Tag Archives: cooking class

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!

summer plans

30 Jan

IMG_0004Winter is still here, but summer is not that far away!

Come get a head start on your summer plans by visiting us this Saturday at PS 321’s Summer Camp Expo to learn more about our fun-filled food & garden summer camp!

Not only will our Co-Founder and Camp Director be there to answer all of your questions, we will also be sampling our homemade camp snacks like our famous granola bars and giving out some seed packets for garden inspiration.

Our summer camp is all about food! How to grow, harvest, cook, compost, where it comes from, who is behind the scenes, how much energy it takes to get to us, and why it’s good for us. All while having fun in the sun, and enjoying the summer-time to it’s fullest.

For those who sign up for camp at the PS 321 event, we’ll give you an additional $75.00 off, along with our 10% off promotion.

See you there!

Transforming hospital food: a conversation with Chef Frank Caputo

17 Dec

IMG_1848During a breakout session at the Blogher 2012 conference this past August, we found ourselves in a room of health professionals discussing the current state of hospital food. As hands were raised, and points brought up, we heard from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) that they were breaking ground on an organic farm near their hospital in the middle of the dessert!

Naturally, we approached them and exchanged information. We wanted to learn more, so we organized an interview with their Chef, Frank Caputo to discuss the birth of their inspiring farm, and the impacts it will have on their community.

Butter Beans: What is the mission of CTCA?

Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is the home of integrative and compassionate cancer care. We never stop searching for and providing powerful and innovative therapies to heal the whole person, improve quality of life and restore hope.

Butter Beans: Why have you made healthy food one of your goals? Why are you emphasizing nutrition as an integral part of your mission?

We know that there is a correlation between good nutrition and better health. For me personally, I think the biggest demand is from our patients because they want better nutrition, they want better ingredients, the information is out there for them to see. They’re always asking us if their food is all natural or certified organic and that lends itself to how we cook. We cook from scratch and we know what’s in our food. My team and I work very closely with our Registered Dieticians in the Nutrition Department to make sure our patients have the best food available for their nutritional needs.

IMG_1724-1Butter Beans: Tell us more about the goals of your organic farm program.

One of our goals is to promote good health in general. We encourage our patients to adopt a more plant-based diet and limit their amount of red meat.

Another one of our goals is to educate our patients on nutrition, food, sources of food, and the quality of our food from the very beginning. We will introduce the philosophy of seasonal foods to our patients. They’ll be able to learn techniques on growing seasonal foods.

Our organic farm will allow us to re-localize our own food source. We are bringing the food that we use even closer to us; therefore, we’re cutting out the middle man – it’s literally coming out of the ground to the patients’ plates within minutes to hours.

Butter Beans: Have you used the farm as an educational tool in your hospital?

We plan on using the farm to educate patients on growing and planting their own produce. We plan on having harvesting seminar groups and cooking demonstrations by 2014 as well as a hands-on learning center. Additionally, the patient garden area of the organic farm will provide our patients with the therapeutic benefits of gardening.

IMG_1813Butter Beans: Have you seen a change in the way patients feel while staying in your hospital? Do you think the fresh food is making a difference?

Absolutely, all the patients are excited about the farm. They were excited about it even before anything was on paper because they’ve heard me talking about it. There’s been this growing excitement. Now that it’s coming to fruition, they’re even more excited to see it taking place.

Butter Beans: What are the reactions of patients when given your food?

They’re extremely thankful. It lends itself back to their knowledge of food and also their knowledge of what we do here specifically in the culinary department. They can’t believe this is hospital food. We are certainly not the norm. They’re not just surprised, they’re beyond surprised. They’re so happy that we take the amount of time that we do and make the investment to provide food that has a high nutritional value, looks good, tastes good and is healthy for them.

Butter Beans: What inspired you to become the executive chef for CTCA?

Initially, I have to give credit to my mentor Chef Jack Shoop who, at the time, was working as the Executive Chef at CTCA at Eastern Regional Medical Center in Philadelphia. I was unemployed and looking for a job. He tried to convince me to work in the hospital for about three months and I kept turning him down.

After a while, Chef Shoop told me, “I know you, you are ready for this mentally, physically, emotionally, this is where you’re going to grow into who you really are.” I didn’t know much about nutrition or working in a hospital, but saw this as an opportunity to help others, learn and continue my education.

What you don’t know today, you want to learn for tomorrow. Real food – we’re all going in that direction. It’s just a matter of time before we all start getting back to the roots of our food, down to the simplest ingredients. And knowing what’s in our food. We are what we eat. If you eat junk, we know that’s not the best for our bodies. If we eat food that is good with high nutritional value, we know that can only help us – and not just if you have cancer. Healthy food helps us throughout our lives.

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Butter Beans: What was it like to cook your first meals with freshly picked local organic produce from the farm?

Our first harvest will be later this winter, but cooking with produce from McClendon’s Select farms is amazing. Chef Shoop used to say, “In order for the food to smile back, you have to smile at the food. If you’re not smiling at your food, how can the food smile? Knowing you have a product that came out of the ground yesterday – how could you not smile?” That was Chef Shoop’s philosophy.

Butter Beans: What are your thoughts on the Healthy Hospital Food Initiative in NYC? Have you been seeing changes in the quality and tastiness of hospital food in other states and other hospitals?

I think it’s great that the city is providing guidelines to its hospitals that will give patients access to healthier food while they’re undergoing treatment for any illness. Hopefully this will inspire others to follow suit.

Butter Beans: What were some of the unexpected hurdles in this project?

Well, one of the main questions was how were we going to irrigate a farm in the middle of Arizona! So, we constructed a one acre irrigation lagoon that holds 2.6 million gallons of water and used the abandoned Roosevelt irrigation canal system for our water source. And even before that question, though was finding a farmer – a farmer who had the skills, knowledge and capability to produce certified organic produce. Anyone can put a farm up, but how do you make it the best farm it can be and managed by someone who truly cares?

Butter Beans: What motivates you to do your best every day?

First and foremost, our patients and the people who serve our patients motivate me to do my best every day. I try to instill that same philosophy in my team. Do better today than what you did yesterday.

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A big thank you goes out to CTCA and Chef Frank Caputo for your vision and leadership in transforming hospital food in our country. May others be inspired by your story, and follow suit!

Photos courtesy of CTCA

early bird food & garden summer camp special

26 Oct

Being followers of our blog, you may have heard about our food & garden summer camp. It’s a blast for our campers, as they get to explore the New York City foodshed and have fun food adventures!

At camp, we learn all about the food cycle, from sprouting seeds, composting and harvesting fresh produce from local rooftop farms, to writing our very own cookbooks. As the weeks progress our campers have explored farmer’s markets, created their own pickles and preserves, and have made bread and ice cream from scratch!

Our campers learn expert kitchen skills from local chefs, take tours of cheese caves, and trips to master chocolate makers. They also have plenty of opportunities to play outside, and go foraging and berry picking at summer’s peak.

We are offering an early bird special on our camp tuition: sign up by October 31st and receive 15% off camp tuition. Camp runs throughout July & August. For more information visit our website for our printable and online registration form.

Here are some additional details that may help answer some of your questions:

  • Camp runs from 9am-4pm
  • Camp date are: Monday, July 8th to Friday, August 16th.
  • We offer pick up and drop off in Brooklyn or Manhattan.
  • Campers are 6-12 years old.
  • We offer early care from 8-9am and after-care from 4-5pm.
  • Our daily fee includes a morning snack and home cooked lunch, 1 camp t-shirt, transportation to and from trips, and all activity materials.
  • Click here for payment details.

Fall frittata

5 Oct

3746121878_840591c02dA frittata is the perfect way to use up vegetables that are sitting in your fridge, waiting to be eaten.

In this recipe that we used in our after-school cooking classes, our students used up some seasonal vegetables and were excited to taste the outcome. After some patience, and steadiness in flipping the frittata, they were surprised at how delicious zucchini, peppers and spinach taste once sauteed, slightly caramelized, and mixed into fresh eggs.

Here is how to make this traditional Italian omelet:

Makes 2-4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • handful of cheese (optional)

Directions: Shred zucchini with a grater, or cut into thin rounds, dice bell peppers and garlic, rinse and dry spinach. Beat eggs in a separate bowl, set aside. Over medium heat, add garlic and veggies into a pan, and sautee for 5 minutes. Pour in eggs, and let cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes covered. If frittata appears mostly solid, it is ready to flip, if not cook for a few minutes longer. Place a larger plate over the top of the pan, hold the middle of the plate with a firm grip, and flip the frittata. Slowly and with care, slide the frittata back into the pan with the uncooked side down. Replace the lid, and cook for another 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and slice into wedges to serve.

Makes for a great packed lunch too! Click here to read our 5 steps for packing your kids a healthy school lunch.

Photo courtesy of net_efekt