Bite of Brainfood Blog

Food as a Story

All food has a story.  From where it was planted, to where it was grown, to who harvested it, to how it was transported, to who sold it, to who bought it, to who cooked it, and to who ate it, there are so many little stories that each dish collects along its journey from farm to table.  And every person along the journey that food takes has their own story to tell too. 
Here at the Brainfood Summer Institute, we took a day to appreciate the art of food storytelling and how food interacts with culture and tradition.  We named this day “Soul Food Day” and cooked some of the dishes our students had requested, including collard greens, mac & cheese, cornbread, and pumpkin pie.  Before we began cooking, we took some time to watch a few videos of speakers on the website “A Spoken Dish” – a storytelling project dedicated to “celebrating and documenting food memories and rituals from people across the South.”

In a Pickle: Strategies for Reducing Food Waste

Brainfood Summer Institute class with pickles

The United States produces roughly 35 million tons of food waste every year, 95% of which, according to the EPA, goes straight to our landfills and incinerators. That means food waste ends up in our municipal solid waste systems more than any other kind of solid waste. At Brainfood, we care a lot about our food: where it comes from, how it was raised or grown, how it’s preserved and stored, the way it’s seasoned, handled, and cooked, and the energy and nutrients it provides us. This month at Summer Institute, our students paused to think about simple, realistic strategies to make the most out of our food resources and reduce food waste.

Updates from Summer Institute!

 Writtten by Brainfood Summer Institute intern Caitlin Sirianni 

With only two weeks left, Summer Institute is well underway! 

We started program with baking week where students learned how to

 with different doughs and batters as well as how to make healthy substitutions for low-fat baking. These recipes included pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes, beet chocolate cake, and zucchini muffins. Most students were shocked how delicious the baked goods were even with the unconventional ingredients. On biscuit day, students used their creativity to showcase some 4th of July spirit! The second week of program introduced knife skills followed by protein and whole-grains week. The theme for this past week was local food systems. We focused on what foods are in season and used herbs and spices from the Brainfood garden in our recipes.

One of the students' favorite days was Jamaican beef patties, stuffed

Brainfood Outside the Box!

Submitted by Brainfood intern, Michele Holzhauser

Brainfood’s Box Project has returned for another fun and exciting summer! 

Box Project is an opportunity for recent Brainfood graduates to participate in another Brainfood program, and learn the workings of a food business.  Brainfood supports and DC locals subscribe to Box Project and receive six boxes.  For six weeks students are in program using recipes to cook up delicious dishes to put in boxes each week that are the

n given to subscribers.   We started program by “keeping calm and going green.”  This box had a variety of green recipes including Swiss chard spanakopita, green harissa, and cheddar chive biscuits, all hand- made by students.  In addition to prepared foods clients also receive fresh produce from Bounty Hill Farm, a farm collective based in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Farm fresh ingredients can range from multi-colored carrots to fresh maple syrup.

The Rising Tigers Camp Begins

Submitted by Brainfood intern, Greer McBeth

The summer is off to a great start here at Brainfood.  The Summer Institute program and Box Project are in their second week after enjoying a long 4th of July weekend, but the Rising Tigers summer camp in Takoma Park, MD is in full swing at the end of its third week!  Though it’s only brainfood’s second year at the camp, this year’s group of 11 to 14 year olds is as eager and experienced in the kitchen as ever.

The camp kicked off the first week with a baking day which included granola bars, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, apple oatmeal muffins, and some fresh herb lemonade to top it all off.  Naturally, this was a very popular week.  Week two introduced the rising tigers to quick healthy snack ideas as the class period was cut a little bit short so campers could have the fourth of July off to celebrate.   This entailed some popcorn trail mix with nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit as well as quesadilla making and a fresh fruit salad.  

What's fresh at Brainfood? You name it!


School’s almost out, which means the Brainfood kitchens have been unusually quiet for the past couple of weeks. Our program participants are out finishing up another year of high school, and our ovens and stoves, pots and pans (not to mention instructors) are taking a break from daily cooking to focus on upcoming summer programs.

But outside in the Brainfood Youth Garden, things are in full swing! We’re harvesting a bounty of fresh produce that our programs will use in recipes this summer.  In this blog post, we’re bringing you an exclusive sneak preview of a few of our favorite home-grown Brainfood edibles along with some fun facts about each. 

KAS Graduation Day!

Written by Kitchen All Stars Intern Lauryn Woodruff


Do you remember when you graduated? My own graduation from college was just two weeks ago and the memory is still fresh in my mind. When I think of graduations, I think of long speeches, taking what seems like a million and one photos, and a sea of robes. The Kitchen All Stars graduation was nothing like that.

Spring Harvest Day!

Spending time outdoors is one of our favorite things about this time of year, and this week, Kitchen All Stars classes ventured outside the kitchen and into the garden! Participants from multiple sites explored the Brainfood Youth Garden together and spent the afternoon harvesting, learning, playing games, and of course, cooking. At this point in the year, students know their own Brainfood classmates quite well, but may not know the students who are in Brainfood programs at a different site. And what better way to get to know new people than pulling up radishes together?


Change Makers in the Food System

What do food and justice have to do with one another?  Well, according to Brainfood Kitchen All Star participants, both are necessary to live, both are things every human should have a right to and both are things that we deal with on a day to day basis. 

Wasting food? Not here!

         As we approach our last month at Brainfood, as an instructor, I always scramble to think of any last important lessons to teach our students before they leave us. They’ve already learned so much; knife skills, safety and sanitation, low-fat baking, healthy breakfast foods and whole grains. Have we forgotten anything?! 

       This week’s class was devoted to using food ingredients that are usually thrown away or wasted. Considering that in the U.S, we now waste more than 40% of our food, this topic seemed like something we shouldn’t skip over! So we dug deep into the back of our fridges to find the neglected, bruised and mushy produce that would normally get thrown away. 

       We used blackened bananas (the more rotten the better) to make delicious banana bread muffins. We threw some chocolate chips in there and our students didn’t even remember that the bananas were oozing and old. 

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