Three school nutrition professionals won paid registrations to the 2015 School Nutrition Association Annual Conference, as well as a commercial size rice cooker for their school and a consumer size rice cooker for their home kitchens, in the USA Rice Federation's Healthy Brown Rice on the Menu Contest, which focuses exclusively on whole grain brown rice.
The winners in there three categories are...
Breakfast: Roxanne Szalejko, food service director for Northwood Academy Charter School in Philadelphia;
Lunch: Kay Briles, head cook/manager at Greenfield Elementary School in Baldwin, Wisc.;
Rice Bowl: Angie Gaszak, nutrition coordinator for Saint Paul (Minn.) Public Schools.
Szalejko's winning breakfast dish was a Coconut Cream Breakfast Brown Rice that included brown rice, coconut, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and raisins. “I am happy that Northwood has taken an active role in serving healthier school meals," she says. "We take pride in engaging our students to help increase healthy eating habits, which includes more brown rice."
The lunch dish Briles won for was a Turkey Brown Rice Casserole featuring brown rice, ground turkey, red onion, red peppers, frozen peas, cream of chicken soup and slivered almonds. “They really enjoy the brown rice and ask for extra,” Briles says.
The winning rice bowl served by Gaszak was a Chicken Sofrito Rice Bowl combining brown rice, chicken stock, diced tomatoes, thyme, garlic jalapeño peppers, onion and chili powder, finished with red pepper strips and lime juice. “Brown rice is such a versatile whole grain menu item that we can use it in a wide variety of dishes while appealing to our diverse district palates, meeting our nutritional goals, and keeping the food costs in line," Gaszak says. "Our students love our brown rice and it has been one of the most widely accepted whole grain menu items.”
Two runners-up who will each receive one commercial size Aroma rice cooker for their schools were Eileen Matt, manager for Excelsior and Oak Ridge Middle Schools in Marion, Iowa, and Tina Pottorff, supervisor at Viewmont Elementary in Hickory, N.C.
Matt won for her Fiesta Spanish Brown Rice, which uses brown rice, onion, garlic, chicken stock, tomatoes and oregano. “We serve brown rice in our Spanish rice recipe as it is low in fat and cholesterol and a good source of protein for our students," she says. "It has been well accepted and they ask when we will be serving it again!”
Pottorff was recognized for her Chicken Burrito Bowl, which combines brown rice, corn, black beans, diced chicken and taco seasoning mix. “Students love the burrito bowl, it reminds them of Chipotle, and it’s just as delicious!," she says. "The teachers love that it looks home cooked and is healthy for you.”
To participate in the contest, K-12 foodservice directors and menu planners must use U.S.-grown brown rice as the central ingredient in one or more recipes on their school menus. Each winner will receive a 50-lb. donation of whole grain rice thanks to USA Rice members InHarvest, Producers Rice Mill, Riceland Foods, Mahatma Rice, SunWest Foods, and Uncle Ben’s.