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

 Keith MacDonald /

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. 

Keith MacDonald /

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!

Keith MacDonald / 

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! 

Garden May.jpg

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!

IMG_20180328_143307 - Copy.jpg
IMG_20180328_144252 - Copy.jpg

5 Sauces for Grain Bowls

Three sauces.JPG

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

Sauce making.JPG

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! 

Spring Vegetable Workshop.JPG
Asparagus linguini.png
Seasonal Spring Vegetable Workshop all dishes.jpg

Yale Food Systems Symposium

Lynn at Yale Symposium_edited.jpg

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!

A day of Citrus

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked wheatberries, chopped almonds, parsley, olives, green onion, raisins, and feta (if using).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Cooking in the Kitchen with Parents!

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.

Cutting butternut squash ---.JPG
IMG_3158-Janet and clients.JPG
Cutting pepers and onions ---.JPG
IMG_1189 --.JPG

Our January 2018 Cohort

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!


Reducing Red Meat on Your Menu

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. 

  1. 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
  2. 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.  
  3. 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

Black Bean Burger.PNG

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

12 eggs

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.

New Year's Resolution: Sustainability

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. 

Healthy Holiday Baking!

Group photo_edited.jpg

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.

Panning cookies.jpg
Rolling Date Cookies.jpg

Meet the Newest Teaching Kitchen Participants!

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! 

Group photo 2.jpg
Cutting beets.jpg
Cauliflower Cheddar Bake with Janet 2.jpg