Politics & Government

‘One Bag Bluegrass Bake’ is Kentucky 10-year-old’s ticket to the White House

Will Bingham at his home in Lexington, Ky., on July 12, 2016. Bingham is the Kentucky winner of the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids "State Dinner" and will meet First Lady Michelle Obama on July 14, 2016.
Will Bingham at his home in Lexington, Ky., on July 12, 2016. Bingham is the Kentucky winner of the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids "State Dinner" and will meet First Lady Michelle Obama on July 14, 2016. Lexington Herald-Leader

The idea came to them when they were camping: summer vegetables, freshly caught fish and some spices cooked over a hot campfire in a piece of tinfoil. A healthy alternative to the more traditional hamburgers and hotdogs, the Bingham family thought.

So when the opportunity arose to enter the first lady’s 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, 10-year-old Will Bingham and his mom, Karen Bingham, decided to submit one of their favorite summer recipes: the “One Bag Bluegrass Bake!”

“Since Will likes to cook, and he likes to cook with me, I thought it was something fun we could do together,” said Karen Bingham, 39, of Lexington, Kentucky.

I was yelling.

Will Bingham, 10, of Lexington, Kentucky, on his reaction to winning a trip to the White House

They never expected to win the competition, which required applicants to invent a healthy, original and affordable meal. “I was yelling,” Will said, recalling his reaction when he found out that he had been chosen as the winner from Kentucky with his recipe, One Bag Bluegrass Bake!

Will was one of 56 winners, selected out of 1,200 kids across the United States, who will visit the White House this Thursday to partake in the annual Kids’ “State Dinner,” with first lady Michelle Obama hosting a lunch featuring the winning recipes.

What is he most looking forward to this week?

“Everything,” he said. “Meeting the first lady, seeing the White House, eating the food. I love to cook.”

Cooking has always been a favorite hobby for Will: He helps out in the kitchen when he can and is enrolled in cooking classes at Happy and Healthy Ways, a local cooking school that offers classes to kids and adults. One of his favorite dishes to serve to his parents when it’s his turn to cook is eggs-in-a-hole, a piece of bread cooked with an egg in the middle, he said.

“We try to eat healthy; we certainly try to fill our plates,” Karen Bingham said. “Will always says we need to have colors of the rainbow on our plate. We go through and see how many colors of the rainbow we have on our plate.”

The trip to Washington D.C., and to the White House, will be the first for Will and his mom. He’s particularly looking forward to meeting Obama and seeing the White House’s garden, and he’s also hoping to catch a glimpse of the Obama’s dogs, Sunny and Bo.

Megan Henney: 202-383-6022, @megan_henney

One Bag Bluegrass Bake!

Makes 1 Serving

459 calories, 26g fat, 28g carbohydrates, 30g protein

INGREDIENTS

4 ounces trout fillets or any local flaky fish, such as salmon

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

½ lemon, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly grated pepper

½ red or yellow bell pepper, julienned

½ cup zucchini, peeled and julienned

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

2 sprigs thyme

½ cup navy or white beans, rinsed and drained

Plain Greek yogurt as topping (optional)

Cooked brown rice (optional)

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large mixing bowl, gently toss all ingredients except navy beans, yogurt, or rice. On a large piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, add the fish and beans. Fold the parchment or foil over and crimp and fold so it’s sealed. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Let bag sit for 5 minutes before opening. Serve with yogurt and cooked brown rice.

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