Q&A With Cooking up Change National Finalists: St. Paul Community Design Center

May 11, 2010 | Written By:


HSC is proud to
congratulate the finalists in the Cooking
up Change National Healthy
Cooking Contest
to be held on Monday, May 17 in Detroit, Michigan at Taking Root, the National Farm to
Cafeteria conference
! In the
leading up to the contest, we're spotlighting our finalists as they
prepare for victory in Detroit.

The St. Paul
Community Design Center Culinary Crew overcame many challenges as they
prepared for this competition. They prepared multiple versions of each recipe, found a local cornmeal supplier, met strict nutritional guidelines, and created a new twist on a kid-pleasing favorite. We're thrilled to welcome the team to the final round of competition.


St. Paul
Community Design Center Culinary Crew (Minnesota)

Lee, Kou Lee, Vinnis Lee
Teacher: Jayme Anderson
Menu: Crunchy
Pesto Chicken, Polenta Pizza, and Minnesota Slaw

What was your inspiration for this dish?

We were excited to use foods that we grow in our organic gardens, and then to take those foods and add a new twist. It was also fun to use the local cornmeal.

What stages of revision did your team go through during
the recipe development process?

We started by looking at the provided ingredient list and brainstormed possible recipes. We thought about how different flavors and colors would complement each other. Then we developed preliminary recipes and steps for each idea. We looked at the nutritional requirements and calculated any changes in some of the nutritional values to meet the guidelines. We did have to slightly adjust our recipes to include enough fiber. We prepared different versions of each of the recipes — frozen vs. fresh spinach, cornmeal vs. no cornmeal, and sliced vs. diced fruits. After we were done cooking, we sampled the different versions and chose our favorite ones. We decided on our final menu by selecting the versions that looked, smelled, and tasted the best.

What role did your teacher play in this process?

She guided us by helping us to think about the possibilities for using different ingredients and combinations, determining the order and steps for each recipe, and helping us with the math calculations  – measurement conversions, calculating nutritional information, etc. She continued to challenge us to think through what we were doing very carefully.

Which ingredients in your recipe are locally sourced? Where did
these items come from?

The cornmeal for the polenta came from a local farmer named Greg Reynolds who grew and ground it himself. His farm is called Riverbend Farm and is located in Delano, Minnesota, which is west of the Twin Cities. If we were to get to the finals, we would like to use our own preserved tomatoes for the pizza sauce. These tomatoes were grown and harvested from one of our seven gardens located on the East Side of St. Paul.

What was your biggest challenge in creating this meal?

Meeting the nutritional requirements with the ingredients we were given to use. It was really challenging to take our menu and have it meet the guidelines.



Did your recipe meet the
nutritional guidelines the first time you
analyzed it? If not, what adjustments did you make to meet the

No, we needed to increase the fiber content quite a bit. We increased the fiber by adding cornmeal to the chicken, increasing the serving size of the polenta and adding more raisins, carrots, apples and pears to the recipes.

What interests you about creating a healthy meal?

Eating healthy food gives you a healthy body. Kids need energy to study, and if they have healthy food their energy will last longer. Also, we like to make our food with love!

What about your creation do you think will appeal to other students?

The chicken is like fried chicken, only healthier, and with a unique twist. The polenta pizza is healthier than regular pizza, but still tastes delicious. We think this food is like eating a gourmet meal, but instead you are at school!




HSC congratulates the St. Paul team members on their progress so far, and we
look forward to seeing more of the students' remarkable work in the
final round
of competition!

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