One Slice of Bread at a Time…

Looking at me now, you’d never guess that I once came from a family that struggled to put food on the table.  Nearly 17 million children in the US are hungry everyday.  While the number of kids receiving free federally funded school breakfasts & lunches have increased by the hundreds of thousands, there are more than 10 million children who are eligible and do not get it.  Children who are hungry are more likely to have weaker immune systems, struggle with growth and development, and ironically struggle with obesity because of the quality of food available to them.

Earlier this week the kids and I had the privilege to attend the launch of the 2nd Annual Bread Art Project with Melissa D’Arabian.  Created by the Grain Foods Foundation, the Bread Art Project was developed to increase awareness of the growing hunger problem in the US. For each piece of Bread Art, $1 is donated to Share Our Strength, the leading national organization working to end childhood hunger in America by 2015.  Last year they raised over $25,000.  This year the Grain Foods Foundation has pledged $50,000 to Share Our Strength and and additional $1 for each qualifying Bread Art submission received at breadartproject.comYou can submit your own creation now through June 30, 2010.

To understand the impact this donation makes:

  • $1 can help provide three nutritious meals to a hungry child
  • $25 can help feed one child three healthy meals every day for a month
  • $50 can help connect one child with healthy meals throughout the summer
  • $100 can help provide 25 children facing hunger backpacks full of healthy food to feedthem and their families over the weekend
  • $200 can help buy grocery bags of healthy food for 50 families in need
  • $500 can help reach 12 low income families with a life changing, 6-week nutritious cooking and food budgeting course
  • $1,000 can help expand a summer feeding program to reach hundreds more children
    facing hunger during the summer months it can provide “3” nutritious meals to a hungry child.

Share Our Strength believes that family need nutritious foods, not just enough food.  They strive to educate families on how to serve healthier choices even on a limited budget.  Bread and grains should be a staple in any diet as it provides fuel for the energy needed by the body every day.

The Grain Foods Foundation teamed up with Melissa D’Arabian, Food Network host of Ten Dollar Dinners, to has developed recipes and tips that show how to choose the right foods to fit a budget while providing healthy meals with long-lasting benefits.  We had a chance to sample all of the delicious recipes and here are some of our favorites from the event.

Recipes developed by Melissa d’Arabian for the Grain Foods Foundation

Crispy Ham, Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich
2 T olive oil plus 1 teaspoon, divided
1 t dried basil
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
4 thin slices ham
4 slices sandwich bread
4 slices mozzarella cheese
½ tomato, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
In a small bowl, mix 2 T of the olive oil, basil, smashed garlic clove and salt and pepper with a
fork to release flavors and let sit while preparing the rest of the sandwich (at least five minutes).
In a small sauté pan, cook the ham in a teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat 2-3 minutes per
side, or until beginning to crisp. Toast the bread. Lay the cheese on one slice of the toast and
brush generously with the flavored olive oil, using a pastry brush. Add the ham, and top with
tomatoes. Brush the tomatoes with the olive oil, and top with the second piece of toast. Repeat
for the second sandwich.
Yield: 2 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Ease of preparation: Easy

BLT Tartlets
8 slices white bread
3 T light cream cheese, softened
1 T light mayonnaise
1 t garlic powder
1 t dried oregano
2 medium tomatoes, chopped and lightly salted
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
¾ cup red or green leaf lettuce, chiffonade (roll and cut into ribbon-like strips)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
Heat oven to 375°. Remove crusts from bread and, using a large spoon, gently press the slices
of bread down flat until thin and almost doughy. Brush with olive oil on both sides. Place the
slices in the muffin tin, pressing them into the muffin shape, to create a tartlet shell. Bake for 12-
13 minutes, or until golden and crusty.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, use a fork to mix the cream cheese, garlic powder, mayonnaise and
oregano with salt and pepper until smooth and creamy.
Once the bread is golden, remove the shells and place them on a cooling rack to assemble. To
make the tartlets, place a teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture on the bottom, followed by the
bacon, tomatoes and the lettuce. Top with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Yield: 4 servings (2 tartlets per serving)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Ease of preparation: Easy

White Bean Bruschetta
1 baguette, sliced thinly along the bias
¼ cup olive oil, divided
2 T unsalted butter, divided
½ white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t dried basil
1 t dried oregano
¾ cup canned navy beans, rinsed and drained
2 tomatoes, cored and cubed
2 T balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
For the bread, slice the baguette on the diagonal into thin slices (about 12 for a baguette). In a
large sauté pan, heat 1 T of the olive oil and 1 T of the unsalted butter on medium heat. Place
the bread slices in the pan and cook on medium high heat until sizzling and golden. Just before
flipping the bread, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil and butter to the pan. Flip the bread
and cook second side until golden.
For the topping, cook the onions and 2 T of the olive oil over medium heat in a medium sauté pan
until the onions are very soft, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, basil and oregano and cook
another minute or two, until fragrant. Add the beans and continue cooking for another five
minutes on low heat and season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and turn off the heat,
allowing tomatoes just to take on the warmth of the pan without cooking. Drizzle the balsamic
vinegar into the pan and gently stir.
To serve, scoop heaping spoonfuls of the tomato-bean mixture onto the grilled bread, sprinkle
with kosher salt, and drizzle with additional olive oil.
Yield: 4 servings, 3 slices each
Prep time: 15 minutes
Ease of preparation: Easy

Weekday Crisper Drawer Penne Pasta
8 ounces dried penne pasta
3 T olive oil
1 slice bacon, cut into matchsticks across the shorter length of the strip
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
1 zucchini, grated
1 t dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh spinach
¼ cup grated parmesan
2 T bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
In a large sauté pan, cook bacon in olive oil until almost crisp, about five minutes. Add onion and
cook until tender and translucent. Add the remaining vegetables and cook until tender, about five
minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
Meanwhile, cook penne according to package directions, salting the water liberally. One minute
before the pasta cooking time is done, add raw spinach to the pasta water and cook with the
pasta for the final minutes. Remove ¾ cup of pasta water just before draining and set aside.
Drain pasta and spinach and toss in pan with vegetables. Add pasta water as necessary to coat
pasta so it doesn’t stick. In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs and parmesan, and sprinkle on top of
pasta to serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Ease of preparation: Easy