by Molly McCrea and Joe VazquezBy Joe Vazquez

SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) –White House state dinners have hosted kings, queens, presidents and heads of state. A state dinner is actually one of the grandest, most glamorous affairs in D.C.

But this week, a much younger, hipper crowd is heading to the East Room for a meal at what’s billed as the “Kids’ State Dinner.” On the guest list: 8-year-old Cannon Meiers of Santa Rosa.

And, he’s taking a date: his mother, Amy.

“It’s just going to be literally the trip of a lifetime,” an excited Amy Meiers said. “To be a guest at the White House is going to be amazing.”

Cannon is one of 56 young chefs who won an annual contest known as the “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.” It’s part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative.

The youngster created an original, healthy, and affordable recipe (see below) — deemed by a blue ribbon panel of judges to be simply delicious. It’s called “Cannon’s California Rolls.”

The rolls are packed with California’s finest ingredients: lemons and avocados from the Central Valley; chicken and yogurt from Petaluma; and whole grain tortillas from Santa Rosa.

Also included are some of Cannon’s favorite foods, apples, celery and almonds. They help to make the healthy lunch option crunchy.

Cannon has a tough time talking. He was born with an extremely rare genetic disorder, that involves chromosome 14. It’s called Mosaic Trisomy 14 with Maternal Disomy 14.

“There are only 30 reported cases in the whole world and because of this he has to make sure that he’s eating as healthy as possible,” said Meiers.

On Thursday, the winners – one from each state, the five territories and the District of Columbia – will have lunch with first lady. Then they’ll head out to the South Lawn to visit the White House Kitchen Garden.

His father – Sonoma County firefighter Aivars Meiers – will then join them afterwards.

“We’re just so proud to represent California,” said Amy Meiers, an award-winning chef herself. She recently won $10,000 in cash from the “Make It Delish” Recipe Contest. The family is using that money to extend their trip in Washington, D.C., their first to the nation’s capital.

The family wants to see all the monuments and Cannon hopes he’ll catch a glimpse of President Obama. If he does, he’ll ask the President if he wants to shoot hoops. He also hopes to meet the first family’s famous dogs. “‘Cause I really like Sunny and Bo,” explained Cannon.

There’s a chance the White House will serve Cannon’s rolls at the Kids’ State Dinner.

Until then, Cannon’s perfecting his recipe and serving up a fresh batch for his grandfather, Dan Garcia, and his fiancée, Bobbi Beehler. As usual, the family said, it’s a hit!

“I don’t think you should show these to Michelle Obama,” quipped Garcia, as he took a big bite of a roll. “I think you should leave them here for us.”

If you want to meet Cannon in person and see him whip up a batch of his California Rolls, head out to the Sonoma County Fair on July 29th. Cooking Contest veteran Laurie Figone will join Cannon as they show visitors to the fair how to make his recipe. They will make the rolls at 2 PM, 4 PM, and 6 PM.

Here is the winning recipe:

Cannon’s California Rolls (Makes 5 servings)

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (divided)
  • 2 lemons (divided)
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast (about 3 breasts) (Cannon uses Rocky Chicken from Petaluma Poultry)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (California almonds, naturally!)
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (Clover-Stornetta from Petaluma)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1/2 apple, diced small
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 large whole wheat tortillas or 5 cucumbers, thinly sliced lengthwise (La Tortilla Factory from Santa Rosa)
  • Red grapes, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  • Combine the water, 1 teaspoon salt and juice of 1½ lemons in a pot and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken breasts and cover, cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes (or when a food thermometer registers 165 degrees.) Shred by hand using two forks, or place in a stand mixer and mix for 10 to 15 seconds. Set aside to cool.
  • Toast the almonds in a 350 degree oven for about 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  • In a large bowl, mash up the avocado with the Greek yogurt. Add the green onions, celery, apple, raisins, chia seeds, pepper, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and juice of a half lemon. Add the shredded chicken and stir thoroughly to combine.
  • Spread about 1 cup of the chicken salad evenly over one tortilla. Roll up, slice into 8 pieces. Repeat for other four tortillas. Garnish with red grapes, if desired.

 

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