Educators and students in a Minnesota school district have access to various meal options in school cafeterias. Schools serve locally sourced items, such as roasted carrots, potatoes, baked beans, chicken drumsticks and ground turkey. School-nutrition professionals also prepare vegetarian dishes, such as whole-grain grilled cheese sandwiches, veggie pizza and salads.
Cassoulet traditionalists may insist on using only French ingredients, but American substitutes work just as well for the hearty, bean-based dish. Cannellini or Great Northern beans offer just as much flavor and texture to the pot as French Tarbais beans, and braised turkey makes a great stand-in for duck or goose confit.
A diet of leafy green vegetables, berries and nuts can help build the immune system to fight off colds and flu, but registered dietitian Tonia Reinhard and Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who both have written books on superfoods, say it takes time to get the effect. Also on their list of immunity builders are fatty fish such as salmon and tuna; onions and garlic that contain antioxidants; and mushrooms, yogurt, eggs and beans.
Healthy eating is a priority, but Jenny Montague, the school district food-service director in Kalispell, Mont., says she knows getting students on board takes time, so she isn't rushing to take pizza off the menu. She is adding locally grown and healthy ingredients to favorites, such as the burrito bar, and working with Montana State University on focus groups to find out what healthy changes students want.
Winter squashes including butternut squash, acorn squash and pumpkins are abundant now, and delicious in soups and stews, including ratatouille. Though squash is technically a fruit, it is best treated as a vegetable.