Kids Conquer the Kitchen

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Some adults struggle with simple kitchen tasks like boiling eggs or baking prepackaged cookies. The kids competing at this year’s Whole Kids Cooking Challenge proved they have expert cooking skills and then some. From finely chopping onions (without tears!), to blending their own pesto, to crafting creative recipes, the competitors let their best efforts shine through in their delectable dishes.

The six final chefs made it to this championship round after being selected by previous panels, each kid representing a different neighborhood in Austin. The Whole Kids Cooking Challenge went smoothly, as each competitor was given 45 minutes to produce a dish, with the aid of a parent and a chef partner from Whole Foods Market or the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Kids as young as 6 years old showed an admirable level of tenacity and an impressive comprehension of what ingredients contribute to a balanced, healthy meal.

It was a difficult decision, but eventually the judges chose a winner based on merit of taste and healthiness. Similar to previous years, the winner was awarded a rainwater collection barrel for his or her school and a trophy. All competing chefs received a gift card to Whole Foods in addition to a bag of fun culinary items.
Cooking with kids is a great way to introduce them to healthy eating habits, familiarize them with kitchen safety, and spend time together. Combine that with the Whole Kids Foundation’s mission to support schools and inspire families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness, and everyone ends up a winner.

Winner & Winning Dish

Jash Bhalani, 9 years old, 4th grader at Meridian IB World School

Chickpea Lettuce Wrap 

(Yields 8 wraps; serving size 2 wraps)

Ingredients:

Wrap

2 cups boiled and slightly mashed chickpeas
1/2 cup diced Roma tomatoes
1/2 cup diced English seedless cucumber
2 cups organic baby spinach
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup dried organic raisins
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. chaat masala
2 tsp. cumin powder
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 leaves of butter lettuce or romaine lettuce
8 small 6 inch wheat tortillas
 

Yogurt Dip

1 cup organic plain yogurt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 tbsp. organic cane sugar
salt to taste
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
 

Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup organic unsalted tomato paste
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

 

Judges

Ana Medica – Whole Kids Foundation
Morgan Peretti – Whole Kids Foundation
Chef Brandon Scawthorn – winner of Guy vs. Rachel’s Kids Cook-Off
Gretchen Goswitz – Managing Editor of Austin Fit Magazine
Elizabeth Van Huffel – Creator of Austin blog Local Savour
Tanya Ortega – FOX 7 News Anchor

 

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