Walnut Street Student is White House Guest

On Monday August 20, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the first ever Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House welcoming 54 budding chefs from across the nation to a formal luncheon in the East Room. And a Walnut Street third-grader was Iowa’s representative at this special event.

The guests, who were all aged 8-12, represent all U.S. states, three territories and the District of Columbia, and each of them (and their parents) submitted a healthy recipe as part of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge invited families to create an original lunchtime recipe that is healthy, affordable and delicious, and follows the nutritional guidelines of MyPlate. The winners were chosen by a panel of judges from the organizations that teamed up with Mrs. Obama on this initiative: Epicurious, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Iowa’s ambassador to the Kids’ State Dinner was Ajani Patton-Imani, an eight-year old who attends third grade at the Walnut Street IB World School.

“Half of our family is extremely sensitive to sugar. We also have a lot of food allergies among us,” reports Ajani’s mom, Sandra. As a result, they make a lot of things from scratch, because so many processed foods have added sugar. “We like to stuff our wraps with all kinds of stuff, but one of our favorites is cheese, guacamole, black olives, and tomatoes.”

To learn more about the Kids’ State Dinner and the effort for better nutrition, visit www.letsmove.gov.

Ajani’s winning dish was Yummy Corn Wraps. If you’d like to re-create what was served at the White House, below is his recipe:


  • 2 cups masa, plus more for shaping wraps
  • Salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk, at room temperature
  • 2 avocados, pitted and mashed
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups grated Colby or Jack cheese
  • 1 cup sliced olives
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the masa and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the soy milk and 3/4 cup water, then stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead for 1 minute. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap for 30 minutes. After the dough rests, divide it into 12 pieces and roll into Ping-Pong-ball-size balls. Cover the balls with plastic wrap as you work.
  2. Heat a dry cast-iron skillet or griddle over moderate heat and dust a work surface with masa. Pat 1 ball of dough flat, then use a rolling pin to roll it into a 6-inch round. (You can also use a tortilla press.) Add to the hot skillet and cook for 30 to 45 seconds on each side, until tiny flecks of black appear and you begin to smell corn. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough. Stack the tortillas and wrap them in a towel to keep warm.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the avocado, garlic, lemon juice, and cayenne. Season to taste with salt.
  4. In each wrap, spoon guacamole, cheese, olives, and tomatoes. Fold in half, and eat over your plate!
  5. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
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