February 2011 Archives

StarChefs.com Rising Stars Revue - Houston 2011 will donate to Recipe for Success

Gracie Cavnar
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Funny how the lineup resembles the RFS Chefs Advisory Board! So it's no wonder.  Thank you once again to our city's fabulous culinary professionals.

star chefs.pngFor more information about the event or to buy tickets, see:

Tonight on Fox news at 9 PM...

Alyssa Dole
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JDFox with Kids.jpg
Tune in:
Fox News at 9 PM

On location: 
Rodriguez Elementary

Watch RFS students making Chocolate Beet Mini-Muffins and hear directly from Gracie Cavnar, CEO and Founder, and Chef Kendall Watson, RFS Team Leader at Rodriguez Elementary School.  

On left: 5th grade Rodriguez Elementary students pose with John Dawson of Fox 26 news. 

Tips for Cooking Couples

Gracie Cavnar
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Ronnie & Jon on Great Day.jpgUnlike Woody Allen and Diane Keaten in the famous Annie Hall lobster scene, RFS Team Leader, Chef Ronnie Alford and her husband Chef Jon Alford run a smooth operation working together in their home kitchen without stepping on each others toes--either figuratively or physically.  The newlywed couple shows Deborah Duncan and her audience at Great Day Houston their secrets to happy kitchen collaborations. Ronnie & Jon will launch couples classes at RecipeHouse on February 25, 2011.

VIPs Visit an RFS Classroom and Roll Up Their Sleeves

Gracie Cavnar
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This week, a host of VIP visitors got an eye-opening class at MacGregor Elementary with Chef Monica Pope and Team Leader, Chef Molly Graham.  The kids were learning about the true nature of commercial Hot Pockets, which feature over 87 ingredients including chemical compounds made from human hair, pig hooves and duck feathers.

Hot Pockets are the single biggest selling snack food for American kids, but most are made in China where lax oversight might produce some surprising results.  Taking a page from the RFS Summer Camp Curriculum that teaches kids how to detect the difference between promotion (what's on the front of the box) vs fact (whats on the side or back,) our Hot Pocket class was developed by Chefs Advisory Board member, Garth Blackburn of Wolf/SubZero.  For instance, the front of the box may say Real Cheese, but the back lets you know that  the cheese flavoring boasts food colors and man-made chemicals, but no actual cheese. 

"I've never made anything with 87 ingredients, not even curry," exclaimed Chef Pope.  "How about you guys?"  After watching Monica and Molly add a collection of the "real" ingredients to a bowl, the kid's astonished responses--accentuated by dramatic gagging and gasping sounds, gaping mouths and wide eyes--indicated that they would not soon again run to the freezer section to buy Hot Pockets.  As a delicious stand-in, they learned a healthier version made with shredded turkey, garnished with chopped winter greens from their garden and dressed with homemade vinaigrette.  Plates were cleaned!

Joining us in class for a first hand look at how RFS connects so well with children, were Scott McClelland - CEO of Houston HEB Central Market Division, Dr. Joel Dunnington - MD Anderson Cancer Center, Lisa Stark & Ashley Velasquez - Texas Medical Association along with Dr. Kelli Cohen Fine-Baylor College of Medicine and Cheryl Kridel, Co-Chairs of the upcoming TMA Gala.  Scott, Joel and I are being honored at the 2011 Gala for our work to improve children's health.
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Scott McClelland, Linda Stark & Kelli Cohen Fein enjoying an RFS cooking class

Why don't you visit the classroom sometime?  Read about ways you can visit and volunteer here.  In the meantime, don't forget to read the real ingredients in the prepared foods that you buy, or better yet . . . follow our suggestion to shop only the perimeter of the store, where the fresh, unprocessed ingredients are displayed. 

Also in class was regular monthly volunteer and blogger, Bettina Siegel.  She wrote about her experience in The Lunch Tray.  Our volunteers regularly contribute to our own Volunteer Voices blog.  Keep up with what they are saying.

RFS Now Offers Classes to SPICE Members

Gracie Cavnar
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We have always hankered to do cooking classes for families untethered from the strictures of the school schedule.  After all--it's proven that nothing is healthier than cooking and dining together at home.   Last week, we launched our first cooking classes in the long-awaited RFS home kitchen, designed to easily accommodate 10 cooks for a hands-on class in the kitchen, or up to 20 for a demonstration.  A test hands-on class for Board Members, SPICE Guild and special VIPS on January 25 featured scratch pizza.  Participants rolled out their own whole wheat dough, getting creative with the healthy toppings, and turning out enough pizza for both lunch and to take home an oven ready version for dinner, too. 

The response was a resounding two thumbs up! 

All systems were "go" for the next night, when Chef Ruth Riojas conducted a Super Bowl/Super Food class for ten.  Chef Ruth interpreted traditional Super Bowl favorites into healthy versions including "PhillyCheeseShroom" and "Vegetarian Chili."  Recipes sacrificed none of the flavor, but most of the calories for guilt-free day of noshing. 

Our next SPICE cooking class is February 23--"Keeping Love Alive in the Kitchen" A Primer for Couples Who Cook, presented by Chefs Ronnie & Jon Alford.  A Date Night Class for couples is expected to become a regular monthly event in the RFS kitchen classroom.

In March the schedule will include a special 3-day Spring Break Camp for 8-11 year olds using the theme of my new book: Eat It! Food Adventures with Marco Polo.  Students will get hands-on with medieval inspired recipes from Venice and Greece and learn to make pasta and flat breads from scratch, including their own pita pockets filled with fresh produce from our home gardens.

These classes are available only to SPICE guild members who receive some with membership and may buy others.  Good enough reason to join up!  Why not?

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Down load a SPICE application and get started with classes today.

Live Long, Love Long This February

Alyssa Dole
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As obesity rises, life expectancy declines. Instead of stuffing your loved one full of sucrose and fat this Valentine's Day, prepare a healthy, tasty treat- Chocolate Beet Mini-Muffins. This will not only show how much you care about them now, but your hopes for a long, healthy life together- that you want them to live long and love long this February. 

Spicy Good Times
Looking for a way to reconnect with a loved one? Look no farther than Recipe for Success SPICE guild. RFS SPICE guild is offering a February Cooking for Two Cooking class that is the perfect way to SPICE up your date night. To find out more, e-mail Katherine for details.  
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Feel the love radiate from these kids as the revel in their mini muffin success. 

Tasting, Trying, Learning, Growing at Briscoe

Guest Student
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School: Briscoe Elementary, 4th Grade
 I get to go to Chef Anne's class on Monday mornings to cook sometimes with Chef Garth and learn about things we grow in the garden.  Our garden didn't grow some of what we planted, but we grew a great big broccoli.  We ate it last week in our class when we made Stir Fried Tofu and vegetables.  That was my first time I think to eat tofu, and I liked it! 
 We also had snap peas and swiss chard from our garden in the recipe.  I like going to the class because it is fun to get to cook and eat new things.  Next month we will make chocolate beet muffins with beets we have grown, I have never eaten beets before in my life-but I think I will like them.

Educating and Encouraging our Youth to be Fit

Carol Sawyer
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Carol Sawyer.jpgIt makes me terribly sad to see overweight youngsters and to see people making poor food choices.  I worry about the future of our youth regarding obesity, diabetes and  so many other health issues.  And, as with everything, it has a  "trickle-down" effect.  No doubt, it will affect us all.

However, I am encouraged by the Recipe For Success programs.  This Seed-to-Plate education gives me great hope that children will be taught to make better choices and to take charge of their own health and well-being.  No matter our age, we should all take responsibility for ensuring our body and spirit are the  very best that we can be for ourselves and our loved ones.  Naturally, genetics play a large role for each of us. But, wouldn't it be great to reach a ripe, old age and be able to say "at least I took care of myself as best I could"?

Whether I am volunteering for RFS at a special event, having a pizza party,  spreading the word or thinking of new avenues for community outreach and awareness, I feel that in my own way I am helping encourage and support our youth, friends and families to strive to be fit and healthy.

Hopefully my part as a volunteer, outside of the garden or school, can positively impact the lives of children by directing them toward the path of wellness and the mission of RFS.

Carol Sawyer picture smiling.JPGCarol Sawyer and Norah Odonnell.jpgCarolsawyerwithguest.jpg