Chef Sarah Stegner is a driving force of good food and sustainability in the Chicago area. Among many hats she wears, she is a co-founder of Healthy Fare for Kids. Back in September, 2011, she was so kind to listen to my pitch for an initiative asking for healthier meals on menus for kids, then offering her creativity, passion and network to drive it forward. Thank you, Sarah!
Sarah, a two-time James Beard Award winner, is passionate about getting food in front of kids. “If you get healthy food on the plate, sooner or later kids will try it then start to make the right choices. And if you never put it in front of them, they will never have the option to try it.”
Chef Sarah didn’t begin life on a farm. Her interest in good food and sustainability comes from wanting to serve and eat the most delicious food available. “It also looked like a lot of fun,” she said. Sarah is also the co-founder and co-president of Green City Market.
Getting a fruit or vegetable on the plate is her first goal when creating a kid’s meal at Prairie Grass Café, where she is co-owner and co-chef with Chef George Bumbaris. Prairie Grass Café’s kid’s menu illustrates her philosophy with items like Filet of Sautéed Lake Superior Wild Whitefish served with grapefruit, carrots and capers or the Panko Crusted All-Natural Chicken Cutlet with crunchy apple slaw. Both have the Healthy Fare for Kids logo, showing they meet our nutritional guidelines.
“If kids are involved in the process of cooking and growing their own food, it’s another way to get them to eat good food,” Sarah advocates. “In every classroom and in every home, there should be something live and growing, like tomatoes, herbs, peppers, etc.”
All of Sarah’s efforts – at her restaurant and at the Green City Market – center around getting sustainable food on the plate. “Growing produce with the fullest flavor and highest nutritional value is the result of creating healthy soil, harvesting it at its peak and shipping it the shortest distance to lessen the time between stalk and plate.”
Her tips for making the family plate as sustainable and delicious as can be: “Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables. What’s in season is the most abundant, cheapest and will taste the best. Currently in the Midwest, try any vegetables that are stored like local carrots, cabbage and apples. And try to choose meat and poultry raised without the use of antibiotics.”
I am delighted to offer Sarah’s Healthy Fare for Kids meal with recipes: Seared Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia With Slaw. Sarah uses farm-raised Ecuadorian tilapia, vegetables from Genesis Growers and apples from Ellis Farms.
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