Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What is a healthy school nutrition environment?

The healthy school nutrition environment is a phrase that's become popular in the last several years as more and more parents, educators and policymakers have taken an interest in how to provide the next generation with the tools for learning to eat right for life. A healthy school nutrition environment is one that:
  • Reinforces healthy eating in the school dining room, classroom, afterschool clubs, sports and special events
  • Provides clear consistent nutrition messages encouraging students to eat well
  • Educates students about the science behind good nutrition, the impact of diet on health, and the importance of an active balanced lifestyle in relationship to food
  • Trains students how to choose foods that support their bodies and teaching them where their food comes from
  • Encourages students to take ownership of their own food environment and food security
  • Enables students to achieve full academic potential and obtain physical and mental growth
  • Promotes lifelong healthy eating habits
Our Wellness Council meets quarterly to discuss how we are doing in our efforts to create a healthier nutrition environment and brainstorm ways that we can make more positive changes. If you want to learn more about the process we encourage you to start by reading this excellent guide from the Center for Eco Literary called Rethinking School Lunch.

Do you share home-cook-friendly recipes?

Chef Andrew often shares recipes for items served in our cafeteria that have been adapted for you to prepare at home. In addition, we have recipes that are developed for our Middle and High School Cooking Classes, the Healthy Living Challenge Cooking Classes, and our Parent Cooking Classes.

If there's ever an item or recipe that you would like to see us feature here on the blog, please just let us know! Otherwise check out the recipes page for a full list of the recipes that we've posted on the blog so far.

Click here to keep reading our FAQ section.

I see that you have a community Food Pledge that states "Food should never be used as a reward or a punishment." Why not?

At Harlem Children’s Zone and Promise Academy we believe that using food as a reward (or a punishment) sends the wrong message to our children and therefore it is not allowed.  This means that under no circumstances should any staff member encourage students using food as the incentive.

This Better School Food article describes the negative impact of using food as a reward quite well:

The ultimate goal of rewarding children is to help them internalize positive behaviors so that they will not need a reward. Rewarding children in the home or in the classroom does not need to involve candy or food. Using candy or food as a reward reaches beyond the short-term benefits of good behavior. Rewarding children with food:
- Encourages overeating of foods high in sugar and fat
- Teaches children to eat when they're not hungry
- Teaches children to reward themselves with food
- Teaches children to connect food to mood
- Contributes to poor health
- Undermines healthy habits
By giving children empty calories as a reward for good behavior, we are saying "Here is something unhealthy for you because you behaved so well." Does this make sense?"

We don’t think so. Especially for a generation at risk of living shorter lives because of chronic diet-related diseases, using food as a reward or a punishment simply doesn't make sense. So, we do our best to teach kids how to eat healthfully for life. Certainly there are times and occasions when eating something special might be a way that you reward yourself (at holidays, on your birthday, after running a marathon), but we're here to train kids how to take control of their own relationship to food and how to find that balance in their own daily routine and for their own level of physical activity. That way they grow into adults who can thrive and live to their full potential rather than struggle with preventable diseases.

Read the full article for a list of alternatives to food rewards that can be used by parents. Also check out this article promoting a healthy school environment and providing ways that schools can offer Alternatives to Food as Reward.

Click here to keep reading our FAQ section.

Where can I get and how do I submit a "food allergy" form?

Submit Food Allergy Action Plan forms at the start of each school year or as soon as a food allergy is diagnosed by a physician to the school’s principal. Your child’s teacher, the kitchen staff and our Health Center will keep copies of the Food Allergy Action Plan form on file in case of an emergency. Forms should be signed by both the child's guardian and their physician who has diagnosed and is overseeing the management of the allergy.

No allergy form is required if your student has Lactose Intolerance although if you want to turn one in so we have it on file, that's fine. Please speak to your student about asking what products contain dairy and requesting lactose-free milk at breakfast. Rice Milk and/or Soy Milk and other dairy-free special items are always available, but not always easy kept as visible as the regular milk.

How do you accommodate food allergies and other special diets?

Food Allergies can be life threatening and therefore we take them very seriously. We have become a Tree Nut Free Zone to accommodate the severe allergy that several of our students have to peanuts. We follow the School Guidelines for Managing Students with Food Allergies developed by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. You can find the full guidelines here.

If your child, has a food allergy it is the family’s responsibility to alert the school and provide appropriate medical documentations, instructions and directions from a physician. Also, parents are required to submit a FOOD ALLERGY ACTION PLAN for their child. You can download or print the form here.

In addition, families should educate the child in the self-management of their food allergy including:
Safe and unsafe foods
Strategies for avoiding exposure to unsafe foods
Symptoms of allergic reactions
How and when to tell an adult they may be having an allergy-related problem
How to read food labels (age appropriate)

Click here to keep reading our FAQ section.

Are vegetarian options available?

Yes! Each meal offers at least 1 vegetable dish prepared without animal products, 1 starch or grain. In addition to those items there is always seasonal fruit at every meal. At lunch and during after school snack, the salad bar offers a variety of healthy raw options and often a vegetarian soup option is available. We realize that as a whole community we need to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into our diets, whether we commit to a vegetarian lifestyle or not. We encourage students and adults to get at least the minimum of 5 daily servings of various colorful fruits and vegetables.

Click here to keep reading our FAQ.

What snacks are available in between mealtimes to Promise Academy Students during the day and after school?

Fruit is always available in the school’s principle’s office for students who are hungry in between meals. In addition to breakfast and lunch, we provide snacks for the After School students that range from carrots and hummus to chips and salsa and are served in approximately 100-150 calorie portions. We regularly change out and rotate the snacks based on feedback from students and what is seasonally available.

What is HCZ’s policy on beverages besides water, 100% Juice and low-fat milk?

We have joined many groups around the city in pledging to have No Sugary Beverages of any kind in our facilities. We are a soda-free school and our staff and adult community members help us set a positive example for the children that we work with on a daily basis. We know that kids and adults will occasionally enjoy some sugary beverage as a special treat, but on a regular basis at our school and within our community we emphasize hydrating with calorie-free water and we encourage parents to limit juice and cut even 100% juice with sparkling water.

Click here to keep reading our FAQ section.

What milk options are available?

Our Milk is sourced locally from Manhattan Milk which delivers 1% Half Pints from Byrne Dairy that are hormone and antibiotic free. All of our sites offer non-dairy alternatives for children with Lactose Intolerance including Soy Milk and Rice Milk.

Click here to keep reading our FAQ section.

What menu options exist in the cafeteria?

We recognize that not every student or guest at Promise Academy will want or be able to eat the option being served on the hot service line. Therefore in addition to our allergy sensitive options, we also offer vegetarian alternatives. If you or your child have a special dietary need please follow our process for notifying the school staff and food service team by filling out an official Allergy Alert Form.

In addition to the primary entrée option, we always have cold cereal at breakfast and a salad bar at lunch. The salad bar offers sandwich rolls, vegetables and lunch meat for students who want to build their own sandwich as an alternative to the main course. Fruit is also always available along with a vegetable side dish and a grain or starch side dish so it's easy to customize your meal to meet your personal needs and preferences while still getting a balanced healthy breakfast or lunch.

Click here to return to our FAQ.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tandoori Chicken Recipe

This dish is made by marinating chicken in a mixture of yogurt and spices, with a high amount of cayenne or chili powder, which turns the marinade a rich red color. Some cooks accentuate this by adding red food coloring, or they may make a more orange-colored tandoori chicken with the assistance of turmeric. Garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, lemon juice, and salt are also typically included in the marinade.

Tandoori Chicken Recipe
Ingredients2 pounds chicken, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, juiced
1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon yellow food coloring
1 teaspoon red food coloring
2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions1.Remove skin from chicken pieces, and cut slits into them lengthwise. Place in a shallow dish. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and lemon juice. Set aside 20 minutes.
2.In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, and cayenne pepper. Mix until smooth. Stir in yellow and red food coloring. Spread yogurt mixture over chicken. Cover, and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours (the longer the better).
3.Preheat an outdoor grill for medium high heat, and lightly oil grate.
4.Cook chicken on grill until no longer pink and juices run clear. Garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges.

Honey Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Honey Chipotle Barbecue Sauce1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
pinch ground pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until very smooth, 1-2 minutes. If a thinner consistency is desired, add a tablespoon or two of water to thin the mixture. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Makes about 1 cup.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Week 8 (Part of an 8 Week Menu Cycle)

Week 8

Item 1
Yogurt & Granola
Assorted NY Bagels
Assorted Fresh Baked Bread
Assorted NY Bagels
English Muffins
Assorted Muffins
Chefs Eggs
Assorted Muffins
Chefs Frittata
Item 2
Hot/Cold Cereal
Hot/Cold Cereal
Hot/Cold Cereal
Hot/Cold Cereal
Hot/Cold Cereal
1% and 2%
1% and 2%
1% and 2%
1% and 2%
1% and 2%
Assorted Seasonal Fruit
Assorted Seasonal Fruit
Assorted Seasonal Fruit
Assorted Seasonal Fruit
Assorted Seasonal Fruit
Greek Cuisine
Mexican Cuisine
All American

Italian Cuisine
Grilled Chicken Souvlaki (tzatzaki sauce, red onion, lettuce and tomato)
Mexican Rice Bowl
Hamburgers (beef)
Turkey Tettrazini Casserole
Protein Alt.

Vegetarian Entrée
Baked Tofu SouvlakiVeggie Burger

Pita Bread
Hamburger Roll

String Beans w/lemon tomato sauce
House Salad
Cauliflower Medley with Herb Butter Sauce

Caesar Salad
1% and Skim
1% and Skim
1% and Skim
1% and Skim
1% and Skim
Assorted Seasonal Fruit
Assorted Seasonal Fruit
Assorted Seasonal Fruit
Assorted Seasonal Fruit
Assorted Seasonal Fruit
Alt. Grain
Fresh Baked Bread
Fresh Baked Bread
Fresh Baked Bread
Fresh Baked Bread
Fresh Baked Bread
**Vegetables and Fruit may change due seasonality