Craisy Pumpkin Breakfast Bar“Good and good for you.” That’s always been Chef Sally Ayotte’s motto when describing her passion for food, and it shows. Her LiveWell@School Food Initiative recipe, Craisy Pumpkin Breakfast Bars, just won the Learning ZoneXpress Soar with School Breakfast Recipe Challenge. “Whenever I develop recipes, I consider what may already exist in a school food service kitchen along with how they can easily keep the costs down.” We sat down with Chef Sally to learn more about what inspires her.

What led you to work with LiveWell Colorado?
I have a passion for all things food and the desire to share that passion with folks who need healthy, delicious food. For me, this includes teaching healthy cooking techniques to school food service employees and encouraging kids to eat food that can help them grow and learn. We’re here to help school food service professionals be a solution to the rising childhood obesity epidemic by serving great quality, delicious food and helping them expand their skill set.

With all the challenges that exist in school food service, what keeps you going?
Knowing that I might be able to help school food service employees make a difference is what keeps me in the game. I’m inspired by helping decrease risk of obesity and associated diseases for kids in Colorado. And, it can be a delicious difference!

Chef SallyWhat’s your favorite dish to make at home?
I really love stir-fry veggies with Thai peanut sauce. I typically use whatever veggies are in season and then sometimes add a protein, too.  A little peanut sauce goes a long way in enhancing the crisp, colorful vegetables.

Who has influenced you the most in your life?
Oh, my Mom, of course!  She’s a great cook. Growing up, we always had a big garden and scratch-cooked meals. She taught me I could do whatever I wanted in life.

What are you reading for inspiration?
I feel like I always have a few books going at one time. I’ve been reading Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, Best Food Writing 2006. Yes, I know I’m behind a few years. I’m also loving the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food & Nutrition Magazine.  I’ve also been diving into Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year for fun ideas. That’s the thing, my inspiration comes from all over the place, and then it can be adapted for schools. I’m also truly inspired by some schools who serve amazing, scratch-prepared meals.

About Chef Sally: A registered dietitian and Johnson and Wales trained chef, Sally Ayotte specializes in the culinary application of nutrient dense ingredients for institutional foodservice. She also provides nutrition support for menu cycle, recipe development and administers back-end operations for the LW@SFI chef consultants.