Beans: An Everyday Superfood

Eugenia Hamshaw, Dietetic Intern           

Each month we focus on a different nutrition topic for our clients. In March we focused on fiber as a nutrition topic with our Early Childhood Center students. Dietary fiber, though, is always a consideration in the work we do in the Teaching Kitchen at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. Dietary fiber is one of the nutrients most lacking in a standard American diet, and the potential consequences of the inadequacy are real: fiber supports digestive health and maintains sensations of fullness. It can be a powerful tool in weight loss as well as in preventive health care.

            One of the best sources of dietary fiber is pulses, a group of foods that includes beans, lentils, and split peas. The health potential of these inexpensive, everyday ingredients is impressive. Studies suggest that beans are associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and certain cancers.1 Why? The resistant starch and soluble fiber in beans reduce LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol that circulates in our bloodstream) and steady blood sugar. Both processes can help to combat metabolic syndrome, weight gain, and heart disease.

            Beans have been enjoyed in global cuisines around the world for centuries and continue to play a prominent role in cultural foods. Many residents of institutions around the country—including those in nursing homes and shelters—are familiar with a single type of bean from childhood or country of origin. Examples include navy beans in traditional, American baked beans, black beans in Central American rice and bean dishes, or chickpeas in hummus. It’s not uncommon, though, for consumers to lack exposure to the many varieties of beans available, and therefore to the beans’ varied health benefits. Broadly speaking, beans provide fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, protein, and iron [2], but the nutritional offerings of each type of bean are unique, as are the phytonutrients that give beans their distinctive colors.

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            Our group workshops at The Center and Casa Mutua focused on easy ways to prepare and enjoy beans. We discussed five-ingredient bean recipes, sampled a mashed bean dip, and talked about the advantages of using canned beans versus dry. We also covered the many health benefits of beans, from protein and fiber to micronutrients like iron. Participants seemed curious and pleased to learn about an inexpensive, yet efficient protein source.

            Cooking more with legumes is a goal that aligns nicely with the values of our Teaching Kitchen. We encourage institutional kitchens to experiment with meatless cooking for both environmental and health reasons, and beans make easy work of replacing animal proteins with plant-based sources. Beans are also incredibly cost effective—a one-pound bag of dry pinto beans costs about $1.79 and makes about twelve ½ cup servings of cooked beans—which can help to create space in institutional budgets for seasonal produce and local meat or dairy.

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            The bean recipes we share with our clients in the teaching kitchen incorporate legumes into appealing, everyday recipes. These include a black bean and sweet potato chili, a pasta with white beans, eggplant, and tomatoes, and a cauliflower chickpea bulgur bake. Our nutrition chats at Casa Mutua and the Center homed in on similar types of recipes, with a strong emphasis on meals that are inexpensive and easy to prepare. These included an easy microwave breakfast burrito and a pasta with broccoli and white beans.

            Beans are one of nature’s true superfoods: nutrient-dense, naturally free of fat and sodium, inexpensive, and ecologically friendly. We’re proud to feature them in our meals and to educate our residents and participants at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House about their very delicious benefits.

 

 

1. Ganesan, K., & Xu, B. (2017). Polyphenol-Rich Dry Common Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) and Their Health Benefits. International journal of molecular sciences18(11), 2331. doi:10.3390/ijms18112331

2. Wallace, T. C., Murray, R., & Zelman, K. M. (2016). The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus. Nutrients8(12), 766. doi:10.3390/nu8120766

Spice it Up! A Spice Workshop for All Five Senses at CARE

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By: Eugenia Hamshaw, Dietetic Intern

 Recently, our seniors at CARE participated in a hands-on workshop about the health benefits and culinary versatility of ground spices. 

            It’s no coincidence that spices have played a central role in cuisines around the world for centuries. As it turns out, spices may offer benefits beyond seasoning itself. Research suggests that compounds in spices, such as the capsaicin in peppers (and by extension, dried chili powder and paprika) is anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients help to regulate chronic inflammation in the body, which has been linked to arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and numerous other chronic health conditions. [1] Curcumin, an active compound in both ginger and turmeric, has been shown to be helpful with pain management, likely because it too has anti-inflammatory properties. [2]

            Some research suggests that cinnamon, popular in baked goods, mulled cider, and other wintertime treats, may be mildly helpful in helping to control blood sugar. While cinnamon isn’t a suitable replacement for diabetes medication, it may offer modest benefits to patients with Type II Diabetes in maintaining good blood glucose levels over time. [3] Like many other spices, cinnamon also has anti-microbial properties, which means that it may help to protect against bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. [4]

            We know, then, that spices have many protective health benefits to offer, especially for an elder population. The question becomes, how can institutions and long-term care organizations incorporate spices more seamlessly into their menus?

            In the CARE lesson, our senior participants were given samples of seven everyday spices—cumin, curry, turmeric, cloves, paprika, cinnamon, and ginger—and encouraged to smell and describe them. Many of the seniors recognized these spices fondly: some remembered the smell of mulled wine at the holidays when asked to sample cloves, while others associated paprika with spice rubs for meat. Institutions can capitalize on the nostalgic power of spices by preparing traditional, seasonal dishes, making healthy adjustments (for example, reducing sodium in soups, or cutting sugar in baked goods) along the way.

            Nursing homes, adult day care centers, and other community institutions can also hone in on dishes that lend themselves easily to spice-based seasoning. These include marinades and rubs for meat or fish, hot teas, soups and stews, and mild curries. It’s also possible for institutions to think outside of the box, preparing snacks and dishes that serve as an unusual vehicle for spices. One of these is roasted chickpeas—a simple, savory, and protein-rich snack—which our seniors at care were able to sample during our one-hour nutrition talk! The chickpeas can be made in bulk and used for snacks or as a crunchy topping to entrées.

It was incredibly rewarding to chat with our seniors about the health benefits of these evocative seasonings. Spices are a powerful example of how health and flavor so often work hand-in-hand, and they present organizations with an opportunity to enhance the taste of institutional food without sacrificing nutrition along the way.

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1. Kunnumakkara, Ajaikumar B. et al. “Chronic diseases, inflammation, and spices: how are they linked? Journal of Translational Medicine. 2018: 16(1), 1-2.

2. Sun, Jia et al. “Role of curcumin in the management of pathological pain.” Phytomedicine. 2018: 48, 129-130.

3. Costello, R. B., Dwyer, J. T., Saldanha, L., Bailey, R. L., Merkel, J., & Wambogo, E. (2016). Do Cinnamon Supplements Have a Role in Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes? A Narrative Review. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics116(11), 1794-1802.

4. Ranasinghe, P, Galappaththy, P. “Healthy benefits of Ceylon cinnamon (cinnamom zeylancian): a summary of the current evidence.” Ceylon Medical Journal. 2016: 61(1): 1-5.

Vegetables – when more is better!

By: Daniela Ochoa, dietetic intern

Eating a diet rich in vegetables has been associated with a reduced risk in chronic diseases. Vegetables provide essential vitamins and nutrients, they are packed with fiber and low in calories, making them the building blocks of healthy diet.1 The USDA MyPlate recommends that half of our plate be made up of vegetables; the goal is to have 3-4 servings of vegetables per day.1 But according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, less than 80% of Americans meet this recommendation.2 So what is one serving? 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or 2 cups of raw leafy greens is considered 1 serving of vegetables. Vegetables may be intimidating to some, but there are many ways to add them into your favorite meals!

For breakfast, smoothies are a great way to pack in tons of vegetables. The idea is to make your smoothies mostly vegetable-based and add in 1 fruit for flavoring. Some of my favorites to add in are spinach, cauliflower and zucchini. To make your smoothies creamier, freeze the vegetables or buy them frozen, that way you won’t need to add any ice! Another easy meal idea is to make frittata or scrambled eggs and add in tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and truly any vegetable scraps or left overs to make a delicious and satiating meal. For lunch and dinner time, think about how you can add vegetables into what you are already eating. Throw in an extra cup or two of vegetables into your soup or stew. Shred some carrots to add into your pasta sauce or beans. Or start off each meal with a green salad with shaved vegetables.

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And if you’re concerned your family won’t be on board, think again! We are quick to assume that children won’t like vegetables, but they do. During our Teaching Kitchen lessons for the children, they happily ate Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese and Chocolate Beet Cake (shown in the pictures); and yes, they were aware there were vegetables inside! Another great way to get children excited about vegetables is to include them in the purchasing and cooking process. If children get to pick their vegetables and fruits from the grocery store or farmer’s market they are more likely to want to try it. Also, they can help you rinse the produce or measure out the ingredients for a recipe and will be more engaged and excited to eat it.

When making any change in our lifestyle, planning is key. Try to plan your meals ahead of time to save you time and money. Build your meals around seasonal produce; choose a vegetable and make it the center of your meal, have the grains and/or meat be side dishes or condiments. Most importantly, take it one step at a time. Make it a goal to introduce 1 new vegetable per week and build on from there!

References:

1.       All about the Vegetable Group. Choose MyPlate. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables. Published January 4, 2018. Accessed February 22, 2019.

2.       The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/healthy-eating-patterns/. Accessed February 22, 2019.

 

Eat More Fiber

By: Simone Wilson, Dietetic Intern

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We simply need to eat more fiber and serve more fibrous foods to our clients. While the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber is 14 grams for every 1,000 calories, or about 25 grams for adult women and 38 grams for adult men, Americans only consume around 17 grams each day, with only 5 percent of the adult population meeting adequate intake. Dietary fiber is defined by the Institute of Medicine Food Nutrition Board as "non-digestible carbohydrates and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants." Fiber benefits our health in many ways: it helps regulate and maintain healthy bowel function, it provides blood glucose control by slowing down the absorption of sugars into our blood, it lowers “bad”, or LDL cholesterol, and it helps with weight management by keeping us feeling full longer. Research has shown that higher intakes of fiber reduce the risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and have been associated with lower body weight.  Many of our clients face these issues, and like most of America, could benefit from more fiber in their diet.  With this in mind, I gave a nutrition workshop focusing on the benefits of fiber and how to incorporate more of it into meals and snacks.  During the workshop, residents at Casa Mutua sampled hummus with baby carrots and multigrain pita chips. I provided a recipe (included below) for easy hummus, and we discussed other sweet and savory snack ideas. Try incorporating more fiber into your menu and recipes!

Ingredients:

1 (15oz) can chickpeas or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup well-stirred tahini, optional

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

2-3 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon cumin

Paprika, optional to garnish

 

Directions:

Add the tahini (if using) and lemon juice to a food processor—process for 1 minute, scrape down sides of bowl and process again for 30 seconds. Add olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt. Process until smooth. Add half of the drained chickpeas—process until smooth then add the second half. Process again. To reach a smooth consistency, add 1 tablespoon of water at time and blend until smooth. Garnish with paprika.  Serve with pita chips or sliced vegetables. Yield: ~1.5 cups/6 servings

Adapted from: https://www.inspiredtaste.net/15938/easy-and-smooth-hummus-recipe/

Reference

https://www.eatrightpro.org/practice/position-and-practice-papers/position-papers/health-implications-of-dietary-fiber

A Training for Making Big Changes in the New Year

In a great start to the new year in January, we welcomed Grand Street Settlement Early Head Start, Neighbors Together Community Café, Services Now for Adult Persons, JSPOA Rockaway Blvd Senior Ceneter, BronxWorks Morris Innovative Senior Center, and BronxWorks Heights Neighborhood Senior Center! We made cheaper and nutritious alternatives to mainstays in granola, grain salads, and more. The vinaigrettes we made using fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apples and roasted red peppers are great ways to repurpose seconds or turning produce!  We also made roasted sweet potato, carrot, and parsnip fries with a yogurt dipping sauce which can be served as a snack or as part of a meal. Together we learned how to make easy, healthy, and cost-friendly meals good for all ages. We are looking forward to seeing our newest cohort back in six months for their next workshop about grains!

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Nutrition for Arthritis and Joint Pain

By: Simone Wilson, Dietetic Intern

Meal planning for our clients should take into consideration common health conditions that have dietary factors, such as arthritis and joint pain.  Between 2013 and 2015, almost 23% of the adult population was diagnosed with arthritis.  The impact of arthritis is quickly growing and is now the nation’s leading cause of physical disability.  Arthritis is technically an umbrella term for more than 100 diseases affecting the joints.  The main cause of this is inflammation that leads to pain and stiffness. Fortunately, there are a few things we can do to reduce symptoms.  Along with keeping a healthy weight and staying physically active, adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet may reduce inflammation. From this perspective, I provided a nutrition workshop to clients at the St. Peter’s Senior Center to discuss the main principles of an anti-inflammatory diet.  These principles are actually very similar to the popular Mediterranean Diet.  Clients learned about the benefits of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fats, avoiding processed foods and refined sugar, and staying hydrated.  We explored specific foods that fight inflammation including dark chocolate, turmeric, ginger, walnuts, salmon, and berries.

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During the workshop, clients were given a nutrition handout and sampled two kinds of dark chocolate. We discussed the anti-inflammatory properties of dark chocolate; where the higher the percent cocoa, the greater the nutritional benefit.  Clients found the 85% cocoa to be slightly bitter but really enjoyed the 70% cocoa!  To help combat the arthritis that many seniors are facing, try incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods including dark chocolate into your menus!

 

Reference:
https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/index.htm

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!

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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

Directions:

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.

References:

1.       http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/

Adapted from https://www.wellplated.com/healthy-no-bake-cookies/

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! 

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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:

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  • 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.

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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 / www.macdo.co

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 / www.macdo.co

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 / www.macdo.co 

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! 

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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. 

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