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L.A. ninth-grader whips up winning breakfast recipe

April 30, 2013|By Teresa Watanabe
  • L.A. ninth-grader Guadalupe Gonzales prepares her "Breakfast Fruit Puff," which took the top prize in an L.A. Unified breakfast recipe contest. She used whole wheat flour to make the recipe more healthful.
L.A. ninth-grader Guadalupe Gonzales prepares her "Breakfast Fruit… (LAUSD / A. Arlington )

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Her nephew likes fruit. Her brother likes eggs. And so Guadalupe Gonzales, a ninth-grader at Panorama High School in Los Angeles, put the two ingredients together in a dish that was named the top winner Tuesday in L.A. Unified’s first annual breakfast recipe contest.

Gonzales’ “Breakfast Fruit Puff,” made with whole wheat flour and fresh kiwi, strawberries, mango and other seasonal fruits, will be served at selected L.A. Unified high school cafeterias this fall. The contest marks the latest district initiative to promote healthful eating to help fight childhood obesity and encourage student attendance.

In the last few years, the district has revamped school menus to cut down on fat, sugar and salt in favor of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. But some of the dishes -- jambalaya, quinoa salad, pad Thai -- have been flops, prompting the district to expand student-led efforts to create recipes.

“This was more than just a contest,” David Binkle, the district’s food services director, said in a statement. “It also served as a communication tool with students to find out what they would like to eat at their school cafeteria that’s healthy and good for them.”

District food experts judged 200 entries from L.A. Unified schools, checking for flavor, presentation and adherence to required nutritional standards. Entries included such fare as muffins, smoothies, coffee cake, breakfast pizza and quesadillas. The fruit puff will be offered as part of the district’s breakfasts served before school in the cafeteria, not the program to serve morning meals in the classroom. The classroom breakfast program, which feeds nearly 200,000 children in 280 schools, has been credited with improving attendance and student focus but has drawn criticism from some teachers for increasing messes and reducing instructional time.

Gonzales said her high school culinary class has helped her learn more healthful cooking habits, which she has used at home -- adding more vegetables to her dishes, for instance. She said she plans to save her $500 award for college and is interested in a career in either culinary arts or fashion design.

“I’m excited,” she said about the award. “I think it’s healthy when kids eat breakfast.”

Ten finalists will receive $100 each. They are: Allysa Eunice, Cleveland High School, for Healthy Banana Muffins; Ana Aguilar, Orthopedic Hospital MMHS, for Vegetable Quesadilla; Brandi Pollard, Doyle CTC, for Mexican Breakfast Pizza (on pita bread); CK Zazueta, Dixie Canyon Charter, for Morning Start Smoothie; Jasmin Maravilla, Orthopedic Hospital MMSH, for Banana Berry Smoothie; Kahliyan Williams, Selma Avenue Elementary, for Apple Crisp Muffins; Liliana Avalos, Panorama High School, for Peachy Coffee Cake; Gabriela Gonzales, Orthopedic Hospital MMSH, for Fruit Smash Smoothie; Jazmin Sandoval, Polytechnic High School, for Oatmeal Cranberry Muffins and Yesenia Calvillo, San Pedro High School, for Hawaiian Breakfast Poppers.

All of the recipes will be published online this fall.

For the record, 4:16 p.m., May 1: A previous version of this post said the program feeds nearly 200 children.


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