Competitions like American Idol and the The Biggest Loser draw in millions of people every week. But to my taste, another reality show competition beats them all: the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition.
- They created two of the ﬁfteen semi-ﬁnal recipes, one in the whole grain category and one in the vegetable category. No other school is in there twice!
- They’ve used great ingredients. Their whole grain entry, Mediterranean Quinoa salad, merges our love of both whole grains and the Med Diet. And their tator tots are made with yams, a staple on the African Heritage Pyramid Oldways is now creating.
- They’re the home team. You gotta root for the home team. (This is Red Sox territory, and that concept is ingrained in us from birth!)
According to an article in The Boston Globe, Bellingham’s student chefs caught the cooking bug in an afterschool cooking class run by area chefs in conjunction with Whole Foods Markets and the local YMCA. Last week, a panel of judges including USDA nutritionists and celebrity chefs visited the Bellingham cafeteria, where they judged the two Bellingham entries for student involvement, nutrition, creativity and originality, ease of use in schools, and presentation and appearance. Each recipe has to taste good, look good, be good for you – and be able to be produced in schools that often have limited cooking equipment, time or resources. A tall order — but one achieved by recipes like those ﬁnalists below!
$12,000 in prizes is at stake, including a grand prize of $3,000, a popular choice award of $1,500, and ﬁrst prize ($1,500) and second prize ($1,000) in each of the three recipe categories. The judges are now in the process of picking one ﬁnalist in each category; these ﬁnalists will take part in a July 25 cook-oﬀ in Texas. For the kids, though, the real top prize seems to be the opportunity to cook their dishes at the White House and meet Mrs. Obama – a privilege promised to the winning teams.While only a few teams will get as far as the White House, kids throughout the country will all win if their schools serve healthier, kid-tested foods, and if more kids get interested in where their food comes from and how to cook it. The Recipes for Healthy Kids competition is just one way that the First Lady is encouraging schools to improve their foods. She’s also promoting the Chefs Move to Schools program, run through the US Department of Agriculture, which matches chefs with schools in their community, so they can work together to create healthy meals and teach kids about good food. Mike Holleman, newly-elected chair of the Board of Advisors of Oldways’ Whole Grains Council, and Director of Culinary Development for Indian Harvest, is one such chef. He works with the Bemidji (MN) Public Schools, and is just loving the experience and the chance to contribute. [caption id=”attachment_2808” align=”alignleft” width=”186” caption=”Chef Mike, cooking up a storm”]