Friday, May 1, 2020

In Defense of Pride in Work and Innovation

While my heart goes out to community members unable to work during the health crisis, my mood is lifted when I learn of citizens who use their creativity to make products to combat the void.

During the last 5 weeks during the school shut down, my spouse and I packed and delivered school child meal kits. (We are retired and our income is steady)  I witnessed the worry in the young dad and mom faces in the meal kit pick up lines.

In my working career as a food service manager for a major hospital, I hired many people.  The length of service for the 25 staff members in our kitchen exceeded 500 (combined) years. Some staff transferred to other departments in the hospital where they too could achieve.

Taking pride in work creates happiness, contentment, gratitude and a passion for life.

Packing the "meal kits" for school meal delivery, it's apparent that most of the food is processed convenience foods. Pop Tarts, Hot Pockets, "Crustable" Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches  and Corn "Dogs" (sausage filled pancakes) are weekly features. Nothing is homemade.  What a shame, the school cooks missed their chance to shine.

Innovation in meal service allows cooks to use their creativity to make better products. Doing it better is important in the bigger picture. The food is healthier, the presentation improves and the reputation increases. Staff is more engaged in the workplace. 

Here's the catch: it has to be their idea! Back to work in the fall is a good time to make improvements everyday.

Here's my contribution for a meal that could be prepared and frozen individually in packaged containers for a backpack meal or health crisis such as this. The meal could be adjusted to fill 3 components of the child nutrition meal plan.

Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Sauce

(4 enchiladas)

Enchilada Sauce
Heat tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin and oregano in saucepan.
1 tablespoon & 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup tomato sauce, no added salt

Whisk flour into stock.  Add to tomato sauce and heat, stirring, until thick.
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock 
1 tablespoon flour

Beef-Vegetable Filling
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 3 minutes.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed

Brown and crumble beef in onion-garlic mix.
6 ounce lean ground beef

Stir in spinach leaves and wilt.  Add corn.
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, stemmed removed
1/2 cup corn

Enchilada Assembly
Grease 8 X 5 inch baking dish with an olive oil spray.
Place 1/2 cup sauce in bottom. 
Fill tortillas with beef-vegetable mix.
4 corn tortillas
Lay enchiladas on sauce.
Top with remaining sauce. 
Sprinkle with cheese.
2 ounce reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded

Bake at 375 F. for 15-20 minutes.


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