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settling potato leek soup

8 Jan

37548606_e4462264d1Winter is the time for soup to shine!

There is nothing simpler and more satisfying than a creamy (dairy and gluten free) potato leek soup. The combination simply soothes the soul.

Here’s how to make this rich soup in just 20 minutes:

Inspired by epicurious 

Prep Time: 3 minutes Total Time: ~20 minutes

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • Handful of red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 1 leek, cut into half moons
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 C water (or stock)
  • kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Prep: Rinse potatoes and leek. Cut potatoes, remove the top (where it starts to diverge), and the bottom root of the leek, cut down the middle, then into half moons. Take out your pan, wooden spoon, food processor, or immersion blender.

2. Cook: Add olive oil to a deep pan, over medium-low heat cook the leeks with a dash of salt, and cover for 8-10 minutes, until soft. Add in water, cover and bring to a simmer. Add in potatoes, cover and simmer for ~10-20 minutes, or until soft.

3. Blend: In your food processor, puree 1/2 of the soup mixture. Place soup mixture in a big bowl, then mix in the other 1/2 of the soup from your pan. Mix well, then serve. Season with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Photo courtesy of sethoscope

the smile behind our lunch line

3 Jan
2013-11-29_19-35-03 Happy New Year everyone! We hope you had a wonderful break, are feeling recharged, and are staying safe in the snow. We love featuring our Food Service Staff on our blog. They are so vital to the success of our programs. They are the face, the smile, the nurturing voice behind our lunch lines, helping our students make decisions, encouraging them to try new foods, and making lunch fun for our communities. Which is why we are featuring Vernan Douglas who is our Food Service Utility Attendant at one of our schools where we serve lunch. His enthusiasm for his role within Butter Beans, and love for supporting our students at lunch time inspired us to interview him.

What brought you to Butter Beans? A very good friend of mine was working for the company for over a year at the time. She kept speaking about how exciting and different it was, so I insisted on giving it a shot.

What are some of your highlights from your time working with the students? 

There is a student that always asks me if certain foods are Kosher. I always understood the basics about Kosher foods, but not all of the intricacies. He came up to me recently and asked me to sit down with him at lunch, and he explained to me all about what Kosher means. Our conversation inspired me to read more about it, and now I am much more knowledgeable. I was impressed with his awareness of his dietary restrictions.

Have you noticed a change in the food habits of the students?  Many of our students did not eat vegetables at the start of the school year. Though many of them are vegetarians, they would sometimes prefer to eat nothing over eating vegetables. When some students started choosing vegetables, we would congratulate them on how awesome their plates looked, and slowly their peers wanted some recognition too! Not only are they now consuming more vegetables, but they get so excited when they see the daily veggies that we offer. It feels good to see them walk off with their colorful plates!

What motivates you to do your best each day?

I enjoy feeding people good food, I enjoy smiles, and I am big on great health. The children that I serve on a daily basis are our future; if I can serve them a great meal and they come back and thank me, or tell me how great the food was, that’s enough motivation for me to do what I do everyday without a doubt. What do you like the most about your job? No matter what may be going on in my life, the students are always there for me, genuinely happy, and giving me hugs and high fives…that feeling there is priceless.

What is your favorite Butter Beans lunch to eat? The shepherd’s pie is AMAZING. That is by far my favorite lunch yet. I also enjoy our cheesy broccoli soup, I’ve never had anything like it!

spaghetti squash with carrot top pesto

18 Dec

IMG_8929

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

maple cinnamon kabocha puree

11 Dec

5112078128_c56cb4b869 (1)We keep on ranting and raving about kabocha squash, and for good reason!

It gets such great reviews due to its versatility, and nutrition – high in beta carotene, vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, and calcium. Along with it’s comforting flavors to help warm you up on cold winter evenings.

This time we are transforming our kabocha into a delectable puree, as a perfect side dish to accompany your other dinner components, or maybe even for breakfast topped with some chopped nuts!

Pre Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 kabocha squash, diced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 t. maple syrup
  • 2 dashes of cinnamon
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

1. Prep: Rinse, cut squash in half, and remove all seeds, then dice your half into 2 inch thick pieces.

2. Cook: Add water to the bottom of a small pot, line with a steamer basket. Add squash, set heat to medium – high, cover and let cook for 15 minutes, until soft.

3. Blend: Add cooked squash to your food processor. Drizzle in olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt. Blend well, until pureed.

4. Serve: Scoop your puree onto your dinner plate, or breakfast bowl, top with a sprinkle of salt for dinner, and chopped nuts for breakfast. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of wikioticsian