February 2016 Archives

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.