlic powder), lemon juice powder (corn syrup solids, lemon juice, lemon oil), modified corn starch, natural mesquite smoke flavor (maltodextrin, natural smoke flavor), natural flavor (from partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil)], modified food starch and sodium phosphates."  The "partially hydrogenated" oil is a source of trans fat.  Chicken has 7g of fat (2 of which are saturated) and 490 mg of sodium.

The pita is actually part whole wheat.  The ingredients are wheat flour [whole wheat flour and enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)], water, soybean oil, less than 2% of yeast, salt, sugar, dough conditioner (distilled monoglycerides, calcium salts, guar gum, wheat starch, sodium metabisulfite, ascorbic acid), preservatives (calcium propionate, potassium sorbate), vinegar.

The peppers, onions, and fruit are fresh.  The Tzatziki sauce is home make.  Still working on getting those ingredients.  The salad is all fresh ingredients.  My daughter loves this lunch.  Although the chicken is Tyson is does have  a lot of flavor.   The salad bar is always an option. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What's for lunch 9/20/13

All White Meat
Chicken “Bites”
Whole Wheat Breadsticks
 Sweet Corn
Fresh Fruit

All white chicken bites are another name for chicken nuggets. The chicken is a Tyson "fully cooked chicken breast nugget fritter with rib meat" with 10g of fat and 420mg of sodium.  The ingredients are: Boneless, skinless chicken breast nuggets with rib meat, water, modified food starch, sodium phosphates, salt. PREDUSTED WITH: Enriched wheat flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), wheat gluten, salt. BATTERED WITH: Water, enriched bleached wheat flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), modified corn starch, salt, dextrose, spices, garlic powder, xanthan gum, oleoresin paprika and annatto. BREADED WITH: Enriched wheat flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, spices, garlic powder, extractives of paprika, natural flavors (spice extractives). Breading set in vegetable oil. Believe it or not these chicken bites are better then the ones we bought years ago, they had even more ingredients and they were not white meat. 

The corn is canned and has added salt - 200mg per serving and the cans do contain BPA.  I do not have the ingredients for the whole wheat breadsticks.  Those ladies in the cafeteria are way to busy to be actually making bread but I am sure it comes frozen and they bake it. The fruit is fresh. 

As the weather gets crisp and the crispness of apples signals the sweet, fleeting passage of fall, it's time to get cooking. You may find eight varieties of apples for sale in a good grocery store these days, and a dozen or more in a big farmers' market. There are more than 2,500 kinds of apples grown in the United States alone, with rare, old heirloom varieties on a welcome rebound. All this means you have a bumper crop of fruit to cook with—and apples are a great cooking fruit. We matched some favorite varieties to recipes designed to unlock the unique charm of each fruit.  There are so many recipes to try. I am going to try this one this weekend.

Roasted Apple & Cheddar Salad



  • 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


  • 2 apples, preferably Fuji, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups baby spinach, or torn spinach leaves
  • 3 cups torn Boston lettuce
  • 3 cups torn curly endive
  • 2/3 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. To prepare dressing: Whisk vinegar, apple juice, 1 tablespoon oil, honey, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. To roast apples and prepare salad: Toss apples with 2 teaspoons oil and thyme in a medium bowl; spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast, turning once or twice, until the apples are soft and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Discard fresh thyme, if using. Let cool.
  4. While the apples are roasting, toast walnuts in a small baking pan until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
  5. Just before serving, combine spinach, lettuce and endive in a large bowl; toss gently to mix. Divide the greens among 6 plates, drizzle with dressing and top with cheese, roasted apples and walnuts. Serve immediately.


  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate dressing (Step 2) for up to 1 week.


Per serving: 191 calories; 14 g fat ( 4 g sat , 5 g mono ); 13 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein;4 g fiber; 173 mg sodium; 230 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (40% daily value), Folate (15% dv), Fiber (15% dv)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What's for lunch 9/19/13

Sauteed Spinach with Garlic
Fresh fruit

The noodles we're using for the Mac n cheese are Barilla Plus. The ingredients are: Semolina, Grain and Legume Flour, Blend (Lentils, Chickpeas, Egg Whites, Spelt, Barley, Flaxseed, Oat Fiber, Oats), Durum Flour, Niacin, Iron (Ferrous Sulfate), Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid. The sauce is made from Wisconsin Cheddar. The spinach and fruit are fresh.

Salad bar is available as an entree of for sides. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What's for lunch 9/18/13

Hamburger or Cheeseburger
w/All The Trimmings
Homemade Cole Slaw
Oven-Baked “Fries”
Fresh Fruit
Gluten free if taken without the bun

The burgers are from a farm in upstate NY.  The beef is antibiotic and hormone free.  Very nice to have this in our district 1 

The fries however are frozen.  They are flash or par-fried and then baked. I think they have only 25mg of sodium and 4g of fat. Ingredients are: Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following oils: Canola, Soybean, Cottonseed, Sunflower, Corn). Contains 2% or less of Annatto (color), Caramel Color, Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate Added to Preserve Natural Color.  The coleslaw is homemade but I am not completely sure of the ingredients. The fruit is fresh. 

As always the salad bar is available and always a good choice !! 

We do Meatless Monday's in this house but tonight we were also meatless !
Try this recipes it is easy and my kids loved it !

Soba Noodle Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing

Soba Noodle Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing
Serves 4
30 minutes or fewer
Gone are the days of remixing separated peanut oil with concrete-like peanut butter. Chef and holistic health counselor in New York, Alex Jamieson also likes Maranatha Organic No Stir Peanut Butter because “the flavor is never bitter.” Try it in this soba salad—a great take-along lunch because the flavors of the peanut dressing develop over time.
  • 6 oz. low-sodium soba noodles
  • ½ cup Maranatha Organic No Stir Peanut Butter
  • ¼ cup brown rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. fresh lime zest
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced (1½ cups)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced (1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, grated (½ cup)
  • 2 Tbs. chopped peanuts, optional
1. Cook noodles in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain, and rinse under cold running water.
2. Purée peanut butter, vinegar, agave nectar, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, lime juice, lime zest, and ¼ cup cilantro in blender or food processor until smooth and creamy, adding 2 to 3 Tbs. warm water to thin, if necessary.
3. Toss together noodles, cucumber, bell pepper, carrot, and peanut butter mixture. Garnish with remaining cilantro and chopped peanuts, if using.

Monday, September 16, 2013

What's for lunch 9/17/13

Marinated Southwest Chicken
Brown Rice ~ Black Beans
Whole Wheat Tortilla
Chips n’ Salsa
Carrot Sticks w/Dip
Fresh Fruit 

The brown rice is a whole grain but as previously discussed cannot be cooked in a way that minimizes the arsenic content.

The black beans are canned and the ingredients are "BLACK BEANS, WATER, SALT, AND CALCIUM CHLORIDE" with 140mg of sodium.

The chicken is from Tyson. It is described as "1/2" diced chicken meat" and as "boneless, skinless, and fully cooked." It is chicken breast.

I think we use Tyson's whole wheat tortillas. They have 4.5g of fat and 320mg of soidum. The ingredients are: Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Potato Starch with Monoglyceride, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Contains one or more of the following: Cottonseed Oil, Soybean Oil) with Mono- and Diglycerides and/or Citric Acid, Honey Wheat Seasonong (Dextrose, Wheat Germ, Caramel Color, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sucralose, Tricalcium Phosphate), contains 2% or less of the following: Vital Wheat Gluten, Salt, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Calcium Acid Pyrophosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Dough Conditioners (Wheat Flour, Calcium Sulfate, Sorbic Acid, Fumaric Acid), Preservative (Sodium Propionate (Propionic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide (for pH adjustment), Water and Potassium Sorbate). The carrots are fresh and the dip is full fat organic ranch. The fruit is fresh.

The idea of this lunch is wonderful, beans, brown rice, chicken, salsa. However, the chicken ruins it for me. After watching Food Inc. I will never look at a non organic chicken the same. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

What's for lunch 9/16/13

Breaded Chicken, Sunday
Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato on
Whole Wheat Bun
Cucumber~Tomato Salad

This meal contains a lot of highly processed, manufactured foods.  Here are the ingredients on the chicken patty - manufactured by Tyson and including rib meat: Boneless chicken breast with rib meat, water, salt, and natural flavor. BREADED WITH: Wheat flour, water, wheat starch, white whole wheat flour, salt, yellow corn flour, corn starch, dried onion, dried garlic, dried yeast, brown sugar, extractives of paprika, and spices. Breading set in vegetable oil.  ('Set' is often a euphemism for 'flash-fried.')

You can read more about Tyson here. It's not pretty.  These patties have 14g of fat and 620mg of sodium.

The turkey bacon does not say "Applegate" on the menu so I can't 't be sure it is but that's what we usually use. Nonetheless, it is still bacon.  Here are the ingredients: Turkey (Turkey Used Never Administered Antibiotics, Growth Promotants or Animal By-products), Water, Sea Salt, Maple Sugar, Celery Juice, Onion Powder, Spices, Lactic Acid Starter Culture (not From Milk.)  They promote it as nitrate-free but this NYT article says otherwise - and cites the company saying their bacon has the same level (naturally) of cancer-causing nitrates as conventional brands.

The cucumber and tomato salad are fresh.  I am not a fan of processed chicken patties by any stretch of the imagination. Head for the salad bar  1 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What's for lunch 9/13/13

Spaghetti & Meatballs
Spaghetti Marinara
w/Mozzarella Stick
Zucchini and Carrot Strips
with Ranch Dip
Fresh Fruit 

The meatballs are processed, cooked and frozen by Tyson from commodity beef and although we've improved the beef in our hamburgers  the same is true for the meatballs. Ingredients are: Ground beef (not more than 20% fat), water, bread crumbs (bleached wheat flour, salt, yeast, dextrose, and soybean oil), seasoning (salt, dehydrated onion, dehydrated celery, garlic powder, spices, soybean oil), tomato puree (tomatoes and citric acid), grated parmesan cheese [(cultured part-skim milk, salt and enzymes), cellulose powder, potassium sorbate], grated romano cheese made from cow's milk [(cultured pasteurized part-skim milk, salt and enzymes), cellulose powder, potassium sorbate].   They have 9g of fat (3 are saturated) and 450 mg of sodium.The pasta is a whole grain.  The marinara is a tomato sauce by Red Pack. Here are the ingredients: Tomato Concentrate (Water, Tomato Paste), Sugar, Soybean Oil, Potassium Chloride, Onion Powder, Salt, Citric Acid, Spice, Garlic Powder, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Black Pepper, Vitamin E (DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Natural Flavor, Vitamin A (Retinol Palmitate).

Mozzarella stick is part-skim. 

The veggies and fruit are fresh. Dip is full fat organic dressing.  This lunch is not bad but definitely skip the Tyson meatballs and load up on veggies from the salad bar. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

DIY dried home herbs !

Jane Says: Dried Homegrown Herbs Make for Flavorful Winter Cooking

Keeping your summer herb garden's flavors for winter is an easy DIY kitchen project.

“What’s the best way to dry and store herbs from my garden for the winter? And any tips for how to use them?”
—April Hockett
I’m a big advocate for drying garden herbs: Like any homegrown food, you know exactly what you’re getting, and, if you store them properly, they’ll last longer than store-bought ground dried herbs. Those can be old or exposed to heat and/or light during handling, and contribute nothing more than stale dust to a dish. And drying your own herbs is easy—especially this time of year, when we’ve waved goodbye (well, maybe) to summer’s humidity.
DIY dried herbsRosemary, thyme, bay, oregano, marjoram, winter savory, sage, tarragon, lemon verbena, even fennel stalks are all good candidates for drying. For the very best flavor, choose your healthiest, most flourishing plants and cut the herbs in the “bud burst” stage—i.e., just before their flowers open, which is when their essential oils (translation: flavor) are at their most concentrated. You also want to harvest in the midmorning, after the dew evaporates but before the heat of the day, in order to minimize wilting. (For lavender blossoms, which are used in herbes de Provence, harvest them the same day the blossoms open and strip off the leaves.)
Rinse the herbs if they look or feel dirty or dusty, or if you suspect they harbor any hitchhiking critters. Spread them out in a single layer on clean kitchen towels and let them air-dry, turning them occasionally, until all surface moisture is evaporated. Remove and discard any bruised, damaged, or diseased leaves.
Strip the leaves off the lower inch or so of the stems, then tie the herbs in small bunches with kitchen string (which you may need to tighten as the stems shrink). Hang the bunches upside down in a well-ventilated room, attic, or shed out of direct sunlight; avoid a steamy kitchen, and keep in mind that the darker the room, the more color will be preserved. Although it’s not necessary, it’s nice to have an herb-drying rack; you’ll find various models at garden supply companies, Williams-Sonoma, and Amazon.
Depending on the moisture content of the herbs, they can take from a few days up to a week to dry. You’ll know they’re ready when the leaves are completely brittle and crumble very easily, and the stems break when bent.

The leaves will retain more of their essential oils if left whole. Strip the leaves off the stems and pack them in canning jars or other airtight containers, label and date the containers, and store in a cool, dark, dry place. They should stay potent for six months to a year. Crumble the leaves just before using them.
If you happen to have a dehydrator, that is another great way to dry herbs because you can easily control temperature and circulation. Or you could take the counter-intuitive approach popularized byMadalene Hill and Gwen Barclay, pioneering herb gardeners (and mother and daughter) who wrote about preserving herbs in the cold, dry atmosphere of a frost-free refrigerator for Mother Earth News back in the early 1990s.
“Years ago, in a rush to get Thanksgiving dinner on the table, we found an easy way to dry herbs using cold instead of heat,” they explained. “Left over from the meal preparation was an extra plateful of fresh herbs—some chopped, some whole—that we stuck into the refrigerator and forgot about. There it sat for a few days, uncovered, hiding behind the leftover mashed potatoes. By the time we discovered the lost plate, the herbs were crispy dry but fragrant and still flavorful. Amazingly, the parsley, dill, and chives—herbs that don’t usually lend themselves to home drying of any sort—were still green and tasty and usable.”
Cooking with dried herbs
Unlike fresh herbs, which release their essential oils immediately, dried herbs release theirs more gradually, so they are most effective in braises and other slow-cooked dishes, sauces, and marinades. Because the essential oils are intensified in dried herbs, they can easily overwhelm a dish, so a judicious hand is key; if substituting a dried herb for fresh, use about one teaspoon crumbled dried herb in place of one tablespoon fresh.
It’s also a good idea to measure quantities away from the steam of whatever it is you are cooking; that will prevent any moisture, which can cause mold, from getting into the jar. Always discard dried herbs that show any trace of mold.
Herbed Pepper
This recipe appears in Herbs & Spices: The Cook’s Reference, by the masterful Jill Norman. She writes that the blend is good with root vegetables and chicken, and in winter soups. “A clove of garlic and a little grated lemon rind can be used with the herbed pepper to good effect.”
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried winter savory
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground mace
Crush or grind all the herbs finely. Sift and combine with the pepper and mace. Store in an airtight container for 2 to 3 months.