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From Cowell to White House

Adding gourmet twist to school cafeteria fare

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From Cowell to White House

The recipe team consists of, clockwise from front lower left, Joshua Cowell cook Sharon Bright, main kitchen operator Rosalie Teicheira, chef Bryan Ehernholm, Sierra High student Cameron H., and Ma...

Photo contributed/


POSTED March 26, 2011 2:44 a.m.
Joshua Cowell students buying school lunch Wednesday will enjoy a side dish that could later this year be prepared by White House chefs.

“Central Valley Harvest Bake” - a recipe created from the partnership of Modesto chef Bryan Ehrenholm, the Cowell cafeteria staff, and Sierra High culinary students - is one of 15 national finalists in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Recipes for Healthy Kids competition.

There were more than 350 entries nationally in the competition that challenged school nutrition professionals, chefs, students, and community members to develop creative, nutritious, and kid-approved recipes. The goal is to publish them in a recipe book that schools can easily incorporate into National School Lunch Program menus.  That book will include 15 different recipes from the submissions in three different categories - whole grains, dry beans and peas, and dark green and orange vegetables.

“We were fortunate to get  Chef Bryan Ehernholm of the Lunch Pail & Pure Joy Bakery (on Bangs Road in Modesto) to help us,” noted Sandy Helsel, Manteca Unified School District’s nutrition services supervisor.

The goal was to create a recipe that was nutritious, appealing to kids and employed locally grown vegetables.

 Cowell School’s entry is in the vegetable category and is designed as a side dish for serving with a number of entrees such as grilled chicken and roasted turkey. It employs valley grown butternut squash, jalapeño and red peppers, black beans, red quinoa, plus granola.  The Central Valley Harvest Bake has 125 calories per half cup serving with 16 percent of the calories from fat, 3 percent from saturated fat, and 16 percent from sugar.

After the recipe team perfected the recipe, Helsel said Ehernolhm worked with Sierra High culinary students to recreate it. He also allowed a student interested in a culinary career to spend time with him at his restaurant as well as help cater an event.

The Cowell School central kitchen staff then set about translating the recipe to make sure it would work in larger servings with each batch being able to serve 50 people as opposed to the original recipe that serves six.

The side dish was taste tested by Cowell students in their classes.

Hesel said she hopes Michele Obama will be sampling each of the 15 final entries. But even so, she said it is both thrilling and an honor knowing a recipe created in Manteca will be prepared later this year by the White House chef and their staff.

The Cowell recipes along with 14 other finalists are posted on the Recipes for Healthy Kids website for voting for the Popular Choice award. Voting closes May 15.

For a complete list of all entries and their recipes as well as to vote for your favorite recipe visit the Recipes for Healthy Kids website at: www.recipesforkidschallenge.com.
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