Bite of Brainfood Blog

Welcome, Abiana! Shrubs, Challah, and Garam Masala with Brainfood's newest team member

Working with Brainfood for the past few weeks has been an awesome experience. My job in the kitchen is to make Spent Grain Challah Bread and pizza dough to sell at the markets. Before Brainfood, I had never made my own Challah. Experiencing that process has been really fun and inspiring. My favorite combination to make so far has been the Garam Masala Sweet Potato Challah, which we are letting rise as I write. My favorite part about the process is definitely braiding. There are different styles of braids you can create based on how many rolls you have per loaf. Regardless of what you braid, I guarantee that they will come out beautifully.

Box Project Photo Diary

Posted by Kate Todd, 2016 Box Project Intern, Junior at the University of Virginia

It's been an exciting first couple weeks at Box Project, and I love capturing as many of the photogenic moments as possible! Here are some of my favorite snapshots of the products and activities here at Brainfood Box Project.

Week 1 almond-rolled brownie bites were a big hit among participants and clients - believe it or not, their taste is even better than their aesthetic.

The first Fun Friday pizza challenge! Tatyanna and Myla channel their inner innovator while creating a scrumptious Asian fusion pizza.

Here we have some exquisite breakfast quiches we sampled for the client boxes this upcoming week!

Healthy Baking: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How

This weeks blog post is written by Jennie Basile, Intern at Brainfood Summer Institute and a rising Senior at Virginia Tech.
As the first week of Summer Institute comes to a close, the aromas from the healthy baking day still linger in my recent memory. I am a sucker for all things sweet, but as a major in Human Nutrition, Food and Exercise, I am especially fond of throwing in the word “healthy” in front of sweet treats.

WHO: This week in the Brainfood kitchen, the youth participants cooked up Black Bean Brownies, Zucchini Muffins and Cinnamon Rolls. The students learned of the alternatives used in each recipe, what their bodies gained from the ingredient swaps and, most importantly, how their satisfaction was not to be harmed. The students were the most skeptical of the black bean brownies, many claiming that they did not like black beans. But they kept their minds open and they were all intrigued and willing to try them.

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?

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