Written by Tiane Davis // Photo by Balazs Balassa
Harding University Healthy Eating Active Living (HU HEAL) hosted a cooking contest this week to encourage healthy eating on campus.
The setup of the contest, held March 23, was copied from the show, “Beat Bobby Flay,” with Logan and Cindy Ingram as the two contest chefs during the final round. Sophomores Allison Babitzke and Kyra Smith won the first round of the competition with their “pepper poppers” recipe, but were narrowly defeated by the Ingrams in the second round. The second round required that both teams cook a stir fry for the judges.
HU HEAL nutrition supervisor and assistant professor of family and consumer sciences Megan Jones said the first round was students competing against each other, and the second round was a competition between the student winners and the Ingrams.
Jones said the main goal was to show students how easy and fun it can be to cook and eat healthy food.
“We took this idea for HEAL, and the goal really is to show that you can make nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables, taste good,” Jones said. “And also just to make it a fun time where people are going to be competing against each other but making these nutrient-dense foods taste good and look presentable.”
Jones said another crucial part of the contest was to inspire fellowship among Harding students through a friendly competition atmosphere.
“We want to try and encourage nutrient-dense eating that tastes good, that looks exciting, and then bringing the whole fellowship part of it as well is going to be an important part of it,” Jones said. “Things are fun, and when we’re with other people, we tend to eat more, especially with foods that are going to provide those really good nutrients that make our bodies function really well.”
Jones said this was the first year HEAL has organized a cooking competition, but she hopes it can continue every year.
“Hopefully it’s an annual event,” Jones said.
Sophomore Kennedy Hix, the HEAL healthy eating coordinator, was in charge of most of the planning for the event. She said the emphasis for the event was to give students the chance to enjoy cooking with each other.
“The purpose of the cooking contest is to give students an opportunity to have fun with fellow students in the kitchen,” Hix said. “I personally love to cook, but my ability to do that here at Harding is pretty limited, so we wanted to give people an opportunity to do that with other students.”
Hix said she hoped the contest would help students branch out and cook new foods they have never cooked before.
“If nothing else, I hope people see it and realize that HEAL really can be fun,” Hix said. “For the contestants, I hope that they enjoy their time and learn a little bit more about their chosen food.”
Senior Kelli McKinnon, HU HEAL president, said her job in preparing for the contest was to oversee the planning and share information about it with the student body. She said she thought the contest was an awesome idea.
“I have enjoyed the planning process, and it has been amazing to see all the hard work paid off, especially the hard work done by our HEAL nutrition representative Kennedy Hix and our nutrition supervisor Megan Jones,” McKinnon said.
McKinnon said she hopes the event sparked an interest in getting involved with HEAL.
“I’m hoping that people will love hearing about and participating in the events HEAL is doing, and hopefully they learn that HEAL has so much to offer to the student body and the community,” McKinnon said.