CORNELL UNIVERSITY - Students win national contest with 'Nemo' veggie pasta creating a healthy snack for children. The result:
colorful "Finding Nemo"-inspired fish, starfish and turtle-shaped gnocchi pasta flavored with sweet potatoes, spinach, beets and potatoes.
Students win national contest with 'Nemo' veggie pasta
Making Nemo is not much easier than finding him, a group a five food science students has discovered.
Given the task of creating a healthy snack for children that incorporated fruits or vegetables, students in Cornell's Food Science Club were challenged to come up with a product that was appealing to both children and parents.
The result: colorful "Finding Nemo"-inspired fish, starfish and turtle-shaped gnocchi pasta flavored with sweet potatoes, spinach, beets and potatoes.
Their creation won first prize at the Disney Consumer Products and the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association annual Nutritious Food for Kids Competition in Chicago this summer.
"After a visit to the grocery store, we realized that most of the children's TV dinners were very unhealthy -- the options included chicken nuggets, pizza and even hamburgers," said W. Robert Mitchell '11. "We realized that there was a need for healthier, yet tasty and fun options in this category."
According to Alicia Orta-Ramirez, food science lecturer and the team's adviser, the students did research to find that "Finding Nemo" was one of the most popular Disney movies and incorporated the theme by creating only one Nemo per boxed meal, so that children would have to "eat through" the characters to find Nemo, an orange clownfish.
"The most challenging aspect was getting a formulation to actually work. We originally had a completely different product, but we changed our idea to pasta," explained Ilana Shapiro '12.
Preparation was months in the making, as the students' written proposal of their product was due back in March. Then, at the competition in mid-July, students had to re-create their product for a private taste test by competition judges, in addition to a presenting their product at the IFT Conference.
"It was amazing how well we could work together; none of us knew each other before beginning this team project," said Mitchell. "We managed to complete the final proposal and prepare for our presentation when we were all doing internships in different parts of the country."
The group won $3,500, which they donated to Cornell's Food Science Club. And as a celebration, they went out for cake in the Windy City with their advisers, Orta-Ramirez and Carmen Moraru, associate professor.
For students who are looking to get involved in similar activities, Shapiro suggests becoming a member of the Food Science Club. She and fellow team member Evonne Lau are already leading the efforts for development of a new product for the 2011 IFT Disney competition.
"As we all graduate, we will pass on the Disney legacy to the next group of people," she said.
Molly Cronin '11 is an intern at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.