Top Culinary Trends for 2014: Healthy Kids’ Meals

Although meeting the new school nutrition regulations and standards may seem inundating, healthy kids’ meals is not just a trend in schools. According to a survey by the National Restaurant Association, healthy kids’ meals and children’s nutrition are two of the top 2014 culinary trends!

summer saladIn fact, it is encouraging that many of the food and beverage practices in place at schools are reflected in the current culinary trends. Here are some of the top 2014 culinary trends in kids’ meals, according to chefs from the National Restaurant Association Survey:

  • Whole grain items in kids’ meals
  • Fruit/vegetable children’s side items
  • Ethnic-inspired children’s dishes
  • Oven-baked items in kids’ meals (such as baked chicken fingers)
  • Children’s entree salads
  • Low-fat/non-fat milk or 100% juice options on kids’ menus

Providing healthy and tasty school meals can promote school lunch participation. For ideas for nutritious, flavorful school meals, visit the Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Flavors website.

Train your school nutrition staff in culinary skills and on how to make healthy school meals that meet the meal pattern requirements with JSI’s Back to Basics trainings and other workshops. Resources from the JSI Resource Center that may be of interest include Cooking Basics and Knife Skills, Recipes and Menus, and Calculators and Nutrient Analysis Tools.

Preventing Eating Disorders in Schools

Four out of ten Americans have suffered or have known someone with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are complex illnesses that can cause major disturbances to one’s diet, and often co-occur with other mental illnesses. Eating disorders have been diagnosed in children as young as seven to eight years old, although signs are often not diagnosed until the middle to late teenage years.

Schools can play a role in helping to prevent and identify eating disorders. To advance the knowledge of school professionals on this topic, Framingham State University offers a 4-week online professional development course called Preventing Eating Disorders in Schools taught by Vanessa Cavallaro, MS, RD, LDN.

Preventing Eating Disorders in Schools is aimed towards teachers, school nurses, and school nutrition professionals. In this course, participants learn about preventing eating disorders in schools, disordered eating signs and symptoms, and resources that promote healthy body image.

This course provides opportunities for participants to share success stories. Two examples from this past summer are the Compliments Card Activity and the Selfie-Esteem activity. The Compliments Card Activity, adapted from Boston Children’s Hospital’s Break Free from Depression workbook, was presented by Michele Merrick, a health and physical education teacher at Framingham High School for grades 9-12. The Compliments Card Activity consists of children writing compliments about their classmates on index cards. At the end of the activity, students will have a card with multiple entries. If they feel comfortable, students may also share what others wrote about them. For more information on this activity, download the Compliments Card Activity lesson plan.

Compliments Card Activity

Another lesson presented in the course was the Selfie-Esteem activity, presented by Howie Landau, a Brookline High School health teacher, and credited to the health teacher, Dan Shanahan. This lesson uses current technology in a beneficial way. In the Selfie-Esteem activity, kids take selfies and say something positive about themselves. When Landau led the activity, he noted that the kids initially had trouble with it. However, when the teachers took the lead and the kids followed, the lesson turned out to be very successful.

For more resources to learn about and address eating disorders, visit JSI’s Eating Disorders page in the JSI Resource Center. In addition, the John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition and Framingham State University offer a variety of nutrition and wellness focused 4-week online courses for educators and school professionals.

JSI Recipe Tool 101

If you need nutritional information for snack and food items made at your school, we have the tool for you! The JSI Recipe Analysis Tool allows users to create recipes from an ingredient database and analyzes the recipes to determine if they meet the Massachusetts School Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages in Public Schools. Once a recipe is saved, users are able to edit, share, export into a .doc file, and print recipes including the nutrition facts panel, ingredient list, and allergens. The JSI Recipe Analysis Tool is a user-friendly, reliable recipe analysis program, created by registered dietitians at The John Stalker Institute.

Most of the ingredients in the database are from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25 (released in October 2012). Other ingredients are from the Child Nutrition Database Release 16 (released in April 2012).

To learn more about the JSI Recipe Analysis Tool, visit the application webpage, see the screenshots below, and watch this video tutorial on how to add a recipe.

Add ingredients from the ingredient database:

JSI Recipe Analysis Tool

Be instantly notified if the recipe meets MA Nutrition Standards:JSI Recipe Analysis Tool 2

Print recipes including the nutrition facts panel, ingredient list, and allergens:JSI Recipe Analysis Tool Printout

The JSI Recipe Tool is supported on various browsers, including Mozilla’s Firefox, Google’s Chrome, Opera, and Internet Explorer (IE) 9, 8, and 7 (please note that IE 6 is not supported).

An account is required to use this application. Your account will be approved if you are with a Massachusetts school. Register here for an account with the JSI Recipe Tool.

For more information, visit the JSI Recipe Analysis Tool help page.

Online Food Allergies

Allergy season may be over but allergy training is always in session with JSI’s online, self-paced Food Allergies course. This online course is an alternative to the face-to-face workshop offered by JSI. Peanut butter on breadParticipants will learn the differences between food allergies and intolerances, the most common food allergies, how to read labels for food allergies, and other strategies to manage allergies in their school. Both workshops are recognized by the MDPH and ESE as acceptable training required in the Allergen Awareness Act M.G.L.c.140, § 6B.

The online workshop provides 2 hours of online training. The modules are concise and include videos of PowerPoint presentations complete with narration and some additional commentary. The videos are brief and informative. Additional PDF files with more information are easily found on the content page of several modules.  Real life scenarios are included to allow participants to readily apply what they are learning. The correct answers are explained in a separate video, giving learners the chance to review before taking a short quiz and receiving a certificate of completion.

Tabs of the module for the video, quiz, and PDF as provided on Blackboard

Screenshot of module 2 in JSI’s online Food Allergies workshop on Blackboard.

Three online food allergies sessions are currently available –  register today!

Click here for more information on food allergies including resources used in the workshop.