These Kids Recipes Are Worthy of the White House

Aria, from San Francisco, California, and her winning dish.

Aria, from San Francisco, California, and her winning dish.

Timothy Burke describes his trick for making spring rolls with rice paper, which is notoriously difficult. With a bit of translation from his mom, the shy eight year old said, You dip them in a wide plate of hot water, and turn them, then take them out of the water and place them on another plate before they get soft. Then you add the vegetables and roll it up fast. Easy.

Tim’s winning recipe, Vegetable Confetti Spring Rolls, won him the spot in the fourth annual Kids Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook, a project of the White House and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move project.

Tim’s favorite part of the spring rolls is the hoisin sauce. “Not too long ago, I found out that there are hot red peppers in the sauce, and that’s what makes its spicy,” he said, letting out a hoot when he says the word spicy. Another fun fact? Tim is the second child from Murch Elementary School in Washington, D.C. to win a trip to the White House after winning the contest.

For the Challenge, Let’s Move and their partners invited kids ages eight to 12 to create an original recipe that is healthy, affordable, and delicious. Winners from each state have been invited to attend a lunch at the White House on July 10th.

“Reading over these winning recipes, two things become very clear,” the First Lady said in a press release. “America’s kids are passionate about not just eating healthy food, but about cooking healthy food, too. And we’re raising some truly inventive and talented chefs.”

Before the recipes get added to the cookbook, Steel and a few of her former colleagues test them for ease of use and clarity. Then everyone flies to Washington, D.C. Tim won’t fly, since he’s local, but he’ll be picked up in a car, which “is pretty exciting too.”

The kids arrive the day before the lunch for a private tour of the Smithsonian, a cooking demo from Nischan and a pizza party at the Westin. Then, at the White House, they get to try each other’s recipes.

Shreya is looking forward to trying the Indian Tacos from Dillon Andrews of Laramie, Wyoming, and the Black Bean Burger with Kale Chips and Freeze Out Smoothie from Jasmine Dulan of Leawood, Kansas.

The next day, after lunch, they’ll get their photos taken with the First Lady. Steel says this is the part of the day when everyone cries, including herself. The first year, it cemented her choice to work on the event the following year. Steel is hopeful that the initiative will continue into the next administration and become a White House tradition, “like the pardoning of the turkeys or the Easter Egg Roll,” she says.

In past years the winning kids have gone on to do incredible things, from founding their own hunger relief nonprofits like Brae’s Brown Bags and Abby’s Apples, to starting wellness foundations like HAPPY, and clothing donation programs. Then, last fall, Logan Guleff, a 2014 Healthy Challenge winner, won Season 2 of Master Chef Junior.

But in the end, this contest is about getting more kids into the kitchen, and engaging them in their own healthy meals. “That’s the fun part,” said Timothy. “Making my own choices.”

Originally published for Civil Eats.