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!

Cherimoya

For me, one of the most enjoyable parts of writing these Seasonally Speaking columns is doing the research. I love falling helplessly into the rabbit holes of information only to resurface hours later with little shining nuggets of trivial knowledge. Such was my recent experience while looking into cherimoya, an exotic, tropical fruit I’ve only eaten a few times and about I knew very little. So into the caverns of the Internet I charged head-on, hoping for the best. I was not let down.

First a bit of basic info about cherimoya: The name originates from the Quechua, an indigenous language of the South American highlands and translates to “cold seeds” as the cherimoya trees grow well at higher elevations and the seeds can germinate in cold temperature. Cherimoya is thought to be native to equatorial South America and spread through exploration and colonialism by Europeans to other tropic parts of the world. Cherimoya has been successfully grown in California since first introduced in 1871.The flavor of the flesh ranges from mellow sweet to tangy or acidic sweet, with variable suggestions of pineapple, banana, pear, papaya, strawberry or other berry, and apple, depending on the variety. The texture of ripe cherimoya is custard-like which has provided the fruit with alternate names such as custard apple and ice cream fruit. Cherimoya is in season for us here in California from November-May and mostly grown in the Central Valley by farmers like Brokaw Ranch Company - a vendor I used to buy from at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market when I lived and cooked in San Francisco - and more locally to Long Beach at Underwood Family Farms - which looks to have impressive “you-pick” options and kid-friendly events worth making the short drive north.

So, with just a bit of fossicking the on-line resources about cherimoya I also learned about an ancient language of the Andes and found a farm nearby I’m eager to check out with my family.

The wonderful collateral knowledge gathering has begun.

But wait, there’s more…

Delving a bit deeper, I come to find out one of the greatest American writers had serious love for cherimoya! Mark Twain, during a trip to Hawaii in the mid-1860’s, dispatched his travels and observations in colorful transcripts to the Sacramento Daily Union. In an anecdote about a visit to a sugar plantation at Waiohinu, Twain refers to cherimoya as “…the pride of the islands, the most delicious fruit known to men.” I’d say any fruit that gets that kind of endorsement from Mark Twain is worth trying. So, let’s eat…

Cherimoya are most often eaten raw when the fruit is soft-ripe/fresh-ripe and still has the fresh, fully mature greenish/greenish-yellowish skin color, the texture is like that of a soft-ripe pear and papaya. If the skin is allowed to turn fully brown, yet the flesh has not fermented or gone "bad", then the texture can be custard-like. I’ve provided a recipe using cherimoya in a delicious smoothie, which I think is the perfect vehicle for delivering the valuable nutrients of the fruit in a convenient way that will allow you to sip as we trip together further into the depths of research and discover the fascinating world of hand pollinating hermaphroditic cherimoya trees in the San Fernando Valley!


Cherimoya Smoothie

  • 2 ripe, medium cherimoya, pulped and seeded
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 ½ cup unsweetened, vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • Ice, optional


Directions

Place all ingredients into a high-power blend and blend until smooth. Makes 16 ounces of smoothie.

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.

Little Owl Weekly Menus


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