Thanks to a collaboration between Vineyard Nutrition and Island Grown Schools, Island families have seen their resources for healthy eating multiply in the past few months. With funding from a Mass in Motion grant, registered nutritionists Prudence Athearn Levy and Josh Levy co-wrote Vineyard Family Cooking, a booklet featuring recipes that are easy to prepare, tasty and healthy. The grant also covers the cost of a family cooking class series, taught by Mr. Levy and featuring recipes from the booklet, that began last month.
Vineyard Family Cooking is the second cookbook the Levys have collaborated on. The first was a class project — a cookbook for middle schoolers — the two created while in graduate school at Colorado State University.
“We had always thought about doing it in this community, and this is a perfect way,” Mrs. Levy said.
The Levys began talking with Noli Taylor of Island Grown Schools last spring about the project, finalizing the content over the summer and publishing it on Vineyard Nutrition’s website in September. The first printing arrived in December, just in time to be distributed to the Red Stocking Fund, Island Food Pantry, Serving Hands, community suppers and the YMCA. The cookbook is now in its second printing and was recently translated into Portuguese.
The test kitchen for the recipes is the Levys’ home kitchen, where they prepare food for sons Kyle and Judah.
“We know how hard it is cooking for kids . . . getting home at the end of the day and getting things together, and cooking different meals for different people,” Mr. Levy said. “So we wanted to be able to use ones that we knew worked, that were healthy, that were nutritious, that were affordable at the same time.”
“‘Is it simple, is it able to be adapted,” Mrs. Levy added. “We didn’t do a lot of spices and a lot of herbs and things in there because everybody does have different tastes.”
“We also chose our recipes, obviously, based on their nutrition; that was the highest priority,” she laughed.
The last cooking class, held in February, featured a weekly staple in the Levy household: cottage cheese pancakes made with whole wheat flour. Adding the cottage cheese gives the breakfast staple a burst of extra protein, just what hungry kids need before heading off to school.
“When you compare these to traditional pancakes, this has a lot more substance, and that’s what’s going to keep the kids going,” Mr. Levy said to the group of nine chefs. The group discussed alternatives to wheat flour — quinoa, oat, brown rice — for those with allergies, and the underutilized art of making cookie-cutter shapes out of pancakes (and, at lunchtime, pizzas). One family had gone so far as to create Yoda on the griddle, but Mickey Mouse remained the standard shape.
“I might try do that tomorrow morning,” one parent said. “Anything that works,” Mr. Levy said. “Bring back that fun for eating.”
Vineyard Family Cooking hosts cooking classes at the Edgartown School on March 13, March 20, April 24 and May 1 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Class space is limited to 12 participants. To register or for more information please call 508-627-3235 or visit vineyardnutrition.com. The cookbook can be downloaded for free from vineyardnutrition.com.