When To Use An Unclaimable Cheese Sauce On School Menus

I must admit that I used to be firmly in the “if it doesn’t count towards something I’m not using it camp” and then two things happened – I came face to face with high school students and I started writing recipes for Child Nutrition. That is where my transition started.

Secondary students are basically adults that can eat more than we can on any given day, which makes them hungry all of the time. Look at a serving of macaroni and cheese using a 2 M/MA sauce and 2 whole grain ounce equivalents it is underwhelming in size. However if you use a flavorful cheese sauce that doesn’t count you have the same portion size but then add 2 M/MA such as diced ham, fajita chicken or BBQ pulled pork and you have something worthy of their appetites with little added cost. The same goes for vegetarian options. Change up the spice profile and add peppers and beans and you have something new and different to offer.

Another option, staying with the mac and cheese example, is to use it simply as a grain. When the menu calls for another whole grain it is easy to just add a dinner roll or breadstick. However a side of mac and cheese using a non-claimable cheese sauce accomplishes the same thing and works wonderfully, for example, if serving bone in chicken. Looking to the South, pulled pork doesn’t have to be served on a bun. Imagine a plate with pulled pork, mac and cheese, and greens. It all fits into the guidelines and you have a terrific comfort food lunch!

Do I hear “what about the added sodium?” Foothill Farms has cheese sauces that are moderate in sodium – around 220 mg per serving – in their Flavorwise line of products. Since the sodium target is weekly, with planning, these cheese sauces can fit into your menu. In elementary programs sodium is occasionally an issue but I don’t find the struggle when working with secondary programs. Since students would enjoy the addition of cheese sauce it takes some planning but isn’t anything to shy away from.

Getting Creative with Cheese Sauce

There are so many ways cheese sauce can enhance menu items. The simplest being as a dip for raw or cooked vegetables. There are vegetables that your students prefer and it is a struggle to present them in a different way so that they continue to eat them every day. I am not saying to offer cheese sauce every day however it is an alternate to Ranch Dressing. By adding Sriracha or chipotle to the cheese sauce you have a new dipping sauce that will get kids talking.

Getting creative, another example that comes to mind is the Chicken Nachos. It is a simple recipe with tortilla chips, diced chicken, cheese sauce and salsa and check out the sodium – 498 mg. You can easily offer toppings without negatively changing the overall nutritional profile such as diced red and green peppers, green onions, black olive slices and, if you wanted to add a vegetable component, either black or pinto beans – whole or refried. As you can see very doable!Chicken Nachos.png

And for the possible doubters out there here is a full day’s menu including the refried beans so, yes,FHF.png it can be done! While you may want some additional fruit and vegetable choices, it shouldn’t impact the sodium noticeably.

Another option that I really like – Mexican pizza! Layer on top of the whole grain crust refried beans mixed with salsa as the “sauce” and top with taco meat. Bake and, immediately before serving, top with chopped lettuce and tomatoes and drizzle with cheese sauce. Excellent flavor with crisp vegetables and the cheese sauce completes the entrée with a splash of color and flavor.

I could keep throwing out ideas but you can see that I have become a believer! Everything you use does not have to count toward the meal pattern. To me, it is more important to bring students back to our programs with interesting, tasteful foods that show we can meet the guidelines while being innovative!

 

For the LOVE of CHEESE! New Cheese Sauce Recipes Added

It’s easy to find new cheese sauce recipes from Foothill Farms® by simply entering “cheese” in the search box within the recipe link on our website.

Searching for what’s new in the world of cheese sauce? It’s easy to find new cheese sauce recipes from Foothill Farms® by simply entering “cheese” in the search box within the recipe link on our website.

Our chef at Kent Precision Foods Group (KPFG)  is constantly whisking up delicious recipes and providing new concepts targeting foodservice professionals. He knows what is trending and focuses on helping you reach new heights in the food that comes out of your kitchen as well. (Read more about Chef Martin and his food philosophies.) Some of his recent cheese sauce recipes are Sriracha Jack Queso Sauce, Monterey Spaghetti, and Spicy Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup. These recipes, as well as many others, were assessed in the test kitchen and will complement many foodservice kitchens.

Cheesy Foothill Farms Recipes
For the love of CHEESE! Sauces, dips, soups, nachos, queso, entrees and sides

Dry mix cheese sauces add value and consistency to your menu by employing the speed scratch concept: make how much you need from a dry mix product with the addition of other fresh ingredients. Speed scratch products deliver the best combination of maintaining product predictability while still delivering your guests remarkable taste every time. Time and money…sauce mixes will save you both by allowing you to easily make only what you need.

Foothill Farms Potato & Cheese Soup Recipe
Foothill Farms Potato & Cheese Soup Recipe

So if you’re looking for new cheese recipes that are crave-able and innovative, we’ve got you covered with our variety of cheese sauce recipes at Foothill Farms®. Remember, just search for “cheese” and our products and recipes will help you do the rest, easily and affordably.