An easy middle school nutrition/cooking lesson, as well as a good Valentine’s Day salad idea!Healthy Kids Challenge helps kids eat, move, and enjoy healthy balance

Apple-Almond Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 8, or 32 (1/4 cup serving) tasting samples

Ingredients:
1 cup non-fat, bottled raspberry vinaigrette
8 small apples, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped almonds
8 cups bagged, pre-cut mixed greens

Directions:

  1. In advance, rinse and drain the apples and mixed greens.
  2. In a large salad bowl, add the ingredients and toss gently.
  3. Serve ¼ cup tasting samples on each small dessert plates with a fork.
  4. Have kids clean up work area and utensils with warm soapy water. Rinse with clean water.

Per full-size serving (1 ¾ cups): 221 calories, 5 g pro., 6 g fat, 24% calories from fat

Recipe source: (Modified) Education.com-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 6/11.


Taste and Learn Activity for Middle School Students

Materials: MyPlate Poster

  1. Fill half of a standard size meal plate with salad and explain it represents the fruits and vegetables on the MyPlate poster.
  2. Discuss how eating that amount at meals helps kids get their suggested daily servings of fiber.
  3. Ask kids to think of the fruits/veggies they ate yesterday.
  4. Did the amount they ate fill half a plate? Have them draw a representation of their plate.
  5. Ask kids to create a menu using the recipe and the other MyPlate food groups (Grains, Protein, and Dairy).
  6. Have them create a grocery list for their menu.

*This Taste and Learn Activity is from the Explore MyPlate with School Nutrition book, for grades 6-8, page 123.

Red and purple fruits and veggies

Whether your school is participating in the HealthierUS School Challenge or not, chances are the kids are being introduced to many more fruits and veggies and whole grain servings than they have been used to in the past. So what’s the trick to getting them to EAT those healthy choices? After all, it’s not nutrition unless they eat it…

  1. Set up the cafeteria for success. Success in helping them choose the healthier options that is. Have you heard of the Lunch Line Redesign? Or Smarter Lunchrooms Movement? Check them out for ideas.
  2. Spark interest with color. A rainbow of colors make any meal more appealing, and especially for kids. But don’t stop with the menu options. Add color to the walls using posters and bulletin boards, even repainting the cafeteria to make it more inviting.
  3. Rename the fruits and vegetables. Cooked carrots. Steamed broccoli. Sound appealing? Giving them descriptive names has been shown to help kids get interested in taking them AND eating them! You don’t even have to change how you prep them, just change the name. Examples include: “X-ray vision carrots”, and “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops.”
  4. Ask the kids for input! When you ask their opinion on healthy options, it gives them ownership in the changes, and they are more likely to eat what they helped create. Start a youth advisory council if you haven’t already, or create a simple contest for naming the cafeteria or a holiday menu. Taste tests are a proven winner!
  5. Promote, promote, promote. Think like a marketing expert. “Advertise” your healthy options on bright bulletin boards, or with new, colorful name cards. Change the placement of the veggies and fruit on the lunch line so they are offered first rather than last. Switch out stainless steel bowls for colorful options; even stacking a bowl of fruit on top of an upside down bowl gives visual appeal.

Specific action ideas that go along with these suggestions can be found in Explore MyPlate with School Nutrition™, a Healthy Kids Challenge resource. Action ideas are designed to increase interest in healthy eating and help meet the HealthierUS School Challenge criteria. Content includes MyPlate, trivia, bulletin boards, food science experiments to link with curriculum standards, menu planning tips, and fun ideas for youth advisory councils.

For even more on creating interest in healthy school meals, see the following:
HealthierUS School Challenge
School Meals That Rock
Tray Talk
School Nutrition Association

English: USDA MyPlate nutritional guide icon

8 great tools for truly interactive health fairs and healthy fundraisers as your back to school planning kicks into high gear! We’ve found these to be so versatile and easy to use that we can’t resist sharing our favorites. If you need something specific and it’s not listed here, feel free to contact me, and I’ll help you find it. Enjoy!

  1. Setting Up for Success
    Interactive, simple and fun healthy eating & physical activity displays, nutrition games, and shoestring budget activities. Great classroom, learning center, cafeteria, parent event, & health fair ideas.
  2. Ready, Set, Cook & Eat
    Plan a fun, interactive event promoting simple kitchen skills and healthy food choices. Three teams compete in a healthy cook-off while an emcee keeps the audience involved. Use for family & consumer science classrooms, afterschool programs, community events, parents’ night, or almost anywhere!
  3. Explore MyPlate
    An event planning guide for an actual walk through MyPlate. Engage all ages with a walk to understand how to eat, move and enjoy a healthy balance. Set up in the cafeteria, gym, parking lot, football field, shopping mall, city park, or anywhere space permits.
  4. Food Cards
    Looking for food pictures to use for health fairs, bulletin boards, nutrition education activities; or for younger kids, food identification? Download a file of 156 common foods from MyPlate. Foods are listed in an index by food group. Each page contains six easy to identify food pictures and their name. Download, laminate, cut and you’re ready.
  5. Bookmarks
    Sometimes all you need is a bright, fun incentive for a health fair or fundraiser and these are perfect. For kids: front–Colorful Kids Star Graphics; back– 7 “Healthy Me” goals for kids to choose. For adults: front–Challenge Star Graphics; back–”Healthy Me” goals.
  6. MyPlate Teaching Cards
    A handy set of color coded MyPlate teaching cards. Each card provides a simple Challenge message, tip, and healthy choice example for the MyPlate food groups (and physical activity). A great tool for educators and a smart health fair give away for families! Seven cards are secured by a corner grommet, allowing them to fan-out. English and Spanish versions are available.
  7. Explore MyPlate Wristbands
    Another educational incentive for health fairs, these silicone wristbands have debossed wording which reads: Explore MyPlate – Fruits Veggies Grains Protein Dairy. They come in 5 colors – Orange, Purple, Green, Red, Blue.
  8. Health Works Toolkit
    An ultimate toolkit for health fairs, this kit includes all 7 booklets in the Health Works! Wellness in Academics basic kit plus a set of teaching and display resources. A total teaching tools package for events, classroom, cafeterias, after school and more, including: oversized dice, dancing scarves, cones, oversized scarves, cardboard food models, fruit and veggie bean bag seedies, Explore MyPlate teaching cards, and frisbees.

What IS right with school nutrition? An awful lot, actually. I wish you could have sat in on the Choose MyPlate with School Nutrition session at the School Nutrition Association conference in Denver.

One thing that is right may surprise you. It’s not the obvious – healthier foods being served, and EATEN, in schools across the country even before the new guidelines were established. It’s length of service in school food service compared to any other foodservice job…Others (restaurant, fast food, corner store, hospital, etc.) have high turnover rates; not so with school food service.

It is not uncommon to have staff celebrate 20, 30, or MORE years working in school meal programs and that was the case with those I had the privilege to share time with this week at the annual conference in Denver. What is the sticking point? I asked that in my sessions, over 200 attendees in one and over 100 in another and the resounding answers were KIDS and TEAMWORK.

As I shared thoughts, challenges, ideas, and humor, the nod of heads were many and the visits after the sessions heartwarming.

  • These folks are ready for the changes that MyPlate, new meal pattern guidelines and the HealthierUS School Challenge program have brought to them.
  • They are ready to step up and step out and provide leadership in their schools for healthier school environments.
  • They need the tools and the support to make a healthy difference for the kids they serve so well.

I only hope I gave them a few tools and from my heart, the support to step up and help make healthy living a habit!

Your ideas are so simple, so real, so right for promoting school meals, MyPlate and participating in the HealthierUS School Challenge Program. This was one of the best sessions I’ve attended here!” SFS Director, Florida

I needed to hear this! I know my team can make a difference but no one at our school sees that. You have given me tools to step forward and not wait any more, thank you!” SFS Director, Minnesota


Want more on celebrating what’s right in school nutrition? Try these links:

School Nutrition Association Attendees Hear, See, and Do… Choose MyPlate!

School Meals That Rock

Tray Talk

Innovators in School Nutrition – July 2012

School Nutrition Association

Resources for Choose MyPlate with School Nutrition
Whether you’re attending the Annual National Conference or not, if you’re reading this, you’re ready to TAKE ACTION! Lead the way to creating a healthier school environment and meet criteria for both the new USDA meal guidelines and the HealthierUS School Challenge program using MyPlate.

One of our greatest success stories using this model is Jackson Middle School in Orlando, Florida. They expanded their healthy eating options and offered more choices of vegetables at meals. The outcome was a healthy impact on fruit and vegetable consumption! Middle school students (600 total enrollment) are now eating over 400 more servings combined of fruits and vegetables at lunch each day! Read their success story. Engage students, excite staff, and help School Nutrition lead the way by exploring MyPlate.

Explore MyPlate with School Nutrition
A fun, easy-to-use guide with tips and tools for school nutrition services managers and teams. Action ideas are designed to increase participation through marketing and promotion and help meet the HealthierUS School Challenge.

HealthierUS School Challenge
HKC can help align your school with the HealthierUS School Challenge through comprehensive training for improving school meal programs, nutrition education, and physical education/physical activity. We are currently working with 40 Indiana Team Nutrition Schools who receive training and distance assistance.

Chefs Move to Schools
Healthy Kids Challenge partnered with Orange County Public Schools to make their Chefs Move to Schools program and event a success! The event was recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama and Let’s Move! With White House Assistant Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator Chef Sam Kass and Dr. Janey Thornton, Deputy Under Secretary, Food, Nutrition & Consumer Services of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in attendance, it was a very exciting day! Let us help you with your own Chefs Move to Schools program or event.

Creative Cafeterias
Everyone wins with our Creative Cafeteria tips. Tasty, likable and healthy meals are a key component of a healthy environment and provide a great backdrop for learning by example. Try them out and see which work best for you!

“Much has changed in the past year with the change from MyPyramid to MyPlate in June 2011, plus new school meal program guidelines now July 1st, 2012, and corresponding changes in the HealthierUS School Challenge program application. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share with school nutrition leaders from across the country the Healthy Kids Challenge ideas and activities to make all of this work for them and their program. What a great way to help kids by making the school cafeteria the true nutrition learning lab!” — Vickie L. James, RD, LD, Executive Director, Healthy Kids Challenge

I’m presenting a session on Monday the 16th 3:30 pm and again on Tues 17th 8:45am – “Choose MyPlate with School Nutrition” — Vickie L. James

Now ALL grade levels of Balance My Day™ – from Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade – utilize MyPlate as a teaching tool!

Balance My Day™ Curriculum is THE most comprehensive and realistic nutrition education curriculum I’ve seen in my 25 years of practicing nutrition education. This guide is a thorough, easy-to-use tool that RDs, nutrition educators, foodservice personnel, teachers, administrators and parents will benefit from. I appreciate that there are kid’s activities, fitness activities, bulletin board ideas and lesson plans all wrapped up in one book.” — Jane Pelkki, MPH, RD LD

With Balance My Day™…

Move and Learn!
Every classroom lesson is enhanced with an activity that adds more movement to the day! Move and Learn can be implemented in the classroom or to enhance nutrition education in PE.

Taste and Learn!
As enhancements or for cooking classes, kids prepare a simple great-tasting recipe and learn healthy eating skills.

School Nutrition Services activities put the “polish” on healthier choices as the easy to make and appealing choices!

Healthy Kids Challenge® connects nutrition education and physical activity with every day ideas! Nothing shows how to make the connection better than the nutrition education curriculum, Balance My Day™!


Emma Williams
of Harding Academy, Searcy, AR., won a “Chef for a Day” with her whole grain recipe, Fruity Chicken and Rice Salad. Emma cooks a lot with her family. From that experience, she has learned to incorporate MyPlate guidelines in her every day eating. She showed us that by adding whole grain, brown rice and kid-friendly ingredients to this recipe entry.

“I came up with this recipe so I could make a fast and healthy school lunch instead of ‘just’ a plain sandwich.” – Emma

Fruity Chicken and Rice Salad

Servings: 8-10

Ingredients
1 (13 oz.) can chicken breast meat, packed in water
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, in own juices
½ c. dried cranberries
1 c. cooked brown rice
1 medium red apple, diced
¼ c. low fat mayonnaise
1 pkg. whole wheat sandwich thins

Steps:

  1. Drain and flake the chicken into a mixing bowl.
  2. Drain the canned pineapple and add to the mixing bowl along with the cranberries, rice and apples. Mix well.
  3. Fold the mayonnaise into the bowl ingredients and coat well.
  4. Serve as a sandwich with lettuce leaves, or on a lettuce bed as a salad, garnished with dried cranberries or sliced apples.
  5. Serve either recipe variation with a glass of skim milk to include all 5 MyPlate food groups in this lunch meal.
  6. Store leftover salad mixture in a refrigerated airtight container for up to 4 days.

For more award-winning recipes from the 2012 Stirring Up Health Recipe Contest, click here.

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