For the future of Sun Valley
A Community Student’s Casserole-Lined Road to the White House
Elena Guylay, a 6th grader at The Community School, knows first-hand what it feels like to attend a “State Dinner” with the First Lady at the White House. Elena was chosen as the Idaho winner of Mrs. Obama’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge for her recipe, “Fiesta Casserole.” The contest challenged kids from around the country to come up with a healthy lunchtime recipe that incorporated all the food groups and was, of course, delicious.
The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge partnered with Epicurious, and if you’re in need of some yummy and kid-friendly recipes you can download the entire cookbook of winning recipes online for free at recipechallenge.epicurious.com. Elena Guylay was one of just 54 winners of a contest which received more than 1,200 entries and was beyond excited to make the trek, along with her mother Kathryn, to the White House last summer for a first-time trip to Washington D.C.
Kathryn says that she and Elena were utterly shocked when her recipe won a spot in the Challenge because Kathryn was sure that submission “would be hurled into a black hole and they would never hear back.” After sending in her recipe, a surprised Elena received a personal invitation from the First Lady for a weekend in Washington D.C., which included tours through the capitol city, a lecture from Mrs. Obama and a personal tour of the Smithsonian. The kids’ “State Dinner” was the highlight of their Washington D.C. weekend, says Elena, where they got to taste the recipes of their fellow winners in a meal that included kale chips along with a quinoa and black bean salad to start, “cabbage sloppy joe’s” with zucchini fries and a yummy smoothie for dessert.
Elena’s winning creation—“Fiesta Casserole”—is made with brown rice and beans, salsa, spices and cottage cheese and is a dish that her mom says Elena ate almost every day for lunch for a year. So it’s no wonder that it won a coveted spot in the national contest because it must be good!
Elena says that she has been the family “sous chef” before she was even able to reach the kitchen counter and owes her culinary inspiration and training to her mom. Kathryn is the ultimate authority on preparing meals for kids that are both healthy and tasty as she teaches nutrition and promotes wellness in the Wood River Valley through “Nurture,” a non-profit organization that addresses issues including hunger, childhood obesity, overall wellness and an increasingly unhealthy food chain. Kathryn teaches the Nuture curriculum at the Community School and will be doing the same with the 5th grade class at Hemingway Elementary this year— lucky kids! Check out Nuture’s website (linked to above) for more kid-approved healthy recipes as well as other tips and resources for parents. Get your children interested and participating in healthy eating and cooking and who knows, theyjust might end up lunching with the First Lady!
Elena's winning recipe: