2016 Archives

A Hip Goodbye to 2016

Justin Kouri
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Holiday Ramen.JPG

Celebrate 2016 by taking your tastes buds on a journey of epic proportions! (They don't need to know you didn't spend an epic amount!) 


Holiday Ramen

Yields 4 servings

Additional Cost:  $2.88



8 cups homemade turkey stock

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons ginger, ground

2 teaspoons black pepper, ground

1 pound dried rice noodles

4 button mushrooms, sliced thinly

1 cup leftover turkey, sliced

2 eggs, hardboiled, peeled and halved lengthwise

¼ cup green onion, sliced thinly

1 lime, quartered (for garnish)



1.) Prepare the broth by combining stock, onion powder, garlic powder, ginger and pepper in a medium pot.

2.) Bring stock mixture to a boil and reduce until 6 cups of liquid are left. Remove from heat.

3.) Drop dried rice noodles into the stock liquid, cover pot for 5-10 minutes, or until the noodles are soft.

4.) Remove the noodles and distribute among bowls.

5.) Add mushrooms and turkey slices to the warm stock. Return to medium heat and cook until warmed throughout, about 5 minutes.

6.) Remove turkey and mushrooms from the stock.

7.) Compose the ramen. First, distribute stock between the bowls.

8.) Top the stock and noodles with turkey slices, mushrooms, half of a hardboiled egg, green onions and lime wedge. ENJOY!

Heart Warming Turkey Soup

Justin Kouri
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Soup.JPGThis soup doesn't require a lot of attention nor additional cash. We bet you can find the change in your sofa cushions after your family leaves. 


Turkey & Vegetable Soup

Yields 4 servings

Additional Cost: $1.23



6 cups homemade turkey stock

2 cups leftover dark turkey meat

2 carrots, reserved from roasting the turkey

2 stalks celery, sliced thinly

8 ounces canned white beans

½ cup brown rice, cooked

¼ cup parsley leaves

Salt & pepper, to taste



1.) Pour turkey stock in a large pot and heat over high heat. Cook until reduced to 4 cups.

2.) Add turkey meat, carrots, celery, beans and brown rice to the reduce turkey stock.

3.) Continue cooking until soup contents are warmed.

4.) Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

5.) Divide among bowls. ENJOY!

Some Healthy Holiday Southern Comfort

Justin Kouri
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Sweet Potato Biscuits.JPG

Keep the holiday cheer going with this rich rendition of a southern classic. It might look like a million bucks, but we're sure your pocket book will thank us!


Sweet Potato Biscuits & Gravy

Yields 4 servings

Additional Cost: $2.45




1 cup leftover sweet potato puree

2 eggs

1 lemon, juiced

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper



1 tablespoon olive oil

4 button mushrooms, sliced thinly

1 cup homemade turkey stock

1 cup leftover gravy

Salt and pepper, to taste




1.) Preheat the oven to 350F.

2.) Combine sweet potato puree, eggs and lemon juice in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir until smooth.

3.) In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.

4.) Add half of the dry ingredients to the sweet potato mixture and stir to combine.

5.) Add the remaining dry ingredients to the sweet potato mixture and stir until completely incorporated.

6.) Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll out to ½ inch thickness.

7.) Using a 2-inch punch, cut out 8 rounds and place on a parchment lined sheet tray.

8.) Bake biscuits for 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Set aside.



1.) While the biscuits are baking in the oven, heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

2.) When oil begins to shimmer, add the mushrooms in an even layer. Let them sit for a minute so that they get a nice brown color. Stir and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes.

3.) Add stock to the skillet and scrap off anything that stuck to the bottom of the skillet.

4.) Add the left over gravy to the skillet and bring to a boil. Continue to cook for 10 minutes.

5.) Once the gravy thickens, remove from heat and season with salt and pepper if necessary.



1.) Place two biscuits on each plate. 

2.) Pour or spoon gravy over biscuits. ENJOY!


What's A Bird Without Some Sides?

Justin Kouri
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Holiday Sides.JPG

While your turkey is resting and your gravy is simmering, it is the perfect time to crank up the oven and quickly roast some Brussels sprouts. We like to prepare all our vegetable the night before, so when it's show time, all we have to do is pop them in the oven!

We've even taken it a step further - the cranberry sauce can be prepared the night before, as well as roasting the veg for the sweet potato puree. Blitzing the potatoes with piping hot stock brings them back to life!

Citrus Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Yields 4 servings plus leftovers (about 8 cups)

Cost: $7.66


2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

4 slices uncured bacon, sliced thinly

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

1 orange, zested



1.) Preheat the oven to 450F.

2.) Combine Brussels sprouts, bacon, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

3.) Toss until evenly coated and transfer to a lined sheet tray.

4.) Roast for 25 minutes, shaking the tray every 10 minutes to make sure the sprouts don't stick. 

5.) When the sprouts are finished, remove them from the oven and zest the orange over them. The heat will extract the orange oil from the zest. ENJOY!


Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Yields 4 servings plus leftovers (about 4 cups)

Cost $2.68


12 ounces cranberries

2 oranges, zested

1 jalapeno, minced

¼ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup water



1) Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.

2.) Over high heat, bring contents to a boil, stirring occasionally.

3.) Reduce heat to simmer and continue cooking for 1 hour, until sauce is bright read and consistency of jam.

4.) Cool completely.  ENJOY!

*Cranberry sauce can be made 3 days in advance

Sweet Potato Puree

Yields 4 servings with leftovers (about 8 cups)

Cost: $1.79


4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes

1 green apple, peeled and cut into 1" cubes

1 onion, peeled and cut into 1" cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup chicken stock



1.) Preheat oven to 450F.

2.) Combine potatoes, apple, onion, olive, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

3.) Toss until evenly coated.

4.) Transfer to a lined sheet tray and roast for 30 minutes. (I recommend roasted these at the same time you put your turkey in the oven.)

5.) Meanwhile bring stock to simmer in a small pot over medium low heat.

6.) Once the roasted potato mixture comes out of the oven and cools for 10 minutes, transfer to a food processor or blender. Puree with warm stock until smooth.

7.) Adjust seasoning if necessary. ENJOY!

Oh SNAP! Budget Friendly Holiday Recipes

Justin Kouri
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Oh SNAP! It's the holidays! 

You've already spent a small fortune on gifts for friends, family, coworkers and everyone else. Now you need to spend even more to feed everyone?!

Don't worry. We have tons of recipes for a feast and leftovers, making sure you don't break the bank this holiday. Follow our posts, cook along with us and let us know what you think!

We're going to get started with the heavy hitters. Here's our recipe for a Roasted Turkey. Happy Holidays!!! 


Simple Roasted Turkey & Gravy

Yields 4 servings, plus leftovers

Cost: $16.31

We know it looks like a lot of ingredients and it is - we're making a feast! The stuffing and roast are playing several roles: they're keeping the bird moist, creating the base for our gravy and providing us with perfectly roasted vegetables to use with our leftovers.




2 cups brown sugar

¼ cup black peppercorns

¾ cup kosher salt

2 oranges, peeled (reserve actual fruit)

1 lemon, peeled (reserve actual fruit)

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 gallons cold water

12 pound turkey



2 oranges, reserved from brine, quartered

1 lemon, reserved from brine, quartered

6 cloves garlic, smashed

½ bunch thyme, fresh



4 carrots, peeled

2 parsnips, peeled

1 onion, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

4 button mushrooms

6 cloves garlic

4 tablespoons butter, melted



Dripping from turkey, all vegetables removed (reserve carrots, parsnips and mushrooms for later use)

¼ cup all-purpose flour

6 cups homemade chicken stock

salt and pepper, to taste



Brine turkey

1.) Combine all ingredients except the turkey in a large stockpot. Stir to combine.

2.) Add turkey to the brine.

3.) Cover and place in refrigerator for 12-24 hours. 


Roast turkey

1.) Preheat oven to 450F.

2.) Remove turkey from brine and soak in cold water for 20 minutes. Discard the brine.

3.) Rinse turkey again to remove the additional salt and sugar. Pat dry.

4.) Stuff the turkey with oranges, lemon, garlic and thyme. Tie legs together.  

5.) Brush turkey with butter. Set aside.

5.) Place carrots, parsnips, onion, mushrooms, garlic and ½ cup of water on a sheet tray. Place a rack on top of the vegetables, and the turkey on top of that.

6.) Roast turkey for 30 minutes.

7.) Lower the temperature to 350F and cover the breasts with aluminum foil. Cook for another 1.5 - 2 hours, or until the internal temperature registers 165F.

8.) Remove from heat and rest for 30 minutes before carving. Enjoy!



1.) Using oven mitts, transfer the turkey drippings to a medium saucepan. 

2.) Heat the drippings over medium heat.

3.) When the drippings begin to bubble, add flour and whisk until smooth.

4.) Continue whisking for 5 minutes. This process removes the raw flavor from the flour.

5.) Pour 1 cup of stock into the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

6.) While whisking, add remaining stock to the pot and bring to a boil.

7.) Once the gravy boils, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes, or until the gravy is thick.

8.) Season with salt and pepper. Serve with turkey. ENJOY! 

Meet Vareck Herrera

Justin Kouri
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Vareck 10.50.26 AM copy.jpgCongratulations to Vareck Herrera, our Volunteer of the Month for December.  Driven by his desire to offer his culinary and hospitality experience to help feed and educate our local community, Vareck joined the Recipe for Success volunteer team.  As a Bartender Extraordinaire at the Art of Food event, Vareck quickly integrated himself into the action, displaying a willingness to take on any task and engaging key guests throughout the evening.  "The entire night was a blast!" Vareck remembers.  A few days later, he brought his infectious enthusiasm and energy to volunteer at the Texas Contemporary Arts Fair.  

Vareck was intrigued by Recipe for Success because the Seed-to-Plate Nutrition EducationTM program emphasizes the importance of healthy sustainable foods.  He believes children can not only gain knowledge and skills in art, reading, math, and science while learning about plate presentation, recipes, weight and measures, and techniques, but they also learn that cooking is fun and rewarding.  An aspiring chef, Vareck loves that Recipe for Success allows him to "network with such amazing chefs" while also giving the opportunity to interact with both event guests and other volunteers.  Volunteering combines two of his loves: cooking and putting smiles on faces "one meal at a time".  Thank you, Vareck!

New Scholarship for Veterans

Recipe for Success
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FArmer.jpgHope Farms celebrated Veterans Day 2016 with the announcement of a new workforce development scholarship for U.S Veterans interested in pursuing a career in urban agriculture. Our Veteran Farmer Training Scholaraships are designed to empower a new battalion of urban agriprenuers.

The scholarships, funded by United Healthcare Foundation, provide a twelve-month Hope Farmer Training Program, which includes full-time wages, hands-on classes in horticulture, the business of growing and distribution of produce, as well as college level coursework in financial literacy, accounting, banking and business planning. Members of the Houston business community will mentor the trainees, who will also benefit from specially curated course work at Houston Community College and University of Houston in a well-rounded workforce development program designed to foster entrepreneurship.

Two U.S. Veterans will be awarded the scholarship in early 2017. The Foundation will gradually increase the number of annual awards to Veterans to a total of eight by 2019. Applications for the scholarship are being accepted here: https://www.recipe4success.org/programs/hope-farms.html through December 31, 2016.

Houston is home to one of the largest veteran populations in the country, and the Hope Farmer Training Program is a unique tool for empowerment and change. Research shows that Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress respond well to working in agriculture. Recipe for Success Foundation has built a coalition of support for the program with the Mission Continues, the Lone Star Veterans Association, Mental Health America - Veteran Outreach, Houston's Department of Veteran Affairs and Goodwill Veteran Employment Services among others. By transforming retired warriors into a battalion of new urban agripreneurs, the Foundation seeks to help solve the problem of equitable access to affordable, fresh produce in the city's poorest neighborhoods.

"We are particularly excited to provide the space for Vets to continue to serve their community in an environment that is conducive to their recovery from post-war stress," says Gracie Cavnar-founder of Recipe for Success Foundation, which developed and operates Hope Farms.

Delicious Fun with Girl Scouts

Gracie Cavnar
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Girl Scouts with Pasta.jpegThe San Jacinto Council Girl Scouts have found their Recipe for Success! They are arriving to RecipeHouse in droves to earn prized culinary and nutrition badges, including our coveted VegOut! patch.

It's no secret that Recipe for Success Foundation is the premier host to help children acquire life-long cooking skills in a healthy and fun atmosphere. The Girl Scouts were among the first to discover this several years ago. Now about 50 Scouts a week come to RecipeHouse to learn our hallmark healthy and delicious recipes. Carried home by Brownies and Ambassadors, the aromas of our healthy snacks and simple meals permeate Houston's family kitchens and dinner tables.  Now other youth groups have picked up the scent and made their way to RecipeHouse. The Jack & Jill Woodlands Chapter and a local National Charity League chapter of ninth grade girls are putting on their aprons this month.

These healthy learning opportunities aren't limited to organizations--anyone can join in the fun! We offer customizable cooking classes for all ages designed for you and your friends, family and coworkers.  If you are interested in booking a cooking class at RecipeHouse, give Chef Justin a shout at (713) 520-0443 or justinkouri -at- recipe4success.org

Sprouts Helps Grow Hope Farms

Gracie Cavnar
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An Apple a Day.pngSprouts is passionate about supporting organizations that are stewards of health and wellness in the communities where our team members and guests work, live and play.
Launched in 2015, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation was created to support local nonprofit organizations creating stronger and healthier communities served by Sprouts.

In April, stores hosted a first ever in-store "Round Up for Our Community" campaign, where customers were given an opportunity to donate change to the Foundation. Thousands  participated, raising $258,000 in just eight days! These dollars, and contributions from the Foundation, funded the 2016 Neighborhood Grants program, designed to keep 100 percent of donations in communities where the donations were collected.

Recipe for Success Foundation is honored to be among the 54 non-profits selected to receive grants, ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. In total, the Foundation distributed over $400,000 in Neighborhood Grants. Thank you Sprouts Farmers Market for awarding $10,000 to support our Hope Farms project!!

Partnering For Social Change

Gracie Cavnar
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Meredith BrandFront.JPGNEW YORK September 14, 2016.  TODAY Meredith Corporation, the nation's leading media and marketing company serving 102 million American women, and Recipe For Success Foundation, a national leader in the effort to end childhood obesity, announced a broad-reaching collaboration tied to Meredith's new "Partnerships That Will Change the World" initiative, which was unveiled during the company's first-ever BrandFront presentation. The Partnerships That Will Change the World campaign is designed to engage Meredith's young, female audience in influencing social change in measurable and meaningful ways.

"This partnership opens the door for Recipe for Success to help millions of women and families across America live healthier lives," said Gracie Cavnar, Founder and CEO of Recipe for Success Foundation. "We will be working across all the Meredith brands, which include Parents, Rachael Ray Every Day, Family Circle, Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens and EatingWell, along with websites, television shows and multi-media."

Parents magazine launched the new collaboration by funding a new Recipe for Success Foundation Affiliate Partner School in the New York metro area next year.  Meredith and Recipe for Success will develop a variety of 2017 collaborations including cross-channel editorial, original video series, live events and social media campaigns to feature Foundation initiatives.

During the event, Cavnar appeared onstage with EatingWell Editor-in-Chief Jessie Price to announce the first of many Meredith collaborations for 2017. EatingWell will leverage the Recipe for Success VegOut! 30 Ways in 30 Days Challenge, incentivizing their readers to step up to the plate and pile it with veggies.  Price said her team is motivated to drive downloads of the Foundation's VegOut! mobile app to 50,000 users by 2020.

"We are excited to launch our Partnerships That Will Change the World," said Jon Werther, Meredith National Media Group President. "Giving back, promoting family safety and connectivity, empowering women to lead healthier lives and supporting female entrepreneurship are all key parts of Meredith's heritage."

Meredith Corporation (NYSE: MDP; www.meredith.com) has been committed to service journalism for 115 years. Today, Meredith uses multiple distribution platforms - including broadcast television, print, digital, mobile and video - to provide consumers with content they desire and to deliver the messages of its advertising and marketing partners.

Meredith's National Media Group reaches more than 100 million unduplicated women every month, including nearly 75 percent of U.S. Millennial women. Meredith is the leader in creating and distributing content across platforms in key consumer interest areas such as food, home, parenting and health through well-known brands such as Better Homes and Gardens, Allrecipes, Parents, Shape and EatingWell.

Meredith also features robust brand licensing activities, including more than 3,000 SKUs of branded products at 4,000 Walmart stores across the U.S. Meredith Xcelerated Marketing is an award-winning, strategic and creative agency that provides fully integrated marketing solutions for many of the world's top brands, including Kraft, Lowe's, TGI Friday's and NBC Universal.

Meredith's Local Media Group includes 17 owned or operated television stations reaching 11 percent of U.S. households. Meredith's portfolio is concentrated in large, fast-growing markets, with seven stations in the nation's Top 25 - including Atlanta, Phoenix, St. Louis and Portland - and 13 in Top 50 markets. Meredith's stations produce over 660 hours of local news and entertainment content each week, and operate leading local digital destinations.

Put A Patch On It

Gracie Cavnar
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Girl Scouts_1.jpgWe have special classes at RecipeHouse for Girl Scouts to earn requirements toward GSUSA Badges.  Girl Scout troops can learn cooking skills alongside professional chefs, or design their own badge or journey workshops.  We even have a special VegOut! patch.  Contact Justin Kouri to plan a class for your troop or meeting, or visit the San Jacinto Girl Scouts Council Information Network to register for one of the already scheduled classes beginning September 10.

Exploring the World through Food

Gracie Cavnar
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Marco Polo Passport.jpgEvery year our Seed-to-Plate Team fine tunes a new year-long lesson plan with 20 integrated culinary and gardening classes designed to be embedded into an elementary student's regular school day, or delivered in an after school format or even adapted for summer camp.  Each lesson plan has a comprehensive step by step guide for teachers and beautiful collateral materials that incorporate complementary learning activities for the kids to do in their homerooms--or at home--to amplify our healthy messaging.  All of this is painstakenly aligned with TEKS and Common Core grade level deliverables for math, science, language arts and social studies as well as health.  Together these units present a powerful engagement tool to inspire kids to eat healthier as well as give them the life skills they will need to support their healthy inclinations.

This fall begins our students' year-long adventure with Marco Polo spiced up with culinary explorations that take them from Italy to Greece, the Middle East and China. Besides amazingly delicious and easy to prepare, healthy recipes based on the produce in thier gardens, they will absorb cultural insights and learn that there is more to unite us than divide us.  For instance, every country has a great noodle dish!

Children engaged in our signature Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ are changing their habits and attitudes, after just one academic year eating 30% more produce.  It's easy to become a Recipe for Success Foundation Affiliate Partner and recieve training, content and support in providing our program to your students.   Explore how to bring our award-winning Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs to your school. Details here.

Powerful Messages

Recipe for Success
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foodmarketing.jpgThe very creation of Recipe for Success Foundation stemmed from Gracie Cavnar's anger at the powerful marketing dollars being levered to pedal junk food to kids.   

To help parents and teachers inspire their kids to resist the lure of junk food marketing, we created farmers marKIDS, a free curriculum that teaches children about the whole food chain from farm to grocery store and nutures their entrieprenurial spirit by guiding them through the process of turning their fresh garden produce into a market stand business.  Read more about farmers marKIDS and get your free curriculum.

And as part of our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs in schools, we created an in-depth curriculum called Eat This!, designed to teach kids exactly how food is marketed to them, so that they could become discerning customers.  Our Affiliate Partners in Houston and across the country can provide Eat This! as an after school, in school or summer camp program and we offer it at RecipeHouse each year. Read More about our Eat This! Summer Camp.

So we spend a lot of time making sure kids understand the power of marketing.  Now Recipe for Success has teamed up with the Center for Science in the Public Interest to take a look at U.S. standards for advertising food to kids.  Food marketing to children affects their preferences and diets, which is why 18 companies participate in the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. But how successful are those efforts to protect children from unhealthy food ads? To find out, Recipe for Success Foundation is collaborating with the Center for Science in the Public Interest to compare American nutrition standards for food marketing to those recently adopted by the WHO for Europe.

Working with Margo Wootan, CSPI's Director of Nutrition Policy, and Jessica Almay, Senior Nutrition Policy Counsel, the Recipe for Success team, with assistance from our Dietetic Interns analyzed more than 200 kid-oriented food products to see whether they would meet new WHO nutrition standards for advertising to children. Our goal is to publish the results in a leading peer-reviewed journal.

"It can be hard for kids to eat well in America today--and all the ads on TV don't help," says Jessica Almy. "Companies believe that Frosted Flakes, Happy Meals, and Fruit by the Foot are healthy enough to advertise to American kids. Our study looks at whether foods advertised to kids in the U.S. would meet WHO nutrition standards for Europe.

Recipe for Success Foundation is a valued partner in our shared efforts to protect children from unhealthy food ads," says Almy. "We are happy to have this opportunity to collaborate on this research project."  Visit the Center for Science in the Public Interest at www.cspinet.org.

"Pie", a poem by Rich Levy

Recipe for Success
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Dinner Convo2 post #1.jpgHow mollifying, late afternoon, when one is alone
and lunch is long over, to stop at the cafeteria

for a slice of key lime pie. You take a table
by the window and turn your back to the room

as if you have much to think about, when in reality
you are staring blankly at an almost rainy blank

sky and the windblown gestures of trees. You don't
linger, eating deliberately, carving each forkful

into equal parts topping and filling, which
together create tiny bifurcated hillocks of cloud

and meadow with a sandy crust below,
the topping the color of fine creamery butter,

the filling a green so pale, so diluted, its hue
is almost invisible. The ice water you sip

with your pie lends an appropriate austerity
to the occasion. There are others here:

the tall bleached blonde and her mother stirring
their coffee, the khakied group from an office

overearnestly eating a late lunch, the cashier
leafing through her newspaper. When you rise,

brush off your lap, and pause to take stock
of the one untouched dollop of cream

on your plate (obeisance to the pie gods),
your crumpled napkin, fork, and the old

airport parking tag you fished out of your
wallet when you paid the cashier, it is as if

you were never here, you never ate this slice
of pie, you never sat in this chair, chewing

and watching nothing out the window, thinking
of nothing except how finite pie is.


Recipe for Success
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Diane Wardfor blog.jpegMEET OUR AUGUST VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH! Diana read about us last spring in The Houston Chronicle's special Houston Gives issue spotlighting our city's wonderful charities and the state of philathropy (read story) and decided we were a perfect fit for her passions. "I can identify with eating the right kinds of foods from my own journey to better health." Cheerful and hardworking, we love the way she connects with our EatThis! summer campers. Now she is scheduling her fall around volunteering in our school classrooms to help us deliver Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ to elementary students. Thank you Diane for helping us change the way children eat!  Find out more about how to volunteer HERE.

Kids' Newsworthy Snacks

Recipe for Success
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Leather Jackets at Revival 1 copy.jpgOur Eat This! Summer Camp sparked the interest of several media outlets in August. Dozens of enthusiastic 8-to-11 years olds learned about the food business with us, especially how food is marketed to them, so that they will always be able to discern the difference between promotional language on the front of the box and the facts on the side.  The kids spent their camp week at RecipeHouse developing a great-tasting healthy food product to sell at Revival Market.  Ryan Pera and his team at Revival selected a winning product to produce and feature on their retail shelves throughout August and September with all proceeds donated to Recipe for Success.

A BIG thank you to Chef Pera for supporting our campers and the Foundations efforts to change the way kids eat! The "Fruit Leather Jacket" (roll-ups made of peaches, honey, carrot and lemon juice), won out over "Melony Mist" (a sparkling watermelon aqua fresca).  Stop by Revival Market to pick yours up and read some of the great coverage in Culture Map and The Houston Chronicle.

Start the Day Healthy

Recipe for Success
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Granola.jpgYep, its that time of year again SCHOOL DAYS.  The morning hustle of rousting sleepy heads from bed, getting dressed, throwing down breakfast, finding the backpack and out the door to beat the bell.  But in the flurry of activity, we encourage you to pay some attention to breakfast.  According to a 2005 study published in "Physiology and Behavior," eating a healthy breakfast in the morning has beneficial effects on memory -- particularly short-term -- and attention, allowing children to more quickly and accurately retrieve information. Children who eat breakfast perform better on reading, arithmetic and problem-solving tests. Eating breakfast also positively affects endurance and creativity in the classroom, reports Abdullah Khan in his 2006 dissertation for Murdoch University on the relationship between breakfast and academic performance.

Here's our idea of a healthy start to the day that you and the kids can make together over the weekend and enjoy all week long.  If you're running behind, throw the granola in a paper cup to eat on the way.

GRANOLA (Yield 3 cups)


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup cranberries
  • 2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoon honey


  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • Combine oats, seeds, dried cranberries, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a large bowl.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together coconut oil, brown sugar, honey and vanilla. Add to oat mixture and stir until coated.
  • Pour the mixture onto the prepared sheet pan. Spread the mixture evenly on the sheet pan.
  • Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Stir the granola. Return the pan to the oven. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove from the oven. Let cool completely.

Have an entire week of healthy breakfasts:

  • Try it plain
  • Over Greek yogurt
  • OR...microwave your favorite fruit for 2 minutes and top with this awesome granola!!!

Art of Food-a Tasty Party

Recipe for Success
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greg-small-portrait.jpgOn September 27th, Greg Martin of Bistro Menil (pictured here) along with 20 more of Houston's delicious chefs, 20 remarkable artists, and a dozen delectable boutique wines, sprits and craft beer makers, will gather at The Four Seasons Houston to dazzle the senses of party goers at the final celebration of our 10th Anniversary.  Tickets from $250 per person and tables from $1500 are available by CLICKING HERE.

Introducing Amy Scott

Recipe for Success
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Amy Scott.jpgOur new Hope Farm Manager, Amy Scott started volunteering at the food pantry in Pasadena, California, right out of college.  Because she thought the pantry should offer healthier choices, Amy decided she needed to learn how to grow fresh produce and improve their offerings. Little did she know, that her deep concern about food security issues would propel her to seek greener fields and better produce--first in northern California, then east in New York and New Jersey where she discovered the secret to coaxing maximum productivity from small scale farms using organic methods, as well as a new beau who was a Princeton lad. When that Texas boy  managed to lure her to the Third Coast to try her hand in our East Texas gumbo, she tripped across Recipe for Success Foundation's new Hope Farms project as if it was her predetermined fate. Highly committed and driven by the pursuit of perfection, Amy has learned in dealing with Mother Nature's whims that having a well-developed sense of humor is very important.  She is most excited about this new challenge of building a farm from the ground up and empowering the surrounding community with fresh food.  "I've come full circle from the Food Pantry," she muses.  Welcome Amy!

Locavore chefs share their skills

Recipe for Success
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Ruffy_Sulaiman_p0838v.jpgDateline May 6, 2016 Houstonia Magazine:  Locavore chefs share their skills with kids--and foodie adults. Once a month, chef Ruffy Sulaiman goes to MacGregor Elementary School. He got his own elementary education long ago in Lagos, Nigeria, but he says that doesn't keep him from learning on his regular visits with students. "Because of what the kids are doing at the school, growing their own things, I've started looking into growing some plants in-house," he says. In his role as executive chef at the Hilton Americas, Sulaiman is currently working to start a rooftop garden that will supply the kitchen at 1600 Bar + Grill. It's all in a day's work as part of Recipe for Success' Chef Advisory Board.  Read more.

EatingWell to VegOut! & Eat More Vegetables

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We're teaming up with EatingWell to help you Eat More VegetablesThere's one simple change anyone can make to eat better and be healthier: Eat more vegetables! And the folks at EatingWell Magazine are challenging themselves and us to eat 30 vegetables in 30 days! The Eat More Vegetables Challenge kicks off today and you can find healthy recipes to try a different vegetable every day as well as helpful tips for buying, storing and prepping your veggies all HERE

And to help you at home- EatingWell Vegetables is the ultimate book to help anyone make that change--deliciously. Written by the editors of EatingWell magazine, this book offers step-by-step basic cooking instructions with full-color photos for 101 vegetables, plus 200 easy vegetable-packed (though not necessarily vegetarian) recipes. Get it in stores in June!

EWVB Cover_final

Join the EatingWell Magazine group on VegOut! Race with EatingWell staffers and readers to reach the top of the leaderboard: Who can up their veggie game the most? And join EatingWell online--on Facebook, Instagram and eatingwell.com--where we'll be featuring recipes for 30 different vegetables in 30 days this June. We'll also be giving away a copy of EatingWell Vegetables each day on our Facebook page.


The Ultimate Dinner Party

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10 Chefs + 10 Courses + 75 Guests + The Dunlavy = Houston's Best Ever Dinner Party! 

Guests are still raving about the 10th Anniversary dinner party that Gracie and Bob Cavnar threw to benefit Recipe for Success Foundation, Thursday night May 19 at The Dunlavy

"The chicest most elegant dinner we've been to in years," gushed global philanthropist Becca Thrash. "The entire evening was a feast for every sense--truly a beautiful, engaging, and delicious few hours in the most perfect Houston setting," insisted Houston supporter Jane Wagner. 

A culinary reunion with the air of a parallel party had the kitchen humming all afternoon as ten iconic food artists--all founding members of the Recipe For Success Chef's Advisory Board--prepared their courses. Bryan Caswell, Charles Clark, Robert Del Grande, Randy Evans, Lance Fegen, Peter Garcia, Elouise Jones, Monica Pope, Randy Rucker, and John Sheely pulled out all the stops to created their over-the-top dishes with the help of ingredients donated by Sysco Foods, D'Artagnan, DR Delicacy, Marble Ranch and Indian Creek Mushrooms.

The Banquet Chefs

Afternoon thunderstorms cleared and a breeze kicked up just in time for seventy guests to arrive at The Dunlavy where the parade of food started during cocktails on the screen porch, which is cantilevered over Buffalo Bayou. Lance Fegen's Pupukea-style tuna poke with ginger, macadamia, mango and chilies on a wasabi-sesame spoon; Monica Pope's signature Date with a Pig and John Sheely's snapper ceviche were passed as guests posed for photos with Neal Hamil Agency models who were draped only in artful dinner napkins.  The models displayed examples of Dinner at Eight, sets of ten napkins featuring original works created for the occasion by artists Andrea Bianconi, Elaine Bradford, Joey Fauerso, Michael Golden, David McGee, Neva Mikulicz, Kermit Oliver, Susan Plum, Beth Secor and Randy Twaddle.  Guests snapped up the packaged sets on sale for $250. 

Dinner at 8 with GRacie

A signature cocktail of Belvedere Peach Vodka with fresh Texas peaches from Jolie Vue Ranch made the rounds along with Chandon Sparkling Wine, Anna de Codorniu Cava Brut, En Route Chardonnay, Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc, Septima Malbec, DeLoach Pinot Noir--all curated by Glazers Distributing, plus Stella Artois and 8th Wonder beer--gifts from Silver Eagle.

The Banquet Table

With her grandmother's sterling silver dinner bell, Gracie Cavnar signaled a move to the dining room where two long tables dressed in natural linen shimmered with silver and gold flatware, golden rimmed plates, and accented with white votives, pillar candles, peonies, tulips and hydrangeas were set under a sparkling collection of 40 antique chandeliers. Bent dinner forks displayed place cards, which matched the two-sided menus printed on natural craft paper. Once the cozy party was seated Cavnar recognized chefs Fegen, Pope and Sheely who shared their stories from the classroom and their enthusiasm for the Foundation's programming along with the description of their hors d'oeuvres.  All three--along with the rest of the chefs being featured during the evening, had helped Cavnar create the Foundation's signature program now known nationally as Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™.  "It helped me be a better parent myself," insisted Fegen, while Pope shared a favorite story of 4th graders finding purple cauliflower in their garden, then insisting on adding it to the whole wheat pizza they were making and Sheely described the joy of seeing the light go on when a child understands the magic of food. 

The Banquet Intro from Gracie

"Get ready for the meal of your life," warned Cavnar before the next course went down--Charles Clark's skate wing in Meyer lemon brodetto with Taylor Bay scallops, was followed by Pedro Garcia's lentil soup with shaved black truffle and truffle oil.  Then out came Bryan Caswell's duck leg with Jordan almonds, brik and brown butter and Randy Rucker's lightly smoked short rib of beef with mushroom and chickweed.  Each dish bought a gush of oohs and lots of cell phone photos, while each chef shared his story of working with Recipe for Success Foundation.  Pedro Garcia, who like Pope, Sheely and Evans has spent time in the Foundation's classrooms every single month for a decade, had just hosted this year's class of 30 fourth graders to his restaurant, El Meson earlier in the day.  "I gave them the nickel tour and got to teach them a little something new today--the meaning of abstract, which is the opposite of what we are doing with Recipe for Success, because we are delivering real change in the way these kids think about, understand and eat their food. It's going to stick with them forever and even impact their families."  One after the other, each chef shared how their volunteer work with Recipe for Success had not only impacted the 35,000 kids the program has worked with to date, but changed their own lives. 

"Never lose your childlike sense of wonder," advised Robert Del Grande as he presented his desert of pistachio cake, beet crème and lime glass that he coined the Mad Hatter.  The colorful pink and green confection provided a delicious backdrop to a live auction of two pieces of original art.  Shawn and Genevieve Patterson won a lively bidding war that drove the final price to $1,000 for Couture Cognac, a triptych of 6"x6" pieces done in graphite, paint and thread on linen by René Garza, of Houston and New York.  There's No Such Thing as Leftovers!, a three dimensional piece of a found object, needle and thread on hemmed cotton napkin, created by Joseph H. Havel, who Catherine Anspon declared "a pillar of the Texas art scene," was snapped up for $2,000 by Becca and John Thrash.

After the auction, Cavnar brought forth Randy Evans who has recently moved to San Antonio and made the trip back especially for the party.  "Not only did Randy help me create this program, and spent a decade in our classrooms, we have gone on the road together to New York and the White House to promote it.  We miss you Randy!"   Evans hugged Cavnar as he shared how teaching with the Foundation had inspired him to build his own garden at his now shuttered Haven and keep bee hives, and introduce his kids to cooking.   "After teaching with Recipe, I was comfortable starting my own girls early at the stove.  They have been cooking with me since they were three."

To give party guests the chance to stretch their legs, Evans' dessert course of vanilla bean pound cake with bourbon macerated strawberries and lemon curd was served on the screen porch along with Elousie Jones' iconic Chocolat Pots de Crème.  But before the diners disbursed, they insisted that all ten chefs reappear and rose to give them a standing ovation.  The dinner raised $150,000 for Recipe for Success Foundations programming in Houston.

See our coverage in The Houston Chronicle, The Buzz, CultureMap and PaperCity!




Seed-to-Plate Kids Go Iron Chef!

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As the school year comes to a close, Seed-to-Plate kids have the opportunity to show off all the healthy cooking skills they've learned throughout the year. The culmination of the Super Foods semester at Recipe for Success Foundation Showcase School, Sylvan Rodriguez Elementary, added some healthy cooking competition and mystery ingredient fun to the mix! 


Students started their class with a quick lesson on a creating the perfect Super Salad using a combination of flavors and textures from Houston Chef and owner of Roost, Chef Kevin Naderi. They then selected a bowl full of mystery ingredinetns and had 20 minutes to complete their salad before judging. 

Chef Kevein Naderi and S2P

Judges enjoyed sampling the 4th graders creations and seeing their enthusiasm in creating new flavor profiles! You can see all the action here from Houston's FOX affiliate!

KRIV Iron Chef

Happy Mother's Day from Hope Farms

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We hit the farm this beautiful Mother's Day weekend because we were inspired. Mothers nurture us, help us grow and feed our bodies and souls till we're old enough to care for ourselves. That is our dream for Hope Farms- to help nurture Houston, help us grow nutritious and healthy and give us a space to help us reconnect with Mother Nature herself. Today, as we til the earth and prepare the get ground ready for life, we salute all mothers out there and the one mother that cares for us all- Mother Nature! Happy Mother's Day from all of us at Recipe for Success! 

Hope Farms Sunrise

If you have a group or team looking for volunteer opporutnities, we have you covered! Join us at Hope Farms- it takes us all to build a farm big enough for Houston! Email [email protected] or give us a call at 713.520.0443. 

Dress for Dinner: 2016 Fashion Gene Awards- Jana Arnoldy, Lauren Barrett & Lindley Arnoldy

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As we gear up to honor Houston's most stylish mothers and daughter at our annual Dress for Dinner: Fashion Gene Awards we will be highlighting these fabulous women! 

These ladies show that fashion really does run in their genes! 

One of the honorees are Mother, Jana Arnoldy, and her daughters, Lauren Barrett and Lindley Arnoldy. When asked how they would describe their mother/daughter's style they described themselves as elegant, confident, fresh and colorful! And we couldn't agree more! 

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We loved how they described their shared love of fashion as Jana said her daighters helped keep her updated and modern while mother inspired her daighters with perfect hand-me downs and encourages them to explore color and print! 

We hope you can join us on May 4 at Tootsie's!  Fashion show begins at 6:30 and we would love for you to stay for dinner featuring Chef Barbara Friedel McKnight and the Culinaire - Inspired Cuisine and Events team. You can learn more and buy tickets HERE!  

Help us toast Jana, Lindley, Lauren and all of our wonderful and stylish mothers and daughters! 

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Bryan Caswell is an Ocean of Inspiration

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To Recipe for Success Foundation, Chef Bryan Caswell is a founding Chefs Advisory Board member and one of our earliest advocates.  He was all ears back in 2005 when founder, Gracie Cavnar gathered friends in her home for brunch and enthusiastically presented her idea to end childhood obesity. He waone of the 24 chefs who were hands-on in helping Gracie develop curriculum that would get kids excited about healthy eating--and volunteered hours every month turning on the kid's taste buds and teaching them to cook 

Bryan Caswell and Small Bites

To the rest of the world, Chef Caswell might be considered one of the chefs that put the Houston food scene on the map. Since he first snagged America's attention on the cover of Food & Wine Magazine as Best New Chef 2009, hhas been the man who works tirelessly to save the ecosystem of his native Gulf of Mexico and to educate people about the food culture it has spawned.  He is a chef who marries his impressive Culinary Institute of America education, and professional experience at the helm of leading restaurants around the world, with the flavors and traditions he grew up with in Texas to inspire eaters at his popular Houston restaurants. 

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Bryan joined the ranks of Recipe for Success fans immediately and began spreading the word.  Along with Monica Pope, Randy Evans, Randy Rucker and Claire Smith, he made lunch for a group assembled by Houston's First Lady, Andrea White to hear Gracie's first public presentation of her vision for a new non-profit.   Then, he helped raise funds to get Recipe for Success Foundation off the ground as a host chef for the debut of We're Cooking Now, A Gala in Small Bites, which became a popular annual series of intimate dinner parties in private homes across the city 

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To Bryan it wasn't the fame or attention, but going into the schools and working with kids that remains one of the best experiences of his entire life. He remembers the wonderment and purity in the children's eyes as they learned about planting, harvesting and cooking their own food.  

He recalls how it was his first time in a classroom with Gracie that was also the first time he was asked for an autograph!  

"The kids just see the uniform and automatically think you're important. As I was getting ready to leave after class, one kid asked for an autograph then they all wanted one. I sat there for 20 minutes surrounded by 4th graders wanting my autograph," chuckled Caswell. 

Bryan Caswell Autographs

Now with his own children, he tries to bring the lessons home that he learned working with Recipe for Success Foundation. "My wife and I take them to the farmer's market every weekend and they pick their own vegetables out for the week. They know they have to have two grains, three vegetables and a protein. It helps a lot for the kids know where it comes from, who grew it and see it in its raw state. Then they help in bringing the meal together. Of course, my kids never listen to me as well as the kids in the classroom! " 

Recipe for Success Foundation celebrates Bryan Caswell and the contribution he has made not only to our programs, but to the city of Houston. He has been instrumental in shining a light on the city's food scene and works tirelessly to conserve and protect the Gulf of Mexico for both commercial needs and for recreation.  

"That's where it all started for me. It was the rod and the sea that got me hooked! I just hope these traditions continue for my kids and grandkids. That they can enjoy what I able to enjoy when I was growing up and throughout my life and then that they can eventually share it with their own kids." 

To Bryan the ocean and his wife provide his greatest inspirations, but "most importantly, is how to recognize inspiration. It lies in everything, at every turn. How can you recognize and use it?" 

To Recipe for Success, Bryan is one of our great inspirations and we are thrilled to recognize him and other founding chefs in May at our 10th Anniversary Celebration. At The Banquet on May 19th a few lucky guests will gather at an exquisitely table set under the sparkling chandeliers of The Dunlavy to dine on a sumptuous ten-course Banquet prepared by ten iconic chefs, all founding members of the Recipe For Success Foundation's Chef's Advisory Board.  Chefs Bryan Caswell, Charles Clark, Robert Del Grande, Monica Pope, Ouisie, Randy Evans, Lance Fegan, Randy Rucker, Peter Garcia and John Sheely will each create a course complimented by wines provided by Anna de Codorniu Cava Brut and Long Meadow Ranch and a craft beer curated by the brewmasters at Silver Eagle Distributors. Specialty gourmet items donated by DR Delicacies, D'Artagan and Sysco promise to tantalize the tastebuds during this unforgettable evening with music curated by Paul English. Find out more and purchase tickets here


Celebrate Mother's Day With Us

Gracie Cavnar
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mother daughter collage.jpgBook your tickets now for the 7th annual Fashion Gene Awards when we honor Jillian Boss & Jacqueline Fair; Kimberly, Christine & Jo Lynn Falgout; Tammie Johnson & Brittney Leigh Randolph; Alexa L. & Vanessa Sendukas; Lindley Arnoldy, Jana Arnoldy & Lauren Barrett and Duyen H., Anais, Lauren, Cholé & Misha Nguyen on May 4 at Tootsies. Get your tickets today!

Celebrate Earth Day at Hope Farms Groundbreaking!

Gracie Cavnar
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Join us on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2016, to learn about Hope Farms and impact it will have on the Houston community. Don't forget, you can still be a PART OF HOPE FARMS by visiting our Crowdrise page!  

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KHOU employees Make A Difference!

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KHOU.JPGOn Saturday, April 9th, staff from Houston's KHOU-Channel 11 selected Recipe for Success for their annual Make A Difference Day! See how generous KHOU staffers and their families helped our Showcase School Briscoe Elementary build more gardens and paint murals and learn more here

My Compliments to the Chef

Gracie Cavnar
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Banquet-chefs-banner-banquet.jpgRecipe for Success wouldn't be where it is today without the help of dozens of professional chefs who have donated time and treasure to help us create and sustain our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs.  Now in celebration of of first decade, the chefs are steping up again.

On May 19th a few lucky guests will gather at an exquisitely table set under the sparkling chandeliers of The Dunlavy to dine on a sumptuous ten-course Banquet prepared by ten iconic chefs, all founding members of the Recipe For Success Foundation's Chef's Advisory Board.  Chefs Bryan Caswell, Charles Clark, Robert Del Grande, Monica Pope, Ouisie, Randy Evans, Lance Fegan, Randy Rucker, Peter Garcia and John Sheely will each create a course for The Banquet, complimented by wines provided by Anna de Codorniu Cava Brut and Long Meadow Ranch and a craft beer curated by the brewmasters at Silver Eagle Distributors. Specialty gourmet items donated by DR Delicacies, D'Artagan and Sysco promise to tantalize the tastebuds during this unforgettable evening with music curated by Paul English. Tickets are $2,500 and limited to 100 guests and I hope you are one of them! Link to buy.

Students participate in VegOut! challenge

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Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 5.19.38 PM.pngIf you're a parent, you know how hard it is to get some kids to eat  vegetables. Recipe for success has came up with a way to make healthy eating fun for some kindergarten and first grade students at the Grace School.

Watch the adorable video here

Pumpkins-More Than Fall Food!

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We bring to you our Pumped-Up Pumpkin Parfait created by our one and only Chef Justin Kouri.  This Pumpkin Parfait is packed with vitamin A, fiber, vitamin C and will leave you feeling full and satisfied.Photo Credit: Justin Kouri

Two of the main ingredients in this Pumped-Up Parfait are pumpkin puree and oats.  Now, here is the run down on why these two delicious ingredients are also nutritious too .  Did you know that mashed pumpkin is packed with Vitamin A, a nutrient that helps you see in dim lighting, according to the National Institute of Health and also contains 3 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving and only 49 calories. In addition it is full of that vitamin we all love, vitamin C! In one cup of cooked pumpkin, you can find almost 20% of the daily intake of vitamin C for the average woman.

Pumpkin Parfait 2

What about the oats, you say?! Oats are low in fat, high and protein and are a great way to combat heart disease and diabetes. They will keep you full and give you the energy you need to celebrate National Oat Day in style!

VIP Sneak Peak and Fundraising Video!

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We are on step closer to Recipe for Success's vision of a physical touch point with out food- Hope Farms! After securing the location in heart of Houston's Sunnyside community, we celebrating with a few of our closest friends.

Hope Farms

On guided tours with CEO and Founder, GracieCavnar, and Recipe for Success Agriculture Manager, Justin Myers, Grassroots Supporters heard and saw the vision for Hope Farms to be a gathering point for all of Houston to learn about and eat healthy, nutritious and local foods. Our guests were also o treated to a special healthy, cooking demo from Recipe for Success's Chef Justin Kouri. HopeFarmsWe also finished shooting a fun, little video that will give you a better idea of Hope Farms and let you know how YOU can become a Grassroots Investor! Read more here, watch the video and stay tuned for updates on the Hope Farms Groundbreaking!

Hope Farms YouTube Link

And SAVE THE DATE! On Earth Day 2016, April 22nd, we will break ground on Houston's new urban farm, Hope Farms!


April Showers Ahead...It's Raining Men!

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Help us celebrate Spring and the men that have given their time, support and energy to support Recipe for Success Foundation and our mission to end childhood obesity. When we think of the Men We Love, we think of strength, dedication, support and style! And then men we are honoring at M. Penner, have it all! 

We are pulling out all the stops to throw a grand Dress for Dinner party on Tuesday, April 12, with cocktails and a fashion show followed by a seated dinner. Our honorees will be the stars of the show when they take to the runway decked out in M Penner's latest fashions. The third annual sartorial salute to men hosted by M Penner and Event Chair, Carrie Colbert, is a part of the fashionable Dress for Dinner fundraising series that benefits Recipe for Success Foundation. Click below for more information and to purchase tickets

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NCAA Spouses Go Seed-to-Plate!

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On April 1, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), partnered with Recipe for Success Foundation to host a spouse event at MacGregor Elementary School and Sparrow Bar + Cookshop.  Led by DeLaine Emmert, wife of NCAA President Mark Emmert, more than 30 spouses of current and former NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee members interacted with students in our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ program at MacGregor Elementary School, gardening, cooking, and reading together. 

We were so honored to welcome our generous visitors who made a $1,000 gift to the Foundation, gifted books and basketballs to the children and gave $2,000 to the school. You can see all of our fun pictures here. Many left inspired to help bring Recipe for Success programs to their own communities.

NCAA Group

NCAA Kitchen

NCAA Garden

A Personal Reflection on a Decade

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MyTable-April/MayPick up the April/May issue of My Table magazine for a reflective look at the last ten years from our Founder and CEO, Grace Cavnar. You can also read the issue digitally here

Recipe for Success champions childhood nutrition

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HoustonChronHoustonGive3.16If all goes according to Gracie Cavnar's plans, her groundbreaking Recipe for Success actually will be breaking new ground in April - on a real working farm in Houston's Sunnyside neighborhood that will provide fresh, affordable produce to people who need it most. 

Read the full article in the March 2016 Houston Gives section of the Houston Chronicle or click HERE if you are a digital subscriber. 

March Volunteer of the Month

Volunteer Ambassador
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Suzanne3.jpgFormer winner of the Recipe for Success Foundation Golden Whisk Volunteer of the Year award, Suzanne Williams, is our 2016 March Volunteer of the Month! We sat down with Suzanne at our office, where she generously shares her time and talents, to ask her a few questions:

What sparked your interest to volunteer with Recipe for Success?  
I had recently retired and was looking for a volunteer opportunity that combined a passion, healthy food, with a big issue in America today, childhood obesity.

How long have you been volunteering and at what locations?  
I think I began volunteering at Recipe for Success Foundation in the fall of 2012. I'm usually at the office but enjoy helping out at the evening events and the annual luncheon too.

What keeps you coming back week after week? What are your favorite things to do or experience when you are volunteering?  
I keep coming back because I believe in the cause, enjoy working with the great group of people in the office, and am made to feel useful.

What does volunteering bring to your life outside of your volunteer work?  
Volunteering makes for a more balanced life. It feels good to donate time and effort to others.

Do you have a favorite memory / story thus far? 
While working at the social events, it's gratifying to see all these people take time from their busy days to support the mission of Recipe for Success. I've seen supporters show up during heat waves and rain storms. 

It's Recipe for Success Foundation's 10th Birthday: where would you like to see the organization in another 10 years?
I'd like to see Recipe for Success Foundation programs in every state in 10 years as well as childhood obesity rates declining.
What are some ways that you enjoy contributing to Recipe for Success' mission to combat childhood obesity?  
I feed my own child healthy foods, I donate time and money, and I spread the story of Recipe for Success whenever I can to friends and acquaintances.   

Was there a particular experience in your life that shaped your attitudes towards food and nutrition in a positive way?
I'm lucky. I prefer healthy food to unhealthy foods (most of the time!) and enjoy trying out new recipes on my family. Plus I married a man who is a passionate marathon runner and whose goal is to run all 50 states. He wouldn't get very far with that goal if we didn't eat nutritious foods.   


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LiveLifeinSTyleD4DRubinSingerLast week I attended the Recipe for Success Foundation's Dress for Dinner event at Neiman Marcus. This was the 5th event organized by Season 7 Chair, Carrie Colbert. Carrie and Neiman Marcus invited couturier Rubin Singer to host.  Rubin Singer is an amazing talent, and is distinguished by the title of couturier which is different from the blank umbrella term, Fashion Designer. Rubin Singer rose to fandom after designing Beyonce's 2013 Super Bowl performance outfit. Rubin Singer arrived a few days early to host a trunk show at Neiman Marcus for their patrons.  I was able to sit down with the designer for an interview, which will be on my blog later this week. 

Read the full article HERE

Celebrity designer Rubin Singer dresses up Dress for Dinner outing with high style

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CultureMap Dress 4 Dinner Rubin Singer

The scoop: Dress for Dinner, the Recipe for Success Foundation's fundraising series that combines stellar fashion with great food, teamed with Neiman Marcus to feature the designs of Rubin Singer, whose creations are favorites of celebrities, including Tracee Ellis Ross,who recently wore one of his slinky black gowns to the NAACP Image Awards, and Beyoncé, who thrust Singer into the spotlight when he created her costumes for her halftime appearance at the 2013 Super Bowl.

Singer was in the front row as his fall collection featuring bold geometrical shapes and colors was unveiled on the runway created for the occasion on the department store's third floor. Afterwards VIPS feasted on a dinner prepared by Roost chef Kevin Naderi that included smoked beet salad with whipped feta mousse, grilled ahi tuna with carrot puree and almond cake. Naderi planned the dinner based on the organization's VegOut! program, which encourages Houstonians to eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days this month. Read the full article and see the accompanying slideshow HERE

Celebrity designer Rubin Singer dresses up Dress for Dinner outing with high style

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CultureMap Dress 4 Dinner Rubin Singer

The scoop: Dress for Dinner, the Recipe for Success Foundation's fundraising series that combines stellar fashion with great food, teamed with Neiman Marcus to feature the designs of Rubin Singer, whose creations are favorites of celebrities, including Tracee Ellis Ross,who recently wore one of his slinky black gowns to the NAACP Image Awards, and Beyoncé, who thrust Singer into the spotlight when he created her costumes for her halftime appearance at the 2013 Super Bowl.

Singer was in the front row as his fall collection featuring bold geometrical shapes and colors was unveiled on the runway created for the occasion on the department store's third floor. Afterwards VIPS feasted on a dinner prepared by Roost chef Kevin Naderi that included smoked beet salad with whipped feta mousse, grilled ahi tuna with carrot puree and almond cake. Naderi planned the dinner based on the organization's VegOut! program, which encourages Houstonians to eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days this month. Read the full article and see the accompanying slideshow HERE

Veggies Are The New Black

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Houstonia Veggies are the new Black

WITH RUNWAY MODELS STARVING THEMSELVES to fit into the coveted size two, it's no wonder the fashion world has a bad rap for giving in to superficial standards. That's why we were delighted to be on hand for an exclusive runway show at Neiman Marcus Houston, where Recipe for Success kicked off the first of their annual Dress for Dinner spring events chaired by Carrie Colbert, and with special guest designer Rubin Singer. The night celebrated the love of food and fashion. Guests were treated to a lavish evening filled with champagne and cocktails, couture fashions and tasty vegetable munchies by chef Kevin Naderi from Roost.

The Recipe for Success foundation is the brainchild of Houston author and fashionista Gracie Cavnar. What began as a grassroots effort to get vending machines out of elementary schools has turned into the largest nutrition education program in the country, started right here in Houston. The foundation's programs connect children to their food via the trademarked Seed-To-Plate nutrition education, not only in Houston schools, but coast to coast with affiliate partners from California to Washington, D.C.

Read the whole artilce HERE

A Veggie Filled Culinary Adventure at RecipeHouse

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Chef Antoine Ware, of Harold's in the Heights, dazzled guests with a vegetable focused menu in honor of National Nutrition Month and Recipe for Success Foundation's healthy eating initiative VegOut!

Harold's is a farm-driven southern cuisine restaurant located in the heart of the Heights on 19th Street. Executive Chef Antoine Ware brings his New Orleans flare to Owner Alli Jarrett's South Carolina classics to create upscale southern dishes in a friendly environment. The 95-year-old building where Harold's resides on the second floor, features original brick walls, barn wood tables and local artists' art. Their rooftop terrace is the perfect place for brunch, lunch or dinner as diners can enjoy the hustle and bustle of Heights shoppers from a bird's eye view.

His menu took diners on a delicious adventure beginning with whole wheat flatbread with spinach, tomato and basil peston and exquisit tuna tartar. The Gumbo Z'Herbs with smoked turkey tickled tastebuds and was filled with nutritious greens with a spicy kick! Keeping with the local and delicious, guests were then treated to seared gulf snapper with turnips, local mushrooms, collard green and roasted bell pepper coulis! What a delicious evening! 

Be sure to visit Chef Antoine at Harold's in the Heights


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Beyoncé-fave designer honored at Recipe for Success affair

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Fashion designer Rubin Singer sat cozily with his arms folded as Neal Hamil Agency models sauntered out wearing pieces from his collection. It's a rare moment for any designer to have a front-row seat to their runway show. Most are backstage.

At Neiman Marcus Thursday night, Singer was beaming at the Recipe for Success Foundation's Dress for Dinner event, chaired by Carrie Colbert. His collection of sophisticated, sculptural gowns and dresses drew applause and "ahs" from the stylish audience. Read the rest of the article and see the photos HERE.

VegOut for National Nutrition Month

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KHOU VegOut at MacGregorKHOU's Courtney Perna stopped by Recipe for Success showcase school MacGregor Elementary to kick-off the VegOut! Challenge. Our Seed-2-Plate students showed off their chopping skills while talking about their favorite veggies! Watch the full segment HERE

Is This Second-Grader a Better Cook Than You?

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What happens when you put fourth graders and parsnips together in a kitchen?

At Sylvan Rodriguez Elementary in Houston, first- through fifth-graders attend gardening on Mondays, nutrition on Tuesdays and cooking on Thursdays, each a 55-minute class that's part of their core curriculum.

Thursdays in particular are "always exciting," said Paola Tello, an instructor for Recipe for Success, which administers the program. "Even in nutrition class, I'm cutting citrus open, letting them touch and smell." And when it comes to kids, familiarity is the first step towards appetite.

Read the full article HERE

Veggie Riot: #VEGOUT2016 is 1 Week Away!

Shannon Smith
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The #VegOut2016 Challenge is 1 week away and we thought we would throwback the countdown with our #VeggieRiot video!  VegOut! takes grocery stores by storm as customers dash to get their favorite veggies as VegOut! soars demand high and everyone is trying to eat the rainbow! What is your plan of action to combat the #veggieriot for the 30 Ways in 30 Days Challenge this year!

Patrick Summers of the Houston Grand Opera

Shannon Smith
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Patrick HS.jpgMy greatest culinary experience was made all the more so by being in a completely unexpected time and place. 

In 1991 I was conducting a production of Bizet's Carmen that was touring from San Francisco Opera touring to three different Japanese cities, Nagaoka, Sendai, and Tokyo. I was in Japan in advance of the rest of the cast rehearsing an amateur chorus in lovely Nagaoka, and near the end of my few days there I was told by my hosts that they would be taking me to lunch from 11am until around 4. Since 5 hours had been allotted, I assumed we were traveling some distance but actually we traveled only to nearby Niigata, on the northwest coast of Japan, where I was taken up the hill on a snowy morning to a restaurant called The Three Cranes. 

It feels perfunctory to call it is restaurant, for it was aesthetically unlike anything one might associate with the word. The large property sloped up quite a steep hill and was an immaculate Japanese garden interspersed with small shoji-screen and glass houses, each of which was a 'table'. We climbed to a distant part of the hill and entered our little house, removed our shoes and were each escorted to a changing room where we exchanged our clothes for warm and comfortable robes. Inside the dining area, we all sat together on the floor around the table, and I was surprised to find an open area below, unseen, where my legs could dangle as though we were seated on chairs. The area below the table was warmed by a small underground fireplace, and as we sipped the first course of the lunch, a ginseng tea, it began to snow. There surely can have been no more peaceful and delicate place. 

Then the food courses began: each of them quite small and exquisitely prepared and fresh. The courses alternated between cold and hot. Each, mostly fish and vegetables, was accompanied by a different tea or small amount of sake. A great deal of time stretched between the courses so that one never felt either rushed or hungry. I cannot imagine the depth of the preparation required for a meal that was over 30 courses, each on its own set of perfectly-chosen porcelain. Never has the experience of a meal been so perfectly balanced and understated. 

That gorgeous hillside is no longer a restaurant, the land having been developed for real estate. But I treasure the pristine perfection of each of those dishes, sitting in what felt like another world and time, blanketed by the silently falling snow. 

Time to Eat Your Veggies...And Have Fun Doing It!

Shannon Smith
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Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 10.26.39 AM.pngFrom rainbow chard to black kale, pink radishes to purple carrots, golden beets to sunchokes: There's really nothing boring about vegetables. They're fun to cook with and delicious to eat. All it takes is a willingness to discover vegetables' abundance in flavor, texture and color.

One fun way to discover vegetables for kids and adults alike is to participate in the annual VegOut! Challenge by Recipe for Success, a Houston-based nonprofit that has been fighting child obesity by promoting vegetables as part of a healthy diet for over 10 years. Beyond Houston, VegOut! has found support across the nation, with participants from 32 states joining in the challenge last year.

VegOut! is open to anyone--as individual participant or in a team--willing to take the challenge: Eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days. The fun part is in discovering vegetables but also in the competition: The more vegetables you try, the greater your chances to earn a badge, or even win a prize!

To complete a list of 30 vegetables in 30 days sounds pretty straightforward and easy to do. You could tick off the first five on any given day: onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, lettuce and potatoes. It gets harder, though, and "20" appears to be a stumbling block.

"The biggest feedback we got from folks who registered last year and did not finish--even ones who considered themselves super healthy eaters--was that they hit the wall at 20 and it was really tough for them to track veggies when they were traveling for business or on spring break or eating out," says Gracie Canvar, founder of Recipe for Success.

It's one of the reasons why Recipe for Success developed a new app designed to help you keep track of vegetables wherever you are, look them up, or find suggestions for recipes and ways to prepare.

With this app and web resources like Recipes A-Z, the 1-click Tracker and an interactive Find Your Veg map, the 2016 VegOut! Challenge is set up to be accessible to anyone trying to eat healthier, for the workplace to use it as a wellness tool and for (grand) parents to challenge kids to enjoy vegetables. There is really no excuse not to veg out every day--so bring home those veggies and eat them braised or grilled, roasted or raw, in a soup, salad or stew, not just for 30 days but year-round.

Download the FREE mobile app from your app store and register. You can also visitVegOutWithRFS.org to register and explore our endless resources. The app and website integrate seamlessly. The new app makes it easy to find fresh vegetables on the go with a find-your-veggie map.

Don't forget: You can sign up as individual or as a team. Earn badges and make sure you're in the running for a prize!

Hope Farms & The Issue of Food Deserts

Shannon Smith
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Recipe for Success Foundation has teamed up with the University of Houston to address the troubling issue of food deserts in Houston with Recipe for Success Foundation's new Hope Farms initative. 

The UH School of Architecture has designed urban farm models for Recipe for Success Foundaiton's Hope Farms to prove residents with their own fresh produce and train them as urban farmers.  Gracie Cavnar, founder of Recipe For Success and UH Architecture student, Alejandra Cervantes talk about Hope Farms and the UH School of Architecture plans. 


Flavorful Balance Through Contrast: Chef Surprise with The Del's Chef Albert Vazquez

Shannon Smith
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Last night, Recipe for Success Foundation kicked-off the Chef Surpíse season with Chef Albert Vasquez of The Del, Studewood Hospitality Group's neighborhood restaurant nestled among three of Houston's most fun and family-friendly neighborhoods, Briargrove, Tanglewood and Memorial.


Chef Albert, a South Texas Coast native presented unique flavor profiles through his concept of balance through contrast with dishes like his pickled bratwurst with cowboy bread, camarones a la plancha marinated in a grilled vegetable sofrito and slow-cooked carnitas dressed with a black garlic mole. He finished off the evening with exquisite smoked marranitos, a gingerbread like cookie made of smoked flour and a cafe quemada, a cold coffee sweetened with a dulce de leche of condensed milk. 

Chef Albert's down-home roots and experience appealed to Houston natives and brought a casual, yet elegant feel to RecipeHouse's Chef Surprise kick-off, an intimate 3-course dining experience including wine at RecipeHouse on the First Monday of the month starting at 6:30 pm. Chef Albert began his feat in the restaurant industry when he was only 15 years of age shucking oysters and cleaning fish in Port Aransas. He then found himself training under Scott Tycer at Aries and Gravitas before serving as culinary director for Dish Society.


RecipeHouse, home to private-events and cooking classes benefitting Recipe for Success Foundation, hosts Chef Surprise to engage chefs and the community as they fight childhood obesity with a fun, culinary adventure. Chef Surprise has featured past chefs including, Omar Pereney, of Peska, Randy Evans, Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar and Brandi Key of Coppa Osteria and Punk's Simple Southern Food

For more information on how to join RecipeHouse for our upcoming Chef Surpríse event, click here.

Post Oak HS J-Term

Sandra Cook
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Houston's Post Oak High School seeks to provide unique opportunities for students to cultivate real-life experiences. The school's teaching methods nourish students' diverse interests, helping students identify personal passions and actively prepare for university and for life beyond school. For three weeks each January, Post Oak High School students participate in an intensive study program, called J-Term.

So when Post Oak High School teacher Benjamin Preston contacted Chef Justin Kouri, our Culinary Education Coordinator about doing a J-Term course with Recipe House, Chef Justin welcomed the idea and had a blast hosting the 16 high school students in a three-week course in the culinary arts. "My goal was to give the students a comprehensive view of the food industry," says Chef Justin. 

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In addition to teaching the students cooking methods, knife skills and preparation techniques, Chef Justin organized several fascinating field trips. "The first was a visit with Chef Jon Buchannan at his restaurant Trevisio in the Texas Medical Center," says Chef Justin. Here, the students toured the restaurant and kitchen and learned about the economics of food costs in the restaurant industry, including sourcing produce, meats, dry goods and formulating mark-ups in terms of market pricing and operating the business of a restaurant.

The next field trip was truly located in a field! Chef Justin took the students to Finca Tres Robles, the urban farm operated by Tommy Garcia-Pratts and his brother Daniel Garcia-Pratts. At the farm, Tommy taught the students about the costs of growing produce and how to price it at market. The students also ventured out to volunteer in the Recipe for Success classroom at Rodriguez Elementary and got to experience how elementary kids engage with our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™. 

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Back at RecipeHouse, the students developed their culinary chops. To hone their skills, Chef Justin broke the class into small groups and had each prepare and execute a three-course meal. The students' work was evaluated for quality and presentation.

Chef Justin explains he has years of experience working with professional chefs and has worked with elementary school aged kids for the past two years in Recipe for Success school programs and summer camps, but this was his opportunity to work with high schoolers. "It was exciting that the students were so motivated to take this course," says Chef Justin. "It was great to see their higher-level thought processes and more advanced responses to the lessons. I felt like I had my own creative team to collaborate with, so I found it very rewarding as well." 

Email Chef Justin about ongoing classes and custom classes for your group.

Ben Ferreira & H-E-B

Sandra Cook
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For February 2016 we are highlighting our community partner and sponsor H-E-B, greatly fueled by our relationship with Ben Ferreira. While attending an event at RecipeHouse with H-E-B Houston Division President Scott McCelland, Ben Ferreira was introduced to Gracie Cavnar and the mission of Recipe for Success. "We watched a video about the mission an programs of Recipe for Success, which were quite gripping to me," says Ferreira, Regional Director of Produce and Floral for H-E-B. As the regional director, he oversees many aspects of the produce business and supports local farmers by developing business relationships with local growers.  He also leads a team of more than 100 department managers in more than 80 retail locations. (photo above by Kim Coffman Photography.) 

H-E-B has been a tremendous partner for Recipe for Success. For the past five years, H-E-B's donations have ranged between $15,000 and $25,000 annually in support of our Blue Plate Special Café & Awards Luncheon. H-E-B has also generously supported our annual VegOut! Challenge by donating amounts ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 each year. The company has also made numerous in-kind donations of food and hosted in-store events and field trips, in addition to their wonderful participation on our board.

"In my work at H-E-B, I come across many people in the industry who are concerned about and working to stop childhood obesity, but Gracie's approach is different," says Ferreira. "It really changes the way kids think about their food in a very positive way." 

The foundation's programs and mission spoke to Ferreira in a very personal way. Ferreira explains that he grew up in a home with a father who was a passionate gardener who grew much of the family's produce and a mother who was a consummate chef. "My earliest memories are all in the kitchen. All of our food was homegrown and prepared by hand."

When Scott McClelland asked Ferreira to join our Board of Directors, Ferreira happily agreed. "I am pleased to be a liaison for H-E-B and happy to make my personal contributions to the board," says Ferreira, who also recently became a member of Hope Farms Board, as well as its and finance committee.

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"After I had the opportunity to judge the Iron Chef completion at MacGregor Elementary I was hooked," says Ferreira. "It was so great to see the kids who were so proud of crops they had grown and then watch them create a dish -- without even a recipe to start with. That solidified my impressions of Recipe for Success."  

Ferreira highlights the power of the foundation's school programs. "One of the things I really like about Recipe for Success' Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ is the impact it has beyond the schools," says Ferreira. "Gracie has shared with us the data that shows the impact on families, which in turn impacts the community. When the kids experience the lessons in school, it takes hold at home as kids encourage parents and family members to adopt what they have learned. At H-E-B, we have seen customer shopping trends shift more toward fresh food."

He hopes H-E-B's VegOut! 2016 companywide participation will be stronger than before. "My focus is selling more fresh produce, so I am hoping we'll be better integrated with the VegOut! 2016 campaign and can trumpet the nutritious eating message more fully in our stores," says Ferreira. "We hope to host events at our cooking connections and feature promotional materials for the VegOut! Challenge in stores." He also say H-E-B plans to use the VegOut! Challenge in March as a springboard for events and campaigns the store has planned for the rest of the year, which echo the message of eating fresh, nutritious food.  "We've also been working with H-E-B's corporate office in San Antonio, and hope to take the collaboration with Recipe for Success to a corporate scale across all stores," he says.

"There are a lot of people who are working to reduce obesity in children and adults, but Recipe for Success is a unique and effective program that stands out nationally," says Ferreira. "It's so great that Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ is fully scalable for affiliates and partners to participate across the country. The education piece is so unique and engaging. There is a huge opportunity to replicate the program nationally."  

To inquire about board opportunities, contact our board liaison, Stephanie Hill

Volunteer of Month - Feb 2015 Kay DeLaMater

Shannon Smith
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Volunteer_Kay DeLaMater_at Volunteer Party Dec 2015.jpgDelightful and dedicated volunteer Kay DeLaMater first learned about Recipe for Success in 2012 while searching volunteerhouston.org and has been donating her time and energy as an Office Star at RecipeHouse ever since.

"I was between jobs and looking for opportunities to volunteer close to my home," explains Kay. "Recipe for Success was a good match because my whole life centers on food. My love of healthy food began in childhood -- that's when we need to instill good eating habits. Children by nature are so wonderfully open to new ideas and flexible in their habits." 

Kay tells us she was fortunate that her own mother shaped her attitudes towards food and nutrition in very positive ways. "My mother was a registered dietitian and my best foodie friend," says Kay. "From her I learned that cooking can be an expression of love and that nutritious food is delicious. She allowed me to be involved with daily meal preparation as soon as I was old enough to follow basic instructions and to kneel on a stool pulled up to the kitchen counter."

Kay says she enjoys working alongside the staff at RecipeHouse. "Their enthusiasm is infectious," she says. "I've become known as 'the lady who likes to hand-address envelopes,'" she says proudly.

This past November, Kay helped out at RecipeHouse on the hectic days leading up the Blue Plate Special Café & Awards Luncheon. "It reminded me of when I worked for a professional association whose main focus was planning a huge annual conference for our members," says Kay. "We would have been sunk without our volunteers in the 11th hour! I was therefore very happy to assist the staff at Recipe House in their time of need. I've always been a behind-the-scenes sort of person. No matter the organization, I love providing administrative support so that others can spend time on the front lines."

Upon Recipe for Success Foundation's 10th birthday, Kay shares her dreams for the continued impact of the organization over the next 10 years. "I'd like to see continued growth of programs such as the VegOut! 30 Ways in 30 Days Challenge," says Kay. "It's a fun way for the adult community to be involved in the Foundation's mission. Adults ultimately determine children's diets. If we improve our eating habits, we can lead children by example."

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Shannon Smith
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Chef Justin loves to share his deliciously nutritious recipes from RecipeHouse. Let us know what you think, or better yet--send us your favorites!

Start your day (or the weekend) with his flavorful satisfying SAVORY BAKED EGGS. What's your favorite breakfast creation? Send your tastiest recipe to [email protected]. You can also check out Justin's past recipes on the RecipeHouse blog or sign up for a class to learn first hand how to create tasty and nutritious meals and snacks.

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Savory Baked Eggs

Recipe & Photos by Justin Kouri


2 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

28 ounces crushed tomatoes

1 Tbsp fresh thyme

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp fresh oregano, divided

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

3 cup fingerling potatoes, boiled

4 eggs

1 cup fontina, shredded

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Preheat oven to 400F. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sautee until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, thyme, oregano and red pepper flakes, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, quarter potatoes and distribute among 4 large ramekins. Divide the tomato sauce among the ramekins. (This recipe can be prepared up to this point in advance.) In the center of each ramekin make a well within the potatoes and place the egg. Sprinkle with fontina and bake for 15 minutes or until egg is cooked, but yolk is still runny. Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes. (This part is important because the egg will continue to cook.) Serve with toast points.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Active cooking time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Skill level: Easy

Up Close with Chef Lance Fegen

Sandra Cook
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Dynamic Houston chef and restaurateur Lance Fegen jumped in as one of our original Chefs Advisory Board members back in 2006, helping to develop recipes still used in our classes today. Chef Lance didn't hesitate to volunteer in the classroom at N.Q. Henderson Elementary during those early years, and has hosted field trips to his restaurants and dinners benefitting Recipe for Success.

"At the time that Gracie was launching Recipe for Success, I had just started a family and was enjoying spending time with my own kids," says Chef Fegen. "I had so much good in my life that I wanted to give some of that to others. Growing up, my mom took good care of us, especially with her cooking, says Fegen. "I know not all kids have that, so it's great to be able to pass those lessons along to the students. Once you get into the Recipe for Success classroom you fall in love with the kids and their learning process. It really becomes a part of you -- the effort you give to the kids you get back tenfold." 

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Fegen, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, first put his mark on the Houston culinary scene with restaurants such as Zula, Trevisio and Glass Wall. Later, he joined forces with business partner Lee Ellis and today their F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant group operates BRC Gastropub and multiple Liberty Kitchen locations in Houston and Austin. Fegen has also served on the Board of Directors with Houston Food Bank and worked with their Kids Café. 

Fegen has been busy opening several restaurants in recent years, but is looking forward to having time to share our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ once again. "I have missed getting into the classroom and I would love to get back to it," he says.

 Fegen also says he highly recommends the experience to other chefs. "Go out and give some of yourself to others and expect nothing in return -- no glory, no accolades," says Fegen. "I believe chefs should give back: teach students how to cook and show them that restaurant careers are accessible. It's not about your persona: spend time with kids who look up to you, you will find it's very rewarding." 

He applauds the Recipe for Success classroom tradition where students pledge to be a food adventurer, because it helps keep kids' minds open. "These kids don't say, 'no, I'm not gonna try that,'" says Fegen. "It's interesting to see other kids, even my own, who haven't had this type of nutrition education, who will refuse to try new things."

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Fegen's enthusiasm for the program and the students it serves goes even further. "These kids are excited about the learning process and become invested in what they eat," says Fegen. They develop a deep connection to their food and where it comes from - that's important. I wouldn't have become a chef if I hadn't had an Italian cooking family. My mom had me rolling meatballs at age 5."

Fegen challenges grown-ups to learn more about their food, too. "I encourage anyone who calls themselves a foodie to go beyond the restaurants," says Fegen. "Get out and experience where your food comes from, explore the farmers markets, touch, smell, shop seasonally, grow your own. You become a true 'culinarian' by developing that deeper appreciation."