First Lady Michelle Obama, PBS flagship station WGBH Boston, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the winners of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a nationwide recipe challenge for kids that promotes cooking and healthy eating, according to a press release.
Winners representing all U.S. states, five territories and the District of Columbia will attend a Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House hosted by Mrs. Obama on July 14. The 56 aspiring young chefs and a parent or guardian will join the First Lady for a healthy lunch, featuring a selection of the winning recipes, followed by a visit to the White House Kitchen Garden. Winners will also have the opportunity to learn from Rachael Ray, whose Yum-o! organization has joined to support this year’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.
One of those in attendance will be 10 year-old Danielle Mazlish from Pound Ridge, Westchester, who won with her recipe for Chicken Cheeseball Kabobs on Veggie Spaghetti (see the recipe below).
“In school, I did a report on Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! program and now I try to eat based on the MyPlate picture,” says Danielle. “I used chicken instead of beef for the meatballs, and I stuffed them with fresh mozzarella, because I love cheese! I put the meatballs on a stick, because I think it is fun to eat foods on a stick. I added carrots and yellow squash to make it colorful and taste even better. It looked like spaghetti, so I named it Veggie Spaghetti, and topped it with basil, which we grow. Everyone in my family loves it, even my brother, who is a picky eater!”
This is the fifth year of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner” in which kids ages 8-12 across the nation are invited to create a healthy, affordable, original, and delicious lunch recipe. New this year, Blue Apron will be featuring one of the winning recipes on their Family Plan menu for delivery the week of July 11 as part of their efforts to get the whole family into the kitchen preparing healthy meals.
“For the last five years, kids across the country have cooked up nutritious and delicious dishes as part of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, and each year, I continue to be impressed by their talent and creativity,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “Kids are truly embracing and enjoying healthy eating and preparing healthy meals for their families, and I look forward to meeting this year’s winners here at the White House for the Kids’ “State Dinner” and trying some of their tasty creations.”
Entrants were encouraged to reference ChooseMyPlate.gov to ensure recipes met the USDA’s recommended nutrition guidance. And in celebration of the MyPlate, MyState initiative, this year’s challenge put a spotlight on homegrown pride across the country and encouraged entries to include local ingredients grown in the entrant’s state, territory or community.
The full list of winners and recipes can be found online at pbs.org/lunchtimechallenge. Additionally, a free downloadable and printable e-cookbook of the winning recipes, including nutritional analyses and photos, will be available on July 14 on the contest site, LetsMove.gov,USDA.gov, and Ed.gov.
Chicken Cheeseball Kabobs on Veggie Spaghetti by Danielle Mazlish
Makes 6 Servings 351 calories 16g fat 27g carbohydrates 27g protein
For the Chicken Cheeseball Kabobs:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground chicken
1 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, dried
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ pound skim-milk mozzarella, cut into cubes
6 wooden skewers
1 ½ cups of marinara sauce for dipping (optional)
For the Veggie Spaghetti:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 yellow squash
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 ½ cups shredded carrots
2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
1. To make the Chicken Cheeseball Kabobs: Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease with olive oil. In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken, breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, seasoning, and garlic. In a small bowl, beat the egg with salt and pepper until well blended. Pour the egg into the chicken mixture and mix with a large spoon until blended. Using a soup spoon or tablespoon as a guide, scoop out the chicken mixture and form balls, about 1½ inches wide. Push two mozzarella cubes into the center of each ball and reform the chicken over the cheese so they are covered and in a meatball shape. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden on bottom, then turn over and cook 10 more minutes. When cooked, stick three chicken cheese balls per skewer to serve over the Veggie Spaghetti.
2. To make the Veggie Spaghetti: Using a spiral veggie slicer, mandolin or box grater, shred zucchini and yellow squash into thin strips so it looks like spaghetti. In a large nonstick skillet, warm oil on medium heat. Add zucchini, squash, garlic, and carrots, and cook until tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes.
3. To Assemble: Divide the Veggie Spaghetti onto 6 plates and sprinkle with chopped basil on top of each plate. Place the Chicken Cheeseball Kabobs on top. Serve marinara sauce on the side, for dipping.
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Main photo: Danielle Mazlish’s winning recipe