Plg cookbook

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recipes to learn and grow by


Foreword Children are great cooks. From a strong desire to play and a bit of mischievous recklessness to a relentless appetite and innate curiosity; children have everything they need to succeed in the kitchen. The only limit to their exploratory culinary creativity is often us, the parents, (and I would know, currently raising two of them) who concerned about knives, fire, and cleaning, quite often leave them out of what is arguably the most important room in our homes. What children know is what tastes good to them and what doesn’t. They are the most honest eaters I know of. For better or worse, they are not bound by a sense of politeness as to whether they like something. Though often timid when presented with a food they haven’t eaten, deliciousness will always win the day. The younger we present the wonderful diversity of vegetables to a child, the better, healthier eater, cook and person they will become. Vegetables in their freshest and therefore their most seasonal and local state offer a wondrous array of color, textures, and shapes for the burgeoning creative child and you can do so much with them. Bang Tran has taken his experience and joy of sharing the diversity of the good vegetable world with children and distilled them into a series of recipes - or rather journeys - which create a positive, deceptively simple and delicious first step into building a child’s culinary repertoire. This book inspires me to be a better cook and teaches me how to be a better teacher to our kids. — Linton Hopkins James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast CEO Resurgens Hospitality Group, Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch Public House b


SCHOOL GARDEN COOKBOOK recipes to learn and grow by

let’s set the table I am not a chef, and these recipes aren’t going to win any culinary awards. I love to cook at home, but I still find myself overcooking eggs and underseasoning chicken. That’s part of the joy of cooking though, right? It’s all about trial and error and unsurprisingly, very similar to a scientific process. We try making food over and over, making small changes each time and learning from past experiments until we reach something that we want. When I first started my service with FoodCorps and Captain Planet Foundation in September of 2014, I found that, out of all the activities and lessons I did, I enjoyed cooking with students the most. It was the easiest way for me to get them into the garden. Kids love food - and getting them interested in EATING broccoli was a great way to get them interested in GROWING broccoli. As I cooked with students more, I realized that I could rarely find recipes that I wanted: low-cost, simple recipes that students, with little to no cooking experience, could replicate easily. Many recipes (even farm to school recipes) had ingredients that were costly or not readily available to the students I worked with. Or they simply didn’t fit in the timeframe of one class period. Many times, I heard from teachers that they weren’t comfortable making recipes with students on their own because the recipes were complicated and had too many ingredients. This book is filled with simple and accessible recipes that have all been tested in the classroom. All of these recipes serve a sampling of 20–25 students. Students can complete the recipes themselves in the timeframe of 30 minutes to 1 hour. Almost all the equipment used can be found on Captain Planet Foundation’s Mobile Cooking Cart. Peppered throughout the book are recipe-specific tips and stories that give some context and tips.


Ingredients can easily be grown in the school garden or purchased at any grocery store to help supplement. Most of the recipes are flexible, so if you don’t have the specific vegetable called for growing, try it with a different vegetable! There is also a pantry list of useful items that will go a long way for cooking in the classroom. And of course, the recipes were created with the fast-paced school schedule in mind. My goal for this book is to emphasize the joys in the process of cooking, not necessarily the end product. Again, the recipes may not be the tastiest—they’re not meant to be. They’re meant to be as stress-free and fun as possible while leaving enough room for personal freedom to experiment. My students often changed the recipes to their liking. The hot sauce is too chunky? They added more vinegar to make it more like their favorite hot sauce they bought from the store. More lemon juice on the beet spread? Sure thing. And so on and so on. One student came back and said, “I made the broccoli stirfry at home, but I added in some chicken. My grandma loved it.” A few of the teachers I worked with started leading cooking lessons on their own using some of these recipes. Other teachers got more interested in how they could tie cooking into their curriculum. Cooking with the students and teachers showed me that kids (and even picky adults!) could get really, really excited about vegetables. My fondest memory of service with FoodCorps was when a 7th grade student said, “Before we started cooking with you, I never knew that vegetables tasted so good!” At FoodCorps, we have a motto: “Try things.” And I found the best way to engage students and get them to try new vegetables was to let them take the lead in the cooking process, which simple recipes facilitate easily. When I think of my time in the classroom, I don’t think of the food: I think of laughter, enthusiasm, curiosity, and an earnest love of trying something new. After all, it wasn’t about cooking delicious food—it was about creating incredible experiences together. — Bang Tran FoodCorps Service Member ‘14–’16 Captain Planet Foundation

table of contents Pantry Ingredients


Materials 4 Strategies for Cooking in the Classroom Warm Weather Harvest

6 10

Hot Pepper Sauce 12 Ratatouille 14 Salsa Fresca 16 Squash and Bell Pepper Skewers 18 Tomato Margherita “Pizza� 20


Cool Weather Harvest


Apple Sauce Beet Spread Broccoli “Stirfry” Cauliflower Soup Herbed Popcorn Honey Glazed Carrots Japanese Cabbage “Pancakes” Quick Southern Collards Radish Bruschetta Spinach Green Eggs Sweet Potato Fries Swiss Chard Pesto

24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46

pantry ingredients When you cook in the classroom often, it’s helpful to have a pantry of ingredients that you can use in many different recipes. The following ingredients are useful to have in any classroom, and they last a long time so you don’t have to worry about spoilage. Salt — Salt helps bring out flavors and makes food taste better. Sometimes, adding just a little bit more salt can really change the taste of an entire recipe. It’s one of the most important ingredients in cooking and being able to control the amount of salt yourself means that you’ll be eating a lot less salt than the processed foods available. Learning how to salt food is an important step in cooking frequently, and it’s not an ingredient that should be feared. Pepper — Pepper is a great addition to many recipes as a finishing touch. It adds a little kick and an extra dimension to the recipes, and many students really love freshly cracked pepper. Oil — Olive oil and vegetable oil are two good oils to have in the classroom. Olive oil can be expensive, especially if you’re cooking with multiple classes a lot. Olive oil is good for making salad dressings and cooking on low–medium heat, while vegetable oil is a good all-around oil that is very economical to buy. Feel free to try alternative oils as well, like coconut or grapeseed oil. Soy Sauce/Tamari Sauce — Soy sauce is an excellent ingredient to add to things like stir-fries and other Asian inspired dishes. Low-sodium soy sauce is good for the classroom, and tamari sauce is a gluten-free option that’s available at almost all grocery stores. Vinegar — Vinegar is an acid, and adding acids to food can help bring out a little more flavor and brightness. Sometimes, when food tastes a little flat and bland, adding in a little splash of vinegar can really change the taste. Although the recipes in this book don’t explicitly use vinegar, it’s a good pantry item to have to experiment with students and flavors. Apple cider vinegar goes very well with vegetables and adds a slightly fruity and tangy taste. Lemon or lime juice also works well to add brightness to any dish. Honey — Honey is an excellent sweetener to use, and it can always be a jumping point to talk about pollinators! 2

materials Although this recipe book was created with the Captain Planet Foundation cooking cart in mind, the materials are can be easily purchased and found to create a basic classroom cooking kit. There are also many options to get materials donated, so ask around at grocery stores or department stores - if you don’t already have the CPF mobile cooking cart. Some companies may even donate cooking tools directly. Big items: • Induction burner • Non-stick skillet • Saucepan with lid • Blender with tamper

Consumables: • Servingware • Small bowls or cups to serve • Dish soap • Hand sanitizer • Gloves

Containers: • Mixing bowls • Tupperware • Large bins for washing hands or dishes

Tools: • Tongs • Spatula • Mixing spoons • Towels • Cutting boards • Measuring cups • Measuring spoons

knife replacements Even though knife skills are important when learning to cook, we don’t use real knives in the classroom. It can be a hassle when storing and transporting knives in schools, so we replace metal knives with some alternatives. Lettuce knives: These are plastic knives with serrated edges that are great for sawing or chopping vegetables. Crinkle/wavy cutters: Excellent for chopping hard vegetables and making “crinkle” patterns in food. They are small enough for young students while still being safe and easy to use. Hand-pulled food processor: Students put ingredients in the container and pull the string to chop up the ingredients. It’s a lot of fun and great for chopping up onions. 4


strategies for cooking in the classroom Be Prepared In this book, each recipe has a materials list that shows the basic tools needed to make the recipe. It’s good to have all of the materials prepared beforehand. However, for classes with more energetic students (especially students that you haven’t cooked with before), it may be best to NOT set up materials at their tables right away, as it will often distract them. Clean Hands Food safety is very important, so it’s necessary to drive home the idea of having clean hands (and keeping hands clean) while cooking. Here are three ways that have worked well: Hand washing: For classes with multiple sinks, washing hands is the best bet. We have a routine and students know to line up when it’s time to wash your hands. For classes that don’t have sinks or only one sink, a good method is to fill a bin or two with soapy water and have students scrub their hands in groups. This is the most preferable method, as it teaches good cleanliness as well. Hand sanitizer: Sanitizer is good for classes where you have a limited amount of time and students have no access to sinks. Sanitizer doesn’t get rid of dirt as well as hand washing because of the scrubbing action used with soapy water, but it can work in a pinch and if students haven’t been outside. Gloves: Using disposable food-safety gloves can work with older students, but it can get expensive if you cook often. Unfortunately, it’s harder to find gloves that fit elementary age students’ hands. Once hands are clean, it’s important to stress that students don’t get them dirty again by touching their face, hair, or other things that may not be clean.




Dish Clean Up With regular cooking, it can be useful to invest in a set of reusable plates, bowls, and forks. A simple way to clean and do dishes is to fill a bin with soapy water, another bin with clean water to rinse, and an area to dry dishes and utensils. Develop a Routine When cooking regularly with the same students in a classroom, it’s good to have a set routine so that students know what to expect when it’s a cooking day. My in-class cooking routine goes like this: 1. Review what and why we’re cooking 2. Take a look at our recipe 3. Wash our hands 4. Break up into groups 5. Cook 6. Taste 7. Clean (or clean as we go) Students know exactly what to expect and how to prepare when we have a cooking day planned, making the class as stress-free and smooth as possible. Encourage Bravery Tasting new foods can be a bit scary for students. Although it’s good never to force any student to try something they don’t want, sometimes a little bit of nudging is all that’s needed. I have successfully used a “bravery point system,” where if you try new foods, you’ll earn a certain amount of bravery points. It turns it into a game, and more often than not, hesitant students will want to try it just to earn points (and many times, they’ll find out that they like something they hadn’t tried before). Clean or Read As You Go Some recipes take a bit of cooking time where students aren’t actively doing anything, but we’re still waiting for the food to finish cooking for ten minutes or so. This is a great time to spend cleaning up with the students, picking up trash and collecting scraps for compost. It’s also a perfect time to read a related book or story. 7

Etiquette When tasting foods, we always wait for everyone to set out all of their samples before letting the whole class try it at once. Sometimes, vocal students will color other students’ perception and may not want to eat it if a friend has already eaten it and made a weird face. It can also be helpful to have the class stay silent (yes, I know, good luck!) for thirty seconds to one minute and then come together to describe what we tasted, what we liked, and what we didn’t like. This gives students time to think and really take in all the flavors of the tasting, and it can be useful if they use that time to think of culinary descriptive words to describe what they tasted (salty, mushy, crunchy, etc.). We also never say “yuck” or “disgusting” or “gross.” We have a saying: “Don’t yuck my yum!” Instead, students say things like “It’s not my favorite.” or “No thanks.” Since food can have such an emotional and cultural connection, it’s important to teach students to respect the tastes of others. Class Management It’s useful to break students up into groups and tables to have them focus on one specific task. This way, more students have things that they can do, and it’s safer and more engaging. If there are steps in the recipe that include blending or working with heat, we gather together after the group portion of the recipe and do a “cooking show” style part of the lesson. Students get called up one or two at a time and take turns to do a particular step (turn on the burner, add the ingredients, blend it). This keeps it safe when working with heat or if there is only one appliance.



Warm Weather Harvest If a school garden has been tended throughout the summer, students can come back to a large bounty of wonderful warmweather vegetables. There’s nothing more rewarding for students than coming back from summer break to find that the tomato seedling that they planted with their class last school year is now producing large, juicy tomatoes. Warm-weather harvest consists of vegetables like sweet peppers, hot peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and more.

Hot Pepper Sauce ½ pound hot peppers (jalapeño, etc.) 1 small tomato ⅓ cup white vinegar ¼ cup water Salt

materials: Blender Knives/cutters Measuring cups Gloves

1. C ut the tops off the jalapenos. Remove the insides of the pepper containing the seeds. It’s very important to have students wear gloves while doing this! 2. Cut the tomato into small chunks. 3. P ut all the ingredients in the blender and blend until it’s the consistency that the students want. You can add more water or vinegar to change the flavor/consistency, but the tomato will keep the sauce more watery than chunky.

Tip: This hot sauce is very spicy! We did this with 7th graders, and they added it on their collards that we made in class which toned down the spiciness a bit. If you want to make it less spicy, replace half the hot peppers with a sweet bell pepper.


Ratatouille 3 small yellow squash 3 small zucchinis 4 small-medium tomatoes Cooking oil Salt and pepper

materials: Burner Pan Knives/cutters Large mixing bowl

1. Cut the squash, zucchini, and tomatoes into small pieces. 2. Heat the pan up to medium-high heat, and once it’s hot, add just a little bit of oil in. 3. A dd the squash and zucchini in first. Cook for 4–5 minutes until they are slightly browned, and then add in the tomatoes. Stir occasionally. 4. Once there is some browning on the squash (3–4 more minutes), they’re finished. 5. Add some salt and pepper to taste.


Salsa Fresca 3–4 medium or large tomatoes 1–2 bell peppers ½ onion 1 bunch cilantro 2 limes Salt & Pepper

materials: Knives/cutters Scissors Cutting boards Large mixing bowl Hand-pulled food processor

1. Cut the tomatoes into small cubes. 2. Remove the top of the bell pepper and scoop out the seedy parts. Cut into small squares. 3. Chop the onion up into a dice. 4. C ut off the woody stems of the cilantro and roughly chop them (or pick the cilantro leaves by hand). 5. Mix it all in a bowl and squeeze 1 lime’s worth of juice in, add another if needed. 6. Add salt and pepper to taste. 7. E at it with tortillas, chips, toast, or go all out and make sweet potato tacos and top them with the salsa fresca!


Squash and Bell Pepper Skewers for the skewers: 3–4 medium squash 3 bell peppers Oil for the sauce: ½ cup soy sauce or tamari sauce ½ cup water 2 tablespoons cornstarch Pepper

materials: Burner Pan Toothpicks Spoon/tongs Knives/cutters Measuring cups Measuring spoons

1. Chop the squash into small, bite-sized pieces (1″ cubes work well). 2. Remove the seeds from the bell pepper and cut them into bite-sized pieces. 3. S kewer the squash and peppers onto the toothpicks. 2 cubes of squash and 1 piece of pepper works well. 4. Heat the pan over medium-high heat with a little bit of oil. 5. C arefully add the skewers into the pan and cook until the squash and peppers are browned (5–7 minutes). Turn them occasionally with a spoon or tongs. 6. Meanwhile, mix the soy sauce with the water and cornstarch 7. O nce the skewers have browned, add in the sauce, trying to cover all skewers, and cook for about 1–2 minutes. 8. R emove the skewers and put them on a plate. Once it cools a bit, the sauce will thicken. Add a little pepper to taste.


Tomato Margherita “Pizza” 4 small-medium tomatoes 1 bunch basil Shredded mozzarella cheese

materials: Burner Pan Knives Paper towels

1. S lice the tomatoes into large circles. Some kids may need help with this, especially with a lettuce knife. It doesn’t have to look pretty! With really young students, you may have to use a real knife to pre-slice for them. 2. Take a paper towel and pat the tomatoes dry to soak up some of the liquid. 3. T ake the basil and pick the leaves. Roll up the leaves into a log, and then use a knife to slice them into thin strips. 4. H eat the pan up to medium-high heat and add the tomatoes. We aren’t using oil for this because it will splatter a lot. Make sure to use a non-stick pan. 5. O nce the tomatoes have heated up (after about 3 minutes), flip them and add in however much cheese you want and melt it. Top the sliced tomatoes with the basil. 6. Y ou can serve it just like that or have kids make little pizzas with flatbread. We did plain tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil with no bread and the kids loved it.

Tip: It can be hard to slice tomatoes with a lettuce knife, but it can be done! Use more of a sawing motion, and make sure students don’t put too much pressure or they will crush the tomatoes. Try not to overcook the tomatoes, or else they will fall apart or be too mushy!


Cool Weather Harvest The bulk of the school year will be spent harvesting the coolweather vegetables in the fall, winter, and spring. These veggies may not be as flashy as warm-weather veggies, but they’re dependable and less fussy to grow. Though there are plenty of greens, it can be surprising the wide array of colors that you can grow in the cooler season. Cool-weather harvest consists of vegetables like radishes, carrots, broccoli, beets; greens like lettuce, kale or collards and more.

Apple Sauce 8 apples Optional: Honey

materials: Cutting boards Knives/cutters Blender with tamper

1. R emove the apple cores. Students can do this simply by cutting the apples in half and taking out the middle. 2. C hop apples into small, 1-inch pieces. The smaller the pieces, the easier it is for the blender to puree. 3. P ut the apple chunks into the blender and blend until desired consistency. Use a blender tamper to push down the apples if necessary. With no tamper, you may have to add in a little bit of water to make sure it blends correctly. 4. Add honey if the apples aren’t sweet enough, but a lot of times, this won’t be necessary!

Tip: If you don’t have a blender or think it’s not strong enough to purée raw apples, just boil the apples in about 1 ½ cups of water until the apples are soft, and then you can mash them with forks or a potato masher. Alternatively, cut them very small and add in a splash of water to the blender.


We used “seconds” apples, which are bruised or “unsellable.” They’re cheaper to buy (and often get donated), and we did a lesson about food waste and how you can still eat “ugly foods!”

Beet Spread 3-4 small-medium beets 3 cups water 1 lemon Salt and pepper Crackers or toast

materials: Burner Saucepan with lid Peelers Knives/cutters

1. P eel the beets and chop them up into small pieces (about 1-2 inches in length). We used wavy cutters and lettuce knives to do this easily. 2. M eanwhile, fill the saucepan with about 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, Cover with a lid then bring the heat down to a simmer. 3. O nce beets have been peeled and chopped into smaller pieces, add them to the pot and bring the water back to a boil. Cover and let the beets cook for 10 minutes. 4. O nce the beets are soft (a fork goes through it relatively easily), drain them or use a spoon to spoon out the cooked beets. 5. P ut the beets into a hand-pulled food processor or blender and chop it up finely. You can also use a potato masher or something similar, but that can be messy! 6. O nce it’s to the consistency that is desired, add in some salt and pepper, and the juice from half a lemon. Mix it well, add more lemon juice if you want. 7. Spread on a cracker and enjoy.


Broccoli “Stirfry” 3 heads of broccoli Cooking oil Soy sauce/Tamari sauce Pepper

materials: Burner Pan Knives/cutters Scissors Mixing bowl

1. C ut the broccoli head into smaller florets that are bite-sized. Lettuce knives or wavy cutters work best for this, or you can even have students use scissors. You can cut the broccoli heads into smaller chunks so that more groups of students can participate. 2. Heat the oil in the pan to medium-high heat. 3. A dd the broccoli and stir occasionally. You want to see some browning on it (about 7 minutes). 4. O nce the broccoli has cooked, add in some soy sauce. Be careful not to add too much! Let a student taste it and decide if more should be added. 5. O nce the you have the desired amount of soy sauce, add in some pepper. We don’t need to add salt since the soy sauce already has some.


This isn’t actually a stirfry! Stirfrying is done with very high heat, which is hard to do at home, let alone in the classroom! This is more of a sauté, which is similar, but cooking is just a bit slower. It’s a good way to introduce differences between a stirfry and a sauté!

Cauliflower Soup 2–3 heads of cauliflower 1 medium onion Cooking oil Salt & pepper ½ cup water

materials: Burner Pan Knives/cutters Mixing bowl Blender

1. C ut the cauliflower heads into smaller pieces that are bite-sized. Lettuce knives or wavy cutters work best for this, since cauliflower is a little hard for scissors to cut. 2. D ice the onion into small pieces. We used a hand-pulled food processor, but you can just have kids chop it with a lettuce knife (let them know that it can make their eyes water). If using a food processor, make sure not to puree it too much. You don’t want a paste! 3. Heat the oil in the pan to medium-high heat. 4. A dd the onions into the pan and cook for about 3 minutes, until starting to turn translucent and brown. 5. Add the cauliflower and cook until it starts browning, about 8-10 minutes. 6. O nce it’s cooked, transfer to a bowl to make it easier to put it in the blender. Add in a little bit of salt. 7. P ut the onion and cauliflower into the blender and blend it until the desired consistency. Add more water if it’s too thick, and add more salt if it needs it and pepper.


Herbed Popcorn ⅔ cup popcorn kernels (divided into ⅓ cups) 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Herbs (fresh from garden or dried is OK) Salt & pepper

materials: Burner Saucepan with lid Towel Bowl

1. Add the oil to the pan and heat up to medium-high heat. 2. P ut one or two kernels into the pan. Once they’ve popped, you’re ready to add in ⅓ cup more of popcorn kernels. 3. C over it and take it off the heat and place it on the towel. Count to 30 with the students, and then put it back on the heat. 4. O nce you hear a lot of popping, shake the pan gently once in a while to make sure the kernels get heated evenly. 5. A s you listen to the popping slow down, you can take it off the heat and empty it into a bowl. Add any of the herbs you wanted to try and mix it well. Add in a little bit of salt. 6. Repeat for the rest of the popcorn, if more is needed.

Tip: Popcorn can be grown very easily in the school garden. Make sure to let the husks dry completely before harvesting. If your popcorn isn’t dry enough, it won’t pop correctly, so it can be helpful to harvest dry kernels and then let them dry further in the classroom for a while before popping.


Honey Glazed Carrots 1 bunch of carrots (about 1–1.5 lbs) ⅓ cup water 2 tablespoons honey Salt

materials: Burner Saucepan with lid Knives/cutters Mixing bowl

1. Wash the carrots thoroughly and remove the greens. 2. Chop the carrots into small bite-sized pieces. 3. H eat the pan up with the water (covered) until it starts to boil and steam (this will happen very quickly). Once it starts steaming, turn the heat down. 4. W hen the carrots are chopped up, add them to the pot with the honey, stir, and cover the lid. Steam the carrots for about 7 minutes, until they are soft and a fork goes through easily, and until a glaze forms. 5. Add some salt to taste and serve.

Tip: You can try chopping the carrot greens to top the glazed carrots with, or you can use the carrot greens to make pesto at the same time. 34

Japanese Cabbage “Pancakes” 1/2 head of a medium cabbage or 1 small head of cabbage 4 eggs 1 ½ tablespoon Soy sauce Oil Pepper Optional: Extra greens or herbs

materials: Burner Pan Cutting boards Knives/cutters Bowls (large and small) Spatula

1. C lean the cabbage well and remove the tough outer leaves until you have just the compact, inner head. If needed, cut the cabbage into quarters/halves so that students can handle it more easily. 2. Using a lettuce knife and/or choppers, have students chop up the cabbage into small pieces. Chop any other herb or greens you’d like to use at this point, too. 3. Crack the eggs into the small bowl and beat them thoroughly. 4. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, and then add the oil. 5. Add the cabbage (and any other greens) and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool down for about 3 minutes. 6. A dd the eggs into a bowl with the cabbage and mix well with the spatula; this is the “pancake batter.” 7. H eat the pan over medium-high heat again, and then pour the batter into the pan and flatten it into the shape of a pancake. Cook for 2-3 minutes until browned a little on one side, and then flip and cook the other side until browned. 8. Add pepper and cut into small pieces to serve. If you want, top with a bit more soy sauce. 36

These Japanese cabbage “pancakes” are called okonomiyaki and are a very popular grilled street dish in Japan. “Okonomi” means “Any way you like” and “Yaki” means “grilled.” In Japan, all sorts of toppings are used. For our classes, we’ve added to the cabbage pancakes: chives, broccoli, kale, collards, brassica flowers, basically anything we could find in the garden. So, make it any way you like!

Quick Southern Collards 1 small onion Oil 1 large bunch of collards 2 cups water 1 tablespoon vinegar

materials: Burner Saucepan with lid Knives/cutters Cutting boards

1. P eel the onion and chop up into smaller chunks. Half-moon slices work well, or you can use a hand-pulled food processor dice the onions (don’t dice it too small!). 2. H eat the saucepan up to medium-high heat and add in a little bit of oil. Add the onions and cook until browned (about 4-5 minutes), stirring occasionally. 3. W hile onions are cooking, remove the large stems from the collards. Chop the collards into smaller ribbons (about 1 inch in width) and add them to the pot. 4. Add the water and vinegar into the pot with collards and cover with the lid until it boils. 5. O nce the mixture boils (3–4 minutes), remove the lid and let the water boil off for a little bit. This will take 6–7 minutes. 6. Add salt and pepper to the collards as needed.

Tip: This is a great recipe to do alongside the Hot Pepper Sauce recipe on page 14. Our class made the hot pepper sauce to add to the collards, and you can easily make the sauce while the collards are cooking. As one of my 7th graders said, “You can’t eat collards without hot sauce!”


It won’t be as flavorful as traditional Southern collards, because those are usually cooked for a long time with a savory, salty ham to strengthen the flavor.

The students still liked it, but of course, they said their moms’ or grandmas’ recipe was better. We used this recipe as a jumping point for interviewing elders: students went home and interviewed an elder in the community for a recipe (it could be their parents or older sister, simply their “elder”). A lot of them came back with a Southern collards recipe and we discussed the difference. It’s a great start to a lesson about oral history, interview skills, writing, and reconnecting with the knowledge of our elders!

Radish Bruschetta 7–8 radishes 1 (4-ounce) tub of cream cheese Toast or crackers Salt & pepper

materials: Cutting boards Knives/cutters Spreading tool

1. Wash radishes thoroughly and remove the greens. 2. Slice the radishes thinly or chop them up in small pieces. 3. Spread cream cheese on the toast, top with a few pieces of radish. 4. Add a little bit of salt and pepper to taste and serve.


Spinach Green Eggs 12 eggs 1–2 handfuls of spinach Salt and pepper

materials: Burner Pan Blender Spatula

1. C rack the eggs into a container. It can be helpful to have multiple bowls so that students can crack their eggs into it at each table/group. 2. A dd the spinach to the blender. Let students decide how much to add; the more spinach, the greener the eggs. You almost can’t have too much spinach 3. Blend the spinach and eggs until smooth. 4. Heat the pan over medium heat, and then add the egg mixture. 5. W ait about 2 minutes before stirring the eggs in the pan and scrambling. Continue scrambling until the eggs are completely cooked. 6. Add salt and pepper and taste. The eggs will be very bland otherwise!

Tip: You really can’t taste any of the greens when they’re blended up, so you can be free with how much to add. We even add some extra arugula, baby kale, chives, and other school garden goodies to the eggs.


Sweet Potato Fries 3 large sweet potatoes Oil Salt Pepper

materials: Burner Pan Peelers Knives/cutters Cutting boards

1. C ut the sweet potatoes into big slices so that it’s easier for students to handle. You can peel them or leave them unpeeled. 2. C ut the slices into small, bite-sized cubes. For this one, make sure that the cubes are pretty small: sweet potatoes take a while to cook, so the smaller pieces will cook faster. 3. Heat some oil in the pan over medium-high heat. 4. C ook the sweet potatoes until they are golden-brown. This will take about 10–15 minutes, depending on how small the pieces are. 5. Add salt and pepper to taste.


This is an excellent lesson to explore chemical and physical changes. Have students try a piece of raw sweet potato and note its flavor and any other characteristics. After cooking, taste the fries. Did they get sweeter even though we didn’t add any sugar? Did the smell change? Is it still crunchy or did it get softer? What physical changes did we do to the sweet potatoes?

Swiss Chard Pesto 8–10 medium swiss chard leaves ¼ cup sunflower seeds 2 cloves garlic ¼–½ cup olive oil ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese Salt & pepper

materials: Blender with tamper Knives/cutters Cutting boards Measuring cups Measuring spoons

1. Wash and remove the chard leaves from the stems either by cutting or ripping them. 2. Place all ingredients in a blender and use a tamper to push the ingredients into the blades. 3. Blend until the desired consistency is reached. Start slow and then move up. 4. Salt and pepper to taste. 5. Use chard stems to dip into the pesto or spread on bread or melba toast!

Tip: You can leave out the cheese and the seeds if you’d like, but because we’re using a blender for making this pesto, it will sometimes make it bitter (olive oil gets a little bitter when it’s blended). The cheese helps to cut the bitterness. Even so, kids have loved it, and we’ve even sold the garden pesto in little jars at a fundraiser!


acknowledgements I’d like to thank the following people for making this book a reality: FoodCorps and Captain Planet Foundation for connecting kids to school gardens and the wonders of classroom cooking. Without FoodCorps service as a test kitchen, I never would’ve thought about how powerful cooking in the classroom can be. Kyla Van Deusen and her genius in help naming the book, as well as her incredible support for the project. The teachers that I worked with for letting me cook with their classes, taking the recipes to lead classes themselves, and for giving me feedback on food-based lessons. The FoodCorps GA team, especially Lauren Ladov and Miranda Watrous, for recipe development, recipe testing, and cooking with kids all over Georgia. Jenna Mobley for photography on pages 26 and 30 and for being an inspiring educator. All the students I’ve ever cooked with. Thanks for trying new things, laughing with me when I ruined our pancakes and making me a better educator and cook.

Special thanks to the Aetna Foundation for supporting Captain Planet Foundation’s healthy eating & gardening program for kids, including the production of this cookbook.

CAPTAIN PLANET FOUNDATION’S PROJECT LEARNING GARDEN PROGRAM provides schools with strategies for building effective and long-lasting garden-based learning programs. Teachers are provided with hands-on training, curriculum aligned to national standards, lesson kits filled with supplies, a schoolyard garden, fully-equipped garden cooking cart, and strategies for summer garden maintenance.

Gardens provide a context for multidisciplinary learning, ranging from nutrition and science to social, studies, math and language arts. Students benefit by expanding their palates, taste-testing healthy foods, and learning about food origins; engaging in authentic science field investigations; manipulating the environment to understand math in real-life applications; recreating historical activities; and writing across all these disciplines. Project Learning Garden components, including the mobile cooking cart are available at

FOODCORPS believes every school should be a healthy school, and every child—regardless of race, place or class—deserves to be well-nourished and ready to learn. In underserved communities across the country, FoodCorps’ AmeriCorps leaders teach students about healthy food through hands-on lessons, partner with farmers and food service workers to create nutritious and delicious school meals and collaborate with communities to inspire a long-term culture of health. Building on this foundation of direct impact, FoodCorps pursues systemic strategies that will benefit all of our nation’s 100,000 schools."


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