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Monday, May 21, 2018
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Students impress judges with their nutrition IQs

If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be?

While that might sound like a question from a cheesy dating program, it actually was an open invitation to Hillsborough County third-, fourth- and fifth-graders to use their drawing skills and promote student awareness about good nutrition. Nearly 800 kids submitted entries in the recent Second Annual Student Nutrition Services Bookmark Contest, and I was invited to be a judge.

After organizers narrowed the field to about 100 bookmarks, a panel of judges, including myself, ranked them on creativity, content, and partly on their capacity to be reproduced. The two winning bookmarks will be printed and distributed throughout the county’s school library system. That’s kind of a big deal if you ask me.

The entries held a few surprises. They ranged from broccoli, carrots and peas to eggplant, mangoes, starfruit and Asian dragon fruit.

Dragon fruit? Really? I didn’t know what dragon fruit was until my hair started turning gray.

Just as impressive were the imaginative drawings, super-cool sunglassed carrots and grapes, cheerleading carrots, apples dressed as cats and a red-hot, chili-pepper man.

Their slogans, given their young ages, were more than admirable.

“Give peas a chance,” “Roc with Broc,” “Reading is nutritious” and “My dragon fruit is almost as good as this book... almost” were clever, I thought.

Entries by Edith Somiah, a fifth-grader at FishHawk Elementary, and Kai Owen, a fourth-grader at Clark Elementary, were voted as the two best bookmarks in the contest.

So what’s my favorite fruit or veggie? This week it’s cubanelle peppers! I’m afraid I got a little carried away at a U-pick farm in Apollo Beach last weekend.

The next time you’re bemoaning your lack of connection with Mother Earth, check out the U-pick farm on Big Bend Road just east of U.S. 41, where you’ll find some fantastic cubanelles, jalapéno peppers and tomatoes. I got eight cubanelles and two jalapénos for $2.

I used my big purchase to make this week’s recipe – chicken-stuffed cubanelle peppers. The dish was a huge hit at our house. Enjoy!

Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel.

Chicken-stuffed Cubanelle Peppers

6 cubanelle peppers

2 eggs

1 cup salsa

3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast

3/4 cup soft bread crumbs

1/2 cup cooked rice

2 cups meatless spaghetti sauce, divided

Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, salsa, chicken, bread crumbs and rice. Spoon into peppers.

Coat a 13-inch x 9-inch baking dish and an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce in larger pan and 1/2 cup sauce in smaller pan. Place peppers over sauce. Spoon remaining spaghetti sauce over peppers.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 55 - 60 minutes or until peppers are tender.

Yield: 6 servings.

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