Eagle County kids craft healthy recipes
EDWARDS — Seven kids, age 8 to 12, donning white chefs hats and serious expressions, carefully prepared recipes they created at the Edwards Elementary School cafeteria on Monday evening. Each one was hoping to impress the four judges, which included chef Kelly Liken, in hopes of eating at her namesake restaurant with their parents on Friday evening.
For Edwards Elementary School student Chloe Putnam, 8, it was the chance to meet Liken that prompted her to enter the inaugural Sowing Seeds Recipe Cook-off contest, she said.
Putnam’s entry, titled “Fabulous Pita Pizzas,” was inspired by her own tastebuds, as well as her fathers.
“I like hummus and pita bread and falafel, and my dad likes Greek salads with chicken, and so I combined them,” she said as she carefully sprinkled chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and olives atop the fourth pita pizza she constructed for the judges.
‘Do something healthy’
The idea for the contest came from Nicholas Hornbostel, 8, a third grader at Edwards Elementary School. This past summer, Hornbostel won a healthy cooking contest — “The Epicurious Healthy Lunchtime Challenge” — for his sushi salad recipe. He was the sole Colorado winner and as a result, he was invited to the White House for a state dinner where he got to meet Michelle Obama.
“(Michelle) said she believed me that I could do something similar in my county and do something healthy,” Hornbostel said.
And so he did. Along with his mom, Monika, Liken and Sowing Seeds, a Colorado-based edible schoolyard garden enrichment program that Liken helped start locally, they launched the Eagle County Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. Kids between ages 8 and 12 were invited to create and submit a healthy, affordable and tasty original lunch recipe. There were a total of 58 entries, of which the judges chose seven to participate in the final cook-off taste test on Monday evening.
Back in the cafeteria, Kaden Williams, 9, an Edwards Elementary School student, helped his mom arrange pieces of tortilla chip-crusted tilapia atop a salad he made from spinach, romaine lettuce, chopped red and yellow peppers, corn, black beans and salsa.
“We just tested (the recipe) last night for dinner, and we thought it was pretty good,” Williams said.
While Williams likes to help his mom in the kitchen, especially with making hamburgers for his family during the summer, his favorite thing to make is Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese, he said.
Other recipes ranged from Kiah Gongware’s “Frogurt” — layered Greek yogurt with peaches, pineapple and dark chocolate all frozen into a sweet treat — to 9-year-old Owen Grimmer’s “Fall Medley Meatloaf,” made with ground turkey, broccoli, carrots, apple, egg, quinoa, skim milk and spices.
Evie Geddes, 9, used a kitchen gadget her grandmother bought her to construct her vegetarian “Rice Cubes” entry, made with sushi brown rice, carrots, avocado and edamame and topped with terriyaki sauce and shredded carrots. She served the neatly packed cubes to the judges on square sushi plates with chopsticks and a glass of skim milk on the side.
Eleven-year-old Grant Maurer’s “Sweetness on a Stick” was essentially a whole meal on a skewer with watermelon, chicken and cheese all cut into star shapes, finished with grapes and a dark chocolate-covered strawberry for dessert.
“I was thinking how can I get a balanced meal into one meal and I thought what’s better than to put it on a skewer,” said Maurer, 11, who served a fruit and yogurt smoothie alongside to “wash it all down.”
After quizzing each child about their dish and how they came up with it, the four judges — Liken, Hornbostel, Monika and Sowing Seeds director Sandy Story — sat down to taste test each dish and choose the three winners who best represented the USDA’s MyPlate guidelines, with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods included in the recipe.
While the judges were impressed with the “fun presentation” of Maurer’s dish, it was another food-on-a-stick recipe proclaimed a winner. Along with Williams’ tilapia salad and Putnam’s pita pizza, Kaiya Kelly’s Caribbean chicken kabobs with mango and pomegranate salsa, served atop whole grain rice, took home the grand prize: dinner at Restaurant Kelly Liken on Friday night with their parents.
“We want you to know that everyone is a winner and it was really, really hard to pick,” said Liken, who encouraged all of the finalists to enter their “very worthy” recipes into the national “Epicurious Healthy Lunchtime Challenge,” which takes place in the spring, Liken said.