#MIKidsCan Cook Contest Brings Out Kids’ Culinary Creativity

Think kids can’t cook?

The contestants in the first ever #MIKidsCan Cook competition, as well as attendees who tried their dishes, would beg to differ.

Held at New Hope Baptist Church in Grand Rapids on Monday, June 15, the healthy cooking contest brought out the creative culinary sides of seven local children, ranging in age from 8-18.

Tasty turkey wraps, fruit smoothies, and yogurt parfaits were just a few of the treats on display, all stylishly presented for judging.

Xia Pimpleton with her mom, Ukinya Hunter.
Xia Pimpleton with her mom, Ukinya Hunter.

The winner of the 13-18 year old contest division was Xia Pimpleton, 18. She’s a recent East Kentwood High School graduate and made cucumber sandwiches with angel-stuffed eggs. She and her mom, Ukinya Hunter, enjoy watching shows such as “Cutthroat Kitchen” and “Chopped” together. As a family, they try to eat healthy, especially watching out for added sodium, due to Hunter’s heart problems.

Pimpleton said she really enjoys the process of cooking healthy, nutritious meals and snacks.

“I like seeing the prep of it, then the end of it is so beautiful and tasty,” Pimpleton said.

Navia Washington with her winning dish.
Navia Washington with her winning dish.

If Navia Washington, 12, wants mac and cheese, she makes it from scratch, wrinkling her nose at the idea of preparing it from a box. Washington won the 8-12 year old contest division with her tropical cucumber breeze fruit salad and sauce. Mom Tonia Williams has been moving the family toward a vegan lifestyle and Washington likes to help out in the kitchen.

“It’s a good experience for when you get older,” she said.

Williams said having her children help with food prep makes for a happier mealtime.

“If they help me make it, they’re more likely to eat it,” she said.

Sous chef Bill Gresham from City Flats Hotel in Grand Rapids demonstrated a quick and easy salsa recipe for everyone to sample at the event. He encouraged those in attendance to be experimental in the foods they taste and use in their cooking.

“Get out of your comfort zone,” Gresham said.

He said sometimes the best recipes are variations of existing recipes and that kids should feel free to make a recipe theirs by trying out different additions.

“No one can have a lock on anything,” he said.

All of the #MIKidsCan Cook contestants with BCBSM senior community responsibility liaison Cle Jackson.
All of the #MIKidsCan Cook contestants with BCBSM senior community responsibility liaison Cle Jackson.

In the 8-12 year old contest division, second place went to Nazirah Frazier for her smoothie recipe, and third place went to Shawnn Mayberry Jr., for his fruit and yogurt parfaits. Pimpleton was the only contestant in the 13-18 year old division. First-place winners received a private skating party, second place took home a $100 sporting goods gift certificate, and third place was awarded a $50 gift card. All contestants received a participation certificate.

The cooking competition is part of a larger “Let’s Talk Health” Week put on by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

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