Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Recipe Earns Appleton Girl a Trip to the White House

First Lady Michelle Obama, the WGBH Educational Foundation, the Department of Education, and the Department of Agriculture recently announced the winners of the 2015 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a nationwide recipe challenge to promote healthy lunches as part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative.

Wisconsin’s winning recipe was submitted by Anna Ganser, age 10, a sixth grade student this fall at Classical School in Appleton. She is the daughter of Dr. John and Jennifer Ganser. Dr. Ganser is a family physician at ThedaCare Physicians-North in Appleton and Jennifer is a registered nurse who works as a health coach at ThedaCare At Work. Last year, Anna’s older sister Sarah submitted Wisconsin’s winning recipe to this same contest, and she motivated Anna to enter this year.

Anna’s recipe, Mediterranean Rockin’ Roasted Vegetables in Cool Cucumber Boats, was inspired by Anna’s favorite flavors and a full day of creating the original recipe in the kitchen with her mom. “I really love roasted vegetables, so I thought we’d make a recipe out of them. To add some more fun, and because I really like them, we added the cool cucumber boats,” Anna said.

Dr. Ganser and Anna will fly to Washington D.C., courtesy of Delta Air Lines and contest sponsor Newman’s Own®, on July 9 and attend the Kids’ State Dinner hosted by Michelle Obama on July 10. Winners representing all U.S. states, three territories, and the District of Columbia will attend the luncheon, followed by a visit to the White House Kitchen Garden. On the day before the White House dinner, Anna Ganser is most looking forward to a private tour of Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian, a special activity arranged just for the young chefs.

Dr. Ganser is particularly excited about the luncheon with Mrs. Obama and respects her work on the national healthy kids initiative. “As a family doctor, I am on the front lines of the struggle against childhood obesity and poor health habits. Childhood obesity is a function of adult obesity. If adults are obese, there’s a very good chance their kids will be, too. Only by modeling healthy behaviors for our children do we curb this epidemic, like choosing and cooking nutritious food, exercising daily, reading food labels, and sharing treats in moderation.”

The recipe competition, in its fourth year, invited a parent or guardian to work with his or her child ages 8-12 to create a lunchtime recipe that is healthy, affordable, original, and delicious.  Entries had to represent each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy foods, with fruits and veggies making up roughly half the plate or recipe.

Anna Ganser’s winning recipe was chosen from more than 1000 entries. It will be part of a free downloadable and printable e-cookbook of the winning recipes, including nutritional analyses and photos, available in July at the contest site at;,, and

Here’s Wisconsin’s winning recipe, courtesy of Anna Ganser, inspired by flavorful roasted vegetables and accented by cute and cool cucumber boats:


Mediterranean Rockin’ Roasted Vegetables in Cool Cucumber Boats

4 cucumbers, halved lengthwise and seeded

Whole-wheat orzo, 8 ounces

½ lbs. fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup red pepper, cut into ½ inch - pieces

1 cup yellow pepper, cut into ½ inch - pieces

1 small red onion, diced

4 tbsp. olive oil, divided

½ cup grape tomatoes, quartered

¼ cup Kalamata olives, quartered

1 (15- ounce) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup cooked, shelled edamame

3 canned artichokes hearts, diced

2 tbsp. olive oil

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup fresh key lime juice

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

½ cup crumbled garlic and herb feta cheese

1.      Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2.      Place asparagus, red pepper, yellow pepper and red onion in a mixing bowl and toss with 2 tbsp. olive oil to coat.

3.      Spread vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Let vegetables cool for 15 minutes.

4.      Cook orzo for 6-7 minutes in boiling water, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

5.      Add roasted vegetable to the orzo pasta. Combine with grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, great northern beans, edamame and artichoke hearts.

6.      In small bowl, wisk together 2 tbsps. olive oil, lemon juice, key lime juice, Dijon mustard, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.

7.      Toss dressing with roasted vegetables and orzo.

8.      Spoon the roasted vegetable-orzo mixture into seeded cucumbers. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Serve with homemade whole wheat garlic pita chips. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Garlic Pita Chips

5 pieces whole wheat pita bread

¼ cup olive oil

Garlic powder



Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice each pita bread into 8 triangles. Place pita bread triangles on a cookie sheet. Brush pita bread with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bake for 6-7 minutes until crispy and lightly brown.

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