HICKORY, NC (WBTV) - The halls of Granview Middle School in Hickory smelled like lunch long before noon on Wednesday morning. Kids in groups of 8 were chopping, dicing, sautéing and stirring up a meal made with healthy oils and not a lot of fat and sodium.
It's all part of a program designed to get kids thinking much earlier about their health.
The American Heart Association has recently teamed up with Tom and Diane Taylor and Mike Johnson Toyota to introduce its Kids Cook With Heart (KCWH) program at two middle schools in Hickory, North Carolina.
Chef Dave Robbins and Chef Rick Doherr of Restaurant 242, Chef Jonathan Redcross of Frye Regional Medical Center, Chef Joyce Boston of Fourk and Chef Elliot Boston of Catawba Valley Medical Center have offered their time and talents to train the students in the basics of cooking and good nutrition.
Dana Plummer and Amanda Davis of Discover Wellness and Elena Misoulis and Kim Pennington of Solmaz Institute are volunteering their time as registered dieticians to teach these children life-long skills.
"The ultimate goal is to teach them that cooking healthy can be simple and fun," Amanda Davis said. "Heart disease and obesity is on the rise and its starting earlier than ever in kids. So if we can get them when they're young it can really make a difference in their adult lives as well as their family's."
With the program ending this Friday, there is a finale on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. that will feature celebrity judges from around the area. Hosted by Mike Johnson's Toyota, the students will cook in team cooking stations, fully equipped with what they need for the Kids Cook with Heart Challenge.
They will take the tools they've learned and prepare heart-healthy chicken fajitas in under two hours for judges to taste.
The students will be judged on presentation, taste, execution of the recipe, creativity and teamwork. The winning team will receive a traveling trophy. The Kids Cook With Heart program will be repeated with new students in Hickory in years to come.