Breads and Baking Workshop

Over a dozen organizations from our community joined us for a workshop focused on making breads and muffins. Ideally, these handmade treats will replace some breakfast goods, snacks, or birthday cakes. We made Blueberry Corn Muffins, Carrot Cake Cookies, Pumpkin Muffins, Apple Bread, Chai Spiced Sweet Potato Cookies and Yogurt Whipped Cream. Thank you to everyone who attended, and good luck baking. Happy Holidays from all of us at The Teaching Kitchen; we’ll be back in the New Year with more recipes and opportunities for learning!

Getting Acquainted with Different Grains

At the 6 month mark of our trainees’ year of technical assistance, we invited the organizations back for a grains-based workshop. This November we made Baked Polenta with Cheese; Barley, Corn and Black Bean Salad; Tabbouleh; and Wheat berry Salad with Dried Fruit and Nuts. We were very pleased to welcome back Riseboro Community Partnership Senior Centers, Jamaica Service Program for Older Adults, Bedford Stuyvesant Early Childhood Development Center Inc., and Queens Community House. We’re excited to see what everyone makes with their new grain expertise.

October Cohort with Fall Vegetables

Thank you to St Marks UMC Bishop Sexton Head Start, Remsen Neighborhood Center and Hugh Gilroy Neighborhood center with Fort Greene Senior Citizens Center, Children of Promise, HCHCIC Ace Integration Head Start, Myrtle P. Jarmon Early Childhood Educational Center, Clifford Glover Day Care Center, Inc., and Union Settlement's Johnson Early Childhood Center for joining us for an October two-day training. We made sweet potato fries, cauliflower and chickpea bake, and lunched on salmon with cilantro pesto. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience with us, and we look forward to our year together!


Type 2 Diabetes & Sugar

By: Lauren Kremer, Dietetic Intern

In 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, had diabetes.  The percentage of Americans age 65 and older remains high, at 25.2%, or 12.0 million seniors (diagnosed and undiagnosed)1.  Factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, high blood pressure, heart disease and being overweight can all contribute to Type 2 Diabetes.  Diet modifications can delay or prevent complications and the progression of the disease.  Maintaining a healthy weight, choosing heart healthy foods, and exercising daily can all help to prevent Type 2 Diabetes.  Our clients are also facing this issue, and at the request of a Casa Mutua resident I gave a nutrition workshop focused on Type 2 Diabetes and Sugar.  In class we discussed sugar and the importance of limiting sugar and sugar sweetened beverages.

During the workshop, the residents at Casa Mutua made no bake, low sugar cookies.  As a healthier alternative to “regular cookies” this recipe is high in protein from either peanut butter or chickpeas, high in soluble fiber from oats and, while honey is included, a banana provides additional sweetness.  These cookies can be a fun, easy, interactive activity with a group, as it requires no baking and is quite simple to execute.

No bake, low sugar cookies recipe:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy (for best results, use shelf-stable peanut butter; if using natural peanut butter, ensure that it is well stirred and not oily) – 1 cup of pureed chickpeas can substitute in a nut free environment
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup (or less) honey
  • 1/3 cup well mashed very ripe banana (about 1 medium banana)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats (see recipe notes to make your own)
  • Cinnamon and cardamom to taste
  • Shredded unsweetened coconut


1.      Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, wax paper, or a silpat mat.  Set aside.
2.      In a small saucepan (or microwave) over medium heat, combine the peanut butter, milk, cocoa powder, coconut oil, and salt until smooth and well combined.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, banana, spices and vanilla extract until smooth and most of the banana lumps have disappeared.  With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the oats.  The mixture will be very thick.
3.       With a small cookie scoop or spoon, drop heaping tablespoons of no bake cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet.  Gently flatten the mounds into a cookie shape, then roll in the unsweetened coconut.  Place the cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the oats to soften and the flavors to meld.

  • Do not use rolled oats, as they are much firmer than quick and will make the cookies hard to chew. To make your own quick oats, place the same amount of regular rolled oats in the food processor and briefly pulse 3 to 4 times.
  • Store leftover no bake cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or tightly wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.



Adapted from

Summer Teaching Kitchen Training

In August we welcomed Bronx Baptist Day Care and Learning Center, Highbridge Advisory Council, Billy Martin Child Development Center, Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC) Head Start, Queens Community House Forest Hills Senior Center & NORC, Queens Community House Pomonok Community Center, Queens Community House Rego Park Senior Center for a training. Together we made cauliflower chickpea bulgur bake, spinach pesto, red beet hummus, cranberry coconut granola, and orange vinaigrette. We found common ground in how to engage both early childhood and senior center clients in eating more fresh and local food. We so excited to spend the year sharing together! 

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Making Breakfast Healthy and Delicious

Lunch and dinner are often prioritized at the expense of breakfast in making a menu. Cold cereals and scrambled eggs can dominate a breakfast menu, which can translate to bored clients. We prioritized breakfast during our recent workshop on breakfast foods.  Teaching Kitchen Chefs Lynn and Evelyn highlighted how to incorporate nutritional, seasonal breakfast ingredients into traditional favorites like French toast, frittata and granola. For example, participants made a delicious strawberry sauce to accompany homemade French toast.  All of the dishes we made, which include Leftover Banana French Toast Casserole, Homemade Turkey Sausage Patties, Cornmeal Porridge, Spinach Mozzarella Frittata and Coconut Raisin Granola, will please children, adults, and seniors. Try to revitalize your breakfast by adapting some of these! 


Gluten-Free doesn’t have to mean “Flavor Free”

By: Lauren Kremer, Dietetic Intern

More than ever, clients are requesting gluten-free menu items. Between Celiac Disease, a rare autoimmune disease affecting the small intestines, gluten-sensitivity and other gastrointestinal issues, many people are opting not to include gluten in their diets.  With this in mind, I created a nutrition education workshop about gluten for our clients at the Senior Center at Saint Peter’s and The Center@ Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. We reviewed the main sources of gluten: wheat, barley and rye. Oats, which are gluten-free, are often contaminated with gluten at factories where they are processed. Gluten can be found in many foods, some of them surprising, including foods such as salad dressing and other condiments, pies, imitation seafood and snack foods such as potato chips.

If your clients are adhering to a gluten-free diet, then what exactly can they eat? Gluten-free products will typically have “Gluten-Free” written on the label.  In addition, the following foods are gluten-free:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Meat and Fish
  • Beans, Peas and Legumes
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Butter
  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Potato
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Sorghum
  • Flax
  • Tapioca
  • Spices
  • Oils

We taste tested a gluten-free product, Banza, a pasta made from chickpea flour that is used in the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House kitchen. Banza is not only gluten-free but is also high in protein and fiber, making it a very healthy alternative to pasta, especially pasta made from refined flour. Our clients compared the taste of Banza to whole wheat pasta, both with vegetable tomato sauce, and unanimously agreed that Banza tasted delicious. I recommend undercooking Banza so that it doesn’t turn out mushy – but even for large groups, it can be a great pasta alternative. Try exploring other pastas including those made with quinoa, lentil or brown rice to see which your clients like best. Happy gluten-free cooking!

Prioritizing Hydrating This Summer

By: Lauren Kremer, Dietetic Intern

This summer is shaping up to be a HOT one!  Drinking enough water and healthy liquids is critical to keep from becoming dehydrated, for people of all ages. We need roughly eight 8-ounce cups per day to keep hydrated. With this in mind, I set out to create a nutrition education session for communities served by two Lenox Hill Neighborhood House programs: CARE, an arts-based social day program for older adults living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia, and Casa Mutua, which provides permanent housing and support services for 54 formerly homeless individuals with a history of mental illness.

Working with each group, we tasted fruits and vegetables high in water content, such as cucumber, celery and green peppers. We talked about which foods seemed to contain the greatest amount of water and which we enjoyed the most. Including these types of foods in your diet will help you to remain hydrated this summer.

Here are some tips for Teaching Kitchen participants to help your clients stay hydrated during the summer:

1.      Always have water available, so they are in the habit of drinking.
2.      Serve hydrating fruit and vegetables such as watermelon, cucumbers, citrus fruits,
         applesauce or yogurt – these food carry fluids and can help keep you hydrated.
3.      Provide flavored waters (see below).
4.      Post a sign with a reminder to drink water.
5.      Post a notice about signs of dehydration to be aware of: dizziness, weak pulse,                       little or no urination, cold hands and feet, or low blood pressure. 

Below is one of my favorite recipes, which I shared with clients: all citrus flavored water. If not liking the taste of water or boredom with it prevents clients from drinking it, adding fruit is an easy way to increase water consumption without adding sugar. Avoid drinking juices or sweetened beverages.


All Citrus Flavored Water

1.      Wash 1 orange, 1 lime and 1 lemon.
2.      Slice fruit into rounds, then cut the rounds in half.
3.      Add to jar, press and twist with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon.
4.      Press enough to release some of the juices, but don't pulverize the fruit.
5.      Fill the jar with ice.
6.      Pour in water to the top.
7.      Stir it with the handle of a wooden spoon or a chopstick.
8.      Put a lid on it, put it in the fridge, and chill. 

Cooking and Learning with Daycare and Head Start Programs

Head Start and daycare providers joined us in May for a child-focused Teaching Kitchen training. Teaching Kitchen Chefs led a discussion on our role and responsibility as food service providers in shaping the diets of students whose palates are rapidly developing during their early years.  In response to this conversation, attendees thought of ways to get the whole school and community involved in making nutritional changes to benefit our young learners. In the kitchen we made polenta with New York State grain, brainstormed how to serve parsnips, made carrot cake cookies as a great snack option, learned about production sheets, ate zucchini for lunch, and shared best snack recipes. 

Thank you to Bedford Stuyvesant Early Childhood Development Center Inc., Pequenos Souls Early Childhood Center at Union Settlement, Trabajamos Community Head Start, Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC) Head Start sites, and Covenant House for sharing your knowledge and experience with us! 

Long Weekend of Vegetables

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Long weekends in spring are an ideal time to be outside, which can translate to eating favorite but not the healthiest foods reserved for gatherings . Even though the programs we train cook inside, they can gather some inspiration for healthier alternatives to staple picnic foods. 

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Try our recipes for Healthy Yogurt Ranch Dressing. Yogurt Whipped Cream, Homemade BBQ sauce, Herbed Potato salad and Cabbage and Carrot Slaw


Yogurt Whipped Cream

Yield:  8 cups or 2 quarts

2 cups heavy whipping cream
6 to 8 tbsp sugar, or to taste
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 cup plain Greek yogurt

Put the heavy cream and the mixing bowl in the freezer for 5 or 10 minutes before whipping the cream. (This will help to whip the cream.)  In the mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream with sugar until hard peaks form.  Mix in the vanilla.  Stir in the Greek yogurt, gently, until combined.  Keep chilled and covered until ready to serve.

Can be served as icing for a cake, or on the side of a cake or fruit dessert just like whipped cream. 

Summer Vegetables Ahead of Schedule

While we have been patiently snacking on apples and cooking squash during the winter, we are very excited for the bounty of summer.  Even though it is still spring, our organizations start planning for the summer early. Many menus need to be planned in advance so they can be approved by nutritionists. We held a workshop last week to help our participants prepare summer menus full of delicious vegetables that are in season during the summer

We highlighted summer vegetables with recipes for Sautéed Eggplant with Peppers and Tomatoes; Roasted Zucchini; Cucumber, Green Pea and Wheat berry Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing; Eggplant Parmesan; Spinach Pesto; Baked Zucchini Chips and Zucchini, Corn and Black Bean Quesadillas.  We also shared nutritional information about all the vitamins and other uses for common summer vegetables. We hope our attendees are able to incorporate a few of our recipes into their upcoming summer menus!

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Planting Seeds for Nutrition

Aside from lemon balm, chives and grape vines, it may not look like there is much growing right now, but below the soil things are just getting started!  We have big plans for our roof top garden this year.   We have planted basil, cilantro, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, lavender and sunflowers.   In the coming months we're hoping to do more collaboration with the Teaching Kitchen and our Food Service Team by using our roof top garden produce in our menus, and using the garden to teach our Early Childhood Center about healthy and hyper-local eating.  Stay tuned as the garden continues to grow! 

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Introducing Evelyn Garcia, our new Teaching Kitchen Chef!

We are thrilled to announce that Evelyn Garcia has joined our Teaching Kitchen team as Teaching Kitchen Chef.  Lynn Loflin will now be Teaching Kitchen Executive Chef. 

Evelyn is a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and has spent several years as a culinary educator working with children and teens at Cornell Cooperative Extension's U-Green Teen Program and Stony Kill Farm.  She also worked as a food stylist for the Food Network, Martha Stewart Living and the Cooking Channel.  Prior to these experiences Evelyn was a chef at various establishments including Abigail Kirsch in Tarrytown and the 21 Club in Manhattan.  Evelyn is fluent in Spanish.  She will be a wonderful addition to our team and a great resource to all of you.  When you meet Evelyn for a kitchen consultation, workshop or training please welcome her! 


Our April Child Care Group!

Earlier this month, Day Care and Head Start Centers from across the city came to the Neighborhood House for our April training.  We had a blast learning and sharing with them! We cut watermelon radishes; made healthy carrot cake cookies; ate a delicious lunch of salmon with pesto, bulgur, and roasted squash at our senior center; and discussed the particular challenges and joys of feeding young children. Thank you to Small World Early Childhood Center, North Bronx National Council of Negro Women Child Development Center, Chinese-American Planning Council's Jacob Riis Early Childhood Center and Colin Newell Early Childhood Development Center and Therese Cervini Early Childhood Development Center at Catholic Charities. 


Making Guacamole with Early Childhood

Nutrition education starts young here at the Neighborhood House. This week our Executive Chef, Stephen Kahani, and one of our Early Childhood Cooks, Janet Sanchez, went to three of our classrooms to do a guacamole cooking demonstration and tasting with our three-year-old children.  

Children in our Head Start program eat together at a table each day, so when a new food arrives for lunch they take cues from their peers and are more apt to try it. We learned about colors, textures and flavors while we ate a nutritious food.

Guacamole, with its bright colors, multiple ingredients, ease of preparation and smooth texture made it an excellent choice for the kids to try!

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5 Sauces for Grain Bowls

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Cooking and nutritional workshops are integral to our work at The Teaching Kitchen. Trying to make vegetables palatable and introduce them in new ways is a continual process for us, and these workshops provide a chance to experiment with new recipes. In our recent Staff Cooking Class we cooked three of the four recipes listed below. These sauces have become a favorite of our clients and hopefully yours as well! 


Adapted from Kitchn

Orange Tahini Sauce

Makes 3/4 cup

Combine 1/2 cup tahini, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons water, zest and juice of 1 orange, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 clove garlic, then blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper. This is the "go-with-everything" sauce. Need a basic to keep in the fridge? This is the sauce to keep on hand. It pairs with just about any and every type of grain bowl and makes a delicious dipping sauce for fresh veggies. With its savory sesame flavor, hint of sweetness, and orange undertone, this sauce is the grain bowl staple.


Soy Peanut Sauce

Makes 3/4 cup

First you get the sweet and salty peanut-soy flavor, and then a spicy kick from Sriracha slowly sneaks up on you. This is my favorite kind of spicy sauce — where the heat isn't immediate. Use this sauce to boost everything from chicken and steak, to tofu, lentils, beans, and veggies.

Combine 1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky), 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons water, and 1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha (optional), then blend until well-combined.


Mediterranean Olive Sauce

Makes 3/4 cup

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Combine 1 cup pitted olives, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, 2 cloves garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional), then blend until you reach your desired consistency.


Carrot Ginger Sauce

Makes 1 cup

Hoisin brings umami flavor and a touch of sweetness to this sharp and gingery sauce. The toasty notes from sesame oil prevent it from becoming overly sweet. Use this sauce to give your Asian-inspired grain bowls a boost, or pair with fish like salmon, cod, halibut, and tilapia.

Combine 1 cup pureed cooked carrot, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger, and 2 cloves garlic, then blend until smooth.


Herbed Yogurt - Goat Cheese Sauce

Makes 1/2 cup

Cheese-lovers, rejoice! This creamy, tangy goat cheese sauce loaded with a mix of fresh herbs is right up your alley. This is the kind of sauce you'll want to spoon over bowls loaded with chicken, fresh and roasted veggies, and anything Mexican-inspired.

Combine 4 ounces plain Greek Yogurt, 1 to 3 oz of softened goat cheese (optional), 1 tablespoon olive oil, then blend until smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup of chopped fresh herbs (any combination of chives, parsley, basil, and mint), and season to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper.

Cooking Local Food with Our Staff

Part of our work with The Teaching Kitchen is to build the capacity of other cooks and teach about local food.  To make sure we're living our work, we wanted to educate and empower our wonderful staff. We held a cooking class for our staff specifically focused on using local winter vegetables. We ordered a few CSA shares through our Food Box program with GrowNYC, and made grain bowls out of the offerings. That week's share included swiss chard, beets, greens, celery root, and potatoes. Our approach was to roast and sauté vegetables then accompany them with wheat berries and three delicious sauces. (Stay tuned for the sauce recipes in an upcoming blog post!)  We learned what celery root is and about knife skills and most importantly we dispelled the myth that local food in the winter can be boring! 

Seasonal Spring Vegetable Workshop

In preparation for the warmer spring months ahead, Teaching Kitchen graduates joined Teaching Kitchen Chef Lynn Loflin in our kitchen for a workshop on expanding spring vegetable offerings. This workshop is part of a recurring series focusing on incorporating seasonal vegetables into menus. 

Participants prepared an apple, carrot and beet salad; a cabbage and kohlrabi salad; lemony white beans with carrots and spinach; and whole wheat linguine with asparagus, peas and spinach cream. All these recipes were chosen to work with both a child and adult palate because they have a lot of color and texture and their spice and sweetness level can be adapted  Hopefully these ideas will inspire you to try adding more vegetables into your spring menus! 

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Yale Food Systems Symposium

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Teaching Kitchen Chef Lynn Loflin recently participated in the 5th Annual Yale Food Systems Symposium. Lynn spoke on a panel entitled, “Revitalizing the Northeast Grainshed: Cultivating the Value Chain and Stakeholder Engagement.” She shared the stage with Jackie Bach the Procurement Manager at Greenmarket Co./GrowNYC, June Russell the Director of Greenmarket Regional Grains Project and Andrea Stanley the Maltster at Malt Valley. Lynn discussed Lenox Hill Neighborhood House's role in supporting local and heritage grains and the affordability and accessibility of these grains. We're proud to share Lenox Hill Neighborhood House’s experience serving local food with a national audience.

Transforming Food Waste: Leftover Oats

Oatmeal is a favorite of both our children and senior clients, and we serve it several times a week. We use local New York State oats to make both our oatmeal and our granola. Suffice to say we have a lot of oats and oatmeal in our kitchen. When you are faced with a few cups of leftover oatmeal, instead of tossing it try transforming it into muffins!  Serving homemade muffins, as we do also, is a cheaper, healthier alternative than purchasing them and gives your clients a new, delicious menu item. 


Leftover Oatmeal Muffins

Yield:  50 muffins

6 cups all purpose four
1 cup brown sugar
5 tbsp baking powder
1 to 2 tbsp cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups raisins, cranberries, coconut, mashed ripe banana, blueberries or any other addition you like!
4 eggs
4 cups leftover cooked oatmeal
2 cups milk or yogurt
½ cup vegetable oil or melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and any of the dried fruit or other additions that you are using.   In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs then add the oatmeal and mash with a fork or whisk to break up any clumps.  Add the milk or yogurt and the oil or butter.  Stir mixture to just combine.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir briefly just to combine; over mixing will make the muffins chewy. 

Pour into prepared muffin cups (sprayed with vegetable spray).  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until done.  These muffins don’t brown too much on top.  Serve warm.  Best eaten the day that they are cooked!