Behind the Scenes at Cooking up Change: Students Describe How Their Teams Faced the Heat

November 23, 2010 | Written By:


by Lana Buseman

We asked several student teams for a behind-the-scenes look at how they created their final meals for Cooking up Change 2010.  Here, students describe how they faced the heat of the contest.

Tilden Career Academy

The Tilden team polled their peers for major inspiration. They surveyed the lunchroom, found that Mexican food was the biggest crowd-pleaser, and set to work creating a healthy Mexican deep-dish pizza and Mexican coleslaw. Then, when it came to dessert, students decided to take a big risk and think green — spinach! The chocolate spinach cookie turned out to be a big success.

Students said:

“Perfecting the recipe was the hardest part. We worked on it every day for two and a half weeks.”

“When we were thinking of ideas for a cookie, the first thing that popped into our heads was spinach, but none of us liked spinach!”

“I especially didn’t like spinach. But the cookies ended up being really good and healthy!”

Clemente High School

The team at Clemente took a slightly different approach to their challenge. Their entire culinary class pitched in with ideas, and then suggestions were combined into one dish. The result was Baked Cajun Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Chicken, but coming up with this final recipe proved to be a challenge in itself. One part of their school meal had an added “wow” factor.

Students said:

“The hardest part was that we had to change the recipes a lot because some people would like one of the recipes but other people wouldn’t. We had to change the recipes lots of times.”

“Our Wow! Salad is wow because it had apples and raisins in it, which most salads don’t have so after you eat it you say ‘Wow!’ We felt good after seeing the judges because when we were describing our salad, we acted out the ‘Wow’ part and the judges laughed.”


When Prosser sat down to think of how best to approach the Cooking up Change challenge, they decided to put a new twist on the tried-and-true. They took popular foods from the school lunch menu and made them healthier. Their final menu included Prosser Poultry Pita, Mediterranean Pico de Gallo, and an apple.  They decided to increase the healthy factor of a favorite firey snack by recreating it and making it their own. And while deciding what to include in their menu might have been easy for the Prosser team, making it healthy was harder than they had expected.

Students said:

“The club sandwich at our school is really popular, so that’s why we made the turkey pita. We have this cucumber vinaigrette at our school that is really popular so we used that on our sandwich and our salad.”

“A lot of kids like Flamin’ Hot chips so we decided to make our own healthier version using homemade potato chips and hot sauce.”

“The hardest part about this challenge was making the recipes healthy. At first we tried using chicken in the pita but it had too much saturated fat. Then we tried a few other things. . . in the end, we settled on the Prosser Poultry Pita and used turkey.”

HSC thanks all the student teams for their amazing hard work at this year's contest!

Learn more about Cooking up Change.

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