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!

 

Our Packaging Has a New Look!

Foothill Farms® redesigned their packaging to help operators distinguish between its traditional foodservice product line and the brands healthier, lower sodium product line, Flavorwise™.

New packaging allows culinary professionals to differentiate dry mix products.
New packaging allows culinary professionals to differentiate dry mix products.

The new look of Foothill Farms® products will help keep your dry storage in your commercial kitchen organized in delicious ways. Red and green will be popping up in foodservice commercial kitchens everywhere. Some Foothill Farms products will feature a bold red band for traditional offerings or an easily distinguishable bright green band indicating the trademarked Flavorwise™ healthier options. A Flavorwise label means products have 310 mg of sodium or less per serving, fat free or low fat, have 0g trans fat and contain no cholesterol or added MSG. In addition, both packages will have highly visible identifiers, such as “gluten-free,” “fat free,” or “no MSG” as special markers on the packages in efforts to provide customers with information to help them make informed choices about the products they purchase and serve to their customers.

Inside the new packaging, are the same quality ingredients which have helped commercial kitchens embrace speed-scratch concepts to prepare delicious, consistent results time after time. Our endeavors to create an easily identifiable packaging system mirrors the concept of the actual products themselves, providing foodservice solutions to commercial kitchens.

The evolution of our new packaging streamlines the consolidation of two former brands, TUF® and Milani®, now simply under the Foothill Farms umbrella of products. This merging has nearly tripled the amount of Foothill Farms mixes which encompass salad dressings, seasonings, gravies, cheese sauces, and desserts to name a few. The new packaging will be phased in gradually.

New packaging helps culinary professionals identify products more easily.
Mystery solved! Clear labeling for gluten-free, no MSG, low-fat and prep time.

So whether you are reaching for Foothill Farms® Ranch dressing or a Flavorwise Chili Seasoning Mix, the right product will always be at hand. Our mission is to help simplify your commercial kitchen and your dry storage with quality easy-to-organize products. Red or green, the choice is sure to make a flavorful dish!

Rest Easy this Summer: Plan Your K-12 2014/15 Menu Now!

Begin your summer grilling and chilling with the peace of mind your K-12 menu is already mapped out for the 2014-2015 school year. Foothill Farms® easily takes menu planning to meal execution by offering a bevy of dressing, seasoning and sauce mixes that can take you through the year with ease

Begin your summer grilling and chilling with the peace of mind your K-12 menu is already mapped out for the 2014-2015 school year. Foothill Farms® easily takes menu planning to meal execution by offering a bevy of dressing, seasoning and sauce mixes that can take you through the year with ease. If you spend hours worrying about sodium levels, don’t worry about our Flavorwise™ product line. It was created to be flavorful yet sodium conscious. Each product has 310 mg sodium or less per serving, 0g trans fat, is low fat or fat free and contains no cholesterol or added MSG.

AUGUST

For starters, keep kids’ memories of delicious summer barbeques alive in August by going back-to-school with BBQ Teriyaki Meatballs with Asian Noodles on the lunch menu. Our BBQ Teriyaki Sauce Mix and Asian Noodle Seasoning combine with water chestnuts, turkey meatballs, and whole grain spaghetti to make a dish that sizzles. Another smart end-of-summer choice that accompanies Mexican-inspired entrees like tacos or nachos is our Corn and Black Bean Salsa.

Corn & Black Bean Salsa
Corn Salsas

Serve it with corn tortilla chips and the kids will say “gracias”! If your students are not quite ready to give up burgers, keep them interested and surprised with a sweet and savory Teriyaki Pineapple Sauce on top of a turkey patty. To satisfy fresh vegetable requirements, serve raw vegetables with a rich BBQ Ranch dip or use it to dress a traditional side salad.

SEPTEMBER

As the summer menu wraps up, consider popular Asian dishes to keep the menu infused with flavorful rice and noodle options. Asian Style-Walking Tacos keep nutrition headed for a tasty destination with its cabbage, diced chicken and whole grain Asian noodle ingredients. Our Asian Noodle seasoning can help you easily master a popular Vegetable Stir Fry with Asian Stir Fry Rice or create a scrumptious General Tso’s Chicken with Asian Noodles. Our low-sodium Flavorwise™ original Stir Fry Sauce mix can even turn pizza into Stir Fry Pizza– a simple and instant yummy upgrade!

OCTOBER THRU FEBRUARY

As cooler autumn and winter temperatures prevail, warm and hearty soups bring comfort when there is a chill in the air. Soups such as Taco Soup, Minestrone, or a classic Broccoli Cheddar keep students satisfied with wholesome ingredients. Cincinnati 3-Way Chili with its Greek influence and rich cinnamon and clove undertones, deepens the use of Chili Seasoning Mix, which also makes an amazingly simple turkey chili. Just add some topping choices of shredded cheese, crackers, or maybe even a touch of sour cream to make these soups and chili recipes shine even brighter. Fall brings the opportunity to use seasonal cranberries, but with a fun twist. Foothill Farms® Cranberry Salsa recipe incorporates the heat of jalapeños and the sweetness of cranberry which can be used as a dip or a wrap.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Broccoli Cheddar Soup

MARCH THRU APRIL

Thinking of how to wrap up winter dishes and bring in spring flair? Wraps and sandwiches are a fresh way to showcase Foothill Farms® sauce mixes such as Cilantro Lime Rice seasoning mix. This mix features chopped cilantro and a tropical lime twist that pairs well with either white or brown rice becoming the base for a healthy, lighter wrap. Lettuce wraps, with your choice of healthy ingredients, can also be featured in the early months of the year topped with a creamy Avocado Ranch Dressing. Buttermilk, avocado, lime juice, and mayonnaise flavors combine to create a more flavorful, but still nutritious, ranch dressing. Another light dish that creates the perfect food vehicle for encouraging kids to eat their beans is Foothill Farms® Hummus. Chick peas or great northern beans are the base for this delicious dip which can be served with fresh vegetables or crackers.

MAY THRU JUNE

As the end of the year approaches, let Latin twists take you to summer with delicious fajitas made with Asado Style Fajita Seasoning Mix (Low Sodium). Succulent chicken, beef, turkey or pork take on slow-roasted flavors which feature onions, chile peppers, and paprika. Don’t forget the salsa! Change up everyday salsa by adding fresh tomatoes, beans, or corn to our Salsa Seasoning Mix. The mix is equally great with fruit! Pineapples, peaches, pears, and mangos are a few of our recommendations. Keep the theme Latin inspired with Cheese Enchilada Mini Pierogies which is an easy way to keep the menu both nutritious and simple to prepare.

YEAR LONG DESSERTS

Desserts need no season; they are popular any month! Whole Grain Oat Topping Mix tempts at any time of year when baked over fresh or frozen fruit for an old-fashioned style crisp topper. Our Bread Pudding Mix with Cinnamon adds an exclamation point to the meal with its delicious rich flavor. This kitchen-friendly mix can be used with any leftover whole grain bread products such as pancakes, rolls, and buns.

Whole Grain Oat Crisp Topping
Whole Grain Oat Crisp Topping over fresh berries

Now that your meal planning has a great start with Foothill Farms®…dig out your sunglasses, kick back and relax knowing next year’s menu is full of flavorful recipes. From August to June, we have you covered.

Customization Options are in the Sauce!

Consumers want more power over the dishes they are eating through flexible menus and by choosing their own ingredients for a particular dish. Having a few classic or signature sauces on hand that are easily adaptable will increase the options served on a daily basis and help satisfy even the most discerning customer.

We are no longer working in a one flavor fits all industry. The number one food trend according to Technomic’s 2013 Year in Review: 10 Macro Consumer Foodservice Trends is customization. Consumers want more power over the dishes they are eating through flexible menus and by choosing their own ingredients for a particular dish.

Our chefs enjoy seeing how many dishes one sauce mix can create!
Our chefs enjoy seeing how many dishes one sauce mix can create!

How do you achieve this daunting prospect of individual choice in foodservice? Look no farther than the sauce! By offering a spectrum of sauce choices customized from a few Foothill Farms® basic sauce mixes, food professionals leave room for individuality on a much bigger stage. Having a few classic or signature sauces on hand that are easily adaptable will increase the options served on a daily basis and help satisfy even the most discerning customer.

Chicken, fish, beef…let’s face it, if a sauce is drizzled over it, the dish instantly moves up the gourmet ladder. Foothill Farms® Béchamel Sauce mix easily transitions into a mild Mornay Sauce, ready to embrace a baked tilapia filet. The same mix can make a velvety smooth Veloute´ Sauce to serve over a grilled chicken breast. Moreover, our Béchamel Sauce mix is the base for our Blue Cheese Sauce and Gorgonzola Sauce recipes. Looking at our product this way illustrates the benefits of using dry mix. Sauce mixes become customizable food art simply by adding a handful of fresh ingredients.

Likewise, a kid and senior-friendly Alfredo Sauce has a multitude of applications. It can be tweaked to form a Ragin Cajun, palate-pleasing blackened fish topper, transformed into a creamy, Memphis BBQ Parmesan Sauce, or whipped into a pasta-ready Garlic Alfredo Sauce. Do we have you mentally creating new dishes already?

Shrimp and Broccoli Alfredo
Shrimp and Broccoli Alfredo

Wait, we haven’t even discussed dessert! Satisfy the sweet tooth with Foothill Farms® Crème Anglaise Custard Sauce which is every bit as customizable as the entrée sauces. Crepes or bread puddings topped with Lemon Crème, Raspberry Rum Crème, and White Russian Crème will finish any dinner on a high note while Chocolate Peanut Butter Crème and Almond Crème beckon for a partner of ice cream or cookie wafers. Implementing dessert sauces stretches menu offerings and accentuates chefs’ craftsmanship.

Serve a sauce as a dip!
Serve a sauce as a dip!

If the goal is to take menu choices further without increasing food costs, trying dry sauce mix is worth the experiment or should we say EXPERIENCE! Trust us! Behind-the-scenes, our chefs enjoy seeing how many dishes one sauce mix can create!

TUF® and Milani® Brands Are Now Foothill Farms®

Foothill Farms® began transitioning TUF® and Milani® brands into one foodservice mega brand. The consolidation process began last December and will continue throughout 2014 until all TUF® and Milani® branded products are sold and replaced with the newly packaged Foothill Farms® product line.

Foothill Farms® began transitioning TUF® and Milani® brands into one foodservice mega brand.  The consolidation process began last December and will continue throughout 2014 until all TUF® and Milani® branded products are sold and replaced with the newly packaged Foothill Farms® product line. The formulas, tastes, UPCs, manufacturing codes, quality and the ordering process remain unchanged, only the packaging and brand names’ transitioned.

“Cases are marked with a bright orange sticker on the top of the box that features a QR code and a link that will take customers to an information site,” stated Jamie Collins, Director of Marketing, Kent Precision Foods Group.  “All case and product packaging featuring Milani® and TUF® brand names will change to Foothill Farms® on various schedules depending on their production date.”

Foothill Farms® customers can expect expansion within the current product categories, bringing more operator-centric solutions to the foodservice industry.  To learn more about this brand change transition, customers can visit foothillfarms.com/transition or contact their Kent Precision Foods Group sales representative at 800-442-5242. Check out our YouTube video discussing the transition https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhIj7xMkUxg.

Latin Sauces take the Express Track…Destination: Big Flavor!

Orange Ancho Chile Sauce Mix
Orange Ancho Chile Chicken with Avocado Flatbread

For a Latin sauce with flair, just add water.  It really can be that simple!  As food professionals, we know better than to overlook the importance of a quality accompanying sauce.  It elevates the main dish and turns great into extraordinary.  However, the reality of creating the perfect sauce from scratch for every individual recipe can translate to losing valuable prep time and drive up expense as the list of ingredients increases.  Can the solution be as easy as adding water?  It actually can be that simple if you are using Foothill Farms® instant mixes which include delicious cheese sauces, ethnic sauces, classic sauces, and specialty sauces.  Within the line of sauces, there are low sodium options from our Flavorwise™ product line.  Foothill Farms® mixes create reliable, delicious flavor that still offer options to customize recipes and showcase your individuality as a food artist.

Red Enchilada Sauce Mix
Enchilada Sauce with Cheese Rolls

Our Latin sauce mixes embody the trending concept of speed scratch, which incorporates ready-to-use food products to expedite prep without sacrificing flavor.  Foothill Farms® products are allowing food professionals to save time, money, and create consistent dishes with much less fuss and increasing menu possibilities.

Versatility? Yes.  Foothill Farms® Orange Ancho Chile Sauce Mix can take you from Orange Ancho Chile Chicken with Cilantro Lime Rice to Orange Ancho Chile Chicken with Avocado Flatbread without skipping a Latin beat.  Spicy Chili Orange Sauce gives a signature flavor of sweet and spicy to wings, chicken and ribs without spending valuable time on prep.

Healthy? Yes.  Foothill Farms® Classic Red Enchilada Sauce Mix with Guajillo Chiles-Reduced Sodium keeps an eye on nutrition for your healthful menu items without compromising flavor. It is a part of our Flavorwise™ product line and contains no added MSG, no partially hydrogenated oils, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or flavors, low in sodium and preservative free.  Using this one sauce mix can expand your menu at least three times with Beef Enchilada Empanadas, Cheese Enchilada Mini Pierogies, and Carne Asada Sauce.

Beef Enchiladas
Beef Enchiladas

Cheese, please? Yes.  Foothill Farms® has 16 cheese sauce mixes to explore ranging from traditional cheddars, to creamy whites, to spicy nacho cheese, to exceptional specialty cheese sauces. Serve Chipotle-Cheddar Cheese Sauce alongside fresh baked bread or onion rings as a specialty dip, compliment juicy burgers with a rich creamy cheese experience or mix it with pasta for a unique mac n’ cheese. Don’t forget the chips and dip! Pepper Jack Queso gives a little menu twist and livens up this popular appetizer staple.

Standard Fare? No.  We are constantly adding new recipes to provide a spectrum of dishes to keep adding to your food repertoire.  Adding new twists with innovative recipes can keep the menu fresh while keeping costs in check with the mixes that will become a staple in the kitchen.

Foothill Farms® will keep the Latin sauce movement alive in your kitchen and help keep your focus on easy flavor with lots of versatility.  Latin heat just got easier.

Pepper Jack Queso
Pepper Jack Queso