April 2014 Archives

Chantal and Dragana

Tracy Weldon
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Chantal and Dragana-cropv1.png

I am pleased that Chantal Duvall and Dragana Harris are our volunteers for the month of May!

Chantal Duvall is originally from Belgium, but moved to Virginia in the 70's to marry the love of her life.  Chantal received her first cookbook at the age of 10 which sparked her love for food and cooking.  She taught French pastry and cooking in Kingwood for 15 years and owned her own catering company. She lived the charmed life in a small village in Provence for ten years before moving back to the States. 

Dragana Harris brings a diverse background to our organization. She is Serbian, but grew in South Africa and attended college in Toronto, Canada.  She loves to travel, photograph, and write - all about food.  Her talents are showcased in one package through her writing and food styling for My Table Magazine, and her personal food blog "Prijatno!"

The duo met as senior docents 26 years ago at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  Together they attended culinary events around town before running into Molly, RFS' Director of Operations. When Molly told them about our mission, they immediately hopped in to volunteer at Rodriguez Elementary.  They have since helped with programs such as Chef Surprise and Dress for Dinner.   The Chef Surprise series has been a favorite of Chantal and Dragana's because it allows them to support the best chefs in Houston, and also learn a few new tricks of the trade!

While Chef Surprise is Chantal's beloved RFS series, our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ classes have had the most impact on her.  She loved it when the students at Rodriguez Elementary snacked on lettuces that they grew in the school's garden.  Chantal says, "The students are great examples for my grandchildren.  I've taught them how to eat better using some of the tips I learned in the classroom." 

Dragana loves the teamwork and excitement of our students while they prepare healthy meals sourced from their Recipe Garden.  She keeps a collection of RFS recipes, including Eat It! Food Adventures, that she refers to often.

When Chantal is not helping with one of our programs, she is typically traveling and discovering new foods and wines.  In 10 years, Chantal sees herself living in a small village in Provence enjoying the slow life, good wine, and fresh vegetables and cheeses.  Dragana, on the other hand, hopes to continue to volunteer with Recipe for Success Foundation, which she predicts will be a well-known national organization!

Chantal's and Dragana's friendship extends outside of Recipe for Success Foundation.  They are owners of a small chocolate business and love to experiment with sweets.  Check out some of their tasty treats here: http://cdgourmethouston.com/


Learn more about our Chef Surprise dinners here.        

Chef Garth & RFS on KRBE

Jenna White
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garth-krbe.jpgLong-time Chefs Advisory Board Member Chef Garth Blackburn of Sub-Zero & Wolf joined Recipe for Success Foundation to chat on air with KRBE's Mary Kennedy, host of Around H Town. We discussed the 2014 We're Cooking Now! A Gala in Small Bites dinner series and our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs in schools that the series supports. Have a listen!

Trouble listening? Find the podcast here.

The Fashion Gene Awards

Jenna White
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FashionGene 2014 Invite.jpgJoin chairs Leisa Holland-Nelson and Laura Max Nelson and Recipe for Success Foundation at Tootsies on May 7 for the season finale of Dress for Dinner and the 2014 Fashion Gene Awards! We'll be celebrating mothers and daughters whose style sense is to be envied with a very special fashion show, followed by an exclusive dinner catered by Chef Barbara McKnight of CULINAIR.

Reserve your tickets today!

Signs of a Healthier Future

Alex Tipton
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Briscoe-Garden Signs.jpgStudents participating in our after-school program at Briscoe Elementary used their artistic abilities to decorate these signs for their Recipe Garden.  At Recipe for Success we strive to integrate all areas of education to foster a healthy lifestyle.  We work closely with schools to align our lessons to their goals for a healthier, well-educated student body.

In observance of National Poetry Month AND National Gardening Month, our Seed-to-Plate instructors are discussing poetry with students and encouraging them to participate in our Garden Haikus Earth Day Contest.  During class students explore the garden to get inspiration for acrostic and free verse poetry.  Students channel their creativity while observing the growth and life cycle of fruits and vegetables.  Some are familiar with poetry but others are being exposed to this written art form for the first time and are excited to create new masterpieces.  This poem was shared by S2P Instructor Emily Paul this month and was met by giggles all around.

Mashed Potatoes on the Ceiling
by Ken Nesbitt

Mashed potatoes on the ceiling.
Green beans on the floor. 
Stewed tomatoes in the corner.
Squash upon the door.

Pickled peppers in my pocket.
Spinach up my sleeves. 
Mushrooms in my underpants with 
leeks and lettuce leaves.

Okra, onions, artichokes, 
asparagus and beets;
buried neatly underneath the 
cushions of our seats.

All the rest I've hidden in my socks 
and down my shirt.
I'm done with all my vegetables.
I'm ready for dessert!

© 2001 Kenn Nesbitt 'The Aliens have landed at our school'

Cooking with Kids: Tamale Casserole

Jenna White
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Houston mom Becky Flechsig, blogger behind Raising Texas, strives to feed her family real food and teach her two little ones that eating healthy is both important and tasty. Like us, she knows kids who get their hands dirty in the kitchen are more likely to embrace new foods. Today, she gives us some insight into how she lets daughter "L" help out.
RaisingTX-TamaleCasserole.jpgDid you know that weight patterns and food attitudes are very difficult to alter after age 11? And by "very difficult" I mean nearly impossible. It's the difference between knowing what is healthier, but still turning to the foods you grew up with. Emotional food ties. A tough nut to crack. 
One thing I am trying to do with my kids to create a healthy relationship with food is getting them in the kitchen helping as early as possible. It started with non cooking tasks like handing out the silverware from the dishwasher and just watching. That led to stirring and whisking and dumping and holding pans still. Recently L has been very eager to help more, which I love. I just have to get used to not caring about things looking too pretty. 
We are having casserole season at our house. Lots and lots of babies being born, lots of baking being done. This is one of my favorite recipes that we recently adapted to make it more organic and real food friendly. You can link to the original Chicken Tamale Casserole from Cooking Light Magazine HERE.  Below is a breakdown of the original recipe and what we did differently. Either option is easy to make with a little helper and tastes great. 
Chicken Tamale Casserole
Originally posted at Raising Texas blog
1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided (We use organic cheese)
1/3 cup fat-free milk (We use organic milk)
1/4 cup egg substitute (I don't believe in egg substitute. One egg = 1/4C)
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper 
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn (I couldn't find organic cream style corn. Here is an easy way to make your own. One recipe = one can.)
1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (if you want organic you can find it at whole foods)
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained 
Cooking spray (I rub the pan with an empty butter wrapper)
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (there are a few organic options, but you can also make your own. This is a little more complicated at home) 
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (two breasts will do it and shredding is a great job for kids too!)
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream (fat free just means more chemicals and sugar. I use full fat)
  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. 
  • L was great at this. I took the ingredients out and put them into measured cups and bowls and she poured them all into the big bowl for mixing.
  • Pour mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  • Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork. L was great at this step, too. Pour enchilada sauce over top. We did this one together. 
  • Top with chicken (another great kid job!) sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. (and she loved this step, too)  Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.
I also think this tastes wonderful with fresh avocado. It's very easy and very delicious. When we know Landon will be eating it, we eliminate the red pepper because she sometimes will complain that the corn part is "spicy". I put spicy in quotations because she says this even when things are not spicy by definition. It means there is something extra flavorful about it. That's a good thing, right? 
Follow Becky's Instagram feed for daily inspiration and motivation to keep up the real food fight! And while you're at it, follows ours, too.

An Artful Meal with Uchi

Jenna White
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This week RecipeHouse's kitchen was taken over by one of the must talked about Houston food destinations: Uchi. True to form, the Uchi team delivered meticulously crafted and artfully presented culinary delights that exhibited the kitchen's creativity and love of what they do.

Unsurprisingly, fresh seafood played a prominent role in the evening...


Hamachi, spinach, dill, garlic

... and understated veggies highlight fresh flavors of the season...  




Asparagus, potato, mushroom, tomato

... a dessert almost too pretty to eat... 


Grape, curry, granola

... but the most intriguing dish was the unexpected jet black silkie chicken (a nod to Uchi's Asian influence), leg presented with foot and all, a rare treat oddly reminiscent of something you might imagine fitting for a witch's cauldron.

Click through for a glimpse of the silkie and more photos from our evening with Uchi.

Chef Surprise occurs on the first Monday of every month at RecipeHouse in the Museum District and features an intimate evening with some of Houston's finest chefs, benefiting Recipe for Success Foundation. For more information and to reserve seats, click here.

Photos by Dragana A. Harris


Next Stop: A Healthier Generation

Alex Tipton
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The road to providing healthy foods in our nation's schools began in 1946 and continues today.  From its origin in the 40's, the legislation concerning school foods has been developed to regulate what schools can and cannot feed students to ensure maximum health. 

FoodMarketing-VendingMachines.jpgCracking Down on Junk Food in Schools
In 2010 the
Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act was passed, which allowed further regulation of school meals as well as a way to regulate snacks offered in schools.  The "All Foods Sold in Schools" standards released in addition to the 2010 Act mandated that vending machines and other sources of "junk foods" be unavailable to students during the school day.  Any food available to students must meet several nutrition requirements including being "whole grain-rich"; having a fruit, vegetable, dairy product, or protein as the first ingredient; containing 10% of the Daily Value of one nutrient of public health concern; and limiting calorie, sodium, fat, and sugar levels. The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act also requires schools to implement a local wellness policy to oversee healthy practices. Recently, the USDA proposed further guidelines for implementation of these wellness policies. 

Embracing Wellness on Campus
Under the proposed rule, each local educational agency participating in the school lunch program must create a written wellness policy detailing specific goals for nutrition promotion, nutrition education, physical activity, and other activities to promote student wellness. Each agency must establish leadership for the wellness policy including school officials and members of the general public must be permitted to participate in the process. The policy must ensure that each school is abiding by requirements stated under the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and the Smart Snacks in School standards. 

Next Up: No More Junk Food Marketing in Schools
Additionally, the rule limits marketing in schools to only that which promotes foods that meet the nutrition standards discussed above.  Until now, marketing has not been regulated which, some say, can undermine parents' attempts to encourage healthy choices by kids.  The idea here is to "ensure that schools remain a safe place where kids can learn and where the school environment promotes healthy choices," states USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

The proposed rule is currently open for public comment specifically concerning this marketing component. The USDA wants to hear our thoughts and ideas about this.  If you wish to join the fight for a healthier school environment please make your voice heard.  The comment period will end April 28. 

Speak out about this critial issue hereLearn more about the proposed policies at FoodMarketing.org.

Rockets Get Dirty with Us

Jenna White
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This March, Houston Rockets selected Recipe for Success Foundation for the second year as a Charity of the Month, raising over $6,000 to support our efforts to create healthy lives for children. In April, they also got their hands dirty volunteering with us as one of their Green Week projects. Staff members came out to work alongside Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education students and instructors to help prepare the Recipe Gardens at Berry Elementary School for spring planting.

Take a look!

Rockets at Berry-Wheelbarrow.jpg



Rockets at Berry-Snack.jpgOh, you know, just munching on a post-gardening snack of freshly harvested salad greens.


Rockets at Berry-Group.jpgThanks for your support, Rockets!


Check out a video of the action during Houston Rockets Green Week here. Plus, more photos here.

Fashion & Foodie Fun

Jenna White
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SmallBites-JonathanBlake.jpgOn April 22, Great Gatsby meets Earth Day when this spectactular Lazy Lane private garden sets the stage for a runway presentation of fashion designer Jonathan Blake's Spring and Fall Collections, followed by an equally sophisticated seated dinner styled by Chef Clark of Ibiza, Coppa and Brasserie 19. Join us in the home of Kristy Phillips and Rob Taylor for "A Garden of Earthly Delights" for a whimsical evening of fashion and food! 

We're Cooking Now! A Gala in Small Bites is an annual series in which Houston's most gracious hosts throw dinner parties featuring gourmet meals, cooking demonstrations and exquisite food and wine celebrations, showcasing Houston's finest chefs in fabulous homes and fun venues, sprinkled throughout the spring to benefit Recipe for Success Foundation. Learn more and purchase tickets here.

It's a VeggieRiot!

Jenna White
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veggieriot.jpgDid you hear about the calamity that broke out in Houston this March? The 2014 VegOut! Challenge caused quite a ruckus!

Trouble viewing? Watch this video and more on our YouTube channel.

SNF chats with Gracie Cavnar

Jenna White
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Gracie-flourkids.jpg"In December of last year, we reached out to the Recipe for Success Foundation in Houston, Texas to learn more about their Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ program. RFS invited us to observe garden education and culinary/nutrition classes at the program's flagship school, MacGregor Elementary. We also sat down with RFS founder, Gracie Cavnar, to learn more about why these programs are so important... "

Read the two-part interview with Gracie by School Nutrition Foundation writer Christina Uticone at BeyondBreakfast.org.

Part 1: Recipe for Success Foundation Founder Gracie Cavnar: "It's not a secret that we have to eat healthy."

Part 2: Recipe for Success Foundation Founder Gracie Cavnar: "Kids drive the behaviors of so many families!"