Forget chicken nuggets and grilled cheese sandwiches, Eagle County 10-year-olds have fairly sophisticated palates for their age, as well as a pretty good grasp on what healthy cooking entails. There were lots of desserts, yes, but there were also plenty of vegetables and fruits, side dishes, entrees and more at the Little Foodies in the Kitchen recipe contest, which took place last week in Edwards as part of Vail Restaurant Month. From vegetarian chili to ceviche, and sushi stacks to shrimp and bulgur salad, the contest entries were creative as well as healthful."I thought it was fabulous," said Tracy Miller, a local chef and Vail Daily food columnist who judged the event. "I can't believe how many fifth graders are cooking healthy food - it was very inspiring."One of Miller's favorite entries, and one of the top five winning recipes, were frozen yogurt pretzel pops, made by 10-year-old June Creek Elementary student Ezri Perdue. Made from only three ingredients - yogurt, fruit and pretzel sticks - the frozen treats were quite healthy. We've included Perdue's recipe in case you'd like to recreate it."The berries in the pop matched the yogurt flavor, so blueberries with blueberry yogurt," Miller said. "And it was very creative of him to use the pretzel as the pop."
Sixty-two local fifth grade students submitted recipes to the contest and 34 were chosen as winners during the event at June Creek Elementary School in Edwards. Their prize? This afternoon, starting at 4 p.m. those kids will take part in a special after-school master cooking classes, followed by dinner, with top Vail chefs in their professional hotel-restaurant kitchens. Leading the master cooking classes will be Executive Chef Roger King of Restaurant 7One5 at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort, and Executive Chef Douglas Dodd of Tavern on the Square at The Arrabelle at Vail Square. "We are very excited to participate in the program again this year," Chef Dodd said. "It is important that we support these programs in our schools for better food choices. This is something that has really started to make a difference."Event organizer Sydney Hennis agreed."It's a really great thing for the community, the kids really enjoy it and that's the most rewarding part of it - seeing the kids get excited about healthy eating, healthy cooking, healthy food," said Hennis, who works at the Vail Marriott. "The kids talk about substituting this (ingredient) for that one and are focusing on what the whole point of this event is. I think I speak for all the chefs involved, all the volunteers and all the judges when I say the most important thing is to introduce a healthy lifestyle to these kids."