Aspiring chef Amelia Guerin was so impressed by a restaurant’s watermelon salad that she had to go home and put her own spin on it.
“We made one with different ingredients and it tasted really, really good,” said Amelia, an 11-year-old student at Las Sendas Elementary School.
“That’s how I came up with the recipe.”
Amelia did such a great job that she was a finalist in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona’s 2018 Walk On! Kids Cooking Challenge.
As part of its effort to inspire kids to make healthier choices, in January, BCBSAZ invited kids ages 9 to 12 across the state to submit ideas for healthy side dish recipes. Recipes had to be original, include at least one fruit or vegetable and be able to be prepared in 20 minutes or less.
She admits she just “threw some things together,” including watermelon, feta, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. But it worked.
“The balsamic vinegar may sound a little weird, but it really tastes good with the feta,” she said. “You get that sweet and salty flavor when you bite in – first, the watermelon, then the balsamic and feta.”
For her recipe, she earned a Phoenix Suns gift set, an autographed Guy Fieri cookbook, and a professional chef shirt and hat.
Amelia’s mother, Aimee, is proud of her daughter, who was making waffles as she spoke.
“I love making waffles and I really like making smoothies,” Amelia said. “Those are my favorite. I was going to enter my fish tacos, until I found out I needed to make a side dish.
“My fish tacos are healthy. It has corn and stuff.”
Recipe submissions underwent a three-part scoring process. First, a nutrition specialist reviewed all the recipe submissions and chose the top five finalists based on each recipe’s level of nutrition. Then the top five finalists participated in a public event at a Phoenix Suns home game, where game attendees had a chance to taste and vote for their favorite recipe.
“It was really fun,” Aimee said about the Suns event. “She had such a good time, and everybody was really welcoming. It was really a good experience for everyone.”
For the third part of the scoring process, videos of contestants discussing what makes their recipe so good were posted online for a public vote. The recipe that received the most points from all three scoring categories was declared the winner.
“This year’s recipe submissions were fun and full of great nutrition,” said Myrna Collins, health promotion executive at BCBSAZ.