October 3, 2023
Our In-house Lunch Program- Behind the Scenes: The Main Event
For our third and final blog this year, we would like to focus on some of the main courses we serve for the hot lunch program. The main course can be described as follows:
A main course is the featured or primary dish in a meal. In some
establishments it may in fact be called the “entrée.” The main dish is
usually the heaviest, heartiest, and most complex or substantive dish on
a menu. The main ingredient is usually meat or fish; in vegetarian
meals, the main course sometimes attempts to mimic a meat course.
Although we do not “plate” the food for the lunch program, we would like to share some practical serving tips. Read the clock! A foolproof way to arrange food on a plate is to place the carbohydrate (pasta, rice, bread, etc.) at “11 o’clock,” the vegetables at “2 o’clock,” and the protein at “6 o’clock” from the diner’s point of view.
This will also help you portion correctly, if you remember that vegetables should cover about half of the plate, starch one fourth, and protein one fourth. When planning the lunch menu these serving proportions were part of our calculations so that we could ensure appropriate allocation of these food groups.
Throughout the cold winter months, nothing is more appealing than home-style comfort foods. Traditionally, comfort foods are associated with high carbohydrate, high-calorie meals which do not fall into the category of healthy eating. However, with a little thought and creativity, it is possible to enjoy the best of both worlds, warmth and satisfaction with a healthy, nutritious balance.
Yield – 8 servings
6 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces
½ cup low sodium beef stock
2 large mushrooms
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 celery rib
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 large eggs, beaten
2 lbs. lean ground beef (or 1 ¼ lbs. ground beef and ¾ lb. ground pork)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Bread crumbs as needed to bring mixture to a firm consistency
½ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread pieces and beef stock in a bowl and let stand
until liquid is absorbed.
Meanwhile, puree the mushrooms, onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a food
In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mushroom mixture, cook
and stir until tender and liquid is evaporated. Stir in tomato paste and cook one
minute longer. Cool slightly.
Beat together the eggs, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce. In a large bowl
mix together the beef, egg mixture, vegetable mixture and bread mixture.
Season with salt and pepper.
Shape into a loaf and place on a vegetable spray coated rack on a baking pan.
Bake for one hour. Meanwhile prepare glaze ingredients and brush over loaf.
Bake for another 15 – 25 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into centre
reads 165 degrees F.
Let stand for ten minutes before slicing with a serrated knife.
Our four-week rotating lunch schedule also allows us to feature a variety of pasta lunches. Pasta is a slowly digesting complex carbohydrate food and is the perfect place to start when building a healthy diet. It is low on the glycemic index, meaning that it has a better effect on blood sugar, offering the body a slow and steady source of energy.
Pasta pairs wonderfully with vegetables, olive oil, beans, herbs (whole or in sauce form) fish, and lean meat or cheese for added flavor and protein.
What constitutes a healthy pasta meal?
A healthy pasta meal is truly the sum of its parts and features two key factors: what you pair with pasta, and how much pasta is served in a meal.
One dish that has been well received is the beef tenderloin, broccoli stir fry. Tender sautéed strips of beef tenderloin are combined with steamed broccoli florets, mixed with a mild seasoned sauce and served over egg noodles.
Another successful meal is the chicken teriyaki stir-fry. Succulent cubes of seasoned cooked chicken, mini corn pieces, and green snap peas are stir fried in teriyaki sauce then combined with stir-fry noodles.
When serving the younger children, we have had better success presenting the meat, vegetables and pasta separately with sauce served as a side they may choose to add or not. This gives the children the opportunity to taste and experience new flavours and to become comfortable with items they may never have seen before.
We offer a wide variety of lunch mains, pulled pork tenderloin served on rice and pulled white chicken breast served on whole wheat buns, our “egg McMuffins” served with hash brown patties, skillet lasagna and soon to be featured beef tacos to
name just a few more.
We are researching and planning new offerings to add to our luncheon repertoire always with the goal of instilling and fostering a knowledge base, lifestyle choice and appreciation of healthy nutritious food.
It’s about making it a little harder for children to make the wrong choices, and a little easier to make the right ones.