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A lunch to remember

Math and Science Academy seventh grade Sophie Bollin, of Maplewood, traveled July 17-18 to Washington, D.C., where she had lunch at the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama as part of the Kids’ State Dinner after being selected as a winner in the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. Bollin’s winning recipe is quinoa and black beans. (Submitted photo)

There are a lot of perks that come with eating healthy – you feel better, you’re in better shape and a lot of times it tastes good.

One additional perk Math and Science Academy seventh grader Sophie Bollin received from eating healthy was a trip to Washington, D.C., to have lunch at the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama.

“All of these years I’ve been trying to teach her good table manners and kind of teasing that she might one day have dinner with the queen or eat at the White House,” said Bollin’s mother Deborah Webster, “and it really happened.”

Bollin, of Maplewood, earned her trip to the White House by being named the Minnesota winner of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.

The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is sponsored by Epicurious magazine, which encourages healthy eating through articles, recipes and menus.

Webster happened to be on the Epicurious website one day looking for a new recipe for her family when she stumbled upon the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.

“She said ‘Hey, you want to enter?’” Bollin said. “So we did – it seemed like a fun opportunity.”

The contest invited a parent or guardian to work with their child to whip up a healthy and affordable lunchtime recipe.

Entries had to represent each of the food groups, with fruits and vegetables making up roughly half the recipe.

Bollin and her mother landed on a quinoa and black beans dish, which the family had already tried.

“Sophie loves beans and the rest of the family really loves Mexican cheese,” Webster said. “I was looking for more vegetarian dishes to serve rather than just all meat dishes and this fit the bill for us.”

For Bollin’s recipe, however, she doctored it up a bit in order to make it her own.

“We spiced it up a ton,” Bollin said. “We added a lot of different flavors to make it our own and to make it so our family would like it.”

Winners from each state and United States territories were selected from 1,500 entries by a panel of judges.

In addition to being featured in Epicurious’ cookbook, all winners for the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge were treated to an all-expense paid trip from July 17-18 to Washington, D.C., and lunch at the White House.

During the Kids’ state dinner at the White House, the contest winners were not only treated to a gourmet meal prepared by the White House Chef, but they also met First Lady Michelle Obama personally.

“She welcomed you with a very warm hug,” Bollin said. “She is such a warm and caring person – she’s just so sweet.

“It was so amazing and wonderful.”

The lunch also had a special surprise guest in President Barack Obama who stopped by briefly to say a few words.

Following lunch, Bollin and the other winners were treated to post-lunch entertainment from the cast of the “Lion King” and to a tour of the White House’s South Gardens.

As part of the festivities, the students also visited the Smithsonian National Museum of American History where they had the opportunity to see the kitchen used by famed chef Julia Childs.

In addition to the Epicurious cookbook, all winning recipes are also featured in a cookbook put out by the White House.

Bollin and Webster said the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is a great way to encourage children to eat healthy.

“You have to eat healthy to stay fit,” Bollin said, “and kids need to eat healthy because we’re the next generation.

“Every child can take charge of eating healthy,” Webster said, “and in some cases teach their parents a few things about what it means to eat healthy.”

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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