Happy Holidays! (and last minute gift ideas)

Posted by on Dec 22, 2011 in families, seasonal | 0 comments

It’s that time of year again! Candles are being lit, school is letting out, cards and well wishes are exchanged. Between last minute grocery store runs to remembering to bring the cranberry sauce to your sister’s house for the big dinner, there’s probably still some holiday shopping left to do! From kids, to parents, co-workers, and even the mailman, the list is always a long one. If you still have some shopping to do, think about some of these fun ideas for the special ones in your life.

Cheese!

Because you’ll hear it enough during the holiday time, mine as well eat some.  We love that Murray’s offers a huge online gift catalog and a variety of gift boxes, ranging from $25 to $175.  For those of us a bit more experienced with our cheeses (like our campers!), there is a build-your-own option for gifts as well.

 A bamboo cutting board

Because you can never really have enough cutting boards.  The beautiful color is perfect for serving cheese and crackers or other appetizers, as well.  Check out some of the different options at Totally Bamboo.  We loved the Hawaiian collection (see image left)!

A personalized embroidered cooking apron 

We liked all of the different options from William Sonoma. From sports logos to holiday-themes, to those with a feminine touch, there are plenty of choices.  This one is fun for the kids, too!

A subscription to great food, delivered!

Really, though. Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSA) allow you to buy local produce, meats, and even coffee directly from farmers. This website allows you to plug in a zip code, and check out the offers in your areas.  A two-month subscription can range anywhere from $30-500, depending on the type and amount of food.  Many places, such as Rustic Roots Delivery on Long Island, offer gift baskets as well.  Not only are you giving the gift of great food, but supporting local farmers and the environment as well.  A win- win!

Chocolate

We’re all about healthy food, but let’s admit it.  If there’s anytime to splurge, it’s the holidays. Luckily Mast Brothers, located in Brooklyn (another Butter Beans Camp favorite!), makes it easy.  They use organically farmed cacao beans for their craft chocolates.  Our favorite? The Brooklyn Blend bar, made with red wine and plum. Check out their website for more information.

All of us at Butter Beans, wish you and yours a wonderful end of 2011 and holiday season!

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Is Chocolate Milk Good For You?

Posted by on Dec 14, 2011 in Food for thought, lunch time, news and happenings, raising children, school food | 0 comments

No.
Well, it sort of is. But on the whole it is really not good for you at all. Let’s take a step back.
Chocolate milk is a delicious treat, as most anyone can attest. And it comes with all the vitamins and minerals that make milk a worthwhile addition to your diet. But it is loaded with sugar too, sort of like ice cream.
So is it something our kids should be consuming every day at school? We say no.
At Butter Beans, we provide delicious, all-natural meals, free of ingredients you can’t pronounce and can’t trace. (Check out Nesquick’s chocolate milk, and their 100 calorie chocolate milk, and an ingredient list for Hershey’s strawberry milk). We see chocolate milk as a dessert, and we treat dessert as a special, weekly event in our schools. Sadly, this is not the case across much of the country, where 70% of schools serve flavored milk daily.
Our milk comes from Hudson Valley Fresh. It’s completely organic and really, really good. And from time to time, when you do decide to treat yourself and your kids with a chocolate milk dessert, theirs would be a good option. It’s sweet, but it doesn’t have artificial ingredients or the extra unpronounceables you don’t need or want.
For more information about flavored milk in our schools, here’s a great fact sheet: http://www.jamieoliver.com/us/foundation/jamies-food-revolution/pdf/The-Hard-Facts-About-Flavored-Milk.pdf
Check out this story, broadcasted on many public radio stations across the country: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2011/11/21/142517141/whats-to-love-and-loathe-about-chocolate-milk
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Gingerbread cookie making in Tribeca Sunday 12/11!

Posted by on Dec 11, 2011 in cooking classes, families, news and happenings, seasonal | 0 comments

For those of you in the NYC area, join us tomorrow at
There will be wonderful eco-friendly educational toys for sale, and family friendly activities all day long. We will be making gingerbread cookies and hot cocoa with kids at 11:30am.
Join us!
The details:
124 H street between North Moore St + Ericsson place in Tribeca, NYC
Click here for the full day’s line up.
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rice pudding yum!

Posted by on Dec 6, 2011 in cooking classes, Food for thought, raising children, Recipes, seasonal | 0 comments

The fact that rice can be in BOTH savory and sweet dishes came as a surprise to most of the students in cooking class last week. Most of the students were committed to their belief that rice is a side dish for dinner and only that. When I told them we were making rice pudding it was as if the two words were polar opposite magnets that could not stick together. “Pudding and rice??” The students are used to chocolate, vanilla, and butterscotch pudding. Some associated pudding to tapioca or bread pudding, but rice pudding?  Unfathomable. To get over the hump of combining savory and sweet ingredients we discussed other ingredients that can be in both types of dishes. The students brainstormed raisins and nuts; I opened the conversation to mint and cocoa powder. They were coming around.

Seeing the rice paired with eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon, and then watching the rice mixture turn into a batter made it more acceptable as a dessert. To my surprise, what also helped was how we cooked the rice pudding. Watching it turn from batter to a more solid dish made it more similar to other desserts. And finally, when we tasted the rice pudding the idea of rice in a sweet dish made complete sense. The “yummms” and clean plates confirmed that the students understood the versatility of rice.

Are you curious? Here’s how you can make your own:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 3 ¼ cups water
  • 1/3 cups raisins
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 ½ cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Cook rice ahead of time. With a bit of extra water than usual, the rice should turn out slightly sweeter than normal.
  2. Put raisins in a bowl with warm water, set aside to plump up for a few minutes.
  3. Mix 4 eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon together
  4. Oil a medium pan and place on medium-low heat on burner
  5. Add egg mixture into warmed pan and cover. Keep on medium-low heat for about 25 minutes.
  6. Test ready-ness of pudding by sticking a knife in the center. If it comes out clean, it’s ready!

Class reflections compliments of Julia – Butter Beans cooking class teacher. Recipe, compliments of Butter Beans, Inc. 

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Can’t we all agree that children should be offered real, whole food?

Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 in news and happenings, raising children, school food | 0 comments

It is sobering, to come across articles like this one about the state of school lunch, published in the NY Times this week and written by Lucy Komisar, an investigative reporter and author, who received support from the Investigative Fund, a project of the Nation Institute, for the reporting of this topic.

The companies who hold most of the contracts for supplying school’s their food, work closely with food manufacturer’s that profit greatly when whole foods are turned into processed foods like chicken nuggets, fruit pastries and french fries. This year, the federal government proposed new rules that would set calorie limits on meals served to school children, as well as set guidelines for requiring fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. With current statistics stating that one-third of children ages 6-19 are obese in this country – who could argue that this isn’t a good idea?

The same companies who are currently benefitting from serving our nations children unhealthy food. The argument? That food will go to waste because children won’t want to eat healthier food. Their lobbying was successful, and a few tablespoons of tomato sauce on a pizza, continues to count as a vegetable.

This is really adding insult to injury. It is true that if your child eats mostly processed foods, making the switch to cleaner, simpler whole foods may take some time and effort. However, once you are able to clear the palate of the dichotomy of salt and sweet that most processed foods are limited to, and you offer delicious from-scratch cooking, it goes well. It is not as though the alternative to processed food is bland and boring food. Cooking is an art, one that sadly has been lost for a while in much of this country, but that is definitely making a comeback, even with young children! Our after-school cooking classes grow every season, and we know we are not alone in our efforts and successes.

At Butter Beans, we see children expand their palate and get excited about food, on a daily basis. Including students in the conversation about their lunch (we host school food committees made up of student representatives), about where our food comes from and how it is made, is empowering and shows us how much they actually care. Our schools are where our children go to learn about all things that our culture deem important. Eating well, for the benefit of our own health, for the health of our communities and our planet should not be in question.

Change is possible, at every turn.


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