Scratch Cooking Comes to Schools

Emily Burson, RD, founder of School Nutrition Plus shares how her company helps schools elevate their food programs. With a new cookbook, she is bringing those tried and true school creations to the home to engage parents and kids. Here’s a bit of her story in her own words.

Chicken Street Tacos from School Nutrition Plus By Emily Burson, RD, President & Founder of School Nutrition Plus

Emily Burson with Brandon Neumen, VP + Exec Chef

During the busy school week, before the sun rises, our kitchen is buzzing with activity while our professionally trained chefs are preparing made-from-scratch school recipes for kids. Some mornings it’s our popular Chicken Chow Mein. Other mornings, our team is gearing up for an Alphabet Produce Train event – an interactive salad bar that introduces students to produce from every letter of the alphabet.

Serving students Chicken Chow Mein, Black Bean Hummus, or an arugula salad in the school cafeteria during lunchtime is possible when nutrition professionals and trained chefs put their heads together to find the sweet spot between nutritious and delicious. That’s the premise of our company, School Nutrition Plus. Today, we now serve more than 20,000 made-from-scratch school meals every day.

Our debut cookbook, A Chef Walks Into a Cafeteria…. honors these flavor values of scratch cooking that we’ve implemented in schools across Southern California. Our hope is that our cookbook will inspire you and your family to cook together…with recipes actually served in the school cafeteria!170717_SNP-164

Below, we’re sharing our recipe for Chicken Street Tacos – a meal that reflects what you’ll typically find at food trucks in Southern California. We opt for soft corn tortillas because the hard taco shells always end up broken when transported from our kitchen to our schools. But, feel free to use the crunchy variety in your home, if you like!

CHICKEN STREET TACOS – Makes 12 tacosSNP_tacos_0084

Southwestern Dry Rub Tacos
1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup Southwestern Rub
3 tablespoons paprika 1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons granulated garlic 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon ground mustard 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper 24 (4.5-inch) corn tortillas
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder 6 tablespoons chopped onion
3/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cayenne Favorite salsa
6 lime wedges
  1. For Southwestern Dry Rub: Mix all dried spices together in a bowl. Use 1/4 cup to make the tacos, and store remaining rub in an airtight container.
  2. For Tacos: Combine 1/4 cup rub, oil, and lime juice in a bowl. Toss chicken in marinade. Rub all over chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; cook chicken 2 minutes on each side.
  4. Place chicken on sheet pan and bake in oven 12 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  5. Pull from oven. Tent with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Dice chicken and heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide tortillas into 12 stacks of 2 tortillas each. Divide chicken evenly among tortillas stacks. Top with onions, cilantro, and salsa. Serve with lime wedges.

Prep Options:

You can use one (6-inch) tortilla per taco instead of two (4.5-inch) tortillas, if you prefer. To make this dish gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free tortillas.

SNP FRONT COVERRecipe from the School Nutrition Plus (SNP) cookbook: The debut cookbook from Emily Burson, RD, Chef Brandon Neumen, and the rest of the School Nutrition Plus team, A Chef Walks Into a Cafeteria…. honors the flavor values of scratch cooking and will inspire families to cook together…with recipes actually served in the school cafeteria! The chefs from School Nutrition Plus share the keys to creating meals both adults and children will enjoy and can make together. With 75 simple homemade recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options; smart cooking tips and ingredient swaps, you’ll be whipping up healthy and delicious family recipes in no time!

Follow SNP on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, as well as SNP’s founder, Emily Burson, RD on Twitter & Instagram @emilyburson_RD.

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