Scarlet Summers, 10, of Chandler headed to Washington, D.C. for a Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House.
Summers is Arizona’s winner of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, which promotes healthy eating and cooking for children ages 8-12.
The fifth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is hosted by first lady Michelle Obama, PBS flagship station WGBH Boston, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Education. The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge invites kids, in collaboration with a parent or guardian, to create an original lunch recipe that is affordable, healthy and appetizing.
The competition is part of the first lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. Winners were announced in June from each state, five territories, and the District of Columbia. The winning chefs will be flown to Washington, D.C. with their parent or guardian to represent their state or territory at the 2016 Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House July 14, which will feature selections of the winning recipes and a visit to the White House Kitchen Garden.
Summers won the Arizona challenge with her original recipe “Scarlet’s Southwest Barack-A-Bowl.”
“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do a southwest-inspired power bowl, but I wasn’t exactly sure which ingredients to use,” Summers said. “I love protein bowls, and this year the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge asked participants to come up with recipes that include foods grown locally in our state. I decided to do a protein bowl, with a southwest-inspired kick to it, and voila, the Barack-A-Bowl was born!”
Summers said she believes her cauliflower rice is what made her dish stand out.
“I like to substitute healthier food for the not-so-healthy options that are out there. In this case, I put a head of cauliflower in a food processor until it had the consistency of white, fluffy rice. I then added quinoa to the cauliflower rice for the base of the bowl,” Summers said.
Summers mother, Lisa Summers, said Scarlet has always had an interest in cooking.
“From a very early age Scarlet started asking to help me in the kitchen. Some of the fondest memories I have of my mother are being in the kitchen with her, so of course I have been so happy to share those same memories with Scarlet as her passion for cooking grows and evolves,” Summers said.
Lisa said she and Scarlet are looking forward to the opportunity to meet the first lady, and that participating in the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge has helped make their family more health-conscious when cooking and eating.
“Our family is trying to make healthier decisions as a whole when it comes to eating, and this experience has inspired us even more to come up with interesting, healthy, affordable and yummy things to eat!” Summers said, adding that they are both excited to visit the White House. “We are just hoping to soak in every moment and let all of this sink in. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we just really want to enjoy it.”
The winners also get the opportunity to meet and learn from child nutrition advocate and member of the President’s Council on Fitness Rachel Ray, who has joined to support this year’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.
Associate General Manager of Educational Outreach at Arizona PBS Kimberly Flack said, “We are proud to promote the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge because it inspires young students and their families to develop healthy eating habits early in life, helping to prepare them for a lifetime of learning. We’ve seen nutrition have a significant impact on the effectiveness of early childhood education outreach programs, like those we conduct throughout the state. We congratulate our Arizona winner, Scarlet Summers, on this opportunity to attend the Kids’ State Dinner at the White House.”
First lady Michelle Obama said she is looking forward to meeting this year’s winners at the White House Kids’ “State Dinner” and sampling some of their creations. “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,” Obama said. “Kids are truly embracing and enjoying healthy eating and preparing healthy meals for their families.”
Participants were urged to use ChooseMyPlate.gov to be sure their recipes met the USDA’s nutrition guidance by representing each of the food groups. Entrants were also encouraged to include locally grown ingredients from their community in their original recipes.
“We are thrilled to see kids across the country connecting with local and regional foods by highlighting locally grown ingredients in their recipes,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “That’s what MyPlate, MyState is all about – celebrating healthy eating with foods grown in states, territories and communities across the country. Increasing awareness and appreciation for local and regional agriculture not only helps America’s farmers, ranchers and producers, but also strengthens local economies and brings communities together while ensuring improved nutrition for our children in schools across America.”
“Healthy students are better learners and better positioned to thrive in school and later in life,” U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. said. “Every child in this country needs and deserves access to a genuinely well-rounded education that engages and intrigues them, and allows them to discover their interests in the arts, science, world languages and so much else. Physical education and health are an important part of that education as well as hands-on learning. The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge inspires children to use their creativity and passion to learn about healthy food choices and to make nutritious, affordable meals that are appealing to kids.”
Scarlet’s Southwest Barack-A-Bowl
Makes 4 Servings
365 calories 16g fat 33g carbohydrates 26g protein
1⁄2 pound chicken tenders
3⁄4 of 7-ounce can chipotles in adobo sauce
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ears of corn or 1 cup frozen corn
1⁄2 cup quinoa
1⁄4 head of cauliflower
1⁄4 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1⁄2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1⁄4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
1⁄4 cup Cotija cheese, grated (Parmesan can be substituted)
1⁄4 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
Juice of 1⁄2 fresh lime
1. Place chicken and chipotles in 1-gallon freezer bag, refrigerate and marinate for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.
2. Preheat the grill. When it’s hot, sprinkle 1⁄2 teaspoon olive oil on each ear of corn, wrap in foil, place on the side of the grill and cover. (You can also boil the corn; place in cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Drain and remove the kernels.) Cook for 10 minutes, turn the corn over; remove the chicken from the plastic bag and place onto the grill. Cook for 6 minutes on each side. Turn the grill off. Remove the chicken and corn, then unwrap the corn and place back on the grill for a few minutes to get grill marks. After corn has cooled, cut the kernels off the ears by holding cobs vertically and slicing downwards. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.
3. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package instructions in a large saucepan. In a food processor, add cauliflower and process until it’s a rice-like consistency.
4. In a large nonstick pan, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, and add the onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, or until softened.
5. Into the quinoa pan, add cauliflower, chicken, corn, onion and garlic, black beans, and cilantro. Warm over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add Cotija cheese. Garnish with avocado slices, pumpkin seeds, and lime juice and serve!