Thursday, August 30, 2007

Queen's Lace Peaches

Juice again? Tomorrow's breakfast menu is grape juice, french toast and strawberry jam. About twice a week, the childcare center serves fruit juice instead of whole fruit. The center receives reimbursements from the federal government every time they serve a meal. To receive reimbursements for breakfast, the meal must include 1 serving of milk, 1 serving of fruit/vegetable and 1 serving of bread/grain. One quarter cup of fruit juice, if served full-strength, counts as a fruit serving. It's not that I have anything against juice. But for a 13-month old? Toddlers love juice and I know that if Caroline had a choice, she would probably drink juice over milk or water. And lots of it. But juice, even 100% fruit juice, is not as nutritious as whole fruit. Juice does not contribute any fiber to the diet and if consumption is so high that it begins displacing milk or other nutritious food, it can do more harm than good. Toddlers can be picky eaters and if Caroline decides to be a picky eater tomorrow, I want only the most nutritious foods for her to pick from. When there are so many delicious fruits in season right now, it makes sense to give Caroline whole fruits instead of fruit juice.

I went to the farmers' market on Wednesday and bought a flat of Queen's Lace peaches. Caroline loves the rubbing the fuzzy skin against her lips and eating the white, juicy fruit. They were on the firm side today but by tomorrow morning, they should be perfect.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, August 31: Breakfast - Queen's Lace peach, O's; Lunch - whole wheat elbow macaroni, cheddar cheese, cucumber, roasted Chioggia beets; Snacks - watermelon, Ryvita crackers

Childcare Center Menu, August 31: Breakfast - Grape juice, french toast, strawberry jam; Lunch - cheese pizza, cucumbers, grapes; Snacks - pita bread, hummus

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

August 30th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, August 30: Breakfast - oatmeal, Queen's Lace peach; Lunch - tofu, steamed carrots, Early Girl tomato, watermelon, 100% whole grain toast; Snacks - graham crackers, Vienna melon

Childcare Center Menu, August 30: Breakfast - cream of wheat, raisins, bananas; Lunch - fish sticks, carrot sticks, watermelon, bread; Snacks - graham crackers, soynut butter

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pesto Please!

Tomorrow's lunch entree is spaghetti with turkey sauce. I guess I could make spaghetti with turkey sauce using whole wheat spaghetti and organic turkey sauce. But I don't have time to make turkey sauce. Yes, food grown and raised organically is important to me. But equally as important is eating closer to home. And I can't kill myself doing it. What could I make in a pinch that would take advantage of the local harvest? Pesto! I pulled out all of the basil (about 3 cups of leaves) in my fridge and processed it in my Cuisinart mini-prep (which I love and highly recommend for anyone who loves to cook or has a toddler) with one clove of garlic, pinenuts (about 3 tablespoons), a handful of grated Parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt and enough olive oil to make a smooth paste. I wasn't sure if Caroline would like it so I tested it out at dinner tonight by serving it tossed with whole wheat fusilli pasta. She loved it. Or, as my friend Jon would say, she was "double-fisting it."

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, August 29: Breakfast - Oatmeal, AppleSchram Organic Orchard applesauce; Lunch - whole wheat pasta with pesto, white beans, Early Girl tomato, steamed corn, Vienna melon; Snacks - Ryvita crackers, blueberries (from Walton Orchards and frozen)

Childcare Center Menu, August 29: Breakfast - Applesauce, corn muffins; Lunch spaghetti with turkey sauce, corn, beans, honeydew; Snacks - Ritz crackers and grapes

Monday, August 27, 2007

Red and Yellow Mush or Red Zebra Tomatoes?

I am already feeling challenged. Tomorrow's lunch menu is enchiladas, mixed vegetables and cantaloupe. The mixed vegetables and cantaloupe will be easy to mimic since I picked up a beautiful Vienna melon, sweet corn and carrots at the farmers' market on Saturday. But I've never made enchiladas before. Caroline's teacher said that since they chop up the enchiladas for the toddlers, I could just bring in anything that resembles red and yellow mush. I'll experiment with enchiladas this weekend but for tomorrow, I will pack Caroline's lunch with cubed Red Zebra tomatoes which are red with orange/yellow stripes.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, August 28: Breakfast - 100% whole wheat toast, AppleSchram Organic Orchard apple butter, strawberries (bought at the farmers' market and frozen); Lunch -Red Zebra tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, steamed corn, carrots and summer squash, Ryvita crackers, Vienna melon; Snacks - roasted Chioggia beets

Childcare Center Menu, August 28: Breakfast - French toast sticks (processed), syrup, pineapple; Lunch - enchiladas, mixed vegetables, cantaloupe; Snacks - sweet potatoes

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Green Zebra and Tigger

Yesterday morning we went to the Meridian Township Farmers' Market as we always do on Saturdays. But instead of buying impulsively (which I'm known to do at a farmers' market), I had my eye on fruits and vegetables that I could pack for Caroline's meals and snacks for the week. I chose cucumbers, potatoes, green beans, corn, beets, carrots and a variety of heirloom tomatoes and melons. When we first introduced tomatoes and melons to Caroline, she broke out in a rash around her lips. Since that was about a month ago, I thought it was time to try again. When they are available, I buy heirloom fruits and vegetables. Seed Savers Exchange defines heirlooms as "any garden plant that has a history of being passed down within a family." Buying heirloom fruits and vegetables helps to preserve the genetic diversity of our food. Unlike the uniform and often bland fruits and vegetables found at most large grocery stores, heirloom varieties each have a distinct flavor and appearance that has evolved over generations. Caroline loves the different shapes, colors, textures, and names of the heirloom tomatoes and melons that we bought. She tried them tonight and loved them. And she didn't break out in a rash! I'll pack the Tigger melon and the Green Zebra and Garden Peach tomatoes for her lunch tomorrow.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, August 27: Breakfast - O's, milk, blueberries (bought from Walton Orchards and frozen); Lunch - Green Zebra and Garden Peach tomatoes, Eden Organic vegetable spirals pasta, fresh mozzarella cheese, steamed green beans; Snacks - Tigger melon, graham crackers

Friday, August 24, 2007

O's, Milk and Graham Crackers

I don't know what's on the menu next week but I'm pretty sure that we'll see boxed cereal, milk and graham crackers. The center was closed today (year-end cleaning) so I took Caroline grocery shopping with me. There aren't many options in the Lansing area for organic food but there are a few. We decided to go to the East Lansing Food Co-op since they sell milk from Calder's Dairy which is a local dairy that does not inject their cows with rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) and that packages their milk in recyclable glass containers. They even open their farm to the public 7 days a week. What large coporate farm (even large corporate organic farms) would be willing to let you observe their daily operation? And I know Caroline likes this milk. We have been transitioning her from breastmilk to cow's milk this month and this week, she drank 3 or 4- 4oz bottles of 100% cow's milk easily. After picking up our gallon of homogenized (whole) milk, we walked over to the aisles with cereal and crackers. Yikes! So many options of O's. We usually buy the Nature's Path brand but since the package states that they may contain trace amounts of peanuts, and the center is nut-free, I knew we couldn't send those with Caroline. We've tried Arrowhead Mills O's but honestly, they taste like cardboard! We settled on New Morning Oatios (a Connecticut based company) because it had the lowest amount of sugar (2 g per 1 cup serving). The graham crackers were easy because there was only one choice: New Morning Honey Grahams. Maybe a bigger store would have more options but for now...I hope Caroline likes her new snacks.


My 13 month old daughter goes to a childcare center that has a unique food program. The center provides breakfast, lunch and snacks daily and all of the children eat together family-style. In addition, the center participates in the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program and therefore receives reimbursements for each breakfast and lunch that is served. I love the idea that the children eat together. But the food that is served (conventional) does not fit our family's philosophy that food should be grown/raised without harmful chemicals and sourced as close to home as possible. Like school districts across the country, our childcare center operates within tight budget constraints. Even though the cook (yes, we have a cook and a scratch kitchen!) wants to provide the "best" food for the children, she is limited in terms of time and money. Caroline just began her transition from the infant to the toddler room this week which meant that she should have begun eating the center's food with the other children. Knowing that her teacher shared our family's food philosophy, I snuck in homemade, organic, seasonal meals and snacks for her everyday. But the director found out and we got called on the carpet. Before our meeting with her this week, I armed myself with research that supports organic food and rBGH-free dairy products. We met with her (and the cook) yesterday and to make a long story short, we can continue to bring Caroline's meals and snacks for her! Success! The director requested though that we try to mimic what's served at the center. Here we go!
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