Day in the Life of Red Rabbit: Meet Chef Marisa!

Day in the Life of Red Rabbit: Meet Chef Marisa!

This week we are proud to feature our Red Rabbit family, our very own Chef Marisa Wiker! Chef Marisa is one of our many talented cooks here at Red Rabbit. We sat down with Chef Marisa to find out a little bit more about how she became a chef, what she loves to cook, and her mother’s rule of thumb at meal time.

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Why Gluten-Free?

Why Gluten-Free?

Over the last several years, there has been an invasion in grocery store aisles across America. You may have heard it on the news, or read about it in your daily magazine or newspaper. You’ve probably noticed it on bookshelves, too, at your local bookstore: “gluten-free” is fast becoming as ubiquitous as the “fat-free” stamps of the 1990’s.The rise in popularity of a gluten-free diet has millions of people across the country jumping for joy – and not because it is a weight-loss-miracle cure by any means.

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Pseudograins on the Brain

Pseudograins on the Brain

What is a pseudograin?

First, let’s identify what classifies a plant as a grain: a grain is a member of the grass family, which produces a dry, edible fruit, commonly called a kernel, grain or berry. Pseudograins, or pseudocereals, are non-grasses that are used in the same manner as grains. Amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat are all considered pseudo grains.

Whole grains are, arguably, the basis of a healthy diet. Both groups provide us with carbohydrates and can also serve as a source of vitamins and minerals! While pseudograins have been popping up in grocery stores all across the country these last few years, some of us still may not grasp the unique properties of each - so let’s take a look!

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Protein!

Protein!

Off of the heels of popular diets such as Atkins, Paleo and South Beach, Americans are as enamored with the little groups of nitrogen containing building blocks as they have ever been. And why not? Protein is used for creation and structure of every cell in our bodies, protein’s enzymatic reaction allows for many essential chemical processes to occur, and protein antibodies, are one defense (usually), which keep us free from illness, among other things. Even the word itself derives from the Greek word protos, meaning first, or of primary importance. In a recent International Food Information Council (IFIC) survey, 48% of respondents stated that they are currently trying to eat more protein. Reasons given vary from perceived increased satiety, to beliefs that it will aid in weight loss. There is no doubt that eating enough protein is paramount to good health. But what is enough protein? What do you hear people saying about protein?

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So Your Child Wants to be a Vegetarian!

So Your Child Wants to be a Vegetarian!

What happens when  your  child  says, "I want  to  be  a  vegetarian!"?

First, don't worry!  Your child isn't alone.  Interest in vegetarianism, or in eating less meat in general, is on the rise in the US, fueled by positive health studies, animal rights, environmental concerns, and even popular culture.  However, your child may show interest in cutting out meat for less complicated reasons, with taste, texture or a love of animals as distinct possibilities.  Whatever the reason, you may have concerns that your child could miss out on vital nutrients by omitting meat from the menu.  The good news is that with some education and training, your child can easily meet or exceed recommended nutrient allowances.

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What's Cooking with Red Rabbit and Roads to Success!

What's Cooking with Red Rabbit and Roads to Success!

Red Rabbit is back in our international kitchen, cooking up an eclectic mix of culinary delights! This winter, a group of Red Rabbit chefs-in-training is learning all about the diverse foods found around the world -- and right in their own backyards in New York City, a hub of global cuisines! This semester, the Red Rabbit cooking program with Roads to Success at PS 333 is highlighting cultures that are important parts of our lives, as well as the lives of our neighbors, friends and classmates.

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Who are the Real Cooks in the School Kitchen?

Who are the Real Cooks in the School Kitchen?

When the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFA) was signed in 2010, it had the best of intentions. It called for drastic reductions in sodium, stricter definitions of what constitutes a vegetable and what doesn’t, placed limits on the amount of meat that could be served each week, and increased the number of required whole grains. All were soundly based in the latest nutrition science. However, in the five years since, so many adjustments have been made to those guidelines that much of what HHFA set out to accomplish has been overturned by special interests groups, from the Potato Lobby to pizza makers successfully getting pizzas and french fries deemed a vegetable.
 

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Sugar, By Any Other Name, Is Just as Sweet

What foods come to mind when we think of sugars? Bananas, mangos, dates, grapes, carrots and sweet potatoes? OR doughnuts, cookies, cakes, pastries and sugar-sweetened beverages? For those who are a little more up-to-speed, what about breakfast cereal, instant oats, fruit drinks or ketchup? Yes, ketchup!

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Cooking on a Budget of $25 or less

Good news for home cooks! It's  entirely possible to feed a family of four  a nutritious and delicious meal for under $25 without sacrificing  ingredients or time.  You'll need basics like olive oil, dried herbs and flour to keep costs down, so factor in a little more  if its been a while  since you've restocked that pantry.  By following a few simple tips and using our suggested recipes as a baseline, you are well  on your way to becoming a talented home chef without breaking the bank. 

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Certified Naturally Grown: Clever Marketing or Legitimate Labeling?

Certified Naturally Grown: Clever Marketing or Legitimate Labeling?

Finding a way to blaze our own trail by creating a sustainable business has long been a part of the quintessential American success story. For generations, the agriculture business has been a major factor in the success of many American families. While our country took a turn to the industrial for the past several decades, there has been an upswing in the establishment of smaller, family-run farms that eschew what has become the conventional, pesticide-laden industrial way.

Even though these small farmers are devoting their land to producing what are, by definition, organic crops, they are not able to use the “organic” label. To be able to market their crops as organic, they must embark on what can be a lengthy, expensive certification process through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Transform Your Kitchen Into An International Smorgasbord!

Transform Your Kitchen Into An International Smorgasbord!

Here at Red Rabbit, we love to try new flavors and cuisines. Dishes like Sancocho (South American chicken and root vegetable soup), Potage aux primeurs (French spring vegetable soup), and Dolmades (Greek rice wrapped in a grape leaf) get our mouths salivating and our brain wheels spinning with recipe ideas. How can we create these international dishes in our Red Rabbit kitchen for all of our students to try, and how can we experiment at home with our family and friends?

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For Valentines Day, Have Your (Dark) Chocolate and Your Health, too!

For Valentines Day, Have Your (Dark) Chocolate and Your Health, too!

This Saturday will mark  the  day that  Americans (on average) have purchased  58 million pounds of chocolate this week. Why? Well, in case all of the wintry weather has snowed in our memories - it’s  Valentine’s Day!

While  chocolate  is a decadent sweet consumed by billions of people around the world year-round, and on this day in particular, it’s not something Red Rabbit recommends as much as we would, say, broccoli.  Or kale.  Or  fill-in-your-favorite-green-vegetable!

Chocolate has a fascinating history outside of the amount consumed on Valentine’s day every year.  It is thought to have first been cultivated by the  Olmec civilization, predating even the  Mayans, who are traditionally thought to have been the original cultivators and purveyors of the  cacao bean.  This little bean was once used as currency, and is the essential ingredient to making what we know as chocolate. 

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What's in Season: Root Vegetables

What's in Season: Root Vegetables

With our second snowstorm of the season upon us, rain boots,  slippery sidewalks, wool layers and constant hat hair have become part of our daily routine. This time of the year, hibernating indoors with our Netflix queue and a warm cup of tea constitutes the majority of our social lives - which is just fine with us!

For us  healthy meal enthusiasts, the best part of staying in is  cooking  at  home  and  experimenting  with  local  foods. While we often crave hearty cold weather stews and chili, we try to mix up our diets by incorporating nutrient rich winter vegetables to keep us  energized and healthy during flu and cold season.

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Teaching Social "Totiquette"

Teaching Social "Totiquette"

We can all agree that saying “please” and “thank you” are basic manners that we teach to our children. In NYC, we live and share our space with over 8 million individuals, expanding our notion of social etiquette into public spaces.

Simple gestures such as walking down the street without taking up the entire sidewalk, using an “asking” voice instead of a demanding voice, and - lest we forget! - restaurant manners, are all ways to practice good social graces without overextending our busy selves! Creating positive behavior, by setting positive examples and clear expectations, acknowledges that our children are humans, too. This ultimately encourages children to be more confident and accepting of others.

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What Does an "Organic" Label Mean?

What Does an "Organic" Label Mean?

Once upon a time, buying an apple was easy. It didn’t require much thought beyond, “I’m hungry. I’d like to buy an apple. Here’s one! It looks good – no bumps or mushy brown spots.” Money was exchanged for the sweet, crunchy, nutritious prize, and we went about our day with full, grateful tummies.

Yet, thanks to generations of pesticides, bioengineering and synthetics, a food transaction today comes with significantly more food for thought, and carries with it the possibility for considerably more confusion as to what is “conventional” and what is “organic.”

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Flu Fighters!

Flu Fighters!

In case you haven’t noticed - winter is here!

We could be fans of cold temperatures, or prefer the heat of summer - but this frigid season is fully underway whether we prefer it or not!  While it has its share of unique and fun, calorie-burning activities (sledding, skiing, snowboarding; and, in the case of New Yorkers, simply traversing the sidewalks after a snowstorm), winter also tends to come accompanied by a familiar foe: influenza, or, the flu.  

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