Bite of Brainfood Blog

The Many Uses of Lemon Balm

This blog was written by Brainfood's DC Career Connect Intern, JaNeya Lee.     

It’s garden time. The sun is out and the cold weather is gone. In the garden we are harvesting snap peas, lemon balm, and chamomile. Lemon balm was something I never heard of before, until I started working in the garden. We harvested the lemon balm to make a lemon balm syrup. “And what is lemon balm?” you ask. Lemon balm is an herb that can live for more than two years. It’s from the mint family and the leaves on the herb have a mild lemon aroma that can be used to make medicine. It can be used in many ways. Here are five ways you can use it:

1. Make Tea (Image from Wikihow)

Image from WikiHow


Five Magical Moments from Kitchen All Stars Graduation

Here at Brainfood, Kitchen All Stars staff are still not quite able to believe that the after-school program year is really over. While we're staying busy entering survey data, finalizing attendance documents, and diving into summer recruitment, we certainly do miss our awesome  Kitchen All Stars youth participants! When we find ourselves in those nostalgic moments, wishing we were heading down to the kitchen for class, it helps to reminisce about some highlights of our recent graduation celebration. We thought we'd share a few of those rosy memories with all of you!

Five Magical Moments from Kitchen All Stars Graduation

1. Students mastering the portable burners

A reason to celebrate

Last night, amidst brightly-colored streamers, platters of homemade food, and a crowd of 50 guests, our 2015-2016 class of Community MVPs graduated, recieving rewards for the eight months of hard work they put in as teen healthy cooking educators leading cooking workshops across the city. Each participant who put in 70 hours or more of their time (most of them worked well beyond that number) received a stipend check for the workshops they taught and a cookbook of healthy recipes from the program year. Community partners shared stories of the impact our teens made in their organizations; 

Learning In the Kitchen: Reflections from our YSEALI Fellow

Hi, my name is Kimsorn Ngam, and I am coming to Brainfood from Cambodia, through Young South East Asia Leadership Initiative (YESEALI) program. At first, reading about my work placement at Brainfood, I was almost disappointed with American Councils because I applied for NGO who I can improve my skills with the background of Research and Evaluation. Why did they place me in a kitchen place?

But, when I arrived for my first day, I had a warm welcome from Ms. Carina Gervacio and four other staff members and I felt a bit better. Later on, I was oriented with the schedule, and then I felt more confidence in joining the activities. One week later at Brainfood, I have learnt a lot about programs activities and program’s goals, as I worked with Brainfood’s staff and students.

Welcome, Kimsorn!

“Sometimes life is like making cooking -- it’s not just about getting things together at the beginning or eating sweets at the end. It’s about adding all the ingredients along the way.” 


As we turn our sights towards May and the end of a year-long kitchen journey for so many Brainfood students, we’re also excited to welcome our new YSEALI (Youth Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative) fellow, Kimsorn Ngam.


Like our past fellow, Rex, Kimsorn is with us for just a short month. In Cambodia, he directs evaluations and assessments for This Life Cambodia. At Brainfood, he’ll get to spend time learning how to navigate the Youth Garden, packing some Old Bay kale chips with Homegrown, and seeing Kitchen All Stars class compete in the Chef’s Challenge Graduation.

Highlights of International Unit at Kitchen All Stars

 Blog post written by Janeya Lee, DC Career Connect Intern

For the past two weeks in Kitchen All Stars we have been learning and making about international foods. We have been to Jamaica, Thailand, Mexico, China, and Italy. The food was great. 

For Jamaica Day we had Coco Bread and Beef Patties (not the frozen ones!). I was happy because everyone was very into the recipes and having fun. Thailand Day was such a spicy day. I enjoyed all the recipes. For Mexico Day we had sopes and elote. The ingredients in some foods definitely made me think, “What is that? Why does that have to go in there?” My group expectation for that day was to try new things, which I did, and I actualy really liked them! The elote is roasted corn on the cob with mayonnaise and seasoning such as lime, chili powder, and cotjia cheese on it. The sopes are kind of like tortillas but you can put things in them. We also made tres leches for dessert. The recipes turned out great that day.

For China Day we had beef and broccoli and potstickers. These recipes were great and the students were happy about the recipes. The beef and broccoli was not your regular carry out beef and broccoli! The potstickers were great and the sauce that was with it was too. For Italy Day we made chicken parmesan, orange chocolate biscotti and pumpkin and goat cheese ravioli with sage butter sauce. 

Local Program, Big World

Local Program:

When you hear the term food system, what do you think of? How produce is grown? Food being packaged on an assembly line? Vegetables being transported to your local grocery store? Thanks to our garden manager Lyssa’s food systems class a few weeks back, I now consider myself a budding expert on (read: inexperienced but interested in) food system analysis. For instance, did you know that there is not one, but actually threemain food systems? At Brainfood, I feel we often represent the local food system. In this type of food system, food comes directly from farmers  o you - the consumer. It might come from a CSA or a local farmers market and probably only travels for a few hours from where it’s grown to your plate.

How is Brainfood part of our local food system?

Community MVPs Coating Ceremony 2016 !!!!!

Two weeks ago the Community MVP students were celebrated during the annual MVPs Coating Ceremony.  “What is Coating Ceremony?” you ask. It is a way to acknowledge the amount of time the students put into classes and workshops. During Coating Ceremony, MVP students who have completed 70 or more community service hours through Community MVPs receive their very own chef coats. Along with receiving chef coats, the celebration gives the students a chance to show off their cooking skills by cooking all the food for the ceremony. The students are encouraged to invite family and friends to the ceremony so that they can join in on the fun, and eat the delicious homemade food.
I had no idea what Coating Ceremony was when I first started interning at Brainfood. I figured there would be a graduation, but I never thought there would be more than that. Once they explained to me the reason behind the Coating Ceremony, I started to understand its significance. Graduation is about celebrating the end of the program, while Coating Ceremony is about showing our appreciation of the students and all the hard work they have put into Community MVPs.

A-Z Snapshot of March at Brainfood

May this list entice your curiosity about Brainfood happenings, broaden your awareness of the scope of our organization's work, and get you excited about what's next in the coming months!

Brainfood All-Stars Food Desert Workshop: The Bad, The Worse, and the Ugly

Guest Blogger Myla Clark, Community MVPs Senior!

My name is Myla Clark and I am a current Brainfood MVP participant and in the past  have done Brainfood All-Stars and Brainfood Box Project. I am current senior at School Without Walls (the number one school in DC) and as a graduation requirement at my school is a year long Senior Project on a subject I got tot select. I chose to do although there are negative outcomes that come from food deserts, these environments benefit  some people of the farming, fast-food, medical and pharmaceutical industries. I had to conduct a interview with an expert on my topic, write a 15-page research paper, and create a product that connects with the paper. Thankfully, my mentor and Brainfood MVP coordinator, Aimee, was able to help me work with Brainfood to create a product!

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