Saturday, 11 November 2017

Cooking 101: What's In A Happy Meal?

                           (Burger made from veggies)

Well, I was sure they didn't invite me because, like the rest of the hungry world, I love to eat. They could just have invited anyone crossing the street. But I had to accept the invitation; their school activity was interesting.

I was invited to judge a cook-off at a local elementary school here in my hometown. The competition was about cooking a meal at the lowest cost.

What's in a happy meal? I asked. Well, if you ask McDonald's, it's french fries, burger and a soda.

                             (Shrimp lumpia)

But at the cook-off, it's nutrition!

Yes, the winning meal should not only be economical but also be nutritious and appealing to kids.

Most dishes included fish and vegetables, ingredients which are cheapest to buy and nutritious, too. Some competitors brought their A-game, decorating their table with attractive ornaments as if to get more points for the effort. 
           (Seashells with veggies and mango bits)
               (Fruits and vegetables on display)

But I was not about to be swayed by the presentation alone. I had nutrition and the taste in mind, a dish that would encourage a kid to actually eat and enjoy the dish.

There were shrimp lumpia, the super nutritious pinakbet, seashells with vegetables and mangoes, eggplant with pumpkin and bitter gourd, and tilapia cooked in coconut milk and garnished with ripe mangoes. I think there were other two dishes whose names my taste glands have forgotten for now. Ha-ha-ha!

         (Eggplant with pumpkin and bitter gourd)

The winner was actually the tilapia cooked in coconut milk and garnished with mangoes. Well, for one, fish is a good source of protein and, two, the mango in the dish perked up the taste, which I was sure any kid would enjoy. 

After we made the rounds, I asked the other judges for their favorite. It was unanimous. The tilapia won, and the moms who made the dish were ecstatic! The principal got to bring home the dish, by the way. Ha-ha-ha!
      (Pinakbet with rice and banana. Ready to eat?)

If you're cooking today, is your dish as nutritious?

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