- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Two young chefs from North Dakota and South Dakota who created healthy versions of chili and fish tacos will be flown to Washington next month for a “state dinner” for children at the White House.

Josh Weissenberger, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Stella Halverson, of Grand Forks, North Dakota, are among the 56 winners - one for each state, U.S. territory and the District of Columbia - of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, which invites 8- to 12-year-olds to submit original recipes for healthy and affordable lunches. Josh, 11, and Stella, 8, along with a chaperone will join first lady Michelle Obama on July 14 for a lunch that will feature a selection of the winning recipes.

Josh and Stella, who were notified this week of their achievement, drew inspiration from their everyday lives.

Josh developed his “catch of the day fish tacos” with walleye that he caught in the Missouri River during a family fishing trip. “I came up with my recipe when my relatives on a fishing trip they were frying fish, and I didn’t think that was very healthy,” Josh said. “So when I got home, I used the fish that I caught to bake them, and then I combined them with my other favorite food and it’s tacos.”

Stella’s “red potato boat with 3 bean bison chili” pays homage to her family’s decades-old business.

“I chose potato because I’m a fifth-generation potato farmer,” said Stella, who said she jumped out of excitement and began hugging “everybody” when she found out her dish was a winner. “I cook with my mom and dad a lot, especially my dad, because it’s just really fun cooking with them.”

This is the fifth edition of the competition, which is run in conjunction with public television station WGBH in Boston and the federal agriculture and education departments. More than 1,200 entries were submitted to the competition. Recipes had to meet recommended nutrition guidelines, and children were encouraged to use ingredients grown in their state or community.

All winning recipes will be available to the public in a free e-cookbook. In addition, meal-kit delivery service Blue Apron will feature one of the winning recipes on their menu during a week in July.

Josh and Stella will also get to visit the White House Kitchen Garden after their lunch with the first lady.

“For the last five years, kids across the country have cooked up nutritious and delicious dishes as part of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, and each year, I continue to be impressed by their talent and creativity,” Obama said in a statement. “Kids are truly embracing and enjoying healthy eating and preparing healthy meals for their families.”

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Online:

http://pbs.org/lunchtimechallenge

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Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at: https://www.twitter.com/reginagarciakNO

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