Food & Nutrition
“Both your body and soul need care. You strengthen your soul by training it through ethics and wisdom. You strengthen your body by providing it with nutritious food and drinks.” Maimonides.
At the Brook Academy, we believe teaching our children the basics of good health and nutrition is very important. Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years; the CDC reports that in 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. It is vitally important that we instill in our children an understanding of how important it is that they take care of their bodies, eat healthy nutritious food and avoid poor food choices. Given the obesity rates and the aggressive marketing of processed foods to young children, proactively teaching healthy habits at a young age is critical to giving children a head start in maintaining a healthy weight.
At the Brook Academy, all of our meals are prepared using fresh ingredients. We try to find and serve what we call “medium foods”, foods that are as healthy as possible but will still be enjoyed by the children. For example, all kids love macaroni and cheese. You could make it pretty innutritious using white pasta, full fat cheese sauce with butter and cream and no vegetable. Kids would love it, but it would provide them with very little nutrients and way too much fat. You could make it the very nutritious way using whole wheat pasta, low fat cheese sauce made with low fat cheese and skim milk, and adding a lot of broccoli. That would be very nutritious but the children may not enjoy eating it and leave a lot on their plates. We make it the “medium way” using a mix of white and whole grain pasta, cheese sauce with a little bit of butter, full fat cheese, 2% milk and some mashed carrots for extra nutrition, and we add just a bit of fresh broccoli florets. This way it has nutrients but is also something the children will love and be happy to eat.
At the Brook Academy, we follow the following basic principles in preparing meals and snacks for our students:
- Avoid processed foods.
- Use fresh fruits and vegetables in season.
- Use all or partially whole grains when you can.
- Try to serve vegetarian items as often as possible.
- Do not serve red meat or pork products at all.
- Use only canola oil, olive oil or butter (no margarine or vegetable oil).
- Make water always available; always offer it first.
- Dilute all fruit juices with water.
- Avoid high fructose corn syrup.
- Buy organic when you can.
- All milk purchased must be without growth hormone.
- Avoid deep frying; bake, grill or pan sauté only.
Children will be served a variety of foods on a daily basis that are designed to meet their growing needs.
Examples of meals served are:
- Macaroni with carrot/cheese sauce and broccoli florets.
- Chicken noodle soup with pieces of real chicken, carrots, zucchini and potato.
- Baked chicken nuggets (coated with chickpea flour and then breadcrumbs) with baked fries (made from real potatoes).
- English muffin pizzas with carrot/tomato sauce and whole milk mozzarella.
- Brown and white rice bake with chicken, corn, peas and carrots.
- Spaghetti with turkey meatballs and zucchini/tomato sauce.
Snacks are designed to be nutritious and keep the children fueled throughout the day while still being enjoyable. We make every effort to present fruits and vegetables as snacks in appetizing ways so the children grow with a love for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Examples of snacks served are:
- Apple Slices with Honey.
- Fresh baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
- Fresh baked spinach brownies with sprinkles.
- Whole grain saltines with cream cheese.
- Fresh orange segments.
- Cucumber coins with ranch dip.