Imagine being 8 years old, knowing how to create healthy allergy-safe recipes, and being invited to a White House dinner.
Braxton Young, a second grader from Ellicott City, Maryland, does not have to imagine this. His original recipe for Quinoa-Crusted Spinach Pie earned him an invitation to the 2015 Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House.
“I created this recipe for kids like me that are allergic to dairy, nuts, and gluten,” said Braxton. “But, even if you don’t have an allergy, you’ll love it too.”
The recipe was submitted to Michelle Obama’s 4th annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and won for the state of Maryland. Out of nearly 1,000 entrants, Braxton and 53 other budding chefs, ages 8 to 12, attended the “State Dinner” this past July 10. The winners represented each of the 50 U.S. states plus four territories and the District of Columbia.
Braxton learned how to cook from his mother, Kimberly Young, founder of Healthy Little Cooks, a company that uses fun activities and challenges to teach nutrition awareness and cooking skills to kids.
Parents of children with or without food allergies may want to checkout the Healthy Little Cooks website (healthylittlecooks.com). Knowing how to prepare nutritious food is an excellent life skill to have, and can provide kids with food allergies an increased sense of control and confidence.
“It helps me feel better to cook,” says Braxton. “I sleep better, and I don’t itch as much.”
Cooking and eating healthy foods may also curb the isolation some children with allergies experience at school. “A lot of kids don’t eat very healthy lunches in my school and unless I have smelly eggs in my lunchbox, they want my healthy food,” comments Braxton.
All the winning recipes, including Braxton’s, are available in The 2015 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Kids’ “State Dinner” Cookbook: Top Recipes from Future Chefs of America.