Tag Archives: children

Classy Kale

Right now I’m teaching classes which highlight fresh kale in ‘classy’ ways.

Here are photos from a free cooking class I led at Baker Community Center in Westside St Paul on Feb 1st. With the help of young volunteers, I threw together 2 easy healthful salads: Kale Salad in Avocado Dressing and Asian Veggie “Pasta” in Ginger Peanut Dressing. 

I made a Kale salad with Tahini dressing at a class last Friday and am reprising the Kale Avocado Salad in another one this Tues at Mazopiya Natural Foods Market in Prior Lake. I’ll report on that session later this week.

The fresh kale leaves are vigorously massaged with chunks of avocado and a little balsamic vinaigrette, then left to marinate a bit. Think Swedish massage. Really work it like stiff clay. Treating the greens this way wilts them down, reduces the bitterness and permeates sauce into every leaf. Besides, the more compacted the greens, the more you end up eating. You can use prepared guacamole, too. But, either way, be prepared to get your hands all goopy!

At Baker, I also showed folks how to use a Spiralizer gizmo, with which you can crank (literally) out long noodles’, “corkscrews” and thin slices from many veggies & fruits!  We made zucchini & carrot noodles for a carb-less salad, Asian style. The texture of the zucchini is like a slightly crunchy noodle. When I programmed a Zucchini “Linguine” in fresh tomato salsa for Delivered Dish of the Week (DDoW), several clients thought they were eating real pasta.

This gadget is a boon to anybody who wants to get more veggies into their diet — that’s everybody — and especially useful if you are trying out a Paleo, vegan or raw diet. It just makes it more fun. You could do apples and pear noodles like my nephew & niece; or try root veg curly fries and root veg chips. It’s inexpensive and available on Amazon.com.



Inspiration & Perspiration

I’ve been so remiss about blogging!  I have about 10 backlogged topics I could easily expound upon– and hope to one day– such as

  • stories of teaching the Arboretum Cooking Camps to the nicest bunch of 8 – 12 year olds;
  • cooking for a family with Alkaline diet needs;
  • how the government shutdown affected nutrition of low-income women & children;
  • all the catering I’ve been doing, from board retreats to a large wedding dinner;
  • new cookbooks I just picked up, like “Viva Vegan”; etc.

But that is for another day. Today I’m announcing the next 6 week-cycle of Delivered Dish of the Week (DDoW), which takes us up through Thanksgiving.

Bonanza haul from Farmers' Market, Sept (my pic).

Bonanza haul from Farmers’ Market, Sept (my pic).

I find inspiration everywhere, from my own archive of dishes and cookbooks to newsletters and restaurants.

I’m always inspired by the Farmers Markets these days. I also like to peruse the aisles of grocery stores and see what catches my eye. If I like the name of a bottled salad dressing or a sauce, I take a picture of the ingredient list and try to incorporate its flavors into something.

I also look to organic food sources such as Azure Standard (Oregon), boutique producers like Purcell Mountain Farm (Idaho) and Sno Pac Foods (from southern MN). Purcell offers heirloom beans, so I tried some last cycle. This week I was able to order cases of frozen organic ‘sweet beans’ (fresh shelled edamame) from Sno Pac, so these will be featured in December.

Perspiration is what transpires between the photo above and the photos of dishes below. I don’t always love the process but often, I find chopping and stirring rather satisfying.  I let my hands take over, while my mind listens to MPR podcasts and wanders. And, I love the results.

DDOW OCT 21 – NOV 28

OCT 21 – 26

1) Pureed Celery Parsnip Parsley Soup. V, GF, Paleo, soy-free & no added sugars. Exactly what it says, with a bit of potato added to counter the sweetness of the parsnips. Fresh parsley and lemon juice brighten it up. Very mild and comforting.

2) Barley Mushroom Lentil Pilaf. V, soy-free & no added sugars; contains gluten. A very earthy, autumnal and toothsome dish. Wonderfully chewy, in contrast to the pureed soup.

OCT 28 – NOV 1

Beautiful Beet Soup (my photo)

Beautiful Beet Soup (my photo)1) Zombie Blood Soup, aka Gingery Beet & Cabbage Borscht. V, GF, Paleo, soy-free & no added sugars.  Several clients love this and always order extra. And, if a delicious nourishing soup doesn’t do it for you, throw in some hard-boiled eggs for floating eyeballs and scare the kids.

1) Zombie Blood Soup, aka Gingery Beet & Cabbage Borscht. V, GF, Paleo, soy-free & no added sugars.  Several clients love this and always order extra. And, if a delicious nourishing soup doesn’t do it for you, throw in some hard-boiled eggs for floating eyeballs and scare the kids.

2) Rat Hot Dish, aka, Polenta Ratatouille Casserole. GF,  soy-free & no added sugars.  Reprise of ratatouille layered with smooth polenta in a loaf or pie pan, with the addition of white beans. Polenta will have butter and parmesan/romano cheese unless you indicate the no-dairy version. Probably really good with Fritos on top.

NOV 4 – 8

Diff kinds of red beans: (clockwise from top) kidney, Spanish Tolosna, Giant Scarlet Runner Beans (my pic).

Diff kinds of red beans: (clockwise from top) kidney, Giant Scarlet Runner Beans and  Spanish Tolosna (my pic).

1) Creamy Kidney Bean, Carrot & Collard Mafe Stew. V, GF, soy-free & no added sugars; contains peanut butter. Option of almond butter if you have peanut sensitivities. West African Mafe is one of my top 10 comfort foods. It becomes more than the sum of its simple parts ( tomato sauce, peanut butter, some spices) and morphs into a rich creamy sauce. Excellent with any ingredients– in this case, hearty veg. Serve over a grain or with crusty bread.

2) Millet & Sweet Potato Pilaf. V, GF, soy-free & no added sugars. Fluffy millet with roast sweet pots and caramelized onions. A staple in Africa, millet is a high-protein gluten-free grain. People ask me why mine is fluffy while theirs comes out gloppy. I use the same amount of water as with brown rice, no more, and, after taking it off the heat, I let it steam in the pot. However, millet tends to dry out quickly, so when you reheat this dish, you must sprinkle a bit of water on top beforehand.

NOV 11 – 15

Firecracker Slaw  (my pic).

Firecracker Slaw (my pic).

1) Pureed Pumpkin & White Bean SoupV, GF, soy-free & no added sugars.  Ordered a case of organic pumpkin puree for this fiber-licious thick soup. White beans add protein, mire poix adds depth, and a little lime juice & cayenne adds kick. For a treat, add a dollop of sour cream that has been mixed with lime juice.  Perfect with a tart salad…like a slaw.

2) Firecracker Slaw in Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette.  V, GF, Paleo, soy-free & no added sugars. My standby all-star dish for demonstrations and holidays. Its bright colors, lively tang and considerable crunch will wake you up. Eat all you want, it’s zero points.

NOV 18 – 22

1) Caribbean Butter Bean Stew w/ Steamed Plantains. V, GF, soy-free & no added sugars. This was a big hit when I first served it in May. A light coconut sauce binds it all together. And hey, plantains are good carbs! From the terrific, must-buy “Appetite for Reduction” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

2) Jamaican Jerk Quinoa Pilaf w/ Corn.  V, GF, soy-free & no added sugars.  Instead of the stew being spicy, this time it’s the grain. Just for fun. If you want to cool it down, add yogurt.

Bring these dishes to a holiday meal and be prepared for profuse compliments!

Braised Collards, Bell Peppers & Raisins (my photo).

Braised Collards, Bell Peppers & Raisins (my photo).

1) Braised Collards w/ Red Bell Peppers & Raisins.  V, GF, Paleo, soy-free & no added sugars.  Another holiday favorite! There are many nice variations of this dish– Soul Food has one with orange juice — but my friend Carol is the source for this particular knock-out, for which I am forever thankful.

2) Roasted Tempeh & Potatoes in Chermoula SauceV, GF, no added sugars; contains soy. Savory Moroccan Chermoula herb paste does wonders for meats, beans, roots and grains. Here, it perfectly enhances nutty soy tempeh. This was a hearty vegan entree I served at a fall wedding.

Note: Please be aware that this week’s dishes will be priced slightly higher than usual.  Processing fresh collards take forever and organic tempeh is pricier than beans.

TO ORDER:  fill out & submit the online Order Form on this blog. You can order a bunch of dishes in advance or return to the form once a week, as you wish. Deadlines are Saturdays for deliveries the following week. See general info on Delivered Dish of the Week service.

PS: The Online Form lists the week, the name of each dish and its ingredients. These fuller Dish descriptions above are archived on the DDoW Menu Archive page in case you want to find them again. Or, search this blog for “DDoW”. 

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!





Upcoming Sampling & Catering


Art Fair at Swede Hollow Park, St Paul (photo Brad Griffith)

Art Fair at Swede Hollow Park, St Paul (photo Brad Griffith). My tent was right behind the music stage.

During Art in the Hollow Festival on June 1st, my stalwart demo dish, Firecracker Slaw, converted more skeptics to raw beets in salad. Ha! Mainly, I just want to share this photo of Swede Hollow park all decked out.

Sat June 15th:  Aunty Oxidant will be demoing with samples at the MN Horticultural Society’s Open House. 9am-1pm @ 2705 Lincoln Drive, Roseville (just north of Cty Rd C). Plant sale, master gardeners, crepe truck, coffee… a perfect morning.  I’ll bring Minty Radish Salad, made with farmers market veg and fresh spearmint. 

Ambiente Gallerie with privacy pods down.

Ambiente Gallerie with privacy pods down.

Ambiente Gallerie's "boomerang" doors.

Ambiente Gallerie with privacy pods up, view of side “boomerang” doors.

Fri June 21st: I’ll be one of two caterers handing out samples at a Wedding & Wellness Expo at Ambiente Gallerie, a chic, unique office, gallery & event venue in NE Mpls.  6pm – 9pm @ 505 1st Ave NE, Minneapolis, smack next door to the Red Stag. I catered a large gathering in this striking architectural space in May.

The Wellness & Wedding theme is a good fit for One Dish, since I specialize in tasty wholesome food that just happens to be healthful! In particular, I offer lots of vegan and gluten-free options. I think it’s safe to say many caterers do not.

In fact, I am catering a 200-guest wedding reception dinner next month, as well as a smaller BBQ in a couple weeks. Both clients want to make sure there will be good food for all their guests, from the vegans to the meat-lovers and those in between!

By the way, the wedding meal will feature a smorgasbord of desserts brought by the couple’s family & friends. This is a brilliant, practical solution to the “my big fat wedding cake” dilemma. Seems more couples these days want both more variety and a better bang-for-buck dessert than one expensive monolithic cake.

Next post:  Cooking Classes for Adults, Kids and Launchpad Young Adults.

Random Cooking Tips

I post daily on One Dish’s Facebook page about dishes and little tips from my teaching and cooking activities. Here are some recent ones.


Teens mix a simple salad dressing into cabbage & apple slaw. (photo Nicky Patnaude)

1) At my class at Boys & Girls Club (early Nov), we made a quick salad dressing of mayo + bottled Italian vinaigrette. I decided that my usual straight vinaigrette might be too different for these teens, and besides, those two condiments were in the Boys & Girls Club refrigerator. It was fine and, at least it wasn’t sweet like typical coleslaw dressing. One could scaffold  down the fat / dairy by reducing the ratio of mayo gradually so they don’t notice so much. One could blend vinaigrette with buttermilk which has less fat than mayo (and no egg). I usually skip dairy altogether and blend vinaigrette with silken tofu for a lovely creamy VEGAN dressing or dip. People don’t even notice it has no dairy. See recipe page and scroll to the bottom for Vegan Dill /Cilantro Dressing.

Chicken Mafe Stew with sweet potatoes and spinach (photo Nicky Patnaude).

2) Two great ways to make stews thick & creamy is to add nut butter and/or a little mashed potato or squash. This is especially nice with vegan gluten-free stews, in place of dairy and flour, since the nut butters add a rich creaminess. That’s what the teens and I did with the Chicken Mafë Stew and Lentil Mafë Stew. Mafë is a simple West African sauce of tomato sauce mixed with peanut butter. We added boiled cubed sweet potatoes and frozen chopped greens (spinach or collards) to both versions.

Lentil Sweet Potato Mafe Soup (my photo).

The next day, I added water to the Lentil stew and enjoyed it as comforting hearty soup along with a big bowl of slaw, for a filling, low-carb meal. This soup will inevitably appear on Delivered Dish of the Week menus quite soon.

If you’re sensitive to peanuts, you could use almond, cashew or soy nut butter. I was given samples of soy nut butter at the Food Allergy Resource Fair last Sat, which I’m eager to try.

3) When you make a long-simmered soup, throw in frozen corn cobs to enhance and sweeten the broth. Works great for both meat and vegetarian soups. My grandma used to make a very simple consomme of pork & corn cobs (all Chinese savory soups are consommes). All she did was simmer a cheap lean cut of pork shoulder with 2 frozen corn cobs. I don’t even remember any onions in it. Hours later, we enjoyed a clear low-fat broth with wonderful flavor. Per Chinese custom, we took out the pork and corn and served that separately from the broth. White rice and a green vegetable or two rounded out this meal. We dipped small pieces of tender pork in soy sauce and ate with rice. She liked to eat the niblets off the cob, but I disdained because I found the niblets had no flavor. All the corn essence and most of the pork flavor was in the broth.

This simple soup is perfect for a crockpot. If making a vegetarian soup, use veggie broth/bouillon and add onions, carrots etc. Ten minutes before you’re ready to eat, remove the cobs and throw in frozen corn niblets and frozen or fresh spinach.

I particularly like to use sweet corn broth as stock for thick White Bean Soup with Dill.

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.

Transforming school lunch

Not your father’s lunch line. Photo from iatp.org; used under creative commons license from USDAgov.

Gov Dayton has proclaimed September as official Farm to School Month in MN! Paraphrasing the IATP blog (Institute of Agricultural Trade Policy): “Farm to School initiatives link school-age children with local foods and the farmers who produced them. At 145 school districts serving two-thirds of Minnesota’s K-12 students, students are learning where their food comes from, trying fresh foods they haven’t eaten before and learning to grow food in school gardens.”  Read the press release here.


IATP created a terrific video of a Farm-to-School project in Arlington MN “Sibley East High School: Growing a Better School Lunch” which includes comments by student farmers and the Lunch Ladies who’ve learned to use fresh produce for lunch and also freeze the bounty for later.

 It’s a wonderful year with all our fresh fruits & vegetables… Our students here really really like it. Yes it is more work but when you see the faces of the students — “oh is this from the garden?! — and [the news] goes down the line… So they give really good feedback.

I enjoy eating the food we grow cuz it’s like we’re getting back all the effort we put into it, says a senior.

Students, and probably adults too, are “trying fresh foods they haven’t eaten before” — now that is what I like to hear! Very cool things are happening all over MN. TONS of info, resources & tool-kits on Farm2Schoolmn.org.

Nice job, St Paul Public Schools! from School Food Focus.

Another great resource organization: School Food FOCUS (transforming Food Options for Children in Urban Schools).

And, UK chef Jamie Oliver’s infamous attack on unhealthful food served in public schools and his resulting Foundation.