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Healthy Diets

Kids Food for Thought


Healthful Eating For Healthy Kids!
Vol. 1 Issue 4

First Place Winner Chef Lucy Costa prepares her winning School Lunch Challenge recipe as the child judges look on.


The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched the School Meals Initiative to find innovative ways to enhance the nutritional quality of school lunches while improving upon the tastes children like best. Since children develop their eating habits early on in their lives, school lunches are the perfect place to expose children to healthful foods and eating patterns that will serve them well throughout life. Over 26 million children participate in the U.S. school lunch program on any given day and school lunch directors are now turning their cafeterias into creative "learning labs" for healthy eating!

During July, top chefs from around the country competed in the American Culinary Federation's (ACF) School Lunch Challenge '97. The program, sponsored by The Peanut Institute, is a cooperative effort between the ACF, the USDA, the American School Food Service Association (ASFSA), and the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

The competition finalists each designed two complete school lunch menus that met required criteria for taste, and plate appeal. The menus complied with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines and received less than 30% of total calories from fat. Each menu costs less than 80 cents per serving. The menus included ethnic or regional recipes that used ingredients that are highly popular with children.

Below are the winning menus from Lucie Costa.


  • Chicken Burrito
  • Peanut Oatmeal Cookies
  • 1 cup 2% Milk
  • Chicken, Vegetables & Pasta w/Thai Peanut Sauce
  • Mandarin Orange Five Spice Fruit Salad
  • 1 cup 2% Milk

Both of Chef Costa's menus meet the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, incorporating fruits and vegetables into the items. Each menu is a good source of many vitamins and minerals especially vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. The competition was judged by ACF master chefs, top officials from USDA, school food service directors, dietitians, and most importantly a panel of ten "kid-tasters" from Atlanta. The competitors were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals as well as cash prizes.

Mary Ann Keeffe, Acting Under Secretary of USDA who oversaw the competition said, "It is important to recognize foods that children do like and try and prepare them in different ways. Peanut butter is a good example of that. We're glad to be teaming up with The Peanut Institute."

Training films on cooking healthy meals and other technical assistance materials are being used in all of USDA's regional seminars to assist the 92,000 school lunch managers according to Virgil Conrad, Regional Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service.

The program supports the efforts of the ASFSA to continually improve their program. Lana Elliot, President of Georgia's ASFSA said, "One of our goals this year is to bring culinary arts into the schools. We are the end result of this challenge because we'll actually prepare these foods at the local level. The children will be the biggest winners of all."

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Healthful Eating For Healthy Kids!
Vol. 1 Issue 4


1st Place

Lucie Costa, CEC, Culinary Arts Instructor, State University of New York at Delhi and Former Chef/Owner of the Historic North Plank Inn.
Chicken, Pasta and Vegetables with Thai Peanut Sauce


  • 1 1/2 lb. linguine
  • 14 oz. boneless chicken breast
  • 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 c. broccoli florets
  • 3 cups matchstick carrots
  • 1 cup matchstick red peppers
  • 1 Tbl. chopped peanuts
  • 1 Tbl. parsley

Thai Peanut Sauce

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbl. Tabasco sauce
  • 2 Tbl. garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 Tbl. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbl. ginger
  • 1 tsp. honey

Cook pasta in boiling water. Cut chicken into small strips and pound thin. In a non-stick skillet, add oil and cook chicken for 10 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots and red peppers. Saute. Add Thai Peanut Sauce and sprinkle with chopped peanuts and parsley. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

Thai Peanut Sauce:
In a bowl, mix all ingredients. Add 1 cup water and mix until smooth.

calories 380
total fat 9 g.
saturated fat 2 g.
protein 26 g.
carbohydrate 49 g.
fiber 0 g.
cholesterol 39 mg.
sodium 326 mg.
iron 3 mg.
calcium 61 mg.
vitamin A 3,362 RE
vitamin C 48 mg.

2nd Place

John Saundry, CEC, AAC, Executive Chef, Mariner Sands Country Club, Stuart, Florida.
Peanut Butter Buddies

  • 3 Tbl. peanut butter
  • 4 Tbl. hot water
  • 2 1/4 oz. non fat dry milk
  • 5 Tbl. raisins
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 3 Tbl. crushed peanuts
  • 1 Tbl. brown sugar

Thoroughly mix all ingredients to form a cookie dough consistency. Press contents into a bread pan achieving about a 1/2 inch thickness. Refrigerate until fully chilled.

Cut into 6 servings.

calories 177
total fat 7 g.
saturated fat 1 g.
protein 9 g.
carbohydrates 23 g.
fiber 2 g.
cholesterol 2 mg.
sodium 99 mg.
iron 1 mg.
calcium 146 mg.
vitamin A 53 RE
vitamin C 1 mg.

3rd Place

Grace Kusuhara, CC,CPC, Chef, University of Hawaii Laboratory School, Honolulu, HI.
Peanut Butter Chews

  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 1 3/4 Tbl. peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 oz. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 oz. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tsp. chopped peanuts
  • 1 1/3 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 tsp. baking powder

With a mixer, beat butter, peanut butter and sugars until creamy. Add egg and chopped peanuts and beat on medium speed. On low speed, add flour and baking powder and mix until combined. Use #40 scoop (or heaping tablespoon) and drop on cookie sheet and bake in 350oF oven for 15-20 minutes. Do not overbake. Makes 6 servings.

calories 113
total fat 5 g.
saturated fat 2 g.
protein 3 g.
carbohydrates 15 g.
fiber 1 g.
cholesterol 39 mg.
sodium 48 mg.
iron 1 mg.
calcium 9 mg.
vitamin A 28 RE
vitamin C 0 mg.

Henry Biagi, CCE, CEC, Executive Chef and Food Service Director of Somerville Public Schools, Somerville, MA.

Best Peanut Recipe Spoonable Banana,Peach & Peanut Butter Smoothie

  • 4 ripe petite bananas, skinned & frozen
  • 1 cup peaches, frozen
  • 2-3 ice cubes
  • 3/8 cup reduced fat peanut butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • dash cinnamon and nutmeg

Gently blend and pulverize frozen bananas and peaches and ice in a food processor or chop by hand. Warm peanut butter in a stainless steel bowl in hot water or in unopened can in steamer to about 140oF so it will flow easier. If peanut butter separates, beat together with a fork. Blend peanut butter into frozen fruit mixture for 15-30 seconds. Blend in spices. Portion into 3/4 cup servings. Refreeze to 10-20oF. Makes 6 servings.

calories 193
total fat 6 g.
saturated fat 1 g.
protein 5 g.
carbohydrates 32 g.
fiber 3 g.
cholesterol 0 mg.
sodium 31 mg.
iron 1 mg.
calcium 13 mg.
vitamin A 17 RE
vitamin C 46 mg.
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  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 oz. cheese spread
  • 2 Tbl. raisins

On cutting board, cut across each stalk of celery to make 4 pieces. In a small bowl, mix peanut butter and cheese spread until well blended. Spread mixture into each celery piece. Arrange 3 or 4 raisins as “ants” on peanut butter mixture. Place on serving tray. Serve right away or cover and store in refrigerator. Makes 12 servings.

calories 110
total fat 8 g.
protein 5 g.
carbohydrate 5 g.
fiber 1 g.
cholesterol 7 g.
sodium 218 mg.


  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 Tbl . milk
  • Crushed cereal
  • Popsicle sticks

Peel bananas and cut in half crosswise. Insert popsicle stick into cut end of banana. Mix peanut butter and milk together. Roll bananas in peanut butter and milk mixture. Roll in crushed cereal. Place on wax paper and freeze for two hours. Makes 4 servings.

calories 255
total fat 15 g.
protein 9 g.
carbohydrate 21 g.
fiber 4 g.
cholesterol 0 g.
sodium 183 mg.
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Peanuts and Satiety

Research at Purdue University is studying how eating peanuts may reduce hunger between meals. When the subjects in the study ate peanuts, they did not eat more calories throughout the day. Also preliminary results are showing that the study participants who ate peanuts took in less saturated fat. This may be useful when picking snacks for children since snacks not only satisfy hunger but can add essential nutrients to a child's diet. Stay tuned for more exciting results on this study.

Resveratrol In Peanuts

A study conducted by a team of scientists at the USDA found that peanuts have a significant amount of resveratrol. The research results on peanuts were presented at the American Chemical Society meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada by Dr. Tim Sanders from the USDA Agricultural Research Service at North Carolina State University. Dr. Sanders, and his colleague Dr. Robert W. McMichael, Jr. found resveratrol content in both the peanut kernel and skin(1).

According to Sanders, "The data on resveratrol should be viewed as another part of the positive picture of peanuts which includes relatively high levels of vitamin E, folic acid, fiber, mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and other bioactive compounds."

These data support reported epidemiological and clinical studies which indicate that the frequent consumption of peanuts and/or other nuts result in reduced cardiovascular disease risk, lowered total cholesterol, and lowered LDL cholesterol.

These findings are important in regards to child nutrition since developing healthy eating habits early in life is a part of the prevention of cardiovascular disease risks. Recent studies on this plant compound found in red wine and grapes show that resveratrol may help reduce the risks of heart disease and cancer. Resveratrol's presence in red wine has been associated with reduced cardiovascular disease and it has been credited for the "French Paradox" (despite a high-fat diet, the French have a surprisingly low rate of heart disease). More recently, research using resveratrol extracted from grapes showed a reduced risk of cancer in animals(2).

It is not yet known exactly how resveratrol functions as a healthful factor in food. Some research has shown that resveratrol can inhibit the build-up of platelets in blood vessels. It is also a potent antioxidant which can reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. More research is needed on this phytochemical.

Ounce for ounce, peanuts have more than half the amount of resveratrol in red wine. The average amount of resveratrol in one ounce of peanuts in the marketplace (about 15 whole) is 79.4 ug/ounce. In comparison, some red wines contains approximately 160 ug/fluid ounce.

  1. Sanders, T. and R. McMichael. USDA Agriculture Research Center, Raleigh, NC., Presentation at American Cancer Society Annual Meeting, September 1997, Las Vegas, NV.
  2. Jang, M., "Cancer Chemopreventive Activity of Resveratrol, a Natural Product Derived from Grapes." Science, January 10, 1997, pg. 218-220.

Zinc Helps Children Think

USDA scientists and their Chinese counterparts studied 372 Chinese school children who had very low body zinc levels. These children, ages six to nine years, were given either a daily zinc supplement, the daily zinc supplement and a miconutrient supplement, or just the miconutrient supplement. After testing for attention, perception, memory, reasoning and motor and spatial skills, both groups of children who received the zinc supplement had the most improved performance. These findings have important implications in the U.S. since about ten percent of U.S. grade-school girls and six percent of boys get less than half the Recommended Dietary Allowance of zinc through their diets. Food sources of zinc include peanuts, popcorn, whole-wheat crackers and other foods.

Penland, J. Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Grand Forks, ND.

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Making healthy food choices may seem difficult at any age, but children are not coming even close to hitting the mark. A new study on the eating patterns of 3,300 young people shows that only 1% of American children are meeting all the federal recommendations for various foods. Reported in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics, the study also shows that an alarming 16% did not meet the requirements for any food group.

The work was conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the USDA and examined three day food records that were collected as part of USDA's 1989-1991 Continuing Surveys of Food Intakes by Individuals. Consumption patterns were compared to the recommendations in the USDA Food Guide Pyramid that recommends 6-11 servings of grains, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 servings of fruit, 5-7 ounces of meats, fish, beans, nuts or peanut butter, and 2-3 servings of dairy products.

Teenage girls scored poorly and tended not to meet any of the pyramid requirements. Teenage boys scored the highest marks by scoring higher with grains, vegetables and meat/protein foods. Children 2-11 years old failed to meet the score in all groups except for dairy products. While a majority of the study population did not meet the requirements for any food group, the number of servings from the vegetable groups rose with age for both females and males whereas the percentage of females and males meeting the fruit recommendations declined. Also, intakes of fruit and dairy products increased with increasing income.

When examining racial/ethnic groups, black children were more likely than white children to meet the recommendations for vegetables while white children were more likely to meet the recommendations for grains and dairy than black and hispanic children. Average fat intakes, 35% of total calories, did not vary among these groups.

In general, children need to include more grains, fruits and vegetables in their diets. These foods would provide children with essential vitamins and minerals and dietary fiber. Encouraging children to consume lower fat milks would decrease dietary fat, saturated fat and cholesterol intakes. School lunches and snacks are an important opportunity for rounding out a child's healthful eating pattern. Recipes included in this Food For Thought newsletter can help.

Munoz, K., "Food Intakes of US Children and Adolescents Compared With Recommendations." Pediatrics, September 3, 1997, pg. 323-329.

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© The Peanut Institute 1999. All rights reserved.