Lake Washington School District students rule the kitchen at friendly contest

Rockwell Elementary School student Kaitlyn Marlow prepares apple crunch during the Kids Can Cook contest at Redmond Junior High School Wednesday.

Kids ruled the kitchen at the Lake Washington School District’s (LWSD) third annual Kids Can Cook contest, held Wednesday afternoon at Redmond Junior High School.

Nineteen students from seven elementary schools in Redmond, Kirkland and Sammamish were selected by LWSD Food Service managers for the friendly competition. The goal was to promote healthy snacking, which in turn, boosts energy and prevents overeating later in the day.

Recipes had to be nutritious, as well as delicious and easy enough for a child to make. To prove those points, the young chefs did all the prep work and cooking themselves, with supervision from LWSD kitchen employees. The students served their creations to judges and guests and answered questions about the ingredients.

There’s no doubt that the Food Network has sparked a huge resurgence in home cooking. And yes, even kids are watching and learning from famous foodies like Guy Fieri and Giada De Laurentiis.

But the trend goes beyond that, as people of all ages are figuring out that cooking at home is cheaper and healthier than eating out. That includes eating healthy snacks, instead of “junk food.”

Jane Markham, area manager of LWSD Food Services explained, “Research shows more frequent eating patterns, including snacks, contribute to lower body fat percentage, higher muscle mass and stable blood sugar. Excess weight is more common among those who eat three or fewer meals and no snacks per day. Eating too much at a meal is similar to trying to overfill your car’s gas tank beyond capacity. Enlarging your ‘body’s energy tank’ by overeating at snack or meal time translates into enlarging body fat to store extra energy.”

As a result, “encouraging children to eat healthy between-meal snacks helps control hunger and prevents overeating at meal time,” Markham said.

The Kids Can Cook contestants were advised to use lots of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains in their recipes. To make the contest more fun, the student chefs brought cute decorations and props for their table settings.

Every participant received a T-shirt, apron, chef’s hat, medal and certificate. Winners in four categories also received copies of the “Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook.”

Winners were as follows:

• Use of Healthy Ingredients — Shamile Aldossary of McAuliffe Elementary for “Healthy Homemade Salsa”

• Kid-Friendly Preparation — Elle Kaylen Demeter of Einstein Elementary for “Fruit Sundae Cones”

• Tasty and Satisfying — Amy Wisegarver of McAuliffe Elementary for “Chocolate Chip Cherry Almond Scones”

• Best Table Presentation — Anna Kucinski of Rockwell Elementary for “Tropical Chicken Tuna”

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