Bite of Brainfood Blog

Guest Chef Roopal Saran at Brainfood!

Hello all Brainfood followers… Just in case you have not been keeping up with all the fun we have been having, we have started cooking international food!  As a part of our intro into international food, we were able to welcome guest Chef Roopal Saran!! Roopal, whom is also one of the Brainfood board members, brought us a delightful taste of INDIA!

Where are we traveling next?

From Guest Blogger Cara Oslager, Brainfood Program Intern...

Hello readers!

Here at Brainfood (in our Kitchen All Stars classes), we have been travelling the world and going to a different country each class!  For the rest of the school year, Brainfood Kitchen All Stars students will be learning how to cook foods from all over the globe.  So far, we have travelled to Greece, Jamaica, and Ethiopia and we are looking forward to continuing our travels after the students get back from Spring Break.

While “in” Greece, we were able to make a delicious meal consisting of Keftedes (Greek meatballs) with a cucumber dipping sauce, Kolokythokeftedes (zucchini and feta fritters), Spanakopita, and Baklava.  Yum!  Everything came out wonderfully as usual and luckily, there were no issues when it came to layering the delicate, buttery phyllo dough for the Spanakopita and Baklava.

Next we took a “flight” to warm, sunny Jamaica.  Here, we learned about Jamaica’s culture while making the well- known Coco Bread, spicy Curry Shrimp with Rice and Peas, and Jerk Chicken and Potato Skewers.  The students were very excited about the Coco Bread, as this was something they had eaten and loved previously.

We ended our adventure before Spring Break "in" Ethiopia.  Culturally, this was the most different from America.  We made Amhari (vegetable stew), Doro Wat (a chicken dish), and Gomen (spicy stewed collards served with cottage cheese) all served atop Injera (the native bread in Ethiopia)!  Students seemed a bit uneasy as we were about to dig into the dishes with just our hands, using the injera to help scoop up the food.  The uneasiness disappeared after their first bites and we ended class on a great note!

I can’t wait to see where we travel to next!   


Loving my time at Brainfood!

From Guest Blogger Melissa Zimmerman, Brainfood intern....

It has only been two months since I started interning and volunteering at Brainfood, but what an exciting two months it has been!  Time at Brainfood is fun, enjoyable and delicious! I always look forward to Mondays and Tuesdays to work with the Kitchen All Stars, anticipating the tasty meals we will be cooking for the night. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I would say the Lemon-Thyme Chicken, Jamaican Beef Patties and Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli have been some of my favorites. I have been amazed at how organized and skilled the students are when it comes to cooking, and have even learned a thing or two from them myself.  It’s great to witness their skill development and watch as they apply their knowledge and past workshop experiences to the next class.  The students have become increasingly efficient in their time management, cooking and cleaning and they work together extremely well.  The best part is when we all get to test out the foods at the end and see (and taste!) the hard work that has paid off.  Even better, the kids get to take home the leftovers to share with their friends and family, and to show everyone what’s been cooking at Brainfood.  I am definitely looking forward to the rest of the spring semester!

- Melissa Zimmerman, Brainfood Intern and student at George Washington University

Sodexo Youth Service Grant Approved!!

From guest blogger Carolyn Panzarella....

After hours of working to perfect  answers for the Youth Service America grant, our hard work has paid off!  We were granted our full budget for a workshop with Homeless Children’s Playtime Project.  The grant is meant to address the issue of childhood hunger with the hope that all the programs/projects granted funding will take place around Global Youth Service Day (April 20-22, 2012).  We received a shining report from the YSA staff in our approval letter: “We received many wonderful applications but yours stood out as one of the best.”   We were also mentioned in an article posted on Market Watch with regards to the upcoming project.



Cooking Alfredo on Classroom Desks: MVPs teach Workshop #2


Chicken.  Broccoli.  Alfredo.  This trifecta of ingredients has long caused Brainfood students to swoon (and sometimes drool) in anticipation of learning how to cook the much-beloved pasta dish.  The only catch to the traditional version dish is the jaw-dropping quantity of cream and parmesan cheese that go into the sauce.  The thick, creamy sauce that we all love often has enough sodium and saturated fat to send a small child into instant food coma – which is to say, the sauce severely compromises the nutritional value of eating the lean protein and fresh vegetable in the dish.  And yet, like any unhealthy food relationship, we just can’t say no.  And that’s exactly why Brainfood MVPS chose this recipe as the perfect candidate for a healthier makeover.

Kitchen All Stars having fun while cooking!

It’s been a great year so far for us. We have cooked so many great recipes.  A few we recipes we have prepared are oven baked mayo chicken, fake flaked chicken, James’ Honey BBQ wings, Spanakopita Chicken and Meatballs, Stuffed bell peppers, Yams with toasted spice rub, cobb salad, and a delicious chicken and strawberry salad just to name a few.

A Food Gallery Walk with Brainfood

From guest blogger Ibti Vincent, Weekly MVPs Classroom Assitant.... 

Last week marked Brainfood's first ever Community MVPs Open House and Food Fair, and boy was it a fun (and delicious) event! Though the group taught their first workshop at Walker Jones Elementary this fall, for many in attendance this was their first opportunity to see the peer nutrition educators hosting food demos and leading a special event.

Elevator Speeches, Super Bowl and Valentine's Day

From Guest Blogger Carolyn Panzarella, Community MVPs Intern....

The Community MVPs classroom has been bustling with activity in the last few weeks.  As always, we have been continuing practicing public speaking.  All this practice will be put into use in the coming months when we will be putting on more workshops. 

The students have been practicing their elevator speeches:  a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition.  We have done a number of exercises to perfect their speeches including volume practice in the big hall downstairs, as projecting voices is always a difficult task, and writing out the speech and pitching it to the class.  

A Valentine's Treat & Guest Chef visit!

From Guest Blogger Cara Oslager, Brainfood intern....

Hey Brainfood Fans! This is Cara, the intern from Kitchen All Stars on Mondays and Wednesdays.  This past Monday, we were very lucky to have our first guest chef come in!  Her name was Chef Lisa Biedrzycki, a pastry chef living here in DC.  She used to be a lawyer and then decided to follow her passion to become a chef and graduated as valedictorian from the Culinary Institute of America!  As a pastry chef, she has lots of experience making Petit Fours and this is what we were going to learn how to assemble.  We were lucky enough to have Chef Lisa bring in the pre-made layered cake so all we had to do was cut out shapes, put together a thick glaze, and learn how to pipe chocolate for designs!  Each group was given a rectangular cake of either chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream in the middle or a pound cake with blackberry preserve in the middle.  We then cut either the classic square shape or fun Valentine’s Day shapes for our petit fours.  Then, each group made a glaze consisting of powdered sugar and milk without a recipe.  It was a tough process in order to get the glaze to be the right thickness, but Chef Lisa was there to check out all of the groups.  She then let us use highly concentrated food coloring to create fun and bright colors for the icing.  Each group iced their petit fours while some group members focused on learning the design techniques using melted chocolate. 

The New Year with Brainfood Community MVP’s

From Guest Blogger Carolyn Panzarella, Brainfood MVPs intern....

The New Year has brought a whirlwind of new projects and recipes to the MVPs kitchen.  We have made homemade poptarts, turkey tacos and a delicious baked potato soup to name a few.  A highlight cooking session was our breakfast day when we made a scrumptious breakfast pizza topped with fried eggs and potato latkes with cinnamon apples.  Thank you to the Deb of the Smitten Kitchen blog for providing the recipes.  

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