Cole Slaw Cook-Off: Learning About School Lunch Regulations Through Cooking

Cole Slaw Cook-Off: Learning About School Lunch Regulations Through Cooking

by Katie McCrea, FoodCorps ( and Erin Brighton, Char-Meck Food Policy Council (


11921620_428193690711851_3675619441030530651_nCooking (or not cooking!) seasonal ingredients with kids is a great way to get them to try new veggies, but it also can be a useful tool to help them better understand the school lunch guidelines. Too often, kids and adults are critical of school lunch offerings without really knowing what the rules and regulations are behind the meals. For the October Green Teacher Network workshop, we decided to have our participants prepare two recipes that required no cooking – only a lot of chopping, whisking, and grating at different stations around the room. Then have those two recipes go head-to-head in a taste test. We modeled this as an activity that we would do with older elementary school students. Third through fifth grade, or higher, would be an ideal age for these recipes.

We were excited to use the two slaw recipes from an AMAZING resource – New School Cuisine: Nutritious and Seasonal Recipes For School Cooks By School Cooks put together by the Vermont FEED program (FEED – Food Education Every Day!).  This is a downloadable resource and we hope that more teachers and school garden coordinators find more recipes that they can use with their students. Click here to access the free resource –

All the recipes make 40 to 50 servings and are accompanied by full nutrition information. After students get comfortable prepping some simple, fresh foods, maybe they could even design their own recipes following the nutrition guidelines? For more information about the national school lunch program, check out the US Department of Agriculture web page –


To have your own Cole Slaw Cook-Off, use the recipes below!

Asian Cabbage Salad (50 servings ½ cup)


  • 6 packages ramen noodles
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 small green cabbage
  • 1 small red cabbage
  • 1 small napa cabbage
  • 6 medium carrots
  • 8 small scallions
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper


  1. Preheat convection over to 350 degrees F or conventional oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Discard flavor packs from ramen noodles. Crumble noodles into a medium bowl. Add sunflower seeds and vegetable oil to the ramen noodles and stir to coat. Spread the mixture evenly on the prepared pan. Bake until browned, stirring once or twice, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Quarter and core cabbage. Slice the cabbage quarters in a food processor with a slicing blade. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Trim and peel carrots. Shred in a food processor fitted with a shredding blade. Add the cabbage.
  5. Trim scallions and finely dice. Add the vegetables and toss to combine.
  6. Whisk vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved.
  7. Just before serving, toss the salad with the dressing and ramen mixture.


Apple Celeriac Slaw (50 Servings ½ cup)


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 5 lbs apples
  • 3 lbs celeriac
  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 1 qt. reduced-calorie mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ cups rice vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • ground black pepper to taste


  1. Combine water and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2. Core apples and shred in food processor or by hand. Transfer to lemon water.
  3. Trim and peel celeriac; shred in food processor or by hand. Transfer to the lemon water.
  4. Trim, peel, and shred carrots in food processor or by hand.
  5. Whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  6. Drain the apples and celeriac. Squeeze out as much of the lemon water as possible and add to the dressing along with the carrots; mix well. Chill before serving.


We hope you have a great time cooking and tasting with your students this year! What has been the best thing you’ve ever made with kids? Share below!



Melissa Lefko

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