What inspired your White House recipes? I heard about this challenge on television, which invited kids between the ages of 8 and 12 to create original recipes that aren’t only healthy, but also less expensive to make and yummy to eat.
I developed my black bean burger recipe for this challenge to be a healthier and a more affordable option than a regular hamburger. I also love crispy kale chips, and these are really easy to make. I have been making my Freeze Out Smoothie this way since kindergarten, when I added the secret ingredient: spinach.
What was it like being at the White House, meeting the president and first lady, and having your food served alongside other winning dishes at the Kids’ “State Dinner”? When my mom found out and told me I was the winner from Kansas, I just started jumping up and down — I was so excited. I am a huge fan of Mrs. Obama, because she has daughters that are around my age, and she also has a passion for healthy food, like me.
As nice as it was to meet Mrs. Obama, it was so much fun to meet President Obama. He talked to me about his mother’s family being from Kansas, too.
One of the best parts of this whole experience was meeting other kids my age who share my interest in health and eating good foods.
Do you think you come by your food philosophy naturally, with your mom being a well-known nutritionist? My mom empowers people around her to be the healthiest they can be. So growing up, my sister and I have always been exposed to a variety of foods. I grew up eating kale and spinach and never thought it was weird.
But my mom also gives me the confidence to try new things, too. I play volleyball and am very active, so I know I have to eat good foods to fuel my body. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever have ice cream or something sweet, but I know it’s a treat.
Do you have aspirations to return to the White House as a chef — or perhaps as president? I really want to be a nutritionist like my mom when I grow up to help others eat healthy. But my mom also runs her own business, and I see how hard she works, too, so that inspires me.
I have made some great friends from around the country through this experience and still text them. Mrs. Obama encouraged us to take our experience of winning the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and to pay it forward. So now, my friends and I are talking about what we can do to share our excitement for health and good food with other kids.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. E-mail her at email@example.com to nominate a cook.
Occupation: Sixth-grader at Overland Trail Middle School
Special cooking interest: Healthy White House-worthy recipes
Family: Parents Mitzi and Antoine; and 14-year-old sister, Josie.
For more information: LetsMove.gov
Black Bean Burgers
2 (15-ounce) cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
6 whole-wheat hamburger buns
Optional topping: 1 avocado, sliced or mashed
In a large bowl, mash black beans and banana together. Stir in breadcrumbs, basil, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper and mix until ingredients are well incorporated. Form mixture into 6 equally sized patties.
Warm a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray, and gently place patties into skillet. Cook for 4 minutes, flip patties over and allow to cook another 4 minutes. Place each heated-through black bean burger onto a whole-wheat bun and top with avocado, if desired.
Per burger, without bun: 279 calories (6 percent from fat), 2 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 52 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 212 milligrams sodium, 9 grams dietary fiber.
Per burger, with bun: 449 calories (10 percent from fat), 5 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 81 grams carbohydrates, 22 grams protein, 477 milligrams sodium, 12 grams dietary fiber.
Makes 6 servings
10 ounces fresh kale, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, gently toss kale with olive oil and salt until evenly coated.
Spread kale mixture evenly over a nonstick baking sheet and place in oven for 12 minutes, or until the kale is crispy.
Per serving: 37 calories (40 percent from fat), 2 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 5 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 99 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.
Jasmine’s Freeze Out Smoothie
Makes 1 serving
1 cup organic skim milk
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup fresh, cleaned spinach leaves
In the bowl of a blender, combine milk, berries and spinach until ingredients are well incorporated and the consistency of a thick shake.
Pour into a serving glass and serve immediately.
Per serving: 159 calories (17 percent from fat), 3 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 10 milligrams cholesterol, 25 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 136 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber.