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FOOD GLORIA'S FOOD - January 2017 - Kansas City

Healthy Brains, Healthy Bodies 

By Gloria Gale


Young lives are thriving in one school’s nourishing environment.  


Kansas City Academy rises above ordinary.


In this modest brick and mortar school tolerance and creativity are as much a focus as the three R’s.


Within the walls, a small student body of 80 is encouraged by expeditionary learning. 


Put another way, this is inventive learning; hands on, and fostered with a double dip of personalized socialization.


KCA prides itself on accepting individuality in tandem with a strong cross discipline academic curriculum. The warmth and commitment extends to eating heartily and healthily every day.  


Someone’s in the kitchen

A Simon and Garfunkel song provides the background music in KCA’s industrial kitchen called the Lunch Box while culinary instructor Chef Mark Zukaitis is prepping for lunch.


“The name of our program is Bistro Kids where healthy food is the keystone of our lunch program. It’s designed to show kids that healthy food tastes as good as it looks,” he says.


Amidst the bustle between 8:30 and 2:25, Chef Mark preps an array of healthy food for a tasty lunch buffet. Everything is created by Chef Mark and his student assistants, some who are taking this as a culinary class 4 times per week.


Cooking is a life skill - something that sophomore, Spencer acknowledges is a good fit.  “My mom always cooked and I like the process of cooking. I’ve helped Chef Mark make salsa, pizza and other recipes.”


The food served at KCA is based on nutritional education with a focus on organic and naturally whole foods.


“We source locally for our beef, chicken, and produce.  We’re eating salads and vegetable dishes that are produced non GMO.  We also offer gluten and dairy free options, made-from-scratch salad dressings, two soups, 2-3 entrees, and whole grains. And it’s not just the kids who benefit; the public is invited to eat too.  For $5 it’s the best lunch deal you can get in the Kansas City area”, says Zukaitis.


The 800-squarefoot vegetable and herb garden located on the school playground is a vibrant source of produce bursting with asparagus, lettuce, lemon sorrel, arugula, squash and a hoop house filled with ripe tomatoes. The garden is fed by rainwater and the plantings receive non animal compost.


It’s nearly lunchtime. Sarah, a bubbly 7th grader, is hungry.  She’s standing in line waiting for her turn to scoop up ratatouille “Everything tastes so good here.  I love how they use the garden and pick fresh herbs.  I would like to sign up for a food class next year.  It would be worth it just to wash dishes,” she says.


Also on the menu, a tortilla frittata complemented with a zesty salsa and homegrown pesto.  


Kids are anxiously looking forward to a hearty lunch; helping themselves to what could be their best meal of the day.


Kansas City Academy’s approach to holistic learning and nutrition is a bright spot on the educational landscape.  Spread the news and join the kids for lunch, it’s worth every penny.



7933 Main Street, Kansas City, MO. 64114

P: (816) 444-5225 


Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Oat Cake

Oven Temp: 325°

Bake Time: 12 minutes


2 ¼ C. gluten-free baking mix

2 ½ C. ground oats

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 sticks of butter (softened) or ¼ C. sunflower oil

1 ½ C. brown sugar

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs or ¼ C. applesauce

6 medium bananas (mashed)

2 C. chocolate chips



First, combine the gluten-free baking mix, baking soda, salt and ground oats together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, eggs (or applesauce) and mashed bananas. Add the wet ingredient mixture to the dry ingredient mixture and stir until the two mixtures are well combined. Place in a 9x13 baking dish and lightly press evenly into the pan.   

Bake for 12 minutes at 325°.


Recipe provided by Chef Mark Zukaitis, Chef at Kansas City Academy in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Kansas City writer, producer, and photostylist Gloria Gale is a sleuth when it comes to discovering interesting features for the media.


As a native she's compiled a burgeoning collection of editorial features on food, travel and lifestyle for national and local magazines, books, individuals, and corporate clients. 


Most recently, Gloria profiled area restaurants as a columnist for 435 Magazine and was one of KCUR's Food Critics radio program. 


Want to know where to find the best tastes in town? Contact Gloria:

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