Peas and Carrots with Willow Dye

staff-willow-dyeGetting to know our new WDMCS Director of Nutrition, Willow Dye.

What is your favorite

  • TV Show: I do not watch much television. Any sporting events such as basketball, baseball/softball or football or the history channel would be my favs.
  • Movie: The Sandlot
  • School Lunch: Orange Chicken and Brown Rice
  • Restaurant: Appare Japanese Steakhouse or Chicago Speakeasy

What attracted you to working in school nutrition? What is the most rewarding aspect?
The attraction to school nutrition was the impact I was able to have on a large population nutritional status and my desire to improve upon the national school lunch program. I understand the importance of good nutrition and the ability to learn and I love being a part of that process.

The most rewarding aspect to me is providing my staff the tools to create a quality program and being able to see the pride and satisfaction that fosters as well as the feedback provided from the staff and students and appreciation they show us for the meals that we provide.

What does the nutrition department do to ensure delicious and nutritious meals are offered to students?
All of our meals meet the State and Federal Guidelines set forth for child nutrition programs. In addition we use nutrient analysis calculations as well as a popularity index to determine acceptability of meals.

Are there any new and exciting things you plan on bringing to the lunch table?
Currently our focus is on breakfast. Districtwide our breakfast participation is low and we have set goals to increase breakfast participation. National school breakfast week is March 3-7. Numerous studies have shown students that eat breakfast have higher test scores, less difficulty paying attention in class and fewer nurse visits as well as absences from school.

What are two tips you would give parents who want to have their children at least try more nutrition foods?
Two tips I would give is to involve the child in the meal planning, shopping and preparation process. Give them the task at the grocery store of picking out a new fruit or vegetable to try.

Try and include as many sit down family meals as possible. Children that consume meals as a family are more likely to try new food items and consume a healthier diet than those who do not share in family meals.

Would you share your favorite family recipe with us? Why is it your favorite?
Carrot Zucchini Cake is my family favorite recipe. My grandmother used to make it for me and I was “allowed” to have cake for breakfast! A warm slice of heaven first thing in the morning made it oh so good! I have altered the recipe to make it a whole grain rich cake by substituting part of the all purpose flour for whole wheat flour and the cake is delicious and nutritious!

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups canola oil
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground ginger}
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 cups zucchini
2 cups carrots
1 cup nuts

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl beat eggs and sugar until frothy. Gradually beat in oil. Combine dry ingredients; add to batter. Beat 4 minutes. Stir in carrots, zucchini and nuts. Pour into three greased 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

For frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until sugar is dissolved. Spread between the layers and over the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with whole or chopped nuts. 12-14 servings.