Healthier School Lunches

Cuisine Solutions has introduced the wonders of sous vide cooking in Arlington's public high schools.

A healthy school lunch by Cuisine Solutions. Photo courtesy of Cuisine Solutions

If you’ve never heard of Cuisine Solutions, you’re not alone. Based in Sterling, the company with the generic-sounding moniker isn’t exactly a household name, but it is playing a role in making us all a little healthier.

The folks at Cuisine Solutions are experts in a cooking technique known as sous vide (French for “under vacuum”), whereby foods are vacuum-sealed and slow-cooked in water at precisely controlled temperatures. One benefit of this method is that it requires no additional fats or oils. At the same time, it ensures that foods, ranging from meat and fish to eggs, are cooked to perfect tenderness while retaining key nutrients.

Earlier this year, Cuisine Solutions partnered with Starbucks on a new breakfast offering: the sous-vide “egg bite,” a custardy snack that puffs up like a mini-quiche, sans the crust. One version features whole eggs, cottage cheese, bacon and Gruyere (310 calories per serving), while a meatless option blends egg whites, cottage cheese and veggies (170 calories per serving).

Now Cuisine Solutions is making inroads in local high schools—specifically Wakefield, Yorktown and Washington-Lee—with the September rollout of a new lunch concept, Café + Teria, in partnership with Arlington County’s Food and Nutrition Services. Designed in the style of a fast-casual restaurant, the pilot allows students to build a nutritious meal by choosing a base (grain, salad or wrap), adding a protein such as antibiotic-free chicken or ground beef (cooked sous vide, of course), plus toppings like locally sourced veggies, cheeses, sauces and dressings. All of the recipes are low in sodium, fat and sugar.

“Arlington is an innovative district and a good choice to begin the program,” Bill Stablein, Cuisine Solutions’ manager of K-12 programs, said in a press announcement, citing the county’s size and diversity as pluses. The organizers are now hoping to take the concept nationwide.