Tag Archives: recipes

5 Simple Side Dish Recipes for the Holidays

When you’re thinking about, working with and helping others get access to food as often as we are at Chester County Food Bank, it’s impossible to ignore the significance that the holidays can have for our neighbors in need. For many families in Chester County, even if they can get by week to week, the big, festive meals that for many of us are a time of joy can present lots of extra stress.

Our partnerships with local food pantries and our ongoing programs like our Senior Food Boxes, which provide nutritious ingredients to nearly 800 seniors in our region, help to ease the burden for families during the holidays and all year long.

As we round the corner to the winter holidays ahead, we wanted to remind you that preparing food for special gatherings doesn’t have to be an overwrought or expensive undertaking. Even if you love to cook, it can be hard to eke out the time or spend extra on specialty ingredients at the market. And while we all love to tuck into our favorite comfort foods around the holiday table, extravagance is not what these holidays are about. They are about togetherness, love and gratitude.

One of the things that we’re grateful for is that our favorite holiday side dishes require little more than a few veggies, a handful of herbs, a splash of milk or broth and a good recipe to guide the way. Here are five recipes for simple, affordable and nutritious holiday classics that you can bring to the table this year:

Sweet Potato Hummus: This recipe from Food & Wine puts a new spin on sweet potatoes, one of the most wallet-friendly, nutrient-dense root veggies around. For far less than the cost of prepared hummus, you can make a giant batch of this creamy, mild dip to serve before the meal with crackers and baby carrots. Bonus points for the canned chickpeas, which add a huge boost of protein to this crowd-pleasing appetizer.

Massaged Kale Salad: Though it used to be a bit more of a “health food” staple, kale has risen through the ranks of the food world to become a mainstream veggie. And we’re glad for it, too: Our farm-grown kale is bursting with vitamins and minerals. This recipe from Eating Well keeps it exceedingly simple: A quick massage with olive oil tames the kale’s crunchy texture, and garlicky lemon dressing will have guests reaching for seconds.

Classic Herb Stuffing: Stuffing can be one of the worst holiday culprits in terms of being overly complicated (think oysters, raisins, sausage and so on) and also one of the most calorie-laden. That’s why we appreciate this no-nonsense (but oh-so-delicious) classic stuffing from Cooking Light. Whole grain bread, just a few veggies and herbs, chicken stock, eggs and butter are all you need to whip up this craveable carb.

Green Beans with Brown Butter: Brown butter is an amazing kitchen hack to add to your arsenal. Just a few moments over gentle heat transforms regular butter into a fragrant, nutty, rich sauce that elevates everything from oatmeal to ravioli. It takes green beans from standard to stellar in this three-step recipe from the fuss-free cooking pros at Real Simple.

The World’s Easiest Cranberry Sauce: No holiday meal is complete without a dish of bright, zesty cranberry sauce on the table! Skip the jellied, jarred stuff and try this recipe from the acclaimed food blog Serious Eats, which uses fresh cranberries from the acclaimed food and claims to be the world’s easiest version! The fresh fruit means a whopping dose of vitamin C and tons of juicy, tart flavor.

What are your favorite holiday dishes that are both economic and a snap to make? Let us know! Check out our resource of recipes including those featured with our Fresh2You Mobile Market weekly recipe bundles.

Want to learn more? Check out our mission video, sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. You can also donate food, funds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved or requesting a tour. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

Featured photo: Chester County Food Bank; all other photos: Pexels

A Fresh Take on Our Fresh2You Program for 2018

Summer is nearly here, which means it’s time for one of our favorite annual initiatives: the Fresh2You Mobile Market! With generous support from QVC and the Chester County Health Department, this will be our fourth season of bringing affordably priced fresh fruits and veggies to underserved areas via our mobile market on wheels. The official start to the Fresh2You season is Tuesday, June 12.

This year brings some exciting new developments to Fresh2You! For starters, we’re expanding the Fruit & Vegetable RX (FVRx) program in the hopes of helping even more of our neighbors incorporate more fresh produce into their diets. Essentially, FVRx participants are provided with a real “prescription” for Veggie Bucks from their medical provider. Veggie Bucks are vouchers that can then be used to purchase fruits and vegetables each week at the Fresh2You Mobile Market.

“Last year, we piloted it with The Clinic, and it was extremely successful, so we’re expanding it to be at two additional sites,” said Roberta Cosentino, the Fresh2You Mobile Market manager. “One is the Coatesville VA and one is La Comunidad Hispana in Kennett Square. Folks can come to any of our markets and redeem those prescriptions for produce!”

Another update for 2018 is that we are no longer attending two of our sites from last year — Modena and Honey Brook — though we hope to be back in future years. A new location for us will be at the Coventry Mall in North Coventry. “This was somewhere we noticed a lot of people were coming from to our Phoenixville market, and we have a lot of community support out there,” said Roberta.

As always, we want to remind our supporters and clients that the Fresh2You Mobile Market is open to everyone. Whether you scour for the best bargains at the grocery store or shop for heirloom produce at your local farmers market, you are welcome at Fresh2You.

“We’ve learned very clearly that regardless of income level, people want to support local agriculture, want to know where their food is coming from and that there’s no shortage of demand for local produce,” Roberta noted. “We’ve learned that lesson over and over, and we’re trying to increase access in a way that’s dignified and equitable. Part of that equity is making the same foods available to everybody. When you see our logo, come on over and check us out!”

Anyone shopping at the market helps to support the program itself. Fresh2You accepts cash, credit/debit cards, SNAP/EBT and WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers (FMNP). We match FMNP vouchers with Veggie Bucks, which we encourage people to come back and use the next time they shop.

No matter who you are, we’re betting that you love getting local produce, grains, spices and honey at a great price. Because of our relationships with farmers and remarkable buying power (we’re almost at the wholesale buying level of a grocery store!), we’re able to purchase food at extremely low wholesale prices. Because we’re a nonprofit and don’t mark the food up, we’re able to pass the savings on to our shoppers. Here are just a few examples of our prices:

  • Local eggs: $2.50/dozen.
  • Fresh bunches of kale: $2 each.
  • Tomatoes: $2/pound.

This year, we’re also bringing back our wildly popular recipe bundles. Each week, trained volunteers run a recipe demonstration that features a seasonal veggie. The volunteers cook the recipe on-site and give out samples. The recipes are generally very simple and healthful; alongside the samples, we hand out the recipe printed on a card and sell all of the ingredients in that dish for just $5. Our group of over 20 volunteers just completed their training and are ready to hit the markets with easy weeknight recipes to share!

“The recipe bundles were a huge success last year and we can’t wait to see how well it goes this year,” Roberta remarked. “We loved seeing this become part of people’s’ weekly routines!”

All of this awaits at the 2018 Fresh2You Mobile Market season. Check out our schedule to find the closest location to you — the truck is out and about five days a week, so come on out to enjoy the bounty of the season!

Want to learn more? Check out our mission video, sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. You can also donate food, funds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved or requesting a tour. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

Photos: Chester County Food Bank

Kale Yeah! October 4 is National Kale Day

Kale, the unexpected rock star of green vegetables, is getting its own special day: October 4 is National Kale Day! These days, it seems like there’s a “holiday” for practically everything, but this is one that we’re happy to celebrate. Nutrition is a core value at Chester County Food Bank, and kale (plus collards, and other greens in the brassica family) are jam-packed with an amazing quantity of vitamins and minerals, like iron.

Kale, a hearty veggie, grows well in a variety of climates and soils. We should know—2017 is looking like one of our most successful growing years for kale. This fall, we’re set to harvest literally tons (between 15,000 and 20,000 pounds) of kale and other leafy greens grown in our raised-bed gardens and through our farm partners. We’re so proud of this amazing number, and are excited to share the bounty with our community through our many programs and our partner local food pantries and agencies.

To make this harvest happen, we will continue to rely on volunteer power. Volunteering on the farm is fun, and the autumn harvest is the perfect time to get involved! Check out our volunteer page for more info or to sign up for shifts.

There’s good reason so many people have fallen for kale salads and smoothies, and not just because they make pretty Instagram pictures! Kale is low in calories (just 36 per cup), high in fiber and Vitamins A, C and K, has more iron per calorie than beef and is packed with antioxidants. Also, 1 cup of kale boasts 10 percent of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acid and 9 percent of the recommended calcium and magnesium. Oh, and it has protein, too—2.9 grams per 1 cup serving. Pretty incredible, right?

Perhaps, you, like us, have found yourself with an abundance of kale after a productive summer. Or maybe the emerald green bunches are on sale at your local market, and you’re curious to see what this trendy vegetable is all about. Not sure what to do with kale, or its cousins, Swiss chard and collard greens? The options are almost endless!

Try it in a comforting soup with turkey and noodles (great for Thanksgiving leftovers), or shredded in a protein-packed Tuscan white bean salad. Supercharge a regular potato salad, or go classic with a health food cafe-worthy kale salad. If the texture of raw kale is a bit much for you, try massaging it. Yes, really! Rubbing the uncooked leaves down with a bit of olive oil and salt and allowing it to sit for a few minutes can help make the leaves softer and more pleasant to chew.

This October 4, join us in celebrating the wondrous plant that is kale during National Kale Day!

Want to learn more? Sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. You can also donate foodfunds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved or request a tour. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthful food.

Emily Kovach

Photos, top to bottom: Pexels; Chester County Food Bank (next three photos)