I so want my 9-year-old to enter this contest. First lady Michelle Obama, Epicurious, the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture are holding a recipe challenge to promote healthy lunches.


They are asking kids ages 8-12 to submit a recipe that is nutritious and delicious. The winners will win a trip to Washington, D.C., and the opportunity to be invited to attend a Kids' “State Dinner” at the White House in August, where a selection of the winning healthy recipes will be served.  


What qualifies as nutritious? Entrants need to visit ChooseMyPlate.gov and use it as a reference for nutritional guidelines. Entries need to represent each of the food groups on the MyPlate icon, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal. Those food groups include fruit, veggies, whole grains, protein and low-fat dairy foods.


Last fall, when I was invited to tour the White House gardens and the kitchen, Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford gave my group a demonstration of a sandwich that represented the guidelines of MyPlate. It was a whole-wheat pita pocket stuffed with a small amount of grilled chicken breast meat, lots of fresh vegetables, a little sliced apple, and some hummus and yogurt. She explained how the icon shows the food groups separated, but what ends up on your plate doesn’t actually have to be physically separated. You can get creative with the guidelines.


It looks like that's what The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is aiming for: creative lunches that can be served at school. Kids who are entering the challenge need to come up with something nutritious, appealing to kids, and able to be served in a school cafeteria.


The winning recipes will be chosen by a panel of judges that includes Epicurious Editor-in-Chief Tanya Steel, Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass, USDA and Department of Education representatives, as well as a celebrity chef. Epicurious has more details on how to enter, as well as information on the deadline (June 17). One student and guardian will be chosen from each of the 50 states plus D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories.


I’m already thinking about what my son and I can create for this contest. I’d love the opportunity to visit the White House again and have my son do the same.

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