Michelle Obama Hosts Fifth Annual Kids' State Dinner — Get the Winning Recipes

White House 'Kids State Dinner', Washington DC, USA - 14 Jul 2016
Photo: Greg E. Mathieson Sr./REX/Shutterstock

Healthy yet tasty (and totally adorable) was the theme of First Lady Michelle Obama‘s fifth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids’ State Dinner on Thursday.

The competition, which is part of her Let’s Move! campaign, challenged children in each state between ages 8 and 12 (and their parents) to create yummy, affordable recipes that incorporate every food group. This year’s competition—which had over 1200 child applicants— also encouraged contestants to go local by choosing ingredients grown in their home state or better, their own community.

“We wanted to help kids and families across this country see how easy and fun it can be to get back to spending time in the kitchen and cooking real food,” said FLOTUS during her speech at the event.


All 56 winners and their families were brought to the White House for lunch—one of the “tastiest events of the year,” according to President Barack Obama. The spread included creative eats from the competition like Hannah’s Sweet and Savory Chicken and Peaches, Alexandra’s Refreshing Watermelon Salad and Jude’s Teeny Zucchini Triangular Panini. The recipes are also compiled into The 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge E-Cookbook.

“It isn’t just about eating well today,” said the First Lady. “This is about setting kids up for a lifetime of healthy choices.”

WATCH: Michelle Obama Surprises Fellow D.C. Gardeners

To get in on the nutritious dining, try these two winning recipes below:

Jeff Elkins for WGBH

Teeny Zucchini Triangular Panini
Jude VanderHooven, Age 8
Serves: 6

2 cups grated zucchini
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup crumbled low-fat feta cheese
¼ cup diced sweet peppers (red, orange, yellow or green)
¼ cup mashed chickpeas (from 1⁄2 cup whole chickpeas)
¼ cup diced green onions
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley 1⁄4 cup olive oil
6 whole-wheat pitas
Heirloom or beefsteak tomato slices
Baby Lettuce
1 cup hot marinara sauce

1. Place the zucchini into a clean dish towel, and tightly squeeze the water out into the sink. In a large mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients up to the olive oil. and mix together well. Using your hands, create 6 patties about the size of the pita bread.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat and cook the patties, about 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown on each side and heated through.
3. Place the patties on the pita bread and top with tomato slices and lettuce. Then grill the sandwich on a panini press, indoor electric grill, or even a waffle maker until the bread is crispy. Cut into small triangles on a cutting board.

Enjoy with marinara sauce for dipping, a glass of milk and, if in season, a McIntosh apple.

Jeff Elkins for WGBH

Asian in Arkansas
Lily Radtke, Age 11
Serves: 4

For the Spring Rolls:

4 ounces vermicelli rice noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ pound shrimp, peeled, tails removed and deveined 8 brown-rice wrappers
8 basil leaves, whole
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into thin strips
8 sprigs of mint, leaves chopped
Ponzu sauce, for dipping (optional)

For the Edamame Salad:

1 pound frozen shelled edamame
Thawed ½ red onion, peeled and diced
1 tomato, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

For the Watermelon Skewers:

1 cup watermelon cubes
16 sprig mint leaves
Halved 8 bamboo skewers

To make the Spring Rolls:

1. In a medium saucepan, cook vermicelli noodles according to package instructions; rinse, drain and cool. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add the shrimp and sauté until pink and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Let cool and then coarsely chop.

To Assemble: Place a rice wrapper in a bowl of warm water until softened then lay on a flat surface. Place one basil leaf first. Then add vermicelli noodles, 1/8th of shrimp, carrots, cucumber, and mint. Fold in the sides of the wrapper and then roll. Continue with remaining 7 wrappers. Serve with Ponzu sauce for dipping.

To make the Edamame Salad:

1. In a large stockpot of boiling water, cook the edamame over medium-high heat, until just softened; drain.
2. Into a large bowl, add the onion, tomato, edamame, and garlic.
3. In a separate small bowl, whisk thoroughly the olive oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and ginger. Pour the dressing over the salad and let sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, or until the dressing is absorbed.

To make the Watermelon Skewers:

1. Alternate watermelon and 2 whole mint leaves on skewers.
2. Serve 2 skewers with 2 Spring Rolls and Edamame Salad.

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