Sanitation, Safety Class and Knife Skills

You can use this for many other classes. Safety and Sanitation ALWAYS comes first!

Day 1:

Introduction:

Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives is the mantra for this program.

When you understand the foods that support your health, and then you learn to create sumptuous meals for you and the people in your life, you feel satisfied and contented.

In the Kitchen:

Kids, like most adults, simply want to jump in and make homemade pizza, but there are basics that need to be learned first, for safety and sanitation reasons, of course, but also so one knows how to measure properly, what size and type of pan to use and other basic information needed for a successful kitchen experience.

Safety and Sanitation:

Before you enter the kitchen, tie your hair back if you have long hair, and if you’re sick, stay out of the kitchen altogether. Next wash your hands in warm, soapy water. If you have any cuts or sores, be sure to cover with a bandage. While you’re in the kitchen, if you sneeze, cough, touch your hair, nose or any other body part, or eat, please wash your hands again. You obviously wash your hands well after you use the restroom. If you handle raw meat or fish, please wash your hands before touching any other food. Ideally your clothes and aprons should be clean.

Here are some very important tips to always keep in mind when you’re in the kitchen:

  • When you work with food, keep raw foods away from cooked foods.
  • Keep food away from cleaning products.
  • Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before preparation.
  • Rinse off your meats and fish as well, pat dry and leave in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. Raw and thawing meats and fish should always be kept on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to avoid dripping and contamination.
  • Do not thaw foods at room temperature; thaw in a proper container in the refrigerator. Do not refreeze food after it’s been thawed.
  • Food needs to be held at proper temperatures to avoid the growth of bacteria that can make you sick. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Stuffed meat and reheated leftovers should be kept at 165 degrees, beef and other hot food, 140 degrees, fish and poultry, 145 degrees and cooked pork, hamburgers and eggs, 155 degrees.

Kitchens can be dangerous places, with sharp equipment and hot stoves! It was my experience when I had my cooking school that, in order of accidents, potato peelers, graters, knives, and hot stoves and ovens, were the major culprits. With some very basic and very important rules, well learned, accidents rarely happen.

A tip for adults working with kids in the kitchen is to try not to hover. I understand the nervousness about watching an eight-year hold with a knife, but hovering only makes them nervous and makes the kitchen a stressful place, when it should be a warm, nurturing place. When they understand basic kitchen safety and the proper use of equipment such as knives, they’ll be fine.

There is one basic rule when working in the kitchen-stay focused on the job at hand! If you are grating or chopping, your eyes are on that knife and cutting board and nowhere else. When this is learned, accidents rarely happen.

Let’s begin with knives. When choosing a knife, how does it feel in your hand? A ten year old with relatively small hands wouldn’t be comfortable using a twelve-inch chef knife. A good knife can last a lifetime, so choose your knife carefully. A knife store with salespeople who really understand all the intricacies of knives is an invaluable source of information. Here are some basics:

The knife has a blade, which does the cutting. The example, below, is a typical western knife that is sharp on both sides. Japanese knives have blades that are sharp on only one side, as they believe they cut more effectively.

There are various types of blades:

Carbon steel – Our ‘knife-guy’s’ favorite knife because it takes a great edge but discolors when they come in contact with anything acidic like tomatoes or citrus fruit. A carbon knife will rust so be sure to clean and dry them after every use.

Stainless Steel – They don’t rust so taking care of them is much easier, however, they are difficult to keep a good sharp edge.

High carbon stainless steel – Tough, holds an edge and they don’t discolor. The carbon adds strength to stainless but also more cost. A good choice.

Titanium – Much lighter than steel, holds its edge, and is also flexible, so it is a better choice for boning and filleting knives.

The spine is opposite the blade and adds weight and stability. The tip of a knife is at the point and is used for inserting the knife into something and for cutting small items. The tang is that piece of metal that extends from the blade to the back of the knife and the handle attaches to. The tang also gives a knife some weight and balance. Better knives have tangs.

The bolster is that little collar that separates the blade and the handle and adds strength and balance. The bolster can run from the spine to the edge or just part way. You hold onto the handle and it’s important for the handle to feel good in your hand. It can be made out of wood, plastic, composite or stainless steel.

Knives are blocked, forged or sintered.

  • Blocked knives are cut from a single sheet of metal usually of the same thickness. Think of using a cookie cutter on rolled dough. The blades are then ground to form the edge and handles are added to the tang. They typically don’t have bolsters and are less expensive to make and therefore buy.
  • Forged knives, as the name suggest, are forged, and not stamped. The manufacturer takes metal, heats it up and pounds it into the correct shape using a drop forge machine. These knives typically have bolsters, more weight, and thicker bolsters and cost more to produce. They are better balanced knife that when taken care of properly, can last a lifetime.
  • Sintered knives, or Eastern-style knives, is a process where they take a separate blade and fuse it to a separate tang.

Whatever type of knives you choose, you must frequently sharpen them, as a sharp knife is safer than a dull knife. With a dull knife you exert more pressure on the knife, which generally means more accidents. Always hand-wash your knives, dry properly and store where they won’t rub against other knives. Besides a chef’s knife, you will also need a paring knife, which has a short blade and is used for small jobs, a bread or serrated knife, a boning knife for removing meat from joints and a carving knife, for carving and slicing meat.

A few last tips: never try to catch a falling knife! When you carry a knife it should point down and the blade should face backwards. Carry it close to you but not against your body. When you carry your knife to the sink, carry it by itself and not on your cutting board where it could fall. Do not place knives in a sink full of dirty dishes as in retrieving them; you could grab the blade by mistake.

Cutting boards can be made of any number of material, wood, plastic, bamboo or composite, which are various material fused or glued together. Wood boards are the easiest on your knives, but cannot be put in the dishwasher, plastic boards and composite boards can be washed in the dishwasher, but gouges can harbor bacteria, bamboo is a sustainable wood product; whichever you choose, wash it carefully between uses.

Now that you understand more about knives, you need to learn basic knife cuts. The proper knife cut affects cooking time and visual appeal.

Basic Knife Cuts:

Julienne: A stick cut. Strips 2-2 ½ inches long. 1/8” X 1/8”

Batonnet: A strip cut. Strips 2-2 ½ inches long. ¼” X ¼”

Brunoise: A dice cut. 1/8” X 1/8” X 1/8”. Made from cutting a julienne.

Small Dice: A dice cut. ¼” X ¼” X ¼”. Made from cutting a Batonnet.

Medium Dice: A dice cut. ½” X ½” X ½”.

Large Dice: A dice cut. ¾” X ¾” X ¾”

Mince: Small cut with no specific dimensions made by rocking the knife back and forth.

Chiffonade: Stacked leaves, rolled up, then sliced thinly.

Roll Cut: Slice vegetable on the diagonal, roll vegetable 90 degrees and slice gain

Diagonal Cut: Oval shaped slices. Made by cutting the ingredient at an angle. The knife is held at an angle–the more the angle the shorter the cooking time.

Ready to begin!

You are almost ready to begin, but before you do so, read the recipe completely to make sure you have all the ingredients. Next mise en place your ingredients, get out all necessary equipment and you’re ready!

Recipe Tips:

  • Read through the recipe carefully to make sure that you understand the ingredients and directions. Make sure all ingredients meet your dietary needs.
  • Make sure that you can perform all the techniques.
  • Look at the recipe yield and decide if the number of servings is what you need. Check that you have all the necessary equipment and ingredients.
  • Make sure that you have adequate time to prepare and cook, if needed, the recipe.
  • Check whether you can (or need to) make any part of the recipe ahead of time.
  • Check whether an ingredient is divided, so that you don’t make the mistake of using that ingredient all at once.
  • Find out whether you need to preheat the oven.

Recipe grammar is important! One cup chopped nuts is not the same as 1 cup nuts, chopped. Read carefully.

Kids and Climate Change Class

The purpose of the Kids and Climate Change Class was to educate kids about aspects of climate change, and then empower them with information so that they know that what they do to help matters. This happened while they learned how to make Minestrone Soup with Farro. Kids always enjoy cooking, and love knife skills. They especially loved eating their delicious, nutritious soup at a communal table. Such a great class!

Tips. Recipes. Anatomy/Digestive Lesson

Whether you’re a teacher to other people’s kids, or you want ideas for your own, here are some ideas for you.

Introduction:

Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives is the mantra for this program.

When you understand the foods that support your health, and then you learn to create sumptuous meals for you and the people in your life, you feel satisfied and contented.

In the Kitchen:

Kids, like most adults, simply want to jump in and make homemade pizza, but there are basics that need to be learned first, for safety and sanitation reasons, of course, but also so one knows how to measure properly, what size and type of pan to use and other basic information needed for a successful kitchen experience.

Safety and Sanitation:

Before you enter the kitchen, tie your hair back if you have long hair, and if you’re sick, stay out of the kitchen altogether. Next wash your hands in warm, soapy water. If you have any cuts or sores, be sure to cover with a bandage. While you’re in the kitchen, if you sneeze, cough, touch your hair, nose or any other body part, or eat, please wash your hands again. You obviously wash your hands well after you use the restroom. If you handle raw meat or fish, please wash your hands before touching any other food. Ideally your clothes and aprons should be clean.

Here are some very important tips to always keep in mind when you’re in the kitchen:

When you work with food, keep raw foods away from cooked foods.

Keep food away from cleaning products.

Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before preparation.

Rinse off your meats and fish as well, pat dry and leave in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. Raw and thawing meats and fish should always be kept on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to avoid dripping and contamination.

Do not thaw foods at room temperature; thaw in a proper container in the refrigerator. Do not refreeze food after it’s been thawed.

Food needs to be held at proper temperatures to avoid the growth of bacteria that can make you sick. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Stuffed meat and reheated leftovers should be kept at 165 degrees, beef and other hot food, 140 degrees, fish and poultry, 145 degrees and cooked pork, hamburgers and eggs, 155 degrees.

Kitchens can be dangerous places, with sharp equipment and hot stoves! It was my experience when I had my cooking school that, in order of accidents, potato peelers, graters, knives, and hot stoves and ovens, were the major culprits. With some very basic and very important rules, well learned, accidents rarely happen.

A tip for adults working with kids in the kitchen is to try not to hover. I understand the nervousness about watching an eight-year hold with a knife, but hovering only makes them nervous and makes the kitchen a stressful place, when it should be a warm, nurturing place. When they understand basic kitchen safety and the proper use of equipment such as knives, they’ll be fine.

The importance of pan sizes:

You just made your favorite brownie recipe, which calls for a 9” X 9” pan. If you cook brownies that call for a 9” X 9” pan in a 9” X 13” pan, the batter will be thinly spread across the pan and the brownies will end up more like a cookie. You’ll be disappointed in the results. Pan size is a very important part of baking and cooking.

As an example of how to alter some-not all- recipes; if you are making a cake and it calls for a 11 X 4 1/2 X 2 ¾” pan, which by the below chart is 50 square inches, and you don’t have such a pan, then you can use the 8 X 1 ½ “ round pan as it is the same square inches. Cooking time might have to be adjusted, as a greater surface area would take less time to cook. Pans are measured across the top of the pan between the inside edges.

Square and rectangular pans

7 ¾ X 3 5/8 X 2 ¼”…….28 sq. inches

8 X 8 X 1 ½” ……64 sq. inches

9 X 5 X 2 ¾” ……45 square inches

9 X 9 X 1 ½” …..81 sq. inches

11 X 4 ½ X 2 ¾” …….50 sq. inches

11 X 7 X 1 ½” …..77 sq. inches

13 X 9 X 2” ….117 square inches

15 X 10 X 2”….150 sq. inches

15 ½ X 10 ½ X 1”……163 sq. inches

16 X 5 X 4 “ …..80 sq. inches

Round pans

8 X 1 ½”…….50 sq. inches

9 X 1 ½”……..64 square inches

10 X 1 ½”…….79 square inches

Another note regarding cake pans is that the type of pan it is has an effect on the end result. A glass or enamel pan or pans of a dark color will hold more heat and make for a browner crust. If you have these pans, but do not want the darker crust, you can reduce the heat by 25 degrees, but use the same baking time. If you have shiny metal pans, your crust will be thinner and less brown.

Oven temperatures:

Remember to always pre-heat your oven at least 10 minutes before baking to allow it to come up to temperature.  High temperature recipes can take 20 minutes for the oven to reach the required temperature.

Very slow …250 degrees or below

Slow …300 degrees

Moderately slow….325 degrees

Moderate ….350 degrees

Moderately hot…375 degrees

Hot….400 degrees

Very hot…425 degrees or higher

Lastly, you need to know how to measure dry and liquid ingredients.

Dry ingredients:

With dry ingredients, you scoop up the flour (or whatever) and level the top of the measuring cup with a knife. Do not press ingredients down before leveling.

3 teaspoons=1 tablespoon=1/2 ounce

2 tablespoons=1/8 cup=1 ounce

4 tablespoons=1/4 cup=2 ounce

5 1/3 tablespoons=1/3 cup=2.6 ounce

8 tablespoons=1/2 cup=4 ounces

12 tablespoons=3/4 cup=6 ounces

16 tablespoons=1 cup=8 ounces

32 tablespoons=2 cups=16 ounce

Liquid Ingredients:

Place the measuring cup on a flat service to make sure the liquid is at the proper line on the measuring cup.

2 tablespoons=1 fluid ounce

¼ cup=2 fl.oz.

½ cup=4 fl.oz.

1 cup=8 fl.oz.

1 ½ cups=12 fl.oz.

2 cups or 1 pint=16 fl.oz.

4 cups or 1 quart=32 fl.oz.

1 gallon=128 fl.oz

Ready to begin!

You are almost ready to begin, but before you do so, read the recipe completely to make sure you have all the ingredients. Next mise en place your ingredients, get out all necessary equipment and you’re ready!

Recipe Tips:

  • Read through the recipe carefully to make sure that you understand the ingredients and directions. Make sure all ingredients meet your dietary needs.
  • Make sure that you can perform all the techniques.
  • Look at the recipe yield and decide if the number of servings is what you need. Check that you have all the necessary equipment and ingredients.
  • Make sure that you have adequate time to prepare and cook, if needed, the recipe.
  • Check whether you can (or need to) make any part of the recipe ahead of time.
  • Check whether an ingredient is divided, so that you don’t make the mistake of using that ingredient all at once.
  • Find out whether you need to preheat the oven.

Recipe grammar is important! One cup chopped nuts is not the same as 1 cup nuts, chopped.  Sometimes you measure an ingredient and then prepare it and sometimes you prepare the ingredient and then measure it.

Ghee or Clarified Butter

We’ll use this for various recipes this week.

Take 1 pound of organic, unsalted butter and melt in over medium-low. Skim the white foam off the top. Let simmer over low heat until the milk solids on the bottom have turned a light brown; about 15 minutes. Filter though a coffee filter or cheesecloth into a jar. Ghee does not burn like butter. It’s often used in Indian cooking. This will keep for approximately 1 month.

 

A Tip for ‘quick breads’:

Carbon dioxide is necessary for leavening, or causing tiny air pockets in, the pancakes or muffins. Excessive blending of the batter causes early formation and escape of carbon dioxide gas. Over-mixing can overdevelop the gluten (a protein) in the flour. While some of this protein is necessary for the normal texture of pancakes, too much gluten can produce tough, chewy pancakes and muffins. For best results, stop mixing the batter before all the tiny clumps of flour are gone.

Oat Bran Muffins

Serves 12

2 cups oat bran (not oatmeal)

1/2 cup sugar*

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup milk or other liquid. I used Chai once.

3/4 cup applesauce or pumpkin puree or prune puree

2 eggs

1 cup apple, grated

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, chopped

1/3 cup almonds, chopped

1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly oil the muffin pan or use paper muffin cups.

Mix together first 5 ingredients. In a small bowl mix together the milk, applesauce and egg; stir well and add the grated apple. Stir briefly into the dry ingredients with the pumpkin seeds, almonds and raisins.

Spoon into prepared muffin pan and bake for 15-17 minutes.

Notes:

* Use non-refined sugar such as Sucanat or Rapadura

You may use walnuts instead of almonds and dried apricots, cranberries or cherries instead of raisins. I have also added 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of chopped sunflower seeds.

A bite of food and you:

Where does digestion begin? Let’s use a slice of pizza as an example. Digestion begins in the brain when you first notice that beautiful crust topped with all your favorites—sight, perhaps sound and most acutely smell all kick in to begin the digestion process of that first bite.

Is your mouth watering? It’s supposed to! The salivary glands in your mouth produce saliva that contains an enzyme, salivary amylase, which moistens the food and begins the chemical digestion of carbohydrates.

Next your teeth chew the food, hopefully very well, as that affects digestion and nutrient absorption. So far you have been in control, you voluntarily bit into that slice of pizza and also chose to chew well. That chewed piece of food you’re about to swallow is now called a bolus. After you’ve swallowed the bite, everything else is involuntary.

Swallowed food is pushed first into the pharynx, a tube-like structure behind the nasal cavities and the mouth. Air must pass through the pharynx on the way to the lungs and food on the way to the stomach. Next, that masticated (chewed) bite of pizza passes into the esophagus, which connects the throat above with the stomach below. At the junction of the esophagus and stomach, there is a ring-like muscle, called the lower esophageal sphincter that closes the passage between the two organs. As food approaches the closed sphincter, the sphincter relaxes and allows the food to pass through to the stomach.

Next is the stomach, a muscular bag, with three main parts. The top is called the fundus. The middle is called the body of the stomach. The bottom is called the antrum or pylorus.

The lining of the stomach contains glands, which make and secrete stomach juices. The stomach juices contain an acid and a digestive enzyme called pepsin. These began to flow as soon as you saw and smelled that slice of pizza, well before food entered your stomach. The enzyme starts to break down (digest) proteins in the food so that the body can absorb them. The acid is needed for the enzyme to work properly. It also helps to kill bacteria that might be in the food, protecting against food poisoning. Stomach acids sterilize your food.

That bite of pizza you took looks nothing like a bite of pizza anymore, especially after it hits the stomach and stomach acids. First the muscle of the upper part of the stomach relaxes to accept the swallowed material. Next the muscles of the stomach wall begin powerful contractions, which pass over the stomach in waves. This movement of organ walls, which propels food and liquid through the system from one organ to the next, is called peristalsis. These muscle contractions mix up the food, liquid and digestive juices and break it down until it is a thick liquid. The third task of the stomach is to empty its contents slowly into the small intestine.

Some foods stay in the stomach longer than others. Carbohydrates spend the least amount of time in the stomach, while protein stays in the stomach longer, and fats the longest.

The stomach makes another chemical (the intrinsic factor) that is needed for the body to absorb a vitamin called vitamin B12. This vitamin is needed by the body to help make red blood cells and to helps to maintain a healthy nervous system.

So why doesn’t our stomach eat itself with all these acids? There are other glands in the stomach lining that make thick mucus. This mucus helps to protect the stomach lining from being damaged by the acid and protein-digesting enzyme in the stomach juices.

After the stomach empties the food and juice mixture into the first part of the small intestines, the duodenum, the juices of two other digestive organs mix with the food that is now called chyme. One of these organs is the liver, which produces bile, a digestive juice. Bile is stored in the gallbladder. It is squeezed out of the gallbladder, through the bile ducts, and into the intestine to mix with the fat in food. The bile acids dissolve fat into the contents of the intestine. The other organ is the pancreas, which produces pancreatic enzymes that break down the carbohydrate, fat, and protein in food.

The next small intestine section is the jejunum, followed by the ileum, which leads to the large intestine. These two sections absorb nutrients and water more than they break down food. The intestinal wall contains blood vessels that carry the absorbed nutrients to the liver through the portal vein. The intestinal wall also releases water and mucus, which lubricates the intestinal contents, which dissolves the digested fragments. Small amounts of enzymes that digest proteins, sugars, and fats are also released. The mucosa of the small intestine contains many folds that are covered with tiny fingerlike projections called villi. In turn, the villi are covered with microscopic projections called microvilli. These structures create a vast surface area through which nutrients can be absorbed.

Once all the nutrients are taken from the food, the indigestible parts are transported to the large intestines. Like the small intestines, the large intestines have three parts. The first is called the cecum. Next comes the colon, which has three sections: ascending, transverse and descending. In the first two sections, salts and fluids are absorbed from the indigestible food. Billions of bacteria that live in the colon help to ferment and absorb substances like fiber. The products of this process include cells that have been shed from the mucosa and undigested parts of the food, known as fiber.  While these tracts absorb, they also produce mucus that helps feces move easily through the descending colon and into the third part of the large intestine: the rectum. Your feces or stool is approximately thirty percent bacteria, thirty percent indigestible matter like fiber, and forty percent inorganic waste like chemicals from processed foods and bodily waste like old red blood cells. Lastly, feces is excreted through your anus in your bowel movement, triggered by nerves that tell you it’s time to go!

That’s it! Your digestive system, like the rest of your body, is truly amazing.

Digestive System

 

Garden Cake

We all know that kids eat way too much sugar, so at DirectionFive, we encourage healthy eating, with desserts being an occasional treat. When we do have desserts we ‘tweak’ recipes so that they contain healthier ingredients. That said, we don’t beat anyone over the head with a carrot, and kids love to pipe frosting on that beautiful cupcake they made. It’s all about balance.

Garden Cake

This delicious cake is full of vegetables.

Serves 12

1/2 cup walnut oil

1/2 cup applesauce

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup raw grated carrots

1 cup raw grated zucchini

1/2 cup raw grated beets

1 cup chocolate chips, optional

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 X 13″ pan.

In a large bowl mix the oil, eggs and sugar, beating well with a hand mixer or whisk for 3-4 minutes.

Wash the vegetables well, but there is no need to peel any of them. Grate all the vegetables and set aside. Place the beets in a separate bowl so the other veggies don’t turn pink.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir into wet ingredients.

Add shredded carrots, zucchini, beets, chocolate chips and walnuts. Stir until blended and pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Basic Sauce and Biochemical Individuals

Béchamel Sauce with Variations
The sauce everyone should know how to make

Serves 4
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup warmed milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 pinch nutmeg, freshly ground, optional

Heat the butter or oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, mixing thoroughly as you go. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes.
Slowly whisk in a small amount of milk to form a smooth paste. Continue until all the milk has been whisked in and the sauce is thick. Add sea salt & nutmeg to taste.

Variations:
Mornay Sauce
Add 1/2 cup grated cheese to 1 cup of hot sauce; stir over low heat until cheese is melted. Season with a little mustard or Worcestershire sauce to taste.

Velouté Sauce
Substitute chicken, beef, fish, or vegetable broth for the milk.

Herb Sauce
Add 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped herbs or 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs to 1 cup of hot sauce. Cook for a minute or two longer to get more flavor from the herbs.

Cream Sauce
Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of heavy cream to the finished sauce. For an onion flavor, add an onion slice to the milk when heating; remove onion slice before adding milk to flour and butter mixture.

Mustard Sauce
Combine 1 teaspoon dry mustard to flour used in sauce. This sauce is especially good with fish and chicken.

Biochemical Individuals:

We are all biochemical individuals and therefore nutrition information as well as exercise programs and health advice should be altered to suit your particular needs. The intake percentage for fats, carbohydrates and proteins are estimates based on the “average” person of good health. Some people need slightly more protein to feel their best, some need less. An individual with, for instance, diabetes, might consume fewer carbohydrates.

Growing children might require increased protein and good fats, etc. Most food guides use a base of a 2,000-calorie a day diet though an individual’s calorie requirements depends on their stature, level of physical excursion and any health anomalies. Recommended portions are based on this caloric number. Portion sizes have increased dramatically over the past 20 years and a portion of brown rice might now be 1-2 cups, when, for most, it should be 1⁄2 cup. Do be cognizant of your portion sizes.

There are certain constants for all
; antioxidants, natural body chemicals that reduce the oxidative damage caused by free-radicals, are necessary for everyone’s health. A free radical is an unstable molecule with an unpaired electron, which can cause oxidative damage to cells or tissues. Antioxidants scavenge and destroy free-radicals and are found in leafy green vegetables such as kale and chard, as well as the carotenes such as carrots, yellow squash and sweet potatoes, etc. Free-radicals are created by such health-diminishing activities as smoking, alcohol consumption and exposure to toxins, to name a few. Vitamin and mineral supplements can be a useful tool to help maintain health and a good-quality multivitamin is recommended to boost anti-oxidant levels and other important nutrients.

A whole food is a foodstuff that is in its natural, unaltered state, unrefined state, i.e., brown rice, not white rice. Whole foods offer the health-supporting nutrients required for optimum health and should be a part of everyone’s diet. Avoid processed foods and consume nutrient-dense whole foods.

The glycemic index is a system, which measures the extent of which various foods raise blood sugar levels. The benchmark is white bread, which has a GI (Glycemic Index) of 100: the higher the score, the greater the extent of the rise in blood sugar. A starchy vegetable such as a potato or yam has a higher GI score than that of a non-starchy vegetable such as kale or spinach. Diets full of high-glycemic foods can lead to insulin resistance, obesity, unhealthy levels of blood fats and possibly adult-on-set diabetes.

Whole-grains, as an example, have a lower GI than their refined counterparts (again, the example of brown rice to white rice) as the fiber in the whole grain slows the absorption of sugar into the system.

creamy mushroom stroganoff

Macronutrients: Protein and Chicken Noodle Soup

Macronutrients:
Macro means large and nutrients are needed for your body’s survival. There are three macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

Protein
Protein is from the Greek word, ‘proto’ meaning first or of first quality. Protein is an umbrella word for the twenty-two organic amino acids, of which thirteen are non essential to our diet, meaning our body can synthesize them. The other nine are essential amino acids meaning it is essential that we obtain them from our diet.

Proteins build and maintain our body tissues, help produce antibodies, enzymes and hormones such as insulin. Protein is the primary component of muscles, skin, nails, hair and internal organs, especially the heart. Each gram of protein releases four calories or units of heat or energy for the body. Your intake of protein should be approximately 25% of your daily caloric intake.

The average woman needs fifty to sixty grams of protein a day and the average man needs sixty to seventy grams of protein a day. These are very general, as lactating women need additional protein, as just one example. For children the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is based on body weight and included age-related adjustments. Multiply your child’s weight in pounds by the number of grams of protein needed per pound of body weight to calculate their daily protein requirements. Remember that everyone is a biochemical individual so your protein requirements might not fit into the ‘average’ category.

Ages 1 to 3 – 0.81 grams (child’s weight in pounds x 0.81 = daily grams of protein)
Ages 4 to 6 – 0.68 grams
Ages 7 to 10 – 0.55 grams

Sources of protein are fish, meat, poultry, tofu and eggs, which are complete proteins, meaning they have all the essential amino acids. You can combine various ingredients so as to have a complete protein: rice and beans, grains and legumes, and nuts or seeds with dairy.

Chicken Vegetable Soup with Noodles

Serves 4

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 Cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2″ thick slices
2 ribs celery, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2″ thick slices
1 cup broccoli, cut into small pieces
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 1/2 quarts chicken broth
4 ounces dried wide egg noodles
1 whole bay leaf
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 large tomato, chopped
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, stems removed, finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, broccoli, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken broth and bring the liquid to a boil.

Add the noodles and let simmer for about 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken and fresh tomatoes and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Variations for eating seasonally:
Spring: Peas, asparagus, beet greens, carrots, celery, collard greens, chives, parsley, green garlic
Summer: Tomatoes, green beans, corn, red pepper (not too much,) summer squashes, basil
Autumn: Potatoes, corn, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, broccoli, pumpkin, shallots, turnips, parsnips
Winter: Broccoli, cabbage, chard, kale, parsnips, winter squashes, turnips, yams

Pan Sizes and Garden Cake

The importance of pan sizes:

You just made your favorite brownie recipe, which calls for a 9” X 9” pan. If you cook brownies that call for a 9” X 9” pan in a 9” X 13” pan, the batter will be thinly spread across the pan and the brownies will end up more like a cookie. You’ll be disappointed in the results. Pan size is a very important part of baking and cooking.
As an example of how to alter some-not all- recipes; if you are making a cake and it calls for a 11 X 4 1/2 X 2 ¾” pan, which by the below chart is 50 square inches, and you don’t have such a pan, then you can use the 8 X 1 ½ “ round pan as it is the same square inches. Cooking time might have to be adjusted, as a greater surface area would take less time to cook. Pans are measured across the top of the pan between the inside edges.

Square and rectangular pans
7 ¾ X 3 5/8 X 2 ¼”…….28 sq. inches
8 X 8 X 1 ½” ……64 sq. inches
9 X 5 X 2 ¾” ……45 square inches
9 X 9 X 1 ½” …..81 sq. inches
11 X 4 ½ X 2 ¾” …….50 sq. inches
11 X 7 X 1 ½” …..77 sq. inches
13 X 9 X 2” ….117 square inches
15 X 10 X 2”….150 sq. inches
15 ½ X 10 ½ X 1”……163 sq. inches
16 X 5 X 4 “ …..80 sq. inches

Round pans
8 X 1 ½”…….50 sq. inches
9 X 1 ½”……..64 square inches
10 X 1 ½”…….79 square inches

Another note regarding cake pans is that the type of pan it is has an effect on the end result. A glass or enamel pan or pans of a dark color will hold more heat and make for a browner crust. If you have these pans, but do not want the darker crust, you can reduce the heat by 25 degrees, but use the same baking time. If you have shiny metal pans, your crust will be thinner and less brown.

Garden Cake
This delicious cake is full of vegetables and we’ve found it’s a favorite. Dense, gooey and delicious!
Serves 12

1/2 cup walnut oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup raw grated carrots
1 cup raw grated zucchini
1/2 cup raw grated beets
1 cup chocolate chips, optional
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 X 13″ pan.

In a large bowl mix the oil, eggs and sugar, beating well with a hand mixer or whisk for 3-4 minutes.

Wash the vegetables well, but there is no need to peel any of them. Grate all the vegetables and set aside. Place the beets in a separate bowl so the other veggies don’t turn pink.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir into wet ingredients.

Add the shredded carrots, zucchini, beets, chocolate chips and walnuts. Stir until blended and pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Safety and Sanitation. Oat Bran Muffins

Safety and Sanitation:

Before you enter the kitchen, tie your hair back if you have long hair, and if you’re sick, stay out of the kitchen altogether. Next wash your hands in warm, soapy water. If you have any cuts or sores, be sure to cover with a bandage. While you’re in the kitchen, if you sneeze, cough, touch your hair, nose or any other body part, or eat, please wash your hands again. You obviously wash your hands well after you use the restroom. If you handle raw meat or fish, please wash your hands before touching any other food. Ideally your clothes and aprons should be clean.

Here are some very important tips to always keep in mind when you’re in the kitchen:

• When you work with food, keep raw foods away from cooked foods.
• Keep food away from cleaning products.
• Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before preparation.
• Rinse off your meats and fish as well, pat dry and leave in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. Raw and thawing meats and fish should always be kept on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to avoid dripping and contamination.
• Do not thaw foods at room temperature; thaw in a proper container in the refrigerator. Do not refreeze food after it’s been thawed.
• Food needs to be held at proper temperatures to avoid the growth of bacteria that can make you sick. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Stuffed meat and reheated leftovers should be kept at 165 degrees, beef and other hot food, 140 degrees, fish and poultry, 145 degrees and cooked pork, hamburgers and eggs, 155 degrees.
Kitchens can be dangerous places, with sharp equipment and hot stoves! It was my experience when I had my cooking school that, in order of accidents, potato peelers, graters, knives, and hot stoves and ovens, were the major culprits. With some very basic and very important rules, well learned, accidents rarely happen.

A tip for adults working with kids in the kitchen is to try not to hover. I understand the nervousness about watching an eight-year hold with a knife, but hovering only makes them nervous and makes the kitchen a stressful place, when it should be a warm, nurturing place. When they understand basic kitchen safety and the proper use of equipment such as knives, they’ll be fine.
There is one basic rule when working in the kitchen-stay focused on the job at hand! If you are grating or chopping, your eyes are on that knife and cutting board and nowhere else. When this is learned, accidents rarely happen.

A Tip for ‘quick breads’:
Carbon dioxide is necessary for leavening, or causing tiny air pockets in, the pancakes or muffins. Excessive blending of the batter causes early formation and escape of carbon dioxide gas. Over-mixing can overdevelop the gluten (a protein) in the flour. While some of this protein is necessary for the normal texture of pancakes, too much gluten can produce tough, chewy pancakes and muffins. For best results, stop mixing the batter before all the tiny clumps of flour are gone.

Oat Bran Muffins
Serves 12

2 cups oat bran
1/2 cup sugar*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup milk or other liquid. We used Chai once.
3/4 cup applesauce or pumpkin puree or prune puree
2 eggs
1 cup apple, grated
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, chopped
1/3 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly oil the muffin pan or use paper muffin cups.

Mix together first 5 ingredients. In a small bowl mix together the milk, applesauce and egg; stir well and add the grated apple. Stir briefly into the dry ingredients with the pumpkin seeds, almonds and raisins.
Spoon into prepared muffin pan and bake for 15-17 minutes.

Notes:
* Use non-refined sugar such as Sucanat or Rapadura
You may use walnuts instead of almonds and dried apricots, cranberries or cherries instead of raisins. I have also added 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of chopped sunflower seeds.

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An Easy Breakfast….

Here’s an easy breakfast that we’ve found all kidd like! You-or better yet the kids- can put together in about one minute at night, for an easy breakfast.

Oats and Chai Breakfast

For one serving, place in a Mason jar or bowl:

2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon old fashioned oats
10 raw walnuts, or other nuts, lightly chopped
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
A pinch of sea salt
1 cup almond or other milk

Stir together, place in the refrigerator for at least a couple hours, or over night.

In the morning, stir in fresh berries.

Enjoy!

Oats and Chia

Sandwich Ideas

With school back in full-swing sandwiches can go from creative and inspired to quick, easy, and sometimes boring.

Some simple tips are to use bread that is at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per slice, and heap on the veggies! In that school lunch also ad some kind of veggies-carrot and celery stick and red pepper slices are perfect, and if you like a nice piece of fruit.

Here are some sandwich ideas for you!

Sandwiches:

Sometimes the spread can really perk up your sandwich. Try the Chipotle Dressing on the Mexican Wrap, Garlic Herb Aioli on the Peasant Loaf, or spread your High Tea sandwich with Maitre d’ Butter. Sometimes it’s all about inspiration.

Peasant Loaf
Cut crusty French or Italian bread in half lengthwise, brush with olive oil or butter, fill with thin slices of Gruyere cheese, fresh thyme leaves, mixed salad greens, thinly sliced tomatoes and red onions, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.

High Tea Sandwiches: Have a tea party!
Use thinly sliced bread of your choosing, spread with butter or mayonnaise (regular or vegan-type) and fill with thinly sliced radishes, thinly sliced English cucumber, chopped scallions, watercress, and fresh or dried dill.

Tuscan Grill
Fill wholegrain bread, rolls or pizza dough with leftover grilled vegetables–bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini or summer squash, tomatoes, onions. Use season-appropriate vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil and fresh herbs. Ratatouille will work if you have leftovers.

Asian Inspired
Sauté onion, celery, garlic, ginger, and Asian greens (Chinese cabbage, bok choy, etc) in a little sesame oil and soy sauce until tender. Spread a piece of pita bread or a wrap lightly with peanut butter and stuff or roll with veggie mixture.

Chapati
Spread one half of a chapati or other soft bread, flatbread, or pita with egg salad made with diced green or red onions, radishes and curry powder to taste. Add lettuce or spinach and fold in half to serve.

Middle Eastern
Spread halved whole-grain bagels with cream cheese and hummus or baba ganoush, thinly sliced cucumbers, chopped lettuce and tomato, and toasted sesame seeds.

The Herbal Power House
Place the following on a whole-grain roll — mayonnaise, sliced Monterey Jack cheese, alfalfa sprouts, sliced tomato, grated carrots, and a sprinkling of parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano.

Mexican Wrap
Mix leftover cooked beans, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack, chopped jalapeno chilies, chopped fresh tomatoes, grated jicama, salsa, sour cream, and chopped fresh cilantro in a wrap.

Portobello Sandwich
Slice leftover grilled or pan-fried Portobello caps, toss with barbecue sauce, aioli or pesto mixed with a little mayonnaise, and add to your favorite bread (focaccia cut horizontally is nice) with as many seasonal veggies as you can!

Egg Sandwich
Butter each side of two slices of bread-any type you like, including an English muffin. Place in a cast iron pan or other skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Flip and do the same on the other side. If you like, place some cheese to melt on this side of the bread. Remove from pan. Fry a large egg in a little butter and when you flip it, sprinkle with a little sea salt and pepper. You may also fry a small slice of ham with the egg for your sandwich if you like. Not a sandwich to be eaten often!

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