Chicken with Israeli Couscous

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 in cooking with kids, families, healthy food, Recipes, school food | 0 comments

pearl-couscousWe recently received a request from one of our school lunch parents (who also eats with us in our cafeteria at UNICEF headquarters) if we could share our Chicken with Israeli Couscous recipe with them since they both love when it shows up on our menu at lunch.

After they recreated it at home they shared with us that it was a big hit!

Here is how you can bring the Butter Beans lunch experience in your home with this tasty dish:

Serves ~5
  • CHICKEN BREAST, chopped into cubes, marinate & sear – 1 LB
  • BLACK OLIVES, sliced – 8 T
  • ROASTED RED PEPPER, small dice – 8 T
  • PARSLEY, chopped – 2 T
  • SHALLOTS, small dice – 1.5 tsp
  • GARLIC, small dice – 1.5 tsp
  • SALT – 1.5 tsp
  • LEMON JUICE – 1.5 tsp
  • DRIED THYME – 1.5 tsp
Marinate the chicken for 24 hours in the shallot and garlic marinade. Once marinated, preheat the oven to 350F. In the meantime, coat a pan with olive oil and sear the chicken until nicely browned, then place the seared chicken on a sheet tray and into the oven until cooked through approximately 20-25 minutes. 
Cook like you would pasta. Bring water to a boil, add couscous, stir, then simmer for 10 minutes, until al-dente. Drain and set aside. 
Final Step: 
Mix the chicken and couscous together, then add in the olives, red pepper, parsley and salt to taste. Enjoy!
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Campfire Stories: “Compost Week: Life, Death … and Poop!”

Posted by on Aug 2, 2017 in Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes | 0 comments

Kids love it when grownups allow them to say the word “poop.” You’ll hear that word a lot at Butter Beans summer camp. But never fear, parents–our “poop” has a purpose.

“You mean that dirt is mostly worm poop?”

“Wait… everything we eat comes from worm poop?!”

These are the kinds of “a-ha” moments you’ll hear during Compost Week, often tinged with equal parts disgust and delight. When campers are hovering over the compost bin, which is home to a thriving worm community, poop-related epiphanies tend to unfold. Our slippery ambassadors of the soil also prompt the children to look at the dirt outside on field trips more closely, to learn about the relationships between composting animals and our food, and to see the circle of life in a new light, through the eyes of a red wiggler worm.

As it turns out, once you begin talking about compost, you quickly find that you are talking about everything else: where food comes from, where it goes, what does and doesn’t get recycled, and what happens to living things after they die. (Sometimes this means you’re edging into spiritual territory, and other times, you really are just talking about poop.)

Students sample wontons with Eat2Explore

Students sample wontons with Eat2Explore

During Compost Week, our discussions became so rich and multifaceted that we decided to help the children map out the connections they were making during an afternoon at camp.

During center time, in which children work in small groups, we arranged materials across a few tables to help students consider and record their thoughts on this frequently-asked question: “Where does our food come from?” The children had just enjoyed a guest chef lesson with Rowena Scherer, founder of the new just-for-kids meal kit company Eat2Explore (check it out!), in which they had made veggie wontons, so we made wontons the food of focus.

"Where does wheat flour come from?" The Butter Beans food detectives are on the case.

“Where does wheat flour come from?” The Butter Beans food detectives are on the case.

For our concrete, hands-on learners (and what kid doesn’t fit that description?), we placed visual “clues”: the package for the wonton wrappers, the recipe, and a drawing of a worm in soil to encourage them to think about “where” as the place where the plants themselves originated. (Kids later rightly pointed out that the wonton concept originated in China, but strictly speaking, the wonton wrappers hailed from Jersey.)

On a second table, we arranged activities and materials to help students consider and record their thoughts about the first question’s flip side: “Where does our food go when we’re done with it?” Here, we placed the scraps from our wonton cooking lesson, along with some plastic packaging from the produce and other assorted cooking lesson castoff materials. We established bins for compost, recycling and landfill, labeling them with happy worms (for materials that can be composted) and unhappy worms (for landfill) for younger students who are not yet reading or writing.

Bins for worm-friendly (biodegradable) and non-worm-friendly (landfill) materials.

Bins for worm-friendly (biodegradable) and non-worm-friendly (landfill) materials.


After we had laid out these materials, we divided the group into same-age teams, with our older, “big picture” thinkers taking the first crack at the first question, and our younger children pulling on plastic gloves and getting their hands dirty as they grappled with the second.

At each table, teachers and students worked together to chart their discussions using large chart paper. The results were inspiring.

Our worms and food waste chart.

Our worms and food waste chart.

In the first group, teachers listened and began to create a mind map on the wonton poster as the children explained to each other what a wheat plant looked like, and drew scallions reaching their shallow roots into the worms’ soil on the poster. Mental lightbulbs went off as they looked at pictures of soybeans and realized that favorite Asian foods like edamame, tofu and soy sauce all stemmed, quite literally, from the same plant.

In the second group, children talked about what kinds of foods from the pile would be good for the worms to eat (in other words, biodegradable), and which would not be good for worms (not just plastics, but also bread, citrus and dairy products). They felt proud that they had taken good care of our friends in the bin.

Julian and Sierra sort food and waste for the worms.

Julian and Sierra sort food and waste for the worms.


Then, the groups were encouraged to intermingle. The older children came to visit the compost sorting station, and began to record the younger students’ ideas on a T-chart, listing which ingredients were biodegradable and which were not.


Sage helps to record the best (and worst) foods for worms.

Sage helps to record the best (and worst) foods for worms.

The younger children then made their way over to the map of wonton ingredients, with the very youngest pre-readers representing their ideas through drawings. They got busy sketching the bees that brought the honey for our wonton, adding roots to all the plants pictured (and a few extra worms for good measure). We also observed them engaging in intense discussions about the accuracy of each other’s animals and plants, discussions that provided a detailed window into their collective thinking. (A pair of twin five year olds in particular disagreed about whether a queen bee, who now dominated the top right corner of the poster, should be depicted as flying, as queen bees were flightless. The illustrator of the queen bee solved the problem simply, she explained, by adding worker bees as her attendants to carry her through the sky on a magic carpet. It is difficult to overstate how much we love the magical realism of kindergarteners!)

For students who are not yet writing, drawings provide a window into their development as chefs and gardeners.

For students who are not yet writing, drawings provide a window into their development as chefs and gardeners.

Taken together, these activities provided not only a way for the children to collaborate and share their knowledge on the big ideas we featured during Compost Week, but also a way for us to pre-assess their prior knowledge of the complex food system, and thus to design better future instruction for them. 

All of our work at camp HQ also helped the children feel like experts when they capped off Compost Week with a trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where they got to learn how the master composters there keep the circle of life going in large containers that dwarf our small classroom bin. Our guide, Claudia, helped them to answer the burning questions they still wished to answer, about worms (“How can you tell a baby from a grown-up?”) and gardening (“How do you make the compost go faster?”). She was thoroughly impressed by all of the knowledge they brought to the garden classroom table. (She also allowed them to say “poop,” always a plus.)

Claudia, our guide at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, answers kids' burning questions about compost.

Claudia, our guide at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, answers kids’ burning questions about compost.

For parents welcoming home campers from Butter Beans summer camp who come bearing stories of thrusting their hands into poop, and demand for the family to start its own worm bin in their sweltering New York apartments, we offer the same combination of “Sorry” and “You’re welcome” that we offer when sending home chef knives and high-maintenance seedlings, the other common trophies for a Butter Beans graduate. Taking responsibility for our food system, from soil to table and back to soil, isn’t pretty, nor is it low-maintenance. But for families and kids who think it’s important to dig deep, to figure out where all of this stuff around us comes from and where it’s all going, a Butter Beans camp classroom is an excellent place to kick off (or continue) that conversation.

IMG_3644Food waste after shot 

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Mid-Summer Camp Fun: Our Favorite Food-Filled Moments

Posted by on Jul 26, 2017 in Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes | 0 comments

We have reached the midway point of summer camp, and with session 2 coming to a close, our junior chefs and farmers have already created life-lasting memories, are equipped with the tools they need to maintain a healthy relationship with food, and knowledge to preserve a sustainable earth.

IMG_2983Unique in their own ways, both our Brooklyn and Manhattan camps set foot on a two-week journey throughout the food landscape of NYC.  Along the way, we explored farm-to-table cooking; empowering ourselves with awareness that a healthy earth creates healthy bodies. We kicked off our first week of camp “Eating the Rainbow” by creating colorful plates and cuisine. We learned that by incorporating a rainbow of colors in our unique recipes, we ensure a balance of nutrients.IMG_2988



IMG_3146We then traveled to Battery Urban Farm, for an “Eat the Rainbow” tour and harvest. A bountiful variety of colored veggies was harvested right here in our very own urban city!

We continued our journey to explore the land of cheese! Murray’s Cheeses has over 250 types of cheese and our junior cheesemongers expanded their palates sampling various types familiar and new.  We learned about the work of dairy farmers and the processes that make each cheese unique.File_000 (1)


Next our Manhattan Camp ventured down to The Meadow in the West Village to try a rainbow of artisanal salts.  Red Molokai, Pink Himalaya, Blue Lavender, Haven Mon Gold, Black Truffle and “stinky salt”.  Our junior “selmeliers” took a basic course in discovering that artisanal salt comes directly from nature with a variety of geographic origins… and not just from the table saltshaker!

For week two of camp we delved deeper into the theme of Sustainability.  A new excursion this summer was to the High Line.  Walking alongside both native grasses, flowers and industrial rails, campers learned how horticulturists, designers, ecologists and architects work together to conserve biological diversity in this unique part of NYC railroad history.IMG_3234

Our sustainable journey continued to Rosemary’s Farm and Restaurant.  Rosemary’s supports the community through their own CSA program with produce and ingredients harvested from their very own rooftop garden. The wonderful head chef led us on a tour of the garden where campers pick herbs and edible flowers, and to the back of house to witness the chefs and line cooks in action.  We loved baking and dressing our own caprese focaccia pizzas!








Everyday at camp, campers practiced mindful eating and listening to our bodies. Not only do children learn to appreciate the foods that farmers make for us, but appreciate the amazing ways their own bodies can function.  Our weekly yoga practice with Skyler, combined with mindful awareness with food, helps our campers recognize that food fuels our bodies to do the amazing IMG_3202 (2)things we can do!



The global adventure continued with a special visit by Chef Rowena from Eat2explore! Eat2explore delivers seasonal farm-fresh and fun meal kits that include ingredients and kid-friendly recipes  families can prepare at home. At camp we celebrated American cuisine by baking a delicious scratch-made peach cobbler using farmer’s market-fresh juicy summer peaches!





Session 2 kicked off “Worms and Compost Week” with our annual exchange with Harlem Grown.  Harlem Grown campers led the Manhattan campers on a tour of their bountiful garden, and guided Butter Beans on farming tasks such as aerating the chicken coop, sorting compost and weighing the produce which is donated to the Harlem community.



IMG_3398In return, Harlem Grown visited the Butter Beans Manhattan campus where our campers transformed the gym into “Harlem Beans” a restaurant complete with linecooks, servers, Maitre D and a “beverage sommelier.”  Their creative menu consisted of a scratch-made three-course meal paired with grape seltzer.  The afternoon was complete with seed planting giveaways, a popcorn filling station, facepainting, limbo and dance freeze!

IMG_7018 (1)




Our Brooklyn campers experienced a world of international cuisine right in their very own backyard.  The newly opened “Dekalb Market Hall” was a perfect place to adventure out on a scavenger hunt, taste new foods and discover new flavors!

We then took a trip to the lush Brooklyn Botanical Garden, where our gracious host Claudia from the NYC Compost Project, showed us the process of creating a healthy soil.  We learned that our soil superheroes, the worms, have five hearts to keep them powering through their workday creating the soil that grows ours IMG_3524food!




What can we do after camp as a family?

On graduation day, campers take home their sackpacks, certificates, practice knives, Chop Chop magazines, eat2explore coupons, culinary skills, a more adventurous palate and of course unforgettable memories!IMG_3563

We encourage you to share in the joy of cooking and gardening with your child. Here are some easy ways to continue the magic of summer camp in your own homes!

  • At the end of all three sessions of summer camp, we will be sending you a digital copy of all the recipes and snacktivities we created at camp!  Have your child choose some favorites to cook as a family!
  • Next time you are at the farmer’s market, allow your child to pick a fruit or vegetable that will make your next family meal pop with color!
  • What ways can your family be sustainable?  Share ideas together!  Pick one or two things you can turn into a healthy habit for ourselves and our environment.
  • Make cooking fun! Try a Master Chef Junior challenge! Points go to creativity, food groups, and experimenting with new flavors and ingredients!
  • Interested in an easy-way to prepare meals?  Sign up for the eat2explore mailing list today!  There’s no subscription, the only commitment is to have fun cooking together!

Are you hungry for s’more camp fun? Join the adventure!

Click here to check out what we have in store for Session 3!  We have 4 spots left in Manhattan and 1 spot opened up in Brooklyn! Deadline to register is this Friday!


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Summertime Pizza Party

Posted by on Jun 8, 2017 in Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes | 0 comments


The sun is out, the weather is warm and it’s finally feeling like summer! While many of our junior chefs are already enjoying summer vacation, we’re lucky enough to have a few classes still in session. For those of us with a few weeks left, we’re dedicating this week to honing our pizzaiolo skills! We’ll be starting from scratch with a soft, stretchy, homemade dough. From there we’ll add sauce, cheese and a variety of fresh summer veggies. June brings tons of great produce to our markets and grocery stores including summer squash and zucchini, spinach, mustard greens and other summery lettuces, and a whole variety of peppers and peas. We hope you’ll try out this recipe at home and experiment with your toppings!


  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 packet active yeast
  • 2½ cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 jar organic marinara sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Summer veggies of your choice! (Zucchini, Fresh Tomatoes, Corn, Red Bell Peppers, Red Onion, Greens)


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F / 230°C.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup warm water, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and 1 packet active yeast. Stir and then let sit for 10 minutes to allow yeast to activate.
  3. Add 2½ cups bread flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix until it forms an even ball of dough.
  4. Cut into as many pieces as desired and flatten into pizza crust shape. Top with desired toppings and bake at 450°F/230°C for 10 to 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

** This recipe was inspired by BuzzFeed. To check out the original, look here!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Compote and Sunflower Granola

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes | 0 comments

IMG_2563It’s our last week in the kitchen with our budding chefs and while we’re sad to see them go, we’re grateful for all the fun we’ve had! In the past few months, we have learned about eating the rainbow, seasonal foods, balancing our food with healthful combinations, parts of the plant, being sustainable, aromatics, preserving the flavors of the season, being mindful, creative food art, superfoods and community and holiday celebrations. And the learning does not have to stop here! We hope you’ll try this tasty summer treat out at home, along with all of our other creations from this year. See below for the full recipe!


  • 1 lb rhubarb
  • 1 lb strawberries
  • ½ lemon
  • ¼ c honey (or sugar)
  • canned cool whip


  • 2.5 c oats
  • ¼ c sunflower seeds
  • ½ raisins
  • ¼-1/2 c honey or sugar
  • ¼ c sunbutter
  • 2 T canola oil
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • ¼ t salt


  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 apples
  • .5 lb strawberries
  • .5 rhubarb


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Breakdown rhubarb.
  3. Cut lemon into wedges.
  4. Breakdown celery and apples.

Prepare compote: 

  1. Slice rhubarb into ¾ in. pieces, (set aside about 1/3 raw for side salad).
  2. Cut strawberries into quarters (set aside about 1/3)
  3. Squeeze lemon juice into bowl.
  4. Combine and place in small pot over medium-high heat. Add sweetener in increments. Adjust sweetener quantity to your liking. Taste as you go!
  5. Bring mixture to a boil. Turn down heat and allow to simmer until compote reaches desired consistency (thick and smooth), stirring to prevent burning.
  6. While compote cooks, prepare granola.

Prepare granola:

  1. Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine.
  2. Bake on sheet tray for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown in color, stirring once.

Make crunchy side salad:

  1. Chop apples and celery into bite size pieces.
  2. Combine with strawberries and rhubarb.
  3. Use fork to crush strawberries and apples slightly and release sweet juices to balance rhubarb’s tartness.

To Serve: Layer strawberry-rhubarb compote with sunflower granola. Add dollop of whipped cream. Serve with a crunchy raw salad. Enjoy outside in the warm, summer sunshine!


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Fondue and Summer Veggies

Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes | 0 comments


This week we’ll be looking to Switzerland for a little inspiration. We’re making fondue! Fondue is a traditional Swiss dish. It’s combination of melted cheese, milk, and occasionally a little garlic, mustard or honey to add flavor. Everything is melted and mixed together in a large pot or fountain. Then comes the dipping!

We’ll be using gruyere for our fondue, which is actually named after the small Swiss town where it originated. It is a smooth, semi-soft and often unpasteurized cheese with a strong flavor.

And since we love fresh, seasonal produce here at Butter Beans, we’ll use  a few of our favorite summer veggies for dipping, some of which are superfoods. What’s a superfood you ask?

 “Superfoods” are nutrient-rich foods packed with vitamins and minerals  that help us reach our healthiest selves. They are often colorful and  contain lots of antioxidants, which stop “free radicals” that can cause  harm to healthy cells. 

Let’s get cooking!


  • 2 c whole milk
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 ½ c gruyere, shredded
  • 1 c emmentaler, shredded
  • ¼ c AP flour
  • ¼ t dry mustard

For the fondue:

    • Warm up milk to a boil, then turn to simmer and cover.
    • Measure the honey and add to the simmering milk.
    • Shred the cheese or cut into very small pieces if not shredded.
    • Mix cheese in a bowl with the flour and dry mustard.
    • Add a handful of cheese at a time and whisk until all cheese is in the pot.
    • Turn heat on very low, cover the pot, and hold.

Summer Veggies

    • 1 carrot
    • 1 zucchini
    • 1 summer squash
    • 1 pt grape tomatoes
    • ½ head broccoli
    • 1 granny smith apples

Prepare the dipping veggies.

    • Cut the summer squash and zucchini into juliennes (matchstick size)
    • Cut or break the broccoli into florets.
    • Cut the carrots into rounds or juliennes.
    • Cut the granny smith apples into wedges.

Once veggies are ready, pour the fondue into one big bowl for sharing, or a few small ones for individual fondue pots. Keep in mind, the more you split the cheese, the more heat you will lose and the faster the cheese will try to turn back into a solid.  The fun in fondue is the sharing!

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tasting days with the little ones

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in healthy food, local food, lunch time, Recipes, school food | 0 comments

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 4.52.03 PMA few weeks ago we had the pleasure of hosting two fun tasting days with the students in Pre-K and Kindergarten at BASIS Independent Brooklyn.

We chose two specific menu days based on students eating habits and food preferences to see if we could open their palates to liking something they may have not liked (or even tried) before.

We also used this opportunity to test out our brand new stickers showcasing our little Butter Beans chef mascots that state, “I tried something new!”

We chose blackened chicken drumstick day, and our homemade fish sticks.

You would think that chicken drumsticks would be an easy win for these students, but some of them don’t love it because of how it’s described. What does blackened mean they asked?

I brought in some fresh herbs to show them the main components of the blackened spice rub that our chef creates and sprinkles onto the chicken before it gets roasted in the oven.

Then we put our food explorer hats on, and dove into the fun part.

After the students tried the chicken in our 1oz sample cups, the majority of them gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up, with requests for seconds!

IMG_1307Then came the fish stick tasting day. I came in with a handout of how fish sticks are made by hand, and shared with them that we serve wild caught pollack, a fish similar to cod but less fishy tasting, and that our chef hand breads each and every one of them for 15 schools!

To make the tasting even more exciting, we offered the option of dipping their fish sticks into three different condiments: ranch, ketchup and our homemade tartar sauce. They were a hit! Students who had never tried them before, couldn’t get enough.

Here are some fun quotes that we collected from our tasting adventures:

  • I love Butter Beans!
  • It’s very good!
  • This is really good
  • I like it
  • Super yummy
  • Best thing I’ve ever eaten
  • Can we have a Butter Beans person come visit everyday?
  • That was better than pepperoni pizza (in regards to the chicken)

With all of the positive feedback and buzz that was generated, we are sure that these students are going to be ready to dig in when they’re on the menu again!

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