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The Harvest For Health Program at New York-Presbyterian


A guide to what month fresh produce will taste the best, twenty tips for smart grocery shopping, and healthy, delicious spring recipes! The Harvest for Health program has it all!

The Harvest For Health program at New York-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt Manor is the home to the Chef Peter X. Kelly Teaching Kitchen. As part of the NewYork-Presbyterian Regional Health Network, the hospital is aligned with the entire organization’s “patient-centric” mission, which goes beyond a specific diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan. Through numerous programs, cooking classes, and community outreach activities, including physician lectures and participation in local health fairs, NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital is dedicated to contributing to the community’s wellness by emphasizing healthful eating as a way to prevent chronic disease and promote health. The outreach includes all ages, from school children to seniors.

I attended their Spring Into Good Health program which began with a discussion about their Eat In Season Produce Calendar. I learned that June is the best month to eat green beans, asparagus, snap peas, and strawberries plus the cost will be kind to my wallet.

Chef Danielle Wasserman then shared some terrific tips on Grocery Shopping Smarts. Some of my favorites included: “Beware of middle-shelf items which tend to be higher priced, and if you can’t understand an ingredient listed on the package of your food, chances are your body won’t either! “ I was also surprised to learn that I should “listen to upbeat music while I shop, because stores often play slower songs to encourage shoppers to wander through the aisles, and buy more.”

By now, everyone was ravenous from eyeing the gorgeous fresh produce lovingly displayed on the kitchen counters. The ruby red beets, yellow squash, vibrant green asparagus and fresh peas formed a cornucopia, and there was a fennel and onion fragrance wafting through the air. It was time to prepare our healthy spring lunch! The Spring Into Good Health menu included Gazpacho, a Spinach, Braised Beet & Mushroom Salad, and a Spring Veggie Pasta crowned with a dollop of Avocado Pesto.

The class divided into small groups to peel, chop, blend and sauté. Everyone was chatting and sharing their funniest culinary disasters and giving vague hints about their family’s secret recipes. As Chef Danielle demonstrated how to transform your hand into a claw when dicing an onion, she mused, “I’m so happy when I’m cooking, it makes me cry!” I learned some special secrets to the spring recipes including adding Sherry Vinegar to my Gazpacho.

I asked Chef Danielle what I could substitute for the beets in the Spinach and Mushroom Salad, because my husband is not a huge fan. She suggested radishes, fennel or any roasted veggie.

My favorite recipe was the Spring Veggie Pasta topped with an Avocado Pesto. The vegetables’ vibrant colors were a masterpiece to behold. The onion, fennel and garlic fragrances were intoxicating, and the tastes exploded in our mouths.

The Teaching Kitchen Calendar for July includes some fabulous classes: Quick Hors D’oeuvres For Your Party (July 23, 4:00-5:30pm), Summer Farmers Market Tour (July 24, 11:00 am-noon), Light and Chilled Soups (July 27, 11:30 am-1 pm).

The class fee is $15. There will be two Physician In The Kitchen classes held in July, and they are No Charge: The Anti-inflammatory Diet (July 20, 11:30 am-1:00 pm) hosted by Dr. Shireen Pais, Advanced Therapeutic Gastroenterologist and Chef Emilie Berner. A unique lunch event featuring a discussion about the anti-inflammatory diet. Learn more about how inflammation is at the root of many illnesses, and treatment options.

The second class is Healthy Kidneys, Healthy Life (July 31, 11:30am-1:00 pm) hosted by Dr. Madhavi Katikaneni, Nephrologist, for a discussion on supporting your kidney health. A lunch, featuring kidney friendly foods will be prepared together and served.

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