School lunch makeover to satisfy kids…make it berry good!

“Contributing healthy recipes to school lunch programs is more than just for the “now” – it’s for the future,” says nutrition student Erin Dooher.

While creating the recipe for the whole wheat thumbprint cookies, Mike Etzel and Laurel Weir learned that blackberries have twice the fiber (20 grams per cup) as raspberries. They also replaced half the fat with applesauce for a more nutritious treat.

“Contributing healthy recipes to school lunch programs is more than just for the “now” – it’s for the future,” says nutrition student Erin Dooher.  “By exposing kids to healthy foods with fruit and vegetables, we’re instilling their desire for the same foods in the future.”  Erin and her classmates in Quantity Food Production were challenged to compete against each other in a contest sponsored by the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission to develop the best recipe that incorporates more fruits and vegetables in school lunch menus.

Kim Gleeson (left) and April Smith experiment with Kim’s recipe for whole wheat raspberry scones with yogurt.

Recipes have to be tasty, easy to produce, suitable for kids and be healthy, that is, low in fat and sugar and high in fiber. “The students worked together on recipe ideas then went to work in the Pangea kitchen in the Memorial Union to test for taste and for ease of producing in larger quantities using institutional equipment” says associate professor Mary Cluskey.  “Their imagination and creativity is impressive”.

The berry creations included pizza, sandwiches, scones, cookies, jello, and muffins. “This project has been great, it has challenged us to work within school guidelines to create food that is healthy AND delicious,” says Rachelle Biegler.  “Our class thought of some unique ways to incorporate berries into various dishes.”  Maybe the turkey and raspberry puree sandwiches will win the first place ribbon?  Or the chicken, cilantro, chipotle, and raspberry pizza?  Or the blackberry thumbprint cookies?

Rebecca Lawhead crafts turkey sandwiches with cream cheese raspberry puree while Renee Miels and Parishad Efhad ponder how kids will react to the pink spread. They’re convinced that after one yummy taste, it would be a favorite.

Here’s the pizza recipe, compliments of creators Maggie Schmidt and Jenine Vowles. Bon appétit!

Raspberry-Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Pizza
1 recipe of whole wheat reduced fat crust (may purchase refrigerated pizza crust)
1/4 cup red raspberry jam
1/4 cup hickory smoke-flavored barbecue sauce (or other favorite flavor)
2 teaspoons chopped chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (find in canned foods)
1 cup grilled or baked chicken, cubed
1/2 medium red onion, cut into thin strips
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

• Heat oven to 425°F.
• Lightly grease cookie sheet with cooking spray.
• Roll and shape dough into desired pizza shape on sheet.
• In small bowl, mix preserves, barbecue sauce and chilies. Spread mixture evenly over dough to within 1/4 inch of edges.
• Top with chicken, onion and cheeses.
• Bake 12 to 20 minutes or until cheeses are melted and edges are deep, golden brown.
• Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

2 replies on “School lunch makeover to satisfy kids…make it berry good!”

Great article and info. I’m curious to find what school cafterias in Oregon are adapting to use some of the new recipes you are proposing.



The berry commissions are interersted in developing recipes as Oregon berries are being added to the USDA commodity foods program,which offers schools the use of USDA commodities. They hope that people across the US in school lunch programs will use the recipes and purchase the commodities.

Corvallis school district here in Oregon has helped us in considerations about the recipes. It is tricky to get kids to eat healthy foods. Our recipes worked on providing fiber, reducing fat and to some extent reducing sugar.

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