Five Times a Feast Brings Generations Together

The aroma of fresh garlic and the sound of the Temptations’ “The Way You Do the Things You Do” filled the classroom at Walter P. Carter Elementary / Middle School in Baltimore, where five families were gathered on a Tuesday evening in October. The adults grooved and sang along while helping their children and grandchildren chop and mix ingredients for a meal of lemon garlic shrimp and broccoli orzo (recipe below).

Family cooking

This evening of community cooking was part of Five Times a Feast, a program of the Institute for Integrative Health that’s aimed at breaking down barriers to healthy home-cooked meals, such as affordability and a lack of time, knowledge, and comfort in the kitchen.

Cooking together

The seven-week series, which was conducted at three downtown sites this year, covers cooking techniques, strategies for saving time and money, and nutritional aspects of meal planning. In addition to sessions in the kitchen/classroom, participants take excursions to a farmers’ market and a grocery store to discover how to get the best food at reasonable prices.

Over the course of the program, participants spend more than 20 hours engaged in hands-on learning which often results in culinary magic. Sessions conclude with a group meal and each family takes home four more servings of the evening’s dish.

Family cooking

Watching three generations cook together, bonding over colorful stir-fries and flavorful butternut chili, it’s clear that Five Times a Feast nourishes more than the body.

“When a family is having fun working towards healthier living together, they’re more likely to succeed than when just one person is trying to bring the others along. It makes healthy lifestyle changes more sustainable,” said Alica Diehl, the Institute’s community programs coordinator and creator of the program.


Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli Orzo Skillet


12 oz. shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil

8 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

16 oz. orzo pasta

4 cups low sodium

chicken broth

6 cups broccoli florets, chopped

1 cup parsley, chopped

3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

1-1/2 Tbsp chives, minced

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tsp black pepper


Add 1⁄4 cup of olive oil, minced garlic, 1⁄2 tsp of salt, and shrimp to a small bowl. Toss to coat and set aside for 20-30 minutes.

After the shrimp have marinated for 20-30 minutes, heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the
shrimp and its marinade, and cook 1-2 minutes on each side, until pink. Wash the bowl.

Reduce heat to low. Add balsamic vinegar, and cook for a few minutes, stirring quickly until the liquid coats the shrimp and begins to thicken. Transfer into a clean bowl and set aside.

Heat 2 more Tbsp of olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook about 3 minutes.

Add orzo to the pot and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Stir in chicken broth. Bring it to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer.

Simmer until the orzo is slightly under al dente, about 4 minutes.

Stir in broccoli, cover, and simmer for 10-15 more minutes, until broccoli is tender.

Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1⁄4 cup of olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, basil, chives, black pepper, and remaining 1⁄2 tsp of salt if desired.

Top with shrimp and serve.