As summer comes to a close and we begin swapping bathing suits and flip-flops for backpacks and pencils, school lunches become top-of-mind. What will your little ones (and big ones) be eating for lunch every day? Council Representative, Kathleen Preis, walks us through all the delicious meat and mushroom blend dishes your kids will be enjoying this school year!
What do Chicken & Mushroom Gravy, Spaghetti & Meatballs with Mushrooms, and Mushroom & Olive Tapenade all have in common? No, they are not the bestselling menu items at a restaurant up the street. They are not dishes that wowed the judges on a national cooking show. In fact, they are menu items that could be served in your kid’s lunchroom this school year!
School Foodservice Directors across the nation are embracing fresh mushrooms and blending them into lunch menus in hundreds of districts across the United States. Hickman Mills School District in Missouri added a Mushroom Taco Salad and Mushroom Spaghetti to their menu and the response from the students was overwhelming! 90% of students surveyed enjoyed the Mushroom Taco Salad and requested it be served again! In New Orleans Public Schools, School Nutrition Director Rosie Jackson added Vegetarian Lasagna and Mushroom & Olive Tapenade to the menu during Mushroom Week. 80% of students at the secondary level preferred the mushroom blended entrees!
The secret to all these delicious tasting and highly requested lunch items is… mushrooms! Blending finely chopped mushrooms in popular ground-meat favorites like burgers, meatballs, tacos, and meatloaf helps to create healthier menu items for school lunch programs. Two years ago Jessica Shelly at Cincinnati Public Schools switched her 100% beef burger to a beef & mushroom blend burger and was delighted by the results. “By switching to the beef burger with mushrooms, my calories and fat went down enough that I could add cheese to the elementary school burgers and offer turkey bacon to high school burgers – when they saw turkey bacon cheese burger as an option my high schoolers went nuts! They loved it!”
Adding mushrooms into classic ground meat dishes not only makes them healthier, it keeps them tasting “familiar” so students are more likely to continue gobbling up their burgers, meatloaf, and tacos without knowing they are better for them! So when your kids come home and tell you how they tried mushrooms at lunch time, don’t be surprised… heck you could even give blending a try it at home!