By Kimball Cartwright
Director of Development

Hardly a day goes by without hearing that eating fruits and vegetables means better health. Who hasn’t heard someone sing the praises of whole grains over processed grains? So we know a lot about what is good to eat. But how do you like to eat all these good things?

This blog post came out of a few conversations I had with talented Common Ground chefs Thea Williams and Theresa Brooks. As professional cooks feeding 200 kids and staff every day, they’ve developed a few special “kitchen hacks” for veggies.

A perennial favorite among students (and this staffperson) is cabbage, carrots, onions, kale (julienned) and hot pepper together for a tasty “Caribbean Cabbage.” Applesauce has replaced sugar as the go-to sweetener of choice. Beets make their way into breads. The cold weather spurs soup consumption, and the chefs put in hearty whole grains like quinoa and barley. Butternut squash is folded into the mac-and-cheese.

The latest kitchen hack that arrived in September?  The mighty salad and soup bar.

Here’s the salad bar at the beginning of the day.

Here’s the salad bar ready for the start of lunchtime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As with much in life, it’s not the tool that’s exciting, it’s what the tool can make possible. And in this case, the tool makes it easier for people to stuff themselves with veggies. Before September, getting vegetables and fruit to students and staff at lunchtime relied on Common Ground chefs Fathiya Williams and Theresa Brooks dishing out everything one plate at a time.

“If students get to control what they put on their plate, and you put out healthy things for them to choose from, they take it. We’ve had to order 30% more of some of our vegetables and fruit since the salad bar arrived, to keep pace.” Williams offered.

Chef Williams starting her day with some coleslaw ingredients (and spinach)

Whether it’s more cucumber, celery, or some of the special pickled zucchini picked from the Common Ground gardens and processed back in August, students are enjoying the selection, the choices they can make, and the flavor.

“I enjoy having a great big salad with lots of options and getting to choose those options” said Wilmarys Martinez, Common Ground Junior. “I especially love the pickles!”

Pickled zucchini from CG gardens!

Common Ground Chefs Williams and Brooks have long found ways to work healthy food into lunches. And on Friday, January 26th we’ve got a great winter cooking class for children you might like. But we know we’re not the only ones who work hard to make sure eating healthy is made easy for our loved ones. How do you like to eat your veggies? Let us know in the comments!