In-school dining is rising to meet the demand for flavors and dishes that more accurately represent the foods students are eating outside the classroom. Global influence incorporates bold flavors based on cuisines rich in whole grains, colorful fresh produce and aromatic spices and condiments. Additionally, there is growing demand for clean label ingredients which, despite lacking a commonly accepted definition, is reflective of consumers who are increasingly savvy regarding their food choices.
Whole grains and seeds
Beyond familiar pantry staples, this trend explores the likes of buckwheat, amaranth and fonio (a Central African grain and the smallest member of the millet family). Something of a wonder crop, fonio thrives in hot, drought conditions and low nutrient soil and goes from seed to harvest in two months. Nutritionally, it’s a powerhouse: three times the protein of rice, an abundance of amino acids, gluten-free and low on the glycemic index.
From a culinary standpoint, fonio is both delicious and easy to prepare. It’s a fine-textured grain with a subtle, nutty flavor; an innovative replacement for quinoa, couscous or rice. Incredibly versatile, it can be used for everything from side dishes and salads to sweet or savory hot cereal. Our featured recipes use fonio two ways: a wholesome breakfast porridge with golden raisins and fresh strawberries, and a fonio and broccoli salad chock full of fresh, seasonal vegetables and tender chicken.
Chia seeds, packed with fiber and essential nutrients, absorb many times their own weight in liquid, which is what naturally thickens our chia seed breakfast pudding. Soaking the seeds overnight in a mixture of milk, yogurt, honey and vanilla yields a pleasantly creamy, tapioca-like pudding the following day. Topped with bananas, fresh berries and crunchy granola, it’s a sweet and simple breakfast dish that goes beyond a basic yogurt parfait while adding extra nutrition.
Fresh-cooked vegetables make an immediate impression on palates and plates. The roasted beets and crisp-tender sautéed broccoli in our fonio salad are paired with lightly charred grape tomatoes and tender arugula for a flavorful dish highlighting fresh, seasonal produce. Pulled piri piri turkey is the base for our sandwich recipe, where it’s layered with bright and tender rainbow kale salad mix, creamy avocado and a tangy lemon tahini dressing.
Showcasing fresh produce, whole grains and minimally processed ingredients creates major menu appeal and meets the demand for clean label, globally inspired choices.
Roasted beets and crisp-tender sautéed broccoli pair with fonio and diced chicken to make this salad extra satisfying. Lightly charred grape tomatoes, sweet peppers and spicy wild arugula add bright pops of color and flavor.
Fonio cooks up into a sweet and toothsome breakfast bowl, topped with plump golden raisins, fresh strawberries and a crunchy walnut-granola topping.
Quick and easy to put together, chia seeds are soaked overnight with milk, yogurt, honey and vanilla to create a pudding. Topped with bananas, berries and crunchy granola, it’s breakfast with a nutritional boost.
This flavorful sandwich combines shredded turkey with a piri piri spice rub, tender rainbow kale salad mix, avocado and a tangy lemon tahini sauce, making it perfect for a grab-and-go offering.