Chicago is one of my favorite cities in the world so when I was invited to participate in a healthy cooking competition as part of HumanaVitality’s Recipe Refresh Challenge earlier this month, it was a no brainer.
The opportunity to step away from the computer and get in the kitchen with fellow food bloggers is pretty much my idea of the perfect day.
The Mission? Prepare a healthy comfort food dish for a family of four in a “Top Chef” style competition using at least one “Secret Ingredient” in less than 60 minutes.
The Ingredients? We had 30 minutes to shop at a downtown Chicago neighborhood Walmart with a strict budget of $50.00. Later we discovered the secret ingredients: raisins, pears and orange juice. Fortunately, we only had to use one.
The Reason? Help promote a first-of-its-kind healthy food program which incentivizes healthy eating by offering a 5 percent savings on healthier food products purchased at Walmart. (Think: veggies, canned beans, whole grain bread, oats, canned tomatoes, bananas, etc.)
The Participants? Six bloggers from around the country including (from Left to Right) Meredith of In Sock Monkey Slippers, myself, Paula of Bell’ Alimento and Marla of Family Fresh Cooking. That’s Leslie of The Hungry Housewife up above shopping at Walmart and you’ll see Robin Sue of Big Red Kitchen later in the post!
The Judges? A distinguished panel flew in from around the country to taste, critique and analyze our creations based on a set of criteria. Judges included Christopher Koetke, Vice President of Chicago’s Kendall College School of Culinary Arts; Liz Weiss, an award-winning broadcast journalist, registered dietician and one half of the Meal Makeover Moms; Lisa Sutherland, PhD, President and Principal, LA Sutherland Group, and Adjunct Professor, Dartmouth College; and Dr. Thomas Van Gilder, National Medical Director for HumanaVitality and all wellness lines of business.
The Recipe? Sweet and Smoky Turkey Chili with Homemade Baked Corn Tortilla Chips complete with diced avocado, cilantro, scallions and Greek yogurt garnish. If you’ve never used orange juice to deglaze meat for chili, you haven’t lived.
The Competition Format? When they said “Top Chef” style, they were not kidding! There was make-up, hair, lighting, sound, video, camera crew and more. In between shots, we had individual video interviews that will be used in 2013 for HumanaVitality’s campaign. While cooking, we had live interviews with the judges asking about various ingredients, cooking styles, history behind the recipe, etc. Alton Brown has nothing on these guys!
The Results? My girl Robin Sue from Big Red Kitchen took First Place Prize with her Fork & Knife Pizza Burgers with Garlic Parmesan “Fries” and Italian Coleslaw <–YUM!!!! And guess what? Yours truly won First Runner Up Prize for my Sweet and Smoky Turkey Chili and Homemade Baked Corn Tortilla Chips! My fellow bloggers really brought their A Game with amazing dishes so this was a COMPLETE shock and a tremendous honor.
The Best Part? In addition to the generous cash prize that I won, HumanaVitality also provided me with a $50.00 Walmart Gift Card to giveaway to my loyal readers!
Giveaway is Closed: Congratulations to #61, Chung-Ah who won a $50.00 Walmart Gift Card.
To Enter: Leave a comment below telling me your healthy living goals for 2013.
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Giveaway ends at Midnight EST on Thursday, December 27th. Winner will be announced on Friday, December 28th and Liz will mail the gift card to the winner.
Disclaimer: Winner will be contacted via the email address used to leave a comment on this blog post. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Open to US residents over the age of 18 only. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook in any way. No purchase necessary to enter. I was not compensated to write this post but my trip to Chicago and the Walmart gift cards were sponsored by HumanaVitality. All opinions are my own.