Pictured:  Katie Cafferelli, the first place winner at last year's competition with her winning dish "totally ave-some."
Courtesy of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

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Local kid chefs wanted to compete in healthy kids cooking contest


Tara Alatorre

ARIZONA – The eighth annual  Walk On! kids cooking challenge organized by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona is searching for the next great junior chef, and selected finalists will get the opportunity to sample their culinary creations at the Phoenix Suns game on Feb.10, and have a chance to win the grand prize of a new bike.

Children living in Arizona from ages 9 to 12-years-old are encouraged to submit their original recipes for a healthy side dish that is either hot or cold, includes at least one fruit and/or vegetable, and can be cooked in 20 minutes or less, not including preparation time. Recipes for the cooking contest must be submitted by Jan. 24 at www.walkonaz.com.

Last year's contest winner was Katie Cafferelli, an 11-year-old from Scottsdale.  Her winning dish was called "totally ave-some," and combined avocados, red peppers, black beans and mangos.

"I love to cook and eating healthy is really important because that's how you stay healthy when you're older and it makes you happier," said Katie.  "One of my favorite things is avocado and the rest of the ingredients are colorful and full of antioxidants."

The 2014 winner was  local Anthem girl, Sophia Gray, for her “french-fry-like green beans.” In 2016, several finalists were from Peoria including, Gracie Hunter, for a pear and kiwi salad, and Bethany McCallister, for her tropical mixed green salad with teriyaki chicken.

"We are so amazed with the sophisticated palates participants have demonstrated-from quinoa and avocado to mango, beets and zucchini, the participants always impress us with their use of nutrition-rich ingredients,” said Myrna Collins, the health promotion executive of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

The cooking challenge is a part of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s initiative 5-2-1-0, which is designed to motivate kids across the state to incorporate daily healthy habits.  The 5-2-1-0 program teaches kids to eat five fruits and vegetables, limit screen time to two hours or less, get one hour of physical activity and avoid sweetened drinks every day in an effort to reduce the incidence of child obesity.

A panel of experts will choose the top five recipes based on nutritional value, taste and originality.  The top five finalists selected by the panel will present their side dish creation in a live cooking demonstration at the Phoenix Suns game on Feb. 10 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena.

After the finalists present their side dishes at the Suns game the recipes will be posted online and on the Blue Cross Blue Shield's Facebook page, and the public will vote for their favorite creation. Voting will be open from Feb. 10-21, and the finalist will compete for prizes including a new bike.

“I love that the contest provides a great platform for parents to impress upon kids that nutritious food can also be great tasting,” Collins said.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona is a non-for-profit company that is committed to helping Arizonans get healthier faster, and offers health insurance and related services to 1.5 million customers. For more information or to register for the Walk On! cooking challenge visit http://walkonaz.com.