Tag Archives: seasonal food

November – celebrating apples

4 Nov

It’s November, and we are celebrating apples!

Did you know:  In Greek mythology, apples were associated with the healing god Apollo, who was said to be able to heal diseases. Maybe this is the source for the our saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Apple history: The apple tree originated in Western Asia.  Apples are one of the most popular tree fruits in the world with more than 55 million tons of apples grown worldwide. China produces more apples than any other country; the United States is the next highest producer. The apple dates back in history to religious texts, often as an irresistible treat that causes a lot of trouble, the most famous may be the apple that resulted in the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden in the Old Testament.

Why apples are great: Apples have so many wonderful health benefits we may not have room to list them all here! Apples have phytonutrients, which help regulate blood sugar.  They also support the good bacteria in the digestive tract and help with digestion. Thanks to apple’s water-soluble fiber (pectin) content and their mix of nutrients, apples are great for our cardiovascular system. Apples are high in quercetin, a plant derived compound that give us anti-inflammatory benefits. Apples have tons of vitamin C, which helps build up our immune system and ward off colds.  All those benefits in one sweet, crunchy, widely available snack! 

Apples are harvested in New York mid-August to late October. New York ranks second in apple production behind Washington State in the US.  With nearly 700 apple orchards and 41,000 acres of apple trees, New York typically produces an average of one billion pounds of apples every year.  Apple picking is a great family outing in the fall season!

There are many ways to enjoy eating apples.  A simple baked apple with a sprinkle of cinnamon makes an easy, healthy dessert.  A raw apple spread with nut butter is a quick, delicious snack. Instead of the usual Cole slaw for a side dish, simply combine cabbage and apples for apple slaw. Eat the peel! Apple peels have tons of fiber and lots of antioxidants that are great for us. Do give your apple a scrub though – soap and water is great.

How to pick a great apple? You want an apple that is firm to the touch and full of color. Avoid soft or brown spots.  A more round apple, typical of the green variety, can be a little more flavorful than the elongated types. In the coldest part of your refrigerator, apples will hold for over a month! Apples that are starting to get soft can be baked into pie or bread, or stewed as a topping for pancakes.  

 

sweet edible sunshine – the end of a season

21 Sep

The school year is in full swing. It always feels like such a milestone, each new school year. It doesn’t matter if your child is going into kindergarten, second grade or tenth, the anticipation and excitement and promise of an abundance of good things to come is in the air. At Butter Beans this month, we have been highlighting corn, a late summer favorite on our menu. Cooking classes have begun, we’ve made hummus, buttermilk biscuits and balsamic vinaigrette. This week we learn to make leek fritters with tzatziki sauce – a new dish on our menu this season. Recipes, photographs and reflections to come.

For now, just before autumn officially begins (this Friday!), a bit about corn:

Did you know?  Corn is a human invention! It does not grow in the wild and relies on human cultivation and care.

Corn is thought to have initially been cultivated and cross-bred by Native Americans in Mexico 5-8000 years ago with tesonite, an abundant wild grass. Although we typically think of corn as yellow, it comes in many varieties and colors like red, pink, white and blue.

 Why corn is great:

Corn is very versatile grain and full of nutrients that are great for us. It has lots of B vitamins that help the body turn our food (carbohydrates) into fuel (blood sugar – glucose) that gives us energy. B vitamins also help our nervous system work smoothly and are important for our brain. Corn has a good amount of phosphorus and manganese -minerals that are great for our bones, fiber that is great for digestion and vitamin C that help keep our immune system strong.

Corn grows on every continent of the word, except for Antarctica.  Sweet corn is a warm-season grain that grows in every rural county in New York.

Corn has traditionally been planted alongside beans and squash, together known as the “three sisters” because of how well they complement each other in the garden and on our plates. Corn stalks provide a great pole for bean vines to climb and help to anchor corn to the ground. Beans add vital nitrogen to the roots, ensuring good growing soil for years to come. Squash vines work as a living mulch, maintaining moisture and keeping weeds at bay.

Eat corn on the cob, in corn bread, as corn tortillas, polenta, and popcorn. It is abundant in the summer, when farmers freeze extra kernels so we can enjoy corn all year-long. Corn is one of the few foods that is also turned into sugar (known as fructose or corn syrup), grown to feed farm animals and even grown to make bio-fuel an alternative to oil for cars and industries.

How to pick great ears?

You want a firm ear with silks that are not withered. It’s really that simple. If you happen to open an ear of corn and find that a caterpillar has eaten a few kernels, well, you know it’s a good one. Insects don’t eat bad corn.

References:

http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/3sisters.html, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=90, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maize

Meet Flora + Sautéed asparagus with Poached eggs and Parmesan cheese

25 May
Flora is our School Community Liaison. She runs our Student Food Committees where students who eat Butter Beans lunches have the opportunity to ask questions about how and why we do things, gather information from their peers, offer feedback, and then return back to their peers with information they have just learned.  It has been an empowering experience for the students and we have seen them grow after even just a few meetings.
Flora also leads our Parent Food Committees, where we invite a small group of parents to come have lunch with us. The parents experience lunch firsthand, and learn more about what it’s like to be in the lunch room.  They are also able to engage with our staff, taste our delicious food and get to know Butter Beans from a different vantage point.
Since she was a child, Flora was exposed to growing fresh food in her family’s garden, and with her Italian heritage was surrounded by natural meals cooked in the simplest ways.  One of her fondest memories of Butter Beans was when she taught a cooking class on traditional Ethiopian Injera with chickpea stew.  There was not one crumb left on any of the students plates, and they all had so much fun eating it with their hands!
Flora is going to be sharing recipes a couple of times a month, highlighting our seasonal foods of the month. It’s May, and we are still celebrating asparagus.
For all of you lucky kids and parents who are coming to camp with us this summer, you will get to meet and spend time with Flora as she will be hanging out with us this summer!