2013 Archives

H-E-B in the S2P classroom

Jenna White
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HEB-Group photo.jpg

This month a group of our friends at H-E-B visited a Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ cooking class at Rodriguez Elementary, one of our most veteran programs.  


Led by Chef Susie, fourth-grade students prepared a 1-2-3 Salad with seasonal veggies and ingredients representing each of the five food groups.  H-E-B team members Rita, Lacey, Annie and Joe jumped right in to ask students questions and assist students as they chopped, measured, whisked and tossed. 

1-2-3 Salad-RodriguezS2P.jpg

What did we think of the 1-2-3 Salad?


Thumbs up all around!

Thanks for visiting our classroom, H-E-B. We look forward to vegging out with you in the New Year!

See more photos of H-E-B's classroom visit here.

Benjy's in the kitchen

Jenna White
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Joseph-Daniel-RecipeHouse.jpgExecutive chef Joseph Stayshich and sous chef Daniel Nossa of Benjy's at Rice Village graced RecipeHouse with their presence this month, fashioning a wonderful evening for guests.

Dishes were reminiscent of the playful use of local seasonal ingredients and fusion of flavors for which Benjy's is known. 

Squash Agnolotti.jpgVadouvan-spiced local squash agnolotti, grilled apples, Texas pecan dukkah, sumac yogurt.

pork belly with coffee-roasted carrots, creamed carrot tops and cranberries.jpg

Sorghum-glazed Black Hills Ranch pork belly with coffee-roasted carrots, creamed carrot tops and cranberries.

We learned that our Chef Surpríse dinner would be the duo's last meal to prepare in the same kitchen, as Chef Daniel has been tapped to take the reigns in launching the group's new location of Local Foods at Kirby and Westheimer.

Guests also received a special treat: Terroir Selections donated a range of their wine offerings to pair with the meal. Southeastern Regional Sales Director Natalie Vaclavik joined us to provide background on each pairing selection.

View more photos of the evening here.

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. Learn more and reserve seats for upcoming dinners here.

Deville's Fund the Cause Event

Jenna White
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DevilleFineJewelryFundtheCause.pngThis holiday season, show that special   someone how much they mean with a gift that truly DAZZLES.  Shop Deville Fine Jewelry throughout December and 10% of proceeds will benefit Recipe for Success!  

Use the code RFS13 in store and onlineat checkout to have your purchase to help us empower local kids to make healthy eating decisions for life.

My Favorite Holiday Food Stories

Jenna White
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Pine Shadow-fave holiday food-turkey.jpgRecipe for Success encourages students in its Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs to celebrate their family culinary traditions.  At every turn, we incorporate key skills, such as writing and storytelling, into our curriculum, which is why students every fall write about their favorite holiday foods to share with their classes.

Pine Shadow - fave holiday food essays.jpgFirst-grade S2P students at Pine Shadows Elementary wrote essays about their favorite holiday dishes and decorate paper frames to display their writing.

Each year, fourth graders in our programs throughout Houston submit entries for the My Favorite Holiday Food Story Writing Contest, and one talented student is selected by poet laureate TK as our winner.  This year's winner was Ivan Marquez of Matthys Elementary, who wrote about his family's Thanksgiving tradition of having a special turkey that pays homage to his family's culture - it's stuffed with tamales!  

"The smell is just irresistable! If you take only a sniff, it can put you in a food trance," says Ivan of his mom's dish. "It will make your taste buds not, but FLOOD!"  Pretty enticing review if you ask us.

Ivan, his family and two Matthys educators attended our annual awards luncheon, where he joined other honorees on stage to accept his award from Chef Neal Cox, with whom Ivan will spend some one-on-one time as Chef for a Day, preparing delicious recipes in Olivette kitchen at The Houstonian.

What are YOUR favorite holiday foods traditions?

Chef Neil Cox, Ivan Marquez, City Councilman Steve Costello.jpgChef Neal Cox, Ivan Marquez and City Councilman Steve Costello at the 2013 Blue Plate Special Cafe: A Harvest Market & Awards Luncheon.

RELISH to the rescue!

Jenna White
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RELISHCatering2.jpgPlanning a meeting, lunch, party or other special event this holiday season? Tired of the same old, drab catering offerings?

With corporate catering from RELISH Fine Foods, you'll not only savor the occasion, you'll be helping children lead healthier lives. For the month of December, RELISH is donating 15 percent of corporate catering proceeds to Recipe for Success.

Learn more and view RELISH's Corporate Catering menus here.

Volunteer of the Month

Tracy Weldon
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will isbell 2.jpgI am happy to announce Will Isbell as our volunteer of the month! Will Isbell has been volunteering with Recipe for Success for many years.  He has helped with numerous activities such as garden builds, student presentations, Eat This! Summer Camp sessions, and staff training.  Will currently served as our moderator for our More Than Honey screening and panel discussion in celebration of Food Day.  Will was the perfect candidate to lead our discussion due to his diverse background and experience with entomology and art.  While he has taken many entomology classes at Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension, Will owes most of his knowledge to his grandparents.  As a child, Will loved to play and explore in his grandparents' farm. His love for entomology and horticulture is shown when he volunteers with our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition EducationTM classes.  He speaks so passionately that he is able to get many young students excited about insects such as stag beetles!  When he is not in one of our classrooms, you can find Will in the studio as he is finishing up his Bachelor's of Fine Art in Studio Art.  Will will always see himself heavily engaged in two of his passions: art and volunteerism.  Though he does not like to pick sides, he says that RFS is one of his favorite organizations because he sees the impact we have on our students, parents, and communities long after our program is completed.  We thank Will for being a great volunteer to Recipe for Success and he hope to have him for a lifetime!

Food awards are the Recipe for Success...

Jenna White
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Ashley, Holly, Gracie.jpg"The serious effort at combating childhood obesity took on a glamorous note at River Oaks Country Club when Recipe for Success held its annual Blue Plate Special Cafe awards luncheon. As 300 influential Houstonians poured into the ballroom, it was quickly apparent that Recipe for Success founder Gracie Cavnar had gotten the attention of individuals who make a difference in H-Town..."

Read the full story by CultureMap's Shelby Hodge here. 

A Harvest Market & Awards Lunch

Jenna White
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Erin Hicks, Karen Garcia.jpg"With special guest Mayor Annise Parker, mistress of ceremonies Deborah Duncan, Honi and Glen Bdoudreaux were honored along with Chef Ryan Pera as Chef of the Year; Olga Abundis, Teacher of the Year and Brook Candelaria and Suzanne Williams as Volunteers of the Year..."

See a slideshow and the full story in Houston Chronicle's Society Diaries here.

How do radishes taste?

Jenna White
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What did first-graders in Berry Elementary's Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ program think after tasting the white radishes that they planted, tended and harvested this fall in their Recipe Garden?

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berry 1st grader trying radish.jpg

Learn how to bring Recipe for Success Foundation's proven nutrition education curriculum and hands-on cooking and gardening classes to your school here

Keeping Up With The News

Gracie Cavnar
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thumbs up.jpgIn an effort to connect our partners and fans with current research, strategies, successful programs and trends focused on combattng obesity, healthy eating and food access issues, we have assembled this weeks news stories from around the world. . . .

A New York Times story on November 13, showcases a group of Head Start kids in East Harlem who benefit from the collaboration of the Children's Museum of Manhattan and the National Institute of Health.  Eat Play Grow is designed expressly for kids under five and offers interactive displays, art, storytime and music complemented by parent nutrition classes.  Amenities at the Museum like plastic fruit, letter tiles featuring food and interactive games have been replicated in the community center that hosts this weekly class.  Read the entire story here.  In 2010 when we learned that obesity numbers were on the rise in 5 year olds, Recipe for Success designed programs for pre-school children as young as 3.  We also started neo-natal classes for moms and parent-child classes for families.  We agree that it is never too early to build healthy habits.

Guidelines for obesity counseling and care were released this week by a group of medical associations that include the American College of Cardiology, the Obesity Society and the American Heart Association.  Read the AP story here.  We say, "It's about time!"  Physicians are often the first place a family turns for advice and support to deal with their overweight child, but historically the family doctor or pediatrician is the least prepared to provide it.  In 2012, with the guidance of board member Dr. Melanie Mencer Parks, Recipe for Success Foundation launched a Healthcare Provider Committee tasked with creating educational tools and programs for Houston's medical community.  In 2012, we began teaching Baylor Medical Students how to cook and the Committee has plenty of other ideas and plans up their sleeves.  Now, our initiative seems to have the support and validation of the entire medical profession.

I volunteer for food...

Jenna White
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MyTable-Patricia Burdette.jpg"It's pretty special to be offered a juicy morsel of slow-cooked pork right from the chef's hand. As dinner guests took a breather after the third course of a seven-course dinner last Monday night, a peach wood-smoked pork belly appeared on the chopping board, ready to be portioned and plated. Gently stroking the perfectly roasted meat, Ronnie Killen of Killen's Steakhouse and Killen's BBQ showed pride in his craft and an eagerness to share and please. He gently began to pick bite-sized pieces..."

Get the full scoop by wonderful RecipeHouse volunteer and writer-photographer Dragana Harris on MyTable's SideDish here.

Problem In Aisle One

Gracie Cavnar
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grocery blog entry.jpgA recent study by Johns Hopkins compared grocery and food access across the spectrum to test popular thinking that healthy choices improved as families worked thier way up the economic ladder.  The findings might surprise you.  We already knew that poor, racially segregated black neighborhoods lack supermarkets and the study reconfirmed that.  But the small grocery stores they do have offer very few healthy products, instead favoring high fat, salt and sugary foods on their shelves.  Though segregated Hispanic neighborhoods also have fewer supermarkets, their small gracers tend to stock healthier items.  Even more shocking are stats reflect that even wealthier black neighborhoods have far fewer super markets and healthy grocery options than poor white neighborhoods.  You can read more about the study in a recent LA Times story or in the Preventive Medicine journal.

As we prioritize efforts to provide healthier options for all our neighbors, perhaps we need to consider more than affluence and the fact that you can't simlply provide healthier options, people need to buy them.  By identifying cultural favorites that are poor nutritional choices and working to educate folks on how to prepare them in a healthier way, we can influence the market.  This is one of the things we do at Recipe for Success Foundation in our work with kids and their families.  We rely on ideas like our friend Lindsey Williams suggested in his book Neo Soul: Taking Soul Food to a Whole 'Nutha Level.  No one said you can't ever have red beans and rice again, just consider making it with smoked turkey sausage and maybe serving it with a green salad.

12 make-ahead school lunches

Jenna White
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SheKnowsRePost.jpg"School mornings are busy enough without fretting over what to give your child for school lunches. Preparing food ahead of time ensures that your child will have something good and healthy to eat at school."

View all 12 lunch ideas, including a recipe by Recipe for Success Foundation, at SheKnows.com here.

Prime time with Ronnie Killen

Jenna White
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Ronnie.jpgIn the midst of its second year, Chef Surpríse is no longer a best kept secret, tucked away on a residential street in its happy lil' RecipeHouse home in the Museum District.  After many rounds of guests, who become loyal fans and invite their friends, and wonderful media folks, who dine with us and help spill the beans, our fun and casual monthly dinner series are finally out of the bag.

Clear evidence can be found in Exhibit A: Before we even promoted it, Chef Ronnie Killen's dinner sold out.  It pays to check the RecipeHouse website now and then, as Killen's Steakhouse (and Killen's BBQ) regulars shared their thrill in stumbling upon the event listing on our calendar.

Crabcakes.jpgRonnie, ever the competitive soul, did not disappoint.  His five-course menu (with a bonus amuse bouche of crispy pint-sized wonton tacos stuffed with tuna tartare) included showstoppers, from start (smoked pork and black-eyed pea gumbo) to finish (pumpkin bread pudding with burnt caramel and tres leches drizzle).  Yet even more so than the pleasure delivered by each dish, guests relished the opportunity to get up close and personal with a favorite chef.  

Patrons strolled up to the bar counter to chat with Ronnie (who doled out samples to anyone in arm's reach) about everything, from the meat he sources and preparation methods, to what it's like hosting Texans players in your restaurant on a regular basis.  Clearly, though, Ronnie is a celebrity in his own right, and we're glad to have had him donate his time, talent and insight with us at RecipeHouse.

View more photos of the evening here.

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. Learn more and reserve seats for upcoming dinners here.

Ronnie Killen at Recipe for Success

Jenna White
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RonnieTacos.jpg"In pursuit of its main mission, teaching kids how to eat healthier foods and resist the billions spent on marketing to convince them otherwise, the nonprofit known as Recipe for Success invites Houston area chefs to teach cooking classes and, on the first Monday of each month, serve up dinner with wine to raise money. It's an under-the-radar thing mostly; but thanks to the quality of chefs like Killen, the rightness of the cause and the intimacy of the dining room, these Chef Surprise dinners sell out often as not..."

Read the full review by food writer John DeMers at Delicious Mischief here.

Veggies Still In Third Place

Gracie Cavnar
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food patterns.pngNPD Group, a market reaseach firm, recently released data showing that Americans are eating more fruit and drinking fewer carbonated beverages at home.  Of the five types of foods they measure--sandwiches, carbonated soft drinks, fruits, vegetables and milk, fruit climbed from #5 to #2 over the last ten years.  Veggie consumption remains stuck at #3.  And we know that for Americans, that vegetable is typically french fries.

Harry Balzer, an NPD spokesman, suggestd that since fruit requires little or no preparation and is self contained, it's easier to eat--just like a sandwich, the number one food.   "[The sandwich] is the number one food eaten at lunch; the number one main dish at dinner (hamburgers and hot dogs are included), and it's the fastest-growing breakfast food," Balzer says.

Although people care about their health, according to Balzer it's not the number one factor influencing their food choices. People are creatures of habit and their current eating habits have the greatest influence over their meals.  After that, "it's really a tossup between cost and convenience -- both are important," he says. "We like to try new versions of products we already know."

So, veggie sandwiches anyone?

Volunteer of the Month

Tracy Weldon
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chef ruffy campers.jpgWe are happy to announce Chef Ruffy Sulaiman as November's volunteer of the month!  As a kid, Chef Ruffy wanted to be an engineer like his father, but while attending the University of Houston, he also worked full time as a chef.  For the last 21 years, Ruffy has been working as an executive chef spending the last ten years at the Hilton Americas-Houston.  He prides himself on being a front-runner in Southwestern cuisine and uses his French training to create the perfect fusion.  Chef Ruffy has had a few crazy and bizarre moments while working as an executive chef.  One of his busiest days, at the Hilton, in 2004, he served over 10,000 meals in a 24-hour period for a Super Bowl event.  The 'wildest' meal he has ever created was a combination plate of pan seared filet of mountain lion tenderloin and chipotle glazed rattlesnake cake for a Safari themed wine tasting event while working for the Adam's Mark Hotel! Chef Ruffy, obviously, has a love creating unique yet delectable menus for his clients.  His joy is translated into our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition EducationTM classrooms.  He loves that he is able to have an impact on so many students' lives and see them grow into young chefs.  One of his favorite moments as chef was this past summer as he volunteered with our Eat This! Summer Camp.  The campers truly enjoyed his take on corn flake crusted chicken nuggets and homemade ketchup.  We applaud Chef Ruffy's hardwork as he helps to make our programs shine.


Learn more about our Chefs in SchoolsTM program here.

Sweet Potato Super Snack

Jenna White
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SweetPotatoSmoothies.jpgOur Culinary Education Coordinator and S2P Instructor Susie Mullen is mom to three active kids. It's super important to her that between homework, baseball and soccer practices and everything in between that they get wholesome, nutritious foods to sustain them on busy days and nourish their growing bodies and minds. Enter an all-star: this Sweet Potato Smoothie is chock full of nutrients and protein to provide energy and keep everyone going. It's perfect for a sippable breakfast, after-school or post-practice snack or as a guilt-free dessert.

Take a peek at Susie and her daughter Ann-Marie to see how simple it comes together!

See the printable recipe here. Encourage your kids to help you by:

  • Peeling and chopping the banana
  • Scooping and mashing the sweet potato flesh
  • Measuring dry and liquid ingredients!

View our other videos here, and subscribe to Recipe for Success' YouTube channel to keep up with our cooking and gardening videos!

Blue Plate Special Cafe, Nov 19

Jenna White
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BPSinvite.jpgChairs Gracie and Bob Cavnar and the Board of Directors of Recipe for Success Foundation invite you to join us for A Harvest Market and Awards Lunch, Tuesday, November 19, at The River Oaks Country Club.

Join us to honor our 2013 Blue Plate Special Cafe Award Winners.  This year's honorees are:

Honi & Glen Boudreaux / Mayor's Award: Champions of Food Justice

Ryan Pera / Blue Plate Speical Chef of the Year

Olga Abundis / Golden Whisk Teacher of the Year

Brooke Candelaria & Suzanne Williams / Golden Whisk Volunteers of the Year

Join us to celebrate their achievements and efforts to help create a healthier Houston community.  Come early to enjoy this indoor bazaar featuring the best of locally produced small batch foods, produce, meat, cheese and more from area farmers and handmade gifts from a range of wonderful local vendors.  We will also announce the winners of our fantastic raffle prizes!

Learn more and buy your tickets here

Houston's FoodDay Throwdown

Jenna White
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GregGordon-Throwdown.jpgRecipe for Success is the Houston coordinator for FoodDay, an annual nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food that showcases a grassroots campaign for better food policies.  Established in 2011, thousands of community events now take place throughout the country each year during the days leading up to October 24th. Read the full story about our recent Houston FoodDay events by Jodie Eisenhardt in CultureMap here.

Food Show Comes Up Short

Jenna White
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FoodShowFlyer.jpgby Sarah Tanner, Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education Program Coordinator

Last week Houston ISD hosted its first-ever, district-wide Nutrition Innovation Food Show.  Allowing students, parents, and community members to have a chance to taste-test new products and ask questions of food suppliers was a step in the right direction.  However, the show left one wondering where all the truly nutritious foods were.  The only product that resembled something grown in the ground was pre-diced white potatoes!  Other fruits and vegetables were freeze-dried, packed in salty water, or pureed into a colorful pouch.  It is disappointing that HISD is reinforcing the idea that children will only accept fruits and vegetables after processing them to an unrecognizable form.

Beyond fruits and vegetables, vendors provided samples of many of the ready-made meals that are served in school cafeterias.  Most foods were touted as low-fat or whole grain, but a closer look at the ingredient lists filled with added sugar and unpronounceable ingredients are still a cause for concern.  Of course, until schools have more money to spend on school lunches, utilizing frozen foods and some level of preservatives is necessary.  However, one vendor was more than ready to explain how chemical dyes are used so their food would more closely resemble the fried food students are accustomed to!  That certainly doesn't seem necessary.

A concerted effort has obviously been made to reduce calories, but vendors (and the schools they sell to) are still missing the point.  Until schools are able to provide whole ingredients and fresh fruits and vegetables, the nutritional needs of students are not being met.

Recipe for Success on News 92 FM

Jenna White
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Glen+Honi.jpgLong-time Recipe for Success Foundation supporters Honi and Glen Boudreaux of Jolie Vue Farms chat with Jodie Eisenhardt on News 92 FM's Livin' Large about the joy they find in helping us teach kids about real food, from seed-to-plate, as well as the upcoming Blue Plate Special Cafe: A Harvest Market & Awards Luncheon, where they will be honored as this year's Champions of Food Justice.

Check out the interview!

Four runway themes, fab bites and...

Jenna White
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ElizabethAnthony-CMstory.jpg"With Leisa Holland-Nelson and Laura Max Nelson heading up this season's Dress for Dinner series benefiting Recipe for Success, they rounded up a posse of fashionistas for the "Fashion in Four Courses" fundraiser that featured four themed-runway presentations of the latest designs in the swank boutique. Before and after the presentations..."

Read the full write-up by CultureMap's Shelby Hodge here.

Festivities for Food Day 2013

Jenna White
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FoodDay-Pledges.jpgFor the third year, Recipe for Success Foundation excitedly supported Food Day, a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, sustainable food and a grassroots movement for better food policies.

In honor of this year's focus on Food Education, this week we hosted activities to educate Houstonians of all ages about our food systems, including a screening of More Than Honey followed by a panel discussion with area bee experts about the decline in bee populations; a field trip for 350 students to view the documentary What's on Your Plate? about kids and food politics; and 70 or so of our regularly scheduled culinary and gardening classes for students in our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs across the city.

Throwdown-Honey-Roshni.jpgWe also partnered with Urban Harvest and the City of Houston to host the Third Annual Food Day Chef Throwdown at the City Hall Farmers Market. Four Houston chefs went head-to-head to create tasty vegetarian dishes using local produce donated by Gunderrman Acres and Atkinson Farms, plus this year's secret ingredient - HONEY (from Bee Wilde)! Food savvy judges voted on their winner - Greg Gordon of La Vista!

Throwdown-Group.jpgRead more about the challenge here and here.

FoodDay-Volunteer-Pledge.jpgDuring the Chef Throwdown, we also asked market patrons why they eat seed-to-plate. You know, why seek out real, whole food to nourish your body and appease hunger pangs? There are plenty of reasons to do so, but we wanted to know why Houston eats real.

Here are some of our favorite answers:

I eat seed-to-plate...

because it tastes better!

because it's healthy and fun!

to support local growers and farmers!

for better health.

because fresh veggies have shown me a whole new world of what food really is.

for our four-year-old daughter.

to feel great!

because it's honest food.

to support my city and its people!

for mental freshness.

because it's delicious and nutritious!

because it's important to know where your food comes from.

because it's creative and yummy!

because it's sustainable!

to save the bees!

because I love veggies!

Read more reasons Houstonians eat real and view our Food Day 2013 photo album here.

Trick-or-Treat Tactics

Jenna White
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GenevieveKids-Halloween.jpgRFS Board Member Genevieve Patterson is passionate about ensuring her seven-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son get all the nutrients that healthy, growing kids need. And while she has a few tricks up her sleeve, sometimes, striking a balance is all about redirection. 

Halloween, for example, with its fixation on the sugary, processed rewards of trick-or-treating, can be challenging to navigate for parents who wish to avoid having their sweet Fairy Princess tranform into The Hulk because they won't let her eat the 5 pounds of candy she toted home in that punkin bucket. But the alternative - caving and allowing kids to gorge on sugary junk until they're sick to their stomach isn't appealing either.

So what to do? Boycott Halloween altogether? No need, says Genevieve.

"You absolutely have to celebrate Halloween," she says, "It's so much fun! No need to deny your kids the chance to dress up!"

Rather than stress about all the candy, Genevieve emphasizes the other fun aspects of the holiday, like fashioning a super cool costume and showing it off to friends, who are also dressed as favorite creatures and characters. Enjoying the silliness and spending time with friends is what Halloween is all about at the Pattersons.

"On Halloween we host a party for our friends with kids and adults, which includes a dinner spread with lots of greens and healthy things to fill everyone up," she says.

The party ends up cutting into trick-or-treat time, too--an added bonus. Before they hit the streets, a time limit is set on how long everyone will go door-to-door. This establishes clear expectations and cuts down on tantrums, not to mention the size of their sugary hauls.

When they get home, Genevieve lets each of her kids pick three pieces of candy to enjoy that evening. The rest goes into the family candy jar and is distributed according to family candy rules, such as a piece for dessert in lunchboxes. Whatever's left after a month gets tossed. (Tootsie Rolls quickly become fossilized, anyway.)

Have your own tactics for a happy, healthy Halloween? Tell us!

Fashion in Four Courses, Oct 22

Jenna White
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Fashion in Four Courses.jpgJoin Recipe for Success Foundation and Dress for Dinner, Season V Chairs, Leisa Holland-Nelson and Laura Max Nelson, for the second round of our annual fashion series. Elizabeth Anthony | Esther Wolf will host Fashion in Four Courses, a runway show of their fall collection, complete with reception and delicious small bites by Arcodoro. We hope you can make it!

All Dress for Dinner event proceeds benefit Recipe for Success Foundation's efforts to combat childhood obesity by changing the way our children eat. Learn more about our annual fundraising fashion series and purchase your tickets here.

Giuseppe Zanotti shares tidbits...

Jenna White
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Laura+Leisa.jpg"Everyone who turned out to see Italian shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Galleria on Thursday got a rare treat: an intimate chance to meet and talk with a master.

Zanotti strode into the store like a rock star, and the women (and a few men) lined up in droves to have their Giuseppe Zanotti shoes signed and photos snapped with him..."

Read the full scoop by Houston Chronicle's Joy Sewing here.

Tips for a Healthy Halloween

Jenna White
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Gracie-flourkids.jpgThis week, Gracie weighed in on a heavy issue for a cover story in Houston Community News - avoiding processed, sugary treats during the holidays, starting with Halloween. It can be tricky, especially with kiddos, but is not an impossible feat! 

Read the full story by Kim Hogstrom in yesterday's Here Entertainment section of your Houston Community News or online here

Coconut Polenta & Asian Veggies

Jenna White
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Polenta stir-fry.jpgThis recipe is a quick and easy way to take advantage of whatever vegetables you have on hand and infuse them with plenty of flavor. Cooking the polenta in a coconut broth also adds another dimension of aroma and flavor to this dish. Kids will love to help measure ingredients and practice their knife skills by chopping up the veggies.

Coconut Polenta with Asian Vegetables

From the Recipe For Success Chefs Advisory Board
Serves 4-6

Polenta stir-fry-Mis en place.jpg


1 (14 ounce) can of light coconut milk
2 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock, reserve one ½ cup for sauce
1 cup polenta (dry, quick cooking type)
olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2-3 cups of vegetables (Green beans, broccoli, bell pepper, mushrooms, etc.)
3-5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, to taste
3-5 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (in Asian section of store)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
Siracha, to taste
Scallions, green portion sliced thin for garnish


  • Bring coconut milk and 1 ½ cups of broth to a gentle boil, and reduce to a simmer.
  • Slowly whisk in the polenta and cook for 5 minutes.  If polenta becomes too thick, just add more broth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Heat oil in a sauté pan over med-high heat.  Sauté onions for 3 to 4 minutes, then add garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute. 
  • Add heartier vegetables, like broccoli and greenbeans and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. 
  • Add ½ cup of broth, soy sauce, sweet chili, ginger and siracha. 
  • Finally add delicate vegetables like mushrooms or greens and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes.  Vegetables should be bright and al dente.
  • For each serving, spoon a scoop of polenta into a shallow soup bowl.
  • Top polenta with sauted vegetables and sauce and garnish with scallions.


  • For additional protein, try adding shrimp, fish, scallops, or tofu to your stir-fry.
  • Add pureed sweet potato to the polenta for a flavor and nutritional boost!

 Ideas for leftovers

  • Make polenta cakes-mold polenta into patties and brown each side in pan with a bit of oil.
  • Wrap sauteed vegetables in a tortilla or stuff in a pita pocket for lunch.

Zanotti makes shoes with...

Jenna White
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Giuseppe.jpg"When Italian shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti first debuted his own collection, few people knew his name, let along how to pronounce it.

But when Madonna wore a pair of Zanotti's rock-star stilettos, the designer quickly earned a reputation for luxury heels that oozed sex appeal. Suddenly his name rolled off the tongues of shoe lovers.

'Madonna was so famous, and I wasn't" said Zanotti, who visits Saks Fifth Avenue at the Galleria on Thursday for the High Tea & High Heels event for the Dress for Dinner series, benefiting Recipe for Success Foundation..."

Read Joy Sewing's full story on the Italian shoe designer, who will be in Texas for our Dress for Dinner series, in the Houston Chronicle.

Summery Tuscan Flavors

Jenna White
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SquashPasta.jpgWe were delighted to have award-winning rising star chef Patricia Burdette of Crescent Moon Wine Bar take the reigns at RecipeHouse for our October Chef Surpríse dinner. Drawing inspiration from Tuscany, Chef Patty presented dishes that capitalized on robust but light-handed flavors and carefully selected wine pairings.

A perfect example was the second course. Thinly sliced eggplant and yellow squash transformed into elegant wide "noodles" that were piled high and bathed in a creamy white sauce that, which looked like a rich bechamel, but once on the tongue provided a subtle lemony lightness, a perfect farewell to summer produce.

View more photos of October's Chef Surprise dinner here

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. Learn more and reserve seats for upcoming dinners here.

SNAP, the Farm Bill & Kids

Jenna White
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"Members of Congress are working to reauthorize the Farm Bill, legislation that provides funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program, formerly known as food stamps, and for the SNAP education program. Drastic cuts to SNAP are on the table in the Farm Bill and nearly half of all SNAP participants are children. If Congress cuts funding for this poverty relieving program..."

Read the complete post by Clay Dunn at NoKidHungry.org.

Thumbnail image for Infographic-CutstoSNAP.jpg

The Caloric Gap can be closed

Jenna White
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Many of our nation's children dealing with obesity are the very same youngsters who face hunger, as poverty leaves their parents only with the option to stretch food dollars by purchasing cheap processed "junkie" foods that are high in sugar, fat and sodium and low in nutritional value. Learn more about how food policies are shaping the state of hunger in America.

infographic-caloricgap.jpgView original post by Cargil here

Chef duo kicks off Chef Surprise

Jenna White
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Purslane Salad.jpgAfter a steamy Houston summer, we're back in action and cooking things up in the RecipeHouse kitchen! Kicking us off for our September Chef Surpríse were duo Erin Smith, culinary director for Clumsy Butcher, and Patrick Feges, Underbelly line cook and the man behind Feges BBQ. As their first formal collaboration, the two were excited to deliver a five-course menu for a sold out house of guests, including Eric Sandler of CultureMap, with dishes that smack of their personal culinary styles.

Erin, for example, has a thing for purslane (her Twitter handle is @PurslaneErin), the sweet and tender green found all over our city ("It's almost offensive to buy it at the market"). She tossed them with watermelon two ways, buttery avocado, a bright and zesty dressing and salty Pure Luck feta for a perfect end-of-summer salad (pictured above).

Patrick Pork Belly.jpgFor the main course, Patrick channeled his barbecue savvy to glam up his go-to: pork, demi-glace and grits. Pork belly received the royal treatment in his smoker (a first-time experiment), peach jam was cooked down for the demi and aggrodolce added extra richness to the grits. The dish was wonderfully balanced and each bite melted on the tongue.

This kind of experimentation and personal flare by seasoned chefs at RecipeHouse is one of the reasons we are so giddy to have Chef Surpríse back in commission. This season's lineup will knock your socks off, but sign up soon! Several of our monthly dinners have already sold out!

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend upcoming dinners, visit our website.

Have a Minute?

Gracie Cavnar
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PJ-BQ601A_DINNE_G_20130917221816.jpgNew studies show that spending an extra 3 1/2 minutes at dinner with your family has a direct effect on obesity and health.  Early-on we learned that it takes thirty minutes for your stomach to communicate to your brain that it's full.  But in this fast food nation, we dont spend thirty minutes eating.  No wonder we consume too many calories!  One of the important aspects of the Recipe for Success Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education is classes sitting down together to share the dish they have just prepared.  We are trying to instill an appreciation for the custom of shared meals.   American families now spend an average of just sixteen and a half minutes eating dinner together.  (That is if they sit down at all.)   But as The Wall Street Journal reports, closer to twenty minutes sharing a meal at the table, along with having a real conversation while you're at it, makes a real difference.  Watch the report and read more.

Charity dinner series offers...

Jenna White
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Erin+Patrick.jpg"Local charity Recipe for Success has revived its Chef Surprise dinner series for 2013 - 14. On the first Monday of every month, an all-star cast of Houston chefs will take turns preparing a three-course (or more) dinner for a group of no more than 20 diners at the charity's Montrose home.  To kick things off this month, Clumsy Butcher culinary director Erin Smith and Underbelly line cook (and budding barbecue pitmasterPatrick Feges teamed up for a six-course affair that highlighted a variety of techniques, presentations and ingredients. ..."

Read Eric Sandler's full story in CultureMap here.

Park Place preps for fall planting

Jenna White
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Park Place ES-Weeding.jpgAfter a long break, Park Place Elementary's Recipe Garden beds have been taken over by weeds! But never fear! This fall, Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ students are back in action and will have it cleaned up in no time. Not only that, these hard-working kiddos will plant autumn fruits and vegetables to use for delicious recipes in their S2P culinary classes.

Recipe for Success Foundation's Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs provide elementary students with the knowledge skills to make healthy eating decisions for life. Learn how to bring Seed-to-Plate to your school or youth program here.

High Tea & High Heels at Saks

Jenna White
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HighTea+HighHeels.jpgJoin Recipe for Success Foundation and 2013 Dress for Dinner Chairs Leisa Holland Nelson and Laura Max Nelson in welcoming world-renowned Italian shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti for a special fashion event at Saks Fifth Avenue all about dressing up your feet. We hope you can make it!

Learn more about our annual Dress for Dinner fundraising fashion series and purchase your tickets here.

Chipotle Goes After Big Food

Gracie Cavnar
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chipotle scarecrowBravo to our generous sponsor Chipotle for shining a spotlight on the growing issue of overmedicated factory beef in their short film The Scarecrow.  Read the full story by Eliza Barclay in the salt.

Matthys dreams of Recipe Gardens!

Jenna White
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To kick off the school year, fourth graders at Matthys Elementary took a tour of their Recipe Gardens with their S2P Instructor, Carrie Norton. After their visit, they planned out what they would plant in their garden this fall and then drew vibrant pictures of what their Dream Gardens would look like. Take a look!


What a happy vegetable farm!


Looks like these red pepper plants have a turtle friend.


What a brightly colored harvest you have, Kyla!

Recipe for Success Foundation's Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs provide elementary students with the knowledge skills to make healthy eating decisions for life. Learn how to bring Seed-to-Plate to your school or youth program here.

Scientific American Weighs In

Gracie Cavnar
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Happy salad eating kid.jpgWe are delighted to learn that the venerable Scientific American has pulled their chair up to the table and begun a regular blog and column called "Food Matters."  In their first article, Patrick Mustain maintains that "It Is Not True That Kids Won't Eat Healthy Food: Why The New USDA School Food Guidelines Are Very Necessary."  We couldn't agree more . . .but read for yourself and let us know your thoughts on the new school lunch guidelines.

Chipotle fundraiser for RFS: 9/19

Jenna White
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ChipotleFundraiserFlyer.jpgOur awesome partners at Chipotle Mexican Grill are running a flash fundraiser for us at their South Shepherd location in Montrose. The beauty of it? All YOU have to do is swing by for dinner and mention Recipe for Success Foundation. Then, THEY will donate 50% of proceeds from your order to benefit our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programming. So pencil in a Chipotle night for Thursday, September 19, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and don't forget to tell all your friends to meet you there!

Learn more about our partnership with Chipotle hereSee a map for the participating location here

Recipe for Success kicks off...

Jenna White
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D4Dkickoff-HCcoverage.jpg"Some of Houston's most stylish women recently filled Kendra Scott Jewelry in Rice Village for Recipe for Success' Dress for Dinner Season V kickoff. The Austin-based jewelry designer was on hand, along with Dress for Dinner chairs Leisa Holland-Nelson and Laura Nelson. Partygoers enjoyed..."

Read the full story by Joy Sewing and view a photo slideshow in Chron.com's Fashion Diaries here.

New Farm-to-Table Cooking Classes!

Jenna White
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KidsintheKitchen-Stirring.jpgIn partnership with Greenling Houston, this fall Recipe for Success has launched a brand-spanking-new series of cooking classes at RecipeHouse! Led by our professionally trained chefs, each class utilizes seasonal produce from Greenling's Local Boxes and is designed to demonstrate just how easy it is to make fun and healthy meals at home.

On August 17, we held the first of the series, Kids in the Kitchen: A Parent & Me Cooking Class, which we're thrilled SOLD OUT and was tons of fun. Due to its overwhelming success, we've already scheduled two more classes this fall for adults. Classes are limited to 12, so hurry and reserve your spot to join us Wednesday, October 16, at 6pm!

Check out photos from the Kids in the Kitchen class here. View a calendar of upcoming RecipeHouse events and reserve your seats here!

Fashionable femmes team with...

Jenna White
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D4D-KendraScott.jpg"Shortly before the Labor Day change-of-season fashion switch, a bevy of style savvy women gathered at Kendra Scott in Rice Village for the launch of Recipe for Success' Dress for Dinner series and many were standouts in their summer looks.  With Leisa Holland-Nelson and daughter Laura Max Nelson at the helm, the goal for the fifth annual series of fundraising events is to fill each of the six gatherings to capacity.  And the enticements are there, including..."

Read the full story by Shelby Hodge at CultureMap here.

TX Lawmakers Undermine Health

Gracie Cavnar
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junk-food.jpgIn a recent article by Marion Nestle, a nationally respected food policy expert, some heavy news for childhood obesity battle in Texas:  "The Texas governor signed a bill this summer that was supposed to allow Texas high school students to buy "competitive" (because they compete with federally funded school meals) fast foods.  But a mistake in the wording allows them to buy "foods of minimal nutritional value"--candy, sodas, and the like in conflict with long-standing USDA regulations."  Read more.

And a more indepth look at this fiasco by Bettina Siegal on The Lunch Tray who broke the story.  Time for concerned citizens to reach out to our legislators and remind them that our children's health is more important than the financial health of junk food maker and sellers.

This is a huge setback in our work to make school meals healthier for all our kids.  To think that under Susan Combs as Texas Agricultural Commissioner, Texas was one of the first states to ban vending machines and foods of minimal nutritional value in our elementary schools statewide.

Vermont Public Radio Interview

Jenna White
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VermontEdition.jpgHost, Jane Lindholm recently interviewed Recipe for Success Founder, Gracie Cavnar on Vermont Edition.    "One out of six children in the US is obese. Gracie Cavnar has been working to change that. She's the founder of Recipe for Success Foundation and Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education, and author of Eat It! Food Adventures with Marco Polo.  And for part of the year, she lives in Woodstock, VT.

We'll talk with Gracie Cavnar about her work on solving the childhood obesity crisis by changing the way children eat."

This interview originally published by Vermont Public Radio here.

Arugula, Berry and Jicama Salad

Jenna White
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Jicama-Arugala salad.jpg The crunchy jicama, tart apple, sweet berries and peppery bite of arugula in this salad are a perfect way to celebrate summer produce at its peak.  Blackberries are splendid in salads because they're sturdy enough to stand up to tossing and substantial enough to be speared with a fork, but other berries would be delicious as well.  Jicama is a round, tan root vegetable that can be found in the produce section of the supermarket.  If you can't find it, just ask!  In a pinch, you can use seeded cucumber in place of jicama.  Arugula purchased at a local farmers market will be very peppery and delicious! 

Arugula, Jicama, and Apple Salad

From the RFS Chefs Advisory Board

Serves 4



For dressing:

4 teaspoons lime juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons champagne or rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)

For salad:

2 cups arugula

1 cup blackberries, blueberries or raspberries

1 cup jicama, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks (about ½ jicama)

1 cup granny smith apple, cut into thin matchsticks



  • Add lime juice, oil, vinegar, agave nectar, and ginger in a bowl, and whisk vigorously to combine and emulsify.
  • Combine arugula, blackberries, jicama, and apple in separate bowl.
  • Toss with dressing, and serve immediately. Bon appetit!



  • Kid helper tip: Encourage the help of kids in the kitchen by allowing them to measure and pour dressing ingredients into a jar, instead of a bowl, then twist on the lid and let them shake vigorously to mix the dressing.
  • For a creamier dressing, add 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt in the first step.
  • To prepare the salad ahead of time, do not dress! Store the salad ingredients in an airtight container for up to 3 days and store the dressing separately in a sealed container.
  • Make extra dressing and store in the refrigerator for a quick salad later!

Honoring Glen & Honi Boudreaux

Gracie Cavnar
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DSC00065 - Version 2.jpgThis year's Blue Plate Special Cafe Harvest Market and Awards Lunch on November 19 at River Oaks Country Club will honor founding RFS board members, Glen and Honi Boudreaux.  Owners of Jolie Vue Farms, a beautiful grass fed beef and Berkshire pig operation in Brenham, Texas the Boudreauxs have long been advocates of urban agriculture, farmers markets and everything else that shortens the distance from farm to plate.

The Blue Plate Special Café Harvest Market & Awards Lunch raises critical funds to continue our vital growth of Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ in Houston schools.  Beginning with a Harvest Market of locally made products and progressing to a feast of seasonal delights designed by the kids participating in our program, this charming event has emerged as a yummy prelude to Thanksgiving and a perfect way to celebrate the tradition of the shared meal. 

We're excited to honor amazing people like the Boudreauxs who have made a profound difference helping Houston children lead healthier lives.  Other awards include Chef of the Year-Ryan Pera,  Volunteers of the Year-Brooke Candelaria & Suzanne Williams and Teacher of the Year-Olga Abundis.

Tables and tickets are available.  Email [email protected] for details.

Eat This! Campers Sell Cookies

Gracie Cavnar
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KaleCookieCampers-square.jpgChocolate Kale Cookies, a brand new product created by elementary aged kids who attended session five of our Eat This! Summer Camp at RecipeHouse, were the hands-down choice by Houston's Revival Market to add to their shelves.   Veteran supporters of Recipe for Success Foundation's efforts to combat childhood obesity by changing the way kids eat, Revival Market unveiled their latest product just in time for back to school.

Eat This! Summer Camps prepare children to become savvy food consumers through hands-on learning in the kitchen and garden. During each week-long session, campers develop and market an original food product with the help of the Foundation's Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ Instructors, and volunteer members of their Chefs Advisory Board, who this year included Jon Buchanan (Trevisio) and Ruffy Sulaiman (Hilton Americas-Houston), and Revival Market General Manager, Carlos Meltzer. 

"Children who understand how food is marketed to them are empowered to distinguish between facts and promotions when selecting their own food from grocery shelves," explained Gracie Cavnar.  After building their culinary chops testing recipes, this year's five groups of campers perfected their products and developed branding and packaging to present to Revival Market. "Understanding the basics of food marketing opens the door to critical thinking and gives kids a set of tools they can use in many areas of development," said Meltzer.

Finished products ranged from Salsa Gals' Italian-inspired salsa complete with the jingle, "Don't Mambo; Salsa!" to the deceptively healthy Razzalicious Brownies, chock full of fresh spinach and raspberries.  After sampling entries from the five Eat This! Summer Camp sessions, the Revival Market team selected their favorite:   "Everything was great, but we found the Chocolate Kale Cookies to be the best tasting item and loved the style of the box and the artwork the kids created," said Meltzer.

Campers, parents and RFS staff reunited at Revival Market for the official unveiling of the winning product. Attendees sampled all five products crafted by campers, viewed the various marketing campaigns, and enjoyed light bites provided by Revival Market.

"My child loved EVERYTHING about this camp--the garden, cooking,meeting an 'insect guy', marketing granola--EVERY aspect was phenomenal!" said Swati Narayan, Mom to eight-year-old Milan.

You can buy Chocolate Kale Cookies at Revival Market and a portion of the proceeds will be donated back to RFS programming.

Power Up for Back to School

Gracie Cavnar
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Joey makes Guacamole.JPGNew backpack--check. New shoes--check. Pens, paper, notebooks--check, check check. Kale--check. Wait a minute.  .  . kale?  Yes. That's right.  When the children go back to school this month, don't forget the brain food.

Resist the temptation to fall back on processed and fast foods when time gets tight.  It's the worst food for a young student's brain, impacting functions from short-term memory to learning capacity.  We've long known that our brains depend on essential vitamins and minerals to function well.  Now the experts maintain that the interior of the brain is just as integral to learning as the classroom environment with mounting evidence supporting a direct link between good nutrition and your child's ability to learn.

Here are my ten tips for boosting brainpower and sending your kids to school ready to learn:

  1. Start with a good breakfast.  In the morning rush, avoid canned breakfast drinks, cold/sugary cereals, doughnuts and the drive-through.  Stick to oatmeal, fresh fruits, low fat dairy and lean proteins.
  2. Eat a handful of walnuts or pecans every day.  Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, these nuts are a super brain food. Keep a bowl out on the counter to scoop up for a snack, toss into your salads and on veggies and chop to top fish or chicken before broiling.
  3. Offer blueberries, strawberries, pomegranate seeds and apples for desert and snacks.  Buy these high antioxidant fruits in season to keep them affordable.  A sack of apples costs less than a family sized bag of chips and powers up the brain.
  4. Use whole grain bread for sandwiches & toast.  I know kids love soft fluffy white bread, but the highly processed flour might as well be candy for its brain effect.
  5. Switch to brown rice as a side dish or added into soups and stews.  It's a great injection of Vitamin B to support good brain activity.   
  6. Keep kale chips on the counter. Kale is the ultimate super food, affordable all year long and kids love it as a crunchy snack.  You don't have to break the news that the chips are a healthy choice. 
  7. Offer whole oranges and grapefruit instead of juice.  These citrus fruits are vitamin-packed but lose their punch and fiber when reduced to juice.  What better portable breakfast, desert or snack?
  8. Replace shortening, vegetable oil and butter with olive oil.  We have all heard for years about the dangers of fats, but olive oil is rich in Omega-3s and a brain builder.
  9. Drink tea instead of carbonated beverages.  Hot or cold, tea is packed with flavenoids, which boost brain function.  Use honey to avoid the sugar blues.
  10. Use lots of green fruits and veggies--especially artichokes, avocados, spinach, asparagus and olives--on sandwiches, in salads, soups, even scrambled eggs.

Every one of these tactics will boost your child's school readiness.  But, don't bite off more than you can chew, get overwhelmed and throw in the towel.  Introduce one new idea a week until you work up to all ten.  By Thanksgiving, the kids will be firing on all pistons.

My tips for breakfast:

Oatmeal is one of the best ways to start the day, but it takes a long time to make.  I have found a great shortcut and time saver:  Before going to bed, I bring 4 cups of water, 1 cup of steelcut oats and a pinch of salt to a boil in a pot; put the lid on and turn the stove off.  Next morning, I wake up to perfectly cooked oatmeal, scoop out a cup, zap it in the micro for 45 seconds, mash in a ripe banana and add a pinch of cinnamon.  Viola!  a fast, nutritious breakfast.  Cook enough oatmeal on Sunday night to last the entire week, store it in the fridge, and dip out daily servings.

My tips for switching to whole grain bread:

Start with a whole-wheat version that's slightly sweeter, like honey & oats or one of the white whole wheat breads on the market.  Make sure that the ingredient list begins with names of whole grains and that you are avoiding corn syrup.  Consider spending a rainy Sunday afternoon making whole wheat bread from scratch with your kids.  Besides having fun together playing with dough, they are far more likely to eat something they have made.

My tips for kale chips:

At our house, I make kale chips every night and by the next afternoon they've disappeared.   Take a fresh head of kale, tear the leaves off of their spines in handfuls and collect them in a bowl.  Rinse the torn leaves well and blot dry.  Drizzle olive oil over the torn leaves and toss with your hands to coat them evenly.  Spread the leaves in a single layer onto cookie sheets and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese and put in an 180° oven overnight.  The next morning, lightly sprinkle the crispy chips with a bit of salt and enjoy!

My tips for getting the kids to eat green:

It can be hard to get our kids to eat their green fruits and veggies, which tend to be the least sweet of all foods.  This is where combining them with foods they love is the better part of valor, even if it's ranch dressing.  Just make sure there is more veggie than coating!  It's better to avoid mandates like "eat your vegetables," which only turn kids off the concept and fortify their resistance.  This is where involving your kids in cooking really pays off.

My five year-old grandson spent a month with us this summer, and I had him in the kitchen everyday.  Each session would start with an exchange like this:

"Is it vegables? I don't like vegables. I don't like avocados. I don't like tomatoes."

"Did you know that avocados and tomatoes make great muscles so we can run faster?  Lets mash some up."

"Oh, this looks like guacamole.  I love guacamole! Can we have chips?" 

"Why don't we dip our carrots in it?"

"OK.  Hey! I love avocadoes!"

By the end of the month he was saying, I love about everything from peas to zucchini, but he still insisted that he didn't like vegables.

Prevention Means Business

Jenna White
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Supporting a healthy workforce is a good business decision and we love seeing the numbers expressed so clearly.  At Recipe for Success we offer support for companies that are interested in teaching employees how to make healthy eating decisions by offering our popular cooking classes in a variety of forms. 

Learn more about our Worksite Wellness programming here.

August's Volunteer of the Month

Tracy Weldon
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August 2013.pngWe are happy to announce Rachel Huisman as our volunteer of the month for August!  Rachel has been with Recipe for Success since January volunteering in our culinary classroom at MacGregor Elementary School and with community outreach events.  Rachel attended Rice University graduating with a degree in history, but hopped back into the classroom to obtain a nutrition degree eventually becoming a registered dietitian.  In her spare time, you can find Rachel cooking, traveling, sailing, or eating her favorite type of cuisine: Thai food. 

Rachel first learned about RFS a few years ago and loved the mission, but finally had extra time this year to get involved.  She thinks that Recipe for Success is important because it integrates many disciplines and it also gets children excited while raising awareness about fresh produce.  Initially, she was very surprised yet pleased at the effectiveness of our Seed-to-Plate Nutriton EducationTM program.  It is not easy to get kids excited, let alone, eat new fruits and veggies.  She gives credit to our staff because other efforts similar to ours are not as successful. 

Her most memorable moment was during the Iron Chef competition.  It was such a rewarding experience for her to see the students excited about the colorful and creative meals they have created. 

We are very thankful to have committed volunteers like Rachel and we will be glad to have her back at MacGregor in the fall!


If you would like to volunteer with any of our programs, please contact the volunteer coordinator.

Be a Snacktivist!

Jenna White
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Snacktivism.jpgBy Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD

Have you noticed that kids can't seem to do anything without being served a snack? Packaged cookies and gummy fruit snacks are doled out any time children gather in a group, whether it's a two-hour preschool class or a 45-minute pee-wee soccer game. Every sporting event is now a reason to celebrate with cupcakes. And instead of water, children are getting juice boxes, pouches and bottled punch.

Today's children get about 500 calories a day from snacks--and mostly from these kinds of processed foods. According to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the most common snacks for kids are chips, cookies, crackers and other junk food made with refined white flour, salt, sugar, and artificial flavors and colors.

What is "Snacktivism"?

It's a grassroots effort to rethink the emphasis on snacks--and reconsider what kinds of snacks we're serving--for the sake of our kids' health. Rates of childhood overweight and obesity are alarmingly high, and we owe it to our children to equip them with healthy eating habits. If we teach them that snacks are artificially-colored cookies out of a package, how do they ever stand a chance at maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding complications like diabetes and high blood pressure, and living a long, healthy life?
Snacktivism is about finding a better way. It's about thinking twice before serving snacks, about considering whether kids actually need a snack. And if they do, it's about making a better choice. It's about offering whole foods and about making fruits and vegetables the default. Snacktivism is not about giving up cookies and cupcakes. Instead, it's about putting them back in their place as special occasion foods, not every day choices.

What You Can Do

If you're fed up with the snack culture, here are five steps you can take now:

  1. Mobilize other parents at your child's school, church and sports teams. Chances are, other parents feel the same way.
  2. Volunteer to bring food for events to model healthy choices. Organize your child's classroom parties and sign up to donate healthy food to school functions, church potlucks, and other events.
  3. Talk to your child's teachers, principals, and camp and preschool directors about the kinds of snacks served. Read my post, "Camp Snacks: The Sequel" about how just a few parents can help change snack policies for the better.
  4. Ask your child's coaches if they can institute a fruit-and-water team snack policy, or eliminate snacks entirely. Check out my Sports Snacktivist Handbook for a sample team email, FAQ, and other resources.
  5. Consider how your child snacks at home. Are your kids filling up on empty snacks like pretzels, granola bars, and fruit snacks all day? Kids who are perpetually grazing will have a harder time branching out to try new foods at mealtime--and knowing what both fullness and hunger feel like is a skill they'll need their whole lives.

Sally Kuzemchak.pngSally Kuzemchak,MS, RD, is a registered dietitian,  blogger, freelance writer, and educator. Read her advice and recipes on Real Mom Nutrition, and follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Recipe for Success on HCC-TV

Jenna White
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HCC-TV.jpgHCC-TV invited Recipe for Success Foundation to guest a segment of Houston on the Move. Molly Kaminski, Director of Operations, and Julie Garza, Director of Strategic Partnerships, share with viewers about our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs and the impact they've made in Houston-area schools. Take a peek!

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Trouble viewing? You can also watch here.

Yuck: A Short on School Lunch

Jenna White
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Ever wondered what's actually served in school lunchrooms? Or maybe based on what you remember from your own childhood, you're afraid to think about it. In this amusing yet telling 20-minute documentary, a brave kid filmmaker goes undercover to reveal the truth about the food service program at his elementary school. Even for those with an idea of the issues surrounding school lunches, it's surprising to see how little his actual daily meals reflect the tasty-sounding menu descriptions posted online. Take a peek!

Yuck: A 4th Grader's Short Documentary About School Lunch from Maxwell Project on Vimeo.

Cooking up fun with Chef Ruffy!

Jenna White
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Chef Ruffy-Group-cropped.jpgThis summer RecipeHouse has been alive with activity during five week-long sessions of Eat This! Summer Camp. During the week of hands-on culinary and gardening activities, campers learn how to grow, prepare, enjoy and even market a variety of fresh and tasty dishes with our professional chef and garden instructors. Campers have enjoyed learning from volunteer chefs from Houston restaurants, including the engaging chef Ruffy Sulaiman.

chef ruffy-nuggets.jpgEach week, Chef Ruffy has taken an afternoon out of his wildly busy schedule as executive chef for Hilton Americas-Houston to volunteer time with our young cooks to create a kid favorite - chicken nuggets! Chef and campers created wholesome versions by using breast meat, and experimenting with different breadings (whole-wheat panko bread crumbs and corn flakes) and homemade dipping sauces (ketchup and pesto) and baking, instead of frying, the snack.

chef ruff-demo.jpgThanks, Chef Ruffy, for sharing your culinary wisdom for campers will carry with them during future food adventures!

At RecipeHouse, we host a full calendar of camps and classes for chefs and foodies of all ages. Learn more here or visit our Events Calendar for upcoming opportunities. 

July's Volunteer of the Month

Tracy Weldon
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Melissa Manske.jpgWe are happy to have Chef Melissa Manske as our featured volunteer for the month of July!  Melissa is originally from Beaumont, Texas, but moved to Houston for its food scene.  Through a nutrition course at Texas Christian University, she realized that her passion did not lie in journalism, but in cooking.  From TCU, she attended the University of Houston and Culinary Institute of America to obtain hospitality and culinary arts degrees.  Melissa is currently working as a culinary teacher at the Art Institute.  She loves that she is able to stay connected to her industry through Recipe for Success.  For Melissa, Recipe for Success, presents some of the same values her mom emphasized as a kid; the importance of cooking and eating as a family to make food fun.  Melissa and her students assist our nutrition educators in our classrooms as well as help Houston area chefs at our We're Cooking Now! A Gala in Small Bites dinners.  

Melissa is happy to say that she already has her dream job!  She loves to teach and provide her students with life skills and confidence.  Some of her most memorable moments in her classroom are when lessons do not go as expected.  She finds the beauty in and importance of mistakes and learning how to correct the errors.  In ten years, she hopes to still be teaching, involved in the education system, and giving back to her community. She loves inspiring her students and seeing everything that they accomplish!

We hope to have Melissa apart of our volunteer team for many years to come!  We appreciate all of the help that she and her students have provided.

Please contact our Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator, if you would like to get involved or know more about our Small Bites dinners.

Taming summer snack attacks!

Jenna White
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by Lisa Wade

As mom to a second-grader and fourth-grader, the school break often poses challenges when it comes to satisfying the appetites of my two rapidly growing boys. As anyone with kids will understand, snacks between meals are constant requests, especially if they're playing in the yard and burning off energy. Despite every effort when they were younger, my two are particularly fussy eaters who, given the choice, would sooner reach for a bag of potato chips than an apple. However, I'm always on the hunt for new and exciting snack ideas that are easy to prepare (contrary to the coffee mug, I'm far from Super Mom!) and free of junk. Not only that, but they have to be delicious and just as appealing as the unhealthy alternatives.

Here are a few winners in my household:

PB Power-up Bars

My kids are particularly active during the summer months and rarely sit around indoors, preferring to run riot outside, have water fights and just be kids. Of course, they come inside every now and then to refuel. One snack they absolutely love are my peanut-butter bars. The best part is they're really simple to make, all-natural, and delicious (after my first attempt, I consumed half the tray myself).

To prepare, mix 1 Cup peanuts with 1/3 Cup whey protein (which gives them a natural energy boost) before adding 1/2 Cup creamy, all-natural peanut butter. Once combined, line an 8x8" oven-safe pan with wax paper, pour and spread mixture evenly into pan and allow it to set before cutting it into bars. That's all it takes. If your kids are chocoholics, then you could always add a bit of chocolate to sweeten the deal.

We scream for SORBET!

You might be thinking 'Sorbet... that sounds complicated' (and believe me, I did until I tried it), but it's actually a snap to prepare. Plus, the great thing about sorbet is that it's pretty much ice cream without the added calories from dairy and you can make it with a variety of fruits. If you don't have an ice cream maker, you will have to check on it during the freezing process , but that's no biggy. Serve in a cone, or let your kiddos enjoy a scoop in a bowl on its own or topped with fresh chopped fruit and mint or basil.

The Cherry Sorbet recipe I used can be found here.

Dip it good.

It's unsurprising how appealing carrots, celery and other vegetables and fruit become when your kids have a selection of dips to choose from. The first time I tried this was when they had friends over for a play date and it was an instant hit with the both of them. (I've noticed my kids are more inclined to try something new if their less fussy friends are eating it, too.) While it might seem an obvious choice for kids, there are so many possibilities that you can get really inventive. Favorites in our house include cold chicken pieces and veggie sticks with an onion-garlic dip and mini pita wraps with both barbecue and salsa dips.

That's a WRAP!

Wraps make such a great snack. Not only are they ridiculously quick to prepare, they're healthy, portable and can satisfy any kid's hunger in a single shot. What's more, with so much potential as to what you can fill them with, your kids won't get bored. I usually make a batch of snack-sized wraps with various fillings every couple of days (the majority of which my husband eats!), and they're definitely the first thing the kids reach for when they're feeling hungry. But one of my favorite things about them is how you can 'smuggle' vegetables inside them - the green stuff doesn't seem as intimidating to a fussy eater when it's rolled in amongst the ingredients they're more enthusiastic about.

The top fillings in our home include chicken, black bean and brown rice, tuna and sweetcorn, and salmon and salad. You can also create sweet wraps too, such as banana and cream cheese or mixed fruits with a little yogurt. It all works well and goes down a treat with everyone.

So there are my top kid-approved healthy summer snacks. I hope it's given you some food for thought!

Lisa Wade is a graduate of Nutritional Science and worked as a nutritionist prior to having her two boys. She currently writes articles to encourage readers to seek out healthier choices for their families to give their kids the best start in life. Lisa likes nothing better than experimenting with new recipes that she can pass on to other moms.

Greenling contest benefits RFS!

Jenna White
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Playa Viva Giveaway.jpg

Exciting news! Starting this week, our wonderful community supporters at Greenling have teamed up with Playa Viva resort to give away a beach vacation in Zihuatenejo, Mexico. The winner of their Sustainable Summer Giveaway will receive an all-inclusive 6 day / 5 night stay for two adults in a deluxe suite at Playa Viva's eco-friendly resort. You can enter multiple times throughout July in a variety of ways, including adding a $5 donation to Recipe for Success Foundation to any Greenling delivery orders for a bonus entry. Great local produce AND a chance to DoGoodHaveFun? We're totally on board with that.

Visit Greenling's blog for more details

Two Acres Is All You Need

Gracie Cavnar
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backyard_farm.jpgEver wonder just how much spaceyou would need to generate your own food and household energy?  Love this pictograph that shows us.

Book honors keep pouring in...

Jenna White
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"It isn't all play for Recipe for Success founder Gracie Cavnar while she spends much of the season in Woodstock, Vt., where she and husband Bob Cavnar have a summer home. After having received a load of awards at BookExpo America in New York for her children's book, Eat It! Food Adventures with Marco Polo, she ​is now compiling recipes for her next book in the Marco Polo series as well as for a new picture book series for younger kids, the first one was I Hate Brussels Sprouts!"

Read the full CultureMap article by Shelby Hodge here.

Motherhood Cooking Classes!

Jenna White
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MotherhoodClass-edited.jpgWe're thrilled to announce that we've partnered with Houston's Motherhood Center to offer hands-on cooking classes for mothers with young children. We've carefully developed curriculum and recipes for new mothers to help ensure mom, baby and the whole family are eating well at any stage.

Classes will be held at RecipeHouse in the Museum District and taught by Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ instructor and chef Emily Brown, RD, LD. Scheduled group classes ($99) and private classes ($250/person or couple) available. Current offerings include: 

Eat This, Baby! Homemade Baby Food Basics is designed especially for mothers of infants (0 - 6+ months) to get their children off to a healthy start from their very first food. The best nutrition for your baby comes straight from your healthy family meals. We demystify the process of scratch-made baby food and teach you how to easily incorporate baby's pureed foods into delicious dishes for everyone at the table-and vice versa.

Eat This, Baby! Baby's First Solid Foods & Transitioning into the Family Meal is designed especially for mothers of toddlers (6 months - 3 years old) to help ensure your children stay on a healthy path with the introduction of solid foods. When baby moves into finger foods and starts eating off of Mom's plate, don't create a separate kid's menu. It's time for them to participate fully in the family meal. Learn to prepare healthy meals that baby and parents will all like!

Find out more, including dates for upcoming classes, and register here.

Book launch benefiting RFS!

Jenna White
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June 25 Whole Foods Market at Montrose will be hosting a Book Launch Party to celebrate local author and RFS supporter Shubrha Ramineni's latest book, Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking. Come have fun, sip wine, nibble on yummy bites, win fabulous prizes, and receive a copy of Shubhra Ramineni's new book to take home with you, all while supporting Recipe for Success Foundation... all for $20! Get your tickets now to reserve your spot. Children welcome, with free admission for those under 16 years!

Learn more and buy your tickets here.

Veggies meet the smokehouse

Jenna White
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Al-Tomatoes.jpgWhen Al Marcus of Grateful Bread & Other Good Things took over the operations when son Matt moved onto other culinary projects, he brought his smoked meats hobby to the forefront, amping up his production and exploring new ingredients and offerings of charcuterie and accoutrements. For the latest Chef Surpríse, Al took a page from his charcuterie playbook, slow-smoking garden tomatoes to infuse them with a subtle smokiness. We've been inspired to incorporate some woodchips into our summer veggie grilling routine, as well.

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend upcoming dinners, visit our website.

June's Volunteer of the Month

Tracy Weldon
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shaireen.jpgShaireen is one of our most frequent and dedicated volunteers.  She helps our nutrition educators at Rodriguez Elementary School three days a week from 8:30am until 3:30pm!  She is originally from India, but moved to the United States to obtain a nutritional sciences degree from Michigan State University.  She enjoys gardening, cooking, watching movies, and hiking.  Shaireen initially found Recipe for Success because she wanted to volunteer with an organization that mixed her personal interests with her educational background.   This is the perfect fit for her and commends Recipe for Success teaching nutrition and healthy eating habits to young students.  She is always pleasantly surprised with the students at Rodriguez because they have great input about food and making their lives healthier.   Since volunteering with Recipe for Success, Shaireen is now considering a Master's degree in Education. 


We really appreciate all of Shaireen's hardwork and will be looking forward to her volunteering with us next school year!

ABC News + Mayor at Iron Chef!

Jenna White
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During one of our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ Iron Chef competitions this May, Mayor Annise Parker stopped by MacGregor ES to serve as a celebrity judge. ABC-13's Miya Shay covered the event for the evening news. Check it out! 

"Cooking competition encourages kids to eat healthy foods" by Miya Shay, ABC-Channel 13, May 30, 2013

Watch this video and more on our YouTube Channel!

Mr. Z's Apple Factory

Jenna White
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MrZsAppleFactory.pngLong-time Recipe for Success supporter Bettina Siegel has been making waves with her blog about transforming food in schools through her blog The Lunch Tray. But now, she's shared her message through an innovative new platform - a virtual children's book on YouTube! Mr. Z's Apple Factory serves as a tool to teach families through the familiar format of a children's picture book about marketing tactics and cost-cutting methods used by Big Food that often work against the health of our communities.

Way to go, Bettina! Love the creativity and the action you're taking to raise awareness about these important issues!

Artichoke Bruschetta

Jenna White
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Artichoke bruschetta.jpgReady or not, summer is officially here. To embrace (or distract from) those warmer temps, we suggest leaning in and gearing up for summer parties! Whether you're hosting a backyard barbecue for the whole block or simply entertaining company who have dropped by, this quick and tasty appetizer is a crowd-pleaser and a no-brainer. Perfect to welcome the summer season, it takes advantage of the fresh summer bounty and requires only a quick pop in the oven so you can keep that kitchen cool as an... artichoke? Well, you get the idea. Bon appétit!

Artichoke Bruschetta on Parmesan Crostini

From the RFS Chef Team

Yields about 20-25 crostinis 

Artichoke heart bruschetta-Ingredients.jpg


For the topping:

1 (16 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

3-5 tomatoes, diced

½ white onion, diced

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar 

½ cup parsley, chopped finely

salt and pepper

For the crostini:

1 French baguette

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated



  • Turn broiler on low.
  • Combine chopped artichoke hearts, tomatoes and onions.  
  • Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Slice baguette ¼ - ½ inch thick on a bias. Brush both sides with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.  Broil on low one side of the crostini; then flip, top with Parmesan and broil cheese until golden.
  • Top with artichoke bruschetta and enjoy!



  • Artichoke topping may be made ahead of time.
  • Use extra topping to make an easy artichoke pasta or pizza!
  • Add to your favorite lettuce for a delicious salad.

Spring bites with Chef Cox

Jenna White
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Neal-Beets.jpgThis May we were pleased as punch to dine with H-E-B at RecipeHouse while discussing exciting ways for us to join forces. The wonderful Chef Neal Cox of The Houstonian offered his services to present a vibrant multi-course dinner that made the most of seasonal offerings provided by Greenling. It's awfully easy to eat your veggies when their candy-colored hues make your plate sing, "Spring has sprung!"

Above: Baby beets with celery, lemon sabayon, pastachio, pears and goat cheese snow

Neal-Tuna.jpgPeppercorn crusted ahi tuna, egglplant caponata and golden raisin viniagrette

Neal-Lamb.jpgSpring lamb with chickpea puree, baby heirloom tomatoes and mint gremolata

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend upcoming dinners, visit our website.

Gracie weighs in at FoodDay.org

Jenna White
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FoodDay.jpgI just spent this spectacular May morning in an elementary classroom surrounded by dozens of excited second graders who were busily putting their creative spin on whole-wheat quesadillas so their team could impress the judges enough to win the Recipe for Success Iron Chef competition.  This final step earns each of them a coveted "RFS Kid Chef" award.

The judges--the Ft. Bend County ISD superintendent and four colleagues from the district HQ--took their jobs very seriously.  But, they couldn't help grinning as they listened to each team's earnest presentation and tasted their dish.  The kids talked about how they made their recipe special, what they loved to cook at home and their plans for summer gardens and dinner menus.  They listed their favorite fruits and veggies--things like kale and Brussels sprouts.  They patiently explained to the judges the fractions and multiplication required to adjust recipes to feed more people and wished the judges "Bon Appétit!"

Over the course of a year in our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education ™ program, these youngsters have become knowledgeable cooks, easily familiar with a host of fresh produce that they now love.  And that's why I created Recipe for Success Foundation in 2005--to change the way children eat.

In 2005, there were no smiling, supportive school administrators or generous funders.  I was greeted with crossed arms and skepticism when I insisted that I could get kids to freely choose healthier foods.  So, my family donated the seed money and time to get the Foundation started and I negotiated with principals at six schools to allow me to roll portable cooking carts into fourth grade classrooms and deliver my program for free. With the help of two-dozen of our city's finest chefs who volunteered to help, we began turning kids on to the magical adventure of real food.  

Since then, we have empowered over 20,000 children in pre-K through fifth grade with the knowledge and skills to support a lifetime of healthy eating.  The kids plant the seeds, grow and harvest the produce, transform it into scrumptious dishes, set the table and sit down to share the meal with their classmates.  Along the way they learn math, science, language arts and social studies, plus a little teamwork, sharing and etiquette.  After just one school year in our program--20 lessons in the garden and kitchen--participating kids are eating an average of 30% more fresh fruits and vegetables and they are willing to try unfamiliar foods.

We designed, tested, measured and codified this engaging, hands-on learning with over 320 lesson plans that link the garden and kitchen along with complementary grade-specific lessons in core curriculum subjects that are aligned to TEKS and Common Core.  At the request of the federal administration in 2010, we created, tested and launched an Affiliate Partner program to train and support schools across the country that want to implement our proven-effective Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™.  It is now available nationwide and meeting with robust enthusiasm.

No one's arms are crossed anymore.

This article originally post on Food Day's blog at FoodDay.org. Find it here.

Whimsy you can savor

Jenna White
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Jean Philippe - Scallops.jpgChef Jean Philippe Gaston of Cove Cold Bar is a culinary mad scientist meets abstract artist, combining modern technology and artful plating to create unique tastes and culinary landscapes. This creative approach was married with a sense of whimsy at Chef Surpríse, particularly in these two courses presented an edible forest scenes: (above) seared scallops, marinated Asian pear and pea shoot forest, blue cheese snow, crispy fennel chips. Another (below) riffs on a wooded hideaway one might find tromping through the wilderness after a spring rain: Akaushi ttaki, pork sung, quail egg, pickled mushrooms, dehydrated veggies, homemade brioche toast point.

Jean Philippe-Quail egg.jpg

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend upcoming dinners, visit our website.

2013 Fashion Gene Awards

Jenna White
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fashiongene.jpgThe mother-daugther honorees of this year's Fashion Gene Awards held their own on the runway at Tootsies for the season finale of Dress for Dinner. The runway show was followed by a decadent dinner crafted to The French Cowboy, Philippe Schmit. Thanks to our wonderful chairs, Ceron and Todd Fiscus, and to our event committee, attendees and sponsors for a fabulously stylish season and helping us raise record funds this year! 

See more photos from the event here.

Recipe for Success in Tribeza

Jenna White
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Tribeza-May Cover.jpg"... Eight years ago, Gracie Cavnar founded Recipe for Success in response to increasing childhood obesity rates. At the time, the National Conference of State Legislatures had found a startling nin million children were overweight and consuequently at risk for chronic condigions, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. "It boils down to the food we eat and the way we eat it," Cavnar says. "We had a culture of all-day grazing and eating on the run." Her solution was simple enough in concept, yet monumental in impact: teach children the pleasures of mindful eating. ..."

See the full article published in Tribeza-Austin's May issue in an e-reader format here (flip to page 128!).

Strawberry, meet... sriracha??

Jenna White
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Jean Philippe-soup prep.jpgYes. You read that right. Chef Jean Philippe Gaston likes to shake things up in the kitchen at Haven's Cove Cold Bar. At RecipeHouse for Chef Surprise guests was no different.

Now we've done stawberry and mint to great satisfaction, and we were wowed but still following as he swirled a stream of yuzu into the strawberry sorbet. But then Chef Jean Philippe whipped out the sriracha bottle and, as with much of his wildly inventive approaches to the art - and science - of gastronomy,  he gave us pause. But again, like his other zaney concoctions, this one was right on the mark. Sweet and tangy, slow heat, finished with the cooling tingle of mint... quite a ride for the taste buds.

Jean Philippe-Soup.jpg

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend upcoming dinners, visit our website.

Small Bites a la Kevin Naderi

Jenna White
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Naderi.jpgAs always, spring with Recipe for Success has been full of fun! We're wrapping up our event season with VegOut! in Style, the season finale of We're Cooking Now! A Gala in Small Bites. The dinner party, co-hosted by Divya and Chris Brown and Claire and Rick Thielke will feature a menu of "clean, well-edited flavors and textures" by chef Kevin Naderi of Roost who is currently up for Food & Wine's Best New Chef award.

Learn more and book your tickets here.

May's Volunteer of the Month

Tracy Weldon
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May-VOTM.jpgAngelica Archilla is our volunteer of the month for May!  She was raised in Colombia, but has lived all over the world before moving to and falling in love with Houston!  Angelica has a burning passion for nutrition and fitness.  She loves to try new recipes and competes in triathlons and half marathons in her spare time.  She started volunteering with Recipe for Success 3 years ago with Chef Kendall at Rodriguez Elementary.  Angelica took some time off, but came back to us earlier this year.  Before starting back up, we had a chat about how she specifically wanted to help parents make healthier decisions for their children.  I knew in that moment that she would be the perfect fit for our parent class at Rodriguez.  She thinks the parent class is "right on point" by boosting awareness and education about nutrition and the current obesity epidemic.  She says the class is more like a team because everyone has the same end goal, better health for our children.  They are able to share tips, input, opinions, and recipes with each other. 

Her most memorable experience with Recipe for Success thus far is a field trip to Fiesta Mart.  It was a revealing and enlightening moment for the parents about healthy choices they can make in the grocery store.

We are happy to have Angelica apart of the Recipe for Success team and appreciate all of her hard work at Rodriguez!

Our parent class is taught in Spanish every other Wednesday morning at Rodriguez Elementary.  It follows a similar structure to our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education; teaching parents the nutritional benefits of gardening and cooking through experiential learning.  If you would like to bring a parent class to a school near you, email us at [email protected]!

Digging Into Garden Planning Software

Jenna White
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GrowVeg.jpgRecipe for Success recently chatted with TechNewsWorld about how we've utilized Grow Interactive's garden planning application and resources at GrowVeg.com to lay out our Recipe Gardens.

Learn more and read the full story here

RFS parents take a trip to Fiesta

Jenna White
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Fiesta-tomato.jpgAt Rodriguez Elementary, our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ students aren't the only ones getting schooled in healthy cooking and gardening. Every other Wednesday, a group of enthusiastic moms attend a class with RFS instructors Chef Claire Olivo and Chef Ruth Riojas to learn how to provide nutritious meals to their families. Recently, the Spanish-speaking class took a field trip to the nearby Fiesta Mart (also a Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ sponsor!) to up their smart shopper savvy, including how to select fresh produce, lighten up favorite dishes, and analyze nutrition labels. Fiesta Mart team members welcomed the group, helped to advise our moms in navigating their offerings and even gave out goodie bags. Thank you, Fiesta, for hosting our successful field trip!





See more photos of the field trip here. Interested in putting together a parent class of your own with Recipe for Success? Email us at [email protected]!

MacGregor teachers VegOut!

Jenna White
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TeacherClass-Prep.jpgDuring our VegOut! 30 Ways in 30 Days Challenge, 11 MacGregor Elementary School teachers and their PTO president, Tiffany Spurlock, participated in a cooking class led by Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ instructors Chef Alyssa and Recipe Gardens Coordinator, Justin. The group prepared and enjoyed an impressive and healthy spring feast that inlcuded: sun-dried tomato hummus with veggie dippers, kale salad, coconut milk polenta with stir-fried seasonal veggies, and gluten-free macaroons! All who took part had tons of fun while reinforcing healthy eating habits.


Kale salad... YUM!


Bon appetite!

Secrets of a signature dish

Jenna White
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David-steak.jpgAt Churrascos, the offerings are extensive and it's unlikely you'll be disappointed, no matter your selection. However, while demonstrating for Chef Surpríse guests the secret preparation for Churrascos signature plate, Chef David Cordúa confides that half the tickets the kitchen sees include this reknowned cut of meat. We may not dine on steak often, but when we do, we're pleased as punch if it's The Churrasco: Chargrilled center-cut beef tenderloin, seasoned with chimichurri and served with crispy yuca cake, pickled onions and bearnaise sauce.

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend upcoming dinners, visit our website.

Plantains masquerade as noodles

Jenna White
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David-plantaindish.jpgChef Cordúa continued the parade of Latin flavor by demonstrating for Chef Surpríse guests how to make a homemade pasta that relied on a south of the border staple - plantains! The fruit lended the dish a bright yellow hue and a sweet undertone that paired nicely with savory sous vide carnitas, achiote, poblano, citrus and baby arugula.

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend upcoming dinners, visit our website.

A hot designer, spring fashions...

Jenna White
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D4D-CMcoverage.jpg"Applause, applause for Edward Wilkerson, the popular designer for Lafayette 148, who wowed the ladies and a few gents at the Recipe for Success Dress for Dinner fashion presentation at Neiman Marcus. The spring frocks, Capri pants and long shirts with wide belting were hits with the crowd of women who appreciate stylish substance over short-lived, pop trends. The fashion standout in this lively crowd was Bob Cavnar, who wore a black kilt and vintage Muhammad Ali boxing shoes. ..."

Read the entire CultureMap story featured in Shelby's Social Scene section here.

On air with Pat Greer

Jenna White
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EarthDayHouston.jpgLast week, Air Alliance Houston invited us to join them in chatting with Pat Greer on her 90.1 FM KPFT show, Eco-Ology. While at the studio in the wee hours, we engaged with other groups taking part in the Earth Day Houston fun and shared with listeners what activities they could participate in with Recipe for Success in the Healthy Living Zone at Discovery Green.

Listen to our segment of the show here...

School Meal Rules Cut Obesity

Gracie Cavnar
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An Apple a Day.jpg"New federal school lunch regulations that require more servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole-grain content, less salt and fat, and limits on calories could yield a legion of children from low-income families who escape a trend of childhood obesity.

A study published Monday online in JAMA Pediatrics looked at states that cracked down on the content of school meals even before new federal school meal standards, which took effect this school year. A smaller share of students who received free or reduced-price lunches that had to meet these higher nutritional standards--about 12 percent--were overweight than was the case for students who did not eat school lunches." 

Read more in this article for Education Week by Nirva Shah

When two become one...

Jenna White
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David-ceviche.jpgAt Churrascos, Cordúa features a grilled salmon main over shrimp ceviche. At Américas, lush salmon belly carpaccio ceviche is on the menu. So what does he do for Chef Surpríse guests? Combine the two, of course:

David-Salmon.jpgSeared salmon belly over achiote shrimp ceviche, tomatillo broth, creme fraiche and queso fresco, with charred tortilla strip. Drool.

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend upcoming dinners, visit our website.

VegOut! Costume Contest

Jenna White
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VO-costumes.jpgAmong the many community members who stepped up to the plate to VegOut! with Recipe for Success this spring were faculty, staff and students of River Oaks Elementary, who've had tons of fun celebrating veggies, including with a VegOut! Costume Contest. Students got creative and went all out, entering school dressed as their favorite vegetable to compete for fun prizes. 

See more images of these health-minded cuties here.

RFS on Rocket's Jumbotron

Jenna White
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The Houston Rockets selected Recipe for Success as their April Charity of the Month! AND, as part of the NBA's annual Green Week activities in March, Rockets staff and players Carlos Delfino and Donatas "D-Mo" Motiejunas joined Recipe for Success for spring planting in Recipe Gardens at Briscoe and Rodriguez Elementary Schools.  It was all captured for the jumbotron and is broadcasting supersized at April games.

Watch the video on the Rockets site here.

Take a Page From Anti-Smoking

Gracie Cavnar
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stop-smoking.jpgBack in 1956, 57% of American men were smokers, and that year alone, 29,000 of them died from lung cancer. You hear that now and it seems . . . . mindboggling.

In fifty-seven years we have slashed the smoking rate to 18.9%. The fix was multi-layered and hard won over decades: school-based education; reducing minors access; healthcare provider counseling; increased excise taxes; warning labels; restricting or eliminating advertising--especially directed at youth; and establishing indoors as a smoke free zone.  Nowadays all that seems like just common sense.

But, because of the billions of dollars wielded by tobacco companies and their influence on lawmakers and the market, because everyone was in denial about the negative health effects and because the industry's continued to insist that nicotine was not addictive, these rational controls took nearly sixty years to finally get right.
In the meantime, over 22 million Americans lost their lives because of smoking.

We've seen this situation play out time and time again. From controlling drug and alcohol consumption, to mandating seat belts and establishing OSHA, ultimately, after years of needless injury, death and chronic disease, people come to their senses and fix the problem.

And it's time to do just that with the obesity epidemic.

Take a Page From Anti-Smoking

Gracie Cavnar
Vote 0 Votes

stop-smoking.jpgBack in 1956, 57% of American men were smokers, and that year alone, 29,000 of them died from lung cancer. You hear that now and it seems . . . . mindboggling.

In fifty-seven years we have slashed the smoking rate to 18.9%. The fix was multi-layered and hard won over decades: school-based education; reducing minors access; healthcare provider counseling; increased excise taxes; warning labels; restricting or eliminating advertising--especially directed at youth; and establishing indoors as a smoke free zone.  Nowadays all that seems like just common sense.

But, because of the billions of dollars wielded by tobacco companies and their influence on lawmakers and the market, because everyone was in denial about the negative health effects and because the industry's continued to insist that nicotine was not addictive, these rational controls took nearly sixty years to finally get right.
In the meantime, over 22 million Americans lost their lives because of smoking.

We've seen this situation play out time and time again. From controlling drug and alcohol consumption, to mandating seat belts and establishing OSHA, ultimately, after years of needless injury, death and chronic disease, people come to their senses and fix the problem.

And it's time to do just that with the obesity epidemic.

Pasta Primavera

Gracie Cavnar
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Pasta Primavera.jpg Primavera means spring in Italian and this dish was first created to celebrate young spring vegetables, but you can mix and match the veggies to make it with the best that any season has to offer.  Here it is with a little bit of everything. (Recipe from Eat It! Food Adventures with Marco Polo.)

Serves 8 as entrée

½ package fettuccini-style dried noodles, cooked according to package directions                                  
¼ cup olive oil, divided
2 carrots, minced
2 ribs celery, minced
1 small red onion, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 stalks parsley minced
1 green onion, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, julienne
½ bunch asparagus, tough stalks removed and tops cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup broccoli flowers, steamed for 3-4 minutes until bright green
½ cup peas (fresh or frozen)
2 ounces fresh spinach leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces                
4-6 basil leaves, chiffonade
1/8 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Step One: Make a Sofrito
    1.    Collect and measure all of your ingredients to create a mise en place.
    2.    Heat a large sauté pan to medium high heat and add ½ the olive oil; let heat up for 1 - 2 minutes.
    3.    Add minced carrots to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes.
    4.    Add minced celery and continue cooking 2 minutes.
    5.    Stir in the minced onion and cook until it starts to seem clear (about 5 minutes.)
    6.    Add salt.
    7.    Add the minced garlic and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, or until they release their wonderful aroma (smell.)
    8.    Stir in the minced parsley.
You have just created an Italian style sofrito, which if you stopped now, could be used as a great flavor base for soups, stews, and sauces.
Step Two: Layer the Flavor
    1.    Gently add the green onion, bell pepper, asparagus, and broccoli and cook for 3-4 minutes until all the veggies turn even brighter.
    2.    Stir in the fresh or frozen peas and spinach and remove pan from heat.
    3.    Add the pasta and the rest of the olive oil, and toss to coat.
Step Three: Serve it up
    1.    Divide into shallow soup bowls.
    2.    Garnish with basil leaves, grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of cracked pepper.
    3.    Serve immediately.

A Gala in Small Bites Lineup

Jenna White
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SmallBites-invite-cover-square.jpgOn March 20, Chairs Gracie & Bob Cavnar kicked off the We're Cooking Now! A Gala in Small Bites series, with evenings scattered throughout the spring that run the gamut from haute cuisine to hot cookin'--something for every taste and style. 

View the invitation and find more info for the 2013 season.

Cordúa charms with Latin flare

Jenna White
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David Cordúa, of Américas and Churrascos fame, brought down the house Monday with an onslaught of dishes so full of Latin flavor, we wouldn't have been surprised if they'd jumped up and salsa-danced across the table. While his team worked behind him, the ever-charming chef walked our April Chef Surpríse guests through the preparation of each dish.


The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend upcoming dinners, visit our website.

April's Volunteer of the Month

Tracy Weldon
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dress for dinner 413.JPGDee McBride (left) and Suzanne Williams (right)

Recipe for Success Foundation is pleased to have Suzanne Williams as April's Volunteer of the Month.  Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Suzanne has been living in Houston for the last 7 years.  She loves to travel, workout, and eat great healthy food with her husband and son!  After retirement, Suzanne wanted to continue to do meaningful work.  With a little research and a growing interest in the First Lady's, Let's Move campaign, Suzanne was able to find Recipe for Success.  As a mom, she wants to be part of an organization that helps children have healthier eating habits.  Her decision to help RFS was reinforced when speaking with another volunteer.  The volunteer spoke about how he sees continued effects of RFS in our students' lives even after they graduate from the program.  This warmed Suzanne's heart because she knew that Recipe for Success' program is working and having a tremendous impact on the children we educate.   

Suzanne is a very beneficial piece to our office.  She helps Marisol, our Special Projects Coordinator, and other staff members with office projects every Thursday morning.  One thing Suzanne takes from RFS is that a healthy and satisfying meal does not have to always include meat, as long as fresh ingredients packed full of  flavor are used.  We appreciate Suzanne and all of the work she has done for Recipe for Success.  We hope to have her around for many years to come!

If you would to become a volunteer, please fill out our Volunteer Interest Survey.

RFS at Lyons' Annual Health Fair

Jenna White
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Last week, Lyons Elementary School, one of our thriving Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ program sites, held its annual health fair to showcase different programs and resources to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Students and parents explored different info tables, including the Recipe for Success table, run with the help of some of our cooking-and-gardening savvy program students.

See an event photo gallery here.

We dream of soup

Jenna White
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Kiran-presents soup.jpgIndian cuisine boasts an array of dreamy soups, from creamy lentils to smoky mulligatawny, making it tough to pick just one. Thanks to Kiran, our March Chef Surpríse guests didn't have to. While sipping a beautifully presented tasting trio, accompanied by goat cheese-stuffed naan, guests struggled to pinpoint a favorite, as each offered a uniquely delicious flavor profile. One patron inquired about the contents of Kiran's corn chowder, explaining that she'd love a whole vat of the stuff! Hopefully, she instead saved room for the saffron crème brûlée.

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend upcoming dinners, visit our website.

Dinner Guests Sample Luscious Small Bites

Jenna White
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SmallBites-Gracie.jpgMolly Glentzer of Houston Chronicle wrote: "Nothing fancy," said chef Olivier Ciesielski, the owner of L'Olivier Restaurant, standing at the stove in Gracie and Bob Cavnar's Museum District home as guests arrived for Recipe for Success' first Gala in Small Bites of the season.
   I was peeking at what he had going on the stove, including a small pot sizzling with the onion and broth base for an amuse-bouche of Porcini Cappucino - essentially a mushroom soup he planned to pour into the row of sculptural demitasse cups nearby and cap with a creamy froth.

Read the rest of the story and pictures here.  See the 2013 schedule of Gala in Small Bites here.

Dress for Dinner in Society Diaries

Jenna White
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D4D-Neimans.jpgAct II of Dress for Dinner, Season IV was a roaring success, with high-style ladies flooding the third floor of Neiman Marcus for a runway show of Lafayette 148 NY's Spring Collection, followed by dinner with the designer, Edward Wilkerson. Among the fashion media who showed to cover the event was Joy Sewing of the Houston Chronicle, who provided a lovely review of the soiree.

Read the full story and view the slideshow here.

Communal meal a la Chef Kiran

Jenna White
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For our March Chef Surpríse, Chef Kiran Verma (Kiran's) showcased Indian tradition with local flare with her main course: Tandoori Texas Quail stuffed with Mission Figs, Wild Mushrooms and Pine Nuts with Mixed Berry Chutney. The family-style passed sides, which included Bhindi Masala (okra), Baingan Bartha (eggplant), and Mushroom and Apricot Biryani (rice), created a sense of home and togetherness  among guests. 

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend upcoming dinners, visit our website.

A Mom's Choice Award for Eat it!

Jenna White
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MomsChoiceAward.pngEat it! Food Adventures with Marco Polo Volume One: Leaving Home was named among the best in family-friendly media, products and services by Mom's Choice Awards. Our children's cookbook-meets-adventure-tale, written by Recipe for Success Founder Gracie Cavnar and illustrated by Anni Matsick, received Silver in the Books: Cooking & Food category for ages 9 to 12.

Read more about the book and purchase a copy for your family here.

Chef Kiran's Housemade Paneer

Jenna White
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For our March Chef Surpríse dinner, we were honored to have Chef Kiran Verma of Kiran's in the RecipeHouse kitchen, where she doled out  plates of comforting yet inspired Indian cuisine, as well as a glimpse of the magic behind it all. In particular, the full house of guests were taken aback by the simplicity of making fresh paneer (Indian cheese).

Kiran-Pouring Paneer.jpgAfter bringing milk to a low boil, Kiran stirs in a handful of spices, adds vinegar to make the milk curdle, and pours the mixture into a cheesecloth...

Kiran-Paneer-cheesecloth.jpg...before bundling and hanging the cheesecloth to drain any excess liquid.

Kiran-Paneer-plated.jpgThen, VOILA! Fresh paneer, to simmer in sauce or nibble on its own.

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend the next dinner with David Cordua of Cordua Restuarants on April 1, visit our website.

Having Some Veg Fun

Gracie Cavnar
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Justin Timberlake VegOut.jpgWatch Justin Timberlake on Saturday Night Live having some fun with VegOut!

PaperCity Curates RecipeHouse

Jenna White
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 PaperCityMagazine featured RecipeHouse in their March 2013 issue with a full-page story by Executive Editor Kate Stukenberg, who detailed the magazine's recent curated dinner party there for a small gathering of glitteratti. PaperCity collaborated with some of Houston's most aesthetically savvy folks, including Found's Aaron Rambo and Ruth Moore Davis, who styled the space with a modern nod to a farmhouse dinner, and graphic designer Meg Barclay, who crafted and calligraphed menus featuring dishes by Recipe for Success Chefs Advisory Board Chair, Monica Pope of Sparrow Bar+Cookshop

Read the full story and view a slideshow of the stylish affair here.

Where Is The Outrage?

Gracie Cavnar
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junk or apple?.jpegWe have been saturated in recent weeks with new books that are filled with insider information and facts illuminating a decades long effort by an industry that reaps billions in profits to create and sustain the American people's lifelong dependency on a high calorie, low nutrition diet of junk food.  That processed food diet may be fast, affordable and easy, but it is now killing us off by the hundreds of thousands while costing taxpayers and employers billions of dollars thanks to the chronic disease it fosters.  So, we are poisoning our children and ourselves and paying for the pleasure, and we can no longer claim we didnt know.

Young children who don't yet have the skills to differentiate between promotion and facts are bombarded by $1.6 billion in junk food advertising every year.   Still efforts to manage access for children, or limit advertising to them, or control portion sizes or labeling, are all stalled--mired in politics and awash in lobbying dollars to prevent them.

Do we sit so idly by and allow our babies unfettered access to tobacco, drugs and alcohol?  Do we offer our toddlers a line of cocaine or a swig of scotch the way we so blithely pass out pop tarts and Cheetos?  It's time we started treating junk food as the controlled substance that it should be.

Fact is that the food companies have learned how to create hyper-palatable cuisine that looks just like the healthier stuff we used to eat.  The change in our diet has crept into our everyday lives slowly over the last forty years while we weren't looking. It's time to start looking, asking questions, reading the labels and demanding a stop to the slow poisoning of an entire generation. It's time to say "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" and insist that our policy makers establish controls that help us stay informed and protect our children.

And, we need to take back control in our own homes:  Turn off the ads, close the door on the promotional bribery of our kids, and vote with our wallets.  Simply quit buying the junk.  Cold Turkey.  A profit-driven industry will give us what we demand.  For the sake of our children, it's time we demanded healthier food.

Insights from a VegOut! Mom

Jenna White
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Genevieve-VegOut.jpgRFS Board Member Genevieve Patterson is charged with making sure her six-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son get the nutrients they need. As any parent knows, this is often no easy task. However, Genevieve has a few tricks up her sleeve and shares some clever approaches, from sneaking the good stuff into things her kids already like (cauliflower in brownies!) to establishing family mantras and initiating dialogues that encourage open minds and healthy behaviors.

Over the past few weeks, Genevieve has also logged boo-coo hours helping us strategize and spread the word about VegOut!, our call to action for Houstonians to eat their veggies in March for National Nutrition Month. She took the lead to bring VegOut! to River Oaks Elementary, where the principal, faculty and staff are VeggingOut! and students are front and center in the veggie conversation.

When you're not busy being a super mom, board member and volunteer, what are you up to?

My husband and I love having dinner parties or Sunday dinners for friends and family, traveling, exercise of any kind, especially if it's outside, and I'm a soccer fanatic!

What kind of eaters are your kids?

My two children have varying food interests. My son loves just about everything except fruit (it's a textural thing), but my daughter is a bit more particular. Specific to veggies, he'll try them all, cooked any way, but she really only likes them raw.  So, I follow several common covert methods to ensure she is getting the right mix: smoothies and finely chopped veggies added to proteins (like in tacos) and baked goods (zucchini muffins). Fortunately, one of our all-around family favorites is kale. Kale, apples, banana, juice/water, agave and ice blended together make what we call the "Super Hero Smoothie" - it's a fun neon green color and tastes delicious!

What's your approach to guiding your kids' food habits?

Common conversations in our house center around two themes: balance and giving everything a chance. Often when my kids ask for a treat, my first question is, "What other treats have you had today?" If they have already had something sweet, we talk about keeping a good balance. This usually averages out to having only one sweet per day. And when they are given something they don't think they like, the golden rule is that you must try it! We have even added a bonus to their weekly allowance for trying new things (foods, experiences, attitudes, etc).

Do you involve your kids in shopping for or preparing meals?

They do love going to the farmers market and seeing what's available. Regular grocery shopping is not their favorite thing to do. And they are great helpers in the kitchen. My son can crack a mean egg and if there's a noodle involved, my daughter is happy to help.

What does VegOut! mean to you?

I love the idea of a whole community of people striving for such a delicious goal! And since I'm a competitive person, I like the added incentive of the contest. My family can't wait for it to start. We've even had a "prep" night making veggie soup for dinner.

Why do you think this initiative is important?

Challenging individuals to expand their palate is always a good thing in my mind. Life is so busy, and sometimes it's just easier to prep your "go-to" meal or just pick up your favorite take-out. Asking people to stop by the produce aisle or market veggie stall when they usually just walk past can only lead to good things!

How did you approach the principal of your children's school to get her to VegOut?

I barely had the words out of my mouth before the principal agreed to do it! It's easy to recognize that veggies + kids is a good combo. So, I really didn't have to do too much persuading. And when the students are motivated, it helps the faculty and staff stay involved too.

Tell me a little about what River Oaks Elementary is doing to VegOut!.

Three times a week the student council will highlight a veggie by reading a fun food fact during the daily announcements. We are also having two contests: Veggie Dress Up Day and Rock Your Veggies - a song writing competition.

What's your game plan for your family to VegOut!?

Well, I plan on digging through my cookbook collection for veggie-heavy recipes, as well as checking out the Veggies A-Z recipes on the VegOut! site. I'll also look for baked goods, new smoothie recipes and different ways for us to consume our 30 veggies. We'll definitely take a few trips to the farmers market in Houston and while traveling over spring break. Hitting the local veggie markets is a great way to get a feel for a new town you are traveling through.

Any tips for getting kids to eat their veggies?

You can put ANYTHING in a brownie, and they'll eat it! Puree 1/2 cup veggies, such as cauliflower, zucchini, or beets and add to the batter. After they eat every crumb, you can then decide whether to tell them what was in it! 

Check out our rockin' Beet Brownies recipe here.

Advice for other parents who want to create change in their schools?

Once you have the right person's attention, come well prepared with attainable ideas and enthusiasm. Listen to what the school really needs and be flexible in implementing a solution.

VegOut! is ON at City Hall

Jenna White
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VegOutCityHall-picstitch.jpgOn Tuesday, clad in our bright VegOut! shirts and armed with bundles of freshly harvested carrots, the Recipe for Success team rolled into City Hall with a mission: Challenge Mayor Annise Parker and Houson City Council members to VegOut! Alongside members of the Mayor's Healthy Houston Task Force, who have given the challenge their full support, our team proudly looked on as fearless leader Gracie Cavnar threw down the gauntlet for all of Houston to step up to the plate... and pile it with veggies!

And the result? An overhelming positive response from the Mayor and several councilmen who pledged to VegOut! on the spot.  

As Gracie laid out the challenge calling the city to amp up their veggie intake during March for National Nutrition Month, Councilman Andrew C. Burks, Jr., and Councilman Jack Christie munched their carrots, clearly in support of our efforts. After finishing his carrot, Councilman Christie mused that he can see clearly now what VegOut! is all about and is happy to take part.

"Listen to this lady," he said, noting Gracie and Recipe for Success's contributions to improving the health of our city. "She is the Michelle Obama of Houston."

Considering the impact of the First Lady's Let's Move initiative to promote healthy lifestyles, we are quite flattered and may just have to take Christie up on his invitation to help him with his own garden.

Other members also shared their enthusiasm for our cause. Councilwoman Ellen Cohen recalled visiting a Recipe for Success classroom in the early stages of the Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education program and congratulated Gracie on its growth and impact. According to Councilman Al Hoang, his children frequently request that he make dishes they created at school with our Seed-to-Plate instructors. 

Councilman Stephen C. Costello, who serves with Gracie on the Healthy Houston Task Force, pledged to recognize March as official VegOut! month in Houston. Plus, he has already signed up his VegOut! team. And Mayor Parker shared with us that her tomato plants survived the winter, so she'll have a head start on vegging out.

We are delighted to have the support of so many influential figures and can't wait to hear their VegOut! stories throughout March. Visit our website to learn how YOU can VegOut!.

Complete VegOut! talking points covered during the City Council meeting available here.

Will Isbell's Carrot Rainbow

Jenna White
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Will Isbell Carrots-closeup.jpgImagine our thrill and bewilderment when veteran Recipe for Success volunteer Will Isbell entered RecipeHouse with not one, but THREE boxes overflowing with beautiful carrots.

The rainbow of varietals came from the AgriLife Extension Center and are part of a research trial to evaluate 20 different varieties of carrots grown in AgriLife's vegetable research garden. A taste test was performed on the carrots after they were harvested and the juice from each variety was measured for sweetness.

After all testing is complete, they will publish the results in an effort to update our area's vegetable variety planting recommendations. All of this is to further Agrilife's mission to improve the lives of people, businesses, and communities across Texas and beyond through high-quality, relevant education. 

Will Isbell Carrots-Sliced.jpgWill is quite familiar with Recipe for Success' similar efforts to educate kids about food. He has been a volunteer with us for about four years and is active in Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ gardening classes and garden builds, and has led special insect education presentations for our schools and during Eat This! Summer Camp™.

So thanks, Will, for sharing these lovely carrots, which ended up in the eager hands of students at MacGregor, Briscoe, and Rodriguez elementary schools!

Did we get you craving a carrot-forward recipe? Hope so! Watch Chef Kendall to learn how to create our bright and tasty Rainbow Slaw.

Betcha Can't Eat Just One!

Gracie Cavnar
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24sugar1-articleLarge-v3.pngThere is a reason we advocate shopping the perimeter of the grocery store and keeping clear of those middle aisles packed with packaged foods.  Over 10,000 new processed food products hit the market every year and there is a billion dollar industry focused on selling them to us.  In his New York Times Magazine article, "The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food," journalist Michael Moss uncovers the frightening facts: Scientists have been creating new "foods" that actually cause us to overeat.  Food companies are knowingly flooding the market and making millions of dollars on calorie-dense, nutritionally deficient foods that are cheap to make and that even the strongest among us can't resist.  It's killing us.  Read the entire story here.

Eggplant Parmesan!

Gracie Cavnar
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Eggplant parm 2.JPGFor an easy delicious vegetarian meal that pleases even the most ravenous appetite, try this all time favorite and get everyone in on the act.  Kids love to salt and rinse the eggplant and to help bread it.  Add a tossed seasonal salad to start and finish with sliced fruit for dessert.

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe from the RFS Team Chefs Serves 4-6


1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz. can diced tomatoes or one pound fresh tomatoes diced
16 oz. can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
1 bunch kale leaves, spine removed and chopped
½ bunch fresh basil, stems removed and chopped
1 large or 2 small fresh eggplantsEggplant parm Mis.JPG
2 eggs
½ cups milk
2 cups breadcrumbs
1 cups flour
pepper to taste
1 cups Parmesan cheese (grated)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Make the Sauce:

  • Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil, until tender. 
  • Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, season with oregano, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.  Simmer for 10-15 min.
  • Add chopped kale and cook for 2 min (until greens are bright green).
  • Stir in chopped basil and remove from heat.

 Prepare the Eggplant:

  • Slice eggplant crossways into ½ inch rounds. 
  • Generously salt both sides of each slice.   
  • Lay slices on a paper towel and cover with another paper towel and let rest for 15 minutes--this is to draw out the bitterness of the eggplant. 
  • Wash the salt off of slices under running water and pat dry.
  • Whisk together eggs and milk in a medium bowl
  • Put flour on a flat plate with added pepper
  • Put breadcrumbs on another flat plate
  • To bread the eggplant slices:  One by one, using tongs, dredge the slices in the flour to lightly cover both sides, then dip into egg/milk mix to fully coat each slice, and then dredge slices in breadcrumbs bread to fully coat both sides. 
  • Lay breaded eggplant slices flat a large shallow baking dish and place in hot oven
  • Bake for 15-20 min, or until tender
  • Carefully remove hot pan from oven
  • Top eggplant slices with sauce and grated Parmesan
  • Return to oven for another 7-9 min, and then turn heat to low broil
  • Cook until cheese is golden and bubbly.

This recipe was developed by the Recipe for Success Chefs
© 2013 Recipe for Success Foundation

Involve the kids:

  • Breading is a fun kitchen activity for kids.
  • Make double the amount of tomato sauce and freeze for another night.  Defrost and toss with pasta and vegetables.

Use the leftovers

  • Make Eggplant Parmesan sandwich topped with Arugula and a slice of fresh mozzarella.
  • Cut up leftovers and toss with linguine & olive oil.  Add fresh mozzarella and basil.
  • Top with a fried egg for an Italian breakfast

Girl Scouts Join the Fun at RH

Jenna White
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GS-TROOP20276.jpgAt RecipeHouse, we have fun with budding chefs of all ages. This spring our specially designed Girl Scouts cooking classes have been a hit and are a fun and easy way to help scouts earn a range of GSUSA culinary badges! Last week, energized Brownie Troop 20276 visited RecipeHouse to learn about nutrition and how to prepare a menu of yummy dishes to earn the Healthy Snacks Badge.


Chef Kendall leads the Troop in combining ingredients with East Asian influence for a bright green Edamame Dip.


Scouts practiced knife skills by slicing fresh veggies with our kid-friendly equipment!


Time to DIG IN! The girls were big fans of both the Edamame Dip and the Roasted Red Pepper Dip, as well as their other nutritious concoctions: Silky Chocolate Mousse (made with avocado!) with Apple Dippers, Far East Noodle Bowls, and Berry Lassis.


Congratulations on boosting your food credentials, Troop 20276! Come back soon for another food adventure!

At RecipeHouse, Girl Scout troops can learn cooking skills alongside professional chefs, or design their own badge or journey workshops.  Contact Molly Kaminski to plan a class for your troop or meeting, visit the San Jacinto Girl Scouts website to book a scheduled class, or visit the RFS events calendar to see all we have coming up at RecipeHouse.

Pera's Meyer Lemon Pizzetta

Jenna White
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Ryan Pera_Pizzette1After doling out his lush rendition of Winter Squash Ravioli to Chef Surpríse guests, Chef Ryan Pera demonstrated the art of the Italian pizza pie. His Meyer Lemon Pizzetta, a dainty pie perfect served as an opening number to a main, is a shining example of what you'll find at the soon-to-come Coltivare.

Ryan Pera_Pizzette2

As his handtalking pays homage to his Italian heritage, Pera readies to hoist his pizzette into the over, decked out with thinly sliced Meyer lemon, rosemary, black olives and Texas goat cheese.

Ryan Pera_Pizzette3Fresh out of the oven, a crusty, bubbling masterpiece... time to dig in!

The Chef Surpríse series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend the next dinner with Kiran Verma of Kiran's on March 4, visit our website.

Act II of Dress for Dinner, Mar 19

Jenna White
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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for D4D Neimans 3.19.13 Invitation

After an incredible kickoff with Badgley Mischka and Saks Fifth Avenue last fall, it's almost time to continue the Dress for Dinner Season IV festivities with Act Two, with the Lafayette 148 Spring Collection presented  by designer Edward Wilkerson. Hosted by Ceron and Todd Fiscus, the stylish event takes place at Neiman Marcus on March 19. Following the runway show, a limited number of guests will take part in an exclusive Dinner with the Designer in Mariposa with a special menu by Chef Barbara McKnight

We hope you can make it! Learn more and purchase your tickets here.

Chef Surpríse with Ryan Pera

Jenna White
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Ryan Pera_Chef Surprise_February 2013

On February 4 our Chef Surprise series started the year off with gusto thanks to the talented Ryan Pera of Revival Market and Coltivare. Pera provided a full house of guests with a multi-course preview of dishes to be found on the menu at his highly anticipated new venue, Coltivare, which will feature Italian fare with an emphasis on comfort.

Sneak a peek at the process behind his delicious creations.

Chef Vincent_Chef Surprise_February 2013Revival Market veteran Chef Vincent Huynh, who will oversee operations at Coltivare as Chef de Cuisine, churns out wide ribbons of fresh pasta to transform into ravioli.

Ravioli_Chef Surprise_February 2013Fluffy pillows of creamy butternut squash filling are hand-cut into a familiar shape...

Ravioli2_Chef Surprise_February 2013And ready for a pot of boiling water!

Winter Squash Ravioli_Chef Surprise_February 2013The finished product: Winter Squash Ravioli by Chef Ryan Pera of Coltivare.

The Chef Surprise series is held the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse and features a rotation of Houston's hottest chefs. To learn more and sign up to attend the next dinner with Kiran Verma of Kiran's, visit our website.

My Table Names Eat it! a Fave

Jenna White
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MyTable-Jan13-bookstack.jpgAs our dining scene has burgeoned, Houston has become a world-reknowned food destination, so it's no surprise that a flurry of food-centric tomes, from dining guides to locally influenced cookbooks, have followed in its wake. That's why we're honored that My Table Magazine featured our own Eat it! Food Adventures with Marco Polo among a handful of their favorite  local food reads as part of the cover story of their December/January issue.

Read the full story here or visit My Table online to read more stories about Houston's fabulous food scene.

Knowledge=Behavior? No.

Gracie Cavnar
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Lots to lose.jpgIf we all know that eating healthier food and exercising extends our lives, prevents many catostrophic illnesses and makes us smarter and feel better, then why don't we do it?  The conundrum for advocates. Knowledge on its own does not change behavior.