Students show off healthy cooking skills at Redmond Junior High

A year-long, student-directed, health and fitness campaign culminated in the "So You Think You Can Cook?" contest Wednesday afternoon at Redmond Junior High (RJH).

Redmond Junior High student Tyler Nielson prepares French Toast with Fruit samples for judges at the 'So You Think You Can Cook?' contest Wednesday afternoon. The contest was linked to a year-long

A year-long, student-directed, health and fitness campaign culminated in the “So You Think You Can Cook?” contest Wednesday afternoon at Redmond Junior High (RJH).

The activities, including the cooking contest, were inspired by the “Fuel Up to Play 60” program, sponsored by the National Dairy Council in conjunction with the NFL.

Dietitians from the Washington State Dairy Council and a Sea Gal, representing the Seattle Seahawks, were among the judges at the cook-off which was organized and publicized by RJH student leadership team members Elaine Wang and Gauri Arora.

The object of the contest was to “make it easy, do it on their own, look at the food groups and make everything healthy,” said Wang.

Arora added, “‘Fuel Up to Play’ promotes both exercise and healthy eating.”

From more than 20 entries, 12 recipes were chosen for the cooking contest.

The student chefs were supervised by personnel from SODEXO, the food service provider for the Lake Washington School District. SODEXO also supplied the cooking ingredients.

While waiting to taste the finished products, Washington Dairy Council representatives Linda Mendoza and Martha Marino explained that their role in the “Fuel Up to Play 60” program is to encourage consumption of low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. The NFL’s “Play 60” part asks kids to be physically active for 60 minutes each day.

“We’re promoting overall well-being,” said Sea Gal Carli Tripp. “This is so cool because they’re getting in the kitchen, doing it themselves, learning about healthy foods. And we want kids to stay active when they’re young and build good habits for life, to prevent obesity and disease.”

RJH was one of five schools in Washington state which received a $5,000 grant from the dairy council because of a student-led Fun and Fitness Fair earlier this school year. You can read a success story online at

Marino noted, “What’s neat is that the kids figured out what they wanted to do. The leadership team made it their own.”

Mendoza agreed, “The kids assessed the biggest things they could change (to improve health). It’s great to see their maturity level. When these students invited us to come to this contest, we thought we were being contacted by adults.”

All students in the “So You Think You Can Cook?” contest received chef’s hats, aprons, a medal and certificate. Winners of four judging categories also received $25 Visa gift cards.

“I tried every recipe and all were delicious,” said RJH physical education and leadership teacher Chris Broderick. “It was really hard to pick the winners — everyone did such a great job.”

Prize categories, winners and their recipes were:

• Best Use of Healthy Food Groups: Dominick Oberto, Breakfast Burritos.

• Easy, Creative Preparation: Esther Mundt, Pita Pockets.

• Easy, “On The Go” Meal: Rebecca Scally, Cranberry Pecan Muffins.

• Most Satisfying in Taste: Lydia Hsu, Tuna Salad Sandwiches.

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