Bite of Brainfood Blog

Fall at Brainfood!

Blog post by Luisa Furstenberg-Beckman, Columbia Heights Kitchen All Stars instructor.

 Every year it seems like fall goes by in a flash. The leaves, the brisk air, the beautiful foliage arrive so quickly, not to mention the delicious seasonal foods: pumpkin, cinnamon, squash, sweet potatoes, and scrumptious baked goods!   

This fall at Brainfood, we have been cooking up a storm. Our Kitchen All Stars have been learning cooking from the ground up, starting with the basics: reading a recipe, measuring correctly, and learning about new kinds of kitchen equipment. After the first week we got into more exciting stuff: in our biscuit class, we used fresh sweet potatoes from the Brainfood Youth Garden to make sweet potato biscuits. YUM!! We learned that vegan food can be delicious (who knew?) when we made our vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes. We incorporated vegetables into baking, which shocked our students when we made delectable zucchini bread. 




Next week, our competitive spirits came out with our sandwich and pizza challenges. Students created their own signature sandwiches with the wacky, fun ingredients we provided, just as long as they used three different food groups and one ingredient they had never used before. Who knew that turkey bacon and nutella went together? We gave every sandwich shop in DC a run for its money with our original creations, and it was exciting to watch students explore their creative sides.



Food Day at Brainfood

October 24th was National Food Day.  Food Day ( is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Many events were scheduled in and around the DC area relating to the local and international food movement, food access and justice.  The main goal of Food Day is to strengthen the food movement to improve US food policies.  To celebrate Food Day, I decided to have a short discussion with the Chinatown classes to encourage our teens to add their opinions to the national food conversation.

Brainfood Grill Off 2012

By Brainfood Staffer Maeve Rafferty...

I believe we all crave to play, to work together, and maybe make a mess; maybe we’re all looking for a chance to get up out of our chairs and stuffy offices and create something, anything, brand new.

And if that something happens to be for a good cause? Even better. Our busy lives can make it difficult to find such outlets for creative expression, though the Brainfood Grill Off offers a space to do just that.

I remember hearing the logistics for the evening numerous times and feeling overly excited for the event, but also, I couldn't help from wondering: how such a thing could really happen?

You mean, teams are paired with a really talented local chef, who despite his or her expertise, can't really assist with the dish? And these dishes are made in one hour, with no recipe or prior knowledge of the ingredients provided, and then they’re judged? AND just to keep everyone on their toes, we throw a mystery protein in the mix too?


Bike Blender: Carrying Out the Brainfood Mission

By guest blogger, Julie Smith, Summer Intern

Our mission to promote healthy living has reached new levels with our bike blender! Not only are we making delicious and healthy recipes with the bike blender, but we are also incorporating exercise into our programing. It does it all: health, fitness, and fun.


Pay it Forward: My return to Brainfood

Submitted by guest blogger Khadijah Daniels, summer staff Intern....


Khadijah Daniels, center, as a Brainfood Summer Institute participant in 2007

If someone would have told me 5 years ago that I would be back as an intern for this very program, I would probably have laughed at them. I can't even begin to explain how honored and lucky I feel to have been a part of the Brainfood team this summer. Brainfood holds a special place in heart -- it’s the common contributor to the periods in my life where I feel I grew the most as a person. This program has done so much for me, so I made up my mind that I was going to give back in some way one day. When I found out I got the position, it was a huge deal for me because I had my heart set on working here. I felt like my life had come full circle -- my very first internship would be at a program that has been in my life since middle school.

Cooked to Perfection: A Successful Summer at Brainfood's Summer Institute

By Guest Blogger Cody Dunitz, Summer Intern

What a great summer it’s been here at Brainfood’s Summer Institute!  ‘How so?’ you may ask...well, here was the recipe for success in the kitchen this summer: Thirty cups of enthusiastic students (split evenly into six groups), four cups of fun and dedicated co-instructors, fifty-four tablespoons of mouth-watering recipes, five teaspoons of smiles, seven dollops of laughter (diced and tossed with the smiles), six cups of teamwork (you may substitute collaboration), one-third cup of willingness to try new foods, one and one-fourth cup of learning new knife skills (minced, batonneted, and julienned), and a quarter of a cup of ripe communication.


Open Kitchen Night 2012… “Greatness”

Written by LaSchelle' Owens, Summer Institute Instructor 2012

It has been a great summer! For 5 weeks students have grown individually as well as enhanced their cooking skills. Summer Institute Class 2012 Congrats!!! It has been well worth every moment of learning all about cooking, varying from knife skills, healthy alternatives, to cross contamination, and even a chance to prepare some dishes from a few international countries Jamaica, El Salvador and Thailand. Open Kitchen Night was designed to be a celebration of our student’s accomplishments and a chance for them to prepare and share their wonderful creations with their friends and family.

Good Food, Happy Bellies! Week 4 at Brainfood's Summer Institute

By Guest Blogger Cody Dunitz, Summer Intern

This week at Brainfood’s Summer Institute we made a veritable buffet of different types of delectable dishes.  We started the week off with an introduction to vegetarian and vegan foods, where we cooked delicious veggie burgers with homemade buns and banana berry smoothies with tofu (and despite some initial skepticism about the tofu, it ended up being a real hit!).  We then entered the wonderfully green world of salads, where we tossed together a strawberry chicken salad (with homemade mayonnaise!), a Caesar salad, and a cobb salad, all of which were a tasty triumph.


A Wonderful Week Three!!

By guest blogger Khadijah Daniels, Summer Intern...

This week our newbie chefs built on their cooking skills by working with, you guessed it, MEAT! Working with meat in the kitchen is a big step for a cooking novice and one must be extra careful when a recipe calls for meat.

The MVPs Returned on July 5th to Make Smoothies at Penn Quarter

This post contributed by Brainfood summer staffer, Julie Smith.

Da’Shia, Sudi and Armonte were back at it again on Thursday, July 5th for the MVPs second farmers’ market demo at Penn Quarter Fresh Farms Market. With the DC heat in full force, this time they came prepared to make something cool and refreshing: tofu berry smoothies! The smoothies are not only healthy and completely vegan, but they were also made with our very own human-powered bike blender. The bike blender was a fun way for everyone to get involved in making the smoothie.


The rest of the Brainfood staff also came by to participate in the workshop, as the Penn Quarter market is just around the corner from the Brainfood’s Chinatown office.  Amy and Cody both had a great time blending the smoothies on the bike.

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