Whole Grains Take Over School Menus

We’re kicking off National School Lunch Week (October 9-13) by celebrating all of the great recipes and creative ways schools have added whole grains to menus! We’re featuring a Chicken Alfredo Pasta from a Minnesota lunchroom and Mexican Rice Bowl from a Florida cafeteria here on the blog and on Tray Talk Facebook.

Whole grain bowtie pasta served with chicken, broccoli and low sodium Alfredo cheese sauce doesn’t sound like a typical school lunch, but students at Spring Lake Public School in Minnesota sure think it is.

Spring Lake - BowtieChickenBroccoliPasta
Spring Lake Public Schools in Minnesota offered a yummy whole grain chicken alfredo lunch with fresh veggies.

This healthy, delicious meal is rounded off with some fresh cut vegetables with whole grain croutons and ranch dressing, a whole peach, skim milk and a whole grain bread stick.  The pasta is made with a white wheat flour, boosting nutrition in a way many students don’t even notice. Take this kid-tested lunch idea to inspire a healthy dinner for the whole family, just don’t forget to use whole grain-rich pasta – visit Simple Nourished Living for a recipe idea.

Elementary students in Sarasota County Schools in Florida had the opportunity to try a Mexican Rice Bowl at lunch this month. The brown rice provides added fiber and the black beans are full of protein, fiber and iron, served with lean chicken and corn for a lunch full of vitamins and minerals. All of this is tossed with salsa and taco seasoning for an added kick, without the added sodium.

Sarasota County Schools, Fla-1
Sarasota County Schools (FL) offer a Mexican Rice Bowl with brown rice as just one of their whole grain options.

Served with fruits, vegetables and a milk, this lunch provides students a tasty, nutrient-dense meal. To bring a similar meal to your family’s dinner table, check out this Fiesta Chicken Rice Bowl recipe.

A wide variety of foods served in schools now have a whole grain alternative, including pizza dough, tortillas, cereal bars, breadsticks, pasta, hamburger and hot dog buns, sub rolls, dinner rolls, and even the breading on chicken tenders. The United States Department of Agriculture has a Whole Grain Resource for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs: A Guide to Meeting the Whole Grain-Rich Criteria to help make the move to more whole grains easier for school nutrition professionals.  Visit the link for some tips to incorporate more whole grains at home too – the more that kids are exposed to healthy options, the more likely they will be to consume and enjoy these options!


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