Friday, March 19, 2010

I Ate my Final Project: Cooking up Change Competition 2010

One of the perks of being a nutritional science-dietetics major is...well, food. Finally, after suffering through chemistry and biology and biochemistry and physiology...finally I get to take classes that are more "fun."

Food Science, Food Systems Organization and Management, Human Food Practices, Nutrition in the Community...

For my final project in my food management class, I teamed up with my classmates Julia and Maggie to cook up a storm so that we can enter the Cooking up Change Competition 2010.

Cooking up Change is a contest in which teams of college students from across the nation compete to design a healthy school lunch.

We had to submit a recipe, a report on the nutritional content of that recipe, and photos of the team during various stages of the process. A judging panel of culinary professionals will evaluate our recipe on format and clarity, originality of the dish, and cohesiveness of the ingredients. We were instructed to present one entree and two accompanying side dishes that follow their strict ingredient list and nutritional requirements. And if we win, we get to go to Detroit to compete in round 2!

So, what's on the menu?

Entree: Rainbow Rotini: multi-grain rotini pasta, fresh spinach, tomato, summer squash ribbons, basil ribbons, and chicken

Side #1: Cheesy Basil and Garlic Toasts: rustic whole grain bread loaves, broiled until bubbly with cheese, topped with basil ribbons and garlic

Side #2: Fresh Fruit Salad: chopped apples, sliced bananas, raisins, cinnamon, and fresh squeezed lemon juice

Our recipes had to have six steps or less and our meal had to meet certain nutritional requirements:

Calories 750-850 calories
Fat Less than 35% of calories from fat
Less than 10% of calories from saturated fat
Zero trans fat
Protein 2.0 oz – 2.4 oz protein
Fiber 10.7 grams or more
Grains 2.4 oz – 2.6 oz grains
At least half must be whole grains
Fruits and Vegetables 1 cup vegetables, 1⁄2 of which must be either dark green or orange
1 cup of fruit (not juice)
No starchy vegetables (i.e., potatoes, corn or peas)
Sodium Less than 1000 mg

After futzing around and thinking out load, we were able to adjust our meal to meet the requirements.

My team entered the competition because, firstly, cooking is WAY better than, well, anything. Second, we wanted to find a way to incorporate local ingredients and fresh, tasty, colorful meals for (college) student lunches.

Here are some photos documenting our adventures in the kitchen...

Fresh tomatoes, diced

Fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade

Julia is so happy surrounded by colorful veggies!

Stir stir stir!

Chop that chicken, Maggie!

Ah, the finished product!

And now...LET'S EAT!

Rainbow Rotini

This recipe has so much great color and texture to it! Mmm


1 lb. Multigrain Rotini Pasta

5 cups fresh spinach, chopped

3 yellow summer squash, peeled into ribbons

3 fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch of fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 lb chicken breast, cubed

salt, black pepper, garlic powder


  1. Boil a large pot of water. Add the pasta.
  2. When pasta is almost done, add the spinach and squash ribbons. Let cook until all components are cooked (about 2-3 minutes more).
  3. Drain the pasta/vegetable mixture.
  4. Sauté chicken in 1 Tablespoon of oil until no longer pink inside.
  5. Add the cooked chicken, tomato, and basil to the pasta. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Cheesy Basil and Garlic Toasts

Note: Having a broiler made this go very fast and it browned our toasts to perfection. If you do not own a broiler, you can use a toaster oven or just a normal oven at high temp.


1 loaf of whole grain bread, cut into slices

3 Tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

12 slices jack cheese

1 bunch fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons


  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Brush bread with oil.
  3. Sprinkle with black pepper and garlic powder.
  4. Place one slice of cheese on each slice of bread.
  5. Place bread on a sheet tray and broil for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
  6. Take the toasts out of the broiler and sprinkle with fresh basil ribbons.

Fresh Fruit Salad


1 apple, chopped

1 banana, sliced

¼ cup raisins

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Combine fruit and raisins in a bowl.
  2. Pour the lemon juice over the fruit.
  3. Add the cinnamon.

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