campfire stories: adventures in food & sustainability

Posted by on Jun 26, 2015 in Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes | 0 comments

Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp 2015 has officially begun!

For our team this is one of the most magical times of the year. The farmers markets teem with fresh fruits and veggies, New York City’s urban gardens are in full bloom, and Butter Beans campers light up each day with their smiles and enthusiasm.
Throughout the summer our campers explore different themes all around – you guessed it – food! From composting and gardening, to cooking and harvesting, our campers set out on a seed-to-plate adventure through the bountiful world of food each Monday through Friday. This week these future foodies kicked off summer 2015 with an exploration of food sustainability.


With estimates of one-third of global food supply wasted, building connections between food and the health of our planet could not be more pertinent. And Butter Beans campers were excited to pave the way in setting practices at camp that benefit our bodies and the Earth! Here are some of the ways our campers celebrated food sustainability this week:


• Composting our food scraps after each meal
Regrowing green onion stems from their rainbow fried rice recipe
• Creating an Eco Pledge muralIMG_2178
• Decorating the classroom with reminders about eco friendly practices (you can expect a uniquely hand-drawn sign reminding you turn off the lights when you use the camp restroom)
• Conducting the sweet potato experiment to compare organic vs. conventionally grown vegetables
• Tasting deliciously local produce at a workshop with our friends at SweetGreen
• Making smoothies on a bicycle-powered blender at Habana Outpost where solar panels and rainwater collection help make this restaurant one of the greenest around!


To top it all off, we’re headed to GrowNYC’s Union Square Greenmarket today to celebrate National Sustainable Seafood Week in NYC with a special cooking demo by Chef Emily Peterson. We know. Could the week get any better?


So, don’t be surprised if you see a group of orange- or green-clad Butter Beans campers walking by this summer, toting armfuls of market veggies and grinning ear to ear. Glance up ever slightly and you’ll see even broader smiles on the faces of our staff, reveling in the glow of a camper’s newest discovery.


Cheers to a summer of adventure, exploration, good food, community, and camp!


Check back each week for a recap of camp adventures in our annual Campfire Stories blog series – coming to you this year from our two camp locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan. To see pictures, videos, and more of the camp experience, visit us on facebook and check us out on twitter!

Written by Kelly McGlinchey, Director of Food Education

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rhubarb ginger maple compote

Posted by on Jun 24, 2015 in agriculture, healthy food, local food, Recipes, seasonal | 0 comments

FullSizeRender (2)Rhubarb is growing in true abundance during this time of year.

It’s never been my most favorite seasonal treat, but for some reason this year I’ve decided to take it on as my very own food exploration focus.

When I talk about rhubarb, many people share stories with me of how rhubarb used to grow in their backyards, or how their moms would make a mean strawberry rhubarb pie, jam or compote. It seems to be a very nostalgic vegetable for many.

I on the other hand, am making new memories with it and look forward to continuing my food exploration until the season ends, with some spring rhubarb leftover, cut up and frozen ready for me to cook during the colder months.

Prep Time: 3 minutes Total Time: 18 minutes

Serves 4


  • Rhubarb, 1 cup, rinsed and chopped
  • Fresh ginger, 1 medium-large knob, peeled
  • Maple Syrup, 2-3 T, or to taste
  • Water, a dash


1) Prep: Rinse and chop your rhubarb, remove the top leaves. Peel your ginger piece.

2) Cook: In a saucepan, add rhubarb, maple syrup and water. Grate your ginger over this mixture. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Bring mixture to a boil, then to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, mixing well. The compote is done once all the rhubarb has cooked down and is soft.

3) Store: Place compote into jam jars, let cool then place in your fridge. It should last up to 1 week in the fridge.

4) Eating suggestions: Add to plain yogurt & top with granola, ice cream, use as jam, or as a side for a white meat dish – the possibilities are endless!

Written by Flora McKay, Director of Community & Nutrition

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late spring turnips

Posted by on Jun 16, 2015 in agriculture, healthy food, local food, nutrition, Recipes, seasonal | 0 comments

FullSizeRender (1)

don’t they look like little cloves of garlic?

When you think of turnips your mind usually wanders to hearty winter dishes like chicken soup or roasted root vegetables.

Well guess what! Turnips grow in late spring too, and are a whole different world – flavor wise – than those that grow in fall/winter. It’s quite astonishing!

I am amazed at how nourishing they are – containing loads of vitamin K, A, C and folate, and not only do their roots provide health benefits, so do their greens.

Eating these turnips will really make you feel like you have superpowers!

The next time you’re visiting your favorite farmers market, look for turnips with bright green, lush leaves and you’re in for a double whammy. True root to leaf eating is in store.

Try these inspiring vegetables, and they may become your new favorite staple!

look at those lush greens!

look at those lush greens!

Steamed Turnip Greens:

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 10 minutes 

Serves 2-3


  • Turnip greens, well washed, coarsely chopped
  • Water, enough to line the bottom of your pan
  • Fresh lemon, to taste


1) Prep: Wash your greens well (they usually contain lots of sand/soil) – in a large bowl run water over them, then move them around the water well (the soil will sink to the bottom). Chop coarsely.

2) Cook: In a large pan, add water and greens. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, or until the greens turn bright green (try one to see if you think it’s done).

3) Serve: Squeeze some fresh lemon on top of your greens and enjoy!

Roasted Turnips:

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes

Serves 2-3


  • Turnips, rinsed and chopped into quarters
  • Sunflower oil (or your favorite roasting oil), enough to lightly coat
  • Sea salt, to taste


1) Prep: Preheat your oven to 400F Rinse, and chop into quarters.

2) Cook: In a roasting pan add your turnips, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt. Mix well. Cook for 35 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Enjoy!

Written by Flora McKay, Director of Community & Nutrition

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Butter Beans beef chili

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in lunch time, Recipes, school food | 0 comments

downloadWe were delighted to be apart of the 30th Anniversary Taste of Hope celebration on May 12th, 2015 at the Prince George Ballroom.

We have partnered with HOPE since our inception, almost 7 years ago, and have been attending their fundraiser event every year.

This year our menu consisted of our beef chili, veggie chili, brown rice, sesame kale salad & asparagus salsa with tortilla chips.

We were delighted when we heard from attendees that our chili was one of the best tastes at the event (amongst the various other food vendors – blushing…). It made us all light up!

When we told the guests that our students get to eat this at school, they were surprised and excited to hear how lucky our students are!

15430548904_cdd74cb0f2_oHere is our Executive Chef’s beef chili recipe for all of our readers to make at home. A true dinner staple!


  • 5 lbs 80/20 ground chuck
  • 2 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 poblano peppers (seeded & diced)
  • 1/4 cup garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 12 oz can white beans (drained, rinsed)
  • 1 12 oz can red beans (drained, rinsed)
  • 1 12 oz can black beans (drained, rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry oregano
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 1/8 cup ground coriander
  • 1/2 cup dark chili powder
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • salt to taste


1) Brown meat over medium heat, drain off excess fat and hold to the side. 

2) Add oil to a pan heat over medium heat. Add onion and poblano pepper, cook until onion is translucent about 5 minutes. Stir often. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add meat and remaining ingredients to onion & pepper mixture. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. Add salt to taste.

Serve with fresh shredded cheese, chopped chives, avocado, sour cream, brown rice or tortillas, enjoy!

Photo courtesy of JeffreyW


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whole food explorers

Posted by on Jun 5, 2015 in after school, cooking classes, cooking with kids, exercise, families, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, news and happenings, nutrition, raising children, Recipes, seasonal, seasonal food of the month, wellness | 0 comments

IMG_2754This past week we had the pleasure of hosting a kids food exploration class at Whole Foods – Upper West Side in celebration of National Fruits & Vegetables Month.

Our class consisted of a melange of using our 5 senses to experience these new and unusual foods, along with stretching our bodies as we learned about the important nutrients present in these delicacies.

We were truly impressed at not only the turnout that we received, but also how enthusiastic and open minded our food explorers were!

On the menu we explored these tasty recipes:

  • ramp butter
  • pickled and blanched fiddlehead ferns
  • santa claus melon & basil soup

Our brave food explorers mixed together freshly chopped ramps, lemon juice, salt & pepper, and whipped it all up into a delectable spread for their fresh pieces of bread. Boy, was that butter a favorite!

FullSizeRender-2Then they ventured onto the fiddlehead ferns, unfurling their leaves and learning that they can grow 6 feet tall! Tasting it blanched, then pickled our explorers shared their observations of the different preparations on their food explorer handouts. 

Lastly, we ended our food adventures with a chilled melon basil soup made from santa claus melon – named that way since it’s usually the go-to melon available during christmas time. They couldn’t get enough! 

We are ever grateful for our friends at Whole Foods UWS for inviting us to excite and expand the palates of our participants in celebration of National Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month!

Stay tuned for more food adventures to come!

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