Dent de Lion on the Dinner Plate

Baking & Brewing with Dandelions

For as long as human history has been recorded, the common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has been used as food and medicine across the globe. While not native to this continent, this nutritious golden flowering plant arrived with the European colonization of the 1600’s and is now commonplace in lawns and meadows across North America. In the spring, the dandelion is one of several common wild edibles foragers look for to supplement their dinner plates. Grow Forage Cook Ferment has a helpful list, which includes, of course, DANDELIONS!

Looking through the lens of dandelions, interests in culinary arts, pastry arts, baking, and even home brewing can be supported. Within these interests, lessons in chemistry and math are implicit, while the art of taste and texture is an explicit driving force as highlighted in this video.

Learn how to identify and properly harvest dandelion leaves, flowers, and roots this year, and give them a go in your own kitchen too. Try a recipe for Dandelion Lemon Cupcakes to support an interest in pastry arts, or if you prefer baking, check out this recipe for Dandelion Leaf Bread. Or put on your chef hat and pair Dandelion Fritters with a Dandelion Leaf Salad to experiment with the textures and flavors found within the culinary arts.

If you’re interested in beverages, this Dandelion Root Coffee Recipe can set you up with a warm brew, or learn about the art of fermentation by making Dandelion Mead or Dandelion Fennel Kombucha! Read the rest of this entry »

Soup’s On: Lunch Box Ideas

Lunch Box Ideas

It’s back to school time, and that means the family meal schedule – whatever it’s been since the end of June – is about to take a left-turn swerve into school lunches, after school snacks, and many, many exasperated conversations about where lunch boxes get left and why we don’t get to have what every single other child on planet Earth gets to have for lunch.

Here are some guidelines that I use with the families I work with when it comes to school lunches… Read the rest of this entry »

Soup’s On: Picky Eaters, Part 3

Picky Eaters, Part 3

Welcome back to the kitchen. In June, we enjoyed a lengthy discussion about picky eaters, and the roots of restrictive eating. July saw us tackle the task of getting young picky eaters to broaden their horizons. This month, we’re going to talk about older youth and young adults, and how NOT to turn dinnertime into a battlefield of exasperation.

But first, a review of things we know about older youth and food:

  1. By the time people reach the age of 9 or 10, they’ve begun to develop the “catalog” of experiences and tastes that we talked about in the earlier articles. They may be able to identify preferences for sweet foods over salty ones, or have a list of favorite foods.
  2. Their taste buds are still changing, as they will continue to do into adulthood. They may not taste things as strongly as they did when they were younger. It can help kids to know this, especially if they’re being asked to try something they remember disliking as a youngster.
  3. They are old enough to prepare simple meals for themselves, or even the family. That’s helpful, as we’ll see later on.

Read the rest of this entry »

Soup’s On: Picky Eaters, Part 2

Soup’s On: Picky Eaters, Part 1

Picky Eaters, Part 1: The Root

Where does picky eating come from? Dealing with picky eaters can be a challenge for the omnivorous or adventurous cook. Let’s explore some of the reasons some folks keep a limited diet – and how we can address those needs and help them expand their tastes!

If you’ve ever used one of these words to describe yourself, your child, or someone you know, you probably know the frustration of trying to feed someone who doesn’t seem to like a wide variety of foods.

Perhaps it’s your screaming toddler, who’s latched onto a diet of grape juice and animal crackers; your nine year old who would eat peanut butter sandwiches for every single meal if she could, or even your spouse, who methodically reads the online menu and identifies what he’s going to order before you hit the restaurant.

Let’s talk about some of the reasons that people get labeled “picky eaters.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Oak & Acorn: Basil Pesto & Peas

Summer foods that are easy to grow and that kids love.

One of the foods that we love to make a lot in the summer is basil pesto. We grow a lot of basil in our garden and at this time of the year it’s very abundant. We also are very lucky that many of our farmer friends hand off some of their extras to us. I love the taste and smell of basil…it’s one of my favorite culinary herbs! It works in so many dishes and also goes well in some fruity summer drinks. Just last week, we added basil to some seltzer water with simple syrup and sour cherries that we picked from a friends tree in their backyard. It was delish!

The past couple weeks we have also been eating lots of peas, in particular sugar snap peas which happens to be a favorite snack in our house. We also picked lots of shell peas from a farm we have a CSA share with, shelled them and froze them for future use. It takes a little time to do this, but it’s always nice to have these preserved in the freezer for when a recipe calls for them, like pesto!

See our recipe for basil pesto and pasta with peas

Act Now to Promote Healthy School Nutrition

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts writes:

This Thursday, the State House will consider legislation that seeks to increase healthy and locally grown foods in schools across the Commonwealth. We need your voice now to encourage our Western Massachusetts representatives to support this bill. Children deserve healthy food choices at school!

Click HERE to learn more and act now.

Organic vs. Natural

Organic vs. Natural: Don’t Let Your Family Be Fooled

Organic Consumers Association writes:

The “natural” food phenomenon worries many in the organic industry. So-called “natural” products aren’t regulated and don’t have to meet any special standards, so they can be marketed more cheaply than genuine certified organic food. Many formerly organic brands are trying to fool consumers into thinking natural and organic are the same.

Early this year, for instance, WhiteWave Foods added “natural” Silk soy milk to its line of organic products. This summer, WhiteWave (a unit of Dean Foods) broadened its Horizon line of organic products with its first “natural” offering: Little Blends, a yogurt for toddlers. In August, it began test-marketing Milk Breakers, a six-ounce single serving of “natural” milk with added protein.

This year, for the first time since at least 2004, sales of “natural” foods and beverages will likely grow at a faster rate than sales of organic foods, according to Nutrition Business Journal.

The organic industry is fighting back. In September, Organic Valley will debut an online calculator that lets consumers see how many chemicals they avoid by using organic milk.

“We’re holding on when some other sectors are sinking,” says Theresa Marquez, chief marketing executive for Organic Valley. “Our future is organic.”

Read more HERE.

Obama’s New Chef Skewers School Lunches

Obama’s New Chef Skewers School Lunches

Before he agreed to cook for the Obama family in the White House, Chicago chef Sam Kass was already talking about changing the way American children eat.

During weekly Tuesday gatherings at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, Mr. Kass hosted “Rethinking Soup,” which he described as “a communal event where we will eat delicious, healthy soup and have fresh, organic conversation about many of the urgent social, cultural, economic and environmental food issues that we should be addressing.”

In May, over a meal of locally-produced beef and barley soup, Mr. Kass lamented the sorry state of the National School Lunch Program, which provides low-cost or free lunches to schoolchildren. He noted that what gets served up to kids is influenced by government agricultural subsidies. As a result, he says, meals served to students are low in vegetables and disproportionately high in fat, additives, preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup. (He also links the high consumption of sugary foods and food additives to learning difficulties and attention deficit disorder, although the medical community remains divided on that issue.) …


Encourage Oprah to Support Healthy School Lunches

Amy Kalafa of Two Angry Moms writes:

Recently, Oprah did a couple of shows focusing on the emotional toll of childhood obesity. The shows were touching, powerful, and an important step in rethinking how we nourish our kids.

We want Oprah to broaden this discussion to address the need to fundamentally change how we feed kids in America both in school and at home. We want to extend the conversation beyond obesity and diabetes and delve into the impact of poor nutrition on learning capacity, cognitive function, social adaptability, behavior issues, and general health and wellness. Even more importantly, we want to spark action to effect meaningful change in the school food environment to enhance our collective ability to create healthy, well-adjusted, thriving children.

Please take a moment to reach out to Oprah. Let her know we want to fill her audience with Angry Moms working to ignite the kind of positive change that will sustain our kids as well as the planet they will inherit.

Go to, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click on “contact us” [it’s in small print at the very bottom]. Under the heading “The Oprah Winfrey Show” at the middle of the page, there are prompts to either “send in your thoughts” or “send in your show suggestions.” Click on either one and encourage Oprah to join the Two Angry Moms movement and show her audience the inspiring people and programs that are already making a positive impact around the country. Let Oprah know that with her help, we can reach the tipping point in this movement.

Let’s keep our grassroots growing!

ACT NOW: Support Healthy School Nutrition. Get Junk Food Out of MA Schools.

Support MPHA’s Efforts to

House Bill 4376, An Act to Promote Proper School Nutrition

THE PROBLEM: Junk food and sugary drinks are contributing to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes among our children.

In Massachusetts, 26% of high school students are overweight or obese.

Rates of obesity among children have more than doubled in the past two decades.

Overweight children are at higher risk of developing diabetes, asthma, heart disease, depression and low self-esteem. Poor nutrition also reduces children’s ability to learn.

Children are over-eating food and drinks high in fat and sugar. One source of this problem is the sale of junk food in schools. The easy availability of candy bars, chips, and soda in school vending machines encourage unhealthy eating habits.

A SOLUTION: Healthy food choices for our children at school.

The time to prevent obesity is in childhood and schools are an excellent place to start. Children learn the habits of a lifetime in school – one of those habits should be healthy eating.

HOUSE BILL 4376, An Act to Promote Proper School Nutrition:

  • Directs the Department of Public Health (DPH) to establish healthy standards for snacks and beverages sold in vending machines, school stores, and cafeteria ala carte lines. These standards are to be in accordance with Institute of Medicine guidelines, which recommend that sodas be replaced with water, low- and non-fat milk, and juice; fat and sugar be reduced in snacks; and fresh fruits and vegetables be made available in cafeterias.
  • Establishes a Governor’s Commission on Childhood Obesity to develop a coordinated statewide plan to reduce childhood obesity.
  • Requires DPH and the Department of Education (DOE) to set guidelines for the training of school nurses to help children with diabetes and eating disorders and to collect and evaluate data on these conditions.
  • Calls for an investigation of how to make it easier for schools to purchase fresh foods from local farmers. One 20 ounce soda has 17 teaspoons of sugar and 250 “empty” calorie

ACTION: Your help is needed to pass this bill!

  • ENDORSE the bill by filling out and returning the endorsement form to MPHA (click here).
  • CONTACT your state legislators and urge them to support House Bill 4376, An Act to Pro-mote Proper School Nutrition. To determine who they are, visit, or contact MPHA. Then call your legislators at the State House: (617) 722-2000.
  • SHARE copies of this fact sheet with your friends, family, and neighbors and urge them to contact their legislators.
  • ASK your school board members, PTA, church, or hospital to endorse this bill.
  • WRITE a letter to your local newspaper in support of this bill

Read the rest of this entry »

Nutrition Episode on HFVS (04/01/08)



Nutrition Episode

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA
Tuesday evening @ 7pm


04/01/08 PLAYLIST

listen now | subscribe to free podcast | archived shows | contests


  • Mr. Ray – “Good To Eat” [Family Ride]
  • Imagination Movers – “I’d Eat It Anyway” [Good Ideas]
  • Kevin Kammeraad – “Dinner” [The Tomato Collection]
  • Jamie Broza – “Snacks” [My Daddy is Scratchy]
  • Scott Flory – “Go Ask You Dad” [Soundzania]
  • Cab Calloway & His Orchestra – “Everybody Eats When They Come to My House” [Nicky’s Jazz for Kids]
  • The Jimmies – “Googlie Mooglie” [Make Your Own Someday]
  • Laurie Berkner – “The Valley of Vegetables” [Buzz Buzz]
  • Uncle Rock – “There is Love in My Food” [Uncle Rock U]
  • The Sippy Cups – “Give Peas a Chance” [Kids Rock for Peas]




HFVS is moving & expanding! On May 3rd, the Hilltown Family Variety Show will moving to Saturday mornings, and expanding to a full hour! Tune in between 9am-10am to 103.3FM (Northampton) to hear great family music and storytelling every Saturday! Our weekly podcast will be following suit, expanding to a full hour. Click here to subscribe to our free podcast.

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