Every day nutritious, organic snack and lunch is served. Snack usually consists of seasonal fruit, nuts and nori. Lunch is substantial, usually consisting of a whole grain item (such as quinoa or brown rice), accompanied by greens, dahl, vegetable bean stew, roast chicken, fish (for those non vegetarians), steamed or stir fried vegetables and on Thursday’s Stone Soup made from the wide variety of ingredients the children bring to share. We prepare gluten, dairy, sugar and soy free foods, as well as food void of various allergens, depending on who is present that day.
Children participate in the joyous preparation of the daily meals (particularly on soup day). The preparation and consumption of wholesome and flavorful food is an element central to our program. We love it! To cook, set the table, measure the ingredients, smell the smells, taste the different tastes. It is a delightful part of our day.
Earth who gives to us this food.
Sun who makes it ripe and good.
Dear Sun. Dear Earth. By you we live.
Our loving thanks to you we give.
Blessings on our meal.
I am sure that we agree that good nutritious food is of great importance for your child’s healthy development. Well-balanced meals aid the child’s brain development along with the rest of their body. At The Secret Garden we pay close attention to the seasonal rhythm of the earth. Therefore what we eat has an important value not only nutritionally, but spiritually as well. Blessings on our meal is a daily ritual at our table. The children sit in community and learn reverence for what is being given to us to nurture our body.
The rhythm of the grain is as follows:
Monday: Brown Rice
In the design of our menu we like to consider nutrition in general, the guidelines of nutrition for the young child according to our Waldorf philosophy, as well as the nutritional guidelines of pediatric recommendations as follows:
A child’s meal serving should include: a form of grain, vegetable or fruit, and protein. Our menu is vegetarian with healthy meat dishes on the side, at least once per week. We use coconut or flax oil and we only use organic ingredients or grains and produce from bio dynamic and local resources when available. Pure water is always available. As we have children who are severely allergic to peanuts, please do not send anything with these nuts, butters, or oils. Almond butter is a good alternative. We also do not use sugar or serve fruit juice. A tiny amount of local honey may be used in our baking.
The menu is the same for approximately 3 months, changing seasonally. This time frame gives the children the opportunity to become a little more motivated to eat foods that may be unusual or unfamiliar. In our experience it takes a few weeks for them to eat unfamiliar foods. We do not force them to eat. We encourage them by saying “We are learning to eat new things”. Or, “if we taste it we might like it”. If we don’t particularly like the taste of something, we say, “this is not my favorite”, and leave it at that. The child will often just eat it any way, and if not, that’s alright. We would not keep filling their bowl with rice or one particular dish, which they clearly love. When the children are ready for more, their first portion is finished, and they ask if they may have more. They may have just rice, or just greens, or everything, the second time around, but their firsts must be finished before more is served. We serve very small portions to begin with knowing that the children can always ask for more. No one will starve – the children go home soon enough, so if they have chosen not to eat, it will be alright. Hopefully they are not going home to a treat, or a standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich, in lieu of the nutritious meal we have prepared. If so, I would encourage a change in routine to support healthy nutrition.
As cooking is one of my favorite things to do, I reserve the right to change the menu as I see fit, depending on the ingredients that we have on hand, the children who are here and what tickles my fancy. I will do my best to keep you informed of what we have had on each day so you can plan your dinners.
SAMPLE SNACK/LUNCH MENU
Lunch- Persian Black Beans with brown rice and greens
Lunch- Quinoa with roast chicken, beets and greens
Lunch- Millet with Dahl and broccoli
Lunch- Brown Rice with delicious stone soup – bring contributions!
PACK A LUNCH FOR YOUR CHILD – INCLUDING WATER
Pure water is always available during the day.