These Kids Can Cook!

By Leah – November 5, 2013

It was with great pleasure that I served as a judge for the Austin Whole Foods Market’s inaugural Kids’ Cooking Challenge. Meeting these talented young chefs, all of whom showed great creativity in their recipes and wonderful skills in the kitchen, was an honor. Each of the four finalists represented a Whole Foods Market store; more than 100 young cooks sent in recipes, and I can only imagine how difficult it was to narrow the submissions down to only one per geographic area.

The contest worked like this: Each young chef had 45 minutes to prepare his or her dish in the test kitchen at Whole Foods Market and was assisted by a chef from that area store. In addition, the child could have an adult from his or her family present (all four used their moms as sous chefs). We judges (me, AISD’s assistant director of comprehensive health Tracy Lunoff, and Morgan Peretti from the Whole Kids Foundation) had the opportunity to wander about the kitchen while they worked, ask questions, and view the process. They plated the food and, when the 45 minutes were up, each gave a short presentation about his or her healthy recipe. We judges then had the pleasure of tasting each dish, followed by the daunting task of selecting one to win a grand prize that consisted of a trophy, several cookbooks, and a rain barrel collection system to be donated to the winner’s school or community through the Whole Kids Foundation.

Because each recipe was truly outstanding, Austin Fit Magazine is printing them here, and I’ve included a few of my observations about each recipe. We’d like to thank the cooks and their families for sharing these recipes.

9774459334_5964ad6c4d_kWinning Recipe
Healthy Fish Tacos

Ella Lovins, age 8
These fish tacos were gorgeous and included a plethora of healthy veggies. Ella’s mom related that Ella created this gluten-free recipe to help her younger brother, who was diagnosed with health issues that led to him being severely underweight. Thanks to the family’s delicious and healthy home dishes, he’s now at an age-appropriate weight and doing well.
This recipe makes a triple batch.

What You Need
12 pieces of mahimahi
olive oil
1 ½ pounds of Applegate bacon
1 purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1 green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 head butter leaf lettuce
3 avocados, thinly sliced
1 container Whole Foods Market pico de gallo

How to Make It
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the fish in a glass baking dish; drizzle with olive oil and add a pinch of salt on each piece.
3. Place the fish in the oven and bake until flakey.
4. Pan cook bacon according to the package instructions.
5. For the coleslaw, toss sliced cabbage with 4 tablespoons olive oil (use more if not coated).
6. Wash and dry butter leaf lettuce and separate into individual leaves.
7. Place lettuce on a plate and layer with coleslaw mixture, avocado slices, a piece of fish slice, and bacon. Top with pico de gallo.

9774383484_cd90cf753c_k-editTofu Waffles & Cucumber Salad

Zahi Loyde, age 7
This was hands-down the most creative dish. I’m not a tofu fan, but these waffles won me over, and the cucumber salad was crisp and delicious. Zahi was impressive in the kitchen; his mom said that, at the age of 5, he’d asked for a chef’s knife for Christmas. I wish my adult kids had his mad skills!

Tofu Waffles

What You Need
1 package extra firm tofu
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon Chinese Five Spice seasoning

How to Make It
1. Slice tofu into eight equal pieces and place slices one-by-one on a baking sheet.
2. In a bowl, mix soy sauce, sesame oil, and Chinese Five Spice seasoning.
3. Pour mixture evenly on tofu.
4. Place a slice of tofu in a waffle iron for 2 minutes. Repeat for each piece.

Cucumber Salad

What You Need
1 large English cucumber
½ tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar

How to Make It
1. Peel cucumber and slice into fun shapes.
2. Place the slices into a bowl.
3. Pour olive oil, salt, and vinegar over the cucumbers and stir with a spoon.
4. Plate with waffles to serve.

9774403145_de53152977_kFormosa Dragon Blood Rice & Chicken

Euna Scott, age 10
The appearance of this dish, which is a childhood favorite of Euna’s mom, rivaled plates found in some of Austin’s most popular restaurants. We were all entertained by Euna’s explanation of the dish: “Formosa” because her mom is from China, and “Dragon Blood”—which is ketchup—because she liked the exotic sound of the title. This is something that kids will find fun to eat.

What You Need
Sesame oil
Grape seed oil
2 cups cooked white or brown rice
OG ketchup
1 onion, diced
1 bunch green onion, diced
4 brown eggs
1 package frozen veggie medley
4 slices uncured ham
3 beets, shaved into thin slices
1 cucumber, shaved into thin slices
2-4 chicken breasts
White pepper
Lemon slices

How to Make It
1. Using the sesame oil, scramble three of the eggs in a non-stick pan at medium high heat.
2. In a separate pan, sauté the veggie medley, onion, green onion, and ham in grape seed oil.
3. Let simmer; add the eggs and stir.
4. Once thoroughly mixed, add the rice and stir.
5. Add ketchup and stir some more.
6. Set the mixture aside and keep warm while preparing the chicken.
7. Whisk remaining egg with a pinch of salt and white pepper. Season the flour with a pinch of salt and pepper.
8. Slice chicken breast on a bias and dip into the egg mixture; immediately coat with flour mixture.
9. Pan fry in grape seed oil until browned.
10. Fill a small cup with the rice mixture and then knock it out on a plate to give it a rounded shape.
11. Place a strip of fried chicken on top. Garnish with shaved beets and shaved cucumber, and squirt with a ¼ lemon slice.

9774391514_5a5769e824_k-editIn a Pickle Chicken & Dai Can’t Believe it’s Daikon Chips

Jack Crabb, age 10
Mark my words: You’re going to see Jack Crabb as the host of a cooking show one day. This was a very involved and sophisticated recipe—Jack wielded a commercial-grade mandolin with confidence and skill. The daikon chips disappeared very quickly from my plate. (Note: The chicken was brined in advance.)

What You Need

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
1 cup pickle juice
Salt to taste
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 lime

How to Make It
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Coat chicken in pickle juice with balsamic and lime juice for up to 12 hours.
3. Pound marinated chicken with mallet to flatten and coat with bread crumbs.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Daikon Chips
What You Need
1 small daikon radish
1 cup panko
2-3 eggs
Olive oil
Salt to taste

How to Make It
1. Using a mandolin, shave the daikon into chips (or use a knife to thinly slice).
2. Dip the daikon chips into egg until coated and then bread in panko.
3. Pan fry in olive oil for 2-5 minutes.

Special thanks to these Whole Foods Market chefs for working with these culinary contestants.
Michael Frei (downtown store, Lamar Boulevard)
Mari Soto (Bee Cave store, Hill Country Galleria)
Ashley Lopez (Gateway store, North Austin)
Alaina Aboussie (south store, William Cannon and MoPac)


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