Love love love

Posted by on Feb 23, 2010 in families | 0 comments

In keeping with the spirit of red and pink hearts and affection, I brought the question of love to students in a lunchroom the other day. With Flora our super Wellness consultant, we set out to plant the word in the middle of a lunch table, and see what happened.

Do you think love has anything to do with food? we asked.

At a given table of 6 students, 4 would say no. 1 or 2 would either not answer in full contemplation, or say yes. For the puzzled eyes I would ask a different question – does it matter to you if the person that made your food, loves you? Most of the students said no, at least at first. A couple weren’t sure how they felt about it.

Quiet chewing is what followed.

A new question:

What are some chores you have to do at home we asked?

make my bed, bring down the laundry, set the table, clean the bath tub..

Have you ever had to make your bed for example when you were in a grouchy, sad or mad mood? Was the result different?

All around, it was agreed, that when we do things in a bad, sad or grumpy way, things just don’t turn out as well.

We shared with them that at our kitchen at Butter Beans, one of the most important rules in our kitchen, is all about love. If the chef is having a bad mad grumpy day, we help her out so that only goodness goes into our food. Some of you may not know, but we have a new chef at Butter Beans. Her name is Lisa Sicilia and lucky for all of us, she’s brimming with delicious ideas, recipes and lots and lots of love.

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A sustainable food system IS possible in our great city – letter from our NYC borough president

Posted by on Feb 23, 2010 in Food for thought, food politics, gardens, healthy food, news and happenings | 0 comments

Dear Friend:I am very pleased to present to you a report that I released today entitled, “FoodNYC: A Blueprint for a Sustainable Food System,” which will for the first time present a single, comprehensive vision for food policy in this city. The report, a follow up to the NYC Food & Climate Summit held with the non-profit Just Food and New York University in December, outlines an agenda that will create a more sustainable food system by prioritizing products from New York State, increasing access to healthy food in underserved neighborhoods, and expanding the food economy.

During twenty-nine “breakout sessions” at the NYC Food & Climate Summit, experts and practitioners in food, environmental sciences, and nutrition debated and discussed different ideas to improve the city’s food system. They looked at the life cycle of our City’s food supply, from production and distribution to consumption and disposal, with the goal of shaping a policy that integrates energy and climate objectives with social, public health and economic goals. The report details the best and most pragmatic proposals.

While it is often overlooked, improving our food system can lead to enormous advancements in public health, sustainability, and job creation. This report is a blueprint for wholesale change at the city, state and federal levels, to ensure that New York is a leader in sustainable food policy.

Finally, please take a moment to read and sign my office’s NYC Food Pledge, and join thousands of New Yorkers in committing to explore the health, environmental and economic impacts of the food you consume. And if you want to learn more about New York City’s food policies, please watch Marvin Scott’s show Close-up, on Sunday at 6AM on WPIX, where I’ll be discussing this report and other issues.


Scott M. Stringer
Manhattan Borough President

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Winter Wonder Squash

Posted by on Feb 13, 2010 in healthy food, Recipes, seasonal food of the month | 0 comments



It’s a new month. The second in this new decade. The month that inspires red and pink hearts and streamers and sweet hidden letters of love.

There will be more of all of that to come, but first, let us pay homage to squash. One of the few bright and colorful foods locally available in these very cold winter days.

Did you know acorn, amber cup, autumn cup, banana, butternut, buttercup, carnival, delicata, fairytale pumpkin, gold nugget, hubbard, kabocha, spaghetti, sweet dumpling, and turban –

are all names of different winter squash?

Originating in Central America in the region between Mexico and Guatemala, squash has been eaten for over 10,000 years. The early versions of squash were prized for their seeds as in those early days they were mostly seeds with very little edible flesh inside.

Lucky for us, squash has evolved over time and has so much more to offer. Winter squashes became known as “good keepers” because they take longer to ripen than their thin-skinned summer squash counterparts, and are harvested in the late Fall when fully mature. Their hard and protective rinds make storing for several months possible, offering sweet, nutritious comfort in the middle of winter.

The hard-shelled winter squash was for the early Americans, considered one of the Three SistersBeans, corn, and squash are the three sisters that compliment each other on the table as well as in the garden. The beans and corn together make a complete protein, and the squash provides beta-carotene, essential omega 3 fats, potassium and other important vitamins and minerals.

In the garden, the tall corn is great for the beans to climb on while providing needed shade for the growing squash plants below. The large leaves and furry vines of the squash plants prevent weeds and keep hungry rodents at bay, and the beans fix nitrogen in the soil that feed the corn and the squash well. Squash was such a cherished part of the Native American diet that it was often buried along with the dead to provide them with nourishment for their journey to the afterworld.

Shopping for winter squash is a delightful experience. There are colors, sizes and shapes to suit everyone. This seasonal bearer of sweetness and color is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and fiber, of beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B’s and iron. Winter squashes have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the severity of conditions like asthma and arthritis; they neutralize free radicals in the body and help to regulate blood sugar. Got sweet cravings? Eat squash!

Pick a kobucha squash and bake it whole, shred and sauté a buttercup squash, top spaghetti squash “noodles” with tomato sauce, cube and toss a butternut squash into soup, or drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and pumpkin seeds. Puree an acorn squash with maple syrup and cinnamon for a winter treat or with corn and dill for a savory soup.

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Staying strong through the winter season

Posted by on Feb 13, 2010 in families, healthy food, home remedies, raising children, seasonal | 0 comments


When looking to foods to stay healthy through any season, a good place to start is at your local farmer’s market. Foods that have thrived despite cold winds and rain help to strengthen your body to handle these same elements. As germs spread easily through our respiratory and digestive systems, keeping these systems clear should be a priority in warding off sickness, and in helping it pass quickly if it hits. Temperature is also important. It is cold outside, and your organs like to be warm to work efficiently. Warm up with cooked food and warming spices, leave the ice cream for another time.

Winter season super foods:

Apples and pears – strengthening for both the lungs and large intestine, they are wonderfully warming when cooked.

Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, bok choy) – strengthening to the immune system. Bake them, steam them, sauté them, put them into soup!

Garlic – a natural antibiotic, add to sautés, to beans, and dips.

Ginger – a great antiseptic, good for nausea and for clearing mucus in the lungs. Slice thin and boil to make tea or chop it fine and add with garlic to a veggie sauté. If you don’t want to eat or drink it, put your head over a boiling pot of ginger with a towel over your head and inhale the vapor.

Honey – helps to gather up mucus to get rid of inside the body. It is an effective antibacterial treatment for cuts and burns and does wonders for chapped lips and skin.

Mushrooms – boost immune function and are great cooked up with garlic and greens.

Peppermint – a wonderful digestive aide. Serve as tea with a spoonful of honey after meals.

Onion – great antioxidant and antiviral, they have a warming effect on the body as well.

Whole grains – especially brown rice is great at scrubbing the intestinal walls and besides being full of vitamins and minerals, is great at keeping elimination regular.

What to keep on hand in your medicine pantry:

Probiotics to maintain healthy intestinal flora and fauna (especially if you take antibiotics).

Vitamin D is important for a strong immune system (as well as for strong bones!). Foods that contain vitamin D include salmon, egg yolks, beef, cheese, and fortified sources such as milk, yogurt, and cereals.

Essential fatty acids (omega 3’s and 6’s) offer important anti-inflammatory support and are essential for proper nerve function. Try flax oil or an EFA blend. Cod liver oil has preformed important fats like DHA. Try Nordic Naturals or Garden of Life chewables for children with fruity flavors.

Garlic mullein drops for your ears – great for warding off infection.

A few cold season home remedies:

Red onion cough syrup – Slice a red onion thinly. Drizzle with honey or with sugar and leave on a plate in the refrigerator overnight. The syrup that collects on the plate is great for coughs!

Ginger lemon and honey tea lung tonic – Take an inch of ginger root, slice it thinly and add to a full pot of water. Bring to a boil and continue to let boil for 5-10 minutes. Serve in a mug with a tablespoon of homey and juice of 1/2 lemon. You can re-boil the ginger slices for 2-3 more batches of tea.

Garlic is a natural antibiotic – in its raw state. Chop finely and put on a spoonful of honey on an empty stomach. Chew well, chase with water, tea, and breakfast.

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What’s love got to do with it?

Posted by on Feb 13, 2010 in featured articles, seasonal | 0 comments

My daughter asked me the other morning as I went through the checklist of things needed before walking out the door for school (backpack with lunch, purple folder, pink water bottle, gloves, hat, scarf..), “Mama, do you like making my lunch every day?”

“Darling, you don’t know how much I love it.”
When I pack a lunch at home, when we pack a lunch at Butter Beans, it is full of real food. If it’s chicken, it looks like chicken, not like a breaded rocket. There are different colors and different textures, some things are cooked, some things are raw. Keeping our immune system strong and building strong bodies and minds is a big part of what eating is all about. Enjoying our food though, is the other big part of what eating is about.
There is one magic ingredient that makes all food finish beautifully in the kitchen and taste better at the table..
You guessed it – lots and lots of love. It’s free, it’s reliably effective, you can create it with a smile, and we love to put lots in!
Love helps at every point of the eating experience. If we eat great quality organic food in a stressful or angry mood in a hurry, we are helping our farmers and Earth by paying for standards that are helpful to the Earth, but we are not absorbing all the goodness in the food and we come up short.
In this same way, if we are eating food that is less than our desired local organic fare, but we eat it with love and gratitude, we are able to get all the goodness there is out of it. We at Butter Beans would like everyone to eat local, organic and sustainably farmed food, because we care about the health of our children, and of our planet. But we know that this is not often possible. It is with this understanding that I remind you how amazing the human body is.
We have a top of the line system able to take in the good stuff and get rid of toxins with great efficiency, if given the tools to do so. What are the tools? Clean water, real food and ritual, and love. By real food I mean food that still looks like it did when it came off the farm. It is much easier to appreciate the potatoes on our plate when we know where and how they came about.
Ritual covers many bases. Ritual implies awareness. Having awareness of how real food comes about helps with habits like chewing, talking about food at the table and participating in the making, eating and cleaning up after meals by people of all ages.
Ritual also implies rhythm. The body more than anything, loves rhythm. Our energy and metabolism are fine tuned when we eat and sleep at similar times every day. When we eat and sleep at the same times every day, we find that we are hungry and tired at the same times every day.
Regardless of the food you serve at your table, take the time to enjoy it. All real food is good food. (Things with ingredients you cannot pronounce that come in shiny wrappers, are suspect). It is the life force that adds to yours. It is as sacred as our air.
Welcome to 2010. All of us at Butter Beans wish you and yours the most joy filled of years – Full of real food, nourishing ritual and love.
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