Tag Archives: healthy food

Healthy Thanksgiving School Menu Ideas and Swaps

Schools across the country are revving up for their annual Thanksgiving celebration lunches.  If you’re looking for ideas for your school that are different from the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing, check these out.  Many also fit in with with the new school nutrition guidelines.

Not a school? Doesn’t matter! Try any of these out for your Turkey Day celebration. Enjoy!

Cheesy Baked Zucchini

Great way to mix up the menu

Confetti Quinoa

Can also substitute brown rice or whole wheat couscous

Corn and Green Bean Casserole

Healthy way to get the veggies in

Cranberry Pear Sauce

Also includes recipes for Cranberry Cheesecake, Cranberry Harvest Salad and Cranberry Mocktail

Fruit Cups

Great year round to meet fruit requirement

Harvest Delight

Large variety of vegetables such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash and carrots

Macaroni and Cheese

Kid favorite

Mashed Cauliflower and Parsnips with Roasted Garlic

Great swap for mashed potatoes!

Multi-Grain Sweet Potato Muffins

Great alternative to the typical roll

Pumpkin Cake

Great pumpkin pie swap–cuts fat in half compared to most commercial pumpkin pie recipes

Squash Casserole

Casserole can be healthy

Teeny Turkeys

Fun way to mix up appetizers

Turkey with a Twist

Unique take on a traditional dish

Wheat Dinner Rolls

Fits perfectly with whole grain requirement

Whole Grain Cornbread

Cuts calories and sodium in half from traditional cornbread


Central’s Week in Brief: August 19, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more. It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

 1. While food trucks and restaurants have been battling it out since the trend began, a part of Canada may just be figuring out how to make the relationship work.  This Calgary Herald article discusses a new food truck pilot program, which essentially maps out where food trucks can park. One of the individuals interviewed even told the reporter he had received calls from restaurants and pubs in the area asking he park near them!

2. Lately restaurants have been getting slack for unhealthy menu items, but let’s not forget those who really are making changes for the better.  MSN Fitbie covered the topic showcasing some of these healthier changes such as Cheesecake Factory’s SkinnyLicious menu items, McDonald’s revised Happy Meal that replaces fries with apples and Chick-fil-A’s multigrain oatmeal.

3. Where do Millennials (ages 16-24) enjoy dining the most?  Quick-service restaurants.  It makes sense, after all they are always on the go.  Convenience Store News recently wrote about the Executive Insights report that looked into this, finding 20 percent of Generation Y go to a QSR every other day.  Some favorite QSRs found in the study included Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds, Chipolte and Boston Market.

4. Schools are continuously looking for ways to curb childhood obesity.  This USA Today article discusses one of the latest topics from a School Nutrition Association (SNA) survey, which looked into how long students actually have for lunch.  They found the average time was 25-30 minutes, but after factoring in using the restroom then waiting in the lunch line, it’s approximately 10-15 minutes.  SNA found healthy foods can take longer to eat and in a rush, students opt for the unhealthier quicker items. Perhaps making lunch a little longer could help in solving the childhood obesity problem?

5. “Rockuccinos” and “You Shook Me All Night Long Moscatos” makes one wonder if rock bands are taking over the foodservice industry.  Well, it might be a possibility! KISS will be opening up a coffee house in Las Vegas, which will be their second location (the first being in Myrtle Beach).  Then band AC/DC recently announced a new partnership with New South Wales on a wine collection.  This New York Post article mentions some of the names which are “Back in Black” Shiraz, “Highway to Hell” Cabernet Sauvignon and “Hells Bells” Sauvignon Blanc.

Central’s Week in Brief: July 11

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more. It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

1.) A study by the Mintel Foodservice revealed “consumers believe that more healthful menu selections are pricer than standard restaurant fare, making it tougher for operators to sell nutrition-oriented items to spending-shy guests.” View more results in this Nation’s Restaurant News article.

2.) In an article from Food Safety News, they learned from the CDC that there have been 25 people infected by a strain of Salmonella that has been linked to Idaho sprouts.

3.) Good news for quick-service restaurants and convenience stores/chains.  In this article by Convenience Store News, they spoke with D.A. Davidson & Co.’s Bart Glenn who said “it appears commodity prices have peaked, at least for the near term. Although food inflation will remain an issue through 2012, it is encouraging that prices appear to be normalizing.”

4.) Gulf News revealed in an article that “the Dubai government has launched a clean-technology venture in which waste cooking oil will be converted into eco-friendly fuel.  The biodiesel will be used by fast food giant McDonald’s to operate its delivery trucks.”

5.) We are very excited our next master catalog will be hitting the streets on Monday! If you aren’t on our mailing list, click here to obtain a copy and visit us online to view the latest products and sign up for our emails.

Image from MorgueFile

Freshen Up Your Spring Menu with Seasonal Vegetables

As warm weather (and bathing suit season) approaches, many restaurant patrons are looking for lighter, healthier fare that is still tasty.  We’ve found some great recipes using seasonal veggies that you may have used in the past and a few you may have never knew were edible to put some flare into your Spring and Summer menu.

Spicing Up the Seasonal Standbys:

Image from MorgueFileFreshening up your menu for the season with salads is always a great idea.  But what if your customers are a little sick of the average house and Caesar options?   One suggestion from usfoodsight.com is to add a customized salad to your list.  Customized salads are a great way to allow patrons to pick and choose their way to the ideal salad while cutting down on the mess of a salad bar.  Simply list the different types of lettuce, veggies, proteins and other toppings and let the customer make a dish that perfectly suits their mood.

But what about those boring steamed vegetables as a side?   Vegetables can become more exciting with some of the great recipes we’ve found below.  We’ve also thrown in a handy guide on the best times to add/edit the vegetables on your menu and for those health conscious customers you’ll even be ready with the items nutritional benefits.


Food Fact: Zucchini is
actually a fruit.

Harvest Period: May through July

Health Benefits: Low in calories and high in zinc, magnesium, fiber
and Vitamin C.  According to Veggication.com, it also has more potassium than bananas!

Recipe to try: Zucchini Oven Chips from Myrecipes.com

Image from MorgueFileAsparagus

Buying Tip: A Better Bag of Groceries advises, “Sniff your asparagus while in the store.  That’s right, sniff it.  If it smells fishy, put it back.  The tips should be nice and firm, not at all mushy.”

Harvest Period:  Available all year, but best from Mid-April to Mid-June

Health Benefits: High in fiber, low in fat.  Great source of Vitamins C,  K, B6 and A and minerals like magnesium, selenium and zinc.   Healthcorps.org also says it’s also helpful with lowering  blood pressure.

Recipe to try:  Pan Roasted Asparagus from Chop Chop Magazine

Ramps (or Wild Leeks)

Food Fact: Since they can be overharvested, the sale of ramps has been banned in Quebec since 1995, according to Eater.com.

Harvest Period:  Very short period of a few weeks from late April to early June

Health Benefits: High in Vitamins A, C and Selenium

Recipe to try:  Ramp and Carmalized Shallot Pesto Pasta from SeasonalChef.com


Buying Tip: “Fresh stalks are flat, not curled or limp. Deep red stalks are sweeter and richer,” guides Fruitsndveggiesmatter.org.

Harvest Period:  March to   the end of June

Health Benefits: Great source of Vitamin C and Calcium

Recipe to try:  Rhubarb-strawberry-apple Crumble from Eat, Live, Run

Surprising Customers with Something Different:

While it’s not out of the ordinary to update the average vegetable to something a bit more stimulating, you may be looking for something a bit more intriguing to make your dishes and restaurant stand out.  The good news is you may not have to look any further than a local field or even your own backyard.  Two great items to liven fresh dishes with are buds from the Red Bud tree and Cattail Stalks.

Most people have seen both items millions of times, but never realized they were edible.  The Hounds in the Kitchen blog recommends red buds, “Can be picked and eaten out of hand, tossed into salad, or baked into eggs or pancakes.”  Their sweet, slightly tangy flavor is best found when buds are picked just before the petals open.   Factoidz.com suggests that Cattail Stalks are great raw in salads, pickled or even steamed (for a taste like cabbage).

With these fresh takes on old favorites and new backyard ingredients up your sleeve, the warm spring and summer months can be healthy while being anything but boring for both restaurants and guests.

Do you have a favorite summer recipes or new edible item?   Share them with us in the comments below!

Trays That Give Lunch a Boost

traysCurrent issues with school food cover a pretty broad spectrum, from the amount of healthy food being taken in to how much the average school lunch costs.  With all of these concerns at the top of mind, it can become very difficult to figure out an effective plan of action.  However, what if one item could help contribute an answer while also helping the environment?  Would you purchase it for your school?

The quick, easy and affordable answer to get on the right track: lunch trays!   Looking back at how many cafeterias used to work, it’s amazing to think that a product that was once so common has now been replaced by disposables.  In fact, according to an article on informinc.org, the Office of School Food and Nutrition Services for New York City found that NYC public schools serve 800,000 meals per day on disposable trays.

While disposable trays may cut down on water by eliminating washing, they create other issues with the amount of trash created and the expenses for constantly buying new items.   Re-usable lunch trays can actually solve both matters.   Since the trays are being used by several students every day, the cost is cut down.   There is simply the initial cost of buying the product and the daily cleaning.   This re-use is also beneficial in reducing the amount of daily waste from a school and lowering air pollution due to the transport of the trays from a factory to the school on a regular basis.   Lower delivery frequency means fewer delivery fees as well.

In terms of health, re-usable trays can also make a significant difference.   Brian Wasink, a Cornell economics professor, studied how items like school trays can increase the amount of healthy items.  In an article with The Boston Globe, Wasink shared that, “providing lunch trays increased the likelihood that children will choose healthy items.”   His team also found that when children have to carry they food, they are more likely to grab for quick, comfort items.

With benefits like this it’s difficult to deny that lunch trays really do have a purpose in the school cafeteria (other than just transporting food).    To help you better consider the switch from disposable to re-useable tray, Central has created a tray buying guide especially for schools to assist you in making the most informed decision.  Once the buying guide has helped you decide which trays are right for your school, we’ll give you one more incentive to make the upgrade!  From now until June 30, 2011, Central is featuring 25% off select compartment tray colors (Models 250-288 and 250-345 only)!

Once you’ve made the switch, comment below on how it has helped your cafeteria!  If you haven’t switched yet, but have made the choice to, comment on what helped you make the final decision.