Monday, September 28, 2015

Do you want more #RealSchoolFood in your lunchroom?

Join the Chef Ann Foundation, Jamie Oliver and myself to demand school food change for our country. 

Here's why I am a part of this national food fight:
The Problem
  • For the first time in TWO generations, our American children will have shorter life expectancies than their parents. 
  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. 
  • One in THREE of our nation’s children are overweight or obese and according to USDA, only 2% of children in the U.S. eat enough fruits and vegetables (I bet my kids miss the mark some days!)
  • Nearly a third of our children are on track to contract Type II diabetes. 
  • The fast food industry is allowed to make matters worse by spending more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children. 
  • Nearly all (98%) of food advertisements viewed by children are for processed products that are high in fat, sugar or sodium (and they taste great!).
The Solution

When more than 30 million children eat school lunch every day and 13 million children eat school breakfast, healthy school food becomes a crucial part of the solution. For many low-income students school breakfast and lunch is their only access to good nutrition. 

Be inspired by the scratch cooked, kid tested recipes that the Chef Ann Foundation is creating for USA school kitchens and food service providers:

Unfortunately, my District 76 Diamond Lake school district does not have on-site cooking kitchens (just re-heating and assembling by our amazing lunch staff). Last year, our school food provider, Preferred Meals, partnered with our Wellness Committee to provide more real food offerings (fresh fruit, salad bar and less fake food ingredients), labeled added sugar content and increased food transparency to parents. By providing every child with access to healthy, clean, delicious real food every day, schools and food providers can positively impact our children's health - regardless of kitchen space!

It's not about perfection.

Well-nourished students have more energy, are able to focus for longer periods of time, and are better able to learn than those who are slowed down by empty calories and sugar crashes. I know this only too well as pitching out the fake food and cooking more from scratch for my family table shifted Abbie's life, our entire family's life forever
I realize it is unrealistic for every school and meal provider to offer 100% from scratch offerings, and I applaud the efforts that are being made by school districts and food providers to provide cleaner food options for our kids. Reducing pre-packaged sugar laden foods, offering more (off-site) scratch cooked food and increasing school food education are the most impactful ways for schools to begin improving our children’s nutrition, eating habits and educational experience.
The Goal
I used to think that our food education and school lunch challenges were too BIG to solve. The goal of the #realschoolfood campaign is to raise public awareness around the need for scratch cooking in schools and the work that the Chef Ann Foundation is doing to provide operational and recipe support to schools transitioning to a scratch-cook model.

By advocating for #realschoolfood, we are saying:
1.     The food we serve our children at school should be real, fresh, and scratch-cooked. It’s time to move away from highly processed, heat and serve food (especially if your school has an on-site cooking facility!).
2.     School food that is both healthy and delicious is a real thing. The Chef Ann Foundation has the photos to prove it, and the kid-tested recipes and resources to make it a reality in schools across the country.

And they aren't the only ones providing help and resources to American schools and teachers...

Be inspired by the Chicago Pilot Light Chefs Reset the Table event in Chicago! They are re-imagining Chicago Public School (CPS) school food in a BIG way with the USDA and Aramark Foods! Core Curriculum aligned food education materials are available in English and Spanish for teachers all across AMERICA => Join them and download the lesson and classroom materials for FREE HERE.
Use the hashtag and spread awareness via social media to inspire fellow parents, teachers and school administrators to start a conversation about the importance of #REALSCHOOLFOOD.

To the Mullies we go...

Our 1st D76 School Wellness meeting is tomorrow, September 30th! Please feel free to reach out to me as I will share your voice at our meeting: Why do YOU believe in #RealSchoolFood?

**D76 parents: Click here or here to sign up and receive ingredient product specifications for your child's school lunch. I'm thrilled to announce full food transparency is up and running! Regardless of whether your children eat school food, I encourage everyone to sign up, as we are telling Preferred Meals that WE care about the quality of their ingredients. I believe if they continue to improve + increase the amount of real food offerings, more parents like ME & YOU will sign up for school lunch which is a WIN for everyone!! Moreover, contact our school board members today and urge them to strongly consider resource allocation for on-site, full service kitchens in our district facilities plan. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Goldilock's Plate | Happy Labor Day Loves

I made this for myself when I wanted nothing else than potato chips last weekend for breakfast. I challenged myself to make something crazy good from scratch that would help me forget and I began pulling organic vege goodness out of my fridge...

Color me happy, I forgot about those darn chips and created a dish worthy of breakfast, lunch or dinner.

It filled me up juuuuuuuust right. And so I named her:

Goldilock's Plate

1 golden beet spiralized (find some spiralizer gadgets here. I have the Benriner and GEFU)
3 rainbow chard leaves torn (ribs diced)
1 red onion diced
8 oz shiitake mushrooms diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 avocado sliced
2 eggs (All Ways Healthy has farm fresh local Amish ones AND they passed the water test!)
2 T chopped fresh cilantro 
Ghee (or crazy good butter)
Salt & pepper

Sauté a soffritto of diced chard rib, onion, mushroom, garlic, sea salt, pepper in a little ghee on med/low heat for 25 minutes until soft and fragrant. Arrange ripped chard leaves (bite size) on a plate and spoon the soffritto over top. In the same pan, add a little more ghee and cook two eggs (I like mine a little runny). Layer the eggs on top of the soffritto and arrange the sliced avocado, spiralized beets and chopped cilantro on top. Season to taste! Next time I'm going to add a little sriracha!


I'm having lots of fun in the garden + kitchen with our tomatoes lately;) I'm also missing my friend Terri so much. She just translated this lovely post from her home@home blog for me on Facebook and I have to say I'm tearing up a bit...

Find Terri's Dutch home@home blog post here (my browser translates it for me!).
Find her translated Facebook post here.
The delicious recipes we cooked together are included, enjoy!!

I'll be soaking up the last dog days of Summer this weekend and I want to wish your table full of good food, family and friends. Mine will be busting at the seams I hope:)

Happy Labor Day USA!!



Friday, August 21, 2015

School's in Session with Sweet Polenta Blueberry Cake

This cake is delicious.

Find Terri's delicious Sweet Polenta Blueberry Cake recipe here.

Don't have a kitchen scale? Get one (you'll thank me later) or visit this website for easy conversions (I have made a cheat sheet in my kitchen so I don't have to keep clicking back).

School's in session, my kitchen is quiet (for a wee bit) and I'm so happy to be full throttling into Fall.

Here are a few things I'm excited about:

  • Our school district's meal provider Preferred Meals is now providing sugar content information for parents. Check out the menus here. Our district has also begun an email list for parents and caregivers who would like to receive ingredient information in addition to nutritional content. Click here to sign your District 76 family up for communications from the Preferred Meals Team. I am hoping to get in on the school lunch action as soon as that first email comes in! 
  • Introducing The Chef Ann Foundation. They are a non-profit organization that helps schools transition from serving unhealthy processed and packaged foods, to scratch cooking with fresh produce and wholesome ingredients. They carry out that vision by actively supporting school districts nationwide through grant programs and by providing tried and tested tools for school food change and #foodtruth! Sign up for their delicious newsletter here.
  • Food Day 2015 is coming up fast! As a member of the planning committee for Chicago Food Day (October 22-24th), we are gearing up and actively seeking exhibitors, sponsors and partners to help us create a Farm-to-Table experience across the Chicagoland area. Learn more here! Applications are due September 1st. #FoodDayCHI

Welcome back and let her rip!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Part 5 | #FoodRevontheFarm + The Kitchen Notebook

Dear Terri and Prairie Farm Corps crew,

It is so weird having you all gone. These are my favorite pictures from our celebration dinner cooking marathon and my last day with you guys harvesting vegetables for the Libertyville Farmer's Market.

Now that we have cooked and dug in the mud together, I just want to do it over and over again.

So that's what I have done. Made some videos so we can relive our Summer together whenever we want! HA! I dreamt of making these videos when I started meeting with Eric and Erin over a year ago in the yellow farmhouse. 

...Terri, how many times have we said "we've known each other from a past life"!?  

I could write for days upon days about our 8 weeks together. Terri, I'm looking forward to writing more about the favorite recipes we cooked (I'm going to make these dishes with my kids!) over the next year from The Kitchen Notebook. It'll surely be something to keep us warm when the weather turns cold:) 

OH Crew, what fun we had cooking and eating together! Here is my mini film, made around music in hopes of capturing the magic that grew in each of us. It's my gift to each of the Prairie Farm Corps crew members, for the Liberty Prairie Foundation and for everyone around the globe who is inspired... 

to gather more often at our family tables together,
to cook more often from scratch,
to spread farm to table food education.

I give HUGE big love to each and everyone one of the crew. I miss you dearly and I'll be thinking of our Summer together every time I cook, for you are now part of my connected and wonderfully cooked life.

To the mullies we go...



Thank you Food Revolution for the honor of hosting the first #FoodRevTakeOver on Instagram. We had a blast sharing it all with YOU!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Part 4 | #FoodRevontheFarm - The Kitchen Notebook

7.8 | Part IV - Food Revolution Wednesday

.Potato salad with pickled onions and black olives
.Charred cipollini onions
.Salted kohlrabi pickles (we made them for the next day!)
.Lindsey's Crab n Veggie Cakes
."Fagiolini sotto eceto" - Green beans marinated in vinegar salad
.Sweet polenta lemon-vinegar blueberry cake

"I started making my mother's recipes when I moved out on my own - sometimes because I felt homesick - other times to carry on the Summer tradition. My brother did the same with his family. My children in turn know all about potato salad and marinated green beans as the beginning and the essence of Summer and of shared time together. In the spirit of the holidays and simple Summer picnics this week's menu give potato salad center stage."
-Terri Salminen (Find her beautiful Jamie Magazine blog here - Just cut/paste to google translate  or let your browser do the work!)


Dear Terri,

This is so funny writing to you today, as you're HERE next door, also writing to furiously catch up as I am right now. It's been wonderfully busy with you so far. I can hardly believe my luck in life as I have you, my dear friend, in.the.flesh working right alongside me. The air crackles as I teach and learn with you. Can you feel it?

I don't want to think about being in the kitchen without you now that I have you beside me. 

Here is my much belated week 4 recap, the last week before you arrived to the mullies and to the Prairie Farm Corps team. 

I don't know if I will find the time to write to you again here (while we're working together) as I want to soak you in like french toast. In the meantime, let's have tons of fun taking over the Food Revolution's Instagram page together! We must capture and savor every moment

Maple - Vinegar marinade making.

Mia loves making dessert and she certainly rocked making your sweet polenta lemon-vanilla blueberry cake. We decided her future cake shop will be called, "Make Mia Cake".

Kiyan prepared this entire pan of spuds for your epic potato salad

We are working hard to make our "cat's claw" muscle memory Terri!

After tearing up over onion cutting, Kiyan and I try the freezer trick for our poor eyes. It sorta kinda helped.

Rainbow chard from the farm is so beautiful. Kiyan is a pro now at removing the leaves from the ribs.

Such beautiful work Mia!!

I could not have been more excited to teach them how to make my crab n veggie cakes. Natalie you formed some lovely patties my dear. Baking them is absolutely the way to go. I fried them first and we all decided to give baking a go. I may never fry up my cakies again!

I am so proud of the presentations this kitchen crew made for our crew at lunch time. It makes me so happy to watch them read through your kitchen notebook for reference and then teach the rest of the students a thing or two of what they have learned in the kitchen. 

Mia LOVES roasted onions now - clapping my hands and jumping up and down!

Fresh rosemary on a cake!? Yeseerrrreeeeee bob! Absolutely brilliant and delicious!

There's no more talking to you on the line! YOU'RE HERE!!! I have so much to write about now that we have taken a billion pictures from our first week together. I don't want to miss out on one second though. I know I'll have time after you leave. I am desperate for this next week to last longer than the first... I have fallen in love with you and our Prairie Farm Corps crew. 


Leslie, Natalie, Mia and Kiyan made this gorgeous foraged mulberry icecream + Epic Chocolate Beet Cake last Thursday. Isn't it gorgeous!!? We must have the kids keep picking these while they are still good and freeze them for our celebration dinner in August. Summer please slow down!