School chili recipe in national contest
By Dan Brechlin
MERIDEN — A roasted poblano five-bean chili may not have been the favorite food of students at Roger Sherman School, but that may be changing.
The chili recipe, developed by Susan Maffe, the school district’s food services director, and Kashia Cave, executive director of My City Kitchen, was recently entered into the Recipes for Healthy Kids national competition.
The competition is part of first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, designed to solve childhood obesity within one generation. It required a school nutrition specialist, working with a chef, st udent, parent and community member, to create and refine the recipe.
In order to design a recipe, the group first had to select ingredients from one of three categories: whole grains, dark green and orange vegetables, or dried beans and peas.
“We chose the most difficult item to work with,” Cave said of the beans. “It can be difficult to get kids to eat beans, but we came up with the idea that the best way to use it was with chili.”
Poblano is a mild type of chili pepper. After creating the recipe and making it, the team had to have taste-testers try the chili. All of the fourth- and fifthgraders at Roger Sherman were given the chance to try it, Maffe said, and the results were overwhelming.
“We tried for something outside the box, hoping they’d be willing to try it,” Maffe said. “I was shocked they were willing to try it.”
Maffe said 132 of the 147 students tried the chili during lunch in mid-December. Students who tried it had to answer questions and grade it based on smell, taste, texture and look. Again, the results were a nice surprise, Maffe said. The chili got a 91 percent approval rating overall.
The chili was also picked, Cave said, because of the large Hispanic population at the school. Cave said ingredients familiar to students were desirable, and beans are common in Hispanic recipes. Beans are also high in fiber, which helped when filling out the nutrition information for the contest, Cave said. Served with a small portion of Tostito’s Scoops, the 6-ounce chili meal totaled 350 calories, but about 30 percent of the calories were fat, Maffe noted. Calories from saturated fats and sugar were also a small percentage.
President Barack Obama recently signed a bill into law promoting healthier school lunches with more wholegrain foods, healthier milk choices, and more fruits and vegetables.
“We’re trying t o provide really nutritious meals,” Cave said of teaming up with the schools. My City Kitchen is a local nonprofit organization aiming to instill healthy eating habits in children.
The judging period for the contest will run through May 15. There will be monetary prizes for first and second place overall, as well as first and second place in each of three categories. There is also a popular choice award. The grand prize winner will receive $3,000 and the chance to prepare the meal at the White House.
“We think we have a real chance for a winning entry,” Maffe said.
The recipe for the chili and all other entries will be available on RecipeForKidsChallenge.com once the entry deadline passes Thursday.
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