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!

Citrus

If you sat me down and forced me to tell you my favorite season to cook in, at first I’d wonder why all the drama and then I’d truthfully answer, winter. Look, spring is great because everything is new and green, and eating is fresh and light, but sometimes you’re caught in big gaps of availability. Summer is easy cooking because of the bounty and variety on hand, but often the searing temperatures outside make spending hours in the kitchen (one of my obvious joys in life) a bit undesirable. Fall would be my second favorite season to cook in, but life is so chaotic during the start of school and autumn holidays that slow days in the kitchen are few and far between. So give me winter. Give me hearty root vegetables and greens. Give me short, cool days and long evenings to enjoy slow suppers at the table with friends, dining on long cooked braises and stews best eaten with glasses of deep, charismatic red wine.

Another big reason I love winter is because it’s the season where we see Mother Nature at her best, providing foods that look after our health and wellness. During winter we are more susceptible to colds and viruses and what do we find an abundance of during that time – oranges, grapefruit, lemons, tangerines, etc. Packed with immune system supportive Vitamin C, these juicy members of the citrus family are nature’s rescue remedy. I get so excited to see these bright beacons of well-being arriving at the farmer’s markets in late November. A walk through our local market with my daughter during ths time of the year takes even longer than usual as she is compelled to try every variety of orange and tangerine she can find. And I don’t stop her. With each juicy sample she eats I can almost see her immune system powering up.

I’ve included two recipes in this month’s write up because there’s so much to do with citrus and I want you to have a choice – slow and rich, or simple and refreshing. Each recipe shows off a different, wonderful characteristics of citrus. In the Braised Short Ribs with Citrus and Miso you’ll see how the bright citrus flavors help to cut through the richness of the slow cooked meat, while the Cara Cara Orange and Avocado Salad is just a feast for the eyes and palate that takes less than 10 minutes to prep and enjoy. A quick and very personal note here – while Harley’s or deep-sea fishing rods or putters excite some guys, I feel that same way towards Cara Cara oranges. They are nature’s most perfect food in my eyes. And they’re only around during winter.

Cara Cara and Avocado Salad with Kale and Pepita

Serves 4 as an appetizer

  • 2 Cara Cara oranges, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
  • 1 ripe avocado, slice
  • 3 Tablespoons Cara Cara orange juice (or lemon juice)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¼ cup good quality Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups baby kale
  • ¼ cup toasted and salted pepitas
  • Flakey sea salt and fresh ground black pepper


Directions

Arrange sliced Cara Cara oranges and avocado artfully on a large platter. Whisk together the orange juice, honey and olive oil and drizzle liberally over the salad. Dress the baby kale with the dressing remaining in the bowl and place around oranges and avocado. Sprinkle pepitas around the composed salad and season lightly with flakey sea salt and fresh black pepper.


Braised Short Ribs with Citrus and Miso

Serves 4

  • 4 bone-in short ribs, about 14 oz each
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red miso, mixed with 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 4 cups good quality beef stock
  • 1 branch of rosemary
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Directions

  1. Combine salt, pepper and orange zest and rub all over ribs. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Remove meat from fridge and let come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil and sear ribs on all sides. Don’t crowd the pan; do this in batches if necessary. When nicely browned, remove ribs to a platter.
  4. Lower heat to medium and add vegetables to pot. Sautee until lightly caramelized, about 6-8 minutes. Turn up heat and add diluted miso, red wine vinegar, and red wine. Stir well and reduce by about half. Add beef stock and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Return ribs and any accumulated juices to the pot. Broth should almost cover ribs. Tuck rosemary branch around meat and cover pot with a tight lid (or two layers of aluminum foil). Place in the oven.
  5. After two hours, remove from oven, carefully take lid off and turn the ribs over. Replace lid and return to oven for another hour. Remove from oven after a total of 3 hours and check for doneness by sliding the tip of a paring knife into a rib. It should yield easily and almost fall off the bone. Cool slightly.
  6. Remove ribs to a platter. Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepan pressing on the solids to extract every bit of juice. Ideally, I prefer to serve this dish the next day. If doing so, now you would refrigerate the broth and ribs separately. If not, skim fat from the broth now. If it seems thin, reduce slightly over high heat. Taste for seasoning.
  7. Turn oven up to 400 degrees. Place ribs on a baking sheet and brown for 10-15 minutes. Heat sauce and daikon in a saucepan, tasting for seasoning.

To serve, place browned ribs over rice, mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower and pour sauce on top.

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.

Little Owl Weekly Menus

Week of March 18-22, 2019

Week of March 25-29, 2019


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