Tag Archives: beans

Summer Cooking Camps & Classes!

Yet more opportunities for me to brandish knives in public! (As if I need any excuse).

Thumbs up for beet green roll-ups with vegan ranch dressing!  (photo Brad Dahlgaard)

Thumbs up for beet green roll-ups with vegan ranch dressing! (photo Brad Dahlgaard)

Firstly, I’ve been hired as the instructor for this summer’s Children’s Cooking Camps at the MN Landscape Arboretum. The sessions are on Fridays from June 12 – Aug 23. Morning sessions for 2nd – 4th graders and afternoon sessions for 5th – 8th graders.  You can sign up for just one, or up to all six Fridays.

Each week features a different topic from Veggie Fritters and Garden Surprise to Pudding and Chocolate. Kids will make 2-3 dishes each day and take a bit home to share with you. We will harvest herbs & veg from the big Children’s Garden outside the Learning Center. And, I will be including vegan & gluten-free dishes in the mix. Hawaiian coconut cream pudding, anybody?

See Arboretum Day Camp list; click on an age group for descriptions and schedules .


Show and tell with samples of whole grains (me on the right). (Photo Brad Dahlgaard).

Show and tell with samples of whole grains. (Photo Brad Dahlgaard).

Secondly, I am teaching 2 classes at Valley Natural Foods Co-op in Burnsville: “Gung Ho for Grains” on Wed Jul 31 6pm – 8.30pm, and “Summery Bean Salads” on Wed Aug 21 6pm – 8.30pm.  These hands-on classes are FREE to co-op members and $5 for non-members. What a deal! (Seriously, the usual fee is $35+).

These sessions are all about taking advantage of the bulk grains & beans on offer at the co-op. They’re good for our bodies and for our pocketbooks. You’ll get to sample several kinds of each, and make 4 different dishes, plus recipes and samples to take home.



My show 'n tell box. How many can you identify?

My show ‘n tell box. How many can you identify? Which row has the gluten-free grains?

Here’s part of the description blurb:  Discover the versatility of whole grains and the ease of incorporating them into many different dishes. From breakfast puddings to chopped salads and interesting pilafs, making whole grains a part of your diet is healthy and easy.

Register Online for Classes at Valley Natural Foods Co-op.  More about Education at Valley Natural Foods Co-op.   FYI, I’ll be teaching another class in late Sept, too.


Finally, I do teach private customized classes in people’s homes, for adults and children. So if you can’t sign up for one of these camps or classes, consider hosting one for yourself and 3 friends. You get to hang out together while learning a TON about cooking in 3-4 hrs. Or, organize a special play date for your kids, and sit back and relax with iced tea while we snip, chop and stir.

Contact me at onedishatatime@me.com to find out about my availability for private lessons!






Teaching Teens & Tweens

As I prepare for my pro-bono teaching gig at East Side (St Paul) Boys & Girls Club tomorrow, I feel like I’ll be stepping into an episode of reality TV.

The Challenge (insert dramatic chords): show a group of tweens & teens how to make healthful food in 50 min from start to finish, with no knives. Cram a little nutrition info in there too. And I’m one of the lucky guest chefs in that the Boys & Girls Club has an actual kitchen and is giving us free rein.

Tracy and kids at North End Teen Center

Tracy and tweens at St Paul’s then-newly opened North End Teen Center in 2011.

This is all being organized by Free Arts Minnesota, an arts non-profit for which I used to volunteer, and whose mission is “Art Heals”. Free Arts coordinates teams of adult mentors to lead weekly arts & crafts sessions w/ disadvantaged children at 40-some facilities in the metro. In a push to emphasize health, it has created a new Healthy Minds and Bodies program and pulled in guest chefs to each lead a series of 3 cooking sessions with these teams. So, instead of painting or collaging, we’re going to make food. The audience and parameters, however, are very dissimilar to the adult cooking classes I’m teaching thru community education in the next 2 weeks (schedule in previous post; more details coming next post).

Fortunately, I’ve taught several classes to tweens & teens before, including St Paul’s North End Teen Center (see 2011 post) and at Plymouth Middle School, but in those cases, we could use knives. Fresh vegetables, even potatoes, require knives.

There are, of course, lots of fairly easy sweet treats that we could make, that are highly appealing to kids and don’t need knives. S’mores, designer popcorn balls, etc. Yet more sweet treats is not our goal. And, there are lots of quick & interesting “healthful” recipes, the kind that I teach to adults all the time. But, these are kids in an urban after-school program. They’re probably not going to run home and make quinoa salad. 

These are not adults who have access to cars & money to shop for ingredients or who have gadgets like blenders, and, neither are they necessarily motivated to take time & effort to make real food. We don’t know what their home situations are. In fact, some may not have regular access to food at home, let alone regular meals  — this is the definition of Food Insecurity.

Source: linda5900 from Photobucket.com.

A recent news report this summer stated that 9.5% of households in Minnesota experience Food Insecurity. That’s 1 in 10 households and 1 in 8 children (source Second Harvest Heartland).  Approx 375,000 MN children depend on the National School Lunch and Breakfast program for free/reduce-priced daily meals (as provided for in the Federal Nutrition Bill). In the summer when there’s no school, 80% of these kids go hungry. The MN Dept of Education’s “Summer Food Service Program” admirably tries to address this gap.  During my back-to-school-year studying Dietetic Technology, I spent a month with co-sponsor Second Harvest Heartland, knocking on doors, leaving flyers and talking up folks in North & South Mpls neighborhoods where 4 pilot programs were being launched. These 4 offered free lunches to both adults and kids — traditional programs offered lunch only to the kids and made the adult chaperones wait outside. Guess which one worked better for the whole family?   Either way, hopefully both the traditional and the new projects continue to grow and serve more hungry folks.

I want to teach these kids — any kids, anybody really — to cook real food they can make easily at home, by themselves or with family, that they like and can be proud of, that use cheap & easily purchased ingredients, and, that happen to be healthful.  

Readers of this blog know that these are the 4 key factors in my entire approach to cooking, ie my mission. Anybody can make nice food with gourmet ingredients and lots of time. And that’s great — when you do, celebrate it, and invite me over!

But, the people who would most benefit from learning healthful ways of eating do not surf Epicurious.com or read “Martha Stewart Living”. They do not peruse blogs about gluten-free and vegan foods. And, it’s not just the lowest-income bracket. The ‘middle’ could also learn a few new things. 8.3% Americans (26 million) are affected by diabetes. Diagnosed cases shot from 1.5 million in 1958 to 18.8 million in 2010; another 7 million are as yet undiagnosed. More stats. 

OK, so I have my work cut out for me.  Back to my 3 cooking sessions at the Boys & Girls Club. 

Given the time constraints and these goals, my game plan is to use mostly plain ie unadulterated packaged foods and teach them to combine and customize. These are mainstream foods that most tweens & teens are familiar with and hopefully already like to eat. I’m channeling Sarah Lee and Readers Digest, I guess. I’ll save the quinoa for next week’s adult classes.

For teens & kids in general, the key is not too many steps = quick pay-off. I’ll divide the kids & mentors into teams and assign them different dishes or tasks.

Session #1:  Custom-flavored cream cheeses like pineapple & cilantro, salsa, cranberry, and herb. We’ll use ziplocs and pipe it into celery & hollowed out cukes a la “ants on a log”, and, make roll-up wraps and possibly quesadillas either in the microwave or on stove-top. Tweens into cuteness can make pinwheels.

Session #2:  Easy Eggs and Tunafish Salad. High-protein snacks and meals that a 10-yr old can make. Hopefully, some of the older teens have knife privileges so I can show them how to dice celery, apples & onion.

Session #3: Graduation Dinner of 2 quick stews and rice. 1) Chicken w/ Mixed Veg and 2) Beans & Greens. The only ingredient to chop is onion & garlic; we’ll use frozen veggies and canned beans and broths.

My goal: happy proud kids.

As mentioned above, a year or so ago, I taught a couple cooking classes at St Paul’s North End Teen Center to tweens & teens. (See posts from mid-2011).We had 2 hours and knives, however, which enabled us to make from scratch such dishes as bean & veg salad, hummus, pico de gallo, chili, and nut-balls. The group was great and very willing; some older teens were excellent choppers. Actually, I didn’t have enough tasks for all the kids to be occupied the whole time. So that requires more strategizing in future.

Keen for Quinoa

NOTICE: I am taking next week off. Delivered Dish of the Week returns for Thanksgiving.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with a family who is going gluten- and dairy-free for behavioral/medical reasons. I showed them 4 easy ways to eat quinoa: plain like rice; hot cereal w/ soy milk & raisins; in a tabbouleh-like vegetable salad dressed w/ vinaigrette; and mixed with roasted butternut squash & apples. We also pureed silken tofu, white beans, herbs & garlic to make a dairy-free creamy ricotta-like sauce that is works well in gluten-free lasagna and moussaka.

This weekend, for the 4th year in a row, I am serving as executive chef for a church auction event. Many volunteers and I will cook a Caribbean-themed dinner for 175 people! As usual, the menu is primarily vegetarian (with one meat course) and gluten-free! See menu on next post.


Nov  7 – 13

1) Pumpkin & White Bean Soup. Vegan and gluten-free. You knew pumpkin was coming. Cumin & coriander will dominate seasoning of this pureed soup. Sprinkle with roast pepitas. I don’t usually puree soups, but I got a new immersion blender!  :^) Btw, this is a very low-fat high fiber dish.

2) Spicy Cactus & Rice Salad w/ Lime & Cilantro Dressing. Vegan and gluten-free. Spicy pickled nopalitos come in jars or cans in the Hispanic aisle. Think pickled green beans. Celery & purple cabbage will add crunch.

Nov  14 – 20   ON VACATION
No deliveries this week!!

Nov  21 – 27  THANKSGIVING

1) Sauteed Collards w/ Cranberries & Red Peppers. Vegan and gluten-free. Nothing like traditional southern collards which are cooked (usually with ham or bacon) til very soft, this very lightly braised dish preserves the firm texture, deep green color and nutrients of this Super Food vegetable from the immune-boosting cabbage family. Pretty red Craisins and bell peppers add the perfect sweet piquant flavor to contrast and complement.

2) Lemony Quinoa & Lentils. Vegan and gluten-free. A nice light side dish that pleases vegetarians at your table, as well as being a gluten-free, more nutritious companion/alternative to heavy bread-based stuffing. And, you don’t have to warm it up.

Sage Advice: more fresh food, less effort

As a cooking coach, I focus on efficiency, versatility and making use of seasonal foods. The most recent sessions feature black-eyed peas & Swiss chard prepared SIX ways, five of which can be frozen.

Beans and Dark Leafy Greens such as chard are a wonderful combination that happens to be easy, versatile and extremely nutritious (and low-fat).  I could use kale or turnip greens in the following recipes just as easily as chard, and I do.

Dark Leafy Greens! from top: dinosaur kale (Lacinato), red onion, collards, turnip green, red radish.

Sadly I find many people do not know what to do with Chard or Kale, they mistakenly overcook Collards, they keep beets but throw OUT Beet Greens (gasp!) and, they’ve never even heard of Turnip Greens. Aiyeee!

Just like spinach, these greens are LOVELY when simply sauteed with garlic, lemon & salt. Unlike spinach, all these greens are bountiful from now til Nov.

Black-eyed peas (BEP) is a stand-in for any creamy mild bean. I like it because it’s fast-cooking and under-used.

6 dishes you can easily make from these 2 main ingredients, even in ONE afternoon. All basically vegan.

#1 Marinated BEP Salad with diced chard stems and leaves, any crunchy veg on hand, tossed w/ herb vinaigrette.

#2 BEP & Leafy Green Saute Base. A simple saute of chopped chard leaves & stems, garlic & onion and cooked BEP in a generous amount of olive oil. Zucchini is also nice in this base. It should be wet enough to clump together but not overly goopy. This mixture is divided into 3+ quarts to be seasoned separately; a quart or more of plain is frozen too.

#3 A la Provencal. Add fresh herbs like sage, lemon juice, and, if you like, green olives and/or capers.

Sage & Smashed Black-eyed Peas & Chard Bruschetta

Smashed Black-eyed Peas & Chard Bruschetta with Fresh Sage

#4 Provencal Bruschetta, sandwich or omelette filling: #3 smashed, drizzled with EVOO and topped with minced fresh sage & garlic. And diced fresh tomatoes if got ’em.

#5 Provencal Stew and Soup. Broth & wine added to #3 along with more veg (any kind), more herbs or pesto, then simmered til soft. Throw some pesto or grated cheese on top before serving.

#6 Curry Stew. #2 base simmered with more veg, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, broth and Indian spices such as garam masala or curry powder (and many more which I won’t list now), cayenne if you like it spicy. Yogurt and raisins is nice as garnish.

#7 Spaghetti Sauce. #2 simmered with with tomato sauce and paste, basil, oregano.

If you have 3 large pots, you can do this is in one session. All but the salad can be frozen. Easy, versatile, yummy!