Pat Karaba - Rhinelander Food Service - Taher Food Service

School Breakfast Week Highlights An Important Program!

Pat Karaba is the School District of Rhinelander food service director. She works with her staff and food service provider to create breakfast and lunch menus students will love.

Pat Karaba is the School District of Rhinelander food service director. She works with her staff and food service provider to create breakfast and lunch menus students will love.

by Eileen Persike, Editor

Pat Karaba is the School District of Rhinelander food service director. She works with her staff and food service provider to create breakfast and lunch menus students will love.

Pat Karaba is the School District of Rhinelander food service director. She works with her staff and food service provider to create breakfast and lunch menus students will love.

It could be said that Pat Karaba runs one of the largest restaurants in town, serving some of Rhinelander’s most discerning clientele. Up to 1700 children, ages five through 18 eat school lunch each day. And as food service director, Karaba is responsible for feeding them.
While the USDA gives schools nutritional guidelines to follow for all meals, it’s up to Karaba and her staff, and the nutritionists and chefs at food service provider Taher, to make the meals children will eat.

This week the focus is on breakfast. It’s National School Breakfast Week and the elementary schools and the middle school have created some fun events to raise awareness among the students. Karaba said about 600 students district wide eat breakfast at school, which is an okay number.

“Could there be more? Probably. But what is important is that they eat something,” she said. “If the students are not able to eat at home for whatever reason, it’s nice that they can come in and get something.”

Simplified, breakfast according to the USDA, should have three components: milk, fruit or vegetable and grains. The district serves hot and cold breakfasts throughout the week and tries hard to vary the options.

“Today at the high school, a whole grain long john is on the menu,” Karaba said. “People sometimes question that, but it is whole grain, and it meets the nutritional guidelines.”

Eating something gives students fuel through the morning, whether they eat at home or at school. And studies show that students who eat breakfast, whether at home or school, do better at school.

Here are some quick and (mostly) healthy breakfast recipes for kids, for the days when eating at home is an option. Enjoy!

Apple Bagel Sandwiches

This is a simple, satisfying breakfast for busy mornings. Serves 4

  • 2 whole-wheat bagels (or bagels of your choice)
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • 1 apple (green is better)
  • 4 dashes cinnamon

Slice the apple so that you make a round apple slice. Next, put the slice of cheese on top of the bagel half. Place the apple slice on top of the cheese and sprinkle some cinnamon on top of the apple.

Bake on a cookie sheet in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees, but watch to make sure you don’t burn them. They’re done when the cheese starts to melt.

Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal

Serves 4


  • 1 cup oatmeal, quick-cook
  • 2 cups milk, low-fat
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cherry preserves or cherry jam

Cook oatmeal with milk according to package directions

Add dried cherries and vanilla while cooking Oatmeal. Allow 5-7 minutes to cook.

Once oatmeal is cooked to desired consistency, add cherry preserves/cherry jam.

Spoon into bowls and serve

Almond Honey Power Bar

Makes 8 bars


  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed, preferably golden
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened whole-grain puffed cereal (see Note)
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup chopped golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup creamy almond butter (see Note)
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar (see Note)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch-square pan with cooking spray.

Spread oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and sesame seeds on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the oats are lightly toasted and the nuts are fragrant, shaking the pan halfway through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add cereal, currants, apricots and raisins; toss to combine.

Combine almond butter, sugar, honey, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles lightly, 2 to 5 minutes.

Immediately pour the almond butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon or spatula until no dry spots remain.

Transfer to the prepared pan. Lightly coat your hands with cooking spray and press the mixture down firmly to make an even layer (wait until the mixture cools slightly if necessary). Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes; cut into 8 bars.


Make Ahead Tip: Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month; thaw at room temperature.

Ingredient notes: For this recipe, we like unsweetened puffed multi-grain cereal, such as Kashi’s 7 Whole Grain Puffs.

Almond butter can be found at natural-foods stores and large supermarkets, near the peanut butter.

Turbinado sugar is steam-cleaned raw cane sugar. It’s coarse-grained and light brown in color, with a slight molasses flavor. Find it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets or at natural-foods stores. (

Breakfast Pizza Margherita


  • 1 whole wheat english muffin
  • 1 large slice of tomato
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • *optional fried egg
  • 1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped

Turn on your broiler.

Top one half of the English muffin with the sliced tomato and then shredded mozzarella. Place it on a baking sheet, along with the other half of the English muffin. Slide under the broiler. Broil until the cheese is melted and browned in places. Remove from the oven and add the fried egg, if desired, and the fresh basil. Top with the other half of the English muffin. (

Homemade Granola Bars


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup dried fruit, chopped (apricots, dates, cranberries, blueberries, raisins, etc.)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the flax seeds.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.* Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dried fruit and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting. Wrap in individual servings and store in your pantry.

*Melted butter and sugar can burn, so make sure to keep the kids away from the stove