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Phoebe's Phish Tacos win place on White House table

STAFF PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Phoebe Garrett, 12, is the Oregon winner of the 2015 Healthy Lunch Challenge. Her recipe for Phoebes Phish Tacos with Kale Chips and the rest of the winning recipes are available online at letsmove.gov.

Phoebe Garrett will have many things to talk about in the lunch room when school starts later this month. Of course she will share what she did over summer vacation, and then she will can talk about what’s in her lunch. Both made the news this summer.

Phoebe, a seventh-grader at Lake Oswego Junior High, is Oregon’s winner in the fourth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and was invited to attend the 2015 Kids’ State Dinner at the White House July 10. She and her twin sister, Lily, enjoy cooking with friends and Phoebe’s Phish Tacos is one of her favorite recipes.

Her essay reads: “My inspiration for this is also my favorite story. I was at a barbecue while on vacation and set my eyes on my first suckling pig. The sight convinced me to become a vegetarian. After studying with my parents about vegetarianism and how much protein my body needs, I decided that I would eat fish and chicken, but not mammals. Making this choice has forced us to find creative protein options. Fish is both high in protein and the good types of fats we need.”

“I really like fish,” she said. “And salmon is native to Oregon. I love it.”

She was notified in May that she was a finalist and in early June learned that she was the winner in Oregon.

“I was almost in shock!” she said. “The closer we got to the trip I got really excited.” In the short time between learning she won and attending the event Phoebe and her mother, Rachel Garrett, were put through rigorous security checks and boned up on White House etiquette.

When they arrived at the White House there were lines to wait for clearance, only to wait in more lines. Phoebe said she and her mother were announced just as diplomats at State Dinners are announced, and then they waited in yet another line to meet First Lady Michelle Obama.

“It was really exciting,” Phoebe said. “I couldn’t stop smiling. Sasha was there, too, and lots of security.”

The First Lady “took time to visit with every person,” said Rachel Garrett. “Phoebe is quite a fan of Michelle Obama.” The mother and daughter had their picture taken with the First Lady, and the President dropped in to say “hello” to the crowd.

The menu of the Kids’ State Dinner featured some of the winning recipes of the competition including Mediterranean Rockin’ Roasted Vegetables in Cool Cucumber Boats (Wisconsin), Vegetable Confetti Spring Rolls (Washington, D.C.), California Rainbow Taco with Mic-Kale Obama Slaw and Barack-amole (California), Oodles of Zoodles with Avocado Pistachio Pesto (Arizona), Aloha Sorbet (Hawaii) and the Kale-Spinach Smoothies in Mary’s Garden Farfalle Feast (Iowa).

The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge was developed to help curb the rising tide of childhood obesity. It is open to children ages 8-12. Nearly 1,000 entries featuring wholesome, tasty ingredients were receive in this year’s competition. The dishes were prepared by DC Central Kitchen staff and rated by judges on nutritional value, taste, creativity, originality, affordability and the accompanying essay. Children were encouraged to reference ChooseMyPlate.gov and incorporate foods from each of My Plate’s five food groups in their entries.

During the luncheon Michelle Obama asked the guests to pay it forward to show others how to eat healthy. And that is exactly what Phoebe and Lily plan to do.

“We’re supposed to spread the word,” she said. “Lily and I are going to figure out how we can pay it forward. All kids should have access to healthy food.”

Following lunch the attendees toured the White House Kitchen Garden.

To learn more about the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and download all the winning recipes, including Phoebe’s Phish Tacos, visit letsmove.gov/kids-state-dinner.

STAFF PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Phoebes Phish Tacos with Kale Chips

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