Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hot dogs or Pasties?

Tonight was the childcare center's International Night. I love the idea of International Night - learning about different cultures, trying new foods, listening to music from all over the world, and getting to know some of Caroline's friends and their families. But what drives me nuts about International Night is that the center serves hot dogs to showcase American food. Hot dogs originated in Germany. And even if people do associate hot dogs with America, aren't there better examples of American food? Or, since we're in Michigan, couldn't they have chosen something like pasties?

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 25: Breakfast - O's, D'Anjou pear; Lunch - egg salad (Flying Goat Farm), 100% whole grain bread, mixed vegetables; Snacks - string cheese, multigrain crackers, blueberries (Walton Orchards)

Childcare Center Menu, April 25: Breakfast - pears, wheat croissants; Lunch - turkey sandwiches, tomato, watermelon; Snacks - oatmeal, cucmber slices

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

April 24th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 24: Breakfast - strawberries (frozen, Cascadian Farms), whole wheat currant muffin; Lunch - lentil soup with celeriac (Student Organic Farm) and potatoes, corn (Titus Farms), broccoli, 100% whole grain bread; Snacks - multigrain crackers, sunflower butter, grapefruit

Childcare Center Menu, April 24: Breakfast - strawberries, raisin bread; Lunch - cheesy potatoes with sweet potatoes, corn, beans, cantaloupe; Snacks - celery, soynut butter, grapes

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why So Many Cucmbers?

I am so confused as to why cucumbers are on the menu so often. They haven't made it to breakfast (yet) but they are on the menu as a lunch vegetable at least once a week and this Friday, they are going to be served as a snack alongside oatmeal (yes, oatmeal). Cucumber skins are a good source of fiber but the cucumbers served for lunch and snack are peeled. The flesh is primarily composed of water and also some ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and caffeic acid. The latter two help to soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling...Cucumbers are crunchy and refreshing on a hot summer day but I think of them more as large garnishes or cool eye pads than nutritious snacks.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 23: Breakfast - ten grain hot cereal, prunes, banana; Lunch - tofu cubes, broccoli, 100% whole grain bread, pear; Snacks - strawberries (frozen, Cascadian Farms), whole milk plain yogurt, whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, April 23: Breakfast - oatmeal, raisins, bananas; Lunch - chicken fajitas, cucumbers, pears; Snacks - watermelon, graham crackers

Monday, April 21, 2008

April 22nd Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 22: Breakfast - whole wheat currant muffin, blueberries (frozen, Walton Orchards), Lunch - lentil croquettes, 100% whole grain bread, roasted beets; Snacks - hummus, whole wheat pita bread

Childcare Center Menu, April 22: Breakfast - grapes, wheat croissants; Lunch - fish sticks, carrots, honeydew, wheat bread; Snacks - hummus, pita bread

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Brown Rice and Greens

Spring is really here! The branches on the old trees in our neighborhood are beginning to show off their green leaves and the cherry blossoms have bloomed. We had fabulous weather this weekend - in the mid-70s all weekend long. The nice weather means that more locally grown foods are available at the grocery store. This weekend, we stocked up on red beets, spring mix, and spinach. I made one of my (and Caroline's) favorite greens recipes tonight - brown rice with greens and feta cheese. Before going on some errands this afternoon, I put two cups of brown rice in my rice cooker and set the timer for 5:30 pm. When we got home at 5:00 pm, I chopped up an onion by hand and put a bunch of kale and some spinach leaves in my food processor. I sauted the onion and greens together in about a tablespoon or two of olive oil for 5 minutes, added about a 1/2 cup of chicken broth (optional but prevents sticking) and let it simmer for about 20 minutes until the greens were melt-in-your-mouth soft. When the greens and onions were done, I added them to the brown rice, and mixed in about 4 ounces of crumbled feta cheese and a large pinch of dried dill. Voila! Dinner was on the table by 5:35 pm!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu: Breakfast - O's, pearsauce; Lunch - brown rice with kale, spinach, feta cheese, and dill, banana; Snacks - multigrain crackers, string cheese

Childcare Center Menu: Breakfast - White grape juice, Cheerios, Life, Rice Krispies; Lunch - turkey and rice, California vegetables, bananas; Snacks - taco shells, salsa

Thursday, April 17, 2008

April 18th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 18: Breakfast - pumpkin carrot muffin, grapefruit; Lunch - egg salad (Flying Goat Farm eggs), 100% whole grain bread, corn (Titus Farms), tepary beans, banana; Snacks - pearsauce, whole milk plain yogurt

Childcare Center Menu, April 18: Breakfast - French bread, strawberry jam; Lunch - egg salad sandwich; Snacks - ?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Grapefruit from Cheryl

Caroline loves grapefruit. I know it's not grown in Michigan but during the winter, my local food shed begins radiating outward into states like Florida where grapefruit and other citrus is at its peak. Caroline likes the grapefruit sections hand peeled, without the bitter pith. I can tell that grapefruit season is winding down now because the prices have gone up and they aren't as sweet as they were a couple of months ago. But today, my friend Cheryl brought grapefruit and tangerines into the office. She picked it yesterday when she was in Florida! Thanks, Cheryl! It tastes wonderful. Tomorrow, I am going to pack half of it for Caroline's lunch.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 17: Breakfast - blueberries (frozen, Walton Orchards), bran muffin; Lunch - mac n' cheese (with cabbage, kale, mushrooms), mixed vegetables; Snacks - string cheese, multigrain crackers

Childcare Center Menu, April 17: Breakfast - grapes, corn muffin; Lunch - turkey ghoulash, kiwi, California vegetables; Snacks - wheat crackers, cheese stick

April 16th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 16: Breakfast - ten grain hot cereal, peaches (canned); Lunch - spinach and feta cheese quiche, carrots, blueberries (frozen, Walton Orchards); Snacks - white bean hummus, broccoli

Childcare Center Menu, April 16: Breakfast - bananas, raisins, cream of wheat; Lunch - spinach quiche, carrots, watermelon; Snacks - baked potatoes, butter

Monday, April 14, 2008

Frozen Strawberries

Somewhere in the world, strawberries are in season. But they aren't in season in Michigan...they won't be for at least another month. Out of season strawberries are like out of season tomatoes - flavorless, colorless, and so firm that you need a knife to cut through it. Strawberries are on the menu tomorrow and normally, I would just substitute another fruit like those delicious Red Delicious apples we bought this weekend in Ann Arbor. But when I was rummaging through my deep freezer on last weekend, I came across an old bag of unopened frozen strawberries. They are the perfect size for Caroline's Safe Feeder so I have been using them to help soothe her teething pain. Compared to fresh, out of season strawberries, these frozen ones are not bad! In fact, they are quite good. So, tomorrow, I will pack a few for her breakfast to eat with her whole wheat pancakes.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 15: Breakfast - whole wheat pancakes, strawberries (frozen, Cascadian Farms); Lunch - salmon salad, broccoli, 100% whole wheat bread, banana; Snacks - Red Delicious apple (Kapnick Orchards), whole wheat graham cracker

Childcare Center Menu, April 15: Breakfast - pancakes, strawberries, syrup; Lunch - turkey sausage sandwiches, salad, cantaloupe; Snacks - veggies, sour cream dip

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Red Delicious Apples - Delicious!

Just when I was convinced that Red Delicious apples are the most flavorless of all apple varieties, I was proven wrong. This weekend, we went to the Ann Arbor and visited their yearround farmers' market. For some reason, I was expecting a nice variety of fresh fruits and vegetables but since Ann Arbor is only about 1 hour away from Lansing, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that their farm-fresh produce selection was a bit thin. But we ended up buying some wonderful salad greens and a 1/2 peck of Red Delicious apples - a nice reprieve from all of the California-grown produce at the grocery store. The apples are from Kapnick Orchards in Britton and just as their name suggests...they are delicious.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 14: Breakfast - O's, grapefruit, Lunch - whole wheat rotini pasta, tomato sauce, cheddar cheese, banana, corn (Titus Farms); Snacks - whole milk plain yogurt, Red Delicious apple (Kapnick Orchards)

Childcare Center Menu, April 14: orange juice, Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Gold Grahams; Lunch - enchiladas, corn, beans, bananas; Snacks - yogurt, apples

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Teething, Teething, Teething

Caroline is getting her last teeth and has been uncomfortable for the past few days. When she is teething, she doesn't seem to feel like eating. So today, she did not eat her breakfast or her lunch while she was at school...though she did eat her whole milk plain yogurt topped with Linda's cardamom apple butter! To help ease the pain, I give her a Baby Safe Feeder with a piece of frozen fruit inside. She likes this better than the plastic (ugh) teethers the childcare center provides...I will have to remember to pack the feeder and some frozen fruit in her school bag tomorrow. I wonder if raw veggies would work just as well?

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 11: Breakfast - peaches (canned), 100% whole grain toast, sunflower butter; Lunch - whole wheat English muffin cheese pizza, blueberries (frozen, Walton Orchards), raw broccoli and carrots; Snacks - D'Anjou pear, bran muffin

Childcare Center Menu, April 11: Breakfast - peaches, bagels, cream cheese; Lunch - cheese pizza, salad, watermelon; Snacks - monkey bread, pears

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Linda's Cardamom Apple Butter

When we moved to Michigan almost four years ago, my friend Linda gave me a box of fruits and vegetables that she had canned that summer - prunes soaked in armagnac, rhubarb nectar, pickled carrots, dilly beans, strawberry sauce - a gift of labor and love. I savored each jar and shared them only with our family and closest friends. I thought I had eaten everything in the box long ago but this weekend, I found a jar of Linda's cardamom apple butter in the back of my pantry. I opened it on Sunday morning to share with our friends Anne and David and their son Quinn who came over for a pancake breakfast. It was delicious. After they left, we ate it as a spread on a slice of Zingerman's 8-grain 3-seed bread toasted with butter. And if I didn't have to worry about my waistline (which I don't do often but somehow eating a whole stick of butter, a loaf of bread, and a jar of cardamom apple butter seems a bit excessive) I would have eaten the entire spread in one sitting. There is only a few tablespoons of the cardamom apple butter left. Caroline loved it so tomorrow, I will put a dollop of it on top of her yogurt for her afternoon snack.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 9: Breakfast - banana oat muffin, pearsauce; Lunch - winter squash and chicken stew with Indian spices, 100% whole grain bread, mixed vegetables; Snacks - whole milk plain yogurt, cardamom apple butter, whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, April 9: Breakfast - applesauce, blueberry muffins; Lunch - BBQ chicken, salad, honeydew, wheat bread, mashed potatoes; Snacks - trail mix, watermelon

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Red Beets - Success!

I am not packing beets in Caroline's lunch tomorrow but I just had to write that she finally ate them! Well, she didn't exactly eat the beets but she ate the stems and that is close enough for me. I made braised beet greens tonight for dinner and while I was chopping up the stems, several pieces dropped on the floor. Caroline picked them up one by one and said "beet" and ate each piece. I put cooked stems on her plate for dinner and she happily ate them up. Success!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 9: Breakfast - ten grain hot cereal, banana, prunes; Lunch - salmon salad, 100% whole grain bread, D'Anjou pear, carrots; Snacks - whole grain crackers, string cheese

Childcare Center Menu, April 9: Breakfast - oatmeal, bananas, raisins; Lunch - tuna fish on pita, cucumbers, pears; Snacks - saltines, cheese

April 8th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 8: Breakfast - bran muffin, D'Anjou pear; Lunch - black bean croquettes, 100% whole grain toast, mozzarella cheese, broccoli; Snacks - hard boiled egg, blueberries (frozen, Walton Orchards)

Childcare Center Menu, April 8: Breakfast - strawberries, wheat bagels, cream cheese; Lunch - hard shell turkey tacos with lettuce and cheese, cantaloupe; Snacks - Smiley fries, grapes

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Red Beets - Spring is Finally Here!

Spring is really here! We had an absolutely gorgeous weekend here in Lansing, Michigan with blue skies, warm, sunny, perfect spring weather. On Saturday, locally grown beets were available at the East Lansing Food Co-op! I bought two bunches of beautiful red beets with their leaves attached. Tonight, I made beet (with their greens) risotto for dinner and it was delicious. I served it with broiled tilapia (seasoned with minced garlic, salt, white wine, lemon juice) and corn from Titus Farms that I froze last summer. Caroline liked the fish and loved the corn...but the beet risotto? I'm sure that if she tried it she would have liked it. But she wouldn't even bring it near her lips. She loves rice but no matter how many times I told her it was rice, she wouldn't give it a try. Last summer, I introduced red beets to Caroline on several different occasions and she held hard and fast to her rule - No red beets! Now that I think about it, maybe it was my persistence that turned her off the beets... I'll introduce the beets to her again later this week. And Geoff and I will enjoy the beet risotto leftovers in our lunch tomorrow.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 7: Breakfast - O's, pearsauce; Lunch - whole wheat rotini pasta, tomato meat sauce, banana, edamame; Snacks - whole milk plain yogurt, blueberries

Childcare Center Menu, April 7: Breakfast - white grape juice, Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Life; Lunch - baked mostaciolli, mixed vegetables, bananas; Snacks - lemon pudding, graham crackers

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Parent Appreciation Breakfast

April is the Month of the Young Child and Caroline's childcare center has planned activities and special events throughout the month to recognize and celebrate young children and their families. This morning was the Parent Appreciation Breakfast. As much as I appreciate being appreciated, I was so disappointed to see the huge bowl of fresh fruit on the buffet table. And no, it wasn't because the fruit wasn't organic or local...I am not that ungrateful. It was because while parents ate fresh fruit for breakfast, the children at the center ate fruit cocktail. When I was growing up, fruit cocktail was something that I ate for dessert as a topping on mango pudding...even then I picked out the artificially colored red Maraschino cherries. The Month of the Young Child was established to recognize that early childhood (from birth to 8 years) lay the foundation for children's success in school and later in life. It is ironic then that a food that I (and other parents) consider dessert would be served to the children for breakfast, the most important meal of the day. But what is more disturbing is that by serving parents fresh fruit and children fruit cocktail, the center sent a clear message -- children do not deserve to eat the same high quality food as adults.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 4: Breakfast - ten grain cereal, prunes, banana; Lunch - lentil croquettes, D'Anjou pear, 100% whole grain bread, mixed vegetables; Snacks - grapefruit, graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, April 4: Breakfast - oatmeal, raisins, grapes; Lunch - chicken nuggets, cucmbers, pears, wheat bread; Snacks - oranges, chocolate chip cookies

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April 2nd Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 2: Breakfast - bran muffin, D'Anjou pear; Lunch - brown rice, baked and marinated tofu, broccoli, grapefruit; Snacks - blueberries, whole milk plain yogurt, whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, April 2: Breakfast - pineapple, flour tortillas with cheese; Lunch - lentils, rice, California vegetables, oranges; Snacks - grapes, graham crackers
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