September Recipe Challenge

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Join in the fun of Chef Justin's recipe exchange! Each month, his tantalizing recipes along with his picks of recipes submitted by our readers, followers and fans - that's YOU!  Here is Justin's savory risotto-inspired dish made with faro, in honor of Whole Grain Month. What are your go-to, crowd-pleasing weeknight meals that are both doable and delectable? Send your tastiest recipe to and you could win the September Recipe Challenge and be included in next year's VEGOUT! COOKBOOK.  You can also check out Justin's past recipes on the Recipe House blog.


Farroto with Mushrooms & Peas

Recipe & photo by Justin Kouri

I've taken traditional risotto and substituted an alternative whole grain. Farro is an ancient grain, a special type of wheat, believed to have originated in Italy. In fact, farro retains a majority of its nutrients after cooked, making it a great source of energy.  On top of that, I've applied a Southeast Asian profile to make this my own.


4c vegetable stock

1 - 4" stalk lemongrass, peeled & crushed

¼c olive oil, divided

½lb cremini mushrooms, destemed & sliced thinly

1 shallot, finely minced

2" - ginger, microplaned

1c faro

½c white wine

½c frozen peas, dethawed

¼c lime juice

2T soy sauce

¼c cilantro, chiffonade

Salt & pepper


In a medium sized stock pot, combine vegetable stock and lemongrass. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cover.

In a large high-sided skillet, heat 2T olive oil over medium high heat.  Sautee mushrooms in batches, until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium and in the same skillet, add remaining 2T olive oil. Add shallot and ginger to pan and cook until shallots become translucent, about 2-3 minutes.  Add faro to pan and toast for 1-2.  Pour wine into pan and stir continually until faro absorbs completely.  Add 1c of stock to faro at a time, stir until all liquid is absorbed before adding another cup. Once faro is cooked al dente, reduce heat to low and add lime juice and soy sauce. Stir vigorously to build the starchiness, which gives risotto its creamy texture. Finally add mushrooms, peas and cilantro to faroto. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy. 


Volunteer of the Year 2014-15

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BDukcbZlETG6PuWj3cmqeTtAohrfJz0452peAq_4CCk.jpegPeter began volunteering at KIPP SHINE in 2012.

A decade earlier, while studying at the University of Texas at Austin, he first found his passion for healthy living as a member of the university's marathon team. Later, while helping to organize the Houston Marathon, he often passed by undeveloped land along the first few miles of the course and dreamed about planting orchards and gardens there for kids attending the nearby schools. Lack of horticultural know-how and a busy schedule building information systems and streamlining accounting processes for an oil and gas company kept that dream on the backburner. 

When his company was acquired, Peter took advantage of a lull in his workload to embrace an alternate version of his dream. He discovered Recipe for Success Foundation and their efforts to build gardens and teach kids about gardening and cooking, giving them a foundation of healthy choices to benefit them for the rest of their lives.

On the Fridays when he volunteers at KIPP SHINE, an early childhood and elementary school, Peter gets to help second graders build that healthy foundation and enjoys seeing the refreshing way with which they approach life. Meeting and learning from instructors, chefs, and others who are passionate about healthy living has benefits, too. 

At home, Peter's one-pot meals are tastier than ever thanks to spices and techniques he picked up at RFS, and his balcony is now full of greenery, including most of the ingredients for an occasional romantic dinner.

Besides volunteering, Peter enjoys running and swimming. He travels occasionally, too, including back to his birthplace, Taiwan, where he enjoys the abundant fresh local produce and street food.


If you are interested in volunteering with Recipe for Success, email our volunteer coordinator Kristen,

Beefing Up the Big Screen

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There's no satisfaction quite like cutting into a perfectly succulent, marbled piece of steak.  But how does that cut of deliciousness get from farm to plate?  In his critically acclaimed documentary Steak (R)Evolution, director Franck Ribière takes viewers around the world with farmers, chefs, butchers, and food journalists to uncover the art of red meat. 

Ribière's goal is not only to find the best steak out there, but also to decipher what differentiates the best steaks and makes them notable, and how the shift to smaller-scale farming organizations is affecting the beef industry.  Highlights of his scrumptious steak odyssey include the Angus country of Scotland, the Kobe beef ranches in Japan, and some of New York City's most revered butcher shops and steakhouses.

Recipe for Success is co-sponsoring a screening of Steak (R)Evolution at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on Friday, October 9th, at 7pm, and a panel and Q&A with Glen Boudreaux from Jolie Vue Farms will immediately follow the screening.  We will also be collecting stories for our Dinner Conversations project.  If you cannot make the Friday night screening and panel, there will be one additional screening of the film on Saturday, October 10th, at 7pm.  Watch the trailer here!

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Recipe Challenge!

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Chef Justin Kouri, our new Culinary Coordinator, is kicking off a fun recipe exchange featuring his tantalizng dishes from RecipeHouse along with his picks of those submitted by our readers, followers, and fans-that's YOU! What are you doing to ban lunch box boredom and jazz up your back-to-school lunch routine? Send your yummiest recipe - it can be super simple or a four-course meal - for a packed lunch to and you could win the August Challenge and be included in next year's VEGOUT! COOKBOOK. Veggie Panini.JPGVeggie Panini

Recipe by Chef Justin Kouri
This back to school recipe replaces sugar loaded condiments with a healthy alternative!
Don't have a Panini Grill? There's no need! We'll show you how to make your own press with the grill pan you already own and an extra brick!
Corn Spread                      Sandwich:
4 ears corn                        8 slices multigrain bread
2 limes, juiced                   ¼ head red cabbage, shredded
1 jalapeño, small dice        2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
                                          1 red onion, thinly sliced
                                   8 slices of fontina cheese
Corn Spread
Shuck corncobs and remove kernels. Place the corn and lime juice in a food processor and blitz until almost smooth, about 5 minutes. Strain and discard solid remnants. Add corn mixture to small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring until thick, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in jalapeño. Allow to cool completely.
Heat Panini grill or make shift grill (grill plate and foil covered brick) over medium high heat. Spread cooled corn spread on one side of both slices of bread. Arrange cabbage, tomato, onion and cheese on one slice of bread. Close sandwich with remaining slice, spread side down. Place sandwich on Panini grill and cook until cheese begins to melt. If using a make shift grill position sandwich on grill and place brick on top. Cook for 1-2 minutes, flip sandwich, placing brick back on top and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cut in half and enjoy!

S2P now at West U Elementary!

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We are thilled to be launching our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ at West U Elementary -- the largest elementary school in Houston ISD.

West University parent Kristen Berger first got to know Recipe for Success Foundation after Arvia Few invited her to attend the past few year's Blue Plate Special Luncheons. She later visited a Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ classroom at MacGregor Elementary. This year, Berger is chairing the November 18 Blue Plate Special Luncheon with Arvia Few. 

"When I visited the classroom at MacGregor Elementary, I was so impressed by the many benefits beyond teaching the kids about where the food comes from and eating healthy," says Berger. "I saw how it inspired kids for their future. One boy said he wanted grow up to be like his chef instructor Monica Pope. My favorite part was hearing a girl say 'I take the recipes home and make them with my Dad.' It's wonderful how it permeates through the family unit." 

Berger also talked to the fourth grade teacher whose class she observed. I asked the teacher if the Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ program takes away anything from her required teaching for the STAAR test compliance. The teacher said, "no it helps me teach essential lessons on deeper level."

After her visit to the Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ classroom at MacGregor Elementary, Houston mom Kristen Berger immediately started working on getting the engaging and empowering nutrition program into West University Elementary, which is currently the largest elementary school in Houston ISD with students in K-5th grade. With the growth of the area and the student population the school has had to focus its resources and programming strictly on core curriculum. Berger started with the PTO and got the ball rolling for the school to adopt the program.

"The school had an after-school garden club program that was not living up to its potential, so I talked to administration, who liked the idea of the program, but had trouble finding room during the school day to fit it in," says Berger. She explains that after multiple teachers spoke up for the program and the enrichment value it would bring to the students, a solution was reached to convert the existing after-school garden club, which met twice a week, into an after-school Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ program.

Starting this fall, West U. Elementary plans to rotate all grades through the program over the course of the school year. "This is a big reason that Recipe for Success' Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ program shines - it is adaptable to any situation, any circumstances," says Berger. The entire school will be encouraged to participate in Recipe for Success Foundation's additional, free, auxiliary programs, such as Farmers MarKIDS in the fall, essay and poetry writing contests, a health fair, and the annual VegOut! during March.

"The after-school program at West U will be a small, but steady start, just planting the seed of enrichment for the school. It's about much more than gardening and cooking, which are so important, but the program teaches kids about culture, working well with others, teamwork, and more. And another beautiful thing: the school garden is located in a central focal point of the school, so reviving the garden will be an inspiration to the entire campus," says Berger.



1485% Growth over 10 years

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Schools from California to South Texas and an ever-increasing number in Houston are adopting Recipe for Success Foundation's award-winning Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ to achieve measurable change in children's eating habits with the organization's unique chef-designed curriculum that makes healthy food fun and tasty. "Why reinvent the wheel?" says Juan Gonzalez, Principal at Patterson Elementary in Houston. "When Recipe for Success has spent millions designing and testing a flexible nutrition curriculum that complements our regular school day and supports critical learning objectives to boot."

Seed-To-Plate Nutrition Education™ prepares children with knowledge and skills they need to make healthy eating decisions for a lifetime. Evaluations show that kids participating in the Seed-To-Plate Nutrition Education™ classes eat as much as 30% more veggies after just one year and take their new skills and knowledge home to cook healthy meals with their families.

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The Foundation welcomes a number of new schools as Affiliate Partners in Houston and nationwide for Fall 2015. In Petaluma, California, Meadow School fifth grade teachers have selected the program's Marco Polo themed unit of twenty gardening and culinary classes for their students, which was inspired by the explorer's travels through Europe and Asia. The curriculum's extra worksheets in history, geography and social studies along with math and science will thoroughly engage their students and help inspire a culture of health on this Sonoma County campus in the heart of the wine country.

In the Foundation's home base of Houston, Texas, 31 schools across the city now offer the signature curriculum that integrates hands-on gardening and culinary classes with complementary worksheets in math science, language arts and other core learning objectives. The program is gaining popularity among charter schools. Four schools featuring the program this fall: KIPP Shine, KIPP Zenith Academy and KIPP Legacy and Yes Prep West Preparatory School. West University Elementary, the largest elementary school in HISD with more than 1,200 students, begins offering Seed-To-Plate Nutrition Education™ for PreK-fifth graders in an after-school format this fall. "This is a big reason that Recipe for Success' Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ program shines - it is adaptable to any situation, any circumstances," says West U Elementary parent Kristen Berger.

In South Texas, Santa Gertrudis Elementary School, in Kingsville is building gardens with the help of The King Ranch and will launch the Seed- to-Plate Nutrition Education™ program this fall forthe school's 2nd and 3rd grade classes. "It is so important to change the thinking of our children when they are young and then they can help teach their families -- this is the best way to change for our future. It is my hope that other schools learn about our program and want to pursue it with their campuses," says Mary Springs, Superintendent, Santa Gertrudis ISD.

Become a Recipe for Success Foundation Affiliate Partner
With fall classes around the corner, schools and community groups who are concerned about student health are signing up to become Recipe for Success Foundation Affiliate Partners to gain access to the group's proven-effective curriculum. Affiliate Partners send their own employees--typically teachers--through the Foundation's online S2P Instructor training program to become certified. All certified S2P Instructors of licensed Affiliate Partners enjoy direct support from the Recipe for Success Foundation Home Team with an extensive online library of 400 Common Core aligned lesson plans for pre-K through fifth grade, support materials, training videos, access to garden and culinary experts, professional development and a forum to share best practices with fellow S2P Instructors across the country.

"We're pleased to provide an inexpensive way to replicate our success in changing children's eating behaviors," says Gracie Cavnar, founder and CEO of Recipe for Success Foundation. "We accept applications from any interested school or community center willing to implement our program with integrity."

Introductory participation rates are very appealing: The $500 annual Affiliate Partner fee and $250 per person for two teachers to train and certify as S2P Instructors, brings the first year investment to just $1,000 per campus. Click here for more Information and application forms or by call us at 713-520-0443. 

Join us at Elaine Turner

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Time to say goodbye to summer trends and say hello to fall fashion! Please join us on Wednesday, September 2, to kickoff our 10th Anniversary season. The party, which includes light bites by PESKA Seafood Culture, and takes place at Elaine Turner Boutique in glamorous BLVD Place. This festive shopping party kicks off the Foundation's 10th year of pursuing its mission of combatting childhood obesity. This year's Dress for Dinner fashion series is chaired by noteworthy fashion blogger Carrie Colbert. CLICK HERE to RSVP and find more on our upcoming events!

Take a Seat at Our Table

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The Dinner Conversation is a new dialogue that we are starting Houston to honor our tenth anniversary, designed to celebrate our vision of a world where healthy eating is the norm and a culture where nutritious food is shared, appreciated, and celebrated.  It will be a multi-media project of personal essays, written, recorded and video interviews and photography that we will collect throughout the year.
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We have plans to capture Houstonians from every neighborhood and walk of life sharing their most powerful food memories, life changing meals and fondest family food traditions, which will be honored for posterity in an electronic book.  There will be some special sections including, A Taste of Home, where we ask immigrants to divulge where in Houston they find that special ingredient, and Food of Our Grandmothers--multiple generations remembering their family food traditions creating an oral and written history of life around their dinner table.  And on one special night, we will ask all Houstonians to take a group photo at dinner, capturing a moment in time in our diverse city for social media.  Pull up to our table and dig in!

A Decade in the Making

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Glen-&-Honi-Bourdeaux-optimized.jpgThe first time Gracie met Glen Boudreaux, he approached her after a presentation about her vision for a new organization called Recipe for Success, which included the idea of Hope Farms to bring fresh produce into underserved Houston neighborhoods.  At the time, the term food desert had yet to appear in the national conversation.  He said, "Gracie, I know all about non-profit farming; what can I do to help?" A new partnership was born on the spot!  Since that day, Honi & Glen Boudreaux have worked with Gracie to bring the vision of Hope Farms to reality. Now thanks to a substantial grant from Wells Fargo Foundation, a sizeable gift of land in Houston's Sunnyside neighborhood plus initial capital and operating gifts from the Simmons and Brown Foundations, Hope Farms is about to sprout as a showcase urban farm where we will train displaced veterans to become urban agri-entrepreneurs, while we grow and distribute affordable fresh produce for our neighbors and friends.
Glen and Honi are committed to expanding the farm belt around Houston and to building a sustainable urban farm system inside the city to help alleviate access issues in our city's poorest neighborhoods. We can't even add up the hours that they have spent over years with Gracie in meetings to plan, layout and negotiate a site for Hope Farms, which has suffered fits and starts through the years as one real estate deal after another fell through. No one gave up. In the meantime, these founding members of the Recipe for Success Board of Directors have contributed endless energy and re¬sources to encourage healthier diets among Houstonians and created a model of ag¬ricultural best practices at their Jolie Vue Farms near Brenham. They co-founded the Rice University Farmers Market and launched the first home delivery of farm-raised products in Houston.

The Boudreauxs were our Champions of Food Justice in 2013 and will are excited to honor them again this year as founding board members at the Blue Plate Special Lunch on November 18.  But the best day of the year will be when Honi and Glen can wander out into the fields of Hope Farms, pick a piece of fruit right off the vine and hand it to someone for their dinner!

Let us know if you want to help us build the barn, train the farmers and plant the fields at Hope Farms with either time or treasure.

Eat This! Summer Camp on FOX 26 news!

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We were delighted when Ruben Dominguez of FOX 26 showed up to feature our Eat This! Summer camp on their morning news program!  Ruben reported on our final camp session for the season anda gave us the opportunity to tell viewers about our mission and other programs. 



Check out the video featuring Chef Paola and some talented Summer Camp chefs! Thanks again to Ruben and FOX 26!


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