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!
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!
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.
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 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!
By: Tory Stroker, Dietetic Intern
As cold and flu season sweeps across our nation, this is the best time to discuss the benefits of adding citrus into one’s diet. Citrus is at its peak freshness in the winter, and with its immune boosting Vitamin C properties it can help to keep us stay healthy and free of the flu.
Exploring the varieties, nutritional benefits, cooking techniques and tastes of citrus, I set out to implement citrus into two different workshops with different populations.
With CARE, a group of older adults living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia, I led the group through a 5 Senses Workshop revolving around citrus fruits. With 6 varieties of citrus (ruby grapefruit, white grapefruit, navel orange, tangerine, lemon and lime) we used our 5 senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) to get to know these fruits better. We described the color, weight and texture of the whole fruits, the smell of the zest, and of course, tasted each fruit, while describing and rating our favorites.
In a later Cooking Workshop with older adults at The Innovate Senior Center, I led the group through making an Orange Wheatberry Salad with Cashews, Raisins and Green Onion. This sunny salad was received with great accolades and will be a welcome addition to winter eating.
Given 1 cup of oranges boasts 98% daily value of Vitamin C, the participants of my citrus workshops at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House will be saying ‘NO’ to the flu this season!
Orange Wheatberry Salad
Adapted from Cookie and Kate
Yield: 6 side servings
- 8 ounces wheatberries
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup pitted olives
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 1/2 cup raisins, preferably golden
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (from 1 to 2 oranges)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or other vinegar)
- 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Add wheatberries to a pot, with 3x the amount of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer the pot with the lid on for about 1 hour until the wheatberries are tender. Before draining, reserve roughly 1/2 cup cooking water. Drain well.
- Toast the almonds in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and turning golden on the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a cutting board and chop them.
- In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked wheatberries, chopped almonds, parsley, olives, green onion, raisins, and feta (if using).
- In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine the orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and salt. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water, and whisk until blended.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. It might seem like too much dressing at first, but don’t worry. Season with pepper, to taste.
- Let the wheatberry salad rest for at least 10 minutes (or up to several hours in the refrigerator) so it has time to soak up the dressing. Season to taste with additional salt, if necessary, and serve. Leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Over the past month we welcomed family members of children who are in our Early Childhood Center (ECC) to our kitchen for a three-part healthy cooking workshop series. Our Teaching Kitchen Chef Lynn Loflin and one of our Early Childhood Center cooks, Janet Sanchez, worked with attendees to make a selection of recipes that we serve their children in the classrooms.
In the first class, we cooked granola a variety of ways and frittata. For our second class we made bulgur, roasted butternut squash, black bean and sweet potato chili, and a kale, beet and arugula salad with homemade dressing. Finally, for our third class we made baked fish smothered in a coconut curry sauce with sweet potatoes and sautéed kale.
Teaching Kitchen Chef Lynn Loflin led discussions on nutrition and eating habits. A main point of focus was the importance of introducing healthy new foods into children’s diets from a young age to develop their palates for a love of nutritious food. Our Food Services team laid out samples of recent meals that we have served in our Early Childhood Center for the family members to try.
Workshops like this facilitate open communication between families and staff and provide a valuable understanding of the foods we choose to serve. We hope that the family members in attendance had a great time making some of these recipes at home with their kids.
At our most recent two-day training course we welcomed another fantastic group of organizations. We would like to thank Citizen’s Care Day Care, Goddard Riverside Early Childhood Center, Little Star of Broome Street Early Childhood Center at Chinese American Planning Council, Mosholou Montefoire Senior Center and two sites at St. Nicks Alliance: Assisted Living at Jennings Hall and Swinging Sixties Senior Center for sharing their goals and enthusiasm with us.
Our participants made carrot cake snack cookies, granola, homemade salad dressing, beet hummus, and prepared beets and kohlrabi for a salad. In addition to learning new recipes as a group, participants were inspired by observing our Food Services team make healthy, homemade dinner of arroz con pollo for our senior centers and a rotini with spinach and chickpeas for our Early Childhood Center. We’re excited to watch the organizations’ progress over the next year!
Here at the Neighborhood House, we try to keep the portion size of the red meat at the minimum and serve it with less frequency on our menus. This allows us to incorporate many healthier options into our meals, and models better choices for our clients.
- Reducing red meat, and substituting it with other, healthier proteins, can increase lifespan and reduce the risk of many health problems, according to a large study.
- Red meat is very expensive! Cutting back on costs in this area allows us to increase the amount of vegetables that we purchase, particularly local vegetables. To see why we emphasize local vegetables, check out these 10 reasons on why to buy local.
- Reducing the frequency on the menu makes space for more plant based or vegetarian meals, so you can experiment with new, healthy ideas.
This homemade Black Bean Veggie Burger is a delicious substitute to a red meat burger and stands on its own as an excellent meal. Alternatives like this works great as it requires ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry. Serve with a whole wheat bun and whatever condiments your clients like.
Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers
Yield: 50 - 4oz burgers
2 #10 can black beans (about 22 cups), well drained
5 medium green or red peppers, seeds and stem removed, roughly chopped
4 to 5 medium onions, chopped roughly
12 cloves garlic (or to taste), chopped
6 cups Panko bread crumbs
12 tablespoons chili powder
6 tablespoons ground cumin
1 to 2 tablespoons salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put parchment on 2 full sheet pans and spray with cooking spray. Whisk eggs well to combine. In a large bowl combine black beans and all other ingredients. In batches, put into a food processor and puree leaving the beans, onions, and peppers with some texture. Alternately, you can mash all ingredients for 4 or 5 minutes with a potato masher. Form into ½ cup patties and place on parchment lined sheet pans. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Can flip half way through cooking time but not necessary.
Serve with bun, lettuce, tomato and condiments.
Happy New Year! We hope you had a restorative Holiday Season that was full of delicious food (and some healthy ones too).
Since the beginning of the new year abounds with resolutions, why not try to make one of them to make your kitchen more sustainable? Sustainability can mean a variety of different things, and one of the ways that we focus on it in our kitchen is through finding sustainable fish. We have been using Sea to Table since 2013 as our source for sustainable fish. There are many choices of vendors out there, so find the best choice for you that fits your budget and delivery needs. It's never too late to start looking at farming and fishing practices to see how your kitchen can change in the new year.
We welcomed members of our Teaching Kitchen community from all across the city to a workshop on Healthy Holiday Baking. We made a wide variety of delicious goodies including apple cake, chocolate beet cake, chocolate chip oat and fruit cookies, coconut cookies, mini Chocolate Date Truffles with Coconut, raspberry sauce and yogurt whipped cream. The lighter, but incredibly flavorful, treats were a huge hit! We can’t wait to make these with our organizations, friends and family this holiday season.
We were so pleased to have had participants for our newest cohort from November be those who serve a spectrum of clients from children, youth and adolescents, to seniors. Thank you to Sunnyside Community Services, The Door, Bay Ridge Senior Center, and Family Life Academy Charter School for sharing your stories, ideas, and great work with us. We're looking forward to learning with you throughout the year!
Composting is a process by which food and yard waste are transformed into an organic compound that can be used to fertilize and supplement soil for growing plants. Food scraps account for a large portion of waste that goes to landfills.
You can learn more about New York's composting initiative here.
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House is part of a composting pilot program with the city's Department of Sanitation that is working with institutions to see how composting can work at a large scale. We have eleven bins, pictured below, which are filled three times a week and picked up by the city. The bins are filled with only fruit and vegetable scraps as this inititaive is focused on waste from produce. We will them up very quickly with the scraps from all the fresh food we are serving!
Choosing rice can seem like a straightforward decision. What is offered by your vendor? What is easiest to prepare? While these are important questions to ask, there are many other factors that you can consider when selecting which rice is best for your recipe. We use a couple of different types of rice depending on the dish. Generally we use a parboiled brown rice, or rice that is partially cooked and then dried again, in recipes that include rice. Brown rice can take 45 minutes to an hour to cook, but parboiled rice cuts down the cooking time significantly. We like to mix brown rice with some other grains to add texture and different nutrients. The other rice we use most often is organic brown basmati. Basmati is fragrant rice and goes well with our curries.
Something to keep in mind when selecting which rice to use is that they are not all priced equally. In our cost analysis we found that the pearled barley, wheat berries, oats, and polenta we purchase are cheaper than parboiled brown rice. This means that we can diversify our grains and save money. There are many other rice options available at affordable prices – we encourage you to research which would best fit the needs of your organization!
One of the first produce items we switched over to fresh when we began our kitchen transformation was broccoli. We had to spend a great deal of time thinking about each of the steps that were involved in preparing fresh broccoli from cleaning, cutting, boiling, draining, all the way to serving. Frozen broccoli is consistently packaged in even sized florets, but fresh broccoli can have much more variation in portion size. We serve our broccoli with a large portion of stem, but when we are preparing to cook it we still cut off a lot of stem. Instead of putting the broccoli stems in the compost we try to use them in other areas of our menus because it is such a nutritious vegetable. Adding stems to soup, shredding them into salads, and mixing them into vegetable lasagna are all common options. Check out some of the New York Times Recipes; especially try their variation on coleslaw with broccoli stems and red peppers.
Cooks can hesitate to substitute ingredients in their recipes for fear that their meals will turn out badly, but swapping out ingredients can often lead to new, exciting and nutritious alternatives to everyday meals! There is plenty of room for creative adaptation when cooking. We vary the grains that we use in our menus to include more nutrient dense grains and diversify what we serve. A secret to our grain recipes is that many different kinds of grains can be mixed and served together! If you work with picky-eaters who don't like a particular grain, you can substitute another while still sticking with the rest of the recipe. Also, when you introduce a new grain try incorporating only 25% of the new grain into a rice or other familiar grain, and then increase it over time. As we transition into fall, try switching up your grains for a hearty, healthy alternative.
While salad is a broad category from potato to shrimp, the image often associated with salad made in industrial kitchens can be dull with iceberg lettuce and tomatoes. Fall is a great time to revamp your salad menu and get inspired by all the plentiful, seasonal vegetables. We emphasize having a few different salads on the menu several times a week. Use this harvest chart made by the New York State Department of Agriculture to get inspired by in season vegetables. For instance shred Brussels Sprouts, broccoli stems, beets, and other colorful vegetables to add flavor, nutrients and texture to your offerings.
We're bubbling with excitement that it's pumpkin season! While pumpkins are mainly known as making delicious desserts, they also make incredible savory dishes. This aromatic pumpkin soup is chock-full of spices that are known to have medicinal uses as well. Cinnamon, ginger, clove and nutmeg are thought to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-fungal properties among others. To read more about the link between nutrition and medicine start here.
Curried Pumpkin Soup
(Adapted from a Maya Sozer recipe at Dreamy Leaf)
Makes 3-4 Servings
2 tbps olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tbps ginger, grated
2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Salt to taste
2 tbsp maple syrup
3 cups pumpkin puree, fresh or from canned
1 cup vegetable stock
½ cup coconut cream or coconut milk
Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, stir and cook for another minute. Add the curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the pumpkin puree maple syrup and vegetable stock. Stir and bring to a boil. Add the coconut cream and black pepper. Optionally serve with pumpkin seeds.
Transforming food waste into creative new meals can have multiple benefits for a kitchen: reducing cost, eliminating garbage and compost, adding more nutrients to dishes, and 'sneaking' fruits and vegetables into recipes.
We will be sharing a series of blog posts with our online community that highlight some of the ways we transform our food waste. First up is our delicious Banana French Toast recipe that re-purposes over-ripened bananas and stale bread. Our clients love our french toast and it's a great way for us to use up ingredients in our kitchen. While our bananas are eaten up quickly by our clients, we still usually have some leftover. Instead of throwing them away, we love to use them in this recipe!
Banana French Toast
100 slices of bread (we only use multigrain)
12 cups milk
½ box brown sugar
6 tbsp Cinnamon
4 tbsp Vanilla
¼ cup oil for greasing pans or Pam spray
12 or more over ripe bananas
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine eggs, milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, mashed overripe bananas, and vanilla. Dip bread into egg mixture and let it sit for long enough to absorb some of the mixture. Lay bread slices onto greased sheet pans. Put into hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and keep warm in 200 degree oven. Serve hot with jam or jelly (or cooked sliced fresh, leftover, apples, if not using bananas).
We welcomed graduates and prospective attendees of The Teaching Kitchen at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House back to the kitchen this week for our Healthy Homemade Snacks Workshop. Teaching Kitchen Chef Lynn Loflin taught the session, where attendees learned how to include nutritionally dense foods in snacks, discussed how to serve affordably nutritious snacks to their clients and worked together to make alternative options for popular, but often unhealthy, snack foods. Recipes included black bean quesadillas on whole wheat tortillas, sweet potato fries with yogurt ranch dressing, black bean dip, carrot cake oatmeal cookies and whole wheat English muffin pizza with vegetables and marinara.
This workshop was part of our series we are offering. Reception to our workshops has been phenomenal and include wait lists, so make sure to sign up quickly when you receive an invitation to our next workshop focusing on holiday baking!
Summer squash - including zucchini and yellow squash - is plentiful right now, but it's easy to run out of ideas for what to make with it. Instead of trying another zucchini bread recipe or trying to hide the squash in baked goods, test what one of our Early Childhood Center cooks whipped up...
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, cut the squash into bite-sized pieces, toss the squash in a small amount of vegetable oil and bake for 30 or 40 minutes. You're welcome to adjust the seasoning and incorporate spices to taste. The children in our program love this recipe because the squash loses its watery quality and gains a level of sweetness.
Hopefully this simple recipe will help you use up leftover squash that might be in your walk-in and introduce squash in a bright, straightforward way!