A Winning Recipe from a Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Champ


healthy lunchtime challenge epicurious
Michael Lombardi is a typical Westchester kid. His favorite foods are cheeseburgers and spaghetti, his favorite restaurant is Chipotle and he’s enjoying the summer before sixth grade swimming at Camp Patthunke in Scarsdale.

But on July 18, Michael, who lives in Eastchester, will be in Washington, D.C., strolling through Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden and attending a pizza party at the Smithsonian.

He won the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a recipe contest sponsored by the first lady and Epicurious, for children ages 8 through 12. He will represent New York state at the Kids’ State Dinner at the White House along with 53 others from around the country.

“When they told me I won I had one thing to say: seriously?!” says 11 year-old Michael, who also entered last year but didn’t win.

Michael’s recipe, Mike’s Chicken and Vegetable Dumpling Cups, is original and gluten-free, something he came up with in the kitchen with a little help from his aunt.

“It’s a healthy version of dumplings,” he says, adding that he wanted to make something Asian-inspired because of the Chinese restaurant dinners he enjoys with his grandparents as a reward for a good report card.

Michael’s kid-friendly dumpling recipe (“I thought of finger food because I’m sure most kids would agree that’s fun!”) hits all the marks for a FLOTUS-approved healthy plate, which he checked on the¬†Choose My Plate¬†banner hanging in his family’s kitchen. He recommends adding a side of broccoli and a glass of low-fat milk to round out the meal.

Mike's Chicken & Vegetable Dumpling Cups


  • 1/4 cup cilantro, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup scallions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 cups boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • Juice from one fresh tangerine
  • 24 rice wrappers


  1. Combine all vegetables and chicken breasts, place aside. In a bowl, mix 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and juice from a squeezed tangerine. Then add the chicken and vegetables. Marinate for 15 minutes.
  2. In a large pan over moderate heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add garlic. Cook until the garlic begins to turn light brown.
  3. Add chicken and vegetables to the pan. Stir occasionally. Saute until the chicken turns white, about 5 to 8 minutes. Lower the heat to keep warm.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Lightly spray a cupcake pan with olive oil.
  6. Dip the rice wrappers in warm water. Then place two wet wrappers in each cupcake cup. Bake the wrappers in the oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool for a few minutes only, then add chicken and vegetable mixture to the rice cups.
  8. Serve with a side of steamed broccoli, and add a small drizzle of tangerine and soy sauce for taste.



About Author

Megan McCaffrey is a food writer for The Journal News and contributor to the Small Bites Blog. She has a degree in Digital Media from Fordham University and a fondness for good craft beer. She loves to bake, read cooking blogs and taste all the Lower Hudson Valley has to offer. Megan lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut with her husband and three kids.

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