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Cooking Matters Michigan

Empowering families with the skills, confidence and knowledge to prepare healthy and affordable meals

Extreme Food Makeover Holiday Edition Winners


This season, Cooking Matters challenged participants via social media to makeover a typically unhealthy holiday-time favorite.  The only rule:  incorporate healthy ingredients and cooking techniques when recreating your dish!  Bonus points were awarded for use of the secret ingredients.

The secret ingredients were:

1. Winter Squash

2. Peanut Butter

3. Cinnamon

Cooking Matters staff voted for their favorites based on the following criteria:

1) Health Value (Incorporation of healthy ingredients and techniques)

2) Thoughtfulness (Incorporation of holiday theme/meaningfulness to its creator)

3) Presentation

4) Creativity

Best Overall:  Peanut Butter Cookies with a Healthy Twist by David Moss

davids efm

Why did David win best overall?  Voters appreciated the simplicity of his recipe.  With only 9 ingredients total, the 3 secret ingredients can really shine.  This whole grain recipe is approachable even to baking beginners (such as participants in a Cooking Matters class).  Cookies are undoubtedly a holiday indulgence, but this recipe gives them a healthy and unexpected twist!

Most Thoughtful:  Winter Squash Peanut Butter Cheese Cake w/ Whipped Yogurt by Chef Mike

mike efmWhy did Chef Mike win most thoughtful?  He chose to recreate his mother's traditional pumpkin pie recipe, but with a healthy twist.  Chef Mike gave us the most background about his family's holiday traditions (adding the whipped "cream" because his mother wouldn't allow it otherwise!).  Judges loved this recipe's use of greek yogurt and low fat ricotta.  We also loved the idea of using Chef TJ's healthy cookie crumbs for the crust!

Best Presentation: Pumpkin Peanut Butter Mousse Tart by Chef TJ

tj efmWhy did Chef TJ win best presentation?  Well, in a recipe contest where we can't try the foods, we eat with our eyes-- this one blew us away!  We appreciated this recipe's use of nutritious ingredients like flax, chia seed,  wheat germ and whole wheat flour.  Using greek yogurt and egg whites give the mousse a healthier spin.  If this dish tastes half as good as it looks I'd like some now, please.

Most Creative:  Pumpkin Casserole by Dawn Claybrooks

dawns efmWhy did Dawn win most creative?  Two words:  homemade marshmallows.  What an idea!  Everyone has had sweet potatoes with marshmallows, but Dawn put a creative spin on this classic through the use of pumpkin.  We also liked her use of natural peanut butter (meaning no hydrogenated oils) and use of unsaturated fats instead of butter!

A big thank you goes out to all the participants. Contests like this one help us promote healthier eating habits and demonstrate the array of ingredients and techniques that can be used to make any dish healthier.  We couldn't have a competition without competitors-- thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to share your skills and creativity!  We hope you had fun!

Winners should contact to receive your prizes!!!

Happy and Healthy Holidays Everyone!