Support your local farmers and enjoy a locally grown meal with your family for $15 plus what you’ve got in your pantry.

Posted by on Mar 30, 2010 in Food for thought, healthy food | 1 comment

$15 bought us: 1 pound of cremini mushrooms, 1 large red onion, 4 beets, 1 pound of shallot greens and a pound and a half of apples. Fuji apples are my fabvorite because they are always crisp and flavorful. Red Apple Orchards added a quart of apple cider to our bag as the expiration date approached. Lucky us.

In the pantry: olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt, lemon juice, black eyed peas and rice.

The menu:

Garlicky mushrooms with shallot greens served with a Wild rice medley; Succulent black-eyed peas; Red beet, apple and onion salad; and Apples – for good measure.


Garlicky mushrooms – Wash mushrooms well and cut into thin slices. Take a handful of the slices and dice these. These diced mushrooms will make the whole dish extra flavorful. Put olive oil in a medium hot pan with sliced or diced garlic. Add a sprinkle of cumin to the oil. Add the mushrooms and top with sea salt. Mix regularly with a wooden spoon. When mushrooms are cooked and aromatic, add chopped shallot greens and turn off the heat.

Succulent black-eyed peas – Soak peas the night before. Discard the soaking water and cook with a 2 inch strip of kombu until tender, about an hour. Drain any excess water and put in a bowl. Add chopped shallot greens, thinly cut red onion, lemon juice and salt to taste. Mix well and serve. *this is even more delicious the next day and works warm or cold.

Red beet, apple and onion salad – Scrub beets (no need to peel them) and boil in a pot of water until tender. It is best to buy many little beets instead of the large beets I picked here. They cook faster. When soft, peel them and dice them into squares. Dice an apple into similar sized squares. Dice up some red onion and add to the mix. Chop some shallot greens and mix it all well. Voila. Crisp fresh sweetness on a plate.

Leftover apples – Slice and top with almond or other nut butter. Chop and cook with a touch of water and cinnamon to make apple sauce. Slice and top with lemon for a zesty pick me up. Take along in your pocket for an afternoon stroll.

*The shallot greens were new for me. In their place in the below recipes you could use green onions, parsley, or cilantro as well.


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Posted by on Mar 30, 2010 in news and happenings | 2 comments

Hello everyone!

I finally sent out an email to a bunch of people I really like to tell them about this blog. So now it feels more official. It’s great to have you here.

Drop in anytime. We are all eaters in this great world community and we are all connected to children and all of us have been children. It is the children that inspired Butter Beans. A vision for something better for them. They are the wise ones. I don’t know about you but I want our children to be full of brilliant ideas. Big brilliant ideas to shape a better future on Earth for their children. That’s just not going to happen if they are not fed well.

The relationship we have with food is intimate and interrupts other things we do at least three times a day. The quality of this relationship with food impacts everything else we do. If we want quality lives full of goodness, we have got to learn to make good choices about the food we plant and the food we eat. We have got to spend some more time in the kitchen and appreciating the food we have.

We have to teach our children, in a way that makes them want to celebrate. What could be more magical than the colors and tastes and sights that the Earth produces with sunshine, rain and a few pairs of dedicated hands. Children get this. We just have to show them how.

Thank you for being a part.

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Trader Joe’s makes us proud

Posted by on Mar 29, 2010 in food politics | 0 comments

Trader Joe’s is a favorite shop stop for busy parents. Good selection, great things for people on the go and great prices. Their selection of frozen sea food is pretty vast and pretty inexpensive. Green Peace has been working for many months, garnering consumer support to put pressure on Trader Joe’s to adopt sustainable fishing practices and thanks to GreenPeace, today we can all love Trader Joe’s that much more.

Click here for the full story and to write TJ a note of Thanks.

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Easter Egg Evolution

Posted by on Mar 28, 2010 in families | 0 comments

A few dedicated neighborhood parents organized an Easter egg hunt on the hill in Fort Greene. Every child that wanted to participate needed to bring 10 plastic eggs filled with surprises. Suggested ideas were stickers and little toys and games, rather than sweets. This gave moment to pause. What else, besides colorful foil covered chocolates and candies could we put in a plastic egg?

I have to admit I struggled with buying plastic eggs at all. They are after all, plastic. What does one do with them afterwards? The thought of thousands of plastic eggs landing in the garbage makes my heart sink. A friend I ran into at the store when I went to buy these ever lasting colorful eggs said simply – keep them for next year.

I made a mental list, of all the things I could do with these eggs, and took them to the counter.

Here’s what I came up with:

Plant sprouts in them – they have irrigation holes in the bottom for water to pass. Once the flowers (my daughter has been waiting to plant Morning Glory’s) have sprouted and are ready to be transplanted into a proper garden or bigger pot, put beans inside and tape them shut. Shakers are always great for an impromptu music jam session with friends, no? Then of course, they could be reused for next year’s Easter egg hunt.

Do you have other ideas for what to do with plastic eggs? Please share!

It astounds me the money that is spent on candy each year. I can’t help but wonder what candy manufacturer’s are thinking in this day and age with childhood obesity such a threatening issue for our entire nation. It’s not that I don’t want them to succeed and turn a profit. I think there is room for all sorts of businesses to do well. Just not at the expense of our children. The National Retail Federation’s survey estimates a $1.9 billion profit from Easter candy alone this year, up from the $1.8 billion last year. The survey goes on to state that households who have less than $50,000 in income are projected to spend just $3 less on candy than those who have incomes of $50,000 or more. Despite the economy or selling season lengths, the $3 difference has been a reoccurring trend for past years. Read full article here As a nation, we are clearly hooked.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, among pre-school age children 2-5 years of age, obesity increased from 5 to 10.4% between 1976-1908 and 2007-2008 and from 6.5 to 19.6% among 6-11 year olds. Among adolescents aged 12-19, obesity increased from 5 to 18.1% during the same period.

Michelle Obama is talking about it, Jamie Oliver is talking about it, Oprah is talking about it.. as parents and community members, we can change the direction of the health of our children. We support our ideals every time we spend money. Every time we make a meal. Every time we engage with our community members.

Now then, what else could we put inside plastic eggs? What else could we scavenge for with our baskets and spring expectations?

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Yogurt is yummy

Posted by on Mar 26, 2010 in healthy food | 0 comments

Yogurt is loved for being full of calcium and vitamin B2 and B12, potassium and magnesium, and for offering probiotics – the good bacteria such as Lactobaciullus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis that keep the flora and fauna of our digestive tract in order and support our immune system.

Not all yogurt however, is created equal.

The first thing I look for when picking out a yogurt – is how happy that Mama cow was. Does she spend her time roaming and grazing on grass and pasture, spending time with her friends and nature – all things that cows love most?

It is tricky to find the stats on yogurt company’s websites. Going through Seven Stars Farm – who supplies Butter Beans with our yogurt, I learned  that the term “grass-fed” when applied to dairy cows usually means that the cattle have access to pasture when seasonally available. When it’s applied to beef production, it means that the animals were raised until slaughter on pasture or hay, and have skipped the grain feeding period customarily used to finish beef. Click here to learn more about Seven Stars Farm.

Here are a few brands popular brands that do take the well-being of their cows and the environment seriously:

Stonyfield – What began as a small New Hampshire family farm has now grown immensely, and are doing their part to lighten their impact on the environment and inspire others to do the same.

Siggi’s has many fans. It is made in traditional Iceland ways – from skim milk (the fat is used to make butter, the skim milk is left for yogurt making).  Made with simple ingredients, the flavored versions are not too sweet and made with agave nectar instead of sugar, real fruit. Here is a great interview with the founder. He sources local milk and has green principles you can feel good about.

Greek yogurt – strained yogurt with the whey removed, this yogurt is very thick and creamy.  Fage yogurt is a very popular brand that was originally shipped from Greece, and now has a headquarters in NY. Although I cannot find info on their cows, their website does say that they source milk from cows that are not treated with rBGH hormone. Thank goodness. Oikos is Stonyfield’s version of this Greek favorite, and other versions are popping up everywhere.

So now you’ve got your yogurt. How to do it up?

Start with plain yogurt. Top it with a bit of local honey (your local honey bees help keep you well during hay fever season). or add frozen berries or fresh ones once they are out. Add flax meal, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, gogi berries, chopped dates, and nuts.

It is important to remember that yogurt has natural sugar in it. Usually around 10-12 grams per 6 ounces. Anything on top of that is added and when you consider that 4 grams of sugar equal 1 teaspoon.. and many popular brands have 25+ grams of sugar per 6 ounces – that’s a lot of sugar! Just because it has calcium doesn’t mean it won’t bring on a sugar high. We start shaping our children’s taste buds very early on. When we introduce yogurt as a wonderful food that can be subtly sweet rather than excessively sweet – they get used to it and expect it this way.

Thank you generous Mama cows, for the gift of versatile yogurt. Click here for some recipe ideas.

Want to try your hand at making your own yogurt? Check out this site.

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