Monday, September 17, 2012

guest post by 11-year-old Elena, one of the kids showing us the way to a healthier America

I know many of you have your children home from school today, so I thought this guest post by 11-year-old, Elena Guylay, would be a great one to share with your kids! Elena was a winner of "The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge," a recipe contest co-sponsored by Epicurious, Let’s Move!, the Department of Education, and the Department of Agriculture. Kids aged 8 to 12 were asked to submit recipes for “a healthy, original, affordable, tasty lunch that contains the five food groups” and the prize was a “kids’ state dinner” at the White House. I have actually sampled Elena's "Fiesta Casserole", and can attest that it's a winner... and as for the hat she talked her mom into, well, it caught the eye of many a photographer at the White House event!  So, without further adieu, let's hear from this super neat kid, Elena!
"While most of my friends had summer highlights that related to camping trips and vacations, I would have to say that my highlights boiled down to two things:  1) convincing my mom to buy me the coolest cowboy hat at an Arts and Crafts festival in Sun Valley and 2) getting to wear it at the White House where I met Mrs. Obama and President Obama.

On August 20, I was flown to Washington, D.C. to attend a White House Kid’s 'State Dinner' as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama.  During the two-day event I shook hands with the President and First Lady, enjoyed delicious food prepared by the White House chefs, met iCarly star Reed Alexander (Nevel Papperman) and watched a private concert by the band Big Time Rush.  It was incredibly cool.

I got to do all of this (along with my mom, Dad and brother) as one of 54 winners of Mrs. Obama's Healthy Lunchtime Challenge recipe contest that received more than 1,200 submissions.  A judging panel recreated and tasted 100 'finalist' entries at Washington, D.C.'s DC Central Kitchen, and one winning recipe was chosen from each state and U.S. territory.  I was the lucky winner from Idaho.  I have a dish that I eat for lunch almost every day, despite my mom urging me to have some variety.  It is called 'Fiesta Casserole' and it has rice, quinoa, beans, salsa, cilantro, and cottage cheese all mixed together.  It is yummy and good for you!  I had a feeling that everyone else would like it too.

My brother, Alexander (age 9) was picked as a finalist from Idaho (there were only three finalists in each state).  His Enchilada Pie was had butternut squash, broccoli and Swiss chard all layered with corn tortillas and cooked in a slow cooker with tomato soup on top.  We have eaten both Enchilada Pie and Fiesta Casserole as part of a program my mom does for our school called Nurture’s Food and Fun program.  All of the kids loved both recipes, so I am hoping my brother might win next year.  My mom, a Nutrition Educator, comes in to teach us about healthy eating habits and cooks with us at school.  She is the Founder of a non-profit called Nurture.  She also posts recipes that she creates with us at her other website, Healthy Kids Ideas Exchange.

I am so excited that I now have a recipe that appears in a cookbook!  You can see my recipe, and all the others, in this Epicurious downloadable eCookbook.

I also made a short film about my experience in Washington, D.C. that can be accessed hereEveryone loves the song (by Big Time Rush); it was one of the ones that they performed for us at the White House.

I loved meeting all the other kids at the event.  I spent a lot of time with Kayla from Montana; her healthy lunch pizza was that state’s winner. Now I have a friend in our neighbor state.  What a great event!" - written by Elena Guylay, 11-years-old

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