BANK ON IT: Food Bank For New York City's Blog
By Heather McGreevy
When I joined Food Bank, I knew I'd have the opportunity to help repack at our Warehouse, prep meals at our Community Kitchen & Food Pantry, and lend a hand at some of our member agencies throughout the city. But one thing I never expected to do was to serve as a taste tester.
During the winter months, pureed pumpkin is a hot ticket at food pantries. So it's no surprise that our member charities would offer their clients a recipe for it, specifically pumpkin pudding. But when we learned that the sugar content for the pudding recipe was too high, our nutrition team was tasked with coming up with a healthier alternative. The catch? The new recipe needed to have a quick prep time and clients had to be able to make it with ingredients available at a pantry. Jennifer Horan, a Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables nutritionist at Food Bank, had not one, but three recipes up her sleeve.
In her quest to find a nutritious way to use pumpkin puree, Jennifer had come up with three different pumpkin soups. She invited me and a few other Food Bankers for a taste test. We would give each version a try and vote on our favorite. My first thought: How different can pumpkin soups be? Quite different, it turns out--and delicious. After the first spoonful I was blown away. I had met the pumpkin soup-making queen! Jennifer made three incredible soups, each with a different flavor profile. Curried pumpkin soup? Hand it over! Pumpkin soup spiced with cumin? Give me more! Creamy pumpkin soup with a hint of cinnamon? Call me a convert! Jennifer wowed us with her ability to take simple, low-cost ingredients and turn them into something delicious and nutritious.
Did I think I'd wind up as a soup taster when I came to work at Food Bank? No way. Am I glad I got to experience firsthand one of the best things we do at Food Bank--bring good, healthy food to New Yorkers in need? Absolutely!
Want to taste the winner for yourself? Here's the recipe we voted #1:
Creamy Pumpkin Soup with a Hint of Cinnamon
*If using nonfat dried milk (NFDM), mix 1 1/2 cups water with 1/2 cup NFDM and add to recipe.
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 chopped garlic clove
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar, packed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
- 1 ½ cups low-fat milk*
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- In a large pot, heat ¼ cup chicken broth over medium heat.
- Add onions, garlic and brown sugar. Cook until soft, stirring often.
- Add the rest of the broth, ½ cup water, salt and pepper. Turn up heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring often.
- Turn down heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.
- Stir in pumpkin, milk and cinnamon. Cook for 5 more minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
Makes 4 servings.
Heather McGreevy is the Volunteer Engagement Manager at Food Bank For New York City.
Super Bowl parties are loaded with fun. They're also loaded with snacks that are high in fat and added sugar. It's easy to consume an entire day's worth of calories during the game, so our CookShop team has come up with a healthy snack alternative. This recipe has been tested and approved by our 40,000+ CookShop participants throughout New York City. It's sure to score big with football fans young and old!
Three Bean Fiesta
Serve this bean salad with whole grain chips for a flavorful, protein filled dip!
1 red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 15-ounce can black beans
1 15-ounce can red beans
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1 15-ounce can corn
4 teaspoons honey
½ cup cilantro
⅕ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
- Cut red bell pepper in half. Remove stem and seeds. Cut into thin strips.
- Remove skin from garlic cloves. Cut into small pieces.
- Cut limes in half.
- Open cans of black beans, red beans, chickpeas and corn. Pour into colander and rinse thoroughly. Transfer to large bowl.
- Cut red bell pepper into small pieces and add to bean and corn mixture.
- Squeeze juice from limes into small mixing bowl.
- Tear cilantro into very small pieces.
- Whisk honey, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper with lime juice.
- Pour dressing over bean mixture and stir to combine.
By Zoe Cooper-Caroselli
When I was growing up the 4th of July meant sandy toes, time with family and friends, fireworks, and delicious barbeque chicken and corn on the cob. I remember the taste of that chicken, with its crisp skin and juicy flesh, and the smell of smoke coming off the grill as I tried to balance sweet summer corn on my paper plate. Food is an intrinsic part of holiday celebrations, and what we eat as children can impact our food choices for the rest of our lives.
As a Nutrition and Health Services Associate at Food Bank, I have the opportunity to help shape how kids think about food because of my work with CookShop, Food Bank's largest nutrition education program. Through CookShop Classroom's fun, hands-on workshops we're able to reach children age 5 -12 in more than 1,700 elementary and after-school classes, where they learn to enjoy nutritious food and make healthy choices every day. Kids discover where food comes from, how plants grow, why whole foods are good for their body, how to prepare simple, healthy recipes and much more. The best part of my job is hearing the feedback from teachers and parents who tell me what an incredible impact CookShop has in changing kids' eating habits.
Getting children to eat better comes down to two things: Make it tasty and make it fun. The healthy and delicious Red, White & Blue Yummy Yogurt Parfait below fits the bill on both counts. It's the perfect 4th of July treat for kids and adults alike. Fruits taste their best – and are the most nutritious – when they are in season and don't have to travel too far from the farm to our plates (the same goes for veggies too)!
I've adapted this recipe from our first grade CookShop curriculum, swapping other fruits out in favor of colorful seasonal blueberries and strawberries. Almost all the recipe preparation is appropriate for kids, but make sure that an adult cuts the strawberries. Here's to celebrations, family traditions, and making good food choices that will last a lifetime. Happy 4th of July!
Red, White & Blue Yummy Yogurt Parfaits
1 32 oz container low-fat plain yogurt
¼ cup honey
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries
Wash hands and all produce well. Cut strawberries into small pieces. Combine strawberry pieces and blueberries in a bowl. Put yogurt into a separate mixing bowl. Add honey to yogurt. Stir to combine. Spoon a layer of yogurt into cups. Spoon a layer of fruit on top of yogurt. Add another yogurt layer followed by another fruit layer. Serves 4.
Zoe Cooper-Caroselli is a Nutrition and Health Services Associate at Food Bank For New York City.
By Daniel Buckley,
Last week, after finishing the Food Stamp Challenge, the first thing I wanted to do was spend an evening cooking a dinner that would make me excited about food again. One of the comments I heard a lot around the office during the challenge is that living on a food stamp budget made food boring. There is only so many times you want to eat the same thing, and there are only so many options at such a restricted budget. I can tell you that it'll be a while before I eat peanut butter again.
So when I took a look at the recipes Mario Batali posted to The Chew's website while he and his family were taking the challenge (see the links to your right), I was excited to find recipes that would remind me how enjoyable eating can be while still keeping a pretty low budget.
The Braised Chicken with Potatoes and Tarragon was the perfect choice for me since I had eaten enough lentils and beans during the challenge, and chicken and potatoes was exactly the kind of comfort food I needed. With just a few basic ingredients added – water, garlic and red onion – the dish produced a stock that was incredibly savory and had a bit of unexpected sweetness added from two tablespoons of tomato paste. While the potatoes were perfect for sopping up the stock, I would recommend accompanying this dish with some simple, steamed spinach or string beans that would combine well with the meal's flavors and add the greens that every meal needs.
I'm thankful that Mario's dish helped me enjoy food again, and I love it that, while taking the Food Stamp Challenge, he also took the time to identify recipes that could help low-income Americans eat well anytime without breaking the bank.
By Jacquie Wayans,
Having relied on food stamps at one time in my life, I have become skilled at making a meal work without spending very much to make it happen.
It is important to me to expose my kids to great food flavors. Since I am of West Indian heritage, spices rule. One day, I found myself with the taste for a curry dish, but was limited on my usual meat and veggie supplies (typical towards the end of the month). I looked carefully in my cupboards and came up with a tasty dish I now love.
I know how hard feeding a family on a food stamp budget can be. That is why I wanted to share this recipe here – where it can hopefully reach other people living on food stamps. But, even if you're not on food stamps, I hope you'll enjoy it!
Secret Curry Yum
Canola oil – 2 tbs
Clove or two of Garlic – chopped (You get a lot for a little, huge health benefits)
Fresh or dry thyme – (You can get fresh for a buck)
Med or Lg Onion – 1 whole (Cheap and full of flavor)
A green pepper – (Can be expensive out of season, but worth flavor and nutrients)
1 or 2 celery stalks - chopped
Curry Powder – 1 tbs
1 packet of Lipton onion soup mix (I catch when on sale for a dollar and stack up – low sodium chicken broth good substitute)
Fish, chicken, beef or pork (whatever serving you have for your family. I chop the meat up into small bits, since this dish is all about the sauce, you don't need much meat.)
Potato – one or two large potatoes will do. Peel and dice
Curry – ¼ cup
Soy sauce – (optional)I save packets from Chinese food stores
1 small can Pumpkin Puree – secret ingredient – same color as curry, blends into sauce.
Rice: the amount needed for your family. I lay the sauce on the rice.
*If buying fresh is out of the question, Goya makes a frozen Sofrito or Recaito for two bucks that goes a long way in flavoring anything!
** If you have cinnamon, throw a dash in at the end.
Pour oil into pot and add first 7 ingredients on med heat. Once the aroma is in the air, add your meat and brown it on all sides. Then add your water, enough to cover the meat completely. Then add your packet of Lipton mix.
Add 1 potato and soy sauce and rest of curry. Once potato is tender, mash it in sauce add the pumpkin puree and next potato (not to mash). Add water if needed and salt and pepper to taste. You should have a filling meal and leftovers.
I know it is hard to try new food on a tight budget. I say, take the risk in a smart way. By mixing something new with something tried and true, you increase the chances that kids will like it and won't even know it's there.
[Please note that this dish is a bit high in sodium. There are easy ways to reduce that, by substituting Chicken Broth for Lipton mix and then add Sea salt to taste when dish is done. The soy sauce is optional – just gives a rich flavor – again low sodium is available. The key here is the water. Water not only stretches the dish by increasing gravy volume, but it can also dilute the sodium]