From left, Kapiolani Community College chef instructor Warren Uchida, KCC students Santos Quesada and Mariana Oliveiro, and Kahala Nui CEO Pat Duarte. Quesada and Oliveiro were the student winners of Kahala Nui's annual Healthy-licious cooking competition.
I was lucky enough to be invited back as a judge for Kahala Nui's 3rd annual Healthy-licious Contest, which invites Kapiolani Community College culinary students to create healthy recipes for seniors.
The competition took place Oct. 12 at the KCC Culinary Auditorium, and it's a contest I welcome, because unlike a lot of other food events around town, this one's easy on the opu and body as the students are tasked to use the most beneficial ingredients possible.
In his opening remarks, Pat Duarte, CEO of Kahala Nui, a life care retirement community, said that part of Kahala Nui's mission is to be an advocate for healthy dining for seniors.
"More people want to go out and eat healthy," he said, while noting that people often find healthy food isn't appealing.
He said the dullness associated with low-fat, low-sodium fare often gives hospital and nursing home food a bad rap and, "we want to change that perception and encourage young students to consider careers in this area."
He said diners don't want healthy dishes "to be an afterthought," like presenting a platter of plain steamed vegetables. In creating this competition, he said Kahala Nui aims to push students to create "something that will be the star of the menu."
This year, a field of 60 teams of two were reduced to four, based on submission of essays and recipes. Students were allowed to work with main ingrediens of chicken or a vegetarian protein. Scoring was based on taste, simplicity of preparation, nutrition, organization and delivery, and visual presentation.
Winners Mariana Oliveiro and Santos Quesada, who created Asian tofu lettuce wraps, will each receive a $600 scholarship.
Melanie Tancinco and Ian Sagayaga prepared lemon chicken with vegetable couscous and mango vinaigrette.
Sagayaga was part of the KCC team that won the American Culinary Federation’s (ACF) Western Region Student Team Championship competition took place during the 2013 ACF Western Regional Conference in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, April 12 to 15, and placed 4th in the national competition.
As part of the duo's presentation, they pointed out eight common allergens and presented such substitutions as quinoi for the wheat semolina in couscous, and mushrooms and vegetable options such as grilled eggplant in place of soybeans in the couscous.
Point out 8 allergens and options such as quinoa for the wheat semolina in couscous and mushrooms in place of soybeans, as well as veg options such as grilled eggplant
The chicken was tenderized and flavored with a marinade of apple and pineapple juices, and among the components of the vinaigrette were pineapple, apple and lemon juices, mango purée, honey, fresh tarragon and olive oi.
I have requested a recipe booklet they are compiling, and may be able to share the entire recipe at a later date.
Vince Hong, left, and Kenneth Lee prepared a tasty Asian chicken salad with a mix of nutritious greens and purple cauliflower to boost antioxidant and flavonoid compounds such as anthocyanins that may help to regulate blood lipid, insulin levels and body weight, as well as help to lower cancer risk. Purple cauliflower also contains glucoraphanin that can be converted to compounds with anticancer properties.
The plate was dotted with cream cheese to boost protein and vitamin D, and their sauce included the mineral and calcium content of fish sauce, vitamin C of lemon juice, and palm sugar that isn't as processed as cane sugar.
Mariana Oliveiro and Santos Quesada won with their simple, but flavorful Asian tofu lettuce wraps that they suggest offering up at your next potluck to impress your friends and help prolong their lives.
In coming up with their dish, they took the typical senior's fixed income, which also tends to apply to singles and families that need to stretch their dollars. Plus, Quesada pointed out, it's easy enough for anyone to make, "even if they don't go to school at KCC."
The garrulous Quesada kept the audience laughing, and she could easily have a future as a TV chef.
They created a parfait of quinoa, nutrient-rich Okinawan sweet potato, red bell pepper and tofu marinated in a sauce of honey, sesame oil, shoyu, chili garlic paste, garlic, green onion and turmeric.
Cassidy Cabel and Kaui Kanekoa made cheesy apricot chicken breast served with quinoa and kale salad.
Their chicken was basted with a sauce of apricot preserves, Dijon mustard and lemon juice, and drizzled with the same sauce after it came out of the oven.
Their salad was topped with a layer of crunch walnuts, considered one of the world's healthiest foods, rich in vitamin E in the form of gamma-tocopherol that provides protection from heart problems.