Whole and Organic Food

At Open Sky, we focus on food basics and providing a balanced menu. We believe that nutrition is a simple way to teach about mind-body health. The menu was created by our naturopathic doctors to meet the unique needs of adolescents and young adults while incorporating the latest available research linking behavior and health with dietary choices. It includes a balance of the highest quality whole foods and organic meats, fruits, and fresh vegetables free from pesticides. The menu’s aims are to help each student develop a healthy relationship with food, teach them what balanced nutrition is comprised of, what its benefits are, and how to choose, prepare and enjoy healthy food.

We define healthy food as food in its natural state, free of pesticides, hormones or antibiotics, which is minimally processed, without added sugar, preservatives, or additives.


Typical Open Sky Menu

The Open Sky menu is alive with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and complete proteins. Learning how to cook and prepare these foods is central to the Open Sky curriculum. Here are some examples of the daily meals prepared at Open Sky:

Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal with walnuts and raisins
  • Breakfast burritos with spinach, potato, avocado, onion, and peppers
  • Granola and soy milk

Lunch:

Whole wheat tortillas with:cooking-over-fire

  • Tuna
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Hummus
  • Cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, & avocado

Snacks:

  • Nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts
  • Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower
  • Dried Fruit: apricots, raisins, cranberries, figs, bananas
  • Fresh Fruit : oranges, apples, bananas, strawberries, mangos, kiwis

Dinner:

  • Beef stew with barley, kale, veggie bouillon, and carrots
  • Gingered lentils and quinoa with carrots and onions
  • Coconut vegetable curry with yams, tempeh, and spinach
  • Black bean burritos with onion, peppers, and cheese
  • Veggie chili w/ squash and cheese
  • Whole wheat/quinoa noodles with tomato sauce and zucchini
  • Chicken and brown rice soup with carrots and celery
  • Tofu and veggie stir fry with quinoa, carrots, broccoli, and soy sauce

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Whole Food

When we mention “whole foods”, we are referring to those foods that are in their natural state, minimally processed, and unadulterated, containing no artificial additives or preservatives. Any food that is highly processed and taken out of its whole-food environment is limited in nutrition (like enzymes, vitamins, minerals and fibers). Highly refined foods like white flour, white sugar or white rice have been stripped of their nutritious outer shell or husk and become concentrated carbohydrates. Naturally balanced foods like seeds, whole grains, cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables tend to have more fiber while providing vitamins, minerals, protein and high-quality fats, which are necessary for optimizing overall health.

  1. Marz. Russell, Medical Nutrition from Marz, 2nd Ed, Omnivite Publishing, Portland, OR, 1999.
  2. Pitchford, Paul, Healing with Whole Foods, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 1993.

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girls making cinnamon rollsOrganic Food

Organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Organic farming prohibits the use of chemicals that can contaminate our water supplies. In the case of livestock, antibiotics and GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) are prohibited. The USDA Organic seal assures consumers of the quality and integrity of organic products. Organic-certified operations must have an organic system plan and records that verify compliance with that plan. Operators are inspected annually. Operators also have random checks to ensure that standards are being met.

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Importance of Organic, Whole foods

At Open Sky, we believe in the healing power of whole foods. Whole foods are a part of our comprehensive approach to whole person health. Food is our life source and we can only be as healthy as the environment that supports the food that nourishes us. Using organic foods also supports our philosophy of sustainability and community-building by supporting the local small farmer, decreasing environmental impact, and encouraging bio-diversity. We understand that when we combine good attitude and sufficient exercise with balanced diet, there is no limit to health – for everyone.

Diet Could Relate to Mental Health Issues

There is a great deal of research linking the behavior of children with dietary choices. Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactivity are coupled to food additives, food allergies, sugar consumption, and nutrient deficiencies. Infrequent eating or unbalanced nutritional choices can contribute to hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can manifest with the following symptoms: irritability, fatigue, drowsiness, poor concentration, anxiety, palpitations and/or tremors. These symptoms tend to occur in the afternoon – a time when many of us feel a sleepy lull or have difficulty concentrating at school or work. There have been studies that prove a simple dietary intervention can dramatically improve behavior and school performance. Artificial food dyes and sugar consumption have been linked with hyperactive children; destructive, aggressive and restless behavior increase with abnormal blood sugar; mental health diagnoses are associated with vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Given the prevalence of disease and how many children are struggling with these issues, we believe that taking a more serious look at diet and nutrition is an essential component of Open Sky’s programmatic design.

pizza made in field

  1. Cryer PE. Symptoms of hypoglycemia, thresholds for their occurrence, and hypoglycemia unawareness. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 1999 Sep;28(3):495-500, v-vi.
  2. Egger. Controlled trial of oligoantigenic treatment in hyperkinetic syndrome. Lancet 1:540-5,1985.
  3. Langseth & Dowd. Glucose tolerance and hyperkinesis. Food Cosmet.Toxicol. 16:129-33,1978.
  4. Mohler H, Polc P, Cumin R, Pieri L, Kettler R. Nicotinamide is a brain constituent with benzodiazepine-like actions.
  5. Nature. 1979 Apr 5;278(5704):563-5.
  6. Rippere, V, Can hypoglycemia cause obsessions and ruminations? Med Hypotheses. 1984 Sep; 15(1):3-13.
  7. Rodriguez Jimenez J, Rodriguez JR, Gonzalez MJ. Indicators of anxiety and depression in subjects with different kinds of diet: vegetarians and omnivores. Bol Asoc Med P R. 1998 Apr-Jun; 90(4-6):58-68.

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Helping Students & Families to be Healthy

healthy student smilingPart of developing a healthy relationship with food is gaining an understanding of what it contains and developing an appreciation of where it comes from. To find balance with food, one needs to know one’s own health necessities, correct food preparation, skill in eating (i.e. not over eating), how to choose high-quality foods, and be familiar with a broad range of nutritious foods. Looking at food as part of the cycle of life,  rather than a substance to fill space, is another key aspect when talking about real foods. Fostering an awareness of how we are using the energy we have gleaned from our diet is essential.  Are we giving back to the system to complete the cycle, are we counting calories, or do we just consider food an energy resource? Part of receiving the full vitality of foods includes mindful preparation and giving thanks before meals. When we become present with our food, not only the body, but the mind feels nourished. Physiologically, as we think and smell food, enzymes are released in the mouth that begin the digestive process. Lastly, simply preparing and eating meals creates community and a space for sharing. It is also important to remember that you are not alone in this process of change. Feel free to contact Open Sky’s wellness department for further information, resources and support.

  1. Pitchford, Paul, Healing with Whole Foods, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 1993.
  2. Weintraub, Skye, Minding Your Body, Complementary Medicine Publishing Co, Portland, OR, 1995.

Diseases of dietary excess and imbalance now rank among the leading cause of illness and death in the United States, and generates substantial health care costs….Improved nutrition training of physicians, and other health professionals is needed. Training should emphasize basic principles of nutrition, the role of methodologies and their interpretation, therapeutic aspects of dietary intervention, and behavioral aspects of dietary counseling.

C. Everett Koop, M.D., 1988; U.S. Surgeon General’s Report

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