by Chrissy Sinatra
School lunches with high levels of undesirable fats and carbohydrates are a huge issue across the nation. How do we get good tasting, healthy food choices in schools that kids will enjoy? Schools need to adopt a sound nutritional philosophy to support their students’ well-being and provide tasty, healthy choices.
Buffy Parvin—the nutritional gourmet chef at Tinicum Art and Science (TAS), an innovative high school rooted in mindfulness—has decades of experience creating vegetarian meals that kids grow to love. “I have a few gateway dishes, like Tofu Lasagna or Colcannon, an Irish recipe of mashed potatoes mixed with kale or cabbage,” says Parvin. “Certain foods are disguised as familiar favorites and not even noticed until the plate is licked clean.”
Weekly meal strategies revolve around what is locally and seasonally available. Very little is wasted and a balance of repurposing, along with the right spices, can reawaken any entrée. The key is to introduce students to tasty and satisfying dishes that broaden their palate.
Incorporating highly nutritious foods takes imagination. For instance, crushed flax seeds sprinkled on a salad add omega-3 fatty acids. Raw pumpkin seeds contain magnesium, copper and zinc. Buckwheat is high in the bioflavonoid rutin and can be served instead of noodles. One trick to accommodating food allergies is to make a variety of sides, but keep things separate so students can make their own choices.
A clean diet creates a clear mind. Good whole foods, which students can easily metabolize, support academic reception and achievement. Students feel enlivened when they eat a healthy diet. They are less sluggish, moody or prone to crashes.
Students of TAS are strongly influenced by the good food in their school. They have created cookbooks for their senior projects. Alumni have gone on to culinary school and ayurvedic training. There is always a buzz in the kitchen that fuels the curious and hungry minds of the students at TAS.
Tinicum Art and Science is located at 85 Sherman Rd., in Ottsville. For more information, call 610-847-6980 or visit TinicumArtAndScience.org. August 2015.