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Student chefs cook up healthy lunches

[ 2010-05-20 15:03]     字号 [] [] []  
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Student chefs cook up healthy lunches

Mouth-watering options

In the large Monarch High School kitchen in Louisville, Colorado, cooking teams from half a dozen high schools stirred fragrant soups and chopped bright green garnishes of cilantro and mint. Some squeezed lemon juice on slices of jicama, a crispy, sweet, edible root from Mexico.

The teens, who are studying catering, were competing in the Boulder Valley School District's Iron Chef Contest for a coveted honor: The winning team's recipes would be on next year's official school lunch menu, which serves over 10,000 students every day.

Student chefs cook up healthy lunches

Boulder High School's entry featured savory beef and shredded cabbage.

"It's a stuffed bun with beef, cabbage and onion," said one Boulder student chef. "Convenient to eat, and very, very delicious."

Mouth-watering aromas rose from a rich, golden broth prepared by students from Broomfield High.

"We made Aztec soup, which is like a tortilla chicken soup," said a Broomfield student. "I think you're smelling the lime juice. And the tomato sauce mixed together."

From a large oven another team pulled a bubbling pizza loaded with colorful toppings.

"Broccoli, tomatoes and olives," said a student, listing some of the ingredients. "It's probably one of the best-tasting pizzas I've ever had."

Healthy lunches: an issue of social justice

The idea for this Iron Chef contest came from celebrated chef and author Ann Cooper, who works to improve her community's school lunches.

Known as the Renegade Lunch Lady, Cooper said that providing affordable, tasty, healthy food to children is a social justice issue.

"Hungry children can't think. Malnourished children can't learn," said Cooper. "And we need to make sure that every child, every day is fed a delicious, nutritious meal so they can be the best they can be."

To help all children be their best, the National School Lunch Program funds low-cost or free lunches for more than 30 million American school children who otherwise would have trouble paying for something to eat.

But the subsidy doesn't fully cover buying the ingredients, preparing the food and serving it. So, many schools stretch their budgets with low-cost, highly processed items, such as chicken nuggets, French fries, and sugary snacks.

Cooper warns that these cheaper items can fuel expensive health problems.

"The Centers for Disease Control has said, of the children born in the year 2000, one out of every three Caucasians and one out of every two African-Americans and Hispanics will have diabetes in their lifetime," she said.

Student chefs cook up healthy lunches

Nutritious alternatives

People are less likely to develop diabetes if they eat whole, natural foods, including vegetables, instead of processed foods and sugary snacks.

So, as director of nutrition services for Boulder Valley Schools, Cooper has removed sugar and fried foods from the lunches. She's also set up a full salad bar in each cafeteria.

"There's basic salad green mix, and also Romaine lettuce, carrots, peppers, cherry tomatoes, celery, garbanzo beans, cottage cheese, there's chicken and or eggs."

These options cost 30 percent more than a lunch of chicken nuggets and tater tots. But Cooper says it's possible to serve healthier ingredients and keep a school's lunch budget healthy if enough students participate.

That was a goal of the Iron Chef contest: to get students excited about creating, and eating healthy school lunches that taste great.

With an eye on what kids like, Monarch High's Iron Chef teens whipped up a healthy rendition of a school lunch classic.

"We're making sloppy Joes with a jicama-apple coleslaw," explained a Monarch student. "It's really healthy. We're using lean beef and it's good, and it's on whole wheat buns."

Student chefs cook up healthy lunches

The coleslaw had a bit of a kick, which was appreciated by the judges.

"Oh, my goodness, you all. This is delicious," said one judge. "What is it in there that kind of gives it a little spice?"

Big winner

The judge retired, then Chef Cooper came back to announce their decision.

"Everybody did a really great job. It was really nice," said Cooper. "We all enjoyed tasting everything. It was really wonderful."

The Monarch High School chefs cheered for their Sloppy Joe and jicama apple salad.

"This seems like a great addition to the food to make it more appealing for the people that usually don't eat at the cafeteria, like myself," said one of the winning student chefs. "Maybe that, instead of going out for lunch and eating something unhealthy, maybe they can actually stay in school and eat something that's actually good for them, at a cheaper price."

Chef Ann Cooper plans more Iron Chef contests for the year up ahead. Her goal is to get more students having fun by making and choosing healthier school lunches.

cilantro: the leaves of the coriander plant, used in cooking as a herb 芫荽叶,香菜叶(用作调味香料)

jicama: a white-fleshed root vegetable also called a Mexican potato. It is crunchy and sweet and can be eaten either raw or cooked. 豆薯

tortilla: a thin Mexican pancake made with eggs and corn flour, usually eaten hot and filled with meat, cheese, etc. 墨西哥玉米薄饼(用鸡蛋和玉米面制成,通常加肉、奶酪等为馅,热食)

nugget: a small round piece of some types of food (某些食品的)小圆块

Caucasian: a member of any of the races of people who have pale skin 白种人;高加索人

garbanzo bean: a hard round seed, like a light brown pea, that is cooked and eaten as a vegetable 鹰嘴豆(浅棕色的硬圆豆,可烹食)

coleslaw: finely chopped pieces of raw cabbage,carrot, onion, etc., mixed with mayonnaise and eaten with meat or salads (生圆白菜、胡萝卜、洋葱等拌制的)凉拌菜丝

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(来源:VOA 编辑:陈丹妮)