Tipton girl curry-ious about healthy eating

VanderGaast will join First Lady Michelle Obama on July 9

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TIPTON — Corrine VanderGaast runs into the kitchen.

“It’s ready, isn’t it?” the 9-year-old asks, peering into the silver pot on the stove.

The smell of curry in the air answers her question.

She sits at the kitchen table, holding the bowl of “Stone Curry with Brown Rice,” a smile on her face for the camera in front of her. The second the photographs are over, she turns to her mother.

“Mom, can I eat it now?”

“You never saw a child so eager to eat vegetables, did you?” Deb VanderGaast asks with a smile.

That’s exactly the point of The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner.”

The competition, originated by Epicurious to promote healthy eating among America’s youth, asks a parent or guardian to work with their child ages 8 through 12 to create a lunchtime recipe that is healthy, affordable, original and delicious. In support of the Let’s Move! initiative launched by first lady Michelle Obama, each recipe must adhere to the guidance that supports U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, meaning entries had to represent each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal.

This year’s contest, now in its second year, received more than 1,300 entries.

Corrine and her mom created their recipe during spring break. Deb VanderGaast operates a child care facility at her home and decided to change the popular story “Stone Soup” into lunch.

“I found a curry recipe online and modified it so that every child could take part in making it,” she says.

The children pretended they lived in India and Deb VanderGaast took on the role of the hungry traveler asking for food. With an ice cube in a pot acting as the stone, each child prepped one of the recipe’s ingredients, which includes chickpeas, potatoes, onion, tomatoes and sweet potato.

“After they put in each ingredient, they’d say ‘Curry from a stone? Fancy that!’” Deb VanderGaast says.

The vegetarian curry was served over brown rice with a side of fruit and glass of milk, meeting nutritional guidelines.

“It was a fun activity, but I thought nothing else of it,” Deb VanderGaast says.

Then she found out about the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and decided to enter the recipe under Corrine’s name.

“Technically, it’s all of the kids’ recipe, but I could only attach one name to it,” she says.

They learned they were a state finalist in early May. The news that they won arrived via email in June.

Corrine is one of 54 kids who will attend a kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House on Tuesday with parents and the first lady.

They also will tour the White House garden and Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, where some of the winning recipes will be exhibited in the fall.

“I’m just excited about going to the White House and seeing the museums and visiting the zoo,” Corrine says.


A free downloadable and printable e-cookbook of the winning recipes, including nutritional analyses and photos, will be available in July at recipechallenge.epicurious.com, as well as epicurious.com, letsmove.gov, USDA.gov, and Ed.gov.



  • 2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced (2 cups total)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced (1 cup total)
  • 4 cups of washed spinach, chopped fine
  • 1 medium cooking onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive of canola oil
  • 1 package Golden Curry Sauce Mix (mild or medium)
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 ice cube “stone”

In a large frying pan, sauté the onions in oil until soft.

Place the sautéed onions, chickpeas, chopped vegetables, sauce mix cubes, and ice cube into separate bowls, and give one or more to each of your “villagers.”

While acting out the story “Stone Soup,” have one person be the hungry traveler and carry the pot of water to each of the villagers and ask them to add an ingredient to the pot, starting with the ice cube and ending with the curry sauce mix. As each ingredient is added to the pot, the hungry traveler state which nutrients the ingredient has and how it will help make the curry healthy and tasty,

After each ingredient is added, all the villagers say “Curry from a stone? Fancy that!”

Put pot on stove and bring to a low boil. Cook covered on medium-low heat until the potatoes are soft, but not mushy – approximately 30 minutes.

Serve on brown rice with a side of fruit and a glass of milk for a healthy, balanced meal.

Source: Deb and Corrine VanderGaast

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