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spaghetti squash with carrot top pesto

18 Dec

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We are sharing a recipe that we just cooked up in our recent cooking class with our students.

It was such a hit that we thought maybe your kids (or you!) would love it too.

After seeing the ingredients that we were going to use for our class, the students were a bit hesitant to continue.

Carrot tops? Pumpkin seeds? Squash?!

Only after roasting our squash, blending up our pesto, and digging in, did our students realize that they had just created one of their most delicious meals yet!

Here’s how the transformation happened. Who knows, it might open your mind up as well!

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes

Serves 8

Ingredients:

Squash: 

  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/2 T basil
  • 1/2 T thyme
  • ½ T rosemary
  • 1/2 t sea salt

Pesto: 

  • 1 bunch carrot tops = 1 C lightly packed carrot leaves
  • 1/2 C olive oil – add more for a smooth consistency
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 C fresh basil
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 C pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 C parmesan
  • 1 T honey (optional)
  • black pepper, to taste
Directions:

1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 375F. Cut squash in half, place on baking sheet, drizzle oil on each, and add herbs and salt. Cook for 45 minutes, or until soft. You can also steam for 15-20 minutes, until soft. Rinse carrot tops, and basil thoroughly (sand is no fun).

2. Process: While the squash is cooking, blend up your pesto. Add all ingredients into your food processor, and blend until smooth.

3. Assemble: Shred squash into spaghetti strips (you can do this with a fork), add pesto, then mix together. Enjoy!

Meet Flora, the voice behind the blog

16 Dec

headshot2After all of this time, we thought we would introduce you to Flora, our blog writer.

Read our interview with her to learn more about the voice behind the Butter Beans blog.

What is your role within Butter Beans?

I am the Director of Community and Nutrition, which entails liaising with our students, parents, and faculty, ensuring that they are heard and are happy with our program. I oversee the nutritional balance of our menus while also making sure that the food choices are exciting and interesting for the children who participate in our programs. I engage with our community through various outlets, support our schools on their sustainability and greening initiatives, and manage our social media, blog (yay!), and newsletter content. I also support Butter Beans marketing initiatives, and create programming for our food & garden summer camp.

How long have you been with Butter Beans?

I have been working for Butter Beans for 4 years! I started as an intern writing lesson plans and assisting with our food education classes, then I grew into a part-time position as a Food Service Supervisor and taught a few cooking classes. I then grew into a full-time position as a Food Service Supervisor at a new school, while also taking on the role of Food Operations Manager. From there I grew into the School Community Liaison role, and now into my current position. Lots of growth, can you tell why I love my job?

5314344693_2ceda69029Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in New York City, with an Italian mother, and father from Queens, NY, whose parents moved to the United States from Belgium and Poland during WWII. My mothers’ family lived in Italy, so we would travel there to see them during school breaks. We would stay at my mothers’ home in a small town, where we grew our own vegetables, raised chickens, and cooked pizza in a brick oven. We also spent time on Long Island, where we also grew vegetables, and learned more about the natural world, and did a lot of fishing. Now, I have come to see how these childhood experiences have made a significant impact on my career, and life choices, and am ever grateful for it all.

How did you come to be the curator of the Butter Beans blog?

I had been working closely with Felicia, our VP + Co-Founder, who created and managed our blog, and founded our cooking classes and summer camp. After a while she asked me to write draft blog posts for her. A bunch of drafts and edits later, I was given the opportunity to take over the blog and create content on my own. It’s been a really fun adventure!

What inspires your content choices?

I know what it’s like to be a busy professional, juggling a million things at once. Which is why I choose to share quick, family friendly recipes that use good, seasonal ingredients, with easy instructions for all to follow.

What do you hope your readers will get from the Butter Beans blog?

I’d love for our readers to come away inspired to create healthy meals at home with their loved ones. I’d also love for them to feel invigorated by the way that food connects us all, and feel enriched by the knowledge that food can be medicine, which is why I like to include nutritional information into my posts.

What’s coming up for the Butter Beans blog?

We are looking into connecting our blog to our website, and changing the template to something more fresh and fun. We also want to start including more cooking class recipes, and recipes from our commissary kitchen that we know our students love. Maybe someday even create a cookbook!

Where can people go to learn more about children’s wellbeing and nutrition?

On our website we have a section called resources & links – there you will find some goodies. Also, find us on facebook, and look at our “likes” along with our twitter “followers” to engage with other like minded folks. There is so much goodness happening in the name of children’s wellbeing and nutrition!

Thank you all for reading; I can’t wait to continue sharing with you all!

Cheers,
Flora

Photo courtesy of living off grid

kid tested cranberry chutney

25 Nov

IMG_0175Our Thanksgiving cooking class recipe revolved around seasonal fruit like cranberries, apples and pears.

They loved it!

We created a vibrant and fall colored quinoa salad, and to go alongside it, we simmered down a delicious cranberry chutney. A perfect delight for the senses!

Here’s to celebrating the fall harvest, spending time with family and friends, savoring good food, making memories, and giving back to those who need it the most.

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: ~60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. cranberries
  • 2 c. apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 c. orange juice
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. ginger
  • 4 T sugar

Directions: 

Add all of the ingredients into a pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 1 hour, or until all ingredients are soft and the liquid has reduced.

Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!

weekly family dinner plan

1 Nov

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 10.03.06 AMThis week’s family dinner plan is inspired by: pantry items!

While I was cooking last week I noticed I have several items in my cabinets that I have been overlooking that could go to good use. So this week’s grocery list is inspired by what I already have on hand.

If you have a bunch of items that you need to use as well, you can take the same approach and substitute a couple of nights of my menu items with what you are trying to use, so that you can save at the checkout line.

I am also inspired by superfoods again this week, making sure we have fish at least once during the week, and I am including my son’s suggestions on Kid’s night so he feels included in the process, and is then more open to my choices on the other nights.

Feel free to share your children’s favorite dinners on our Facebook page and we will include them in future menus.

Our menu this week is:

risotto2Monday Butternut squash risotto and black bean salad

Tuesday: – One pot:  Red bean salad served with bulgar wheat with dried cranberries and side salad  (Note – this is a more adventurous menu. My son preferred the black bean salad and had that from leftovers from Monday in place of the red bean salad.)

Wednesday – Kids’ Choice Night:  Turkey tacos with pico de gallo and a side of corn

Thursday:  Baked fish with pan seared garlic and olive oil (or butter) and rice noodles with a side salad

Friday: No noodle zucchini lasagna 

Click here for this weeks grocery list for a family of four.  

Here is your personal Sunday prep list for the week as well as your nightly prep and cook steps that will take the guess work out of every night.

Photo courtesy of zestycook.com

tips for picky eaters part 3

25 Oct

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We’re back with our last installment of Melissa d’Arabian’s “Picky Eaters Project.”

We’ve learned a lot along the way! For a quick recap, click here for part 1, and here for part 2.

Here is our summary for you all to enjoy:

Healthier meal makeover:

  • Bridge from kid food to adult food with gradual transitions. Start with the chicken nuggets your kids love, then create a homemade version of them. From there, go onto a  homemade chicken milanese, then onto a baked breaded fish stick.
  • Other examples include: transitioning from white bread to wheat bread, then to whole wheat bread. Same goes for pasta (regular – whole wheat), or juice (regular – to diluted with water).

Menu planning strategies:  

  • Include your kids in the menu planning process, so that you’re involving them in creating a family meal. On your night, use that as an opportunity to introduce new dishes, making sure theres at least one thing that your kids will eat.

Master breakfast and snacks:

  • Swap out the sugary stuff, and develop two or three easy breakfasts that you can rotate like mini muffins, whole grain cereal with milk, fruit, or green smoothies. For snacks try something nutritious like whole grain crackers, apples, almond butter, string cheese, or berries.

Don’t forget the fun:

  • Do something fun and physical with your kids whether it’s bike riding, walking, dancing, or playing. Make  up recipes with your kids. Cooking can then become even more of a family activity mainstay.

Take stock of where you are:

  • Review the binder that you created at the beginning of the project, and see how far you have come. Celebrate your small victories, “its about progress, not perfection.”

We hope that Melissa’s tips will continue to inspire your family meals for some time to come!

Photo courtesy of blog.landofnod.com