Thursday, November 10, 2011

Student Chooses Salad Du Jour: Day 2

Yesterday's "Student Salad Du Jour" was a success. Everyone's feedback has been positive and we're excited to see how this new way of getting our students more involved in their cafeteria choices and rewarding them for their outstanding work in the classroom with positive attention continues to grow.We'll share more stories and pictures aas they come in.

Today's Student Salad Du Jour was created by Jaquan S. of Promise Academy's 8th grade. Jaquan requested a Mango Salad with Grilled Shrimp for himself and his peers. This is a delicious recipe and we are always thrilled to highlight healthy ingredients like mango and shrimp! Mango is a tropical fruit which means it's not part of our normal focus on locally-grown produce here at HCZ, but for this special occassion we're making an exception! Like many fruits, mango is high in fiber and packed with antioxidants like Vitamins A, C, and E. It can be eaten green or you can eat it when it is ripe and sweet and orange. That's how we enjoyed it in our salad. It's a prefect balance to the savory shrimp and the crisp lettuce.

Thank you for sharing!
Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Salad Du Jour

In working with Ms Downing, Media Specialist for Promise Academy U/E, Middle & HS,
3 high achieving 8th grade students were selected to create a "Salad for the Day" as an incentive for doing excellent in their school work. The students were responsible for picking the recipes, presenting them to Chef Andrew, and then presenting the salad to the entire 8th grade student body during lunch.

Nyashia chose todays Salad Du Jour. Her selection was Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad.

Pictures to follow.

Bon Appetit!

ChopChop Magazine

Over the past couple of years Sally Sampson, founder of ChopChop has been sending us issues of the magazine. We have been sending them out to the students and staff of the Harlem Childrens Zone, receiving only excellent feedback! The magazine is terrific and we thought it would be a great idea to highlight Sally on the blog.

Sally Sampson is the founder of ChopChop, The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families. ChopChop is a quarterly magazine and website that aims to help kids make educated choices about the food they eat. ChopChop is published by ChopChopKids, a Massachusetts non-profit corporation. With big time supporters such as First Lady Michelle Obama, basketball player Grant Hill, and The White House chefs featured in recent issues, ChopChop is quickly growing toward reaching its goal of getting a copy in the hand of every child. The Harlem Children’s Zone uses ChopChop in our after school programs. Sally answered a few questions for HCZ about ChopChop Magazine and healthy holiday eating.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for ChopChop?
A: I am a cookbook writer, and had become very involved in healthcare because my daughter has a rare chronic illness. I wanted to work in the healthcare world, and found that I could use my skills as a cookbook writer to help fight obesity. I approached doctors with the idea of “prescribing” recipes to kids who were obese or at risk for obesity-which is one out of three American children. They welcomed the idea and the idea transformed into ChopChop. ChopChop aims to prevent childhood obesity by encouraging a change in behavior-a love for fresh, healthy food and cooking. We want to make cooking cool.

Q: Where is ChopChop distributed?
A: ChopChop is primarily distributed by pediatricians but also by schools, after school and community center programs, the YMCA, Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs, food banks, kid’s cooking classes, Indian reservations, and of course, the Harlem Children’s Zone. Yearly subscriptions are also available at

Q: What kinds of winter recipes will be featured in the upcoming issue of ChopChop?
A: In the winter issue, which will be released in December, we have a feature called, “Warm Soups for Cold Nights.” We feature 4 different soups that kids can make with the help of an adult and either eat right away, or freeze so they can have access to homemade soup all winter. We also have other foods to fight the cold including homemade oatmeal and biscuits. And though it’s not warm, our Eggnog Smoothie is definitely a winter treat.

Q: With all the school celebrations, parties and holiday events coming up, what’s the best way to make sure kids are still eating healthy while surrounded by so many treats?
A: We absolutely support eating treats but 1. be sure that your actual meals are healthy and hearty and 2. don't go overboard.

Q: What should our country’s food resolution be for this New Year?
A: Cook, cook and cook.

Q: Of course, cookies are typical holiday present for teachers, friends and family. Do you have any suggestions of a healthier option that kids can make for holiday gifts?
A: We actually have three “Gifts from The Kitchen” featured in the next issue. The Striped Soup Mix (recipe below), Cranberry Orange Walnut Bread, and Ranch Dressing Mix are all great alternatives to handing out sweets. There’s still the same “made from scratch” idea that comes from giving someone homemade cookies, but these three ideas are a change-up from the typical gifts.

Striped Soup Mix
A pot of soup is not the kind of present you can wrap—but a beautifully layered jar of homemade soup mix is! Plus, you can make a lot of presents at once to use up all those beans.

Adult: No
Hands-On Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 7 jars

7 1-pound bags of dried peas, beans, and lentils (pink, black, white, lima, kidney, navy, red, or pinto beans; green, brown, or red lentils; black-eyed peas; green or yellow split peas)
7 bay leaves
7 pint-sized canning jars (or other clean, empty 2-cup jars with a lids)
Measuring cup

1. Carefully layer the beans in the jars, using ¼ cup of each type of bean.
2. Put 1 bay leaf in each jar, and screw on the lids.
3. Add a ribbon and a gift tag that explains how to make the soup:

Recipe Instructions (include on gift tag):
Take out the bay leaf. Rinse the beans with cold water and then put them in a large pot. Cover them with fresh cold water and soak them overnight. Drain the beans, add them back into the pot with 6 cups fresh water or chicken stock, 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, 1 clove chopped garlic, , and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer gently until all the beans are tender, about 2 hours. Add salt to taste.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sweet Potato Harvest and A Special Visitor to Our School Garden

This week we were privileged to host a special visit from Chef Marcus Samuelsson and His Royal Highness Prince Daniel of Sweden who were touring Harlem with the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce who were hosting a Green Summit on environmental and sustainable food systems. On Tuesday several students worked along with our Garden and Nutrition Instructor, Mia Littlejohn, and Executive Chef Andrew Benson to harvest the final few root vegetables that we'd grown including sweet potatoes, carrots and beets. It was a full day of harvesting, cooking (glazed carrots), and eating (Sweet Potato Bisque). You can read more about the royal tour and the ongoing efforts of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce to promote environmental and sustainability issues here.

If you've never had the chance to harvest a sweet potato, this is a really fun and rewarding gardening activity! After we planted these puny looking sweet potato sprouts in the spring, they had blossomed into a cascade of leaves--which are also edible! But of course, as with any root vegetable, you never know exactly what's lurking under the surface of the soil and part of the thrill is having to wait until you are ready to unearth whatever is growing. Mia pulled a few carrots and sweet potatoes to show the students how it was done and they were so beautiful. Here's what they looked like all rinsed off:

Then some of our 8th grades spent nearly an hour digging through the dirt to find the burried treasure of the beautiful sweet potatoes that had grown. A single sweet potato plant will likely grow several potatoes and it's a bit like a hunt to find them. Just like in the kitchen, your hands are your most versatile tool in the home garden. Use your spade to find a potato and then wiggle it out with your hands until it is released from the soil. Here is the big pile of potatoes we grew and harvested:

We're now in the process of shutting down the garden completely for the winter. But it's not going totally dormant just yet. Under the dirt in several bins, we've already got bulbs growing and developing roots for when the sun swings back around and the spring time returns. They'll go dormant with the first hard frost (which is normally around November 10th), but don't worry! They come back to life when the sun swings back around and the spring time returns. It will be here soon enough. First we're looking forward to shorter days and more excuses to stay inside and eat a roasted sweet potato or some glazed carrots or some braised cabbage.