New school lunch beef recipes win approval from youth, foodservice directors
After participating in a pilot program at schools around the country, many students and school foodservice directors agree: The Rock and Roll Beef Wrap is delicious and nutritious. The same goes for Spy Thai Beef, Sweet Potato Beef Mash-up, Wrangler’s Beef Chili and Sweet and Sloppy Joes.
“Awesome” was a common compliment from youngsters who taste-tested and named five all-new ground beef recipes created by the Beef Checkoff Program for school lunches. School foodservice directors noted the “homemade” flavor of the recipes and the use of economical, widely available ingredients. Another selling point for school staff? The meals pair the timeless appeal of ground beef with “generous” amounts of vegetables that young people might not otherwise consume.
Some of the new recipes are already on menus at K-12 test schools in several states and are being shared with school foodservice professionals across the country.
Perhaps most important, the recipes help meet new government nutrition guidelines for the national school breakfast/lunch program. The five beef recipes meet all school nutrition guidelines for fat, calories and sodium and help incorporate a variety of food groups, such as meat, vegetables and grains, into meals. The recipes all contain 10 essential nutrients, including fiber, which was recognized as a nutrition concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The recipes were triple-tested in the checkoff’s test kitchen. The national beef checkoff and state beef councils in Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Washington then worked with local school districts to field-test the recipes and gather feedback from students and foodservice directors.
Checkoff officials are aware that retaining beef as a viable protein in the school lunch program is integral, and this pilot program helps accomplish that critical goal.
“We have very close foodservice relationships in Colorado, so we were able to get one of the state’s largest school districts on board with the pilot program,” said Julie Moore, director of nutrition and education for the Colorado Beef Council. “The icing on the cake, so to speak, for us was the collaboration in creating great trial recipes and the entire test process.”
“This project gave us direct contact with influential school audiences—staff and the students—who are both our consumers,” said Michigan beef producer Garry Wiley, co-chair of the checkoff’s national food and nutrition subcommittee. “We were also able to deliver real tools in the form of recipes. This has been a cooperative project that really supports efforts to ensure beef remains on school lunch menus as a nutritious, delicious meal option for our children.”
Wiley also notes that this kind of effort continues to build vital beef’s visibility and credibility with consumers of all ages.
For easy, kid-inspired meals, try all five recipes (actual food critic comments included):
Spy Thai Beef—Asian themed, savory ground beef mixture that pairs perfectly with the crunch of fresh veggies. “I love Thai food and this was delicious!”—high school student;
Wrangler’s Beef Chili—A classic ground beef and bean chili recipe, accompanied by three variations to please any palate. “We want seconds!” “Yummy lunch!” “I could die in a vat of this chili!”—high school, elementary and middle school students;
Sweet and Sloppy Joe—A sweet and spicy twist on the classic sandwich. “The best part was the beef!”—elementary student;
Sweet Potato Beef Mash-Up—Sweet potatoes and ground beef meet up in this Southwestern breakfast-for-lunch. “I like the meat and veggie mixture!”—middle school student;
Rock and Roll Beef Wrap—Scrumptious, nutritious lean ground beef, veggies and grains all wrapped up. “Amazing!” “I didn’t want to try it but when I did I liked it!”—middle and elementary school students.
Visit www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com for consumer versions of the school recipes. For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.