Sunday, August 21, 2011

Top 10 Back-to-School Food Trends

Good morning! I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend so far. While I was searching online this morning, I came across this great article on Delish.com about the top 10 back to school food trends. We haven't started school yet (still another few weeks of summer left to go) but I'm sure there are some of you out that have already started with the school routine. 


It's that time of year again, parents. The kids are leaving the house. But that doesn't mean your work is done. Breakfasts need to be made, lunches need to be packed, snacks need to be prepared, and they all need to be fun but nutritious. In order to keep abreast of all this year's schooltime food trends, we've rounded up a top ten. While we can't predict the next iCarlyspaghetti taco-type craze (though we have a hunch it's something Bieber-related - Canadian bacon soft-serve, perhaps?), we can let you in on what's happening in the real world when it comes to food and your kids.



1. Breakfast is Back (Now with Chocolate!)
This past year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack named March 7-12 National School Breakfast Week as a way to demonstrate the administration's desire to provide school children with nutritious meals to prepare them for the day. "A nutritious breakfast will help our children learn better and have the energy needed for academic success," said Vilsack, according to the 
USDA blog. Taking a cue from the Top Ten Breakfast Trends for 2011, include real, steel-cut oatmeal as a favorite healthy cereal. Chocolate is even appropriate for breakfast in the form of chocolate Belgian waffles, chocolate granola, and even chocolate tea. Breakfast pizza, once solely a college student staple, is now appearing on morning menus. Kellogg's is releasing an Eggo-brand fruity breakfast pizza in two flavors.
2. Artificial Colors Be Gone!
Kara Nielsen, a trendologist at the Center for Culinary Development, has seen a rise in food companies leaving artificial colors in the coloring box and keeping them out of kids' foods. "Although foods for everyone have been getting "cleaner" and more natural, the U.S. food industry hasn't shared Europe and the rest of the world's disfavor for artificial colors, especially for children," Nielsen said. "One positive back-to-school trend would be for parents to eliminate all artificial colors from snacks, beverages, cereals, and candy." Though the FDA recently decided that dyes do not have a negative effect of the behavior of typical children, they did allow that children with preexisting behavioral problems may see their symptoms worsened by the artificial dyes, according to 
The New York Times.
3. School Cafeterias Get a Healthy Makeover
Last December the government passed the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act, which required the USDA to update school nutrition requirements and increased federal subsidies to school meal programs. Some new, healthy additions to the cafeteria include more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk. In order to keep calorie levels down, some schools have taken to baking their French fries instead of frying them, while others have been including whole grains in lunchtime favorites such as pizza, as reported by
QSR Magazine.
4. Healthier Lunches on the Go
Cafeteria lunches aren't the only lunches getting healthier. As reported by 
FoodReference.com, the LUNCHABLES Lunchroom Monitor Survey, conducted by KRC Research, polled 1,000 moms and 1,000 kids about their packed lunch preferences. When packing a lunch, 47% of moms chose foods to pack based on the nutritional content. Though chips were a favorite snack of 42% of older kids, more and more moms have found ways to make veggies a part of their kids' diets from an early age by making vegetables fun. According to the survey, vegetables are second only to chicken nuggets as a favorite food to dunk. Including low-fat dressings, dips, or sauces with a bag of dip-able veggies is a great way to add pizazz to a healthy snack.
5. Foodie Kids on the Rise
More and more, kids are developing discerning and adventurous palates. Through watching the Food Network or the Cooking Channel or idolizing Anthony Bourdain's antics on the Travel Channel, children are craving foods more sophisticated than a classic PB & J. One school in North Philadelphia attempted to inspire schools all over the country by serving camp goers gourmet cafeteria food. Chef Marc Vetri and his partner Jeff Benjamin, run three of the top Italian restaurants in Philadelphia. They also have started to dabble in school cafeterias. In an effort to reinvent the federal school lunch program, Vetri and Benjamin designed menus that included beef lasagna made with homemade tomato sauce, sautéed shrimp with gazpacho, tomato panzanella, and lemon granita. "My goal?" Vetri told 
Philly.com, "is to have every single school in America serving a fresh, family-style lunch. There is no reason it can't be done."
 6. Healthy Sweets Are on the Menu
Many parents have found that even if you keep sweets out of a child's lunch, they will find sugar anyway. So instead of denying them, give them sweets that are good for them and still satisfy that sugary craving. Many companies are making all-natural, organic candies. Natural gummy bears such as those from Surf Sweets that pack a vitamin C punch, organic jelly beans, and even big companies like Jelly Belly are jumping on the health wagon with their superfruit mix, which is made with fruit juice and puree. Even children with allergies are able to enjoy the sweeter things in life. Indie Candy has launched Back-to-School Buckets for parents with children with food allergies. Both teachers and parents alike can use the buckets of natural and Big 8 Allergen-free candies to treat their children. Or take inspiration from the buckets and stock up on your own gluten-free oreos, earth dots and fruit-friendly lollipops.

7. Chocolate Is in Style
Don't tell your kids, but chocolate is good for them, according to researchers at Pennsylvania State University as reported by 
KidsFoodTrends.com. Chocolate (and we're talking pure chocolate here made with a good portion of cacao - not the milky, waxy stuff) is a great source for phosphorous, which helps bones and teeth form and helps to keep bones strong, and magnesium, which helps maintain muscle growth and keeps an immune system healthy. This sure makes those chocolate Belgian waffles sound like a great idea for both kids and parents alike! It's best if the chocolate is organic (try Moo Kids organic chocolates for kid-friendly ideas). Chocolate milk is also a tasty way to get kids the calcium their bodies crave.
8. Milk All Around
Speaking of milk, it's the new energy drink for kids. When packing a lunch, skip sugary juices or sodas and instead pack a handy mini-milk (along with an ice pack, of course, to keep things safe). A recent Canadian study found that milk was actually better than water for keeping kids hydrated, according to
CTV Montreal. Grab-and-go containers such as Dean's Milk Chug make milk fun and easy to drink on the go.
9. Lunches Get a Sense of Humor
Even if your kids want the same sandwich day after day, that doesn't mean you can't spice up their lunchtime. Put a bug in the lunch bag. Not really, just a 
Lunch Bug sandwich bag, which takes an everyday sandwich bag and adds a very realistic image of a creepy crawly such as a cockroach or fly. (They're not just for the kids. Try using one for your lunch at work. We're pretty sure no one will steal your sandwich from the fridge.) Another way to give some character to an average lunch is to give your child's sandwich a personality - literally. Parents all over have begun cutting sandwiches into fun animal shapes or other creations. Try digging up those Christmas cookie cutters and using them to create turkey sandwich trees or grilled cheese stars. Take a look at some of the creations over at FunkyLunch.com for some tasty inspiration.
10. The End of the Lunch Lady?
While some schools are getting more hands-on with their cooking, others like some in the Miami-Dade region in Florida, are going high tech, according to 
The Miami New Times. They are installing vending machines that will be offering up not junk food, but healthy lunch options made from locally grown ingredients. Some items up for selection include yogurt parfaits, Caribbean wraps, and other local chef-approved items.


For more information, check out Delish yourself! 

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