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Bellingham Team Scores Big with Double Winners

Posted by James Arena-DeRosa, USDA, Food & Nutrition Service Regional Administrator in Initiatives Food and Nutrition
May 31, 2011
With “grate” skill, Bellingham, MA team transforms yams into Tasty Tots as part of Recipes for Healthy Kids competition.
With “grate” skill, Bellingham, MA team transforms yams into Tasty Tots as part of Recipes for Healthy Kids competition.

Cross posted from the Let's Move! blog:

Students at Bellingham (MA) Public Schools found the key to attracting some top individuals to their school for lunch:  they asked a state senator, state representative, a food industry executive, the state Child Nutrition director and me to judge the school’s entries in the national Recipes for Healthy Kids competition.  The school had much to be proud of because their terrific team created not one, but two semi-finalist recipes:  “Tasty Tots” and “Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.”

The team combined the talents of Chef Rodney Poles, school nutrition professional Jeanne Sheridan, community member from the local YMCA Lauren Marciszyn, and five Bellingham students – Liam F., Elizabeth B., Taylin S., John G. and Nick D.  Together they came up with two dishes competing for participation in the national cook-off to be held in Grapevine, Texas in July.

  • Tasty Tots is a healthy, kid-friendly alternative to traditional “fried” tater tots and scored highest in all samplings.  You’d never have guessed that the new “taters” were really yams mixed with garbanzo beans and spices.
  • Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is a colorful side salad that is available in the schools “extra’s” serving line where students are offered an unlimited variety of fresh and chilled fruits and vegetables to complement their lunch.

We all agreed the dishes tasted great, but I was even more impressed by the students who shared with me their perspective:  “Working on these recipes has been so much fun and interesting.  And the food we made tastes good, too.  I never knew food that’s good for you can taste good!”

Learning that nutritious food can taste good is at the heart of this competition and what we at USDA emphasize in our nutrition education programs.

As we watched the team work, one of the judges told me:  “Bellingham is exactly what this competition is all about, bringing together students, school staff members, community partners and elected officials in solidarity and supporting the effort to participate in educating our children and community on the importance of healthy nutrition.”

The May 16 judging attracted lots of local media attention, with the local television station providing live coverage of the event.  The Recipe competition is part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative and encouraged schools to bring together teams of adults and students to create tasty and nutritious items that could become part of a National School Lunch Program menu.

Clearly the Bellingham team knows the secret to good cooking.  Now all they have to do is wait for word that it’s time to pack their bags for the cook-off in Texas!

Tasty Tots
(6 servings)


  • Yams, raw (1.5 lb)
  • 3/4 cup of garbanzo beans, canned, undrained
  • 2 tbs of Oil, vegetable
  • 1/2 tsp of Salt
  • 1/4 tsp of Pepper, white
  • 1/2 tsp of Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp of Cinnamon, ground

Find out more on how to prepare this recipe, please click here.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
(6 servings)


  • 1 cup of Quinoa
  • 2 cup of Chicken Broth, Low Salt
  • 2 tbs of Lemon Juice
  • 2 tbs of Vinegar, Red Wine
  • 1 tsp of Garlic, Fresh Chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbs of Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp of Salt
  • 1/4 tsp of Pepper, White Ground
  • 1/2 cup of Peppers, Sweet Red, Fresh, Chopped
  • 2 tbs of Parsley, Raw, Chopped
  • 1/4 cup of Green Onions, chopped, incl tops & bulbs
  • 2 tbs of Red Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbs of Black Olives, sliced
  • 1 tbs of Feta Cheese, crumbled

Find out more on how to prepare this recipe, please click here.

Recipes submitted by all the semi-finalists, including Bellingham’s dishes are posted on the website where the public can vote for the “Popular Choice” award until May 31.  Prizes range from $1,000 to a grand prize of $3,000.  So, to vote for your favorite, visit  Be sure to try this and the other recipes at home with your family or classmates.