Watermelon is just what a body needs to stay hydrated and cool in our nonstop summer heat. Lucky for us, watermelon season in Central Texas is just about to start, and lasts until October or November, right around the time the first cool front arrives. In fact, we just got word that...more
With winter’s parsley, fennel and cilantro still available, and summer’s basil, dill and mint starting to take off, spring in Austin is a perfect time to get into gardening and cooking with herbs!
Herbs are easy to grow and tend to be pest and disease resistant. They can be planted in...more
Molly Costigan, The Happy Kitchen Program Manager
Amy Rodman, Business Development Manager
Since 2015, The Happy Kitchen’s Spice it Up! Cooking classes have provided participants with a new perspective on food, presenting it not just as recipes, but as a powerful tool for health and healing. Classes have included ingredient-specific health and nutrition education,...more
It’s official: Summer grilling season is here! Expand your repertoire and celebrate the upcoming Independence Day holiday with some summer fruits and veggies that taste great grilled! Here are three new things to try your hand at grilling, if you haven’t already....more
Mother’s Day gifts don’t have to be store-bought or expensive to make Mom happy; they just need to come from your heart. We have oodles of creative, inspiring and heartfelt gifts for all the moms in your life. From classes on sustainable gardening to gifts you made yourself, local foods &...more
With so many skin care products to choose from, making good choices can be downright confusing. You can simplify your skincare product search and routine by choosing quality over quantity. And, if you have the DIY gene, you can even learn to make these products yourself. They make great gifts,...more
What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning? A steamy cup of coffee? A warm glass of tea? Well, for me, a hot, creamy bowl of oatmeal is just the thing I need to get my day going. If you grab a quick bite to eat on your way out, or skip breakfast altogether, you may want to rethink...more
If you ask us, access to fresh, affordable food goes beyond the physical access of location and geography -- access also depends on having the know-how and the time to cook regularly for ourselves and our families. It’s easy to say that cooking at home is cheaper in dollars than eating out. But...more
Registration is now open for Cooking After Cancer, a six-week class from SFC's The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® . Class meets on Mondays, March 28-May 2, from 6-7:30 PM at SFC.
The series is recommended for participants who are at least 4 to 6 months out of treatment, and...more
From the beginning SFC’s The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® (THK) Six-week Cooking Class Program included innovative features that make the program successful and different from traditional cooking classes:
· THK uses the Social Cognitive Theory Concept of Behavioral...more
In the middle of the afternoon, everyone gathers around a big sack of corn. From little children to grandparents, they separate the grains from the cobs. The women take the separated kernels, throw them into the air and catch them—allowing the wind to take away some of the loose hulls. Then,...more
If you have heart disease, or are concerned that you might develop heart disease, you probably already know a few things about a heart-smart diet.
You know not to eat unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates and too much sodium. And you know you should eat more vegetables, whole grains and...more
Your best defense against illnesses and allergies at any time of year is a healthy immune system. Your immune system – your whole body – functions better when it is well nourished. This means getting enough of what you need and getting rid of what you don’t need. Read on for our top five food...more
When the winter cold makes us want to eat warm, cozy things indoors, lentil soup is an excellent choice. Lentils make the soup hearty and filling. The spices and flavors in this version, like cinnamon, garlic, and red pepper flakes, make the soup extra warming. The soup is also...more
Within the problem of food security is an opportunity to discover a traditional Mexican food: beans.
With increased evidence that diets high in animal protein are both unsustainable and unhealthy, the humble bean is a powerful alternative. High in protein and insoluble fiber, beans provide...more
Mock Risotto with Swede Farm Goat Cheese and Logro Farms Mushrooms
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 onion, diced
2 large clove of garlic, minced
1 large tomato, diced
There are many pieces that make SFC’s The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® program stand out from other cooking and nutrition programs. One of the primary features is the emphasis on local and seasonal food, grown by our farmers here in Central Texas. Just how much? Well, let’s look at...more
If it’s not too late to add another dish to your table this Thanksgiving, try this winter squash recipe for some great fall flavors. And if your menu has been set in stone for weeks, it would also be an excellent fit for your post-indulgence transition back to lighter eating. Because it’s a...more
As we welcome cooler temperatures and shorter days, we also welcome the late fall Central Texas Bounty. Whether you’ve got vegetables ready to be harvested in your own garden, or brought home more than you know what do to with at the SFC Farmers’ Markets, here are The Happy Kitchen’s Top 5...more
“Día de la Raza” and native heritage is celebrated on October 12, the anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to this continent, officially known in Hispanic America as the Encounter of Two Cultures. One of the consequences of that day was the interchange of foods with the...more
Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church has been hosting SFC’s The Happy Kitchen community cooking class series since 2008, and their series is consistently among the easiest series to organize and...more
When it comes to sticking with healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle, things can get off track so fast! I wanted to share a few things that have helped me keep up with eating healthy, staying fit, and falling in love with the process instead of hating all of the changes....more
If you’re like us, you brown bag it most days. It’s cheaper and it takes less time than eating out. And it’s one meal that doesn’t have to be tailored to anyone’s tastes but your own.
So, what’s in your lunchbox? Any whole grains? There really should be! Hot or cold, whole grains for...more
Jayme Moore & Kate Griffin, Tandem Midwifery; Jessica Burleson, Baby Taste Buds
A single whiff of cinnamon or even the sight of the crockpot can bring a flood of mouthwatering memories of the tastes of fall. From baked squashes and apple pie to chicken & dumplings and pot roast, fall flavors take us through the transition to cooler weather and heartier meals. Believe...more
In September, as temperatures finally fall below 100 degrees, our thoughts turn to the approaching fall season and the new array of vegetables that we can plant in our fall gardens. One of our favorite fall vegetables is the beet. This earthy root vegetable has been cultivated for thousands of...more
If only we had unlimited time or resources, then eating healthy every day, at every meal, would never be a problem. But making healthy meals in a hurry or on a budget can sometimes seem downright impossible. With a little planning, though, you can do it!
Planning quick, healthy and...more
Let’s be honest. Cooking takes some time. Some may even say it’s laborious, and avoid it. Having spent over 10 years in and out of kitchens, here are some of my top tips to save you time and effort, whether you’re a wiz kid or a complete novice!
Jamie Oliver is a master chef and champion of healthy food. While we love his recipes and dedication to promoting healthy food for kids, we fear we will not be using his crystal method for chopping onions. Chopping veggies with a crystal might be fun, but in our Essential Knife Skills class...more
You can count on finding fresh nopalitos in central Texas in the middle of summer. A staple food in México where it is prepared in kitchens all around the country, raw or cooked: boiled, stewed, fried or grilled. The flavor is slightly acid, tart with a slimy, chewy texture. Even when...more
Olivia Cason is a rising sophomore at St. Edward’s University and is completing a summer internship with SFC as part of a partnership between St. Edward’s and H-E-B. Olivia supports our summer field trip program in which local camps bring their campers (ages 4-15) for hands-on cooking and...more
On June 22, SFC’s The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® (THK) Program honored it’s Facilitators at the annual Facilitator Dinner. THK has a roster of 43 Facilitators, who are trained peer leaders from the community who are responsible for leading all of the free classes throughout the...more
The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 established what consumers know as the Nutrition Label, which informs consumers of the nutrients in products. The FDA is now considering altering nutrition labels to include information about added sugar in products between 2015 and 2016. This...more
During my last semester as a student at Texas A&M University, where I studied Community Health, I collaborated on a group project evaluating SFC’s The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre®. This project introduced me to SFC’s initiatives and led me to want to intern with SFC. At the...more
On Tuesday night, SFC’s The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® finished the spring “202” series. The 202 series is a follow-up series for past participants in any of The Happy Kitchen’s free six-week community classes. This series features a different local, seasonal produce item each week, and we...more
What’s not to love about the idea of stocking your pantry with homegrown, home-canned tomatoes? Well, botulism, for starters! In addition to being one of the most widely home-canned products, tomatoes are also one of the most widely spoiled home-canned products. Follow The Happy Kitchen’s steps...more
Loaded with antioxidants, fiber and vitamins, berries do a body good and, as they come into peak season, the markets are full of them!
After getting reacquainted with the simple pleasure of eating in-season berries au natural, the question is: what else? Now, putting berries in desserts is...more
One of our favorite parts of SFC’s The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre®’s community classes is the amazing groups we get to partner with when they host our classes. This spring, we have been lucky to work with Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, Martin Middle School, and Cook Elementary, and we...more
“The first three years of a child’s life are a window of opportunity for forming lifelong, healthy eating habits. Just as you teach proper behavior to a child, you also want to teach a child what good food is supposed to taste like.”
You can make your own baby food!...more
Earlier this month, SFC’s The Happy Kitchen staff had a chance to participate in the webinar, 2015 State of the Plate: An Overview of Fruit & Vegetable Consumption Trends. Given that The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® Program is...more
Daniela Ochoa moved to Austin in 2009, and credits her connection to SFC to an introduction to a staff member at a dinner party. She started volunteering and was especially interested in SFC’s garden resources when she realized that her carrots in Texas wouldn’t grow as well as they did where...more
In March, SFC’s The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® teamed up with Texas Oncology for a special class for Cancer Caregivers. Facilitated by an oncology doctor, a nutritionist and a cooking instructor, participants learned about current research and practices in cancer prevention, treatment and...more
“The flavorful space between fresh and rotten.” --Sandoor Katz
Fermentation is an ancient way of preserving food and its nutrients for months past the date of harvest. Chemically, it is the breaking down of foods by bacteria, yeasts, molds or other microorganisms. Many of the foods we...more
I joke that I spend 75% of the time thinking about food and planning meals, but I rarely write it down; it all lives in my head. However, I finally bought a dry erase board for the refrigerator where I could write down my meals I have planned. This week started with a cabbage—what to do with the...more
Pepper planting time each spring is truly an exciting one. There is such an amazing plethora of pepper varieties that choosing which to plant feels akin to filling a candy shop grab bag as a sugar-loving child. The wide array of pepper varieties--from tiny, round Pequín to long, narrow Tabasco;...more
SFC's The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® is excited to announce the next Cooking After Cancer series—a free six-week cooking class for cancer survivors! Class will meet on Mondays from March 23 to April 27 from 6-7:30 PM at SFC Teaching Kitchen, and we can provide free childcare and...more
Did you get a chance to cook with someone you love during February? If you’re like me and March snuck up on you before you had a chance to complete The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre®’s February kitchen resolution, maybe you can bring a loved one along for our March adventure! Our resolution for...more
Taking some extra time at the store to read the labels of packaged foods can help you reap health rewards for both you and your family. When looking at the Nutrition Facts Label, you’ll notice a percentage listed next to each micro- or macronutrient. This is called the Daily Value. It’s based on...more
Molly Costigan, Photo by Yana Kushner
Have you ever struggled to come up with a potluck dish that can be enjoyed by all in attendance? Here’s your answer! This recipe for Smokey Black Bean Quinoa Salad from The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® is naturally gluten-free, vegan, and nut-free. And, most importantly, it’s delicious! We...more
Meal Planning takes the edge off cooking for yourself or your family. It saves money, minimizes food waste, and maximizes your potential for healthy eating. But it’s not always easy. Here are some of the tips that will be highlighted in The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre®’s upcoming class for...more
The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre®’s (THK), goal is for individuals and families alike to cook more often with fresh, whole ingredients. Over the past several months, we have been revising our survey of cooking class participants to capture not just the types of foods participants are cooking...more
When I found out last year that the Sustainable Food Center was offering public cooking classes in their new training center close to my home, I was ecstatic. I had been looking for cooking classes that were practical and affordable. Also, many years ago after taking one of their gardening...more
It’s already February, so it’s time for a new resolution in The Happy Kitchen! In case you missed it, we’ll be choosing a different kitchen goal for each month of 2015.
In January, we committed to trying a new recipe each week, so if you followed along and enjoyed it, we hope you’ll keep...more
Our resolution for 2015 was to pick a new resolution each month. January’s resolution was to pick a new recipe each week and to try it.
I’m more of a “shoot-from-the-hip” kind of cook, meaning I usually buy ingredients that stand out to me (Beets are in season! I’m hungry for lentils!...more
January is National Slow Cooking Month! When it’s in the 30’s and 40’s outside in the morning (although it's been rising to 70’s around here this week!), slow cooking a big pot of veggies seems the natural thing to incorporate into your routine before heading off to work. Load up the crock pot,...more
If you don’t know how to cook, just the thought of it can be intimidating. Cooking takes time, ingredients cost money, and if things don’t turn out... well, you’re still hungry. But cooking doesn’t have to be hard (or expensive), and it can even be fun once you get the hang of it! We asked our...more
Recently, I sat down with Janet, who participated in The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre’s® 6-week series of cooking and nutrition classes for cancer survivors in the spring of 2012. One of the first things she said to me, in her warm Louisiana drawl, is that she feels weird about having the...more
Slow-cookers are handy year-round, but they are never more useful or appreciated than on these cold, short winter days. Which is probably why January is national Slow-Cooker Month!
From baked beans to cheesecake, there are so many ways to use your slow-cooker. Here are five ways we love to...more
Dark, leafy greens – think kale, collards, turnip greens, chard and spinach – are high in folate, a water-soluble B-Vitamin that everyone needs every day. We’re in luck for many months to come when it comes to finding these vital...more
Talking about folate…
In Mexico it is very common, though some see it as only folklore, to remind pregnant women not to skip beans. But it’s good advice: beans are very high in folate, especially pinto beans and black beans! The tradition is that if you are pregnant you need to have some...more
Don't let the holidays undo a year's worth of healthy eating! On average, people gain about a pound during the holidays. But if you're already overweight, the average weight gain is 5 pounds! We typically don't lose weight throughout the year, which means holiday weight gain tends to accumulate...more
The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® (THK) facilitators Ida and Navye, both mothers, recently got to share THK’s six-week community cooking class with a very different audience. While most of the community cooking classes are for adults and tend to appeal to a female audience, the group at...more
In The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® (THK), trained peer facilitators deliver free six week classes throughout the community. Most facilitators were THK participants themselves who wanted to become more involved with the program. Trainees undergo 12 hours of Facilitator Training classes to...more
Making mustard from scratch is incredibly easy and super satisfying! After only one attempt you will understand the basic process behind the hundreds of mustards at the grocery store—and then you can make something even tastier! All you need is mustard seeds and some pantry staples. Mustard...more
In The Happy Kitchen classes, we talk about meal planning a lot, and one idea that keeps coming up is that meal planning is more than just a list of meals to eat--it's also your shopping list and your to-do list! For me, the shopping and cooking part comes easily, but I have a hard time...more
Joy Casnovsky, The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® Program Director
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and you can make the most of your turkey (or chicken, duck, or goose) by saving the bones for stock. Homemade stock is more economical, more flavorful and healthier than store-bought, packaged stocks, or bouillon cubes. And it’s E-A-S-Y!
Only a lucky few of us grew up baking alongside our mothers, aunties and grandmothers, inheriting a treasure trove of reliable family recipes and techniques. But where do the rest of us turn when the baking bug bites?
There are hundreds of baking books to turn to, and the internet is...more
“What is that SMELL?”, is something I’m used to hearing from my husband ever since I started fermenting vegetables, fruit, eggs, honey... practically everything! Prompted by a pre-diabetes diagnosis, I became interested in fermentation as a way of making healthy dietary changes. I soon picked...more
Joy Casnovsky, Program Director The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre®
Many root vegetables, such as beets, when first discovered by humans, didn’t really have any beet root at all—the leaves were just eaten. After time, humans selected for plants that yielded larger, starchier roots and –voila- today we grow beets and other root vegetables primarily for their...more
Before the advent of freezers and modern preservation techniques, one of the few ways to keep food for longer than a few days was to ferment it. Many of your favorite foods and drinks are probably fermented. Think: sourdough bread, cheese, wine, beer, mead, cider, chocolate, coffee, tea,...more
Is it possible to make a balanced meal for 4 for under $20? It sure is and The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® will show you how!!
I first started off with what we already had in our pantry and then built the meal around that—canned salmon, lentils, homemade (frozen) chicken...more
Spice it up! Autumn is all about the warm flavors of fragrant spices. But they're not just about delivering flavor: the oils in spices also contain medicinal healing properties like aiding digestion, reducing inflammation, controlling blood sugar and stimulating appetite. Read on for some of our...more
Think eating whole grains at breakfast boils down to two choices: bran-heavy cereal products or oatmeal? Think again! We don't have to rely on the old standbys that live in a special place in the pantry and only come out at breakfast time. Besides being rather ho-hum, processed oatmeal and...more
The incredible, edible egg: versatile, affordable, low in calories but packed with nutrition, eggs are an essential element of a culinary repertoire and something any home cook can master. Eggs are easy and quick, but making great eggs is about managing time and temperature, and learning some...more
Sustainable Food Center Grow Local Staff
Color and texture are key elements of lettuce, an often overlooked component of our salads and sandwiches. However, lettuce should not be limited to the few varieties sold in most grocery stores. There are many types of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) varying in color and texture that grow well in our...more
If you're the sort to listen to your mother, you know how important breakfast is. Finding the time to make it happen, though, can be a challenge now that we're all grown up. Eating a healthy breakfast provides a foundation for making smart food choices all day and offers energy for physical...more
Like a loyal old friend, a cast iron skillet never lets you down. Cast iron pans can literally last for generations; considering you’ll have it for a lifetime, the initial investment of around $20 seems like almost nothing.
Offering a super hot cooking surface and even heat conduction,...more
Aaaand . . . Action! This summer, SFC was thrilled to host MPOWERED, a youth program that focuses on Media Literacy, Food Justice, and African American Quality of life. The program engages black youth actively in developing and implementing solutions to health and wellness issues in their...more
Scene: Thursday at 6:00. There are errands to run, laundry to do, and everyone's starving (and not quietly). That recipe that seemed so enticing on Sunday afternoon suddenly feels daunting . . . and of course, a crucial ingredient never made it into your shopping basket. These are the moments we...more
Some of the world's best recipes were born from frugality--a need to stretch ingredients or use up odds and ends (think bread pudding, fried rice, and stuffed cabbage). Got a half loaf of slightly stale bread? That's not filler for the compost bin, that's the start of a hearty main-dish salad!...more
Ripe, heavy, and dripping with juice: summer eating's all about the tomato. At the markets these days, you'll find all manner of lovely specimens--cherries, heirlooms, slicers, and canners. And with temperatures finally approaching summer's highs, we're loving this recipe that makes the most of...more
The incredible abundance of summer produce brings with it just a wee bit of anxiety. We know all this ripe, juicy flavor is only around for a limited time, so how do we make the most of it? Certainly with recipes like this simplest of pastas--a true celebration of pure, powerful tomato flavor,...more
Freezing food has been around a long time--and by a long time, we mean thousands and thousands of years. Long before we harnessed electricity, people buried summer food deep in the tundra to see them through harsh winters. As history progressed, we continued to squirrel away food in the winter...more
A little rain changes everything. At the market this spring and summer, we've seen how the earth celebrates, yielding tender greens long into the summer and bursting forth with heavy tomatoes, plump squash and eggplant, and most of all by offering us an abundance of sweet, juicy melons, peaches,...more
Maize which is more commonly known as corn, is one of the most ancient food crops in the world. Originally domesticated in Mesoamerica, the Olmec and Mayan cultures cultivated corn for its grain, which easily grew in different climates. When grown with squash and beans, corn forms the nearly...more
Breakfast for supper: sometimes upending the day makes a whole lot of sense. Why should the simplest meal of the day always be in the morning? Sometimes, after a long list of work, to-dos, errand running, and juggling of hectic schedules, there's not a lot left in us for an elaborate meal. The...more
Your mother wasn't wrong. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day! With breakfast, we get our metabolisms going and set the foundation for what and how we eat the rest of the day. Skip it, and we're prone to blood sugar crashes and poor meal choices. Tight schedules and busy...more
They're spicy, sure, but there's more to chiles than just heat. Underneath the tongue-tingling effects of capsaicin compounds, you'll discover layers of fruitiness (they are, after all, fruits), and sweet complexity along with the characteristic mild bitterness all peppers share. We love how...more
Swimming holes, fireflies, school-free mornings, and frozen treats: summer is here! Too-sweet Sno Cones and store-bought ice cream might be filled with questionable ingredients, though, and aren't always the healthiest choice. When everyone screams for ice cream, reach instead for this cool,...more
For those living alone, cooking for one can feel lonely, and eating out becomes an unhealthy default. At least that's what Cookie used to think. Faced with a need to make serious changes in her diet and eating habits, she recently finished a six-week cooking and nutrition class for cancer...more
Summer's here! Our favorite thing about drifting from spring into warmer weather is the way afternoon get-togethers linger longer, with laughter and conversation stretching as long as the twilight, and small plates make a meal with minimal effort or planning. Such evenings are all about having...more
Our local farmers grow gorgeous herbs--and we're celebrating by declaring May "herbs" month! These intensely-flavored and fragrant botanicals elevate even the simplest recipes, adding complexity and heady aromas with little effort. This week, an herb-flecked green mayo dressed up a simple spring...more
What if we told you about a nutritionally dense, exceptionally tasty crop you could grow with no soil, minimal water, and zero weeds to pull that would be ready to harvest in just four days? We're not crazy . . . we're crazy about sprouts! Sprouts are the brand new stem and leaves that emerge...more
We start with the best of intentions. We read food magazines and flip through cookbooks. We make a menu plan for the week, built around seasonal dinners and healthy brown bag lunches. We stock our pantry, and we head out for the farmers' market . . . only to discover that the onions aren't quite...more
You might or might not have a jar of homemade sauerkraut in the fridge. If you don't and you want one,The Happy Kitchen and Hip Girl Kate Payne can help you remedy that! No matter, whether you make your own or pick up a...more
Here at SFC, we are big believers in food in jars. We love processed and pre-made food--to make it fresh and healthy, we just prefer to be the ones processing and pre-making it! Once you start making your own pantry staples, you'll be amazed at how simple it is to have healthy, real-food...more
Today we have a special treat for you! A delightful recipe from one of Austin's best chefs!
Chef John Lichtenberger, Head Chef of Peche, was a member of the second graduating class from the French Culinary Institute in New York. He has extensive experience in French cuisine and...more
Five a day for better health, right? We all know we should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, but it’s easier said than done when you feel all thumbs with a knife and cutting board. Never fear--The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® to the rescue! Chopping up vegetables for a salad, stir-fry or...more
In May 2004, my life changed forever, when I heard those words, “You have cancer”. I heard nothing after those words. I had surgery and did what the doctor’s told me to do. Over a course of 3 years I gained over 30 pounds, due to the medication. I took the last dose of that medication in...more
Without its 40+ Facilitators, The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® would not be able to operate. The Program is built upon the peer to peer model, training community members to become Facilitators. Informative (and fun!) six-week classes and workshops are then delivered to communities in need....more