Patricia L.Fitzgerald 2013-02-28 05:18:58
Operators and industry confront the challenges of new nutrition standards for whole grains in school meals. “WE COULDN’T BE MORE ECSTATIC ABOUT THE NEW GUIDELINES, because it’s a change we fully welcome and embrace.” This sentiment from Don Trouba, marketing director at ConAgra Mills, would seem to call into question any lingering concerns about industry’s desire and ability to step up and provide school nutrition programs with products that meet new nutrition standards for whole grains in school meals. Is Trouba some pie-in-the-sky Pollyanna? If he is, he has some company. “Supply and demand keep the food industry alive, and the demand just increased a colossal amount,” notes Shari Mueller, product manager, CN-approved school products, for AdvancePierre. “Overall, the scope of the opportunity [to introduce more whole-grain foods to children] and what it means for the future is really exciting,” says Barilla America School Specialist Darcy Frawley. Okay, hold up. While it certainly is encouraging to hear such positive outlooks, no one involved in school nutrition programs truly thinks that such changes are a snap to implement. Indeed, in their interviews with School Nutrition, industry representatives—and their operator customers— shared many thoughtful reflections about the opportunities and challenges related to increasing whole grains in school meals in ways that students will deem acceptable. In fact, we received so much good insight that we have opted to carry this coverage across two articles. In the pages that follow, we’ll explore some of the challenges encountered by operators and industry in these early months of new meal pattern implementation. Then, be sure to look for an overview of the whole-grain gains they’ve enjoyed in SN’s May 2013 issue. The Charge We won’t waste a lot of space detailing the specifics of the new regulatory provisions related to whole grains in school meals. Suffice it to say that while whole grains in school meals previously were “encouraged,” as of July 1, 2012, at least half of the grain foods in school lunches are required to be “whole grain-rich.” (Note: A complicating provision setting a weekly maximum for grains servings has been suspended through SY 2012-13; SNA and many of its allies are advocating to permanently eliminate this requirement.) Current regulations mandate that by SY 2014-15, 100% of grain foods in school lunches must be whole grain-rich. A whole grain-rich food is, in essence, one where at least half the grains are whole grains, and any remaining grain is enriched. Different foods have varying required serving sizes. Operators Say… Nancy Heinicke is a cafeteria manager at Messiah Lutheran School in Lincoln, Neb. She doesn’t pull any punches with her students. “I just talked to them at their lunch times and told them that down the road, all grains would be whole-wheat or [other] whole grains. … and I told them that all schools will be doing this; no matter where they went to school, that’s what they would get,” she recounts. But she also explains the benefits of this change, emphasizing nutrition and health in a relatable way for kids: They’d “feel fuller” and it would “make ‘em regular!” Success has been hit or miss, depending on the product. And that seems to be a common report from school nutrition operators in the trenches. Some products are easier sells with kids, while for other items, operators struggle to find a “decent” whole-grain option. And as is customary when it comes to school foodservice, a product that is found to be perfectly acceptable by students at one school is deemed a failure at another. Schools that offer some scratch-based meals seem to find some success, albeit with a little trial-and-error. But for sites with scratch-prep constraints (time, labor, equipment, skills, ingredients), this option isn’t sustainable for meal after meal, day after day. For example, Debbie Mobley, SNS, school nutrition director for Clarksville- Montgomery (Tenn.) Schools, struggled with inconsistency across her district. “I would go to one school and they would have wonderful rolls, but the same day another school would be using a commercial breadstick, because the one person who knew how to bake was absent that day. Plus, my seasoned employees with baking experience had started to retire.” (In response, Mobley created a central bakery at one of her sites to supply the entire district; more on that in our follow-up article in May 2013.) Industry Reps Say… Industry understands completely the challenge of customer acceptability, and it is at the heart of all their product development efforts. Few, if any, companies hint that the new standards will drive them away from the K-12 segment. “We’re committed to continuing to work with schools to provide solutions that meet their needs,” insists Jackie Schulz, RD, nutrition marketing business partner for The Kellogg Company. After all, students represent future adult customers, and increased whole-grain offerings already are gracing many a supermarket shelf. But successful product development takes time—up to three years, notes Shirley Brown, EdD, SNS, director of product training for Rich Products Corporation. Incorporating more whole grains is, in and of itself, relatively easy. The trick is to making them taste and look more appealing to a customer base with a high degree of suspicion for unfamiliar items. That’s not an overnight process. “We taste-test all new items with kids, and they must prefer the [new or reformulated] product as much or more than the original for us to bring it to market,” notes AdvancePierre’s Shari Mueller. In addition to developing products and ingredients with strong kid appeal, industry faces some challenges unique to the school nutrition market. For example, while some companies, like General Mills Foodservice, long have offered a vast portfolio of products that meet the whole grain-rich definition, they have been tasked with making a number of serving size adjustments, reports Alyca Judge, General Mills’ K-12 channel marketing manager. “For example, bowlpak cereal and cereal bars have very specific requirements,” she notes. And Judge recognizes that her operator customers have legitimate concerns about prices. “Whole-grain products typically have higher ingredient/material costs, so as schools are required to purchase these items, it will put pressure on their budgets and meal planning,” she predicts. Brown notes that every change in the product development process means added cost, as well, citing the need to alter not just the product, but manufacturing equipment, packaging, spec sheets, training materials and so on. But they’re trying to minimize these, because “we know our customers have limited budgets,” she notes. When it comes to some scratch-prep hurdles, “The main reason schools struggle with transitioning more whole-grain foods onto their menu is that traditional whole wheat is bitter and gritty,” asserts ConAgra Mills’ Don Trouba, making the case for his company’s Ultragrain flour. Indeed, Rich Products’ Shirley Brown says the industry has seen a huge demand for white whole wheat, which came so suddenly to the milling industry that there was an initial shortage. “They had to make the same changes we did: retooling, crop shortages, farmers trying to decide which kind of wheat to grow,” she recounts. But the more-pressing problem is “the fact that many districts have different capabilities when it comes to preparation and cooking,” Trouba notes. “I am seeing a huge demand for training in baking,” says Brown. “They are calling for help.” Barilla America’s Darcy Frawley concurs. “We do a lot of education and training around proper cooking procedures. That’s critical for all whole-grain pastas, as they can lose their al dente bite and holding ability when overcooked, especially if they’re 100% whole wheat.” On the Whole When attempts fail, it often means even greater resistance to the product or recipe—from both cooks and kids. That’s why many K-12 suppliers invest a lot of hands-on time working directly with school nutrition customers to get through this transition so that “there’s really nothing standing in the way of adding whole grain-rich foods to their menus,” Trouba notes. “Leveraging existing items that have broad appeal—and brands that are familiar—aslo helps with acceptance,” adds Kellogg’s Schulz. AdvancePierre’s Shari Mueller offers thoughts that just might speak for all the industry partners working in K-12 school nutrition: “As our customers continue to learn what their new needs are for meeting requirements, we will change with them.” It is, as Frawley notes, “a responsibility we all share in school nutrition, from USDA to SNA to the supplier community—and we take that seriously.” WHOLE-GRAIN ELBOW TURKEY MAC AND CHEESE YIELD: 100 servings PER SERVING: 406 cal., 28 g pro., 53 g carb., 7 g fiber, 8 g fat, 3 g sat. fat, 91 mg chol., 653 mg sod. INGREDIENTS Pasta, whole-grain, elbow noodles*—12 lbs. + 8 ozs. Milk, evaporated, skim—1 gal. Eggs, liquid, pasteurized—4 lbs. + 5 ozs. or 8 cups Mustard, dry, ground—1 cup Garlic powder—1 cup Pepper, ground, white—3⁄8 cup Turkey breast, diced—13 lbs. Cheddar cheese, shredded, reduced-fat, reduced-sodium—6 lbs. Bread crumbs—6 cups Pan spray—2 ozs. Butter-flavored spray—2 Tbsps. DIRECTIONS 1. Cook the pasta for half of the time listed on the package. If boiling, bring water to a boil, add the pasta and bring the water to a boil again. Do not add oil to the water. If steaming, place 2 lbs. of the dry pasta in shallow perforated steamtable pans set inside non-perforated pans. Cover the pasta with water. Steam for 6 minutes. To cool, place the pasta flat, spray it lightly with olive oil and then cool in a blast chiller. Alternately, cool the pasta down in a walk-in cooler. Store it in sealed plastic bags or a sealed plastic container. Refrigerate overnight. 2. In a large bowl, place the evaporated milk, eggs, dry ground mustard, garlic powder and ground white pepper. Whisk well. 3. Lightly spray four 4-in. deep steamtable pans with the pan spray. Place 6 qts. + 1 cup of pasta in each pan. Add 3 1⁄4 lbs. of turkey per pan. Sprinkle each pan with 1 1⁄2 lbs. or 6 cups of shredded cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta evenly, using 6 cups per pan. Sprinkle each pan with 1 1⁄2 cups of bread crumbs and spray the tops lightly with the butter-flavored spray. 4. Bake covered in a preheated convection oven at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or in a conventional oven at 350°F for 35-40 minutes. Heat until an internal temperature of 165°F is reached for 15 seconds. Batch cook as necessary to ensure the best end product. 5. Place trays in a warming cart and hold above 135°F until service. Cut each pan into a 5x5 portion, 25 servings per pan. For each portion, serve 7.49 ozs. (212.24 g). Photo, recipe & recipe analysis: Barilla Foodservice, www.barillafoodservicerecipes.com *Notes: Barilla Whole-Grain Elbows may be used for this recipe. Whole- Grain Penne or Whole-Grain Rotini also may be used. According to the company: One serving provides 1 whole grain and 2 meat/meat alternates. As appropriate, adjust the serving size to meet current meal pattern requirements. KITCHEN WISDOM SAYS . . . • The garlic and mustard in this recipe were strong. This was acceptable for the teachers but not for the students. Consider decreasing the amounts of both. • Skim milk could be used instead of evaporated milk. WHOLE-GRAIN DEEP-DISH TURKEY CHILI YIELD: 27 servings PER SERVING: 340 cal., 23 g pro., 43 g carb., 6 g fiber, 9 g fat, 2 g sat. fat, 52 mg chol., 358 mg sod. INGREDIENTS Vegetable oil—2 tsps. Onion—4 cups Garlic—1⁄4 cup Tomato paste—1⁄2 cup Chili powder—1⁄2 cup Brown sugar—2 Tbsps. Salt—3 tsps. Pepper, black—1 tsp. Tomatoes, low-sodium, canned, diced, with juice—5 cups Rice, whole-grain—2 lbs. Turkey, ground, cooked, drained—3 lbs. Kidney beans, low-sodium, canned, drained—6 cups Chicken stock, low-sodium—2 1⁄2 qts. Yogurt sauce—optional Onion, red, chopped—optional Cilantro, chopped—optional Jalapeño, chopped—optional DIRECTIONS 1. Heat the oil in a pot large enough to hold all of the chili ingredients. 2. Sauté the onion and garlic until translucent. 3. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. 4. Add the tomatoes (with the juice) and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. 5. Into one 2 1⁄2-in. full steamtable pan, place the uncooked rice, turkey, beans and hot stock mixture. Stir to combine. 6. Cover the pan with parchment and foil. Bake in a 350°F convection oven for approximately 1 hour or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. 7. Remove the pan from the oven, remove the foil and paper and stir the contents of the pan to mix well. 8. For one serving: Serve a 1-cup portion with optional toppings, if desired. Photo, recipe & recipe analysis: Indian Harvest, www.indianharvest.com *Notes: Indian Harvest Whole-Grain 5 Blend™ may be used for this recipe. According to the company: A 1-cup serving provides one grain/bread serving (100% whole grain), 1⁄2 cup vegetable and 1 3⁄4 ozs. meat/meat alternates. As appropriate, adjust the serving size to meet current meal pattern requirements. Kitchen Wisdom says . . . Try This! OPEN-FACED BREAKFAST SANDWICH YIELD: 50 servings (2 baguette slices each) PER SERVING: 250 cal., 17 g pro., 21 g carb., 3 g fiber, 11 g fat, 5 g sat. fat, 105 mg chol., 360 mg sod. INGREDIENTS Eggs, large—25 Milk, skim—3 qts. Scallions—1 1⁄2 cups Veggie breakfast sausage patties—25 Vegetable oil cooking spray—as needed Sour cream, light—3 qts. Baguette slices, whole-grain, lightly toasted—100 1⁄2-oz. DIRECTIONS 1. Chop the scallions and set aside. Cut the sausage patties into small pieces and reserve. 2. Whisk the eggs, skim milk and scallions together in a large bowl until well blended. 3. Coat a tilt skillet with cooking spray, add the egg mixture and scramble quickly, cooking over medium heat for about 2 minutes. 4. Add the sausage pieces and cook another 3 minutes. 5. Add the sour cream and fully incorporate into the mixture. 6. Arrange the baguette slices to form the sandwich bottoms. For each serving: Use 1⁄3 cup of the egg-sausage mixture and divide evenly, spooning it on top of each of two baguette slices. Photo, recipe & recipe analysis: Kellogg’s Food Away From Home, www.fafh.com *Notes: Removing the sour cream from the recipe saves 70 calories, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat and 40 mg sodium per serving. According to the company: One serving provides 1 1⁄2 ozs. for meat/meat alternates and 1 oz. equivalent grains; as appropriate, adjust the serving size to meet current meal pattern requirements. KITCHEN WISDOM SAYS . . . • Sausage links or crumbles could be used in place of patties. Lowfat turkey sausage could be used in place of veggie sausage. • We prepped the cooked egg/sausage mixture the day before, held it overnight and simply reheated in the morning, before adding to the toast. It held up great! • We tried serving on English muffins instead of baguettes and found that the muffins held well on the serving line. This recipe also could be served on whole-grain toast. • Consider eliminating scallions if serving to young children. • Scaling up, we used 6 qts. of sour cream for 150 servings. We added a scrambled egg mix, as the mixture was too liquid with the 9 qts. of milk. RAINBOW RICE YIELD: 100 servings PER SERVING: 232 cal., 22 g pro., 28 g carb., 5 g fiber, 4 g fat, 1 g sat. fat, 55 mg chol., 159 mg sod., 3 mg iron, 29 mg ca. INGREDIENTS Rice, brown, long-grain, regular, dry—2 lbs. + 8 ozs. or 1 qt. + 2 cups Rice blend, brown and wild rice, dry—1 lb. + 4 ozs. or 3 cups Barley, quick pearl, dry—1 lb. + 11 ozs. or 2 qts. Water—2 gals. Chicken base, low-sodium—5 ozs. or 1⁄2 cup + 1 1⁄3 Tbsps. Quinoa, dry—13 ozs. or 2 cups Bulgur wheat, dry—1 lb. + 3 1⁄2 ozs. or 1 qt. Carrots, fresh—5 lbs. or 1 gal. Bell pepper, fresh, red—5 lbs. + 6 ozs. or 3 qts. + 1 cup Olive oil, extra virgin—4 Tbsps. + 4 tsps. Salt—1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Chicken, frozen, cooked—14 lbs. or 3 gals. + 2 qts. Baby spinach, fresh—2 lbs. + 8 ozs. or 1 gal. DIRECTIONS 1. Dice the carrots and bell pepper. Chop the spinach. Cut the thawed chicken into 1⁄2-in. pieces. Set all aside. 2. Combine the brown rice and the brown-and-wild-rice blend, the barley, 1 gal. + 1 qt. water and 1⁄3 cup chicken base in a stockpot. Reserve the remaining water and base for step 5. 3. Heat the mixture to a rolling boil. Cook until the water is absorbed, about 30-40 minutes. Stir once. Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes over low heat. Fluff the rice. Hold at 135°F or higher. 4. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear, not cloudy. 5. Combine the quinoa, bulgur wheat, remaining water and remaining chicken base in a separate stockpot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally. Simmer until the water is completely absorbed, about 15 minutes. Note: When done, the quinoa will be soft, and a white ring will pop out of the kernel. The white ring will only appear when it is fully cooked. Hold at 135°F or higher. 6. In a very large mixing bowl, combine the carrots and red peppers. Add the oil and salt, tossing to coat. Lightly coat four 12x20x2 1⁄2-in. steamtable pans with pan release spray. Transfer the vegetables to the pans, dividing evenly. 7. Roast the vegetables in a conventional oven at 375°F for 10 minutes or in a convection oven at 350°F for 10 minutes. 8. Fold in the rice/barley combination, followed by the quinoa/bulgur combination, then the chicken and finally the spinach. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Heat to 165°F or higher for at least 15 seconds. 9. Hold for hot service at 135°F or higher. For each serving, portion 1 cup with an 8-oz. spoodle. Photo, recipe & recipe analysis: Susan Zentek, school nutrition manager, Highland Elementary School, Cheshire, Conn.; Chef Patricia D’Alessio; and Rebecca Frost and Katie Guerette (teachers), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Recipes for Healthy Kids Cookbook for Schools, http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/Resources/ r4hk_schools.html *Notes: A 1-cup serving (using an 8-oz. spoodle) provides 2 ozs. equivalent meat, 1⁄8 cup dark green vegetable, 1⁄8 cup red/orange vegetable and 1 oz. equivalent grains. The recipe produces about 38 lbs. + 8 ozs. or 5 gals. (four steamtable pans) for 100 servings. KITCHEN WISDOM SAYS . . . • The recipe tested well with our high school students, though they suggested it needed a little sauce. • I would modify the recipe to be a primarily rice recipe and change the process to an oven/steamer method. I also would increase the vegetables to increase the contribution to the meal pattern requirements and decrease the grain contribution. • This recipe would be nice to serve with roasted chicken pieces or chicken nuggets. • This was a colorful dish with good texture. BAKED WHOLE-GRAIN PANCAKE SQUARES YIELD: 64 servings (2 squares each) PER SERVING: 170 cal., 4 g pro., 24 g carb., 2 g fiber, 6 g fat, 2 g sat. fat, 15 mg chol., 400 mg sod. INGREDIENTS Water, cool, 72°F—5 lbs. or 10 cups Eggs, large, whole—7 ozs. or 4 eggs Vegetable oil—7 1⁄2 ozs. or 1 cup Pancake mix, whole-grain*—5 lbs. DIRECTIONS 1. Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. 2. Add the eggs and oil. Mix using a wire whip until blended. 3. Add the total amount of the pancake mix to the mixing bowl. Mix using a wire whip until the batter is smooth. 4. Grease or spray two full sheet pans. Deposit 5 lbs. + 6 ozs. of batter into each pan. 5. Bake at 350°F in a convection oven for 8-12 minutes or at 400°F in a standard oven for 8-12 minutes. Rotate pans baked in a convection oven one-half turn halfway through baking. 6. To serve: Cut each pan into 32 squares and serve two squares for each portion. Photo, recipe & recipe analysis: General Mills Foodservice, www.generalmillsfoodservice.com *Notes: Gold Medal® ZT Whole-Grain Complete Pancake Mix may be used for this recipe. As appropriate, adjust the serving size to meet current meal pattern requirements. PEPPY QUINOA YIELD: 100 servings PER SERVING: 175 cal., 6 g pro., 29 g carb., 3 g fiber, 4 g fat, 1 g sat. fat, 1 mg chol., 93 mg sod., 2 mg iron, 34 mg ca. INGREDIENTS Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), dried—7 1⁄2 ozs. or 2 cups Quinoa, dry—8 1⁄4 lbs. or 1 gal. Water—2 1⁄2 gals. Chicken base, low-sodium—10 ozs. or 3⁄4 cup Onions, fresh—2 lbs. or 1 qt. + 2 1⁄4 cups Chilies, green, canned, diced—4 3⁄4 lbs. or 2 qts. + 1 1⁄3 cups Garlic, fresh—8 ozs. or 1 cup Cilantro, fresh—10 ozs. or 3 qts. + 2 cups Onions, green, fresh—6 ozs. or 2 cups Lime juice, fresh—2 cups to 1 qt. (optional) DIRECTIONS 1. Dice the onions and green onions. Mince the garlic. Chop the cilantro. 2. Roast the pepitas in an oven until light brown and aromatic. Roast in a conventional oven at 350°F for 10 minutes or in a convection oven at 350°F for 7 minutes. 3. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear, not cloudy. 4. Combine the quinoa, water and chicken base in a covered stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the water is completely absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. When done, the quinoa will be soft, and a white ring will pop out of the kernel. The white ring will appear only when it is fully cooked. 5. Lightly coat four 12x20x2 1⁄2-in. steamtable pans with pan release spray. 6. Transfer the quinoa to the steamtable pans. Add the onions, chilies and garlic. Mix well. Cover the pans with parchment paper and then seal with a sheet of aluminum foil. 7. Bake in a conventional oven at 350°F for 40 minutes or in a convection oven at 350°F for 30 minutes. Critical Control Point: Heat to 135°F or higher for at least 15 seconds. 8. After removing the quinoa from the oven, toss in the cilantro, green onions, pepitas and optional lime juice (to taste). Hold for hot service at 135°F or higher. 9. For each serving: Portion with a No. 8 scoop (1⁄2 cup). Photo, recipe & recipe analysis: Janice Sweeter, head cook, Sartell (Minn.) Middle School; Chef Paul Ruszat; Kelly Radi (parent); and Lori Domburg (teacher), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Recipes for Healthy Kids Cookbook for Schools, http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/Resources/r4hk_schools.html *Notes: According to USDA: One 1⁄2 cup (No. 8 scoop) provides 1⁄8 cup other vegetable and 1 1⁄4 ozs. equivalent grains. The recipe produces an estimated 24 lbs. or about 12 gals. + 2 qts. (four steamtable pans) for 100 servings.
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