Although I've certainly had my share of ups and downs trying to make the school food atmosphere more healthy within my community, I'm starting to see some real change. I feel like this year was the turning point I've been waiting for.
Before then, it was mostly just me and a few other parents who were actively involved in trying to implement healthier changes within our school district. It's been difficult for me because I don't like feeling like an outsider. It's never fun to feel like the bad guy...and yes, if you're in this business of promoting nutrition and wellness that is certainly how you DO feel at times. Change is never easy. It takes so much education, time and most of all PATIENCE.
But, the movement towards healthier food for our kids is happening, like it or not. Our school now has a brand new garden with help from a Whole Kids Foundation grant and our school's PTA. We have students, girl scouts and cub scouts making rain barrels, painting garden rocks and constructing covers to protect the vegetable plants. Many parents are now actively seeking out knowledge, asking questions and demanding change from our food service providers and district administrators, in order to get healthier food into the classrooms and at school lunches. Processed foods and some of the sugary drinks have already been removed from the elementary and middle school menus and been replaced with fresh cut up fruits and healthier snack options.
Interestingly enough, I took the kids to see the new Disney movie, "Tomorrowland" starring George Clooney. Although sci-fi movies aren't really my thing, seeing a movie was a good way to pass the time on a rainy, unseasonably cold afternoon. Although I wasn't expecting to get much out of it, I actually found the underlying message of the movie to be quite inspiring. As cliché as it might be...hope and optimism can save the future from destruction. But even more than hope, was the driving message that though the answers to our problems might be right in front of us and within plain view, most people aren't willing to do anything to about it... even when they are physically able to see the devastating consequences. How incredibly apropos regarding the status of health in this country.
My friend Stacy over at School Bites has written about how everyone can "DO ONE THING" to help change the food environment at their school. If we all did just one thing, think what we could accomplish not just at school, but everywhere! Chef Ann Cooper has been one of the leaders in school nutrition reform and has led the "DO ONE THING CAMPAIGN" with incredible success and her movement is gaining tremendous speed.
Anyway, I left the movie feeling humbled and proud to have planted a "seed" of change flourishing before me in my own community. Sometimes, it's just the slightest shift that can have a huge impact on our lives and our destiny.
One thing is for sure, changing the future MUST involve THESE TACOS!
Have I mentioned tacos are one of my all time favorite ways to bring a healthy lunch or dinner to the table? Most importantly, they don't need to be stuffed with meat or tons of cheese to be delicious! Vegetables can truly be the star!
For all those beet haters out there, just forget how you've ever felt about them. Shredding and roasting gives them a completely different taste, texture and "wow" factor.
Now that we've gotten past the beets, we've also got these delicious baby portobellos and zucchini that are also roasted with a bit of salt, pepper and olive oil. If you can't find baby portobellos, regular will work just fine. I chop up some cherry tomatoes and top with some sour cream and lime juice and well...
the result is heavenly! Flavorful, satisfying, healthy. Give them a try. You won't be disappointed! Now get out there and go change the future! 😉
Zucchini and Baby Portobello Tacos with Crisp Shredded Beets
- 2-3 medium sized beets shredded with the shredder attachment of a food processor
- 1 package soft corn tacos
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 2 zucchini halved and sliced
- 2 cups baby portobello mushrooms sliced thick
- ½ cup sour cream
- parsley for garnish
- 2 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp for each vegetable tray
- 1 lime quartered
- kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 450 F.
- Using two baking sheets, put shredded beets on one, and the zucchini and mushrooms on the other.
- Toss vegetables with a olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Roast the beets for about 12-15 minutes checking often to make sure they are not burning and carefully tossing with a spatula half-way through.
- Roast zucchini and mushrooms for 20 minutes or until golden brown, tossing the vegetables half-way through.
- Warm corn tacos by placing on a grill pan or skillet for 2 min per side or until grill marks appear.
- Scoop some of the zucchini and mushrooms onto the taco and top with beets, a few cherry tomatoes, dollop of sour cream, squirt of fresh lime juice and some parsley.
- Serve immediately.