The Healthy Taste of Cobb competition pitted employees from five county departments in a cooking challenge against each other. Their fellow county workers served as judges while on their lunch breaks, grading them on best appetizer, entrée and dessert, with a large trophy handed out to the overall winner.
Ultimately, the event, which was sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, is intended to save money for the county by lowering health care costs, said Wellness Committee co-chair Terrence Ramsey, recreation services division director with Cobb Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs.
“It doesn’t have to be bean sprouts,” Ramsey said of the cooking competition. “Last year, we had a banana pudding with half the calories and a chocolate cake made of black beans.”
Some dishes Thursday sought to challenge the uniqueness of last year’s entries.
Elizabeth Weaver, division director of cultural affairs with the parks department, made beet and wild rice sliders — complete with goat cheese and a low-fat cornbread bun.
“We happen to have a vegetarian on our team, so we always try to make sure we have a vegetarian entry,” she said. “Plus, it’s a good way to be healthy.”
For the omnivores, Weaver offered pulled pork sliders. The sliders include cole slaw, with vinegar instead of mayonnaise, as well as lean pork loin. To give it more of a barbecue look, Weaver marinated the pork in coffee.
“It helps to break down the strength of the meat, so that when you cool it down it will give you that stringy barbecue pork consistency that you want,” she said.
Marchell Bedford, a State Court employee, said she was a fan of the beat sliders, as well as her own department’s buffalo chicken dip.
“It was healthy, it was light tasting,” she said of the dip. “It was spicy, but not too spicy.”
Among the dishes offered by the Cobb Water System was a pasta salad that that uses light salad dressing, raw unsalted sunflower seeds and low-fat mozzarella cheese.
“It’s something I just made up one night when the family was coming over,” water system employee Judy Jones said. “It’s pretty healthy.”
While the pasta salad didn’t take home any prizes, the water system did win the prize for best dessert for its “cool dessert.” That was the only dish to break up the sweep by the information services department, which won for best overall, best appetizer with broccoli salad and best entrée for its chicken with fresh peppers.
The recipes for the entries will be available in the coming days on the county’s website, Ramsey said.
Ramsey was hopeful that the event will help make employees more productive and healthy by improving eating habits.
“When you try to take a guy from eating steak and potatoes to putting him on cottage cheese and peaches, it ain’t happening,” he said. “But if you give me something that looks like steak and potatoes, but it’s made of cottage cheese, that’s good.”