I was shocked a few weeks ago when I heard of possible upcoming changes to meal regulations in our country’s schools. It seems as if the Department of Agriculture says that current regulations are leading to high costs and rampant food waste.
Under the current rules, standards for school meals for students in grades K-12 ensure children are receiving more vegetables, fruits, whole-grain rich foods, and fat-free milk. The law requires students have fruit with every school breakfast and mandated schools serve a set amount of vegetables that include both leafy greens and starchy plants.
I well remember when I was attending school, we received excellent meals. These meals were mostly a meat, two vegetables and maybe a cookie, fruit or Jello®.
Occasionally, we might have had a peanut butter and honey sandwich or a hamburger. There was no pizza, no tacos, no hot dogs and absolutely no chicken nuggets. The odd thing is we lived through it. As a matter of fact, I think we all got along quite well, and many of us were just glad we got a meal.
We were given no choices or substitutions for something like greens or what about those stewed prunes? Nobody asked us if that’s what we wanted. It was put on our plates and you either ate it or you didn’t. If you’re hungry enough, you will eat.
I don’t have children or grandchildren in the school system, but if I did, I’d prefer them to be fed a good nutritious meal, than more fast food substitutes.
I remember several years ago chef Jamie Oliver from England had a television show about trying to improve the foods in schools. He had excellent and creative ideas on how to include those all so important fruits and vegetables in our children’s diets. He was actually able in many cases to have the children prefer his food. I personally thought he had some fabulous ideas.
The most troubling part about this issue is the children from low-income families would be most affected by these proposed new rules. For many low-income children, school is the only opportunity to access a nutritious meal. There are over 30 million students who depend on free and low-cost school meals that are subsidized by the federal government. The relaxed nutrition standards could be hugely detrimental.
Also, we are already raising a higher rate of obese children, and taking away the more nutritious choices and substituting them with cheaper and probably more high caloric choices.
I personally think we owe it to these children to feed them the most nutritious, healthiest foods that we can. This is just food for thought.
On that note, I found some healthier food choices for your kids.
As always, enjoy!
Easy Carrot Fries
1 pound fresh carrots
2 teaspoons oil (coconut, olive oil, your choice)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Peel the carrots and slice them into thick strips.
Place the carrot strips onto the baking sheet and drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with the salt. Toss to combine.
Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the carrots are fork tender and crispy on the outside.
Mini Breakfast Pizzas
2 English muffins, halved
1 tablespoon butter, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter (optional)
1 tablespoon milk
freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup shredded cheese (may use low-fat)
1/4 cup mini pepperoni
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil or cooking spray.
Whisk together eggs and cream in a medium bowl until light and frothy.
Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat then add the egg mixture. Stir occasionally with a spatula or wooden spoon. When the eggs are nearly set, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Place English muffin halves, cut side up on the baking tray. Brush with melted butter, if desired. Sprinkle each piece with your cheese of choice then top with eggs then sprinkle with more cheese. Add desired toppings (see above.)
Bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the English muffin is slightly toasted. Garnish with fresh herbs.
Skinny Banana Blueberry Muffins
2 ½ cups white whole wheat flour (or mix of whole wheat and all-purpose)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
½ cup loosely packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
1/4 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt (or any yogurt)
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, do not thaw)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 15 muffin tins with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Gently whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk the honey and brown sugar together–it will be thick and lumpy. Try to get out as many lumps as you can. Whisk in the mashed banana, yogurt, and beaten egg. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently begin to fold it all together. It will be very thick. Add the milk slowly and continue to gently mix the ingredients together. The milk will thin everything out, but the batter will still be quite thick. Gently fold in the blueberries. Do not over mix the batter.
Divide the batter between 15 muffin cups. Fill all the way to the top. Bake muffins for 17-18 minutes or until very lightly browned on the edges. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Remove from the oven and place pan on a wire rack. Allow muffins to cool and enjoy!
(PUB. NOTE: Elizabeth loves to hear from readers who have recipes or food-related stories to share. Email her at: email@example.com.)