When we visited The Blueberry School Nutrition Summit at the CIA in San Antonio Texas last month we were encouraged by the chef’s innovative uses of all forms of blueberries. Chef Sharon Schaefer SNS (chefsharonscharfer@gmail.com), challenged the 16 school food service professionals attending to think outside the box when creating delicious and innovative menu additions for their individual school district kitchens in 2018.

Here are Chef Sharon’s Top Menu Trends for 2018:

Street Foods

These are hand-held, food-truck type items that are portable, fun, easy and ready-to-eat while thought-provoking in makeup.

  • Blueberries, nuts, chopped chicken with blueberry-mustard sauce drizzled on top in a paper dish, disposable spoon included.
  • Hand-held Pie-pocket with Saucy Blueberries, sautéed in shallots, butter and balsamic vinegar combined with meat or veg protein of your choice. Pocket wrapping of your choice (biscuit dough, soy paper, rice paper, etc.)!
  • Hand-held Portabella-blueberry-pepper wrap: portabella mushrooms sautéed with green, red and/or yellow peppers of your choice, seasoned with cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar all wrapped up in a flour tortilla. Yum!

Clean Labels

These are foods with various ingredients, according to your personal “clean” definition. You may be planning on leaving out:

  • Artificial Flavors
  • Artificial colors
  • MSG
  • Refined sugars
  • Antibiotic containing meats
    Instead, lean towards incorporating clean and simple into your menu plans:
  • The most natural state of fruits, vegetables, proteins, fats, flavorings available
  • Add colors through fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs
  • Add freeze dried fruits and vegetables as snack options, toppers, crunchy blend additions, crush and sprinkle on for color
  • Reduced trans fats or remove them completely
  • Lower sodium content
  • Reduced portion sizes

Ethnic Flavors

Build in diversity to your menus through choosing a different country or culture each week:

  • Peruvian
  • African
  • Asian
  • Moroccan
  • Mexican
  • Spanish
  • East Indian
  • Mediterranean
  • European
  • American

Research and follow authentic ethnic traditions. Honor the diversity of your student population. Develop and enhance their flavor journey through spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables in a variety of forms (air dried, freeze dried, frozen, fresh, etc.)

Menu items such as:

  • German Bierocks
  • Peruvian Yukon gold potato stacks
  • Mediterranean Pasta Bowls
  • Asian Rice Bowls

Condiments and Pickling

Building spices and toppers into your meal offerings is easy!

  • Develop Spice stations
  • Use unique sauces: give interesting names that draw attention
  • Pickled fruits and vegetables add a unique flavor experience

Choose one base ingredient for your station and add spices, herbs and flavorings:

  • Mayonnaise with siracha
  • Ketchup with Chile seasoning
  • Mustard with honey
  • Barbeque sauce with fresh chopped cilantro
  • Soy Sauce with wasabi powder
  • Teriyaki sauce with lemon grass powder
  • Salad dressing (Ranch, Honey Mustard, etc.) with ?

Add 2 to 3 ingredients (on hand) and give the sauce a unique, catchy name!

  • “Schrizzel” sauce
  • “Bodacious” Barbeque Sauce
  • “Spicy” Chipotle Ranch sauce

Serve the sauce on:

  • Street tacos
  • Riblets
  • Chicken fingers
  • Carrot-pepper-cabbage slaw
  • Celery-zucchini-cucumber sticks
  • Broccoli and cauliflower florets

Sustainability Focused

Get creative in cross-disciplinary green and sustainable aspects of your food service practices. Teach your audience consumers what makes sustainability so important to the community around them.

  • How can you incorporate sustainable practices into your current food system management?
  • Who can you get involved on your team?
  • What is your primary goal in sustainability?

Vegetable Main Dish

Start with vegetables as the main ingredient of the dish. This does not mean that it is vegetarian. Meat can be an ingredient, not the main ingredient.

  • Sweet Potato Bar with “Saucy Blueberries” to drizzle over the top
  • Salads with vegetable protein added
  • Sweet potato, pumpkin, or cauliflower soups with protein toppers
  • Vegetable pasta dishes with grilled meat on the side
  • Roasted vegetables with Barbeque sauce, grilled or sautéed diced meat on the side

Getting the idea?

These school food service chefs are brimming with creative ideas to healthfully feed our nations young people!

All total, between the 16 chefs attending this event in San Antonio Texas last month, over one million six hundred meals are served each day through their collective school cafeteria kitchens!

That is one huge audience of very important consumers, VIPs in our mind!

At TCF we want to be part of these creative ideas and opportunities so that our youngsters become discerning and wise consumers of healthy, delicious and nutritious foods.
Visit this USHBC website for great blueberry recipes: https://www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-recipe/saucy-blueberries-for-schools/

Please visit our website www.thomascreekfarms.com and learn how we can help you develop the healthy products your customers are looking for.

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