Thursday, December 20, 2007

Overweight Preschoolers

According to the report, The Role of Child Care Centers in Obesity Prevention published by The Future of Children, almost one in every four preschoolers is overweight. And, of the country's 21 million preschoolers, 13 million of them spend a good part of their day in a childcare center. It seems like a no-brainer then that childcare centers represent a huge opportunity to significantly influence obesity prevention among children. The cook at our center seems genuinely interested in improving the breakfast and snack items. So, I need to start generating a list. I am hoping that friends, family, acquaintances, and others who want to see healthier snack and meal options for preschoolers will post their favorite recipe or snack idea.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, December 21: Breakfast - whole wheat pancakes, pearsauce; Lunch - red lentil soup, Pink Lady apple, 100% whole grain English Muffin, cheddar cheese; Snacks - blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards), plain yogurt

Childcare Center Menu, December 21: Breakfast - applesauce, pancakes, syrup; Lunch - lentil soup, pears bread and cheese sandwich; Snacks - monkey bread, cucumbers

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 20th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, December 20: Breakfast - Ancient Grain cereal, pearsauce; Lunch - marinated and baked tofu, 100% whole grain toast, bok choy (Giving Tree Farm), red kabocha squash; Snacks - sweet potato

Childcare Center Menu, December 20: Breakfast - pear and apple muffin, Lunch - BBQ chicken, California vegetables, pears, bread, potatoes; Snacks - taco shells (otherwise known as chips) and salsa

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Survey Results Part II

Well, I was wrong. It turns out that the last food and nutrition committee was productive and that the committee agreed on some goals, based on survey responses, to improve the food program. Since I had to skip the meeting (maybe I should always skip the meeting...) I don't know what those goals are. Except that I was volunteered to identify some healthier snacks to substitute for all of the cinnamon bun crackers, saltines, cookies, cakes, smiley fries, etc. That shouldn't be too difficult. I am only half joking about skipping the meetings. I have been thinking about removing myself from the committee because, well, I simply don't have the time. I am buried in my research and in applying for postdoctoral positions. But there is a part of me that feels obligated to continue participating on the committee. I feel lucky that Caroline doesn't have to eat the food that is served at the center. But I feel badly for all of the other children who do eat there, day in and day out, two meals and two snacks a day. So, I'll give it another month. And about the daily pearsauce - we're finding that it is pretty much the only thing that helps to keep her somewhat regular (though still straining). I'm just glad that she likes it!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, December 19: Breakfast - 9 grain hot cereal, pearsauce; Lunch - egg salad, 100% whole grain bread, carrots; Snacks - Ak-Mak crackers, cauliflower

Childcare Center Menu, December 19: Breakfast - cream of wheat, bananas, raisins; Lunch - egg salad sandwich, tomato slices, honeydew; Snacks - celery, cream cheese, saltine crackers

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Locally Grown Dry Pinto Beans!

I found locally grown dried pinto beans at the East Lansing Food Co-op this weekend! It's been a chilly, snowy day so I made a pinto bean stew with locally grown red kabocha squash, tomatoes canned this summer, and corn kernels frozen this summer. It was delicious and together with cornbread, the perfect meal for a cold winter night. The recipe is from Deborah Madison's other cookbook, Greens. I followed the recipe but skipped the chili peppers and garnish (cilantro or parsley). I used sweet Hungarian paprika in the stew but I think that it might have made the dish a bit too spicy for Caroline. She ate it but only because I cooled it down with a huge dollop of whole milk yogurt. I thought that sweet Hungarian paprika was....well, sweet. I guess it could have been the cumin that gave this stew its kick. But it was good and Caroline ate it so it will be added to my repertoire of Michigan winter dishes. I don't know if it will mimic tomorrow's lunch entree though because we didn't get a copy of the childcare center menu last Friday.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, December 17: Breakfast - O's, pearsauce; Lunch - cornbread and pinto bean stew with red kabocha squash, tomatoes, and corn; Snacks - tofu cubes, pomegranate

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Survey Results In!

Last month, the Food and Nutrition Committee at Caroline's day care sent out a survey to all of the parents. I'm the chair of the committee (surprise, surprise) so I was involved in creating the survey. The results are in! The sample size is small (less than 25 percent) but it was clear that I am not the only one that is dissatisfied with the menus. Parents seems frustrated with how many sweets are served (syrup, jam, cookies, cake, cinnamon bun crackers, etc.), the lack of variety when it comes to fruits and vegetables, and how often white bread is on the menu. But now that the results are in, I'm wondering what the director and cook are going to be willing to do to address parents' concerns. I have a nagging feeling that the answer is "nothing." I've been on this committee now for 9 months (chair for 6) and I can honestly say that I have not seen any improvements to the food program. This week, the children - some of them only 1 year old - have been served pound cake, fruit cocktail, hot dogs, French fries, and croissants (and I don't care that they are "wheat" - a croissant is a croissant). Tomorrow, they'll get chocolate chip cookies for snack. Why? And more importantly, how are we going to go about improving the menu? The Food and Nutrition Committee is meeting to discuss the survey tomorrow.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, December 14: Breakfast - O's, blueberries (frozen, Walton Orchards); Lunch - scrambled eggs, 100% whole grain toast, chard, tomato soup; Snacks - pearsauce, plain whole milk yogurt

Childcare Center Menu, December 14: Breakfast - fruit cocktail, wheat croissants; Lunch - turkey sandwiches, carrots, pears, bread, potato soup; Snacks - chocolate cookies, carrots

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December 13th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, December 13: Breakfast - Ancient Grain cereal, pearsauce; Lunch - whole wheat English muffin cheese pizza, broccoli, corn (frozen, Titus Farms); Snacks - whole wheat graham crackers, peaches (canned this summer)

Childcare Center Menu, December 13: Breakfast - oatmeal, bananas, raisins; Lunch - cheese pizza, broccoli, pears; Snacks - wheat crackers, apples

December 12th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, December 12: Breakfast - Ancient Grain cereal with pears; Lunch - tri-color spaghetti and meatballs, mixed vegetables; Snacks - peaches (canned this summer), Ak-Mak crackers


Childcare Center Menu, December 12: Breakfast - fruit cocktail, raisin bread; Lunch - turkey hotdogs, red and yellow peppers, honeydew, French fries; Snacks - baked potatoes with cheese

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hard Red Spring Wheat Apple Pancakes

In October, just before the farmers' market closed for the season, I bought some grains from Mattie Jennings. Mattie and Archie Jennings own Jennings Bros. Stone Ground Grains in Nashville, Michigan. They started their operation in 2005 with seven different varieties of ancient grains (ranging from 150-6000 years old). Today, they sell 2 lb bags of organic (spelt, buckwheat, hard red spring wheat, multi-grain and non-organic grains and mixes (Hopi blue corn, Bloody Butcher corn, Truckers Favorite, Hickory King, Reid's Yellow Dent, Black Aztec). When I first met Mattie, she was giving away spelt graham cracker samples. Caroline loved them and I was sold! I have the hard red spring wheat and spelt flours in my freezer and have been treating Geoff and Caroline to hard red spring wheat pancakes on Sunday mornings. I love the texture and taste of these flours. Tomorrow, I will add thinly sliced apples to my pancake batter and make whole wheat apple pancakes for Caroline's afternoon snack.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, December 11: Breakfast - O's, pearsauce; Lunch - cheese quesadilla, broccoli, corn; Snacks - whole wheat apple pancakes

Childcare Center Menu, December 11: Breakfast - applesauce, wheat croissants; Lunch - enchiladas, corn, kiwi; Snacks - pound cake, cucumbers

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ancient Grain Cereal

I'm feeling bored with the task of mimicking the childcare center menus. The same menus are recycled every week and California vegetables or some closely related mix of frozen vegetables are served at least two but usually three times a week. I wonder if the children are bored? I wonder if Caroline is bored? This weekend, I tried to mix things up a bit by introducing Caroline to some new ancient grains. I made hot cereal on Saturday morning using toasted barley, millet, and oats. I ground the grains in my Cusinart Mini-prep and cooked them up in 3 cups of boiling water for every 1 cup of grains. I also added a handful of raisins. I cooked the grains and raisins (covered) over low heat for about 40 minutes - enough time for the oats and millet to soften and the raisins to plump up. The barley, though cooked, added a nice chewy texture to the cereal. Before serving, I added a touch of honey (from Craig's Hilltop Honey in Lansing), whole milk, and a pinch of nutmeg. Caroline loved her new ancient grain cereal!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, December 10: Breakfast - ancient grain cereal, pearsauce; Lunch - mushroom and chard lasagna, peas (frozen, Cascadian Farm); Snacks - whole milk yogurt, blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards)

Childcare Center Menu, December 10: Breakfast - orange juice, Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Golden Grahams; Lunch - turkey lasagna, mixed vegetables, raisins; Snacks - yogurt, crackers

Childcare Center Menu, December 10:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

December 7th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, December 7: Breakfast - 100% whole grain toast, apple butter, pearsauce; Lunch - brown and white rice, marinated and baked tofu, bok choy; Snacks - peaches (canned this summer), whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, December 7: Breakfast - pineapple and corn muffins; Lunch - turkey and rice, California vegetables, oranges; Snacks - saltines, soynut butter

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Stand-In Returns

Well, being on our own actually is quite tough. Local, sustainable Super Mom is in Arizona leaving me and Little C to fend for ourselves. Despite the best of intentions, we've resorted to canned organic soups with Wolfgang Puck's smiling mug on the label for dinner. Based on general interest in the creamy tomato last night and hearty chicken noodle tonight, I'd say Mr. Puck is onto something for the two-year-old-and-under set. Lunch can only qualify as best effort, I'm afraid, though the reviews from daycare today were good.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, December 4: Breakfast - whole wheat toast with Organic Valley ricotta cheese, sliced organic pear; Lunch - brown & white rice, Amy's organic spinach pizza, steamed carrots, blueberries; Snacks - Ak-Mak crackers

Childcare Center Menu, December 4: Breakfast - pineapple & bagels with cream cheese; Lunch - chicken & rice, mixed vegetables, grapes; Snacks - soft pretzels

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Red Cabbage and Curly Kale

Mac n' cheese is on the menu tomorrow but since I didn't have the right ingredients, I experimented using what I had on hand. Our friend Christine gave us a beautiful red cabbage from her garden a couple of weeks ago so I dug that out and used it in place of green cabbage. That was an easy switch. My recipe calls for mushrooms and since I didn't have any on hand, I used curly kale. I didn't choose kale for any particular reason - I just had a big bunch of it in my refrigerator. I served my red cabbage and curly kale mac n' cheese for dinner tonight and Caroline seemed to like it! Geoff and I liked it too but I think I like the green cabbage and mushroom version better. I am off to Arizona tomorrow morning so Geoff will be in charge until Thursday. I'll be attending the 2008 Food and Society conference planning committee meeting. What's Food and Society? It's a program of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that "is based on a vision of a future food system that provides all segments of society a safe and nutritious food supply, grown in a manner that protects health and the environment, and adds economic and social value to rural and urban communities." Thanks for standing-in for me, Geoff!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, December 3: Breakfast - O's, pearsauce; Lunch - red cabbage (Christine's garden) and curly kale mac n' cheese, peas (frozen, Cascadian Farm), Snacks - 100% whole grain bread, apple butter, blueberries (frozen, Walton Orchards)

Childcare Center Menu, December 3: Breakfast - Grape juice, Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Golden Grahams; Lunch - mac n' cheese, California vegetables, bananas; Snacks - carrots, breadsticks

Thursday, November 29, 2007

November 30th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 30: Breakfast - O's, pearsauce; Lunch - lentil croquettes, sweet potatoes, bok choy, 100% whole grain toast; Snacks - peaches, whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, November 30: Breakfast - applesauce, blueberry muffins; Lunch - meatballs, salad, apples, potatoes, bread; Snacks - carrots, pumpkin bread

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's That Time of Year

I survived the grilled cheese challenge and since there were no leftovers in Caroline's lunchbox today, I'm assuming that I passed. But I have a bigger challenge ahead of me for the next 5 months -- eating in-season in Michigan. Yes, it's that time of year when nothing at the grocery store seems to be grown nearby except for bok choy and carrots from Giving Tree Farm, apples from Appleschram Organic Orchard and the occasional storage vegetable. I canned, froze, and dried fruits and vegetables all summer but these will not get us through the winter. We have a lot of corn, green beans, tomatoes, pesto, blueberries, tart cherries, shallots, and garlic but we're down to our last 5 pints of Queen's Lace peaches. So, this is the time of year when I emphasize the "as possible" in my family's goal to eat as close to home as possible and when domestic organic fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables make their way to our refrigerator. Ironically though, Caroline's lunch tomorrow is full of local foods - eggs from Flying Goat Farm in Mason, bok choy, pesto, tomatoes, and peaches.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 29: Breakfast - mixed grain cereal, peaches; Lunch - bok choy, brown and white rice with pesto, egg, and tomatoes; Snacks - sweet potatoes

Childcare Center Menu, Novemeber 29: Breakfast - French toast sticks, peaches; Lunch - cheesy rice, mixed vegetables, pears; Snacks - sweet potatoes

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Grilled Cheese Challenge

I admit it. I have never made a grilled cheese sandwich. Geoff is the master of grilled cheese in our household and he is in D.C. Caroline loves his grilled cheese - gooey cheese oozing out between two pieces of buttered and perfectly grilled bread. I don't know why I feel so anxious about making tomorrow's sandwich but I do. I have been anxious ever since I saw this week's menu last Friday. I even toyed with the idea of asking Geoff to make the sandwich before he left this morning so that all I would have to do is heat it up. I'd like to say that I mustered up the courage to tackle the challenge but the truth is, I forgot to ask. So, tomorrow, I will be making my first grilled cheese sandwich!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 28: Breakfast - oatmeal, pearsauce; Lunch - grilled cheese, turkey noodle soup, broccoli; Snacks - mixed vegetables (frozen, Cascadian Farm), Ak-Mak crackers

Childcare Center Menu, November 28: Breakfast - oatmeal, bananas, raisins; Lunch - grilled cheese, chicken noodle soup, cantaloupe, cucumbers; Snacks - broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, carrots, sour cream dip

Monday, November 26, 2007

November 27th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu: Breakfast - oatmeal, peaches (canned this summer), Lunch - pinto beans, brown and white rice, mozzarella cheese, bok choy; Snacks - blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards), graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu: Breakfast - peaches, blueberry muffins; Lunch - veggie hard shell tacos, cheese, refried beans, pears; Snacks - flour tortilla, strawberry jam, cream cheese

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pearsauce Does the Trick!

Caroline is feeling much better after a long weekend feasting on traditional Thanksgiving foods and eating a daily dose of pearsauce. Unlike applesauce, pearsauce (labeled as "pears") only comes in baby food servings. We buy the Organic Baby brand or the Gerber organic brand. I actually like the texture of the Gerber pears (puree) better than the Organic Baby pears (pureed and strained). Even though she seems to be back on track - I won't go into any details - I am going to send pears with her for breakfast tomorrow. I accidentally ripped off a piece of the childcare center menu this weekend so I don't know what they're serving for breakfast and snack tomorrow. But since the menu just seems to cycle every month, I have a pretty good idea of what it might be.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 26: Breakfast - O's, pearsauce; Lunch - chard and mushroom lasagna, peas (frozen, Cascadian Farm); Snacks - banana squash

Childcare Center Menu, November 26: Lunch - spaghetti with turkey meat sauce, salad, bananas

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Bit Constipated

Well, we got another call from Caroline's teacher today letting us know that Caroline was feeling constipated, straining, and uncomfortable. She actually isn't technically constipated since she has been having at least one small, hard bowel movement every day but I know she is not comfortable. So, tomorrow, I am going to forget about mimicking the childcare center menu and focus on foods that are less likely to be "binding" -- that's the med-talk that I got from Caroline's pediatrician today. They said to avoid carrots, applesauce, yogurt, and cheese and to try to include whole grains, peas, pears, peaches, prunes, and juice. Since she is already getting a lot of fiber, I actually think that she needs more liquids. But I'll give these foods a try tomorrow.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 20: Breakfast - Bartlett pear, oatmeal; Lunch - whole wheat elbow macaroni, tomato and meat sauce, peas, peaches (canned this summer); Snacks - apple juice, graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, November 20: Breakfast - cream of wheat, bananas, raisins; Lunch - turkey sloppy joes, cucmbers, honeydew; Snacks - celery sticks, cream cheese, graham crackers

Monday, November 19, 2007

Banana Squash

I finally got up the courage to cook my Banana squash. I bought the squash at the farmers' market back in October and it has been sitting on (or, more like taking over) my counter ever since. At two feet tall, it is a bit intimidating. The squash is long with a pink-orange skin. It is not as hard as some of the other winter squashes I have tried so I was able to cut through it easily. The flesh is bright orange and very moist. I diced up a pound of it and cooked it with some onions and diced tomatoes -- the last locally grown tomatoes of the season purchased at ELFCO -- in a little bit of olive and butter. I served it with whole wheat rotini pasta and scattered chopped celery leaves and grated Parmesan on top. I would never have thought to use celery leaves this way but the dish was delicious. Caroline was a bit constipated tonight and feeling uncomfortable so she wasn't interested in eating anything except her pureed prunes and plain yogurt. I'll put the pasta dish in her lunch tomorrow and hopefully, she'll feel like taking a bite.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 20: Breakfast - prunes, plain yogurt, oatmeal; Lunch - Banana squash, whole wheat rotini pasta, tomatoes, egg; Snacks - peaches (canned this summer), whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, November 20: Breakfast - applesauce, French toast sticks, syrup; Lunch - Mostaciolli, beans, kiwi; Snacks - chocolate chip cookies, red peppers

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dark Green and Orange Vegetables

When I went grocery shopping on Saturday, I made a point to buy dark green and orange vegetables. A study that was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association last year indicated that Americans are far from meeting their daily recommended fruit and vegetable intake, especially for dark green and orange vegetables. I checked out MyPyramid, the new and personalized version of the Food Guide Pyramid, and noticed that the recommendation for children 2-3 years old is 1 cup of fruit and 1 cup of vegetables every day. Since Caroline is only (almost) 16 months old, I know that she doesn't need this much. But she'll be 2 years old before I know it so I am trying to get her into the habit of eating lots of fruits and vegetables. The childcare center menu does include a limited variety of fruits and vegetables but I noticed last week that the menu doesn't veer far from California vegetables (which I assume is at most a mix of carrots, peas, zucchini, broccoli, and cauliflower), carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cucumber. I know that I am supposed to be mimicking the childcare center menus but frankly, I'd like to introduce Caroline to a larger variety of vegetables, especially non-starchy vegetables. So, this weekend, I loaded up my cart with a nice variety of produce including collard greens, winter squashes, and bok choy (all locally grown). I know Caroline likes winter squash and bok choy but collard greens will be new for her.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 19: Breakfast - O's, peaches (canned this summer), Lunch - marinated and baked tofu, steamed bok choy, brown rice; Snacks - Bartlett pear

Friday, November 16, 2007

November 16th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 16: Breakfast - oatmeal, peaches (canned this summer); Lunch - cheese "pizza" (100% whole grain bread, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce), carrots, green beans (frozen from Titus Farm); Snacks - apple

Childcare Center Menu, November 16: Breakfast - wheat croissants, jam, applesauce; Lunch - cheese pizza, cucumbers, apples; Snacks - chocolate chip cookies, bell peppers

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Whole Wheat Graham Crackers

Geoff bought 100% whole wheat graham crackers for Caroline and for the most part, they taste great! My only (small) complaint is that they are just a tad bit on the salty side. They are made by MI-DEL and have a relatively short ingredient list: whole wheat flour, honey, unsulphured molasses, soybean oil, leavening, salt, soy lecithin, lemon oil. Even though honey is second on the list, these crackers are not very sweet at all. Caroline loves the New Morning graham crackers but given that the MI-DEL crackers are made with 100% whole wheat, I think these are the healthier option.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 15: Breakfast - Bartlett pear, O's; Lunch - egg, 100% whole grain toast, Carnival squash, peas; Snacks - blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards), MI-DEL 100% whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, November 15: Breakfast - apple muffin, pears; Lunch - turkey, beans, potatoes, gravy, cantaloupe; Snacks - pumpkin pie, apple cider

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mac n' Cheese

I have fond memories of eating Kraft Dinner when I was growing up. Kraft Dinner was in the same category as Hamburger Helper - both foods that my mom rarely made for our family. But I remember begging my mom to make it for dinner and when she did, I ate it smothered in ketchup. After I graduated from high school and reached the legal drinking age - 19 years old in Canada - Kraft Dinner was the quintessential post-party snack. I ate the fluorescent orange pasta right out of the pot before collapsing into bed. Now, the thought of feeding Caroline Kraft Dinner makes my stomach churn. I don't even want to know what makes the powder turn fluorescent orange. I have tried to make mac n' cheese in the past but have always ended up with macaroni and clumpy cheese. I know where I went wrong. The secret to creamy mac n' cheese is Velveeta. But there must be a way to make mac n' cheese without resorting to Velveeta. But how? Mac n' cheese is on the menu tomorrow. I found a recipe in one of my Moosewood cookbooks that calls for cottage cheese, yogurt or buttermilk, and cheddar cheese. This recipe sounded promising especially because it also calls for cabbage and whole wheat pasta. I made this mac n' cheese (with a few adaptations) tonight using the last of my green cabbage from Pooh Stevenson at Owosso Organics. If Caroline likes it, I will post my recipe tomorrow.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 14: Breakfast - oatmeal, Bartlett pear; Lunch - mac n' cheese, peas and carrots (frozen, Cascadian Farm); Snacks - cornbread, applesauce

Childcare Center Menu, November 14: Breakfast - oatmeal, bananas, raisins; Lunch - mac n' cheese, California vegetables, apples; Snacks - Smiley fries, ketchup

Monday, November 12, 2007

November 13th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 13: Breakfast - 100% wholegrain toast, apple butter; blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards); Lunch - whole wheat flour tortilla, refried beans, cheddar cheese, corn, mixed vegetables (frozen, Cascadian Farm); Snacks - GoldRush apple, whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, November 13: Breakfast - fruit cocktail, blueberry muffin; Lunch - soft shell veggie tacos, corn, beans, grapes; Snacks - garlic bread, carrots

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Columbia River Gorge Pears

It's hard to believe that we are already in the third week of November and that Thanksgiving Day is next Thursday. We had a chilly weekend (in the 40s) and as I was grocery shopping at the East Lansing Food Co-op, I was reminded of how little is available this time of year in the way of local food. For the first time since I started Caroline's Lunchbox, I had to confront a fresh produce dilemma. How close or far is "local?" Do I put an Appleschram or Almar apple into Caroline's lunch everyday or do I expand the boundaries of my local food shed to include Oregon so that I can include Columbia River Gorge Bartlett pears and add variety to Caroline's fruit intake? Or, do I buy conventionally grown (non-organic) pears grown nearby? Before Caroline was born, I would have chosen the latter. Back then, I felt that preserving farmland and reducing food miles were two of the most important reasons to buy my food from as close to home as possible. Organic was important but if we didn't preserve our farmland, the issue of organic would be a moot point. Now that I am responsible for Caroline's health, my decision-making process for buying food (especially fruits and vegetables) starts with whether or not the food is organic. After checking out the Environmental Working Group's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce and their report on pesticides in pears which found pesticides on 94 percent of the pears tested, I made a decision. I do want Caroline to have a decent variety of fruits and vegetables in her diet but I would try to buy organic whenever possible. "Decent" doesn't mean strawberries in February or tomatoes in December. But it does mean that once in awhile, I will buy food grown near my hometown on the west coast. And that includes the Bartlett pears grown near the Columbia River Gorge.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 12: Breakfast - O's, Columbia River Gorge pears; Lunch - tofu dengaku, brown rice, mixed vegetables (frozen Cascadian Farm); Snacks - pumpkin carrot muffin

Childcare Center Menu, November 12: Breakfast - orange juice, Cheerios, Golden Grahams, Rice Krispies; Lunch - deli chicken, California vegetables, bananas, rice, mushroom soup; Snacks - soy nut butter, graham crackers

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Chard and Garbanzo Beans

Lentils and Mexican rice is on the menu tomorrow. This is the second time lentils is on the menu this week. I must say that I am surprised since a lentil dish has not been on the menu once since Caroline transitioned to the toddler room (September). I love lentils but since I don't have any on hand, I am going to pack Caroline one of our favorite dishes for her lunch tomorrow: rice with chard and Garbanzo beans. This is a versatile dish that is easy to prepare. It calls for just five ingredients - chard, onion, olive oil, water or broth, Garbanzo beans, salt. First, I dice a small onion and the chard stems. I saute the onions and chard stems in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on low-medium heat until the onion it is soft and translucent. I then tear the chard leaves into bite size pieces and add it to the onions and chard stems along with enough water or broth so that the chard and onions don't stick to the bottom of the pan and cover the pan with a lid. When the chard leaves are melt-in-your-mouth soft (about 15 minutes or so), I add a couple cups of Garbanzo beans and salt to taste. This recipe is great over brown rice.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 9: Breakfast - pumpkin muffin, applesauce; Lunch - brown rice with chard and Garbanzo beans, sweet potatoes; Snacks - blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards), whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, November 9: Breakfast - blueberry muffin, applesauce; Lunch - lentils, mixed vegetables, orange slices, Mexican rice; Snacks - salsa, taco shells

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Lentil Croquettes

I just got back from the American Public Health Association conference in D.C. The conference was great and I learned a lot about current health threats to our society. The most interesting was MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a drug-resistant staph bacteria carried by hogs that I will write about another day. I talked with Geoff when I was at Washington National Airport - I refuse to call it Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport - and he told me that Caroline's teacher called him at work today. That's usually a bad sign. She has been biting lately so I immediately thought that was what prompted Krystyna to call. But it turns out that she just wanted to let Geoff know how good her lunch was today! On Sunday, I made lentil croquettes for Geoff to fry for Caroline's lunch today as a substitute for chicken nuggets (we're one day behind in posting the menu). He must have done a good job frying them up because Krystyna, the assistant teacher and one of the student aides all took a bite of Caroline's lunch today and all three of them liked the croquettes! Thanks, Geoff for standing-in for me! The recipe is from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. The recipe was a bit labor-intensive but I froze half of it so that the next time chicken nuggets are featured on the childcare center menu, I can just make the patties, and bread and fry them.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 8: Breakfast - oatmeal, applesauce; Lunch - egg salad, 100% whole grain bread, mixed vegetables (frozen, Cascadian Farm); Snacks - whole wheat graham crackers, plain yogurt

Childcare Center Menu, November 8: Breakfast - cream of wheat, bananas, raisins; Lunch - egg salad, cucumber, oranges; Snacks - pumpkin dip, wheat crackers

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 7: Breakfast 100% whole grain toast, apple butter; Lunch - lentil croquettes, hard-boiled egg, farmer cheese, Butternut squash; Snacks - cheddar cheese, Ak-Mak crackers

Childcare Center Menu, November 7: Breakfast - peaches, french toast, syrup; Lunch - chicken nuggets, carrot sticks, honeydew, bread, ketchup; Snacks - cheese, saltine crackers

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Stand-In (Part II)

It's day two of being left to our own culinary devices and we're getting a wee bit ragged around the edges, as judged by the slowly fraying routine. Tonight's dinner, after Caroline's 45-minute nap in the driveway at home (sitting in the front seat listening to NPR I dozed, as well, probably because the heat was blasting away to help ward off the 40-degree weather outside) was: a) a 4 oz. of milk, b) squash mixed with milk, c) corn. We did share one single pinto bean, too, but really never got to "d" as Little C was clearly tired and fussy and not in the mood to do much but feed me kernels of corn or throw them on the floor. So Betty, of course, is right that the post-daycare nap just isn't a good idea. (Though I, for one, felt mildly refreshed.) Betty will be returning to her position at Caroline's Lunchbox tomorrow, good news for readers of this blog and for me and Little C. I don't blame her, by the way. Cold pinto beans are no way to end a cold early November day.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 6: Breakfast - blueberry pancakes, peaches canned during the summer; Lunch - fusilli pasta with tomato sauce (warm), lettuce, one-half of a hardboiled egg, pinto and garbanzo beams, carrots; Snacks - whole wheat graham crackers with another jar of Michigan blueberries

Childcare Center Menu, November 6: Breakfast - fruit cocktail, blueberry muffins; Lunch - ground turkey, taco lettuce, kiwi, lasagna noodles, spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce; Snacks - cucumber slices, pretzels

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Stand-In (Part I)

It's Geoff here, the silent but generally supportive partner in most of the food endeavors in the household. Betty has flown off to the big annual public health shindig in Washington, D.C., I'm sure with some trepidation about the potential for decline in public health in our household while she's away. For those those wondering, we've not (so far) resulted to mac 'n cheese and pizza, canned fruit and excessive numbers of graham crackers. Instead, we've stayed on track, remained focused, played with focus and intensity, and just generally kept our momentum going. (Can you tell it's football season in Big 10 country and that I've listened to one hour too many of sports talk radio?) That is, it's still fresh, local and from scratch, even with the budding local food scholar gone. Okay, so Betty made it easy with detailed lists and lots of good stuff in the freezers and fridge. And okay, so it has only been one day. Caroline is happy and well-fed, too, though is perhaps showing signs of impatience with the fact that I'm hopelessly noso-noso -- that's slow, sluggish and dawdling in Japanese. No, I don't know why it takes me 30 minutes to make grilled cheese sandwiches and defrost the cooked corn. But the main thing is we enjoyed our dinner, even if it was a bit later than usual. Tomorrow is day two, and I may just throw in the towel and opt for fast food takeout. (A joke! Save your letters and threatening phone calls.) For now, however, you can call me "Mr. Local."

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 5: Breakfast - O's and, on the side, a few spoonfuls of cooked corn from the batch we cooked and froze during the summer (a bit unorthodox, I know); Lunch - brown and white rice mixture with garbanzo and pinto beans (warm), cooked corn and carrots, farmer cheese; Snacks - blueberry pancakes and with a jar of extra defrosted Michigan blueberries

Childcare Center Menu, November 5: Breakfast - orange juice, Cheerios and Life cereal; Lunch - shredded cheese, corn and beans, bananas, rice; Snacks - lemon pudding, wheat crackers

Thursday, November 1, 2007

November 2nd Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 2: Breakfast - peaches (canned this summer), 100% whole grain toast; Lunch - tofu, Butternut squash, brown rice, broccoli; Snacks - Golden Delicious apple, graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, November 2:Breakfast - peaches, french toast sticks; Lunch - fish sticks, carrot sticks, pears, bread; Snacks - apples, garlic bread

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Going rBH-free in Michigan

For months now, I have urged the childcare center to buy rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) free milk. "It's too expensive" is what I heard in response. This hormone, also known as rBST, is injected into cows every two weeks and causes them to produce more milk by way of a chemical called IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor). The drug, produced by Monsanto, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration back in 1993 . And despite the fact that Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and other countries have banned rBGH milk due to human and animal health concerns, our federal government continues to stand by its decision. Cows treated with rBGH have higher levels of IGF-1 and often develop serious health problems such as lameness, mastitis (which is treated with antibiotics), and reproductive problems. Is it possible that milk from cows treated with rBGH contains harmful substances such as IGF-1, antibiotics, or rBGH? Well, it turns out that several large dairy producers and food companies have taken it upon themselves to get rid of the rBGH in their milk supply. Michigan retailers have demanded that all of their fluid milk be rBST-free by February 1, 2008. According to the Michigan Dairy Review, "meeting this demand requires dairy producers currently supplying Michigan fluid markets to cease rBST use no later than January 1, 2008." This is great news for consumers and especially for children who drink large quantities of milk on a daily basis like the children at the childcare center. But is it necessary to wait until February, 2008 to begin protecting our children from this harmful substance?

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, November 1: Breakfast - applesauce, O's; Lunch - Julie's tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwich on 100% whole grain bread, carrots; Snacks - peaches (canned this summer), persimmon

Childcare Center Menu, November 1: Breakfast - applesauce, french toast sticks, syrup; Lunch - tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwich, pears, cucumbers; Snacks - trail mix, pretzels

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Was I Thinking?

I must admit that there are times when I wonder what I was thinking when I decided to opt Caroline out of the childcare center food program. Tonight is one of those nights. It's 11:00 pm and I am now just sitting down to think about what I should pack for her lunch tomorrow. I didn't get the childcare center menu until today so I haven't been able to give any thought to what I could pack for Caroline that would mimic the center's meals. But it wouldn't have mattered if I got the menus earlier since we were traveling last weekend and didn't get a chance to go to the last farmers' market of the season or to the grocery store. Turkey tacos is on the menu tomorrow so I have two options. I can either run to the grocery store now and pick up taco fixings or I can pack Caroline tonight's dinner leftovers: whole wheat cavatappi pasta with tomato and meat sauce. I'll go with the latter.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu: Breakfast - oatmeal, peaches (canned this summer); Lunch - whole wheat cavatappi pasta, tomato and meat sauce, Butternut squash, peas (frozen, Cascadian Farm), Snacks - persimmon, blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards), graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu: Breakfast - oatmeal, raisins, bananas; Lunch - turkey tacos, lettuce, cheese, cantaloupe; Snacks - apple cider, pumpkin cookies

Monday, October 29, 2007

California Souvenir - Persimmons!

We just got back from a five day visit to California to visit Geoff's family. We had beautiful weather (in the 70s and 80s). I developed some seasonal food envy when we ate from his parent's recent community supported agriculture share which included watermelon and persimmons. Geoff's dad is on the faculty at Santa Clara University. According to his dad, the food came from a student-run community supported agriculture program on-campus. His mom said that the food came from the university's community garden program. I Goggled both and came up with the CSA (Chinese Student Association) and the Owl's Clover Community Garden. Well, I don't think the food came from the Chinese Student Association (I could be wrong but it's a strong hunch). There were only brief descriptions of the Owl's Clover Community Garden but it sounded promising. In any case, Geoff's dad said he'd send me more information about the program. I wanted to write this preamble because part of Caroline's snack tomorrow comes from the Santa Clara program: persimmons! Persimmons are lovely, orange fruits that are hard to come by around here but are abundant in California in the fall and early winter. There are several different varieties and some can be eaten hard while others are very astringent and need to soften before they lose their tannic quality. I don't know which variety I brought home with me but I do know that it is the type that can be eaten hard. We ate several while we were in California and they were delicious.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 30: Breakfast - oatmeal, applesauce; Lunch - spiral pasta, Navy beans, peas (frozen, Cascadian Farm), winter squash, persimmon; Snacks - Great Aunt Pat's bran muffin

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It's Apple Season!

Eating close to home when you live in Michigan means that from late fall through early spring, fresh fruit is limited to apples. When they are in season, I eat at least an apple a day. I eat them whole, sliced and tossed into salads, and pureed into applesauce. And I dice them and put them in muffins, pancakes, and other baked goods. Farmers in Michigan grown more than twenty different varieties of apples. Each apple has a distinct flavor, texture, and color. My favorite apple is the Honeycrisp - a super sweet, juicy, crisp variety that can last for months in the refrigerator. I love the Goldrush apple, too - a crisp, tart apple that is yellow with an golden orange smear. Organic apples are hard to come by in Michigan (especially the Goldrush apple) but I have found two excellent sources: Almar Orchards and Appleschram Organic Orchard.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 24: Breakfast - oatmeal, applesauce; Lunch - whole wheat elbow pasta, tomato and meat sauce, carrots, green beans and corn (frozen from Titus Farm); Snacks - plain yogurt, blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards)

Childcare Center Menu, October 24: Breakfast - cream of wheat, raisins, bananas; Lunch - macaroni, turkey spaghetti sauce, zucchini, kiwi; Snacks - veggies, sour cream dip

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gooey Ketchup Lids

I just finished reading, A New Lease on Lunch published in Sunday's New York Times Magazine. The title - and the before and after pictures of the author's refrigerator - immediately perked my interest (of course). This humorous first person romp of Patricia Leigh Brown's quest for culinary redemption and rescue by Alice Waters had me in stitches. I thought about posting a picture of my own refrigerator but honestly, I'm too embarrassed. Before Caroline was born, I obsessively cleaned out my refrigerator every week. I would first pull out each drawer, empty it, wash it out with soap and water, and dry it before laying a piece of paper towel in the bottom of the drawer - neatly folded to cover every square inch. I would then re-stack the vegetables - greens in the right drawer on high humidity and root vegetables in the left drawer on low - and then move on to cleaning the glass shelves. These days, my refrigerator is a sorry sight. The maple syrup sticks to the shelf, the ketchup (yes, I have ketchup) lid is matted with red goo, the carrots and bok choy are in the same drawer, and just this morning, I spilled chicken broth on one of the shelves and only had time to haphazardly wipe it clean. The article though, is about more than refrigerator carnage. It's a story about how a mom of two boys (aged 16 and 13) shifted her family's diet and philosophy about food away from Freon-infused fish sticks and microwavable popcorn to one based on mindfulness and the bounty of the Bay Area's agriculture. Her story is one about flexibility, humor, and a willingness to try almost anything. On nights like tonight when I am burnt out on my dissertation and feeling too tired to pull something together for Caroline's lunch, I am inspired by Alice Water's beliefs as described by Ms. Brown that "good cooking is no mystery if you are guided by fresh, local, seasonal, organic ingredients and learn to follow your senses." The centerpiece for tomorrow's lunch? The last fresh, local, organic tomato of the season.
Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 23: Breakfast - O's, Honey Crisp apple; Lunch - fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, carrots, Butternut squash, 100% whole grain bread; Snacks - sweet potatoes

Childcare Center Menu, October 23: Breakfast - peaches, croissants, strawberry jam; Lunch - enchiladas, peas, carrots, honeydew; Snacks - sweet potatoes

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Teething and Beans

Until about two weeks ago, Caroline only had four teeth. Since then another two teeth (top) and three molars have come through. Needless to say, some of our nights have been a bit rough and we're back to sleepless nights and long bedtime rituals. The silver lining, at least for someone like me, is that with an additional five teeth, Caroline is able to eat more foods. Most notably, beans have finally made it onto Caroline's favorite food list. Beans are highly nutritious and even though our family is not vegetarian, we try to eat beans or other legumes several times a week. Beans are inexpensive too, especially if they are bought in their dried form. I buy dried beans in bulk at the East Lansing Food Co-op. I soak about five cups of beans over night, rinse them in the morning, and then add enough water to cover them by several inches. I bring the pot of beans to a boil and then let them simmer gently for about an hour. They are done when they are tender and creamy but not soft or mushy. I fill old quart size yogurt containers with beans and enough cooking water to fill the container but leave about half an inch of space at the top and then put them in the freezer for another time.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 22: Breakfast - O's, blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards); Lunch - Garbanzo beans, chard, rice, pureed butternut squash; Snacks - Westwind Milling Company buckwheat and corn pancakes, applesauce

Childcare Center Menu, October 22: Breakfast - orange juice, Cheerios, Life, Rice Krispies; Lunch - chicken nuggets, zucchini, squash, bananas, rice; Snacks - cream cheese, graham crackers

Thursday, October 18, 2007

When School Lunch Works

I just returned from a trip up north where I visited the Central Grade School lunch program in Traverse City, Michigan. The school's cafeteria was cheerfully decorated with children's artwork, the lights were turned down (for noise control, not ambiance), and every 20 minutes, the cafeteria emptied and a new group of students filtered into the room. The children lined up for lunch in two lines separated by a salad bar stocked with a variety of vegetables and fruit including Bosc pears and Gala and Empire apples grown less than an hour away just north of Elk Rapids and a baked potato bar - with locally grown Russet potatoes - loaded with toppings like sour cream, cheese, and salsa. I joined a classroom of 5th graders for lunch and while I waited in line for my baked potato, I asked them if they liked eating lunch at school. The answer was a resounding "yes!" Central Grade School is part of the Traverse City Area Public Schools and was the first school in the district to have a farm-to-school program. The district's food service director buys apples, pears, asparagus, Butternut squash, cherries, and other fruits and vegetables directly from farmers who live in the area. Some of them even have children who go to one of the district's twenty-plus schools. It was obvious that the children liked the food. They snatched up the brown-skinned Bosc pears, the striped Gala apples, and the ruby red Empires before they took the bananas. And as I waited my turn at the baked potato bar, I over heard a 10-year old in front of me say, "I just love all this stuff." Fruits and vegetables just taste better when they are in-season.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 19: Breakfast - Yellow Delicious apple, O's; Lunch - 100% whole grain bread, fresh mozzarella cheese, carrots, Patty Pan squash, Julie's tomato soup; Snacks - whole wheat blueberry pancakes

Childcare Center Menu, October 19: pears, bagels, cream cheese; Lunch - turkey sandwiches, carrots, pears, bread, potato soup; chocolate chip cookies, cucumbers

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

October 18th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 18: Breakfast - oatmeal, applesauce; Lunch - brown rice, marinated tofu, zucchini, carrots, broccoli; Snacks - Queen's Lace peach (canned this summer)

Childcare Center Menu, October 18: Breakfast - oatmeal, raisins, strawberries; Lunch - Mexican rice, beans, California vegetables, pears; Snacks - apple cider, zucchini bread

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sweet, Sweet, Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are nature's perfect food. They are loaded with nutrients - fiber, potassium, carotenoids, vitamin C - and they are delicious. In fact, the sweet potato is so nutritious that it inspired a class project that I once worked on as an undergrad at University of California, Davis: a dehydrated sweet potato product for infants living in Peru. It was called Nutri Wa Wa and was nothing more than flecks of dehydrated sweet potato packaged like a shiny box of CapriSun. Mashed potatoes are on the menu tomorrow but since sweet potatoes are in season, I am going to mash them and pack them for Caroline's lunch for tomorrow. Mashed sweet potatoes are easy to prepare. I peel them, cut them into large chunks, steam them until they are soft, and then mash them with a fork. I bought the sweet potatoes from Steve Gross of Green Eagle Farm last Saturday at the Meridian Township Farmers' Market. Green Eagle Farm is located in Onondaga, only 17 miles from Lansing. Steve and his partner Chela grow a large variety of fruits and vegetables. Their produce is always beautiful and these sweet potatoes are no exception. Unlike the huge, bruised, and often stringy sweet potatoes that I usually find at the grocery stores, the skin of these ones are perfectly smooth, blemish-free, and the flesh is super-sweet and creamy. Our first sweet potatoes of the season!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 17: Breakfast - O's, blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards); Lunch - tofu, broccoli, mashed sweet potatoes, 100% whole grain bread; Snacks - Honey Crisp apple, Ak-Mak crackers

Childcare Center Menu, October 17: Breakfast - pineapple, French bread, strawberry jam; Lunch - BBQ chicken, peas, carrots, cantaloupe, bread, mashed potatoes; Snacks - cinnamon bun crackers, carrots

Monday, October 15, 2007

October 16th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 16: Breakfast - oatmeal, red raspberries; Lunch - egg salad, 100% whole grain bread, carrots, mixed variety of summer squash; Snacks - Almar Orchards Golden Delicious apple, graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, October 16: Breakfast - tortillas, cheese, applesauce; Lunch - tuna fish pitas, carrots, grapes; Snacks - pound cake, apple slices

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Noodles and Tines

It is finally beginning to feel like fall around here. Our weekend was chilly (about 50 F) and its been raining since late this afternoon. We went to the farmers' market on Saturday and bought what may be our last fresh tomatoes for the season - an assortment of cherry tomatoes and a quart of big, beautiful red slicers. And just as the weather is getting cooler, Caroline is finally becoming more interested in cooked tomatoes. Geoff made spaghetti with meatballs for dinner tonight and Caroline really liked it! Spaghetti and meatballs is Geoff's specialty. He doesn't follow a recipe but the meatballs are made with ground beef from Creswick Farms, fresh thyme and parsley, onions, bread crumbs, garlic, and eggs. They taste a little bit different every time but are always perfect especially on cold nights. Caroline actually wasn't that interested in the meatballs until I gave them a couple of pulses in the Cuisinart mini-prep. She started using a fork last weekend and loved watching me twirl her noodles around the tines. She'd watch, grab the fork, and aim for her mouth. And surprisingly, most of the noddles and sauce did end up in her mouth!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 15: Breakfast - O's, red raspberries; Lunch - whole wheat spaghetti, tomato and meat sauce, zucchini, salad (green leaf lettuce, chard, baby spinach), apple slices; Snacks - mixed variety of cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese

Childcare Center Menu, October 15: Breakfast - orange juice, Cheerios, Life, Rice Krispies; Lunch - spaghetti with turkey sauce, salad, bananas; Snacks - crackers, cheese

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Picky Eaters?

I just finished reading Picky Eaters? They Get It From You, published in yesterday's New York Times. According to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 78 percent of childhood neophobia, or aversion to trying new foods, is genetic and the other 22 percent is environmental. It makes sense to me that food neophobia is in part genetically determined. But 78 percent? I don't buy it. Caroline is only 14 months old and already shows signs of what some would call picky eating. She loves tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese but doesn't care for meats, beans, or egg yolks. She still hasn't shown interest in beets and she won't let cheddar cheese (a food she once loved) touch her lips. I wasn't a picky eater and Geoff wasn't either. Which raises my first question. What does it mean to be a picky eater anyway? And if your child is a picky eater, how do you make sure she gets all the nutrients she needs? Do you hide vegetables in pasta noodles like Jessica Seinfeld (author of Deceptively Delicious) suggests in the article? Caroline is cautious when something new is put in front of her. And it's a good thing. I'm glad that she doesn't eat everything in sight. Even though I am a first time mom of a 14 month old, I firmly believe that repeated exposure and modeling is how to get children to eat fruits, vegetables, and other foods they don't like the first time. It is frustrating and stressful when Caroline won't eat something that I've prepared for her. As tempting as it sounds, I refuse to start loading pancakes with pureed vegetables. How will she ever learn to enjoy beets if they are always disguised as pink pancakes? Instead, the lesson she learns is that pink pancakes taste good (especially with maple syrup). But wait. Isn't adding carrots to my pumpkin carrot muffin recipe essentially the same thing? I don't think so and here's why: my intent is not to deceive or trick Caroline into eating carrots. When Caroline refuses to eat something that I've prepared, I remind myself that children may need up to 20 exposures to a new food before they are even willing to try it. When it comes to most fruits and vegetables, four or five exposures has been enough. And when she sees me (or Geoff) happily eating something she's never tasted, she is usually curious enough to try it. Meats and beans are another story. She only has four front teeth (with two more coming in now) and well, have you ever tried to eat a piece of steak or a chickpea using just your four front teeth (two top and two bottom)? I do think that children get their picky eating habits from their parents. I'd just reverse the numbers - 22 percent genetic and 78 percent environmental.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 12: Breakfast - applesauce, O's; Lunch - tofu, buckwheat and corn pancakes from Westwind Milling Company, Green Zebra tomatoes, corn (frozen from Titus Farm); Snacks - blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards), Ak-Mak crackers

Childcare Center Menu, October 12: Breakfast - applesauce, cinnamon pita bread; Lunch - turkey sausage sandwiches, cucumbers, grapes; Snacks - celery, cream cheese, saltines

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

October 11th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 11: Breakfast - peaches (canned last summer), O's; Lunch - whole wheat rotini pasta, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce (canned this fall), carrots, green beans (frozen from Titus Farm), Green Zebra tomatoes; Snacks - apple sauce, graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, October 11: Breakfast - strawberries, croissants, strawberry jam; Lunch - turkey lasagna, peas, carrots, honeydew; Snacks - apple crisp, graham crackers

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Avocados?

As far as I know, avocados don't grow in Michigan or anywhere else in the Midwest. Advocados are a subtropical fruit and typically grow in climates without frost and with little wind. But it turns out that Garden Fresh Gourmet, a company in Ferndale, MI, makes guacamole. And it is delicious. In addition to sourcing food grown/raised as close to home as possible, I try to support local businesses whenever I can. Every food that I pack for Caroline will not be grown/raised in Michigan and sometimes it will be from another country or continent. And I'm okay with that. What is most important to me is that I make intentional and informed decisions about what I feed my family. Avocados are packed with nutrients (high in monounsaturated fats, potassium, B-vitamins, vitamins K and E) and makes a healthy dip or "dressing" for beans and vegetables. Tacos are on the menu tomorrow. I'll skip the shell but I'll include guacamole in Caroline's lunch.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 10: Breakfast - oatmeal, peaches (canned last summer); rice, black beans, mozzarella cheese, mixed variety of summer squashes, Asian pear; Snacks - boiled egg, Ak-Mak crackers

Childcare Center Menu, October 10: Breakfast - cream of wheat, bananas, raisins; Lunch - veggie tacos with lettuce, refried beans and cheese, apples; Snacks - boiled egg, bagel

Monday, October 8, 2007

Butternut Squash Risotto

Geoff and I made Butternut squash risotto tonight. Since Caroline went to bed before it was done, she didn't get a chance to try it. But it was wonderful and I think that she will like it. The most important ingredient in risotto is Arborio rice, an Italian medium-grain rice. Arborio rice has a high starch content which gives risotto its characteristic creaminess. Rice is on the menu tomorrow and Butternut squash risotto seems like the perfect seasonal rice dish. Risotto is not difficult to make but it does require patience. Risotto recipes usually call for white wine plus a soup stock (vegetable/mushroom/chicken). To make our version more kid-friendly, we replaced the wine with homemade chicken broth which doesn't have the intensity and high sodium content of commercial chicken broths. Every once in awhile I make a large pot of homemade chicken broth and freeze it in one quart yogurt containers. We used two quarts of our homemade chicken broth in tonight's risotto and it was flavorful without tasting too chicken-y.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 9: Breakfast - blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards), pumpkin carrot muffin; Lunch - Butternut squash risotto, tofu, green beans (frozen from Titus Farm), Snacks - mixed variety of cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese

Childcare Center Menu, October 9: Breakfast - fruit cocktail, corn muffins; Lunch - sweet and sour chicken, rice, salad, kiwi; Snacks - carrots, pretzels

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cooking with Winter Squash

Cooking with winter squash can be intimidating. And figuring out how to cut into it seems like half of the challenge. But cutting into it doesn't need to involve large knives and band aids. Before I cut into a winter squash, I take a paring knife or fork and poke holes into it and then microwave it for a couple of minutes. The number of holes and minutes varies depending on how big the winter squash is. This weekend, I bought a large butternut squash from Pooh Stevenson at the Meridian Township Farmers' Market. I love butternut squash for its meaty flesh and long, easy-to-cube neck. It is versatile, too, and can be added to soups, stews, baked goods, and pasta dishes. I probably poked about 15 holes into my three- or four-pound Butternut squash and microwaved it for two minutes before cutting into it. I steamed 1/2 cup of it for Caroline's lunch tomorrow and will use the rest of it throughout the week. My friend Robyn (who is visiting from Vancouver, Canada) cut about one pound of it into small dice for tomorrow night's dinner, butternut squash risotto. Thanks, Robyn! What I can't use will be baked or steamed, pureed and frozen in one cup portions.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 8: Breakfast - buckwheat corn pancakes, blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards); Lunch - egg, Butternut squash, rice, zucchini; Snacks - mixed variety of cherry tomatoes, Ak-Mak crackers

I forgot to pick up this week's childcare center menu (again). I hope that Caroline's meals and snacks will be similar to what the rest of the children are eating!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Communication Mishap

Cherry tomatoes are on the menu tomorrow but they will not be coming from the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm. This week would have been the first week that the farm's produce could have been integrated into the menu since Farmer Tim met with the cook a couple of weeks ago. Orders are supposed to be placed on Wednesdays for delivery the following Monday. But there was a communication mishap and no order was placed last Wednesday. Farmer Tim felt badly and explained that the cook might have tried to call when no one was available to answer the farm phone. This happens often since farming involves work that leaves hands muddy or unavailable to answer the phone. I guess leaving messages is important for good communication with farmers. On Monday, Farmer Tim sent the director and the cook a list of products that will be available next week. But as of today, no order has been placed. Still, Farmer Tim and I remain optimistic that before they are out-of-season, all of the children at the childcare center will get a chance to taste the sweet organic cherry tomatoes grown on the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm. What could be a better Friday afternoon snack?

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 5: Breakfast - O's, raspberries; Lunch - tofu, corn (frozen from Titus Farm), watermelon, 100% whole grain bread; Snacks - mixed varieties of cherry tomatoes

Childcare Center Menu, October 5: Breakfast - strawberries, french toast sticks, syrup; Lunch - fish sticks, corn on the cob, oranges, bread; Snacks - cherry tomatoes

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Broccoli Pesto

Caroline loves pesto and broccoli so tonight I combined the two and made broccoli pesto and served it with whole wheat pasta. First, I cooked about a pound of broccoli crowns by putting it in boiling water for 3 minutes. I put the crowns in my food processor along with a few stems of basil, a clove of garlic, and a couple tablespoons of toasted pine nuts. I turned on the food processor and slowly poured in olive oil until it made a thick paste. I added a large handful of shredded Parmesan cheese, stirred, and then added boiling water until it reached a nice smooth consistency. The color was lovely - pistachio green with specks of emerald. Caroline loved this combination. I have to admit that Geoff and I were only lukewarm on this dish. Geoff pretended to like it but he didn't take seconds which is always my clue that a new recipe didn't make it to his favorites list. The flavor was good but I didn't like the texture. Adding more water might have helped. But since Caroline enjoyed this dish so much and since it is packed with nutrients, I'll probably make it again (with some adjustments).

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 4: Breakfast - oatmeal, red raspberries; Lunch - whole wheat pasta with broccoli pesto, mixed varieties of cherry tomatoes, Muenster cheese, zucchini; Snacks - watermelon, cornmeal pumpkin bread made by our neighbor, Wynne

Childcare Center Menu, October 4: Breakfast - oatmeal, raisins, bananas; Lunch - mostaciolli, cheese, spaghetti sauce, California vegetables, cantaloupe; Snacks - pumpkin bread, cucumber

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Next Go-To Food

Every mom has "go-to" foods for their child -- those never-fail-to-please, easy-to- prepare/no-cook, nutritious (usually) foods that are always on hand. String cheese, mac-n-cheese, graham crackers, peas -- ring a bell? My go-to foods for Caroline are fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. Since mid-July, we have been eating (more like gorging on) fresh tomatoes, cherry-size balls of fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil. With a drizzle of high quality aged balsamic vinegar (or a cheap one mixed with a pinch of brown sugar) and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil, this combination of foods is the perfect summer dish. We take small 4 oz Ball canning jars of fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese on plane trips, to restaurants, to parks, and to the doctor's office. Caroline eats them up every time. And she eats them with gusto as if it was the last time she was going to eat fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. Well, it is almost mid-October and her last time (this year) is just around the corner. I must admit that I already feel anxious. What will replace her go-to foods? Will tomato season end as abruptly as cantaloupe season did? What if she doesn't like winter squash and root vegetables?

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 3: Breakfast - O's, red raspberries; Lunch - chicken, 100% whole grain bread, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, zucchini; Snacks - watermelon

Childcare Center Menu, October 3: Breakfast - peaches, blueberry muffins; Lunch - turkey sandwiches, cucumbers, oranges; Snacks - taco shells, salsa

Monday, October 1, 2007

October 2nd Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 2: Breakfast - oatmeal, red raspberries; Lunch - Vita-Spelt pasta with pesto, cucumber and tomato salad, fresh mozzarella cheese; Snacks - watermelon, graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, October 2: Breakfast - applesauce, french toast sticks; Lunch - enchiladas, mixed vegetables, grapes; Snacks - cheese breadsticks

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Watermelons!

What a surprise! We found watermelons at the Meridian Township Farmers' Market on Saturday. Cinzori Farms had five beautiful watermelons. They were only $3.50 each (a bargain for large, organic watermelons) so we bought three of them. We took one to a barbeque this afternoon and we served half of the other one at the brunch we hosted for seven friends this morning. Caroline loves watermelon, especially when it served at room temperature. I love apples but I must admit that since locally grown apples are available until early spring, I will almost always choose other late summer/early fall fruits over apples. White grape juice and bananas are the fruit servings on the menu tomorrow. But Caroline won't be eating organic versions of these foods. Instead, she will be hanging on to the late summer/early fall Michigan harvest with watermelon and red raspberries.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 1: Breakfast - O's, red raspberries; Lunch - rice, tofu, zucchini, corn; Snacks - watermelon

Childcare Center Menu, October 1: Breakfast - White grape juice, Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Life; Lunch - cheesy rice, California vegetables, bananas; Snacks - graham crackers, soynut butter

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Kabocha Squash Two Ways

Kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin, is my favorite winter squash. When I was growing up, my mom would cut it into large chunks (semi-peeled) and simmer it in a sweet soy-based sauce. Kabocha squash has a squatty shape and has a dark green skin with celadon stripes. The flesh is deep orange in color and meaty in texture. I bought a kabocha squash a couple of weeks ago from Pooh Stevenson at the Meridian Township Farmers' Market. She warned me that it hadn't been cured but I bought it anyways. I steamed half of the kabocha squash yesterday and packed it in Caroline's lunch today. It was good but it wasn't as flavorful as I expected. It turns out that most winter squash benefits from curing. Curing squash is simple and involves holding the squash at room temperature for two to three weeks and then transferring it to a cool, dry place for a month or longer. Curing helps to harden the winter squash skins and heals any cuts and bruises. Kabocha squash (and maybe all squash) continues to ripen and become more flavorful during this process. Instead of steaming the other half of the kabocha squash and eating it as is, I am going to puree it and use it in my favorite pumpkin muffin recipe: Pumpkin Carrot Muffins. This recipe is from my friend Lori who makes them on a regular basis and brings them to school for breakfast. When we study together, she always brings one for me too! Since they are made with whole-wheat flour and are packed with vegetables, they are a healthy alternative to the typical store-bought variety. Plus, they taste great! Since it's the end of the week and I've nearly cleaned out my refrigerator (including the carrots the recipe calls for), I'll have to improvise with this recipe and use what I have left on hand - parsnips.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, September 28: Breakfast - oatmeal, applesauce; Lunch - whole wheat pasta with pesto, Cherokee Purple and Green Zebra tomatoes, corn (frozen from Titus Farm), blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards); Snacks - Lori's pumpkin carrot muffin

Childcare Center Menu, September 28: Breakfast - pineapple, bagels, cream cheese; Lunch - cheese pizza, carrots, pears; Snacks - pumpkin cookies, apple cider

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Local Eggs!

Egg salad sandwiches are on the menu tomorrow. I've never made egg salad for Caroline but since she loves eggs, she is sure to like it mixed with mayonnaise. Who doesn't like mayonnaise? Cooking a perfect hard boiled egg is somewhat of an art. For me, a perfect hard boiled egg has a yolk that is cooked but not dry and a white that is...well, white. I put my eggs in a pot with cold water to cover by about an inch. I then bring the water to a gentle boil, turn off the heat, cover, and let it stand for 8 minutes. If I'm not eating them right away, I plunge them in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. This last step is important. If eggs are not chilled immediately, a greenish ring will form around the yolk and stain the white. This is caused by overcooking - the iron and sulfur in the yolk form ferrous sulfides which create the green ring. I just finished boiling the eggs for tomorrow's lunch. I always boil more than I think I need since hard boiled eggs make great snacks. The eggs come from three different sources. The blue, green, and brown speckled eggs are from my advisor's farm out in Mason. The large brown eggs are from Grazing Fields, an egg cooperative located in Charlotte. And the very large egg is from our chicken. We have two chickens, a Salmon Faverolle and another one whose breed I don't know. When I mention to family and friends that we have chickens, they are more than surprised. And honestly, I am too. I never thought we would have chickens. But last April, I visited the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm and noticed that the lone Salmon Faverolle looked horrible. She was missing most of the feathers on her head, back, and feet - they were pecked off by the other chickens. I voiced my concern and the next thing I knew, I was spending my evenings in my garage building a chicken coop. So, now we have chickens (we got two since they are social birds) and another source of fresh, local eggs. And our Salmon Faverolle (Fav for short) has grown back her feathers (see photo above)!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, September 27: Breakfast - O's, applesauce; Lunch - egg salad, 100% whole grain bread, kabocha squash, pineapple tomatoes; Snacks - blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards), graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, September 27: Breakfast - applesauce, raisin bread; Lunch - egg salad sandwich, cucumbers, pears; Snacks - trail mix, pretzels

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Last Times

Just like that, cantaloupe is no longer in-season. We didn't know it then, but Friday, September 21st would be the last time we would enjoy fresh cantaloupe until it is in-season again next summer. My sister Sophia once said, "It's funny how last times give no warning of coming" after her 2 year old son survived his second diaperless night dry. Had she changed her last diaper? I feel the same way about food. Well, sort of. Mother Nature decided the last time we would enjoy cantaloupe and she typically does not give a lot of warning. Of course, there will be conference receptions, family reunions, and hotel buffet breakfasts where cantaloupe will be served. But it won't be the same. The store-bought out-of-season cantaloupe (which is typically hard as a rock and flavorless) doesn't even merit comparison to the fragrant, creamy cantaloupe we've enjoyed over the past month. For us, eating seasonally means that we periodically binge on on our favorite fruits and vegetables like cantaloupe, sweet corn, and tomatoes. Since the growing season is so short here in Michigan, we never worry about getting bored with our seasonal menus. While we are in mourning for the end of cantaloupe season, we wait with sweet anticipation for the apples, pears and raspberries that we will buy at the farmers' market this weekend.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, September 26: Breakfast - O's, peaches (canned last summer); Lunch - whole wheat elbow macaroni, tofu, yellow peppers, tomatoes; Snacks - fresh mozzarella cheese, Ak-Mak crackers

Childcare Center Menu, September 26: Breakfast - pancakes, syrup, strawberries; Lunch - chicken, pasta salad, red peppers, honeydew; Snacks - cheese, crackers

Monday, September 24, 2007

Observing School Lunch

I went to the childcare center at 11:00 am this morning to observe lunch through the one-way mirror. I was curious about how four staff manage twelve toddlers eating sloppy joes. I was impressed. The children sat in two groups at two different tables and happily ate their lunch. The staff served the sloppy joe in two pieces: meat sauce and bun. Baby carrots (the small ones that you can buy in bags already peeled and chunked into 2-inch pieces) were cut into small pieces and bananas were sliced into rounds. Some of the children ate with their fingers and some used a spoon. The meal was messy but the staff didn't seem to mind and served seconds when the children cleaned their plates. Caroline sat at the end of one of the tables and I could see her eating her tomatoes and picking at her broccoli. My heart sank. I wanted to run into the room, grab the sloppy joe meat sauce and put a spoonful on her plate. But since we've opted out of the food program, I knew that all I could do was watch while Caroline ate (and picked at) the lunch that I packed for her. For the first time, I had second thoughts about packing Caroline's meals and snacks for her instead of allowing her to participate in the food program. When I picked her up this afternoon, I asked her teacher, Krystyna, how Caroline ate at lunch today. Krystyna said that Caroline did not eat well but assured me that she usually eats most of her lunch. Was it the broccoli that turned her off? Was she more interested in the other children's' food? Or did she just have an off day? I don't know but for now, I am going to go with the off day.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, September 25: Breakfast - oatmeal, peaches (canned last summer); Lunch - flour tortilla, pinto beans, fresh mozzarella cheese, corn (frozen from Titus Farm), Early Girl tomato, patty pan squash; Snacks - hard boiled egg

Childcare Center Menu, September 25: Breakfast - fruit cocktail, apple muffin; Lunch - soft shell veggie tacos with refried beans, cheese and corn, kiwi; Snacks - baked potato, butter

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sloppy Joe Dilemma

Turkey sloppy joes are on the menu for lunch tomorrow. But after much experimenting, I have decided that I don't like store-bought ground turkey. It tends to taste metallic and has an unpleasant smell. I can't place my finger on it but the smell reminds me of raw meat that has sat in the refrigerator for too long. I've never tried a turkey sloppy joe but I can guess the ingredients: bun, ground turkey (obviously), tomato sauce, chopped vegetables, and maybe ketchup. I could make vegetarian sloppy joes but since Caroline doesn't care for cooked tomatoes (except for Julie's tomato soup), mimicking tomorrow's lunch is going to be tricky. What to do? And since we've been in Chicago all weekend and haven't had a chance to go grocery shopping for the week, I need to pack Caroline a lunch with ingredients I have on hand. Does color matching count as mimicking?

Sloppy Joe trivia: Sloppy Joes were first created in 1930 in Sioux City, Iowa by a cook named Joe. Synonyms: wimpies, yip yips, slushburgers, barbecues, steamers (source: Wikipedia).

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, September 24: Breakfast - O's, blueberries (frozen from Walton Orchards); Lunch - 100% whole grain bread, Early Girl tomatoes, cheddar cheese, roasted carrots and parsnips; Snacks - applesauce, fennel raisin bread from Bennison's Bakery stand at the Chicago's Green City Market.

Childcare Center Menu, September 24: Breakfast - orange juice, Cheerios, Life, Rice Krispies, yogurt; Lunch - turkey sloppy joes, carrot sticks, bananas; Snacks - peaches, wafers

Thursday, September 20, 2007

September 21st Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, September 21: Breakfast - O's, Queen's Lace peach; Lunch - fresh mozzarella cheese, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, 100% whole grain toast; Snacks - whole wheat pancakes, cantaloupe

Childcare Center Menu, September 21: Breakfast - oranges, croissants; Lunch - BBQ chicken, peas, carrots, pears, bread, mashed potatoes; Snacks - pumpkin cookies, cucumbers

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Preserving the Harvest

Today was in the 80s but for me, summer is officially over. A sure sign of the end of summer in our family is an evening (or two) of canning tomatoes. And that's what we did tonight. Starting at 7:00 pm, Geoff and I blanched, peeled, halved, cooked, and canned a bushel of Roma tomatoes from Titus Farm. One bushel (about 70 lbs) will last until next summer when the first Early Girl tomatoes are harvested. I will use the tomatoes all year long for soups and sauces, including some which will end up in Caroline's lunch. The last batch of tomatoes is in the canner now and in 45 minutes, we will have seven more quarts. After almost seven years of marriage, Geoff is a master canner. While canning for five hours on a Wednesday night might sound boring, we actually enjoy it. After a busy day at work, it is nice to spend time together. We turned on music (the new Alison Kraus CD, a gift from our friend Christine), ate snacks (Concord grapes, Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese), and caught up on each other's day. Okay, maybe we gossiped a bit, too. Canning is one way that we preserve the harvest so that we can enjoy it all year long. I first learned how to can back in 2001 when I was working as an Extension agent in Oregon. I took the Oregon State University Extension Service's Master Food Preserver course and learned how to preserve everything from fruits to vegetables to fish. My friend Marge (who was my colleague and taught several of the classes and who is now a business partner at Portland Preserve) and I spent hours together canning tomatoes and peaches and making strawberry jam. Canning can be intimidating and it helps to have a friend around who knows what she's doing. Canning with Marge gave me the confidence I needed to do it on my own.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, September 20: Breakfast - O's, Queen's Lace peach; Lunch - rice, tofu, broccoli, carrots, cantaloupe; Snacks - Westwind Milling Company apple cinnamon raisin bread, Sun Gold cherry tomatoes

Childcare Center Menu, September 20: Breakfast - peaches, blueberry muffin; Lunch - cheesy rice, California vegetables, cantaloupe; Snacks - smiley fries

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Farmer Tim

The Friday before Caroline enrolled at the childcare center, I attended their monthly Food and Nutrition Committee meeting. Little did I know that I would walk out of that meeting as the new committee chair. When the group asked if I would be the chair, they probably had no idea how seriously I would take this new responsibility. Since June, I have been convening our small but growing committee to work on several projects. The goal of one of those projects is to connect the childcare center to local farms that grow food without harmful chemicals. The committee has been working hard and we have finally identified a farmer who is interested in working with us. Tim is a student farmer at the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm. His brother used to work at the childcare center so he was enthused to learn that we wanted to buy food from the farm. Caroline and I met Tim last Friday and we were both thoroughly impressed. He seemed organized, interested, and willing to do whatever it takes to make this partnership work. And he showed Caroline a neat mobile made of various metal objects. She loved this clanking, shiny, metal thing. Yesterday, Tim went to the center and introduced himself to the cook. He brought her flowers, popcorn, onions, and a big bowl of cherry tomatoes. She was so impressed and this morning, she was still smiling. "Tim is awesome" she said. Tim is going to bring the cook a price and product list on Friday. And if everything goes well, all the children at the center may have a few farm fresh, organic, foods to try in their lunch next week.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, September 19: Breakfast - oatmeal, red raspberries; Lunch - tofu, zucchini, Costoluto Genovese tomato, 100% whole grain toast, apples; Snacks - cantaloupe, graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, September 19: Breakfast - oatmeal, bananas; Lunch - turkey sandwich, pears, cucumber; Snacks - pumpkin pie
 
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