Teen chefs battle in healthy cooking competition

— HealthCorps, a national non-profit co-founded by Dr. oz and his wife Lisa to combat the childhood obesity crisis, hosted a regional Teen Battle Chef (TBC) cooking competition on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 in Baltimore. The annual event brought together five teams of HeatlhCorps high school students from Delaware, Maryland and Washington, D.C. in competition to cook, plate and present a healthy meal.

Each student team had to rework a classic American meal into a healthier recipe that included at least three fruits and vegetables. Teams then presented their dishes to a panel of judges and explained the recipe’s origin and how they improved the meal’s nutritional value.

The student teams made everything from healthy crab cakes to smoky sweet potato burgers. Judging the tasty fare were local chefs and foodies who volunteered their time and expertise including John Shields, Chef/Owner of Gertrude’s; Rachel Yong, Healthy Food Coordinator; Sheri Sanders, Manager of Donna’s Café; Zach Chissell, Project Manager of Real Food Farm; Lisa Turner, Chef of Phaze 10 and Riq Glispy, Chef for Reinvent U Empower Maryland, Inc.

Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco, Gino Gradkowski, Ed Dickson sign pledge to ban the “R” word

— Over 400 attendees arrived on site for Al Packer’s White Marsh Ford Casino Night on Saturday, May 18, 2013. They were greeted by Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD) athlete ambassadors, who were proudly donning various competition medals around their necks. The SOMD athlete ambassadors spent the evening mingling with guests in both the dealership showroom and the two tents containing casino game tables.

SOMD ambassadors were joined by a few other athletes— Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco, Gino Gradkowski and Ed Dickson who spent the evening shaking hands and smiling for photos with Ravens fans.

The Casino Night program recognized all athletes in attendance— those with SOMD and those with the Ravens. After a SOMD athlete and his mother shared their experiences, SOMD’s President/CEO, Jim Schmutz, educated the crowd on the use of the “R” word (“retard”) and how it is hurtful to those with intellectual disabilities; the population served by SOMD.

During the program, Flacco, Gradkowski, Dickson and other guests were invited to sign a pledge to ban the “R” word, and support the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign. The goal of this campaign is to educate on the hurtfulness of the “R” word, no matter the context, and to remove it from people’s everyday vernacular.

“A woman came up to me and said ‘thank you for doing that,’” said Jim Schmutz, President & CEO at SOMD. “She responded by sharing that she uses the word “retard/retarded” all the time and never though anything of it. She grew up in the 70s and had no intent to offend anyone…she never will say this word again.”

Post-pledge signing, all of the athletes gathered together in General Manager Jerry Clark’s office for a group photo.

“My favorite part of the night was the interactions with Joe, Gino, and Ed back in my office,” said Jerry Clark, General Manager at Al Packer’s White Marsh Ford. The Special Olympics athletes clearly felt like rock stars, and isn’t that what it’s all about. People identify with a great charity and Special Olympics is definitely one of the best our store could hope to be involved in.”

This was the second annual Al Packer’s White Marsh Ford Casino Night, and a continuation of their support of SOMD. They also supported by sponsoring the MSP Polar Bear Plunge in January and the 2012 MDTA Tunnel Run.

The food and the fun that define a glorious summer

— When the weather warms, there are plenty of fun outdoor activities to enjoy, which means there’s also a bounty of summer fare to eat. From the traditional to the intriguing, you never know what interesting food choices you may find while out and about. What better way to kick off summer than with a few fun activities that pair good times with the foods that define the season?

Try these ideas for fun and fantastic food to maximize your summer months:

  • The food truck scene

The fun: Summer is prime season for food trucks— this trendy, quick-dining option allows you to explore different flavors while on the move. Do a little online research to find out where your city’s best food trucks like to set up shop – they tend to frequent parks, gardens and even busy city blocks. Whether you grab the kids for some playground action or just want to spend your lunch hour relaxing outdoors, food trucks can be a big hit.

The food: If you think you’ll be limited to fries and burgers, you are mistaken. The sky is the limit when it comes to food truck cuisine. From spicy tacos, to authentic Italian dishes, to delicate crepes— favorite food trucks develop quite a following. Fear the spills of eating on the go? Pack a few “Tide to Go” stain erasers. These powerful, disposable pads are small enough to fit in your wallet or purse, and can quickly eliminate any unintended drips so you always look your best.

  • The beach and the boardwalk

The fun: If you’re lucky enough to live by the ocean or a lake or if you’re visiting one on vacation, the ultimate in summer fun is easily within reach. The sand, the sun and the water are some of the best parts of the summer months, so slather on some sunscreen, grab your towel and a few tunes, and head to the beach.

The food: Classic boardwalk food

Hot summer days at the beach call for cool, sweet treats. Hit up the boardwalk and you’re sure to find a variety of frosty concoctions. Sip on a colorful slushy or fruit smoothie. Lick your way through a creamy cone or refreshing frozen treat. You might even find frozen fruit kabobs, an icy treat packed with vitamins.

  • Festivals, fairs and fields

The fun: Big outdoor gatherings are great ways to spend a summer day. Whether you’re heading to see your favorite bands at an outdoor music festival, visiting the state fair to see the animal exhibits, or cheering on your favorite baseball team, you’ll find plenty of activities and memory-making potential.

The food: Festivals, fairs and ball fields are all known for good food – people not only need to stay fueled for these all-day events, they also want to indulge in a few special treats. So grab those salty fries, crispy corn dog, or sugar-dusted mini donuts – you only live once, right?

  • Picnics and barbecues

The fun: Whether impromptu or formally planned, picnics and barbecues with friends are a welcome part of summer. People of all ages enjoy socializing casually outdoors, playing classic yard games and of course, indulging in grilled delights. Planning a gathering? Have everyone bring an outdoor game or food to share to cut down on hosting hassles.

The food: The grill is the focal point of any picnic or outdoor party. Whether it’s ribs, chicken or brisket, saucy barbecue is the star of the show. Add some fresh grilled veggies and you have a meal that will be quickly devoured.

Summer fun paired with fantastic food is the perfect combination to create long-lasting memories. So get out and enjoy some of your city’s events, or call a few friends over for a patio party. Then Tweet to share the foods and fun activities you’re enjoying during the long, beautiful summer days.