The White House in Washington D.C. on a sunny day with blue skies.
September 1, 2015 | by The Polyclinic

It’s not every day that you get to have lunch with the First Lady, but that is exactly what happened in July for Polyclinic OB/GYN physician Dr. Regina LaGalbo. How did Dr. LaGalbo get to meet Michelle Obama?

Her daughter Simone was selected as a winner in the 4th Annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge which is a nationwide contest for kids that promotes cooking and healthy eating. Winners representing all 50 states, four territories, and the District of Columbia attended the Kids’ “State Luncheon” at the White House hosted by the First Lady.

For the contest, children were required to create a healthy and tasty recipe while making sure to follow the guidelines. Simone was selected as the winner representing the state of Washington for her creation of a teriyaki chicken with cabbage salad recipe. “Someone posted the contest on Facebook and I forwarded it to Simone. She loves to cook and has grand plans to become a chef someday,” said Dr. LaGalbo.

The winners and a parent or guardian were flown out to the White House for two days which culminated with a formal luncheon with First Lady Michelle Obama. “Mrs. Obama was gracious, friendly and each child had some time to talk with her,” Dr. LaGalbo said. “Simone also had a great time giving interviews and meeting President Obama, who made a surprise visit to talk to the kids about healthy eating.”

Simone’s winning recipe of teriyaki chicken with cabbage salad includes the use of low-sodium soy sauce, garlic, ginger, carrots and celery. “My mom and I would always make this dish together and helped me learn it at a young age. She always told me it was ok to make mistakes, but that I should keep trying,” Simone said in her essay for the challenge.

Dr. LaGalbo introduced her children to foods from all over the world since they were babies. She also helps the children raise chickens for eggs and grow a vegetable garden in the summer. Dr. LaGalbo also credits her supportive husband for teaching the children to cook healthy meals.

In her speech at the luncheon, Mrs. Obama encouraged the children to “pay it forward” by finding a way to continue to promote healthy eating. Simone will team up with Johnathan Sundstrom, owner and chef at Lark to create a cooking demo of her recipe at her school this fall as well as organize an evening event at Lark to promote healthy eating at school. In addition, Simone plans to create an after-school cooking class for her fellow students.

Dr. LaGalbo says the best way to encourage children to eat healthy is to get them involved in the cooking process. “Take them grocery shopping, take cooking classes, or just let them make a mess in the kitchen! Most importantly, eat meals together and make it fun for everyone.”