Kids’ ‘State Dinner’ hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama has 3 young NRI chefs

Three Indian American kids were invited to the White House: the Kids’ ‘State Dinner’ hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama recognizing winners of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a nationwide recipe contest for children to promote cooking and healthy eating on Thursday, July 14th.

Shakthi Ramachandran, 8, from Indiana, Abhijith Jenkins, 11, from Missouri and Priya Patel,10, from Texas were the three Indian Americans among 56 kids representing each U.S. state, five territories, and the District of Columbia, who were invited for the annual ‘State Dinner’ hosted by First Lady.

These young chefs were winners of a nationwide recipe challenge for U.S. students that promoted cooking and healthy eating. The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, part of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, selected the winners for their original recipes that included fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.

Ramachandran made ‘Chicken Tikka Pita’ with cucumber raita, Jenkins prepared ‘Tropical Vacation with Catfish and Quinoa’ and Patel cooked ‘Tex-Mex Veg-Head Lasagna.’ The kids, who got a tour of the White House kitchen garden, were also entertained with a performance by the cast of Walt Disney World Resort’s “The Jungle Book.”

Kids’ ‘State Dinner’ hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama has 3 young NRI chefsOver 1,200 entries were submitted to this year’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. The winning recipes were selected based on their healthfulness, taste, originality, affordability, and following USDA’s MyPlate nutrition guidance. In addition, the challenge encouraged entries to include local ingredients grown in the entrant’s state, territory, or community.

PTI adds: “Since 2012, as part of Let’s Move!, we’ve hosted five of these Kids’ State Dinners here at the White House. And altogether, we’ve reviewed over 6,000 recipe submissions. We’ve welcomed more than 270 young people and their families. And, of course, we ate a whole lot of good food,” the First Lady said in her address to the kids.

The event is not just about eating well today, she said. “It’s setting kids like all of you up for a lifetime of healthy choices. Because here’s what we know: Eating healthy foods can affect how well you do in school. That’s right,” she said.

According to Ramachandran, one day she asked her father how she could make her favorite food, chicken tikka masala, into a sandwich. “I love chicken and I also like to eat a lot of vegetables,” she said. “This recipe combines all these things and is very tasty and delicious. In the summer most of the vegetables we eat are from our garden. The cucumber raita dressing makes it delicious.”

Patel said she was inspired by her mom to make this recipe. “She always tells us to add vegetables to everything we make and to experiment,” she said. “I love Tex-Mex food and also lasagna, so we thought this was a good way to combine both. My mom also tells us to be flexible so we use canned or frozen vegetables if we’re out of fresh,” she said. “You can substitute any veggies and fruits you like. The possibilities are endless. My mom says not having or liking one ingredient is not an excuse to not try a recipe or to buy fast food!”

Since 2012, under this initiative, the First Lady has hosted five Kids’ State Dinners and welcomed more than 270 young people and their families to the White House, and over 6,000 recipe submissions have been reviewed. “And, of course, we ate a whole lot of good food”, she said, to cheers from the 2016 gathering. “That’s a good thing”.

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