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Create some healthy meals — and good memories

A few weeks ago, I wrote about nutrition and the incidence of corporations that make food of questionable nutritional quality sponsoring everything from reading programs to school sports scoreboards.

Not long after that, a news release from the White House plopped into my email inbox: First Lady Michelle Obama was announcing the annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids’ State Dinner.

Each year since 2012, she’s teamed up with Epicurious – an online recipe site – and the U.S. departments of education and agriculture to host a nationwide recipe challenge to promote cooking and healthy eating among America’s youth.

It’s not your average recipe contest, though.

In this one, the children themselves are being challenged to come up with healthy, original creations.

Children who help with cooking and meal preparation are more likely to consume fruits and vegetables, and they are more aware of the importance of making healthier food choices, the announcement said.

Besides, cooking with children is just plain fun – if you give them tasks that are appropriate for their age and skill level.

That means you probably don’t give a 5-year-old a razor-sharp chef’s knife and expect him to dice the carrots, but that youngster probably could slice a banana with a table knife.

I remember being about 3 or 4 years old and peering over the counter top, standing in front of my mother while she stirred up something. As I grew older, I learned about measuring and ingredients.

Fast forward 30 years and our son was doing much the same thing.

Cooking is a life skill and well worth learning at a young age.

Recipes can be sent to the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge through April 5 to recipechallenge.epicurious.

com.

The prizes are pretty nifty. Along with having his or her recipe become part of an e-cookbook, winners get a trip to the Kids’ State Dinner at the White House.

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