Nutritional Program

We value eating together as a special opportunity to slow down and connect with each other, with ourselves and the needs of our own bodies, and with the source and story of the food we eat.

With full-time chefs working in a professional kitchen centrally located in the school, Little Owl provides children the unique opportunity to experience food from many different angles. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks are produced fresh daily using high quality, responsibly sourced ingredients. The kitchen is open to the classrooms, allowing the sights, sounds, and aromas of real cooking to mingle naturally with the other activities of the day. A child-friendly counter and adjacent kitchen studio invite children to visit the kitchen, engage with the chefs, discuss the menu for the day, participate in preparing ingredients for the meals, and generally involve themselves in the process of providing food for their school community.

We realize our responsibility in not only providing Little Owl children with their daily dietary needs but also in helping them form positive, life-long relationships with food and eating. Snacks and meals are crafted to be delicious and nutritious, focusing on in-season produce, whole grains and legumes, and organic meats, eggs, and dairy. Clean, simple preparations and presentations serve to highlight the quality and pure flavors of the ingredients.

Meals are served family style, with seven children and a teacher at each table. Children serve themselves, portioning out their own desired amount of food, passing, and helping serve others at the table. Through this process, children develop practical tactile skills as well as social relationships with their peers and teachers. Our goal is to provide them with skills, so they develop healthy eating habits based on their individual food needs. Little Owl is a nutfree environment.

Seasonally Speaking by Chef Sean

I've been spending some time with the kids recently talking about seasonality of fruits and veggies. Bringing examples of produce in their height of seasonal glory into the classrooms for them to enjoy and explore has helped to illustrate the point of the importance of eating with a knowledge of the seasons. It's pretty hard to argue with the obvious beauty of a pear grown properly and picked at just the right time.

I thought it would be a good idea to extend this education to our greater community.

Introducing "Seasonally Speaking." Each month I will post some fascinating and/or quirky info about a product in its prime along with a tasty recipe. Sounds like a delicious project to me.

Let's get started!

Zucchini

Full disclosure right up front, I am a horrible gardener. In my experience I have drowned drought tolerant plants and killed seemingly acres of grass through the opposite amount of water distribution. I should be barred from ever entering a nursery or garden department. I’m a stone cold killer of anything with roots, leaves, or petals.

All that said, I can grow zucchini. My most successful veggie garden was during my time living in New Zealand. I had a perfect spot, a manageable sized plot, great soil and a plan. I planted straight, tidy rows of beets, radishes, pole beans, and the aforementioned zucchini (called courgette Down Under, by the way.) I watered and I waited. Next thing I know the bed is covered in the wide leaves and fuzzy vines of zucchini plants. No beans, no beets, not even a radish sprout could be found amongst then jungle of vines that seemed to grow inches overnight. Then came the blossoms, literally hundreds of them, golden and proud, almost taunting me each time I came to see if any of the other seeds I had sown were doing anything. Each blossom became a green zucchini. I was both parts ecstatic and terrified. I was happy to know there was at least a bit of green in my thumb but what the heck was I going to do with an entire garden bed of zucchini all ripening to perfection at the same time?!?

Don’t get me wrong here, I love to cook and eat zucchini. It’s an incredibly versatile piece of produce. I roasted some and mixed it with its’ summer buddies sweet peppers and eggplant for a simple take on ratatouille. I made a very tasty soup with a healthy amount of fresh basil that I discovered was good warm but even better served chilled. I cut it lengthwise and brought it to every barbecue to char next to sausages and pork chops. (Oddly, or not, I seemed to get fewer and fewer invitations to barbecues as the summer went on…) I found myriad recipes for sweet and savory muffins and quick breads to help get through the bounty, but if I’m a disaster of a gardener, I’m only slightly less a disappointment of a baker and none of what I retrieved from my oven was worth writing home about.

I did come up with one application that instantly fell in love with, though. Using small to medium sized zucchini, I simply scrubbed them and with my trusty Y-shaped vegetable peeler shaved long strands. I marinated these strands for an hour in a light mix of fruity extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and a few small leaves of fresh basil. I served the softened and aromatic zucchini strands mixed with toasted walnuts, tangy bits of feta, and a handful of baby spinach leaves as a first-course salad-y thing for a hot summer night’s dinner. It was refreshing, and the flavors melded nicely and while I was eating it with my friends I had a moment to enjoy my choice to become a cook and not a gardener.

Shaved zucchini salad with basil, walnuts, and feta

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini, scrubbed
  • Juice from 1 lemon, preferably Meyer
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Salt and black pepper
  • ½ cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 cups baby spinach leave


Directions

  1. Using a sharp peeler, peel each zucchini into long, thin strands. Place strands in a bowl and toss with lemon juice, Extra Virgin olive oil, torn basil leaves, and salt and pepper. Cover bowl with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and no more than 2 hours.
  2. To serve, toss marinated zucchini strands with toasted walnuts and feta. Arrange baby spinach leaves on a platter and pile on zucchini salad. Drizzle any remaining lemon juice-olive oil over salad.
  3. Enjoy!



Local Farmer’s Markets

The kitchen at Little Owl school derives much of its of produce and inspiration from our vibrant selection of local farmer’s markets.The kitchen at Little Owl school derives much of its of produce and inspiration from our vibrant selection of local farmer’s markets.

Mondays

Houghton Park

2-6 pm (Winter), 3-7 pm (Summer)Houghton Park Plaza on Harding and Atlantic Ave

Tuesdays

Bixby Park

130 Cherry Ave., Long Beach, CA 90803

Wednesdays

Marine Stadium

3-8 pm Marine Stadium at Appian Way and Nieto, Long Beach, CA

Thursdays

Bixby Knolls

2-6 pm (Winter) 3-7 pm (Summer)Atlantic Ave. and E. 46thSt., Long Beach, CA

Thursdays

Bixby Knolls

2-6 pm (Winter) 3-7 pm (Summer)Atlantic Ave. and E. 46thSt., Long Beach, CA

Green Acres Farmers Market

11:30 am-5:30 p.m.Spring St. and Clark Ave., Long Beach, CA

Fridays

Downtown Long Beach

10 am-2 pmCity place Shopping Center4thSt. between Long Beach Blvd. and Pine Ave., Long Beach, CA

The Growing Experience Urban Farm Stand

10 am-12 pm750 Via Carmelitos Ave., Long Beach, CA

Saturdays

Bixby Park

130 Cherry Ave., Long Beach, CA 90803

Sundays

Green Acres Farmers Market

8:30 am –2:30 pmSpring St. and Clark Ave., Long Beach, CA 90815

Long Beach Marina

9 am-2 pmParking lot of the Alamitos Bay Marina on East Marina Drive, Long Beach, CA

Our Menu

Little Owl is a proponent of the culinary philosophy that maintains cooking should be based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. The Little Owl kitchen advocates for a food economy that is "good, clean, and fair." We collaborate with a community of local farmers whose dedication to sustainable agriculture assures our kitchen a weekly supply of fresh and delicious ingredients.

In September 2012 Little Owl School became part of The Edible Schoolyard Project edibleschoolyard.org. Our teachers engage students in an “eco-gastronomic” curriculum. By actively involving students in all aspects of the food cycle, The Little Owl Edible Schoolyard is an education program that instills the knowledge and values needed to build a humane and sustainable future. Little Owl Preschool integrates gardening, cooking, and sharing meals and snacks into the core curriculum. We use food traditions to teach, nurture, and empower preschool students.

The following principles are used for menu planning guidelines:

  • Appropriate portion sizes for each required meal component set by U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines of the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
  • Consideration of students food allergies and special needs.
  • Local, seasonal, and sustainable produce.
  • Collaboration with the curriculum and planning of the Little Owl School teaching staff and students.
  • Guidelines and menu ideas from farmtopreschool.org
  • Using Alice Water's Edible Schoolyard Project as a model.
  • Recipes, experiences, and thoughts from "The Languages of Food", by Reggio Children, "The Art of Simple Food" and " Edible Schoolyard", by Alice Waters.
  • Ideas and recipes from local farm-to-table chefs and farmers.

Some of the ways in which we involve our students in food preparation, learning, and enjoyment: :

  • Engage the senses: smell the aromas, notice the colors, feel, compare & contrast textures
  • Discuss presentation
  • Discuss seasonality
  • Cultivating, planting, harvesting
  • Prepare ingredients, organize components of a recipe, meis en plas
  • Practice safe and healthy food preparation habits
  • Combine ingredients together
  • Add spices to taste
  • Set the table together, present the dish
  • Practice closure of a meal by cleaning up and practicing gratitude and reflecting on the food
  • And so much more -- the combination of possibilities are endless!

Our Reggio-inspired kitchen is a place of symbolic and cultural significance, expressing care, attention to our community, and the value of differences in customs and traditions. Our kitchen is open to students, teachers, and families. Several of our parents volunteer to help the chef in preparation, clean-up, and facilitating student involvement, thus opening the rich, fragrant, and delicate dialogue between children and the kitchen to their families and home kitchens as well.

*Our menu is eggless on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in an effort to be more inclusive for those with food allergies.