Honey mustard salmon. Tofu steaks with maple marinade. Whole grain spaghetti with cheesy turkey marinara. Sounds like offerings from one of Chicago's hip cafes. Well, the dishes are all part of the lunch menu at the Academy for Global Citizenship where students can opt for soy milk. During a recent visit, children from kindergarten to third grade buzzed around me in the school's edible school yard. Some watered plants, others pulled weeds, and a handful mimicked the dance moves of a teacher. Rosie, Daisy, and Bluebell shared the green space. When the school's executive director Sarah coaxed the hens from their coop, they casually pecked about like contented farm animals. Thanks to the trio, the students know where eggs come from. They come from chickens.
By preparing meals with ingredients free of hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics, the school seeks to promote student health. And it has bred many discriminating eaters. According to parents, students often grill them at the grocery store.
"Is that organic?" "Did you remember the soy milk?"
The school also offers workshops to engage the local community. The workshops include cooking classes and tastings that allow parents to sample school meals for themselves. According to Miss Julia who leads the workshops, many parents seek information on culinary nutrition.
The school recently created a booklet to share its unique recipes. It includes dishes like tempeh bean chili and breakfast quinoa with dried cherries, raisins, and pecans. It also has instructions for the school's delicious kale chips which are included below.
Serves 4 adults
This recipe transforms kale's frilly leaves into whispy bites with the lightness of nori. I could easily devour a bowl full. Many thanks Miss Julia!
2 bunches kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 large garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Rinse the kale and pat it dry. Remove and discard the ribs. Roughly chop the leaves.
Pat the leaves dry again. In a large bowl, toss them with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Spread the leaves on two large rimmed baking sheets.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so, until the leaves are crisp on the edges and slightly browned.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.