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High school student chefs from across the country compete in healthy school meals competition

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WASHINGTON -

Remember the days of mystery meat in school cafeteria lunches? Well, you may envy today's students.

Not only is there a push to make high school cafeteria food more nutritious, but also more appetizing.

Ten student chefs from around the country were in D.C. on Monday to show off their winning high school lunch recipes.

Forget the fish sticks and sloppy joe's. These aren't your parent's school lunches.

“We have barbecue chicken flatbread, spicy hummus bean dip,” one young chef told us she was preparing.

“We're making Italian chicken flatbread with sweat potato fries,” another student chef said.

“We're making beef empanada, but a spicier version of it,” said another chef.

The Cooking up Change competition happened right in the kitchen of the U.S. Department of Education cafeteria. Students representing schools across the country prepared their best dish. They are delicious, healthy and at a good price.

“These students are creating a healthy school meal that meets all of the nutritional requirements,” said Rochelle Davis, president and CEO of the Healthy Schools Campaign.

The most important thing here is taste. If it's not good, the kids aren't going to eat it. But there is also a financial aspect here. All meals have to cost about $1 each. That's not easy when you have to buy up all this food.

Jennifer from Los Angeles told us preparing is the hardest part of the competition.

“There are specific things we can't use like salt and sugar,” she said.

Matheus from Orlando said once students try the team’s dishes, they will realize eating healthy can actually taste good.

“They mostly think it's rabbit food,” he said. “When they think healthy, they think salads.”

But there was so much more on the menu than salads. In fact, when the dishes are complete, the judges come in for a taste test. And these students are pretty confident they will take the prize.

“When we make a bunch of them practicing, I've given them to administrators at my schools, teachers and students and they say they would buy it outside of the school,” Matheus said.

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