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End of Summer Recipe: Zucchini Leek Pancakes

September 9, 2016

IMG_0246Zucchini Leek Pancakes

By Isabel Trzcinski

I love growing zucchini in my garden. It grows so well and is abundant. I also love that these pancakes are dairy free and easy to make. They contain 4 main ingredients: zucchini, leek, eggs and flour. I have added other ingredients to the recipe to add flavour!

2 medium zucchini
1-2 to 3/4 of a leek (or 1 1/2 cup green onion)
4 eggs
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp dill
Pinch of cayenne powder
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp turmeric powder (optional)
Coconut or oil of choice for frying


  1. Grate the zucchini (I like to cut it and put it in the food processor using the grater blade) and put the grated zucchini in a large bowl. Add at least 2 tbsp of salt. This will pull the water out of the zucchini. (When the salt is squeezed out the pancakes are less wet). Leave the zucchini and salt to sit for about 20 minutes so the water is drawn out.
  2. While waiting for the water to draw out of the zucchini, finely chop the leek or green onion.
  3. After 20 minutes, use your hands to squeeze the water out of the grated zucchini. Do this in little handfuls at a time.
  4. When you have drained all of the zucchini, add it back to the large bowl and add the eggs, flour, and the rest of the spices. Mix well.
  5. Heat up a large frying pan to medium heat. Once hot, add spoonfuls of the batter at a time. Flatten out to about 1 cm thickness. Fry about  3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
  6. Enjoy with dairy free or regular Parmesan cheese or tzatiki, or by themselves.


Back to School: Food Miles & Fundraising

September 6, 2016

Photo credit: OSG Photography

Back to School means Growing Chefs! is heading back into the classroom! This fall we are sending more of our amazing chef volunteer teams into grade 4-6 classrooms to deliver our Intermediate Cooking & Gardening Program.

One of our favourite Intermediate activities is around Food Miles; the distance that food travels from where it is grown to where it is ultimately purchased/consumed. The more food miles, the less sustainable and the less environmentally desirable that food is.

We try to encourage kids in our classrooms to think about where their food comes from, and hope they encourage their families to do the same. To help you make some local choices this September, we have partnered up with Two Rivers Specialty Meats and SPUD.

Two Rivers Specialty Meats – Click and order. Pick it up from their North Vancouver location on October 13 or 14 and 15% of your order will be donated to Growing Chefs!

SPUDClick and create an account. Order from the selection of produce boxes (we suggest the local box). It can be delivered to your home or office and 25% of your produce box order will be donated to Growing Chefs!

THANK YOU! Happy back to school!



Summer Recipes: Cheezy Vegan Kale Chips

August 19, 2016

IMG_0136Cheezy Vegan Kale Chips

By Isabel Trzcinski

This recipe came about after planting way too much kale in my garden. I was putting kale into my smoothies, salads, stir frys and more. I had so much kale I didn’t know what to do with it. So I decided to try making kale chips for the first time. Now I wasn’t going to be satisfied with just any kale chips. I wanted to make them taste delicious, indulgent, and cheezy! This recipe meets all of those standards, and is truly a crowd pleaser.

1 large bunch of kale
1 cup cashews soaked for several hours
½ cup nutritional yeast
½ of a lemon juiced
3-4 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic


  1. Set your oven on the lowest setting (180 degrees) or use a dehydrator.
  2. Wash and cut the kale into chip size pieces. Dry in a salad spinner (easiest way).
  3. In a blender, blend the cashews (drained after soaking), nutritional yeast, lemon juice, soy sauce, and garlic until smooth. (I don’t use any water but if your blender is not very powerful you may need a few tablespoons of water to get it going).
  4. Put the kale in a big bowl and pour the cheeze mixture over top. Mix until all of the kale is covered.
  5. Line the oven pan with parchment paper, and layer the kale on it so that it is not overlapping.
  6. Dehydrate for about 4 hours, until crispy. Kale chips can be stored in a large ziplock bag for a week or more.
  7. Enjoy your delicious, healthy snack!


What a year! 2015/16 Program Recap

July 28, 2016

It’s summer and a perfect time to reflect on the incredible time we had this school year! If you missed our mid-program check-in in May we reported on the first half of our lessons in the classroom this spring.

Please join us now in reading our photo recap below to see what the students learned in lessons 4-7 and our volunteer appreciation farm party.

Lesson 4 began with introducing students to different varieties of leafy greens – spinach, watercress, mustard greens and more! The kids were very excited to taste all the different flavours, including some of the greens from their own gardens.

The class then read the book, How Are You Peeling: Foods With Moods by Saxton Freymann, which illustrates how vegetables can be used to express emotions. Students then had the chance to create their own vegetable characters to express their emotions and even our volunteers got in on the fun!

In Lesson 5, students learned all about the health benefits they gain when they eat vitamin-filled veggies!

The chefs demonstrated how to make a tasty salad dressing and taught students how to follow a recipe. Students then harvested greens from their garden to make their very own vitamin-packed healthy salad.

The lesson we had all been waiting for – our big cooking lesson!  Students first watched a chef demonstrate how to use a knife to chop vegetables, learning how to make their “claw” to ensure that no fingers would get hurt! Then each student got the chance to chop their own vegetables!DSCN0315
Some students harvested what they had grown in their gardens, while others shelled peas, shred spinach, broke broccoli, and set up for our in-class picnic.

After preparing all the ingredients, the class watched the chefs make a soup and helped make a stir fry.  Everyone then got to enjoy the food during their in-class picnic. Being able to harvest, prepare, and cook their own food was what the classes had been building up to all year, and it was a truly rewarding experience for all of the students, teachers, and chef volunteers!



After reviewing what we learned over the past 3 months, students lined up to be congratulated by the chefs and receive their certificates for becoming a Growing Chef! and planted a seed for their gardens at home.


Thank you to all the teachers and schools who participated this year and especially to our amazing volunteers! If you’re interested in volunteering, find out more and sign up on our website today!

 The program was complete and it was time to celebrate another year of success. See below for photos from our volunteer appreciation party at Urban Digs Farm. Special thanks to the farm for hosting and serving up delicious sausages on the grill, to Namasthe Tea CompanyParallel 49 Brewing, and Bomber Brewing for donating our beverages for the event, to Luca Fogale for providing us with live music, and to the chefs from Pier 73 for judging our pie contest! And of course to all the teachers and volunteers who joined us at the event.

Thank you again to everyone for supporting us and being part of the Growing Chefs! community.
Help us create even more life-long healthy eaters. Please visit our website for ideas on how you can donate. By making a gift today, you can help us give even more students hands-on experience growing and eating healthy, sustainable food. We hope you have a wonderful summer!

Meet Isabel, UBC CFE Student!

July 20, 2016

This year at Growing Chefs! we were so lucky to be joined by amazing teacher candidates from UBC’s Faculty of Education as part of their Community Field Experience program.  For 3 weeks, these students join us in the classroom and in our office to help us coordinate, deliver, and improve our classroom gardening and cooking program. We are pleased to introduce student teacher, Isabel Trzcinski, below!

IMG_0140Hi, my name is Isabel Trzcinski. I’m a student at the University of British Columbia currently working towards my Bachelor of Education to become an elementary school teacher.

I joined Growing Chefs! as part of my community practicum experience. Right when I read what Growing Chefs! was about, I knew I wanted to spend my practicum with them. Over the last few years, I have devoted myself to health and nutrition. A few years ago I made a commitment to eat only raw food. This was such a powerful experience for my health, and I’ve learned healthy habits that will last me a lifetime. I started a raw vegan Youtube channel called Bela Rawfood, and an Instagram account called @bela_plantfood where I have the opportunity to share raw vegan recipes that I’ve created.


FullSizeRender (3)My family and I also take a lot of pride in our garden. Every year we enjoy growing tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, kale, beets, and much more. It is such a wonderful feeling to be able to pull a variety of vegetables from your garden and make a meal out of it. I hope that through my blog entries I can share my love of cooking, gardening, and healthy eating.

I hope to apply some of the knowledge shared through the  Growing Chefs! program in my classroom when I am a teacher. I look forward to anything that I can contribute to this wonderful cause. I believe educating children about health and nutrition at an early age sets the stage for a lot of their lifestyle habits later on. As we see fast food and processed junk increasing, it is vital for children to be as informed as possible about healthy choices.


Thank you, Isabelle!

Thank You, Whole Foods!

July 6, 2016

In the 2015/16 school year Growing Chefs! created our Adopt-a-Classroom program that allows supporters to directly fund the entire cost of one or more classroom. This way of support allowed us to connect them directly to a class and see the difference their gift truly makes. Whole Foods has supported Growing Chefs! over the years in a number of  ways, including their 5% Day, and were the first to commit to adopting classrooms for our spring 2016 program. This year they sponsored Mount Pleasant Elementary in East Vancouver where they generously chose to support two classes. We want to thank them for their continued commitment to our program and helping to create life-long healthy eaters!


Grant & Kristen of Whole Foods visit Mount Pleasant Elementary

Tell us a little bit about yourself and Whole Foods and why Whole Foods wanted to get involved with Growing Chefs!.

My name is Grant Daisley and I am the Associate Marketing Coordinator for Whole Foods Market in Western Canada.  I began working for Whole Foods Market in 2012, and I’m thrilled to share my passion for local, natural food.

Whole Foods Market is a company that believes in making a difference in every community where we do business.   We have three non profit foundations that are part of Whole Foods Market.  Of the three, the Whole Kids Foundation allows us to offer grants in three areas: school and community garden grants, salad bars, and healthy eating education training for teachers.  Growing Chefs! is such a great compliment to these areas!

Why do you think a program like Growing Chefs! is important in a community like Vancouver?

Food is a vital part of our lives, and educating kids at a young age about where food comes from, the work involved in producing it, and what to do with it once it’s harvested, sets the stage for a positive relationship with food and the environment.

Why do you personally choose to support Growing Chefs!?

I grew up pulling carrots from the ground and eating them – it’s a taste that I can remember like it was yesterday – and it’s an experience that every child should have, however, not everyone will.

Why do you think it’s important for kids to learn about growing and cooking their own food?

Two reasons:  First, the more that kids understand food; where it comes from, how to prepare it, different options, etc, the more likely they are to try new things.  Second, food isn’t just about sustenance, it can be a journey into new cultures and traditions, an experiment in the kitchen, or something that brings different people together.

What stands out to you the most about the program?

I love that Growing Chefs!’ partners with the chef community, which makes the impact twofold – Kids get the education, and the volunteers get to make a difference in their local schools and communities

What’s your favourite vegetables to grow, cook, and/or eat?

It’s always been Snaps Peas.


Victoria Farm Tours 2016

June 24, 2016

With the help and support of the Island Chefs’ Collaborative, Growing Chefs! has had the wonderful opportunity of bringing our Classroom Gardening and Cooking program to Vancouver Island. This spring was our fourth year on the island and we were able to offer our program to three Victoria elementary schools.

During the week of May 30th to June 3rd, 2016 all three Growing Chefs! classes in Victoria had the opportunity to go on an rural and urban farm tour thanks to the generosity of Meat and Bread, who covered the cost of the buses and provided a tasty lunch to students, volunteers, and staff.

All three classes started their tour at Roost Farm Bakery, a 10 acre farm located out in North Saanich. The students learned about growing, harvesting, storing, and milling wheat. They got to see the grapes and blueberries also growing on the farm. We got to look at the golden pheasant and all the chickens, and met a turkey named “Knobbie” who has quite a checkered past. Our host, Denise, arranged for a neighboring farm to bring over one of their horses and all the kids got a chance to help groom and pet the horse. One of the highlights of the tour was firing a rubber chicken out of the “chicken cannon” across the farmyard. Our trip to Roost wrapped up with a delicious cookie made with some of the wheat from the farm. 

The next stop for the kids from Quadra Elementary was at the urban farm Topsoil. The kids were amazed by the huge variety of vegetables being grown and harvested for local restaurants. The highlights for the students were picking and eating their own baby carrots and learning about the zero emission methods the farm uses to deliver their just-picked produce. Our host Chris was a wealth of information on the growing practices used on the farm and hopes to work with Growing Chefs! in the future. The students were amazed that so much food could be grown in such little space. They were very proud to tell Chris about what they were doing to grow food in their own urban spaces!

The two classes from Victoira West Elementary stopped at Mason Street City Farm. Theirs is a market farm that  is a more traditional farm but in an urban setting – and on just a quarter acre! They have beautiful ponds full of Koi and Goldfish. Our host, Steph, was a wealth of information which was a good thing as she had lots of questions to answer. 

In true Growing Chefs! spirit all of the kids tried something new to eat when we visit Meat and Bread. There were lots of full tummies and happy faces as the kids headed back on the bus for the trip home!

We would like to thank all of the individuals and companies that helped make these amazing experiences possible for our students. Meat & Bread, Roost Farm Bakery, Topsoil, Mason Street City Farm, the P.A.C’s from Victoria West Elementary and Quadra Elementary, the bus drivers from Garden City Transport, our amazing teachers who bring us into their classrooms, and of course the fantastic volunteers that make the program possible. A HUGE SHOUT OUT to you all!

Chef Andrew Paumier
Growing Chefs! Program Assistant, Victoria & Island Chefs’ Collaborative Director

Eat. Give. Grow. 2016

June 3, 2016

For the 7th year in a row, Growing Chefs! has launched our Eat. Give. Grow. campaign the first week of June, 2016. Local restaurants have added $1 to select menu items to help raise money for our Classroom Gardening & Cooking program. This summer we have another fabulous lineup of participating restaurants we’re sure you’ll want to visit.

A big thank you to all our partnering restaurants this year. The following establishments have signed up for a minimum of a one month commitment with these delicious dishes supporting our charity. Appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts – we are excited for you to try them all!

If you are from a local restaurant or business that would like to join our fantastic lineup of Eat. Give. Grow. participants this summer, contact,

Ongoing Participating Restaurants

Pacific Provider Salmon
crispy eggplant, green pea spaetzle, roasted cauliflower, kale, girondine

FullSizeRender (1)

Spring/Summer 2016 Participating Restaurants
Beginning June 1st, 2016

Participating June 1st – August 31st!
B.L.T. Sandwich
Bacon, lettuce, tomato – always a favourite!

Participating June 1st – August 31st!
40-Day Dry Aged Striploin
Charcoal Grilled 12 oz Dry Aged Ribeye – Bone Marrow Butter

Participating June 1st – August 31st!
Cedar Plank Zucchini with Pickled Nectarine
Goat cheese vinny, almonds, lemon

zucchini chill winston

Participating June 1st – August 31st!
Chickpea Fritters
Pickled red onion, shoots, curry mayo


Participating June 1st – August 31st!
Haida Gwaii Seafood Chowder
Ocean Wise shell & fish, smoked bacon

Chowder - Dine Out 2013.JPG2015 Vancouver Aquarium’s Chowder Chowdown People’s Choice Winner

Pan Roasted Salmon
Spiced pumpkin, pumpkin seed purée, popcorn broth, Tokyo turnips


Participating June 1st – August 31st!
Beet Salad
Grilled beets with burrata, caraway, shallots & sherry

juniper beet salad

Participating June 1st – August 31st!
Chocolate Quinoa Cake
gluten free, topped with sorbet made with organic, fresh-squeezed, juices


Beginning July 1st, 2016

Steelhead Sashimi
crispy rice, chipotle emulsion

steelhead sashimi market

Fresh Tagliatelle Pasta
wild mushrooms, prosciutto, spinach

pasta market

Rhubarb & Lychee Trifle

Stuffed Squash Blossom
herbed chickpea on garlic scape polenta with fermented zucchini and a Saskatoon Berry sauce


Brunch – Grains
made with savoury steel cut oats and brown rice porridge, stewed seasonal apple, brown butter chestnuts and house ricotta

Beginning July 4th until August 31st!
Sauteed Kale
bacon, black vinegar, pickled red onion


Crispy Apple Dumplings
dusted with cinnamon sugar, caramel drizzle, tre galli vegan ice cream


Beginning August 1st, 2016

Korean Noodle Salad
Vegetable & noodle salad tossed in Korean dressing and topped with cilantro and peanuts

image1 (3)

Mango Chutney Chicken Curry
served over rice

Only on August 24th at all 3 locations!
Huckleberry Pie Donut

The Pemby Pleaser Eggs Benny
The classic, 2 poached eggs on top of ham & English muffin topped with creamy house hollandaise

Daily Feature Pizza
A delicious daily pizza creation – cooked in a 900ºF woodfired oven !


Thank you so much to all our participating restaurants! If you are a restaurant that would like to participate please contact us – check our website for more details.


Neufchâtel Cheese Puff
Participated in June and helped us raise over $400!

Fried Chickpea Dip & Crisps
Participated in June and helped raise $340!

Special Board Entree
Participated in June – Final funds raised TBA!

Pourhouse Burger
Participated in June – Final funds raised TBA!

Albacore Tuna Nicoise Salad
Participated in June – Final funds raised TBA!

Kale & Romaine Salad
Participated in June and helped us raise over $400!

Pistachio Paté
Salad Nicoise
Organic Mixed Greens Salad
Meyer Lemon Risotto
Participated in June – Final funds raised TBA!

Spring 2016 Mid-Program Update

May 5, 2016

It’s hard to believe we’re almost at the halfway mark of our 2016 Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program! The gardens are looking amazing this year, we’ve been learning a lot, and are looking forward to even more fun in the classroom.

This spring we are in 44 classrooms, giving more than 1,320 students the chance to plant, grow, and cook their own healthy food. Each visit we get more kids excited about eating healthy, and understanding the impacts of making good food choices.

Visit some of our classrooms through our photo recap of what students have been up to so far this year!

Lesson 1

On our first classroom visit the chefs were warmly greeted at all our schools by students and teachers eager to start their classroom gardens! With windowsill spaces cleared and decorations hung we were ready to get growing. The chefs and students discussed where their food comes from and the many different places and ways we can grow food.

 After examining the seeds, students planted lettuce, beans, peas, arugula, radishes and beets in their very own classroom gardens!


Lesson 2

After 2 weeks the students were very excited to show us what was growing in their gardens as our seedlings were sprouting in classrooms all over the city!

The amazing growth in the gardens provided the perfect opportunity to talk about urban agriculture and how we can all grow our own food at home. We also talked about how plants grow, which our students acted out with our ‘vegetable stretch’.

Then our classes took part in the Mystery Vegetable Guessing Game, where chefs introduced them to new and unique vegetables such as fennel, kohlrabi, celery root, and more. Many of the students couldn’t wait to try some new tasty vegetables!

Lesson 3


We started our third lesson with a Vegetable Sharing Circle, where students told us about their favourite vegetable and how they like to prepare and eat it at home, introducing other students (and our chefs) to new foods and dishes from various cultural backgrounds.

After talking about their favourite vegetable the whole class got to taste all the different vegetables that were shared around the circle. Many students were very eager to try what their classmates had brought and the vegetables were flying off the plate!

Students then learned about the importance of composting. Reading and discussing the book Compost Stew by Mary McKenna Siddals and starting their very own basic compost with the day’s left over vegetable scraps.


Our vegetable gardens are still growing and in the second half of program our classrooms will start cooking with what they’ve grown right in their classroom!

If teaching kids how to plant and cook their own veggies looks like something you’d like to take part in, be sure to check out our website for information on volunteering.  If you’d like to help us continue to reach even more schools and kids, head over to our donation page to show your support. Don’t forgot to follow us on our social media page listed below for even more updates from the classroom!


-Amanda Adams
Growing Chefs! Program Coordinator

Volunteer Week – Miss Greater Vancouver 2015!

April 15, 2016

National Volunteer Week is coming to a close but that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate our volunteers each and every day of the year. We are happy to say that Growing Chefs! will be sharing regular volunteer profile blogs! It’s wonderful to get to know more about who they are beyond the classroom and share their inspiring reasons for being part of our family of volunteers.

For our final blog of NVW, we spoke with Growing Chefs! classroom volunteer and Miss Greater Vancouver 2015, Chiantelle Rey!


Photo Courtesy of Alanna Milaney Photography

Hello! My name is Chiantelle Rey, 23 years old and I have a passion for health and wellness. In July of 2015, I received the regional title of Miss Greater Vancouver 2015 at the Miss BC Pageant. Throughout my reign, I have been emphasizing the importance of holistic nutrition and self-care, as well as supporting local and national organizations, businesses and people that value health, wellness, eco-sustainability and community. I completed a B.A. in Psychology (and a background in the natural and applied sciences) and am currently working on my second diploma to become a registered/certified holistic nutritionist. I hope to further my studies with a Masters in Occupational Therapy.

Why did you decide to get involved with Growing Chefs?

Growing Chefs! has an amazing vision to create a world with healthy, sustainable food practices by educating children, families, and communities members about healthy eating and healthy food systems through workshops, programs and seminars. In everything that they do, whether it be the volunteer training to the classroom, it’s evident that the Growing Chefs! team embodies and puts into action their core values of sustainability, positive change, local focus, collaboration, better health, respect and inclusion, and trust. I genuinely don’t know how you can say no to that!

Why do you think a program like Growing Chefs! is important?

I believe that a program like Growing Chefs! is important because it gets children excited to growing, cooking, and eating good, healthy food, and exposing their palette to a variety of different vegetables. It provides a good foundation for them that they are able to utilize and pass on to the next generation. With our earth constantly changing, each lesson in this program empowers children to grow their own garden at home indoors whether or not they have one in their backyard.

What is your favourite vegetable?

This is a tough question… I would have to say for top 5 (in no specific order): beets, carrots, cucumber, mushrooms, sweet potatoes/yams.

Chiantelle Rey - salad pictureWhat is your favourite meal to cook at home?

With spring already here, I have been absolutely loving and craving salads. It’s quick, easy, and anything, really, can be put into a salad. The mix I’ve been currently enjoying include: a spring mix of baby spinach, baby red and green romaine, butter lettuce, red and green chard, arugula, radicchio, homemade candied walnuts and pecans, alfalfa sprouts, cherry tomatoes, bocconcini, cucumbers, avocado, and hemp hearts with a chili lime balsamic reduction. It pairs really well with baked salmon or seared shrimp.

What is your earliest food memory?

Food brings people together. I believe the earliest food memory that I had was when my family and I moved to Canada and we’d sit around the table just sharing a meal and stories with one another. As to what meal it was, it was most likely rice with a popular Filipino dish.

If you garden at home please tell us a little about your garden.

After the first lesson of Growing Chefs! it inspired my family and I to create a garden in our backyard again. I’ll keep you all updated on how that goes! If children can do it in their classrooms, we can too!🙂

Growing Chefs! is an amazing program not just for the children, but for everyone. Whether or not you have experience in growing your own garden, there’s always something new to learn. I am so excited for this year and for the years to come!

Chiantelle Rey - seeds

We want to thank Chiantelle for taking the time to tell us more about herself and her experience volunteering with us. We love that we have inspired her as she inspires the children in her classroom. Chiantelle is another great example that it’s not only trained chefs that join us, you just have to have a passion for food and a healthy community and be open to sharing that with children – they are our future and who is most worth investing in.

To learn more about how you can volunteer with Growing Chefs! please visit our website and get in touch!

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