Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gardening workshop welcomes new community partners!

ARISE staff, parents, and neighbors came out for a free workshop at the Sankofa Learning Garden this Wednesday afternoon. The workshop was led by experienced gardener Pam Broom. The information at the event ranged from planting beds out of ground, how to transplant plant starts, and getting involved with the community partner spaces. Workshop members planted garlic, lemon mint, and various other herbs. Attendees left the event with some plant giveaways and a new earned knowledge of gardening! Check out some pictures of workshop attendees gardening.  Sankofa is excited to welcome our new friends and community partners to the space.

Our Lead Gardener Pam Broom kicks off the garden workshop

ARISE Staff and neighbors listen as Pam talks about planting in raised beds. 

Christopher Ingham, Special Education Teacher at ARISE, helps Pam plant herbs. 

Ms. Morris, Kindergarten Teacher, plants the final herbs. 

Steffany Bernstein- Pratt, neighbor,  plants garlic bulbs.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Food Day - Part 2

We just want to report back with great news! Food Day at ARISE Academy on October 24 was a success! Food Day celebrates good, real food! We decided to celebrate it by inviting ARISE Academy students to our garden.

We had the opportunity to have visitors from  2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th grades, all of whom learned and had fun!

*We took weight and measurements for body mass index.

*We prepared healthy lettuce wraps! Ingredients included : hummus, carrots, turkey, cucumbers and green onion!

*We checked our blood pressure tested and received a goody 'health' bag at the Daughters of Charity Mobile Health Van!


*We held a health challenge activity!

We worked with a great team of partners from Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans, Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies, ARISE Academy and LSU Ag Center to make this Food Day event a success.

A huge thank you to our volunteers: Nikit, Mengxi, Rebekah, Candance and Christian for all of their support!

We also want to thank our group of Sankofa HEAL student who created the Food Day event welcome sign.  Stay tuned- these scholars will be leading our next health fair on November 21!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sankofa will celebrate Food Day at ARISE Academy!

We are getting ready to celebrate our 3rd Food Day celebration! Food day is a national event where organizations, communities, schools come together and celebrate food… ONLY real food.

Having that idea in mind we are holding a Food Day fair at our learning garden at ARISE Academy which is currently being converted into a rainbow garden! With the help of HEAL students and dedicated volunteers we painted the garden beds into a variety of colors for ARISE students to enjoy.

Garden bed painted! 

What is engaging and fun about the rainbow garden is that within each colored box is planted a vegetable that has the same color!

HEAL student measuring and planting red lettuce and radishes!

Also very beneficial for the environment we recently planted a butterfly garden. We can’t wait to see the students faces when they see the caterpillars!

HEAL students admiring the flowers at butterfly garden 

The Food Day fair at ARISE will have around 100 students involved in various activities surrounding the issue of real food. ARISE scholars will learn the importance of composting (worms included!), healthy eating, they will also challenge themselves to take a healthy 30 day challenge! 

Keep posted for the post - event posting!

Visit the following blogs written by other authors participating in Food Day’s first-ever Coordinated Blogging Event:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gearing up for the New School Year!

This past Saturday we held a volunteer event at the Sankofa Learning Garden at ARISE Academy in order to get the space spruced up for student use. We had twenty- plus wonderful volunteers who worked for four hours to beautify the space. In the end, we were able to pull up all of the weeds, add a pop of color to the Garden, and bring new soil, all while having a good time. Sankofa can't thank all of  the amazing volunteers enough for giving their time and energy to the school garden. They have truly planted the seeds of positive energy and care that will make this Learning Garden a successful space for students! Here are some photos of these lovely folks hard at work!

Fixing up our community garden beds pictures from left to right: Diane Deroog, Whitney Shields, and Rebekah Mende.

 Ronnie King, Urban League New Orleans  does some much needed weeding of the community garden beds. 
 Joya Phillips, ARISE Academy student brightens up a garden bed with a coat of paint. 

Shelby Hollenbeck and Nicole Marby,Wilson Academy gardeners putting a fresh coat of paint on a garden bed.  

Shelly Gomez and Zach Gomez, community volunteers sprucing up a garden bed.

 Rashida Ferdinand, Founder and Executive Director transplants some rosemary in a garden bed

Mary Dumler, community volunteer wheels some soil to a garden bed.

The final results of volunteer day!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dare to try Red Okra!

Ingredient Highlight : Red Okra

The other day I was really excited to bring to the market the first harvested red okra from our gardens! I was really disappointed when no one dared to try the red okra! Comments were : What is that ? Red okra really? I have never seen red okra before and; Where is the green okra?

Since nobody purchased it I decided to take some home. I was determined to show that red okra could be delicious. The funny thing - It was also my first time trying red okra :)

What happened as I cooked it was surprising. As the pan started to heat, the red okra started transforming to the familiar green we all know! Take a look at the pictures I took while cooking red okra.

Red Okra before cooking

Red okra after adding it to the hot pan for a couple of minutes

cooked red okra!

It was very fun to cook and it was really delicious!

The recipe I made was adapted from a recipe I found online

Spiced Red Okra  
This recipe is good as a side dish. Yields 3 servings. 


  • Red Okra 1 pint - Cut in rounds ( you could also use green okra) 
  • Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander Seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Lime - 1/2 lime or more if you like it. 
  • Cayenne Pepper - 1/4 tsp
  • Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Oil - I used grape seed oil but any oil you have available should work
  1. Heat oil in a cast iron pan add cumin seeds and fry until they start to get brown.
  2. Add the okra and stir fry on medium heat about 1-2 minutes. When they start to change color add the juice of 1/2 a lime. This will take care of the slime. 
  3. Add other spices and stir fry. cook for 2-3 minutes Cover the pan and let it cook for a couple of minutes ( 3-4 minutes). Open the lid and let it cook on high heat for a couple of more minutes on high heat until the okra has a green/ brown color.  Make sure to keep stirring constantly to avoid the okra from burning or sticking to the pan. 
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. 
Final thought : Dare to try new things you may be surprised to find whats out there!

by Rosamar Torres, Programs and Communications Manager

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mobile Market expands to Senior Center in the Lower 9th Ward

A couple of weeks ago our mobile market added a stop at the Lower 9th Ward Senior Center! Every Tuesday from 11am – 12pm we park our truck at the back of the center located between Egania St. and Claiborne in the Lower 9th Ward. There we are received by a group of seniors happily expecting their produce, especially collards, okra and fruits.

It has been really exciting for us to expand our market and bring fresh produce to the seniors in our community and to increase their access to healthy produce.

Additionally, the Veggie Power Program (VPD) was added in order to increase the purchasing power of seniors citizens at the center. Through the VPD seniors who purchase $5 dollars worth of fresh fruits or vegetables get $2 off their purchase.

We expect to add another stop very soon! Stay tuned! 
For more information follow us via Twitter , Facebook @Sankofanola

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It's Strawberry Season! - Part 2 (Sugar-Free Strawberry Oat Bars)

Last week we talked about strawberry season in Louisiana, why those little berries are so good to eat, and suggested some recipe ideas. This week we're showing you how to create one of those recipes.

These easy to make delicious bars are sugar-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, and soy-free, sure to please almost anyone with allergies or any picky eater. Although they taste like dessert, because they're healthy you can eat them as a guilt-free snack throughout the day or even for breakfast. No sugar is needed with the dates providing sweetness. Healthy fat and protein comes from the almonds, and strawberries contribute Vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. We've provided a detailed recipe below with pictures to aid you along the way. Try them out; we promise you won't be disappointed!

Sugar-free Strawberry Oat Bars

Recipe adapted from:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 tbs rolled oats*
  • 1 handful of flour*
  • 1 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
*Note - You can use certified gluten-free oats and a gluten-free flour to make this recipe gluten-free as well.

  • In a food processor blend the dates, almonds, and oats together until combined. 
Make sure to use rolled oats (not quick oats) and raw almonds (not salted or roasted)
Dates, almonds, and oats coming together in the food processor
The final product consistency. The mixture should stick together when squeezed.

  • Spread a small handful of flour in a bread pan so the bars are easier to get out later. 

  • Spread the date mixture out in a bread pan. Press it down so it's flat in the pan and evenly distributed.


  • Remove the stems from your strawberries. 

  • Mash up 1/2 cup strawberries in a bowl. 

  •  Spread this over the date/nut mix in the pan.

  • Slice the remaining 1/2 cup of strawberries. 

  •  Place the slices on top of the mashed strawberries in the pan.

The entire pan should be covered with slices. 
  • Put the whole pan in the refrigerator and allow to chill. After about an hour take out the pan and slice into rectangular bars. Before placing the sliced bars on a plate, you may want to sprinkle some flour on it to make pick up easier. The dates make the bars a little sticky!
You can leave the bars this size or...

...cut them smaller.

For more healthy snack ideas check out Whole Living's Snacks

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's Strawberry Season! - Part 1

Get 'em while they're hot folks! As many of you may know strawberry season is in full swing here in Louisiana. The season peaked in March/April and will continue throughout the month of May. Be sure to stock up while they're still fresh and local.

These berries are packed full of good for you nutrients, making the sweet juicy fruit that much more rewarding to eat. One cup has only 55 calories, lots of vitamin C, and loads of cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Sweet Louisiana Strawberries

Want some strawberry fun facts? Here are five!

  • The average strawberry has 200 seeds 
  • 94% of US households consume strawberries
  • The strawberry is the most popular berry in the world
  • It's a member of the rose family
  • Belgium has a museum dedicated to strawberries

  • Information gathered from:

    Strawberries are only in season for a few months of the year. Here at Sankofa we have several tips to make those local strawberries last all year round. There's no need to buy frozen strawberries flown in from another country in December, when you can use local strawberries from your freezer.

    To make the most of berries in season...

    1. Buy in bulk - Stock up while the berries are in season
    2. Wash your berries in a water/vinegar solution - The vinegar acts a disinfectant which cleans your berries and helps keep them fresh longer. 
    3. Freeze whole or sliced strawberries to use in smoothies or baked goods all fall and winter long. When freezing, lay the berries out on a baking sheet. Place them in the freezer until firm to the touch, then add them to a freezer bag. 
    4. Preserve them as jams
    Be sure to rinse all fresh fruit and vegetables you purchase!

    The culinary opinions for strawberries extend far beyond adding them to fruit salad. Below we've listed six recipe ideas to get you started.

    1. Sweet Strawberry Salsa - strawberries, fresh basil leaves, lemon zest, balsamic vinegar
    2. Creamy Strawberry Smoothie - strawberries, kale, banana, almond milk
    3. Strawberry Spinach Salad - spinach, strawberries, pecans, balsamic vinegar
    4. Refreshing Strawberry Popsicles - strawberries, yogurt
    5. Strawberry and Mint Infused Water - strawberries, mint, water
    6. Sugar-free Strawberry Oat Bars - strawberries, rolled oats, dates, almonds (come back next week for the full recipe!)

    Visit Sankofa's mobile market every Saturday from 11am - 2pm at 5030 St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans to purchase some local strawberries from Johndale's Farm in Ponchatoula Louisiana.

    Come back to the blog next week to see how Sankofa does dessert with our delicious sugar-free strawberry oat bars!

    Monday, May 5, 2014

    Support Sankofa on Give Nola Day! 

    What is GiveNOLA Day?
    Hosted by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, GiveNOLA Day is the community's first one-day, online giving event to inspire people to give generously to non profit organizations who make our region a stronger and thriving community for all. 
    How can you support Sankofa ?
    On Tuesday May 6th support Sankofa by visiting this link and making a donation. On this date there are matching funds to be granted and other opportunities that will help us support our programs. Funds raised on Give Nola Day will be mainly used to support the HEAL Project, a youth education program that teaches 5th and 6th graders about health, nutrition and leadership. 

    Enjoy the video below of some of the HEAL students and listen what health means to them!  

    Thanks for the support! 

    Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Happy Earth Day!

    Earth Day first began in April of 1970. This now yearly holiday occurs every April 22nd as a day to put the environment first. Celebrations around the country focus on key environmental issues and ways to tackle them. Although a lot of change needs to occur at the policy level, there is a tremendous amount we can do as individuals!

    Sourced from:

    Show your support for local food and other local products by visiting a market. If you have children consider taking them to a local farm so they can see where their food comes from. Have a picnic in the park. Whatever you do, go outside and enjoy the beautiful earth we live on!

    New Orleans celebrates Earth Day in a big way

    This past Saturday Louis Armstrong Park hosted the 2014 New Orleans Earth Day Festival and Green Business Expo.

    The festival brought together local food vendors (selling things like solar-powered drinks), sustainable clothing businesses (using bamboo, organic cotton, and natural dyes), alternative energy companies, environmental clean-up organizations, committees petitioning for more bike lanes, several demo booths, and of course live music. It was truly a celebration of environmental progress, and instilled a sense of empowerment.

    Five ways to celebrate Earth Day everyday

    1. Buy only what you need, from local and sustainable sources when possible.

    2. Think before you throw away. STOP and think about how you can reuse it (or compost it, see our post on how to compost here:

    3. Recycle as much as you can. For a list of acceptable curbside recyclables in New Orleans visit:

    4. Eat more plants. Meat production is a large contributor to global warming.

    5. Waste less electricity and water by turning off lights when you leave a room, turning off appliances and electronics when not in use, taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth.

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    All About Fiber

    What is it?

    You hear the word all the time, generally paired with "eat more". So what exactly is it and where can I find it?

    Facts about fiber:

    • Type of carbohydrate
    • Doesn't add any calories to the diet
    • Only found in plant foods 
    • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all good sources
    • Two fiber types (soluble and insoluble)

    Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

    Soluble fiber is good for lowering cholesterol and blood glucose levels. This type of fiber is generally found in the flesh of fruits and vegetables.

    Foods high in soluble fiber include:

    • Oranges
    • Strawberries
    • Sweet potatoes (flesh)
    • Black beans
    • Oatmeal

    Insoluble fiber is needed to maintain a healthy digestive system. It helps move food through the large intestine (colon) while it digests. This prevents constipation, helps increase regularity, and may also protect against colon cancer development. This type of fiber is generally found in the edible peels of fruits and vegetables.

    Foods high in insoluble fiber include:

    • Okra
    • Carrots
    • Kidney beans
    • Lentils
    • Fruit and vegetable peels

    Remember the key is to eat more fiber in general, don't worry about what type you're eating.

    How much fiber should I eat?

    Women should consume at least 25 grams per day.
    Men should consume at least 38 grams per day.

    Curious about how many grams you should be getting?
    Try out this fiber calculator:

    How can you tell if a food product is a good source of fiber?

    All you need to do is look at the nutrition facts panel on the product. Locate fiber on the label and check out the percent daily value. This number is the percentage of your daily fiber requirement contained in one serving of that food.

    Low source: 5% or less of your daily value or 1 gram or less
    Moderate source: 6-19% of your daily value or 1.5 - 4.5 grams
    High source: 20% or more of your daily value or 5 grams or more

    6 ways to increase fiber in the diet*

    1. Switch from fruit juice to the whole fruit (eat the apple instead of drinking apple juice)
    2. Enjoy edible peels of fruits and vegetables (eat the sweet potato skin and eggplant peel)
    3. Eat more whole grains/whole grain products rather than refined (ie. brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread)
    4. In food products look for a whole grain listed as the first ingredient (especially in pasta, cereal, and bread)
    5. Pick high fiber snacks (ie. carrot sticks and hummus/apple slices and peanut butter)
    6. Add legumes to soups, chilis, and gumbos! (swap out some of the meat for black eyed peas and kidney beans)

    *Note: As you increase fiber in your diet, you must increase your water intake as well. While fiber is eliminating that bad cholesterol in the intestines, it's also taking water with it.

    More Fiber + More Water = Happy Healthy Body

    Want more reasons to eat more fiber?

    Heart disease: Fiber decreases cholesterol levels lowering your risk for heart disease
    Diabetes: High fiber intake lowers blood glucose and may decrease risk for type 2 diabetes development
    Colon Cancer: Eating fiber helps keep digested food moving in the body, possibly lowering colon cancer risk
    DiverticulosisThis highly preventable disease can be avoided simply by eating more fiber
    Weight loss: High fiber diets are generally lower in calories and keep you full longer causing you to eat less