Following dumpling ingredients, from farm to frying pan, in sixth grade

Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in agriculture, Chinese New Year, cooking classes, cooking with kids, dumplings, social studies | 0 comments


IMG_0913Laura Cameron’s sixth grade class at BUGS, a charter middle school in Windsor Terrace, was having a hard time accepting the fact that favorite foods like bread and pasta come from–gasp–plants.

If the food didn’t strictly look like a vegetable–and of course, processed foods like store-bought pasta do not–it was hard for them to imagine how that particular food had gone from farm to table.

IMG_0927Moreover, it was hard for these children to imagine how historical peoples from around Asia, which they were studying, had managed to figure out how to turn a wild grass like wheat into the domesticated and versatile product it is today, and how to turn the hardy brown grain into the finely-ground white flour we use in thousands of products.

So, they reached out to our team at Butter Beans for assistance. Our educators were happy to roll up our sleeves and come up with a hands-on lesson plan to help them make these connections. Our first and last thought: dumplings.

Dumplings, which we prepared with wheat-based wrappers and served alongside rice for contrast, are an incredibly IMG_0904fun and educational food to prepare with groups of children. A few things we like about doing dumplings with kids of all ages:

  • Dumplings are part of the worldwide family of “pocket foods,” including ravioli, pierogi, empanadas and many other dishes, so almost every kid can find some connection to this dish via their own home culture.
  • While dumpling wrappers can be handmade, they can also be purchased cheaply (about $2.50 for a packet of 50 at Whole Foods), making it an activity unlikely to break the school budget, especially if each kid makes a single dumpling.
  • When preparing dumpling filling, there are many different ingredients and techniques involved, ensuring thatIMG_0943 every kid stays busy and gets to contribute. While we teach all of our students the same knife skills that adults might learn in a cooking class (with kid-safe knives, of course), some students might also find that they’re more comfortable working a grater or even using scissors to break down herbs.
  • All of our recipes are vegetarian–the best fit for our health-aligned mission, as well as NYC’s diverse population–and this one provides an especially appealing vehicle for vegetables that are simply minced and tucked inside. That said, they also allow kids (and parents) to see that they can easily add flavor to veggie-based dishes without using animal protein, i.e. by adding garlic and ginger and by creating a punchy, salty sauce using just soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil.


When cooking in the classroom, family involvement makes all the difference

Speaking of cultural connections: Not only did this lesson kick off a Chinese New Year celebration, we’d be remiss if we didn’t note how important it was to have parent involvement in this activity, which involved constructing over a hundred dumplings with four groups of students in a sink-less school classroom. Parent volunteers made this flurry of tasks possible by staffing the pan-frying station, clearing dishes and providing pep talks. (Full disclosure: Belinda DiGiambattista, founder of Butter Beans, was one such parent.) 


Being able to invite parents into the classroom space is a rare opportunity for us educators. We want them to see theIMG_0922 hard work that their kids are doing and to feel a part of the community. We also know that as partners in caregiving, educators have an important role to play in helping parents to expose their kids to foods they might not try at home. For example, parents don’t have the benefit of peer pressure, which can often convince picky toddlers or teens that being courageous in the kitchen is cool. After seeing their children open up and try new foods in class, many parents said that they were excited to try this recipe at home with their children, and some even left with to-go kits of leftover filling and wrappers to try it again that very night. When it comes to convincing New York kids to try new plant-based foods, it truly does take a village!

By, Ryan Cherecwich, M.Ed, Butter Beans Wellness Educator

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Matzo Ball Soup and Roasted Roots

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in after school, cooking classes, cooking with kids, holiday, local food, Recipes | 0 comments

This week our chefs will be celebrating Passover with a traditional Jewish dish. Passover is one of the most widely-celebrated Jewish holidays. It is seven days long and usually ends with a Seder dinner which includes lamb, eggs and matzo! Matzo, which can also be spelled Matza or Matzah, is unleavened bread made from spelt, wheat, barley or rye flour. It is consumed in its un-risen form to honor the Jewish people who didn’t have time to let their bread rise before they fled Egypt. Today, we usually see matzo in large flat “crackers” or in matzo ball soup. Enjoy!



Matzo Ball Soup


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 C matzo meal
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 4 T water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 qt vegetable stock


Beat eggs and mix with matzo meal, olive oil, water, and salt. Add more matzo meal in small increments if necessary to firm dough.

Roll into 1-inch matzo balls using damp hands.

Bring vegetable stock to a boil. Drop in matzo balls. Lower heat slightly to simmer. Cover and cook 25 minutes.

Roasted Roots


  • 3 carrots
  • 3 parsnips
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh dill
  • 1⁄2 lemon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut carrots and parsnips into matchsticks. Tear dill from stems and squeeze lemon juice. Toss with oil and roots. Roast for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy your matzo ball soup and roasted taproot veggies together!

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Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day: Cabbage Stew and Pot o’ Gold Potato Salad

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in cooking classes, cooking with kids, holiday, nutrition, seasonal, seasonal celebrations | 0 comments

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! St. Patrick’s Day is the celebration of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick! He is said to have brought Christianity to the people of Ireland and so the Irish celebrate his life by feasting, usually on cabbage, ham, and potatoes. Today our little chefs will make a traditional Irish meal of cabbage stew and potato salad. Between the cabbage loaded with Vitamin B and our special antioxidant-rich purple potatoes, we can be sure we’re getting a meal that is not only delicious, but nutritious as well. Enjoy!










  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 carrot
  • ¼ cabbage
  • ½ c chopped canned tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water (if necessary)


  • Start with stew by cutting celery, carrots, onion, garlic and cabbage.
  • Heat oil in pan and add celery, carrots, onion and garlic to sweat.
  • Add tomatoes and cabbage  in the pot, season, cover and simmer  20 minutes.
  • Serve warm!



  • 2 medium purple potatoes
  • 1 Yukon gold potatoimages
  • 2 medium pink potatoes
  • 1 apple
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • 1 T celery seed
  • 4 T honey
  • 3 T mustard
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 6 T olive oil


  • Make potato salad by dicing cooked potatoes and placing in salad bowl.
  • Dice apples, pick parsley and add to the potatoes.
  • Add celery seed, red  wine vinegar, olive oil, mustard and honey to mixture.
  • Whisk and mix to combine.
  • Enjoy!
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Apple Turnovers with Coconut Oil

Posted by on Jan 26, 2017 in after school, cooking classes, cooking with kids, families, healthy food, nutrition | 0 comments

5513640649_6d4c56b309_bThis week in our fun-filled cooking classes we created apple turnovers with coconut oil, served alongside an aromatic spiced apple pear butter!

Our chefs in training practiced their slicing and dicing skills, while learning about the health benefits of coconut oil which helps boost our immune system, enhances our memory, and provides us with healthy fats that help improve our cholesterol levels.

We hope that you will make memories in your family kitchen with our apple turnover recipe!

Serves 8



  • 1 C whole wheat + 1 C AP flour
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ cup coconut oil, solid
  • 1/3-1/2 cup ice water


  • 4 apples
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • ½ lemon
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • 1 T flour
  • pinch of salt
  • dried cherries, raisins (optional)


1) Preheat oven to 375˚

2) Rinse all fruit 

3) Make the dough: Mix dry ingredients. Cut solid coconut oil in small increments using pastry blender or fork. Add water by the tablespoon until dough just comes together. Set aside. Place the dough in fridge to chill.

4) Make the filling: Slice and dice apples, and combine with lemon juice, spices, flour and salt. If the filling is too juicy from the apple juice, add a pinch more flour to absorb or drain using a colander.

5) Assemble the turnovers:

    • Cut dough into smaller pieces. Roll out into 1/8-inch thick rounds on a lightly floured surface.
    • Place ~2 T of filling on one half and sprinkle with dried cherries or raisins if desired.
    • Fold over and seal, using fork or fingers to crimp the edges. 
    • Bake at 375˚ degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
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Yellow Daal with Whole Wheat Chapati

Posted by on Oct 13, 2016 in after school, cooking classes, cooking with kids, fall recipes, Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes | 0 comments


Yellow Daal with Whole Wheat Chapati
Global Spotlight on India

This week we are focusing on scents and spices of the season with a warming Yellow Daal and Whole Wheat Chapati dish. In cooking, aromatics are any ingredients that give off a strong smell and enhance the flavor of our meal. Some commonly used aromatics include onion, garlic, and ginger. Our sense of smell is directly connected to our sense of taste! When we smell these strong flavors, it helps signal to our brains what we are about to eat and helps us to taste the delicious food!

What spices and other aromatics might we use in the fall and winter?
How about spring and summer?
What are some of your favorite spices and other aromatics?

Share your answers at @butter_beans on twitter and @butterbeanskitchen on instagram!

कृपया भोजन का आनंद लीजिये! kripyā bhojan kā ānnaṅd lijīyai
Please enjoy your meal



  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • ½ t turmeric, opt.
  • 1 t cumin
  • ¼ t cinnamon
  • ¼ t ground ginger (or 1 T fresh ginger)
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro
  • salt + pepper to taste


  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour (can sub for gluten free flour)
  • ½ cup all purpose flour (can sub for gluten free flour)
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • ¾ c warm water, add in small increments


  1. Rinse split peas. Cook: 3 cups of water for 1 cup peas (be sure to check package directions as well). Combine, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer roughly 30 minutes.
  2. Finely chop onion + garlic. Note aroma! Repeat with tomato and carrot
  3. Heat 2-3 T of olive oil in medium pot over medium heat.
  4. Add onions, garlic, and carrots. Sauté until softened, 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add spices, tomatoes, and pre-cooked split peas. Lower heat and allow to cook, stirring and adding water as needed to prevent burning.
  6. While daal cooks, prepare chapati: Mix dry ingredients. Stir in olive oil and enough water so that all flour is incorporated but dough is not sticky (add water in small increments).
  7. Lightly flour cutting boards and divide dough into equal parts, flatten dough into thin pieces. .
  8. Heat pan over medium heat until hot. Lightly grease with oil. Add chapati 2-3 at a time, depending on size of pan.
  9. Flip the chapati once the bottom is browned – about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  10. Drizzle daal with lemon, garnish with cilantro, season with salt and pepper.
  11. Enjoy!
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summer camp reflections

Posted by on Sep 14, 2016 in cooking classes, cooking with kids, families, healthy food, summer camp | 0 comments

13882634_1141748522550748_7682930224653544935_nOne of my favorite recipes I’ve made with the young chefs during summer camp was Chipotle stuffed sweet potato skins.

They loved to scoop out the baked sweet potato from its skin. They jumped at the opportunity to squeeze lemon, shred kale and cilantro and cut the Chipotle pepper and radish. When it was time to add the cumin, salt and pepper, they all would jump at the opportunity to pinch the spices and sprinkle it over the dish. They added the corn and took turns mixing the sweet potato mixture, putting it back into the skin, sprinkling cheese and putting it on the sheet pan.

While it was in the oven they would quickly clean up their station to prepare for lunch. The counselors would put the sweet potato on the campers’ plate and we served ourselves.

From my first spoonful, I loved the dish.

The balance of the saltiness of the cheese with the sweetness of the sweet potato mixture, the corn that added a crispy texture to the creamy sweet potato and the freshness that the cilantro added was nirvana.

We asked the young chefs how they felt about the dish, I saw a couple of stuffed mouths nodding their heads and putting their thumbs up. But then I saw a few thumbs sideways and we asked what can we do to make it a thumbs up. Some children said that they don’t like spicy foods. The one comment that stuck to me the most was, “I like the flavor, but not the textures, there is too much going on here.”

13887077_1145480382177562_4024558246028311134_nDuring my time at summer camp I loved to see the campers curious to learn the different components of a dish, even if they know what is in it they love to see it separately. I can very much relate this to food service. When working at schools, I see kids enthusiastic to go to the cold bar after they get their flavorful hot food item, because it is their chance to create their own, or in other words, be a chef.

I love seeing them pick and choose different items to make a vegetarian wrap or make a yogurt parfait. It shows that kids love to make their own meals from an early age, which can help expand their minds and allows them to express their inner passion and creativity.

This post was written by Kelly Laurent, Food + Garden Summer Camp Counselor & Food Service Associate  


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