Monday, December 19, 2011

5 Weeks in School Food Service: A Wrap-Up

Those 5 weeks sure flew by, partially I believe because of Thanksgiving break and then there was also a snow day.  Add in 3 “class days” and I really only got to spend 19 days instead of 25! But I still managed to complete all my necessary competencies and have a lot of fun at the same time.

One of the first things I had to learn was what is considered a “reimbursable meal” by the government.  Of course there are a lot of changes that will be taking place in the next couple of years but as of now they can offer 5 items (meat/meat alternate, grains, vegetable, fruit, milk) and if the student takes 3 out of 5 items, the meal is reimbursable.  The biggest qualm I had with the video I watched was that 1 egg counted as 2 meat servings. What is that all about? For breakfast, 4 items must be offered and 3 chosen for a reimbursable meal.  In this instance, a student could choose 1 hardboiled egg and a milk carton and it would be counted because according to the national school breakfast program that is equivalents to 2 meats and 1 milk (3 items). However, if the student chooses a bagel and a milk, it only counts as 2 items because a whole bagel is considered 1 grain serving.  Alright now, bagels these days are twice the size they used to be, about 6 inches in diameter and the equivalent of 3-4 slices of bread. How can that count as 1 grain serving, yet 1 egg is going to be counted as 2 meat servings? I’m so glad these rules are getting revamped.

Done venting. Kind of Winking smile

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed my rotation. But I think there is a lot that needs to be changed.  The menu rotated the same items monthly so there was a lot of variation from week to week but the options weren’t the greatest. Chicken Nuggets, Popcorn Chicken, Mini Corn Dogs, Pizza Sticks, Nachos, Hamburgers. And that’s just the elementary school! The middle and high schools have those items on the main menu as well but they also have “specialty bar” daily consisting of a rotating schedule of taco bar, country chicken bar, burger bar, deli bar……. And EVERY DAY if the kids don’t like the main entrĂ©e or the specialty bar they have the options of cheeseburger, chicken sandwich, and pizza.  Now they do have salads, yogurt, string cheese, fruit, and vegetables to offer but I did not witness many students taking these options.  The vegetables were typically frozen which nutritionally is great but they looked unappealing. Overcooked broccoli stems and asparagus bits. Even I didn’t want to eat it just by looking at it.  And the fruit was often hard to see amidst the rest of the options. Oh but don’t worry there are cookies right before the end of the line.  And they put out more chocolate milk than anything else. Heck they didn’t even have skim milk at all because the kids wouldn’t take it!

Oh the work that needs to be done in getting kids to like healthier foods……

I did have some breakthroughs.  I held a taste test for maple roasted sweet potatoes which were a hit (among the kids brave enough to actually try it).  The food service director was so pleased that he added it to the menu the next week.

I also had to do a theme meal while I was there so I took over the specialty bar and had a Mediterranean meal.


I prepared Chicken with Tzatziki


Pitas with Hummus, Tomato, & Lettuce


Cucumber-Tomato Salad


Greek Pasta Salad


and even had small servings of Baklava. We also set out grapes because I noticed that is the one fruit the kids go crazy for.  The meal went pretty well.  The kids were interested in trying something new and some were even glad to see fresh vegetables.

Besides spending time in the kitchen and serving the kiddos, I also had to do some education components.  My first week I actually had to give a presentation to the high school wrestling team! It was my first time teaching older kids and I thought it went well. You just gotta take what they throw at you and throw it back to them.  Don’t let them walk all over you, otherwise you’ll get nowhere in presenting the information.  Later in my rotation I also gave a lesson on MyPlate to a 3rd grade class.  That was a lot of fun – they were so smart!  We made lists of foods to go in each group and they came up with some amazing ones like artichoke and pomegranate. I had no idea 3rd graders knew what those were!  I also brought some food for them to make their own trail mix with chex, sunflower seeds, and raisins.

So of course there was more but those were the major projects.  When I was learning about food service in school, I was so bored and it was my least favorite.  When applying for internships, I thought that food service would be the worst out of the the three areas (food service, community, and clinical).  However, now that I’ve finished both food service rotations (hospital and school) and ABSOLUTELY LOVED both of them, I know that it’s not as bad as I once thought it was.  In fact, I could totally see myself as a school food service director one day!  Of course I’ll be that kick-butt one that strives to give the students healthier options. Smile

I’ve got a pretty special rotation going on this week too which I’ll fill you in on later. Then it’s back home for a week, first time since I started my internship in August!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Run Like the Dickens – Round Two

Last year around this time I made my way to Michigan for my internship interview and it happened to be the weekend of the Run Like the Dickens 5k in Holly.  Shortly before (less than a month I’d say) I begun “training”, really getting into running for the first time.  My first 5k was more walk than run and I finished in 41:14, a 13:17 pace.

This past Saturday I decided to go for it again.  Now this will have been my 4th race (Run Like the Dickens 2010, Warrior Dash 2011, Great Turtle Run 2011, Run Like the Dickens 2011).

I awoke bright and early on Saturday, ate a slight of toast with p.b. and a banana, drank a cup of coffee and checked the temperature.  It was an extremely chilly 12 degrees.  I ended up wearing two pairs of yoga pants because I don’t own any running tights, a running turtleneck, and an active wear coat.  Many many layers, but after freezing my butt off last year and it was even warmer then, I figured I would need it.  Turns out I was right.


Don’t I look cold? That’s me with my Uncle Steve by the way.  He wasn’t as cold as me Smile

It was so cold in fact that at the start of the race, they announced that we needed to be careful because the salt wasn’t melting the ice. Oh joy.

It turned out to be a great run though.  At the beginning my feet were numb and I was a little worried.  But by the time I got to the first mile I could feel my feet and by the time I reached a mile and a half, my whole body was feeling good.  Even my breathing was fine which is unusual for me when running in cold water.  I was warmed up and feeling great.  Until I hit mile 2 when my left knee started to hurt.  That darn knee always screws me up.  So I did some speed walking and tried to run some more but I didn’t do much until the last 0.1 where I sprinted.

I came in at 35:54, a 11:34 pace.  That’s 5 minutes and 20 seconds taken off my time from last year!  I was so excited! But I could only imagine what my time would have been if I didn’t have to stop for my knee.

So I’m pretty darn proud of myself for that one.  I bought a knee brace the other day to see if that will help me from now on.  I’m not signed up for any more races at the moment but I hope to be soon Open-mouthed smile And who knows, maybe I’ll have to make it an annual trip to MI to relive my inaugural race.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

So Far So Good…..Except For One Little Thing

It’s been two days since I set new goals for myself and so far I’ve been pretty good, though since I’ve been home all weekend that has made it easier to eat better. Meaning I’ve had lots of time to spend in the kitchen (my favorite room of the house)!

Yesterday for breakfast I enjoyed what I consider my trademark eggs – Spinach & Feta.  There’s even a diner down the street that has a spinach and feta omelet and guess what it’s called???? The NEW YORK omelet! How appropriate Open-mouthed smile


MIne is less omelet, more scramble due to the fact that I always seem to get the stuff to the bottom of the pan.  I can only work with non-stick. Stainless steel hates me.

+ 2 clementines since they’re in season!

And this morning I enjoyed a couple more clementines along with another delicious item


Last night I made PreventionRD’s Vegan Pumpkin Gingerbread! I made a lot of good things this weekend but this is the only snapshot so far.  Whenever I try to take “the process” photos they just look awful. I’ll have to work on that.

I also made tzatziki and roasted garlic hummus last night, all while listening (and slightly watching) Christmas movies.  I know I said I was limiting tv time to less than 2 hours but since I was really in the kitchen with the tv on in the background I didn’t think it counted LOL. I listened to Babes in Toyland while cooking, actually sat down and watched It’s A Wonderful Life (my first time seeing the whole thing at once), and then listened to A Christmas Carol (the Jim Carrey version) while cleaning the house.  I didn’t pay full attention to A Christmas Carol obviously, plus the vacuum was loud, but I didn’t really like it.

My kitchen adventures continued today (even overnight actually) with my black bean soup.  I had to soak the beans overnight, cook them this morning, and then finally make the soup.  What a long process!  This time I just turned on the Christmas radio station Smile. So I’ve got a lot of healthy, homemade options to eat this week after all the kitchen love.

I did get my booty to exercise today despite the gloomy weather.  I took advantage of Netflix and did Crunch: Bootcamp.

…………..Now for the bad news. Awful news. For me at least.  I let the direct domain that I bought for my blog expire back in September and I just never renewed it.  It’s only $10 for the year but I’m unbelievably broke and just didn’t do it.  I honestly didn’t think anyone else would buy.  But when I looked yesterday, someone did.  I’m mad, disappointed, frustrated.  I came up with the name and someone basically just stole it.  It doesn’t even seem like a legit site either.  So from now on DO NOT go directly to .  To get to my blog you have to go to

It won’t be bad forever anyway because I was considering starting a new blog next year once I get my RD licensure.  When that time comes, I’ll let ya know.

Alright, tomorrow is Monday again. Only 2 more weeks left of my school food service rotation and lots to do! Full re-cap will follow completion of the rotation.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why Wait Until January 1st?

So it’s been a while, almost a month, since my last post.  Honestly I’ve been lacking inspiration about what I wanted to write that wasn’t going to be just “this is what I ate today” or something to that effect.  I still don’t take as many pictures as I used to (I swear my camera battery dies in 2 seconds) and I just want to write more meaningful posts.  With that said, although today is the second day of December, this morning I came up with what I wanted to do and what I wanted to write.

I’m going to give myself some goals for December.  Why wait until January 1st?  If it’s something I really want to focus on, I’m not going to wait until the new year to make a resolution that is just going to discarded like it was never even thought about.  I honestly believe that since I’ve started my internship I’ve eaten more fast food and pizza (out of convenience) than ever before.  How is that going to work if I’m telling other people not to do that?  I’ve been seriously slacking and need to take responsibility.

Goal #1: Re-focus on whole, unprocessed foods.

I’ve already begun this by loading up on my fruits and veggies the past few days.  But I tell ya, a big ol’ bowl of cold salad greens is not exactly what I crave in the winter.  So this weekend, it’s soup making time!  As for this snowy morning? Well I had a delicious bowl of pumpkin oats.



In the mix:

  • Steel cut oats
  • Skim Milk
  • Pumpkin
  • Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves, & Nutmeg
  • Walnuts
  • Secret Ingredient

What’s my secret ingredient? CHOBANI! I was fortunate to get 2 large containers, a 0% Plain and a 2% Plain, a little while ago and have been incorporating it into my meals.  Using it in my smoothies was another thing I did last week.  It’s also great in mashed potatoes instead of using sour cream!  And my next plan? Making Tzatziki! I’m setting up a Mediterranean themed meal at the high school (I’m in my school food service rotation) and one of the items I will be making Chicken Kabobs with my Chobani Tzatziki sauce.


Now back to my goals.  The other thing I have to be honest about is my lack of exercise.  In the spring, I was doing P90X and feeling great.  Now I just haven’t been fitting it in.  I make excuses.  I drive 2-3 hours a day for my commute (round trip) depending on which location I’m working at.  It’s a lot of driving.  I get tired. I’m just plain lazy about it.  While I did do the Great Turtle Run in October and am going to be doing a 5k next weekend, I really haven’t been going out running much.  There’s lots that need to be adjusted here.

Goal #2: Re-focus on exercise.  Work-out at least 3 days per week.

My next goal ties in with the last one.  I’ve been watching way too much tv lately.  I come home and plop down on the couch, basically staying there until I go to bed, even eating dinner in front of the tv.  I must be there for 3-4 hours at least.  Usually I’m multi-tasking by working/playing on my computer too.

Goal #3: Limit tv time to less than 2 hours per day.

I was going to say less than 1 hour but come on let’s be serious.  Especially if I want to watch a movie Smile


So those are my goals for this month.  It’s always nice to feel a little recommitment and drive to do something.  Here’s to starting off with a re-focused, re-energized, re-evaluated, really great weekend!  TGIF!