Minnesota Schools Warm Up with Gourmet Oatmeal Recipes

As the cold winter months in Minnesota started to settle in, Roseville Area Schools Nutrition Services Supervisor Angela Richey, MPH, RD, SNS, introduced creative and interactive ways to get new oatmeal choices on the school breakfast menus.

After being approached by a cafeteria manager in the district about ways to incorporate warm, comforting oatmeal to the menu for winter, Richey knew plain old oatmeal just wouldn’t cut it for her kids.

High School students used Nutrition Services ingredients to test new oatmeal recipes in Roseville Area Schools (MN).

“I think the humble oatmeal has undergone quite a renaissance and is more mainstream when you see gourmet varieties on the menus of Starbucks and Caribou Coffee,” she said. “You can top it with much more than just apples or raisins… Oatmeal is a modest whole grain that is extremely versatile and super affordable. By jazzing it up a bit with fun toppings, it’s a stick-to-your-ribs menu option that warms kids up even in the coldest of Minnesota winters.”

The school’s Family and Consumer Science lead teacher, Stacy Werner, was excited about the idea and held a recipe testing session for gourmet oatmeal recipes in her classes. Each group of three or four students worked together to create a fun new oatmeal recipe and then plate a sample for the taste test. Seven test kitchens were set up, with ingredients provided by the Nutrition Services Department.

“They filled out a rating form to pick the winners. The majority received very high ratings so we went for the top four recipes,” said Richey. “We have a very diverse student body with different concepts of what breakfast is, but there were also a few students in the class who regularly ate instant oatmeal packets for breakfast.”

The contenders, in order of most popular were Cinnamon Honeycrisp Oatmeal, Peaches & Cream Oatmeal, Pineapple Upside Down Oatmeal, Sunbutter Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal, Triple Berry Oatmeal, Cranberry Citrus and Pumpkin Crunch Oatmeal. The top four winning recipes were included on the school breakfast menu.

“It was fun to see students who had either never had oatmeal or said they did not like oatmeal transition from, ‘eww, that looks nasty,’ to ‘yum, this is good, try mine,’ in under an hour. The students did an amazing job following recipes, asking for clarity and direction when needed and also had amazing food styling skills,” Richey added.

There is a loyal oatmeal following in the school, albeit still a small group, said Richey, but they are hopeful interest will grow and they will re-launch an even bigger campaign for new oatmeal recipes next winter.

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