Promoting a Healthy School Environment

Today’s school celebrations, fundraisers and rewards typically include candy, cupcakes, soda, ice cream, and other junk food.  While it is true that there is nothing wrong with an occasional treat, the reality is that these treats are not just occasional.  Children are bombarded with unhealthy foods at home, at school, at sporting activities, at social clubs, at church, at friends houses, at restaurants, etc.  What used to be occasional has become far too frequent.  Most children’s eating habits are poor with not enough fruits and vegetables and too much processed grains, processed sugars, and bad fats.  One needs only to look at the startling rates of obesity and the rise of adult-type diseases in our children.  Parents are now outliving their children!  By providing the children of Still Elementary more nutritious food choices, we can make a difference  in their lives and possibly prevent them from becoming another statistic!!!

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Parents:  Send healthy snacks with your child, bring healthy foods or alternative treats for celebrations

PTSA Volunteers:  Plan & encourage healthy celebrations, focus on healthy fundraisers, establish healthy rewards

Teachers:  Eliminate food rewards, encourage healthy snacks from home, teach students good health habits.

Everyone:  Try something new, be positive, and create change!

Benefits of Healthy Snacks, Celebrations and Rewards

Healthy Kids Learn Better:  Research clearly demonstrates that good nutrition is linked to better behaviors and academic performance.

Provides Consistent Messages:  Providing healthy foods supports the classroom lessons students are learning about health, rather than contradicting them.  This also promotes good lifestyle choices which can reduce student health risks and improve learning.

Promotes a Healthy School Environment – With children  bombarded from every angle with bad food choices,  our school can provide a safe atmosphere for nutrition.  This ultimately enhances the learning environment.

Discourages the Development of Emotional Eating-   Linking food with behavior or performance results in an emotional attachment to food.  This often results in in eating when not hungry, developing a habit of rewarding themselves with food, and can lead to serious health consequences.

Creates Excitement About Nutrition:  Children are excited about new and different things, including fun party activities and healthy snacks.  Contrary to popular belief, children do not need or demand cakes, candy, etc as rewards.  Alternative rewards are just as appreciated and usually more effective.

Protects Children with Food Allergies:  When parents send in food, it is difficult to ensure the safety of children with food allergies and makes it hard to avoid singling out students.

Examples of Alternative Rewards:

  • Social Rewards – attention, praise, etc
  • Recognition – trophy, ribbon, morning announcement, photo, phone call home to parents, etc.
  • Privileges – going first, homework pass, extra recess, eating lunch with a friend or teacher, picking their own seat
  • Show n Tell – demonstrate a talent, or a prized possession, read a book to the class, etc.
  • School Supplies – special pencil, stamps, bookmarks, etc.
  • Toys/Trinkets – water bottles, stickers, puzzles, tops, balloons, tattoos, magnets, books, etc.
  • Point System – earn points for a larger “prize” like movie tickets, bookstore gift card, book, game, etc.

Healthy Food Ideas:

  • Fresh Fruit (cut or put on skewers)
  • Dried Fruit
  • Vegetable trays with different dips (like hummus, guacamole)
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Cheese
  • Air popped organic popcorn in party bags
  • Turkey or PBJ sandwiches on wheat bread or wrap
  • Yogurt (check for sugar and/or artificial sweeteners)
  • Smoothies
  • Trail Mix – make your own or check ingredients
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Sprouted Grain Crackers with Peanut or Almond Butter
  • Healthy tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole
  • Mini Bean Burrito
  • Frozen bananas or grapes
  • Hard cooked eggs

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Advanced Plan & Core Plan

Makes 2 small (individual sized) pizzas

Almond Flaxmeal Crust – for recipe, click here
Cooked Organic Chicken, chopped
Homemade Barbeque Sauce – for recipe, click here
Raw Organic Cheddar Cheese
Handful sliced red onion

Prepare Almond Flaxmeal Crust and cook according to directions.  Prepare homemade barbeque sauce.  Spread barbeque sauce on crusts and top with chicken, onion, and cheddar cheese.

Notes:

CHICKEN:  For a quick way to prepare chicken if you don’t have any on hand.  Take a breast or 2 and pound to 1/4 inch thickness with a meat mallet.  Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder and sautee in grapeseed oil until browned and cooked through

CHEESE:  The best cheese for this recipe is Beyond Organic Cheddar.

Oven Roasted Chicken with Red Pepper Sauce

This is one of those “go-to” meals that is easy to do, uses common ingredients, is great for lunch the next day, and is appealing to everyone.  When buying red bell peppers, buy a few extra.  When you get them home, seed and slice the ones you have left, wrap them in parchment paper, put in a freezer bag and save for later.  You can use the frozen peppers in this sauce, to add to stir frys, soups, hummus, etc.

Serves:  4

Advanced & Core Plan

2 organic red bell peppers

3-4 cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tbsp smoked paprika

Zest + Juice of 2 limes

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp dried cumin

1 teaspoon sea salt

6 Chicken breasts or chicken parts (bone-in, skin removed if desired)

1 cup organic chicken stock

Cilantro, for garnish

Process all ingredients (except chicken and cilantro) in a food processor until smooth.  Pour over chicken and marinate for 4hrs to overnight.

Heat skillet to med-high heat and add 1-2 tablespoons coconut or grapeseed oil.  Brown chicken for about 10 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a baking dish.  Add remaining marinade and 1 cup chicken stock.  Bake at 350 degrees for another 25-30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.

Garnish with cilantro if desired

Brined Holiday Turkey

This was by far, the best holiday turkey I’ve made to date.  The brining process guarantees a tender, flavorful turkey.  You will not believe the difference!  After brining, I follow my “regular” turkey recipe from my book.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • cold water to completely cover turkey

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place salt, lemons, oranges, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and pepper into a large pot. Place the turkey in the pot, and fill with water and two large bowls of ice. Refrigerate overnight. Discard brine after removing turkey.
  2. Proceed with your normal turkey preparation process (you will not need much salt because the turkey will already be salty from the brine)

Here was the final result, golden, moist, and delicious!