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California Culinary Centers Standardized Recipes

A collection of standardized recipes and resources to support schools across California in creating menus to meet the National School Lunch Program meal pattern.

Images of 4 recipes: rainbow chopped salad, vegetarian fried rice with edamame, veggie enchiladas, and orange chicken with vegetables.

This collection of school district culinary center recipes reflects a variety of strategies for scratch cooking, including using locally grown California produce and multicultural flavors that students love.

Use the list of recipes below to build your menu and increase variety and options.

List of Recipes

School Lunch Recipes

Each recipe provides a kid taste test rating, nutrient analysis information, meal pattern contribution, and an ingredient list portioned for school food service yields.

This collection includes the top kid-rated recipes on a scale of one to five forks. Five forks kids rating: Love it, great flavor. Four forks kids rating: Like it, taste good. Three forks kids rating: It’s ok—needs something. Recipes with ratings below three forks are considered unacceptable or undesirable by students, and are not included in this collection.

Recipes are listed in the following menu categories:

Breakfast

Recipe Kid Rating
(out of 5 forks)
Culinary Center
Autumn Spice Muffin Four-fork kid rating. Lodi Unified School District (USD)
Chilaquiles with Eggs Four-fork kid rating. Conejo Valley USD
Turkey Bacon and Egg Burrito Five-fork kid rating. Natomas USD
Vegetable Frittata Four-fork kid rating. Conejo Valley USD

Global Cuisine

Recipe Kid Rating
(out of 5 forks)
Culinary Center
Carnitas Tacos Five-fork kid rating. Vista USD
Caribbean Turkey Pita Five-fork kid rating. Monterey Peninsula USD
Chicken Adobo Five-fork kid rating. Davis Joint USD
Chicken Pad Thai Five-fork kid rating. Chico USD
Chicken Yakitori Five-fork kid rating. Davis Joint USD
Creamy Cilantro Chicken Soft Tacos Four-fork kid rating. Irvine USD
Cuban Picadillo Five-fork kid rating. Centralia Elementary School District
Ham Fried Rice Five-fork kid rating. Monterey Peninsula USD
Jalapeno Polenta Five-fork kid rating. Manteca USD
Orange Chicken with Vegetables Four-fork kid rating. Conejo Valley USD
Persian Beef Kotlet and Potatoes Four-fork kid rating. Irvine USD
Pork Afritada Five-fork kid rating. Davis Joint USD
Rockin' Moroccan Stew Five-fork kid rating. Monterey Peninsula USD
Thai Chicken with Brown Rice Three-fork kid rating. Conejo Valley USD
Vegetarian Fried Rice with Edamame Four-fork kid rating. Conejo Valley USD

Hot Plates

Recipe Kid Rating
(out of 5 forks)
Culinary Center
Baked Pasta with Marinara Sauce Four-fork kid rating. Centralia Elementary School District
Barbeque (BBQ) Pulled Pork Five-fork kid rating. Centralia Elementary School District
BBQ Chicken Five-fork kid rating. Riverside USD
BBQ Chicken Pizza Four-fork kid rating. Conejo Valley USD
BBQ Slugger Chicken with Rice Five-fork kid rating. Natomas USD
Buffalo Chicken and Sweet Potato Bake Four-fork kid rating. Irvine USD
Chicken Pasta Parmesan Five-fork kid rating. Natomas USD
Crispy Baked Chicken Five-fork kid rating. Centralia Elementary School District
Fish Sandwich with Jalapeno Tartar Sauce Five-fork kid rating. Manteca USD
French Bread Pizza Four-fork kid rating. Centralia Elementary School District
Mac and Cheese Five-fork kid rating. Centralia Elementary School District
Pasta Parmesan with Vegetables Three-fork kid rating. Conejo Valley USD
Pasta Pesto with Beans Five-fork kid rating. Irvine USD
Popcorn Chicken and Mashed Potato Bowl Five-fork kid rating. Natomas USD
Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich Four-fork kid rating. Riverside USD
Ranch Grilled Chicken Five-fork kid rating. Riverside USD
Rotisserie Chicken Five-fork kid rating. Riverside USD
Sandy's Seasonal Vegetarian Lasagna Four-fork kid rating. Irvine USD
Spaghetti and Mighty Marinara Sauce Five-fork kid rating. Conejo Valley USD
Sweet and Sloppy Joe Five-fork kid rating. Monterey Peninsula USD

Plant-based Options

Recipe Kid Rating
(out of 5 forks)
Culinary Center
Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili Five-fork kid rating. Woodlake USD
Chana Chawal Five-fork kid rating. Alameda USD
Edamame Noodle Bowl Four-fork kid rating. Irvine USD
Fiesta Edamame Salad Four-fork kid rating. Monterey Peninsula USD
Fresh California Style Tabbouleh Salad Five-fork kid rating. Woodlake USD
Pico Hummus Gyro Five-fork kid rating. Manteca USD
Tofu Teriyaki with Vegetables Four-fork kid rating. Davis Joint USD
Vegetable Chili Five-fork kid rating. Manteca USD
Veggie Enchiladas Five-fork kid rating. Monterey Peninsula USD
Wheat Berry and Black Bean Salad Four-fork kid rating. Lodi USD

Salads

Recipe Kid Rating
(out of 5 forks)
Culinary Center
Apple Berry Chicken Salad Four-fork kid rating. Riverside USD
Cantina Black Bean Taco Salad Five-fork kid rating. Natomas USD
Chicken Curry in a Hurry Salad Five-fork kid rating. Conejo Valley USD
Chicken Caesar Salad Four-fork kid rating. Clovis USD
Fresh Apple and Pear Chicken Salad Four-fork kid rating. Manteca USD
Kidney Bean Salad Four-fork kid rating. Centralia Elementary School District
Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad Four-fork kid rating. Riverside USD
Power Up! Caesar Salad Five-fork kid rating. Monterey Peninsula USD
Rainbow Chopped Salad Four-fork kid rating. Irvine USD
Snappy Peach Salad Five-fork kid rating. Monterey Peninsula USD

Wraps and Sandwiches

Recipe Kid Rating
(out of 5 forks)
Culinary Center
Beef Torta Sandwich Five-fork kid rating. Riverside USD
Buffalo Chicken Wrap Five-fork kid rating. Monterey Peninsula USD
Chicken Veggie Wrap Five-fork kid rating. Irvine USD
Curried Chicken Quinoa Salad Wrap Five-fork kid rating. Irvine USD
Fiesta Burrito Four-fork kid rating. Riverside USD
Thai Chicken Wrap Three-fork kid rating. Conejo Valley USD
Turkey Bacon Wrap Four-fork kid rating. Irvine USD

Chili and Soups

Recipe Kid Rating
(out of 5 forks)
Culinary Center
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Five-fork kid rating. Natomas USD
Chicken Noodle Soup Five-fork kid rating. Irvine USD
Chicken Tortilla Soup Five-fork kid rating. Natomas USD
Chili Con Carne Five-fork kid rating. Centralia Elementary School District
White Bean Chili with Chicken Five-fork kid rating. Irvine USD

Background

California Culinary Centers

The California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division sponsored the California Culinary Centers and the Fresh, Regional, Education-Supportive, Healthy Meals at Schools (FRESHMeals@Schools) program from 2013 to 2015. The FRESHMeals@Schools program provided leadership and promoted professional culinary development among school nutrition staff in California. The CDE selected 16 leaders in school nutrition as FRESHMeals@Schools Ambassadors for going above and beyond in recipe development, menu planning, student engagement, and marketing. The ambassadors conducted annual peer-to-peer trainings for other school districts to share their successes, problem-solving strategies, and best practices. The program also formed 16 culinary centers throughout the state where teams of chefs, dietitians, directors, cooks, and students developed 140 flavorful, nutritious, and economical standardized recipes to meet the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 meal pattern regulations. Learn more on the CA Culinary Centers Standardized Recipes web page Resources tab.

Student Engagement

The CA Culinary Centers conducted taste tasting with student culinary clubs and leadership groups to ensure each recipe has a flavor profile that students enjoy. This model of student-driven recipe and menu development is a best practice for student engagement and supports a healthy school environment while increasing students’ connection with caring adults. School districts large and small have demonstrated that when students have input in their food choices, participation increases. Learn more on the CA Culinary Centers Standardized Recipes web page Resources tab.

California Flavor

California’s ever-growing multicultural population influences the variety of the CA Culinary Centers’ recipe collection. In addition to having flavors from all corners of the world, from French to Mediterranean to Southeast Asian, the recipes include a large variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables, items from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foods program, and plant-based meal options. Learn more on the CA Culinary Centers Standardized Recipes web page Resources tab.

Contributing Culinary Centers

The CA Culinary Centers include the following school districts:

  • Alameda Unified School District (USD)
  • Centralia Elementary School District
  • Chico USD
  • Clovis USD
  • Conejo Valley USD
  • Davis Joint USD
  • Encinitas Union School District
  • Hayward USD
  • Irvine USD
  • Lodi USD
  • Manteca USD
  • Monterey Peninsula USD
  • Natomas USD
  • Riverside USD
  • Woodlake USD
  • Vista USD

Resources

The following resources can assist you in creating standardized recipes, engaging students, and preparing menus for your Child Nutrition Programs (CNP).

Grants

Resource Description
Provides an overview of the 2021 Team Nutrition Taste of CA Challenge grant, project guidelines, instructions for how to apply, and resources.

Recipe Development

Resource Description
California Department of Education (CDE) School Menu Planning Options web page
Guidance and resources on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) meal patterns.
Includes the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Farmers Market Certified Producers Directory, a contact list with over 800 certified Farmers’ Market sellers in California by County.
Includes statistics for leading commodities in California by county and season.
Institute for Child Nutrition (ICN) Recipe Box web page External link opens in new window or tab.
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) searchable collection of standardized recipes.
This recipe template describes the exact, measurable amount of ingredients and the method of preparation needed to consistently produce a high-quality food product.
Provides the steps for using the USDA FBG Calculator to determine required quantities of foods to purchase to meet the meal pattern requirements. The USDA FBG for CNPs with interactive tools is also available as a mobile application. Download it today on your iOS and Android device from the Team Nutrition FBG Mobile App web page External link opens in new window or tab..
The certification worksheets to assist in determining if your menu is meeting the requirements.
A list of nutrient analysis software approved for use in the NSLP and SBP.
Fact sheets categorized by food type that describe the items expected to be available for schools participating in the NSLP and SBP.

Student Engagement

Resource Description
Lists by program nutrition education curriculum, recipes, cooking in the classroom toolkits, and additional resource database links.
A variety of tips and handouts for planning and instructing cooking and nutrition education in the classroom, including equipment lists, sample recipes, and safety rules.
Provides best practices and resources for engaging students, promoting your nutrition program, and creating healthy school environments.
Includes definitions, background, health benefit information, how to take action, resources, online trainings, and policy guidance for CNP Operators interested in offering plant-based meals.
Provides resources listed by CNP, examples are posters, curriculum, garden activities, stickers, recipe books, and more.
Guidance and resources for teachers and families in K–12 schools regarding high quality distance learning.
Handout for protecting your health and creating an emotionally healthy and safe environment for staff, students, and families during these challenging times

Meal Service

Resource Description
Example forms used by food service personnel to determine the amount of food to serve for menu production.
The information required on the MPR.
Information regarding temperature controls for potentially hazardous foods.
Handout for food safety guidance for school meal service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Handout for staff safety guidance for school meal service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community Partnerships

Resource Description
California Department of Public Health Harvest of the Month web page External link opens in new window or tab.
Resources to share fun nutrition facts about fruits and vegetables, easy to cook recipes, and tasting ideas that bring together the classroom, cafeteria, home, and community.
Shares student leadership opportunities for students interested in the food industry, hospitality, nutrition education, and other family and consumer sciences. To contact the FCCLA Coordinators in your region visit the FCCLA Regional Coordinators web page External link opens in new window or tab..
Free curriculum and community engagement resources such as school assemblies, professional development, and advising for all things nutrition and food.
Free resources such as hands-on curriculum training, nutrition education materials, in-class presentations with food tastings, and family newsletters and nutrition classes.
Provides resources, technical assistance, and training to support the USDA CNPs to incorporate a farm to school program into their existing food service operation.

Training

Resource Description
Support your teams’ culinary skills with free Standardizing Recipes and Meal Pattern online courses and more.
Free online trainings and resources for School Nutrition Program (SNP) directors, managers, and staff designed to prepare participants to meet the challenges of day-to-day operations.
Training opportunities from a variety of sources, searchable by the following key areas: (1) nutrition, (2) operations, (3) administration, and (4) communications and marketing.


Contact Us

These recipes are just a sample of the delicious school meals created in California. To find more of the latest California Department of Education (CDE) nutrition news and information, visit the CDE Nutrition web page. To share photos of your recipe results, taste testing events, or favorite standardized recipes, follow us on Twitter @CDENutrition External link opens in new window or tab..

Follow @CDENutrition on Twitter.

For questions regarding the content of this web page, please contact the Nutrition Services Division by phone at 800-952-5609 or by email at CArecipes@cde.ca.gov.

 

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, December 22, 2020
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