We <3 Bellair Farm!

This week’s cukes and carrots from Bellair!

Summer is our favorite produce season at the PB&J Fund. We love to see the bright colors of fresh fruits and vegetables. We always try to buy local produce for our summer classes and highlight one new vegetable or fruit each week. This year we purchased some produce from Bellair Farm which runs a CSA in Charlottesville. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. While some families may choose to buy a “share” of 22 weeks of vegetables, you’ll also find Bellair at both the Meade Market and Charlottesville City Market where any one can buy vegetables! 

This summer we will buy kale, summer squash, zucchini, basil, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes and bell peppers from Bellair. During our first week of programs we were able to take our Boys and Girls Club classes out to the farm so they could see where our food is grown. The students learned about the types of vegetables grown at Bellair and a bit about organic farming. We walked through some of the fields to see peppers and tomatoes that will soon be ripe. They even had a chance to try fresh green beans from the field. The best part of the field trips was a chance to hold and pet two week old bunnies! Thank you to Miss Chelsea, Miss Emily, and Miss Meg for the great tours!  

Even if your family does not buy food from a CSA, like Bellair, there are lots of ways to buy locally grown vegetables in Charlottesville. Most grocery stores place signs on items that are locally grown or made. Our friends at the Local Food Hub are also trying to make locally grown produce more available to all families through programs like Fresh Farmacy or their partnership with the Emergency Food Network. We hope you love summer fruits and vegetables just as much as we do! 

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Summer Food Safety!

Summer is officially here, which means a lot of us will be firing up the grill and heading out to barbeques and outdoor events! It’s always important to keep food safety in mind, but especially in the hot summer months. With temperatures reaching the 90’s and more people serving food outdoors, the risk of getting sick from a foodborne illnesses increases. 

Enjoy the outdoor parties and family picnics, but keep these tips in mind so everyone stays safe!  

  • Start with a clean surface! Always clean food prep areas with hot soapy water before preparing food. Wipe down outdoor grills and clean all coolers with hot soapy water. Always use clean utensils and serving platters.  
  • Thaw meat safely! Always thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator, microwave or under cold running water. Never thaw frozen meat on the counter at room temperature.  
  • Wash hands often! Always wash your hands before cooking and after handling raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs.  
  • Avoid cross contamination! You never want to mix raw meats with prepared cooked foods. Keep raw meats separated, in different dishes, and use different utensils to handle them. Once you put raw meat on a grill, immediately place the dish and utensil aside. Use a clean plate and utensil when fully cooked meat is removed from the grill.  
  • Marinades: Always marinate raw meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter at room temperature. Never reuse marinade that was on raw meat. If you dipped a basting brush into a bowl of marinade and brushed raw meat, you must discard the bowl of marinade when finished.  
  • Avoid the Temperature Danger Zone! Food should never be kept between 41 degrees and 135 degrees for more than 2 hours, so don’t leave food sitting out for your party guests all afternoon. When outside in the hot summer sun, you shouldn’t keep food out for more than an hour. At these temperatures bacteria can grow rapidly.  
  • Keep food below 40 degrees! Keep perishable foods stored in the refrigerator or in ice filled coolers until you are ready to cook or eat. When transporting food, pack perishables in a cooler and place the cooler out of direct sun. To be extra safe, place a refrigerator thermometer in your cooler to make sure food stays below 40 degrees.  
  • Cook foods thoroughly! Always use a meat thermometer to make sure food is cooked thoroughly. Whole cuts of beef and pork should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees. Ground beef, pork and lamb should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees. All poultry should be cooked to minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.  
  • Leftovers: Discard any food that has been left out for more than 2 hours (or more than 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees). When consuming leftovers at a later time, heat all food to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.   
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Grilling: Healthy Style!

Of course, at PB&J we love all kinds of cooking.  Summer time is prime grilling time. Grilling is actually a very healthy way to cook food (you don’t need to add lots of fat to the pan before cooking!) and who doesn’t love an excuse to be outside when the weather’s warm and sunny? It’s also nice to cook outside and not heat up your kitchen with your stove or oven on those sweltering summer days. Plus, grilled food just tastes more like summer, doesn’t it?

You know at PB&J we take cooking and make it healthy, so we decided to put together a simple guide to some of our most favorite grilled healthy foods (sorry, no bratwursts), along with some of our favorite grilling tools to help you be the (healthy) master of the grill!

First, some general tips, a grill is going to put char (those little blackened bits) on most everything cooked on it. This is part of the flavor and fun of cooking this way! It may look burnt, but try it! You might love it! A grill will also cook a lot faster if you have the cover on it, so cover it up and you’ll have a delicious meal a whole lot faster!

Tools that can help any griller make a better grilled meal:

Cooking Spray- Grilling can get a little sticky, by that we mean, grilled food can sometimes stick to the grill. If you use a little cooking spray before lighting the grill, that should help keep your food free from the stick!

Grill toppers- Grill toppers or trays are little trays made out of metal with lots of holes in them. They make it easier to keep smaller, more sticky items (small veggies, fruits, fish) from getting lost or stuck to the grill. We really like these ones.

Skewers- Metal are good, but they get screaming hot on the grill. Wood are good, too, but need to be soaked for a while before using so they don’t burn. Either way, they help keep small pieces of food together and prevent them from slipping through the cracks! 

Long tongs- Grills get hot, of course! Keep your fingers away from the flames with a long set of tongs. These will help you place, flip, move, and remove all your food while keeping your hand cool!

Thermometer– A meat thermometer is a must when grilling. Not only will it keep your food safe from germs, it will also help from over-cooking, which is a real danger when grilling! Digital thermometers are super-fast and easy to read, we recommend this one.

Our favorite foods to grill:


Asparagus- toss them in a tiny bit of olive oil and salt, use a grill topper or be careful not to let them drop through the grate! Grill for 10-12 minutes turning occasionally to cook evenly.

Corn- a staff favorite! You can peel back the husks, remove the corn silk, then cover the corn back up and let it grill for 10-15 minutes, until the husks are starting to char and burn. Be careful and use oven mitts when removing the corn from the husks: it gets HOT! For bonus grill-ness, put the husked corn back on the grill for some char right on the kernels!

Tomatoes- Cherry and grape tomatoes work best. Stick them on a skewer and toss in a little bit of olive oil. Cook them for just a few minutes, rotating halfway through, until they have a little bit of char all around! YUM.

Peppers- Peppers are a classic grilled veggie, they are great on skewers, or left whole or in large chunks and grilled. They get sweeter and their skin takes on a nice char.

Zucchini/summer squash- Slice these into large planks, coat them in a bit of oil, salt, and spices and grill them, flipping at least once, until they have a good char and are soft enough to easily fall off a fork when stuck into them.

Onions- Oh my, what to say about grilled onions? Sweet, smoky, still a little crunch. They are famously delicious grilled veg, and for good reason. Slice them into rings, season lightly with salt (and spices if you like), and let them grill until charred and just translucent.

Broccoli/cauliflower- We love broccoli and cauliflower any way you cook ‘em, but we love the extra flavor that the grill adds to them. Leave them in big chunks, coat in olive oil, salt and your favorite spices and let them cook for 7-10 minutes on a hot grill.

Lean protein

Chicken breast- chicken breast is very lean, so be careful not to overcook it or it can get tough and stringy! We like to butterfly it (slice width-wise so you end up with a thinner, wider cut of meat), season it with salt and spices, and cook it over a medium hot grill. Cook over a medium high grill to an internal temp of 165.

Chicken thighs- Thighs are super for the grill, they are already thin enough to cook quickly and they taste great grilled up. We like them basted in a simple sauce (even store-bought BBQ, buffalo, or hoisin sauce). Cook over a medium high grill to an internal temp of 165.

Salmon- We love salmon on the grill. Use aluminum foil over the grate or a grill topper to keep the salmon from sticking. Season with salt or your favorite seasoning blend and grill over a medium low grill.

Turkey burgers/Lean beef burgers- We love a good burger. Lean ground meat has less fat, and is healthier for your heart than meat with higher fat content, but a little bit less flavor. So season up your burgers with your favorite seasoning blend, then grill it on a medium hot grill until you hit an internal temp of 165.

Tofu– Tofu gets a bad rap, sometimes its fair, sometimes not. It can be a little boring, but we like slicing them into domino shaped slices, basting them in a flavorful sauce, and grilling them for 3-4 minutes per side on a super hot grill. Yum!

Flank/skirt steak- Flank and skirt steaks are born for the grill! They are thin, and are best cooked at high heat for a short period of time. Season them lightly with salt and a few spices, grill over a hot grill for about 7 minutes per side, until you hit an internal temperature.

Fruits (What?! Fruits?! On the grill?! Trust us!)

Lemons- Slice a lemon in half, slap it on a hot grill. It’s that easy.  The juice loses some of the acidic edge, and takes on a little smoky flavor, it makes a great complement to veggies, chicken, and fish dishes.

Cherries/Grapes- Smaller fruits do well on a skewer or grill tray. They get sweeter, and take on that smoky char flavor. These go great in fruit salads, on top of ice cream or cakes, or as a topping for meats (really!)

Pineapple- One of our favorite fruits on the grill. Remove the core (you can leave the skin if you want) and slice into inch-thick rings. Grill on each side for 4-5 minutes and be prepared for a caramelly, sweet-sour, delicious treat!

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Un-Recipes: Kale

We love recipes here at PB&J. We love discovering new recipe sites, spending hours reading cookbooks, trying exciting new recipes, and of course, building the perfect recipes for our students! But recipes can be time consuming! Sometimes recipes include exotic ingredients or they don’t use all of what you have on hand. And sometimes you just need to put some food on the table quick and easy!

To work around this issue, we are putting together a series of what we call “un-recipes.” These are brief how-to’s on preparing and serving some of the ingredients we are working with this summer.

First up: KALE! Kale is a PB&J favorite, as it is often one of the more transformative foods for our students. Often when we introduce students to kale we get a chorus of “ewwwww” and “yuuuuck!” Honestly, we get it, it can be tough, very green, and even kind of looks like mini-alien-trees. But by the end of our classes we have kids begging for more!

What is it?

Kale is a leafy green in the same family as broccoli, cabbage, and collard greens. It has a mildly bitter-sweet flavor, and it can be a little chewy (though the younger it is, the more tender and sweet it is).

What are 3 good ways to eat it?

As a salad.

If you can get younger, small kale (3-4 inch leaves) you can just tear it up and throw it in with your lettuce or other salad greens. If the leaves are bigger, you can remove the stems, cut or tear the kale into bite-sized pieces, then massage some olive oil (about 1 tbs per bunch) into the kale to tenderize it before dressing it as you would any other salad. We love kale with a lemon vinaigrette, Caesar dressing, or even Asian-inspired vinaigrette with some soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.


If you’re looking for more of a hot dish to make with kale. We love sautéed kale. Start by removing the stems and chopping it into bite-sized pieces. Then, mince 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, or half an onion, 1 tsp of chili flakes, or even 1 tbs of fresh ginger, you want a little bit of something aromatic for flavor. Add 1 tbs of cooking oil to a hot skillet or sautée pan over medium-high, and let it heat for 20-30 seconds. Then add the garlic, onion and spices and let them cook until you can smell them. Then add the kale and turn the heat down to medium. Let the greens go without stirring them for 3-4 minutes, until they start to turn dark green. Then give them a good stir and let them cook until they’re all dark green and even have a few browned bits.


Braised greens are great when the weather turns a bit cooler. Start the greens the same way as sautéing, but when you would stir in the sautéing version, add about 1-2 cups of liquid (water, stock, vinegar, any liquid!) and let it cook until the liquid is mostly gone

Why is it good for me?

Kale is super healthful! It has lots of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K.

How can I get it?

You can find good kale at almost every grocery store, you can find different, colorful varieties at farmer’s markets, and it is supremely easy to grow from seed if you have a garden!

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Try it! You might like it!

From Tracey Cardwell Roberts, Manager of our CHEF for a Day field trip program

I’m old enough to remember the Life cereal ad campaign featuring a picky Mikey. His older brothers offer him the new cereal that’s “supposed to be good for you.” They say, “He won’t like it. He hates everything.” The tag line is then their shocked “He likes it! He likey!” Yes, I know it’s corny, but it was the 70’s. You wouldn’t believe how it caught on, the equivalent of “going viral” today.

Through our CHEF for a Day field trip program, I get to welcome a new group of students to PB&J each day. They come through the doors with eyes wide and a readiness to experience something new. I could pretend that my own children come to the dinner table every night with that same excitement, but we both know I’d be lying.

With students here at PB&J, I use the same “act” I’ve used with my own kids for fifteen plus years — I channel my inner actress and HAM IT UP.  Come on, you knew this post couldn’t possibly avoid a Green Eggs and Ham pun. After pitching this idea to thousands of students, I still want to do a happy dance every single time I hear a child say, “I didn’t think I’d like this, but I do.” YES!

Here’s the goofy approach that has worked for me.  First of all, it’s helpful to channel the enthusiasm you would use to talk about the thing you love most, like when my son talks endlessly to me about all the intricacies of his favorite video game. 

Here’s my set-up:
Trying a new food is such an AWESOME adventure!  I LOVE it when I get to try something new.  When I’m about to taste it, I think to myself, “Will I like it?”  I don’t know!  It’s so exciting!  Sometimes, when I take a bite of a new food, I think, “I’m not sure how I feel about it,” because the taste is so new.  My taste buds are so SURPRISED that I don’t really get to taste the flavor of the food.  After first feeling shocked, then my taste buds calm down.  It often takes two or three bites before I really start to sense all the flavors of the new food.
Some kids are more cautious about trying something new.  Here are a couple ideas to positively encourage the ones who aren’t sure:

  • Ask them to “Take a bite and see if you can taste the (insert ingredient here).” If there are six ingredients, this is a great way to get them to take at least six bites. By that point, the flavor is familiar, and they usually keep eating. I like to make a big deal out of it if they say they can taste something I can’t.  “Wow!  Your taste buds are better than mine at that!” 
  • Let your kids vote on the recipe like we do here at PB&J. They love to have their say with a simple thumbs up, thumb sideways, or thumbs down. We tell them that “At PB&J, we are never going to MAKE you eat something. You just don’t get to vote unless you try it.  After all, you can’t say “I don’t like it” if you’ve never even tried it. You don’t KNOW if you like it.” 
  • Be playful and encouraging. The exact words aren’t important. My wish is that you get to experience a “Mikey likey!” moment at your table.  Don’t give up!  It can happen! 😊
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This Spring, by the numbers

We had a busy spring in the kitchen! Over 19 weeks from January to May we held 164 classes with 915 participants. That adds up to a lot of meals and smiles! We’re grateful to all of our partners, instructors and volunteers who helped to make this semester a success.

We held 104 CHEF Kids classes with 172 students this spring. Our CHEF Kids unit themes were TexMex, Cooking Around the World, and Asian Cuisine. CHEF Kids classes occur after school for elementary and middle school students. One of our favorite recipes was Turkey Lettuce Wraps! Our partners for these classes included: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia, Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries, City of Promise, Community Attention, Community Housing Partners and Piedmont Housing Alliance.

26 CHEF Families classes were held with 125 parents and children. Our CHEF Families programs are held with ReadyKids and Young Lives. These classes introduce nutrition tips specific for families with young children, such as tips for picky eaters and age appropriate table manners. Our favorite CHEF Families recipe was Red Lentil Curry which was also a recipe for Holiday Giving.

618 students from both Charlottesville City and Albemarle County elementary schools come to the kitchen for a field trip in our CHEF for a Day classes. These field trip experience are for students in pre-kindergarten through third grade classes where students make a simple but healthy and delicious recipe. Our curriculum includes skills like reading a recipe, measuring ingredients and trying a new food.

To make all of our programs run smoothly we had the help of 46 volunteers from the community and Madison House. They helped us wash countless dishes, helped kids with their knife skills and hopefully had fun, too! We can’t wait to see what the kids cook up this summer!

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Giving and Getting Food in Charlottesville

Some of our leftovers from a delicious Winter and Spring!

We’re in a programming break until next week and have been doing some Spring Cleaning! One thing we need to deal with during this time is lots of left-over food items. We buy our groceries based on best estimates for attendance. But classes get canceled for weather or other reasons from time to time. What do we do with the leftovers? Maybe you have a lot of extra food in your pantry? Or maybe you’re in a stretch where you need some help stocking your pantry?

Thankfully, we have a diverse and strong community network of food resources as well as community partners that take food donations.

We’ve compiled a list below. To find the most up to date list, please visit: If you are searching for additional resources, the United Way compiles an annual list of where to turn for support here:

Holy Comforter Catholic Church   
208 E. Jefferson Street, Charlottesville 434.293.8989 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 10am-12pm 
Loaves and Fishes   
2050 Lambs Road, Charlottesville 434.996.7868 Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:30-8:30pm 
Wednesdays 2-4pm 
Saturdays 10am-12pm 
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church   
717 Rugby Road, Charlottesville 434.293.8179 1st Friday 8:30-11am 
Bethany Seventh Day Adventist   
401 Harris Street, Charlottesville 434.293.7430 2nd Sunday  1-2:30pm 
New Beginnings Christian Community   
1130 E. Market Street, Charlottesville 434.872.0800 Saturday  12-1pm 
Emergency Food Network    
900 Harris Street, Charlottesville 434.979.9180 Every weekday (Call first between 9-12) 1:30-3:30 pm (pick-up same day) 
The Haven   
112 W. Market Street, Charlottesville 434.973,1234 Everyday 8-9am 
Salvation Army   
207 Ridge Road, Charlottesville 434.295.4058 Everyday 7-8am, 12-12:30pm & 5:45-6:45pm 
Church of Our Savior   
1165 E. Rio Road, Charlottesville 434.973.6512 Monday and Wednesday 12:30-2pm 
Friday 10:30am-12pm 
First United Methodist Church  101 E. Jefferson Street Monday 12-2pm 
Christ Episcopal Church  103 W. Jefferson Street Tuesday 12-2pm 
First Presbyterian 500 Park Street Wednesday 12-2pm 
Holy Comforter Catholic Church 208 E. Jefferson Street Thursday 12-2pm 
First Baptist Church  735 Park Street Friday 12-2pm 
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Summer means healthy produce!

Summer is coming! Step outside and you can already feel it in the air (and maybe your sweat glands). While we may not love the summer humidity, we love the summer produce! Here in Virginia, there are lots of great, local fruits and vegetables, but at PB&J we have to ask what the healthiest choice is. We went to Ms. Amy Curtis (our resident Registered Dietitian) to give us a break down of the health benefits of some of the fruits and vegetables that grow in the summer. 

Fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients that are great for your body. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps your body heal. Vitamin A supports your immune system and helps your eyeballs see! Potassium is an electrolyte that helps with almost all of your body’s functions. And of course there’s fiber, which helps support your digestive system (stomach and intestines) and keeps you feeling full longer.  

But which summer produce is good for which nutrient? Well, Ms. Amy put together some lists for us! She tells us that an excellent source of a nutrient is one that gives you 20% or more of your recommended daily value of that nutrient, while a good source gives you 10-19% of your daily value. 

Excellent Sources of Vitamin C:Good Sources of Vitamin C:
Bell Pepper 
Leafy Greens 
Yellow Squash
Sweet Corn 
Green Beans 
Excellent Sources of Vitamin AGood Sources of Potassium:
Leafy Greens 
Sweet Corn 
Sweet Corn 
Excellent Sources of Fiber :Good Sources of Fiber :
Green Beans 
Sweet Corn 
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Introducing our Fall Interns!

Fall 2018 Interns

It’s fall in C-ville! The weather is cooling, the leaves are turning, and programming is in full swing at PB&J. All of our programming relies heavily on volunteer support to be successful, and some of the most crucial volunteers are our trusty interns!

This fall we are welcoming quite the dynamic duo in Claire Prioleau and Martha Anne Sperandio. Claire is a 3rd year at UVA’s Curry School, majoring in Youth and Social innovation, from Fort Worth, TX. She volunteered in classes all of last year, and is a poised, strong leader. Martha Anne is a 4th year at UVA, majoring in Global Public Health & Anthropology, from Glen Allen, VA. She has worked on food equity in Richmond and other places, and this is her first time volunteering with PB&J and brings a positive spirit to all that she does.

Thanks to Claire and Martha Anne for you energy and effort! You really make PB&J go!

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The PB&J Fund has concluded our pilot partnership with CAYIP (Community Attention Youth Internship Program).  Six teen interns joined us for four weeks of intensive culinary training, while also providing much needed operational support and helping out in classes with younger students.  Aliyah, Cedric, Donshea, Patrick, Pyi, and Nykala brought great energy and curiosity into our space and we’re grateful for their efforts!

The interns received safety training, learned a variety of knife skills, practiced setting up food prep stations, deboned a variety of meats, studied how to develop and balance flavors, and were introduced to the expectations of working in a professional kitchen.  All left more confident in their culinary skills and four who achieved perfect attendance also went home with their very own professional chef’s knife.

Each intern was fortunate enough to gain real world experience through the generous support of partner restaurants.  We are deeply grateful to Brasserie Saison, Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar, The Alley Light, and The Pie Chest for opening up their hearts and kitchens to provide such a unique learning experience for the interns.  We’re thrilled to announce that one of our interns landed a permanent part-time job with her partner restaurant!

“My favorite part of the experience was learning different ways to cook. About myself, I learned that I can work under pressure,” said one intern, Aliyah Cobbs. “The whole experience was really fun. “

Their time with us culminated with a culinary cook-off.  Teams were challenged to come up with a recipe from scratch, pulling from all they had learned over their time in the kitchen.  The final creations of shrimp lettuce wraps and roasted chicken with risotto were excellent and both teams had much to be proud of.

Many thanks to our very own CHEF Kids Program Manager John Robinson and Executive Chef Antwon Brinson for all their efforts to develop a thoughtful curriculum, create a fun and meaningful learning environment, and motivate these young folks to follow their dreams.  

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