Have you ever had been in a food fight? What about a healthy food fight?
Atlanta’s own Lisa Hanson has. Lisa is a finalist in Aetna’s Healthy Food Fight, a cooking competition with a focus on developing healthy recipes. Owner of the recently closed Cabbagetown Market, Lisa Hanson entered a recipe and was invited to participate in the regional cook-off at the Taste of Atlanta.
Recipes entered went through several levels of screening and the Culinary Institute of America chose the participants who would compete in the regional competitions. Lisa’s recipe is one that she makes at home about once a month: Zucchini “pappardelle” with grass-fed beef meatballs, ricotta, spinach, and fresh tomato. The inspiration for her recipe? A dish that appeared on the Union Square Cafe menu in the 80’s.
Contest rules reinforced the focus on healthy cooking. Recipes were judged based on nutrition, taste, and presentation. The nutrition score was based on the amount and range of vegetables used, types of oil in the recipe, use of unprocessed foods, amount of sodium, protein source, use of healthy carbohydrates, and amount of added sugars.
Was Lisa nervous? Did she need to practice her recipe? Nope. Lisa entered for fun using a recipe she’d made many times and wasn’t nervous. She said that the hardest part of the cook-off was getting comfortable with the four induction burners and convection oven used in the competition.
As the winner of the regional competition, Lisa was invited to participate in the final cook-off. That challenge takes place today in Los Angeles. For the final competition, challengers will not be making their own recipes. They are charged with the task of making a healthy Thanksgiving meal. Each participant will be given a turkey, 2 teaspoons of oil, and 2 teaspoons of salt. They were also given a list of additional ingredients from which they could choose. The nutrition scores will still be a large factor in the final outcome.
We wish Lisa Hanson the best of luck today as she competes in the finals of Aetna’s Healthy Food Fight. She has promised to follow up with us to let us know the outcome of the competition and what she made. Let’s hope she comes home with the grand prize: $10,000 worth of appliances donated by Lowe’s and KitchenAid.
For Lisa’s original contest recipe, see the Aetna Healthy Food Fight website.
–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog
– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.