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Using yogurt in recipes

April 21, 1998|By KATE COLEMAN

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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Yogurt

At its most basic dictionary-definition level, yogurt is a thick, semisolid food made from milk fermented by a bacterium. Yuck.

Does that sound like something that's going to sell a lot of school lunches?

Toward the end of 1996, U.S. Department of Agriculture approved yogurt as a meat substitute for the school lunch program. Kids across the country may have had a cartoon image of trying to eat a messy sandwich of yogurt sliding off a hamburger bun.

Relax. That's not the way it is.

To understand how it is, it helps to understand how school lunch menus are planned.

Washington County is among about a third of the nation's schools that are using "nutrient-based menu analysis" -computer analysis - to plan school lunch menus, according to Don Trumble, director of Washington County Board of Education's Food and Nutrition Services. Involved in the local school food service for 27 years, Trumble has seen more than one generation of students go through the school lunch lines.

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Fifty years ago, two ounces of meat were required in a school lunch, Trumble says. "It used to be we could not use yogurt as contributing anything to the school lunch menu," he adds.

Now, yogurt can be counted in with all the other nutrients in planning Washington County school lunches.

In school systems that are using another planning option - the "food-based" option in which appropriately sized portions of foods from different groups are required - yogurt can be used as half a portion, according to Trumble.

The bottom line is to provide nutritious school lunches that kids will eat. Low-fat yogurt can be used in preparing foods, and the kids probably will never know it's there.

Students help to plan Washington County School lunches. A look at the Board of Education's Web site at www.wcboe.k12.md.us/ shows a month's worth of lunches along with the names of student planners, percentages of recommended daily allowances students' bodies need and total amount of fat and saturated fat in the lunches. Washington County's May totals are good: 28 percent total fat; 9 percent average of saturated fat.

Trumble says most kids don't care that that's a good amount of fat, but national dietary guidelines advise reducing fat to less than 30 percent of calories. Saturated fat should count for no more than a third of the total fat calories.

Kids often want things like burgers and potato rounds, says Sharon Walker, area manager for Washington County Food and Nutrition Services, which also prepares meals for all local Senior Center nutrition sites.

Walker provided recipes for Ranch Dressing and Baked Fish Scandia. Both use low-fat yogurt to reduce fat.

But not all yogurt is yucky or disguised at local schools. Frozen yogurt is on the school lunch menu for Friday, April 24.

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