November 2015 Archives

Food, glorious (healthy) food celebrated at 10th anniversary of Recipe for Success

Vote 0 Votes

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 4.45.16 PM.png

Authors of How to Feed a Family: The Sweet Potato ChroniclesLaura Keogh and Ceri Marsh shared their golden rules of cooking with the gathering of 400 guests dedicated to helping Recipe for Success in its mission to combat childhood obesity. Leading the charge that raised $200,000 for the non-profit were chairs Arvia and Jason Few and Kristen and John Berger.

Read the article here and see some of the fun highlights from the luncheon! 


Honoring Change Agents

Shannon Smith
Vote 0 Votes

BPS Honorees.jpgRecipe for Success Foundation honored founding board members and agents of change at the annual Blue Plate Special Café Harvest Market & Awards Luncheon on November 18. Chairs Arvia and Jason Few and Kristen and John Berger topped fundraising goals thanks to the sold-out crowd of 400 guests attending the event at River Oaks Country Club, which garnered over $200,000 for the Foundation's award winning programs to combat childhood obesity.

In a special nod to the Foundation's tenth anniversary, founding board members, Amy Anton, Glen & Honi Boudreaux, Phyllis Childress and Kim Tutcher, along with early advisor, Peg Lee were honored for their seminal efforts to launch the non-profit in 2005 and sustained support throughout the intervening decade.

Robert Del Grande, chef-partner of RDG+Bar Annie and James Beard Award Winner, was thanked for being a founding member of the Chef's Advisory Board and named Chef of the Year.  Del Grande was instrumental in designing the Foundation's signature Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ curriculum, and has long volunteered in fourth grade classrooms to teach children to cook as well as hosted many fundraising events through the decade.

Lance Gilliam, Real Estate Developer and Philanthropist, received the fifth annual Mayor's Award: Champion of Food Justice, in recognition of his assistance in launching Hope Farms, the Foundation's urban agricultural and farmer training site. After accepting his award, Gilliam commandeered the mic and asked the audience to step up with him to underwrite the costs for more schools to get the Foundation's Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ started.  He raised $10,000 on the spot.

KPRC 2 Anchor, Rachel McNeill expressed the importance of nutrition education for our youth - citing the tremendous impact Recipe for Success has made through their Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™. While, Co-Chair Kristen Berger remarked how, "Looking at these children and seeing how this program effects them and teaches cultural tolerance as well as healthy food is what really roped me in."

Mistress of Ceremonies, Rachel McNeill, of KPRC 2 set the tone for the spirited luncheon program where ex-fashion editors, turned authors Laura Keogh and Ceri Marsh of How to Feed a Family: The Sweet Potato Chronicles demonstrated their easy family-friendly recipes and shared their golden rules to cooking.

Notables also in attendance included:. Former Mayor Bill White, Holly Alvis, Rachel Hovnanian, Bob Cavnar, Jessica Rossman, Drew Anton, Kristy Bradshaw, Mimi Del Grande, Susan Criner, Roz Pactor, Marsha Smart, Todd Waite, Laurann Claridge, Mary Fay Way, Susan Padon, Anne Kinder, Kara Vidal, Cathy Brock, Jennifer Gilliam, Isabel David, Estela Cockrell, Elizabeth Petersen, Bill Baldwin, Anita Smith, Brenda Love, Clayton Erikson, Peter Remington, Tina Pyne, Janet Cockrell Genevieve Patterson, Ileana Trevino, Laura Jaramillo, Denise Monteleone, Jeff Shell, Kelley Lubanko, Susan Sarofim, Sis Johnson, Marsha Montemayor, Rudy Guera, Valerie Dieterich, Kimberly Albright, Karen Garcia, Leisa Holland Nelson, Susan Pye, and Roxanne Neumann.   Enjoy photos from the event in our Flikr Album linked here:

Blue Plate Special Harvest Market & Awards Luncheon


Founding Board Members Honored for Foundation's Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Vote 0 Votes

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 4.44.47 PM.png

Recipe for Success drew 400 warriors who raised more than $200,000 for the foundation on its tenth birthday, celebrating a decade of award winning programs and efforts in a continued fight against childhood obesity.

See all the fun pictures and read the full article HERE

UH Architects design urban farm proposed for Sunnyside

Vote 0 Votes

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 4.44.23 PM.pngThere are few places residents to buy fresh fruits and vegetables in of Sunnyside, a part of Houston considered to be a food desert. But a nonprofit group's proposal to develop an urban farm in the neighborhood aims to change that.

Read the rest of the article and see pictures from the presentations HERE

December Recipe Challenge!

Sandra Cook
Vote 0 Votes

Do you have a prized recipe for a deliciously healthy holiday treat? Join in the fun of Chef Justin's recipe exchange! Each month, he shares his tantalizing recipes while our readers, followers and fans - that's YOU - send in favorite recipes!

For some holiday fun, try Justin's luscious Chocolate Beet Cookies, made with smart substitutions that cut calories and boost nutrition. What's your favorite healthy holiday cookie recipe? Send your tastiest recipe to by December 31 and you could win the November Recipe Challenge and be included in next year's VEGOUT! COOKBOOK. You can also check out Justin's past recipes on the Recipe House blog.

Chocolate Beet Cookies

Recipe & photos by Justin Kouri

Thumbnail image for RecipeChallenge_Beet Cookies Close-up FOR BLOG.jpg

The holidays are loaded with unhealthy landmines, so I like to use baking substitutes when I can. Avocados are a great replacement for butter. I typically use one avocado in place of one cup of butter. Enjoy this delicious AND healthy holiday treat!


1 cup dried cherries,

1 cup dark chocolate chips

¼ cup coconut oil

1 avocado

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup beets, boiled, peeled & pureed

1 egg

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt



Preheat oven to 375F.

Place dried cherries in a small bowl. Rehydrate the cherries by pouring boiling water over them. Allow them to rest in the hot water for 10 minutes. Remove and pat dry.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil together over a double boiler. Cool for 5 minutes.

Using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer, cream together avocado and brown sugar, about 5 minutes. Stream in melted chocolate and mix until combined. Add beet puree, egg, vinegar and vanilla extract. Mix.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add half to the chocolate-beet mixture and mix until combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until completely combined.

Scoop onto prepared sheet tray, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on rack.  

Yield: 24 cookiesThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for RecipeChallnge_Beet Cookies - FOR BLOG.jpeg

Prep time: 10 minutes

Active cooking time: 10 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Skill level: Easy




November Volunteer of the Month

Sandra Cook
Vote 0 Votes

Our sincere thanks and congratulations to our November 2015 Volunteer of the Month: Janet Van. Kind-hearted Janet Van is a frequent volunteer at RecipeHouse, helping us show kids and adults just how fun and delicious healthy food can be over the past year. Here's what Janet had to say about volunteering with Recipe for Success.

What sparked your interest to volunteer with Recipe for Success?

Janet Van: I was first introduced to Recipe for Success through a club at my university when Emily, the previous volunteer coordinator, came to give a talk about the non-profit organization. I was immediately taken by how this organization's mission to bring awareness to childhood obesity, since it is a subject I feel strongly about. I wanted to help create the change that this organization strives to do.

 Vol_December2015_Janet Van_2 for BLOG.jpeg

What keeps you coming back week after week? What are your favorite things to do or experience when you are volunteering?

JV: I just love working with the Girl scouts and seeing their eyes light up when they are learning to prepare the nutritious foods we have for them. It's so much fun when I get to guide them (especially the younger girls) through the recipe and watch them have so much fun. 

What does volunteering bring to your life outside of your volunteer work?

JV: Volunteering had taught me about sticking with a commitment and going through with it wholeheartedly. It has also taught me to balance my time and focus on what is most important in my life and getting closer towards my goals.

Do you have a favorite memory/story thus far? Could just be an observation or a specific moment in time.

JV: I would say that my favorite memory so far would be when I volunteered at a birthday party that was inspired by the television show "Chopped." I got to lead a team of 10-year-old girls and guide them when they created their own recipes out of random ingredients. It was so much fun seeing them working hard to create their masterpieces and feeling proud of their food creations.

It's Recipe for Success Foundation's 10th Birthday: where would you like to see the organization in another 10 years?

JV: I would like to see this organization continue to grow nationwide. There are many kids around the country that would benefit from getting a hands-on learning experience about foods and how to be healthy. Recipe for Success would help so many communities by empowering people with awareness about nutrition.

Thank you Janet for your shining spirit and dedication to the mission of Recipe for Success. To inquire about volunteer opportunities, refer to our Volunteer Page.


A Salute to Chef Peter Garcia

Sandra Cook
Vote 0 Votes

Hat's off to our Founder's Plate Chef of the Month for December 2015, Peter Garcia, Chef/Owner El Meson. 

For more than twenty-five years, Peter Garcia's family has operated El Meson, serving Tex Mex, Cuban and Spanish specialties that reflect the family's adventurous migration from Spain, through Cuba and New York, and finally to Houston, where the Garcias arrived in 1981.

Chef Peter Garcia cooks paella_2009 Small Bites For BLOG.jpeg

Peter was on our founding Chef's Advisory Board, has taught monthly for almost 10 years at Rodriguez and Gross Elementary Schools. And the ever-hospitable chef has executed numerous wildly popular fundraising events for Recipe for Success Foundation.

On Chef Garcia's first year of teaching elementary students, Gracie Cavnar, Founder & CEO of Recipe for Success Foundation recalls "he was unflappable in the classroom, and just fabulous at connecting with those kids, they were enraptured."

"I remember that first year, I was all over the place cooking with the kids and creating the curriculum, but I enjoyed it," says Garcia. "As chefs, we teach the world how to dine, and hello - this is the beginning, this is it. Year after year I keep coming back, because I see it making a difference." 

Chef Peter Garcia with Students at El Meson 2008 For BLOG.jpeg

In June of 2010, he joined us at The White House for the kick-off of Chefs Move to Schools. "I was very proud to represent Recipe for Success and Houston, Texas that day amongst this big conclave of chefs on the south lawn of the White House," says Chef Garcia.

"When Recipe for Success was presented as a best practice [at the White House], and when the other chefs saw our name on his coat, he became a walking advertisement for Recipe for Success," says Cavnar. It's no surprise that Garcia was named our Chef of the Year at our 2012 Blue Plate Special Café Awards Luncheon.

Growing up in New York City, Peter's love of food was sparked at an early age and as a teenager worked in his father's restaurant, Los Parados, as a short order cook. There he learned the basics of chopping vegetables, cutting meat, and making coffee. 

In 1992, after his father passed away, Peter assumed the front of house duties of the restaurant, taking full advantage of his degrees in philosophy and theater. He continues to appear regularly in local theater and is a respected activist in Houston's Latino community. Even with his dedication to the community, the restaurant and his family remain Chef Garcia's top priorities. His mother, Esperanza said it best: "We come together daily to work as a family. I think I am indeed fortunate." 

Houston Welcomes Aquazzura Shoe Designer Edgardo Osorio

Vote 0 Votes

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 4.43.35 PM.pngLast month, Recipe For Success Foundation, hosted their 2nd Dress for Dinner Season VII fundraising event, hosted by designer Edgardo Osorio. Edgardo is the Founder and Creative Director of Aquazzura Firenze, a relatively new shoe company (Founded in 2011) that has become a staple on the feet of fashionistas and celebrities around the globe. This was Edgardo's first time in Houston, but not his first visit to Texas. Edgardo had previously visited Dallas, TX. The event was hosted at Saks 5th Avenue, and kicked off with networking and shopping with the shoe designer. Promptly at 7pm, a Q&A session with Edgardo, led by Houston Chronicle Fashion & Beauty Editor, Joy Sewing kicked off.

Read the rest of the write-up and see pictures HERE.

Chef Justin Wins Risotto Fest

Vote 0 Votes

Heartbeet RisottoProving that healthy food can be super delicious, our own Chef Justin Kouri won the competition for taste buds at the recent showdown among Houston's culinary ruling class.  New York-based celebrity chef Rocco Dispirito was just one element that wowed the throng of 800 who turned out at Houston Design Center for the 11th International Risotto Festival. Italian music and wines played backdrop to the coterie of chefs who whipped up tantalizing versions of the Italian specialty.

While guests grazed through the offerings, more than a dozen waited for the judges' decision on top honors. Dispirito led the team in the blind tasting. In the end, it was Justin Kourirepresenting Recipe for Success, who took top prize for his HeartBeet Risotto. Read more here and create your own award-winning risotto dish with the all-veg recipe hereRisotto Fest

Life Around the Dinner Table

Gracie Cavnar
Vote 0 Votes

Viv tackles a Turkey dinner.jpgNovember hosts America's most high profile meal, forever fixed in our mind's eye by Norman Rockwell, who used the Thanksgiving table to showcase his idea of a traditional family dinner. But contrary to national myth, our treasured Thanksgiving holiday wasn't handed down from the Pilgrims. It was a post-civil war effort of Abraham Lincoln's to promote national unity. Shared meals have that kind of power, not only to heal a nation, but also to build community and strengthen family ties.

Every one of us harbors powerful memories of family food traditions that are woven tightly into defining who we are as individuals and as part of our tribe. A look at the history of mealtime illuminates our progression from hunter-gatherers to agrarian life to workers in the industrial revolution to our present fast-paced, tech filled lives. As the way we secure food has changed, naturally so has the way we consume it. 10,000 years ago, killing a wild deer meant the entire community had to prepare and eat it together, or it went to waste, so shared meals were tied to our very survival. Now that we have so many choices for how we source our food--ranging from growing it ourselves to finding it on grocery shelves and in the drive-through, packaged in single servings--sharing is no longer mandatory, and sadly it's a tradition that many Americans have left behind. Not me!

I am sad to see meals demoted to something eaten on the run, jammed in between other activities. A lot has been lost along the way: conversation, communal tasks, leisurely consumption, and each of those missed opportunities has left a trail of unintended results. Researchers tell us that children who eat at least one home-prepared meal a day, while sitting around a table with their family, are less likely to have drug issues, tend to do better in school and are generally healthier.  At Recipe for Success Foundation, our students sit down to eat together after preparing food. Along the way, they learn sharing, teamwork and a little etiquette. Seems like a good enough reason for all of us to get back around a table for dinner.

My family's meal traditions are woven into my soul. Each memory makes me smile and salivate. I've passed many down to my own kids and grandkids: pulling them into the kitchen as soon as they could stand; teaching them to set the table and share their stories; picking dinner ingredients from the garden; preparing dishes their great grandmothers made alongside newer ones. At dinner is where we continue to bond through the generations with no topic of conversation off the table. It doesn't take a holiday like Thanksgiving to get my family to sit down for a lively meal together, but if you haven't tried, it's a good place to start.