September 2015

What: Boogie Walk
When: Saturday, September 26, 2015 10am-12pm
Where: Kilbourn Park
Why: Purple Asparagus is participating in the Dancing with Class Back-to-School Boogie Walk. Presented in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools Office of Student Health and Wellness and the Chicago Park District's Park Family Wellness Initiative, the event includes a walk-a-thon fundraiser, as well as free dance instruction and fun activities presented by various food and fitness partners.
Anyone can come out and enjoy the party for FREE, and walkers are asked to raise a minimum of $20 to support the Dancing with Class All-Stars Scholarship Program (includes T-shirt & Goody Bag). Participants will also be entered into a raffle for a variety of prizes, and the   youth walker who raises the most money between now and the Boogie Walk will  win a   FREE Dancing with Class Assembly Program for their school ($500 value)!
For more information and to register, please visit 

What: Fresh Thyme Market Grand Opening
When: Saturday, October 17, 11am-1:00pm
Where: 2500 N. Elston Ave.
Why: Visit Purple Asparagus at Fresh Thyme Market's Grand Opening Event where there will be lots of wonderful family friendly activities.

October is both National Apple Month and the month that Purple Asparagus runs its apple curriculum.

To celebrate, make Melissa Graham's recipe for Apple-Pumpkin Pancakes, a delicious and hearty breakfast.

Apple-Pumpkin Pancakes
Serves 4, making 8 large pancakes, 16 small ones

Chock full of fragrant spices, these pancakes are the epitome of fall cooking. You could always double the recipe, cook the pancakes over the weekend, and the reheat over the week for easy pre-school breakfasts.

¾ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 extra large egg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup 2 % milk
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ large apple, grated
Butter for cooking

Stir together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk together the wet ones in another medium bowl. Stir the dry mix into the wet ingredients until combined. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes. Cook on a hot griddle with the remaining butter until browned over medium low heat. 

Serve with maple syrup or maple butter
I always have mixed emotions about summer coming to a close. On one hand, it's exciting to start a new school year, start anticipating my family's favorite fall recipes and greet the first signs of cool autumn nights.
However, September never seems to disappoint - as though everyone knows it's time to cram in the last of the season's warm weather, beautiful farmers-market bounties and, of course, plenty of socializing.
This month, while we enjoy the final sweetness of the season, we're eager to share some new happenings - a recap of our Summer programming! Strategic plans! Oh my! We also wanted to pass along some recent news and upcoming events. Hope to see you soon!  
Melissa Graham 
Head Spear, Purple Asparagus


Corks and Crayons was again a rousing success. With tasting stations from 13+ of Chicago's top restaurants, delicious beverages and a ton of great kid and adult activities, it was a fun afternoon for the whole family. We're happy to share some of favorite C&C memories through the photography of Angela Garbot.


Another year of Delicious Nutritious Adventures is right around the corner. Starting in October, students in at least fifteen (15!) public schools throughout Chicagoland will participate monthly in the Purple Asparagus curriculum. With new schools, new communities and new instructors, we're excited for new challenges. Thus far, Purple Asparagus has committed to teaching in the following schools:
  • Barry Elementary
  • Belding Elementary
  • Budlong Elementary
  • Burr Elementary
  • Chavez Elementary Multicultural Academy
  • Greeley Elemenary
  • Horizon Science Academy
  • National Teachers Academy
  • Polaris Charter Academy
  • Pritzker School
  • Prussing Elementary
  • Thorp Scholastic Academy
Our curriculum will also be taught at two schools in the River Trails School District and at Hoover Elementary School in Calumet City.
If you're interested in helping Purple Asparagus get our total number of schools to 16 either as a donor or a lead volunteer, please contact Melissa Graham at

You can also contact Katie Schwartz at to learn how to bring Purple Asparagus to your own school.


Name : Dina Rose, PhD. Sociologist, Feeding Expert, Author of  It's Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating

Blog :
How eating habits develop in early childhood:  

Here's the truth that almost no one talks about: eating right isn't really about food, it's about behavior: what, where, when, why, and how much someone chooses to eat. Since nutritional considerations only partially influence those choices, especially for children, the key to success can never be found by putting our effort into teaching children about nutrition. Teaching children to eat right isn't that different than teaching them to read: both tasks involve teaching children a set of skills.
The three eating habits for healthy eating:

The good news is there are only three habits that translate everything you need to know about nutrition into behavior: Proportion, Variety, Moderation. Although you may not have heard about these habits, they form the basis of the Food Pyramid, and it's replacement, the MyPlate eating plan.
  • Proportion means consuming the healthiest foods the most frequently, and moderately or downright junky foods the least frequently. ("We eat foods like fruits and vegetables more often than we eat foods like hot dogs or crackers.")
  • Variety means eating different foods from meal-to-meal and from day-to-day. ("We eat different foods from day to day.")
  • Moderation means eating when you're hungry, stopping when you're full and not eating because you're bored, sad or lonely. ("We eat only when we're hungry, and we stop when we're full.")
Kids can't learn these lessons overnight, but then they don't learn how to walk, how to dress, or how to be polite overnight either.
How to build a bridge between school and home to foster good eating habits:

The habits approach lends itself to bridging between school and home because the focus on skills eliminates the emotional edge that often exists when parents and teachers try to talk about food. Blame is eliminated. In its place is a tangible plan, not for teaching parents what their kids ought to eat-parents know that, but for teaching parents how to teach kids to eat the food that is served.
Further, when teachers use the principles of proportion, variety and moderation to teach healthy eating habits across the curriculum (think center time and circle time, think language and communication skills, math skills...the list goes on), then parents are more willing to continue this type of learning initiative at home.

To buy Rose's It's Not About the Broccoli and to support Purple Asparagus at the same time visit Amazon Smile. 

Looking for a Few Good Spears
LEAD INSTRUCTORSWant to step inside the classroom to take kids on Delicious Nutritious Adventures?  Purple Asparagus is always looking for a few good spears to join us in the classroom as lead instructors who can commit to spending a half-day in the classroom once a month. If you are a chef or a good home cook who loves to work with kids and have even the slightest interest in this role, please contact Stephen Landfear at
or 312.906.7622 for a more detailed discussion.
GIRL SCOUT ASSISTANTS: Purple Asparagus will begin a collaboration with Girl Scouts during the school year to offer cooking programs for second-and third-grade Brownies. Please email if you have interest in helping us with this pilot program from October through early June.
BOARD AND COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Purple Asparagus is expanding its board and seeking additional committee members. We need dedicated and passionate individuals in all areas of expertise, but in particular event planning, board management, development and communications. If you're interested in learning more or submitting an application, please contact us at


YMCA Summer Programming
Over the summer, Purple Asparagus ran our first summer Delicious Nutritious Adventures at the Lakeview YMCA. The Tengelsen Family Foundation provided a grant for Purple Asparagus to expose a new group of children and their parents to information about nutrition and healthy eating during the summer break.
Some quotes from the participants:
"It was pea-tastic!" - A camper sampling snap peas
"Kinda sour. I liked it. I loved it!" - A camper trying hummus for the first time
"It was so sour it made me scream!" - A camper using one of her taste vocabulary words, sour, when tasting a grapefruit
"I thought it was going to taste like grapes, but it doesn't." - A camper sampling grapefruit for the first time
The program ran once a week for nine weeks.  The timing of this new program coincided very well for the organization, as new Program Coordinator Katie Schwartz got the chance to see the program in action and to run all nine lesson plans before the school year officially began in September.
A hearty thank you to the Tengelsen Family Foundation for funding this initiative - we are thrilled with the results and hope to repeat the program next summer.

Strategic Planning Update
During its first ten years, Purple Asparagus has taught tens of thousands of Chicago public school children about the importance and enjoyment of eating food that is good for the body and the planet. As we enter our second decade, we hired Giving Tree Associates to help us develop a strategic plan to map out our future. Through the planning process, we asked critical questions like: How should we expand programs in ways that are financially sustainable? As we move from a completely volunteer-run organization to having paid staff, what internal systems are needed? How should the board grow to support the organization?
Over the four-month period from March through June of 2015, Purple Asparagus and Giving Tree Associates explored these issues and developed goals, objectives and strategies in seven key areas: Board and Governance, Communications and PR, Finance, Fundraising, Program, Volunteer Management and Staffing.
If you'd like to learn more about our newly adopted strategic plan or would like to help us implement it, please contact Melissa Graham at
Thank you for your continued support! Sincerely, Purple Asparagus
The Green Exchange Building | 2545 W. Diversey Ave. | Suite 203 | Chicago, IL 60647 | | 773.991.1920

Thank you to Erin Sarris of Spun Copy