Winners of the third annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge converged on the White House on Friday, July 18, for a Kids’ State Dinner hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. They came from all 50 states, three U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia for a meal that featured a selection of the kid-created recipes. All of the winning recipes met USDA's MyPlate guidelines.
Mrs. Obama told the winners and their parents that they set a strong example. “The truth is that if 8-, 9- and 10-year-old kids can cook and happily eat a healthy, tasty meal, then there is absolutely no reason why we can’t get nutritious food into every school in this country that kids will actually enjoy," she said. The First Lady challenged winners to "pay it forward" like last year's winner from Delaware, 10-year-old Braeden Mannering. His non-profit helps the homeless get food and clean water.
President Barack Obama made a surprise appearance at the event. He spoke about the First Family’s favorite food treats. Mrs. Obama loves French fries. Daughters Malia and Sasha love, respectively, ice cream and sushi. And the President? "Chips and guacamole," he said. "You guys are leaders in your schools and in your communities,” the president told the kids, “and you’re helping to teach folks the importance of good nutrition, the importance of putting good fuel in your bodies so that you’re living healthy, active lives."
The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge was open to young people between the ages of 8 and 12 and their parents. The competition received approximately 1,500 entries. They were judged in the first round based on nutritional value, taste, creativity and originality, affordability, and the story behind the recipe. Chefs then prepared the recipes in a second round of judging.
Cody Vasquez, 11, a third-generation chef from Arizona, created Shrimp Tacos with Watermelon Jicama Salad. He said he wants kids to "get active and be healthy," but also to "try different healthy foods." He wants his parents to serve his dish at their restaurants.
Cecilia Vinas, 10, from Connecticut, made a Quinoa Chicken Burger with Kale and Potato Chips. Where did her recipe come from? "I thought about what a lot of people like, and I thought of hamburgers. Then I tried to make them healthier."
Sabrina Swee, 12, from South Dakota, was inspired by a recent vacation to make Hawaiian Kale Wraps. Her mother, a dietician, taught Sabrina to include healthy ingredients.
In addition to winning a trip to the White House, the winners got a special apron, a cookbook, and a chance to work with young professional chefs. After the meal, they toured the White House Kitchen. You can watch a video about the contest here.
Are you hungry? You can read about all the winners and get their recipes in The 2014 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook.