Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Chard, Eat It!

Not only is chard a delicious and amazingly healthy addition to any dish, as evident in all of the following recipes, it is also easy to grow in most regions. A great source for tips in starting your very own chard patch can be found at Organic Gardening. The history of chard and its discovery also offers some surprisingly compelling reading material, as told by one of our iconic Central Coast farmers and storytellers, Andy Griffin of Mariquita Farm.


For lessons related to chard check out the following:

Harvest of the Month Cooked Greens
Cooked Greens Workbooks
Developed by the LA Collaborative for Healthy Active Children

Chard Recipes

Chard Cakes – from the Esalen Cookbook
Makes about 6 cakes

  • 4 eggs
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • ½ medium onion
  • ½ lb. chard, washed and dried
  • 1Tbs. sesame oil

Wisk the eggs, salt and water together. Slice the onion into thin half-moon slices. Remove the chard stems from the leaves. Thinly chop the chard stems. Layer the chard leaves on top of each other. Roll them into a burrito shape and slice thin ribbons.  Mix the onions, chard, and stems with the eggs.

Heat the oil on a skillet. Spoon out a scoop of the mixture on the pan. Cook each side until golden brown (about 4 minutes on each side).  Top with an herb cheese or sour cream sauce.

Garlicky Chard – from Bonny Doon Elementary, teacher Sarah Clarkson

  • Several bunches chard, washed and chopped
  • 1 small head garlic, chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Soy sauce (optional)
  • Cooked bulgur, brown rice, or quinoa

Heat olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat.  Add chopped garlic and sauté just until light golden brown.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and place in small bowl.  Put pan back on burner and add the chard.  Sauté until wilted, in batches if needed.  Heat and serve the cooked grain, if using, topped with the chard.  Pass around the garlic to sprinkled on top, along with the soy sauce.

Note:  Garden Teacher, Jane Forbes at Westlake Elementary has also found the stir-fry technique to be popular, with the addition of any and all veggies her 4th and 5th grade class has around…other greens, broccoli, beets, carrots, and peas.

Hummus Stuffed Chard Roll-Ups – adapted from The Health Promoting Cookbook

  • 10 whole chard leaves, lightly steamed
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup prepared hummus
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • ¼ cup diced green or red bell pepper
  • 2 whole tomatoes, diced
  • ½ peeled avocado, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • Salt to taste

In a mixing bowl, stir together rice, celery, bell pepper, tomatoes, lemon juice and basil.  Season with salt to taste.  Cut the stems off of the chard leaves just at the base.  On a cutting board, spread out the chard leaves one at a time.  Spread about one Tablespoonful of hummus on the chard.  Place a Tablespoonful of the rice mixture in the center of each leaf followed by a few pieces of avocado.  Roll up like a burrito, tucking the sides in before rolling completely.  Chill and serve.

Winter Pasta – adapted from

  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 4 small shallots, peeled
  • 1 bunch chard, stems removed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese, plus more for topping
  • 2 Tbsp. hot pasta water, plus more if needed
  • 12 oz. dried penne pasta (or another kind if desired)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • Fresh thyme (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the boiling water generously, and add the garlic and shallots.  Boil for 2-3 minutes, stir in the chard and cook for another ten seconds.  Don’t overcook.  Working quickly, use a slotted spoon or strainer to fish the greens, garlic, and shallots from the water.  Use a food processor or blender to puree the ingredients, along with the olive oil and goat cheese.  Add a couple Tablespoons of hot pasta water if needed to thin things out.  Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice if using.

Reheat the pot of water and boil the pasta per package instructions.  Drain and toss immediately with the green sauce.  Serve topped with a few pinches of fresh thyme and more crumbled goat cheese.

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What happens when Whole Kids Foundation partners with you to bring 50+ leaders from School Garden Support Organizations from across the country together to get to talk shop, inspire each other, problem-solve around shared challenges, and eat amazing food prepared and served by happy 5th graders? MAGIC. That's what happens. #sgso2018 ... See MoreSee Less

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Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program for their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
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We are so grateful to be starting 2018 with such strong support! Because of so many generous gifts from our supporters like you, we surpassed our 2017 fundraising goal of $124,000, with all campaign donations totaling $125,835.

These funds will help make Life Lab field trip and summer camp programs possible for children from families and schools that could otherwise not afford them. We believe that ALL children deserve the chance to love learning, healthy food, and nature. Thanks to your support, this year we will serve even more children in Santa Cruz County and across the nation.


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Happy almost 2018, Life Lab fans! We are only $809 dollars away from reaching our $124,000 year-end fundraising goal! Before you ring in the new year, will you help us ensure a promising 2018? 100% of the funds necessary to do this important work come from grants and from individuals like you. Will you join us in ensuring that we can continue to deepen and expand our reach, so that even more children can experience the joy of loving learning, healthy food, and nature? Your tax-deductible gift made by midnight tonight will go directly to supporting our programs.
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Life Lab has been the most innovative and relevant organization in this field. From providing the best curriculum to their cutting edge professional development, we have relied on Life Lab as our go to organization for support, ideas, and collaboration.
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Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.
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