A Vegetarian Meal Wins Cooking up Change Phoenix

June 03, 2016

Cooking up Change competitions are happening all across the country, with winners heading to Washington, D.C., for the national finals on June 6. HSC’s Cooking up Change contest challenges high school culinary students to create a healthy and delicious school meal that can be served in a school cafeteria. Cooking up Change is not only fun and educational, but it also adds student voices to the national conversation about school food.

Student chefs Leslie and Alanja both love Mexican food, so it was an easy decision to make a Mexican-themed meal. The team also decided to make the meal vegetarian, using refried beans to add protein to the dish.

Their menu of Taco Burritos, Sautéed Green Beans and Carrots, Peanut Butter and Banana Cup took first place at the Cooking up Change Phoenix contest. It’s one of the rare vegetarian meals to win Cooking up Change.

The team bumped up against some of the nutritional requirements of the competition—especially the restriction on added sodium. The team had to search out other seasonings. For the main dish, the team relied on taco seasoning. For the sautéed green beans and carrots, the team used garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper.

Through the competition, Leslie and Alanja learned more about the school meal program and what sorts of foods are possible. They also had some advice for food service directors: “I think we should have foods that students would enjoy both inside and outside of the school,” said Leslie.

Leslie and Alanja will travel to Washington, D.C., to compete against nine other Cooking up Change teams from across the country. We can’t wait to see how this vegetarian dish measures up.

Congratulations to all of the student chefs from Deer Valley Unified School District for showing us school meals can be delicious and nutritious! Here are all the teams that competed in Phoenix’s Cooking up Change competition:

Team #1
Student Chefs: Tyson and Torre
Menu: Philly Cheesesteak, Chili Fries and Simply Cinful Apples

Team #2
Student Chefs: Alanja and Leslie
Menu: Taco-Burrito, Sautéed Green Beans and Carrots, and PB and Banana Cup

Team #3
Student Chefs: Jason and Michael
Menu: MJ’s Chicken Enchiladas, Salsa Bean Salad and PBG Dip

Team #4
Student Chefs: Amanda and Serina
Menu: Chicken Quesadilla, Black Bean Salsa and Banana Graham Parfait

Team #5
Student Chefs: Zane and Lydia
Menu: That’s a Wrap!, Not-Your-Mom’s Sweet Potato Wedges and Apples of My Eye

Team #6
Student Chefs: Megan and Teri
Menu: Bagel di Italia, Hashin’ it Out and Perfectly Peach Parfait