Archive | raising children RSS feed for this section

the smile behind our lunch line

3 Jan
2013-11-29_19-35-03 Happy New Year everyone! We hope you had a wonderful break, are feeling recharged, and are staying safe in the snow. We love featuring our Food Service Staff on our blog. They are so vital to the success of our programs. They are the face, the smile, the nurturing voice behind our lunch lines, helping our students make decisions, encouraging them to try new foods, and making lunch fun for our communities. Which is why we are featuring Vernan Douglas who is our Food Service Utility Attendant at one of our schools where we serve lunch. His enthusiasm for his role within Butter Beans, and love for supporting our students at lunch time inspired us to interview him.

What brought you to Butter Beans? A very good friend of mine was working for the company for over a year at the time. She kept speaking about how exciting and different it was, so I insisted on giving it a shot.

What are some of your highlights from your time working with the students? 

There is a student that always asks me if certain foods are Kosher. I always understood the basics about Kosher foods, but not all of the intricacies. He came up to me recently and asked me to sit down with him at lunch, and he explained to me all about what Kosher means. Our conversation inspired me to read more about it, and now I am much more knowledgeable. I was impressed with his awareness of his dietary restrictions.

Have you noticed a change in the food habits of the students?  Many of our students did not eat vegetables at the start of the school year. Though many of them are vegetarians, they would sometimes prefer to eat nothing over eating vegetables. When some students started choosing vegetables, we would congratulate them on how awesome their plates looked, and slowly their peers wanted some recognition too! Not only are they now consuming more vegetables, but they get so excited when they see the daily veggies that we offer. It feels good to see them walk off with their colorful plates!

What motivates you to do your best each day?

I enjoy feeding people good food, I enjoy smiles, and I am big on great health. The children that I serve on a daily basis are our future; if I can serve them a great meal and they come back and thank me, or tell me how great the food was, that’s enough motivation for me to do what I do everyday without a doubt. What do you like the most about your job? No matter what may be going on in my life, the students are always there for me, genuinely happy, and giving me hugs and high fives…that feeling there is priceless.

What is your favorite Butter Beans lunch to eat? The shepherd’s pie is AMAZING. That is by far my favorite lunch yet. I also enjoy our cheesy broccoli soup, I’ve never had anything like it!

weekly family dinner plan

1 Nov

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 10.03.06 AMThis week’s family dinner plan is inspired by: pantry items!

While I was cooking last week I noticed I have several items in my cabinets that I have been overlooking that could go to good use. So this week’s grocery list is inspired by what I already have on hand.

If you have a bunch of items that you need to use as well, you can take the same approach and substitute a couple of nights of my menu items with what you are trying to use, so that you can save at the checkout line.

I am also inspired by superfoods again this week, making sure we have fish at least once during the week, and I am including my son’s suggestions on Kid’s night so he feels included in the process, and is then more open to my choices on the other nights.

Feel free to share your children’s favorite dinners on our Facebook page and we will include them in future menus.

Our menu this week is:

risotto2Monday Butternut squash risotto and black bean salad

Tuesday: – One pot:  Red bean salad served with bulgar wheat with dried cranberries and side salad  (Note – this is a more adventurous menu. My son preferred the black bean salad and had that from leftovers from Monday in place of the red bean salad.)

Wednesday – Kids’ Choice Night:  Turkey tacos with pico de gallo and a side of corn

Thursday:  Baked fish with pan seared garlic and olive oil (or butter) and rice noodles with a side salad

Friday: No noodle zucchini lasagna 

Click here for this weeks grocery list for a family of four.  

Here is your personal Sunday prep list for the week as well as your nightly prep and cook steps that will take the guess work out of every night.

Photo courtesy of zestycook.com

tips for picky eaters part 3

25 Oct

6a012876eb143a970c017ee87d2317970d-800wi

We’re back with our last installment of Melissa d’Arabian’s “Picky Eaters Project.”

We’ve learned a lot along the way! For a quick recap, click here for part 1, and here for part 2.

Here is our summary for you all to enjoy:

Healthier meal makeover:

  • Bridge from kid food to adult food with gradual transitions. Start with the chicken nuggets your kids love, then create a homemade version of them. From there, go onto a  homemade chicken milanese, then onto a baked breaded fish stick.
  • Other examples include: transitioning from white bread to wheat bread, then to whole wheat bread. Same goes for pasta (regular – whole wheat), or juice (regular – to diluted with water).

Menu planning strategies:  

  • Include your kids in the menu planning process, so that you’re involving them in creating a family meal. On your night, use that as an opportunity to introduce new dishes, making sure theres at least one thing that your kids will eat.

Master breakfast and snacks:

  • Swap out the sugary stuff, and develop two or three easy breakfasts that you can rotate like mini muffins, whole grain cereal with milk, fruit, or green smoothies. For snacks try something nutritious like whole grain crackers, apples, almond butter, string cheese, or berries.

Don’t forget the fun:

  • Do something fun and physical with your kids whether it’s bike riding, walking, dancing, or playing. Make  up recipes with your kids. Cooking can then become even more of a family activity mainstay.

Take stock of where you are:

  • Review the binder that you created at the beginning of the project, and see how far you have come. Celebrate your small victories, “its about progress, not perfection.”

We hope that Melissa’s tips will continue to inspire your family meals for some time to come!

Photo courtesy of blog.landofnod.com

weekly family dinner plan

23 Oct

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 10.03.06 AM

This week’s family dinner plan is inspired by: super-foods!

“What’s for dinner?”

Starting up the new school year has been an exciting and busy time for our family.

It is hard to believe that we are in mid-October, but managing the meals for eleven schools plus my own two children’s makes the days fly by. I am sure I am not alone in settling into the cooler weather and busy soccer and dance schedules for our children which makes what we serve for dinner more important than ever. Packing in nutrition so that everyone has strong days with energy is easier when we plan ahead.

TWalnutshis week, I am incorporating a few ‘super’ foods into the menu. They include beans, greens, yams, garlic, tomatoes, and whole grains. You may need to adjust some recipes to suit your family’s tastes, but these items will surely give you a base for a satisfying week at the dinner table.

While making my list of super foods, I also came across a list of foods you may want to add to your shopping list for breakfast. They include berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), yogurt, oats, eggs, flax seeds, nuts (especially walnuts), and oranges (or orange juice).

The last super food I will share this week is tea. I am excited to try caffeine-free herbal varieties (like chamomile) to serve to my children and myself, and look forward to the enhanced moods in addition to the flavonoids as we prepare for bedtime.

Enjoy dinner and I look forward to your comments and suggestions on our Facebook page. If you or your children have a favorite recipe you want me to include in the weekly menu, please share it there. Have fun!

201204-omag-delicious-fries-300x205

Our menu this week is:

Monday:  Chicken legs with a side of tomato and herb white beans

Tuesday: – One pot:  Yam and black bean burritos with a side of sautéed greens

Wednesday – Kids’ Choice Night:  Mac n cheese with a side of salad greens and roasted carrots

Thursday: Baked fish and veggie fries with a side salad

Friday: Pan crusted tofu with a side of broccoli and quinoa chard pilaf

Click here for this weeks grocery list for a family of four.  

Here is your personal Sunday prep list for the week as well as your nightly prep and cook steps that will take the guess work out of every night.

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and let us know how it went!

Photo courtesy of Pauline Mak and oprah.com

tips for picky eaters part 2

18 Oct

Melissa-dArabian-and-her-daughters-on-Ten-Dollar-Dinners-784x1024Welcome to our second edition of tips for picky eaters, thanks to Melissa d’Arabian’s “Picky Eaters Project.”

We hope that her advice has been helpful to our readers who have children, grandchildren, or are caretakers of children, educators, or anyone who is interested in childhood nutrition.

Here is our quick summary for this week:

Create food awareness: 

  • Foster a basic understanding of nutrition, where food comes from, and how it affects your body. Go shopping at a farmers market, or go visit a farm. Have your children chose produce, and bring it home to cook with. Review the importance of nutrients with them, and make it easy for them to remember: vitamins (make us grow), proteins (build muscle), fiber (scrubs your insides), carbohydrates (give you energy).

Food presentation: 

  • Have your children present the meal to the table, reviewing what each food item is and how it benefits your body.

Play the sugar game: 

  • Melissa’s children love sweets, so she wanted to educate them on the amount of sugar present in their favorite treats. She accomplished this by measuring out the teaspoons of sugar in those desserts, providing them with a memorable visual of the sugar content of these foods (1 tsp of sugar = 4 grams of sugar). You can do this with fat or salt, depending on what your family eats too much of, or has a sweet spot for that is not necessarily healthy.

Swap in healthier options: 

  • For dessert, try swapping out full sized brownies for one bite brownies, then serve more open quantity dishes like yogurt, and chopped fruit. That way they will get their brownie fix, while filling up on more satisfying and healthier options.

Other tips: 

  • For vegetables, instead of serving just one veggie per night, serve two and offer them a choice.  This will give them a voice at the dinner table.
  • Work on their crutch foods, like Melissa’s daughters’ passion for shredded cheese. She serves it to them in pre-portioned ramekins to control portions, and she won’t serve it two days in a row.
  • Get your kids involved in the cooking process. Have them pick a recipe or two of vegetables, and have them take the lead and make it for dinner.

We have one more post in store, so stay tuned!

Photo courtesy of askmissa.com