John Robinson

Un-Recipes: Kale

We love recipes here at PB&J. We love discovering new recipe sites, spending hours reading cookbooks, trying exciting new recipes, and of course, building the perfect recipes for our students! But recipes can be time consuming! Sometimes recipes include exotic ingredients or they don’t use all of what you have on hand. And sometimes you just need to put some food on the table quick and easy!

To work around this issue, we are putting together a series of what we call “un-recipes.” These are brief how-to’s on preparing and serving some of the ingredients we are working with this summer.

First up: KALE! Kale is a PB&J favorite, as it is often one of the more transformative foods for our students. Often when we introduce students to kale we get a chorus of “ewwwww” and “yuuuuck!” Honestly, we get it, it can be tough, very green, and even kind of looks like mini-alien-trees. But by the end of our classes we have kids begging for more!

What is it?

Kale is a leafy green in the same family as broccoli, cabbage, and collard greens. It has a mildly bitter-sweet flavor, and it can be a little chewy (though the younger it is, the more tender and sweet it is).

What are 3 good ways to eat it?

As a salad.

If you can get younger, small kale (3-4 inch leaves) you can just tear it up and throw it in with your lettuce or other salad greens. If the leaves are bigger, you can remove the stems, cut or tear the kale into bite-sized pieces, then massage some olive oil (about 1 tbs per bunch) into the kale to tenderize it before dressing it as you would any other salad. We love kale with a lemon vinaigrette, Caesar dressing, or even Asian-inspired vinaigrette with some soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.


If you’re looking for more of a hot dish to make with kale. We love sautéed kale. Start by removing the stems and chopping it into bite-sized pieces. Then, mince 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, or half an onion, 1 tsp of chili flakes, or even 1 tbs of fresh ginger, you want a little bit of something aromatic for flavor. Add 1 tbs of cooking oil to a hot skillet or sautée pan over medium-high, and let it heat for 20-30 seconds. Then add the garlic, onion and spices and let them cook until you can smell them. Then add the kale and turn the heat down to medium. Let the greens go without stirring them for 3-4 minutes, until they start to turn dark green. Then give them a good stir and let them cook until they’re all dark green and even have a few browned bits.


Braised greens are great when the weather turns a bit cooler. Start the greens the same way as sautéing, but when you would stir in the sautéing version, add about 1-2 cups of liquid (water, stock, vinegar, any liquid!) and let it cook until the liquid is mostly gone

Why is it good for me?

Kale is super healthful! It has lots of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K.

How can I get it?

You can find good kale at almost every grocery store, you can find different, colorful varieties at farmer’s markets, and it is supremely easy to grow from seed if you have a garden!

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This Spring, by the numbers

We had a busy spring in the kitchen! Over 19 weeks from January to May we held 164 classes with 915 participants. That adds up to a lot of meals and smiles! We’re grateful to all of our partners, instructors and volunteers who helped to make this semester a success.

We held 104 CHEF Kids classes with 172 students this spring. Our CHEF Kids unit themes were TexMex, Cooking Around the World, and Asian Cuisine. CHEF Kids classes occur after school for elementary and middle school students. One of our favorite recipes was Turkey Lettuce Wraps! Our partners for these classes included: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia, Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries, City of Promise, Community Attention, Community Housing Partners and Piedmont Housing Alliance.

26 CHEF Families classes were held with 125 parents and children. Our CHEF Families programs are held with ReadyKids and Young Lives. These classes introduce nutrition tips specific for families with young children, such as tips for picky eaters and age appropriate table manners. Our favorite CHEF Families recipe was Red Lentil Curry which was also a recipe for Holiday Giving.

618 students from both Charlottesville City and Albemarle County elementary schools come to the kitchen for a field trip in our CHEF for a Day classes. These field trip experience are for students in pre-kindergarten through third grade classes where students make a simple but healthy and delicious recipe. Our curriculum includes skills like reading a recipe, measuring ingredients and trying a new food.

To make all of our programs run smoothly we had the help of 46 volunteers from the community and Madison House. They helped us wash countless dishes, helped kids with their knife skills and hopefully had fun, too! We can’t wait to see what the kids cook up this summer!

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Giving and Getting Food in Charlottesville

Some of our leftovers from a delicious Winter and Spring!

We’re in a programming break until next week and have been doing some Spring Cleaning! One thing we need to deal with during this time is lots of left-over food items. We buy our groceries based on best estimates for attendance. But classes get canceled for weather or other reasons from time to time. What do we do with the leftovers? Maybe you have a lot of extra food in your pantry? Or maybe you’re in a stretch where you need some help stocking your pantry?

Thankfully, we have a diverse and strong community network of food resources as well as community partners that take food donations.

We’ve compiled a list below. To find the most up to date list, please visit: If you are searching for additional resources, the United Way compiles an annual list of where to turn for support here:

Holy Comforter Catholic Church   
208 E. Jefferson Street, Charlottesville 434.293.8989 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 10am-12pm 
Loaves and Fishes   
2050 Lambs Road, Charlottesville 434.996.7868 Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:30-8:30pm 
Wednesdays 2-4pm 
Saturdays 10am-12pm 
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church   
717 Rugby Road, Charlottesville 434.293.8179 1st Friday 8:30-11am 
Bethany Seventh Day Adventist   
401 Harris Street, Charlottesville 434.293.7430 2nd Sunday  1-2:30pm 
New Beginnings Christian Community   
1130 E. Market Street, Charlottesville 434.872.0800 Saturday  12-1pm 
Emergency Food Network    
900 Harris Street, Charlottesville 434.979.9180 Every weekday (Call first between 9-12) 1:30-3:30 pm (pick-up same day) 
The Haven   
112 W. Market Street, Charlottesville 434.973,1234 Everyday 8-9am 
Salvation Army   
207 Ridge Road, Charlottesville 434.295.4058 Everyday 7-8am, 12-12:30pm & 5:45-6:45pm 
Church of Our Savior   
1165 E. Rio Road, Charlottesville 434.973.6512 Monday and Wednesday 12:30-2pm 
Friday 10:30am-12pm 
First United Methodist Church  101 E. Jefferson Street Monday 12-2pm 
Christ Episcopal Church  103 W. Jefferson Street Tuesday 12-2pm 
First Presbyterian 500 Park Street Wednesday 12-2pm 
Holy Comforter Catholic Church 208 E. Jefferson Street Thursday 12-2pm 
First Baptist Church  735 Park Street Friday 12-2pm 
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Summer means healthy produce!

Summer is coming! Step outside and you can already feel it in the air (and maybe your sweat glands). While we may not love the summer humidity, we love the summer produce! Here in Virginia, there are lots of great, local fruits and vegetables, but at PB&J we have to ask what the healthiest choice is. We went to Ms. Amy Curtis (our resident Registered Dietitian) to give us a break down of the health benefits of some of the fruits and vegetables that grow in the summer. 

Fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients that are great for your body. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps your body heal. Vitamin A supports your immune system and helps your eyeballs see! Potassium is an electrolyte that helps with almost all of your body’s functions. And of course there’s fiber, which helps support your digestive system (stomach and intestines) and keeps you feeling full longer.  

But which summer produce is good for which nutrient? Well, Ms. Amy put together some lists for us! She tells us that an excellent source of a nutrient is one that gives you 20% or more of your recommended daily value of that nutrient, while a good source gives you 10-19% of your daily value. 

Excellent Sources of Vitamin C:Good Sources of Vitamin C:
Bell Pepper 
Leafy Greens 
Yellow Squash
Sweet Corn 
Green Beans 
Excellent Sources of Vitamin AGood Sources of Potassium:
Leafy Greens 
Sweet Corn 
Sweet Corn 
Excellent Sources of Fiber :Good Sources of Fiber :
Green Beans 
Sweet Corn 
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Introducing our Fall Interns!

Fall 2018 Interns

It’s fall in C-ville! The weather is cooling, the leaves are turning, and programming is in full swing at PB&J. All of our programming relies heavily on volunteer support to be successful, and some of the most crucial volunteers are our trusty interns!

This fall we are welcoming quite the dynamic duo in Claire Prioleau and Martha Anne Sperandio. Claire is a 3rd year at UVA’s Curry School, majoring in Youth and Social innovation, from Fort Worth, TX. She volunteered in classes all of last year, and is a poised, strong leader. Martha Anne is a 4th year at UVA, majoring in Global Public Health & Anthropology, from Glen Allen, VA. She has worked on food equity in Richmond and other places, and this is her first time volunteering with PB&J and brings a positive spirit to all that she does.

Thanks to Claire and Martha Anne for you energy and effort! You really make PB&J go!

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The PB&J Fund has concluded our pilot partnership with CAYIP (Community Attention Youth Internship Program).  Six teen interns joined us for four weeks of intensive culinary training, while also providing much needed operational support and helping out in classes with younger students.  Aliyah, Cedric, Donshea, Patrick, Pyi, and Nykala brought great energy and curiosity into our space and we’re grateful for their efforts!

The interns received safety training, learned a variety of knife skills, practiced setting up food prep stations, deboned a variety of meats, studied how to develop and balance flavors, and were introduced to the expectations of working in a professional kitchen.  All left more confident in their culinary skills and four who achieved perfect attendance also went home with their very own professional chef’s knife.

Each intern was fortunate enough to gain real world experience through the generous support of partner restaurants.  We are deeply grateful to Brasserie Saison, Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar, The Alley Light, and The Pie Chest for opening up their hearts and kitchens to provide such a unique learning experience for the interns.  We’re thrilled to announce that one of our interns landed a permanent part-time job with her partner restaurant!

“My favorite part of the experience was learning different ways to cook. About myself, I learned that I can work under pressure,” said one intern, Aliyah Cobbs. “The whole experience was really fun. “

Their time with us culminated with a culinary cook-off.  Teams were challenged to come up with a recipe from scratch, pulling from all they had learned over their time in the kitchen.  The final creations of shrimp lettuce wraps and roasted chicken with risotto were excellent and both teams had much to be proud of.

Many thanks to our very own CHEF Kids Program Manager John Robinson and Executive Chef Antwon Brinson for all their efforts to develop a thoughtful curriculum, create a fun and meaningful learning environment, and motivate these young folks to follow their dreams.  

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We want you! 👉

Looking for a fun and meaningful volunteer opportunity during the next academic year?  The PB&J Fund is looking for somebody to work 5-8 hours per week supporting data collection, facility operations and classroom preparation. This is an unpaid internship but a great learning and service experience to have on your resume. 

Hours are flexible on weekdays and during normal business hours.  Ideal candidate has reliable transportation, is an energetic self-starter who can also work well with direction, and is excited to support PB&J Fund’s work with youth and families.  For more info, please contact Ryan Jacoby at or (434) 244-3317. 

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We are thrilled to be piloting a new program this summer in partnership with CAYIP (Community Attention Youth Internship Program).  We have six interns joining us for four weeks – each week they’ll be led through intensive culinary training by our own CHEF Kids Program Manager John Robinson and Executive Chef Antwon Brinson, while also providing general operational support (e.g. setting up for classes, volunteering in youth programming, etc.).  

The culinary curriculum includes safety training, knife skills, how to set up food prep stations, practice cooking with different vegetables and meats, and much more.  Plus, our instructors will be supporting CAYIP’s soft skills development such as communication, interviewing, and teambuilding.

Additionally, each intern will spend time working with a partner restaurant getting practical, real world “back of house” experience.  We’re extremely fortunate to have the support of four area restaurants – Brasserie Saison, Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar, The Alley Light, and The Pie Chest are all opening up their kitchens to provide a unique learning experience for the interns.  

Each of these young men and women self-identified as having a particular interest in culinary arts and/or the food service industry.  The intent of this unique program is to build on these aspirations, empowering them with the culinary skills and professional knowledge needed to gain quality employment with opportunities for advancement.  

Please be sure to follow us over the rest of the summer on FB and Instagram for pics and updates as our interns move through the program!

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Welcome Summer Interns!

Summer programming is in full swing and it’s wonderful to have the kitchen filled with children, laughter, and curious chefs!  Our jerk chicken and lemony kale salad, with a side of summer cantaloupe, were a big hit last week.
We want to give a special shout out to our fabulous summer interns.  Alexandra, Carlin, and Elly are giving a lot of time to PB&J this summer, helping to ensure that we’re fully supported during classes and providing critical operational support behind the scenes.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and stay tuned throughout the summer for more updates on what’s happening at PB&J, including an exciting pilot program for teens!

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A wrap on National Nutrition Month!

We are wrapping up National Nutrition Month here at PB&J. This year’s theme was “Go Further with Food,” which is a celebration of healthy choices that build ongoing energy throughout the day and also limit food waste. In honor of this, we had Make-Your-Own Omelette stations set up for our students in the kitchen last week. Omelettes are a great protein packed breakfast option, and also a creative way to use up some of your leftovers! Simply chop up any roasted veggies from last night’s dinner, add a little reduced-fat cheese and just like that you’ve got a healthy breakfast!


Serves 1


  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • Non-stick cooking spray

TOPPINGS: turkey bacon, onions, spinach, diced tomato, reduced-fat shredded cheese, mushrooms, diced green pepper.


  1. Crack eggs into a bowl.
  2. Add salt and pepper, blending with a fork.
  3. Heat a 10-inch non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Pour eggs into center of pan. Using a rubber spatula or tilting the pan, move egg mixture around until the excess liquid touches each part of the pan. Let omelet sit in pan for 10 seconds without touching.
  5. Shake pan to loosen the omelet.
  6. Add toppings.
  7. Using your spatula, fold omelet in half.
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