Life Lab

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

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 101Cookbooks.com

  • 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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7 days ago

Life Lab

🌱Moment of the Month🌱

Life Lab Summer Camps are always a beautiful and nurturing way to share the interconnections of nature with children. Although our campers could not join us in the Life Lab Garden Classroom this summer, we wanted to make it possible for them to have fun at home! So our camp team assembled Summer Activity Care Packages full of materials, recipes, and advice for 225 children who had already registered for camp. They then carefully and lovingly hand delivered them to each family, occasionally getting to say Hi! from a safe distance, too.

"Thank you so much!! I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for pooling your ideas together for non-screen fun and learning opportunities. We can’t wait to dive in!
With much gratitude,"
Ellie

We are grateful to each and every camp family for their kindness, generosity, and patience as we all navigated the new realities of this year. As a community, the camp families even donated more than $12,000 of their camp fees towards ensuring that Life Lab will continue cultivating children’s love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education during this challenging time.

While we cannot deliver care packages to everyone in our broader Life Lab community, we hope that our growing BackPocketLearning.org website will help families seeking simple, fun, nature based activities and healthy family recipes to enjoy together at home this summer!🌈🐝🌻🌞

#lifelabmomentofthemonth #mylifelab #lifelab #summercamp #summerfun #gardenbasededucation #gardenlife #garden See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Our “Share Your Garden Saturday” video series continues with a sweet share from Emma Christie in the Life Lab garden at Starlight Elementary School in Watsonville🌸#shareyourgaredLL #school gardens PVUSD Food & Nutrition Services #LifeLab AmeriCorps See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

In love with our @reneesgardenseeds flowers❤️thank you Renee for years of support & providing seeds for Life Lab gardens. We appreciate you! #reneesgardenseeds #lifelab #outdooreducation #gardensofgratitude #schoolgardens See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

“Education is a practice of Freedom” #emancipation #juneteenth #americanhistory #blackhistory #teachablemoments See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

Happy National Eat Your Veggies Day!😋🥕

To celebrate today we wanted to share some of our impacts this past school year. In our seven PVUSD Partner Elementary Schools, 98% of kindergarten, 1st and 2nd teachers reported that the Fall 2019 NGSS in the Garden programs improved their 1,900 students’ attitudes towards fresh fruits and vegetables, their emotional well-being, and their connection with nature.

Our Kids Cook presentation brought exciting hands-on cooking and healthy eating to more than 1,500 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at these schools, too, in January, February and March. In tastings surveys 72% of the children reported liking or loving the fresh, healthful foods they ate, with 63% said they were trying a new fresh produce item for the first time.

278 second-graders from our partner schools enjoyed hands-on learning in field trips to our Blooming Classroom this school year. 59% reported tasting new healthy food items for the first time in lesson-based tastings, and 70% said they loved or liked what they tasted.

We would also like to remind you to eat a rainbow 🌈🥗

A diverse and colorful diet nourishes a strong and healthy body. All fruits and vegetables contain different combinations of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. In addition, they contain phytonutrients, which give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors and also play a wide range of roles in keeping our bodies healthy.

Thank you to our partners and sponsors for making this work possible. @sagegardenproject @pvhealth @pajarovalleyusd
@unfi @foodcorps

#eatyourveggies #EatYourVegetablesDay #mylifelab #vegetables See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

Life Lab Stands With Black Lives.

The injustice of systemic racism must end. Our work at Life Lab to foster empathy, love and inclusion with the children who are the next generation will continue, and it is no longer enough. This painful moment is an opportunity and a catalyst for us to take the next steps to more purposefully weave antiracist learning into all that we do.

This is a time of active learning for us, as we listen and dig deeper into Life Lab’s part in historical and present-day oppression. We see opportunities to provide foundational antiracist lessons and experiences more intentionally throughout our curriculum and programs, joining with others who are on this path.

There are seeds of hope in this moment that we can nurture in garden classrooms. Our work with children, educators and schools can motivate actions, large and small, individual and collective, to help create real change for a more just society.

Black lives matter, and Life Lab commits to countering racism through education and love.

We know this process will include learning, unlearning and relearning. We welcome this collaborative work, and we will report back to you on our progress.

~ The Life Lab Team See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

🥕Meet Cara, our Garden Programs Manager!🥕

Cara began her current position at Life Lab in 2014, but has worked with Life Lab in a variety of roles since 2007. While going to school at the University of California Santa Cruz, she found her calling to be an outdoor educator while interning at Life Lab in the field trip teaching program. Graduating from UCSC with a B.A in Environmental Studies and a minor in Anthropology, Cara brings 12 years of education experience to her position, specializing in environmental education and professional development for beginning educators. Growing up in Chicago, she jumped on opportunities to volunteer and work at learning institutions, such as the Evanston Ecology Center and the Field Museum of Chicago. Cara moved to Santa Cruz in 2003 and loves living in a community that appreciates healthy living, eating well, and the natural world. When she is not hard at work, she is hard at play, hiking, dancing, cooking, traveling and doing yoga.🥘🌎😁 See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Our “Share Your Garden Saturday” video series continues with a sweet share from Abby Hauth at the Life Lab garden at MacQuiddy Elementary🌸 #shareyourgardenLL #schoolgardens #lifelab @foodcorps @pvusdschoolfood See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Eat a Rainbow this Memorial weekend! Fruits & veggies provide nutrients essential for good health 🌈🥗💪🏽 #chard #carrots #schoolgardens #lifelab #eatarainbow #nutrition #gardeneducation #teachtheyouth See MoreSee Less

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Life Lab 40th
Life Lab’s 40th Gala – Sunday, October 13th  Celebrate 40 years of bringing learning to life in gardens. Learn more  
Life Lab's 40th Gala
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.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom
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