HumanaVitality Recipe Refresh Challenge: Part 2 The Competition, Winning Recipes, and GIVEAWAY

HumanaVitality Recipe Refresh Challenge: Part 1 “No Small Thing”

Chicago, my kind of razzmatazz! Let’s start this tale from the very beginning by letting you know that this trip almost did not happen for me. But a bunch of Small Things presented themselves to me so that I could get on that plane to Chicago last Tuesday, December 4th to compete in HumanaVitality’s Recipe Refresh Challenge. Small things like Himself taking me to lunch on Friday November 30th and me spying a “Fork and Knife” style burger on the menu; the Tamiflu my doctor prescribed to me when I got influenza type A on Dec. 1st along with my son; that still small voice and my brother niggling me not to cancel the trip; recovering from that flu in 2 days; my Ma’s voice in my head saying over and over again, “stick with what you know” when I had no idea what to cook for the challenge; and gaining enough energy on Dec. 3rd as to what I was finally going to cook for the competition- the competition was 2 days away! Nothing like a little stress before my first time ever, real time food competition, huh? Those Small Things added up to one big thing- the most wonderful experience of a lifetime!

My two sick sons, who were home from school, walked me to the door with one of them saying, “Mom, what if you lose?”
“Do you see what is sitting in our driveway waiting for me?” as I pointed to the black Mer limo, “Forget the competition Boy, I’ve already won. Life isn’t all about winning, it’s about the journey and doing our best.”

Wednesday, the morning of the Challenge, greeted us bright and early with hair and makeup, interviews on camera, and the “Lightening Round” where the six of us (see here the six competitors)  were divided into two teams, Green and Orange, to create in 30 minutes a healthy after-school snack, that feeds four, using ingredients from the “Pantry.”

The Green Team- Meridith, Marla, and I won the Lightening Round with these Apple Pie Parfaits made with non-fat Greek yogurt and a stove-top apple pie filling that was naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup and raisins.

After lunch, we moved on to the individual rounds, where the six of us had to refresh a comfort food meal by putting our own healthy spin on it.  We had 60 minutes to complete our dish, and let me tell you we were moving.  Bobbing and weaving the camera crew, moving between our ovens and cooktops, chopping like crazy, but it was quiet, none of us were talking, we were so in the zone. Chris Koetke, VP of the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College, and one of the judges quickly changed that…

Chef Chris interviewed each competitor during the Challenge about each dish that was being made and how we were using the secret ingredients. Oh I didn’t mention that did I? Yup, not only did we have to cook our dish, but right before they shouted “Go!” the judges unveiled three secret ingredients in which one had to be used in our dish. The choices were red pears, orange juice, and raisins.  I went for the orange juice to go in my coleslaw in place of the white wine vinegar. Chris had us all cracking up after a while and I think I surprised him with my Burgers and Fries meal, adding my own Italian spin on it of course.  I mean, how can burgers and fries, a very comfort food meal,  be healthy, right?

The night before the competition, we had a fast 30 minute shopping spree at the Neighborhood Walmart in downtown Chicago to get the items we needed to make our dish. My meal came in well under budget! I went with a gluten-free Paleo Meal of “Fork and Knife” Pizza Burgers, Garlic Parmesan Oven “Fries”, and Italian Coleslaw. The cheese brought it around to being more Primal, but if you are strict paleo then the cheeses would not be missed at all.  Since we are a family that earns our carbs, white potatoes do not scare me, and therefore this budget-friendly whole food does grace our table on occasion.  To create a completely grain-free meal was important to me since at home I am slowly trying to cut down on the amount of grains my children consume- they are not paleo.  So the little lunch date with Himself and me spying a “Fork and Knife” Burger on the menu was very serendipitous. Turning my burger into a “Fork and Knife” Pizza Burger makes this a who-cares-about-the-lack-of-bun-burger. My Garlic Parmesan Oven “Fires” are baked in a high heat oven using healthy Extra Virgin Olive Oil, while my burgers were stuffed chock full of sautéed veggies, a great way to get them into picky kids.

What did the judges think? They declared my Healthed Up Burger and Fries the Winner! Did not see that coming. Wow!

For the recipes to my Refreshed Winning Meal- click here.

For Liz’s Runner Up delicious Sweet and Smoky Turkey Chili- click here.

To see the Sizzle Reel- click here.


But the highlight of the day was this…

Those at home who I cook for everyday were cheering like crazy, and were so excited that Mama had done her best.  “No Small Thing”


Now because I won this Challenge and a beautiful cash prize for myself, that means you win too! At least a chance to win;-)
HumanaVitality has provided me with Eleven $75.00 gift cards to Walmart to giveaway to my readers. BOOM! That is very cool.

Please use the widget below to enter for a chance to win one of these 11 gift cards just in time for Christmas.  Only one winner per address will be chosen at random using rafflecopter.  That means 11 winners!  Read the terms in the widget before entering.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HumanaVitality sponsored my entire trip to Chicago for the Challenge as well as these gift cards. All opinions are mine.  Thank you HumanaVitality!


  1. Posted December 14, 2012 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

    That is so cool! Congrats…and your meal looks delicious!!!

  2. Posted December 14, 2012 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    Looks yummy! Congrats!

  3. Susan V
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 10:36 AM | Permalink

    Homemade Ranch, NOT store bought.

  4. Deana Thomas
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 11:07 AM | Permalink


  5. Posted December 14, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    Wow, that’s great Robin Sue -congratulations. Your meal looks and sounds very good.

  6. Linda
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 12:07 PM | Permalink

    Congrats! Can’t wait to try your recipe! You inspire me to eat healthier!

  7. MA
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

    Am so proud of you. Great job. MA

  8. Ouida Lampert
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    Congrats! And meatloaf.

  9. Posted December 14, 2012 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

    congrats! My favorite comfort food is chicken noodle soup.

  10. Posted December 14, 2012 at 1:24 PM | Permalink

    Congrats! Woohoo!

  11. Sally O
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 1:34 PM | Permalink

    Congratulations on the win!

  12. Posted December 14, 2012 at 1:46 PM | Permalink

    Congratulations!! You are a winner in more ways than one. My favorite comfort food would have to be rice pudding.

  13. Posted December 14, 2012 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    So proud of you! And awesome give a way! that’s a lot of money for walmart!!

    My favorite comfort food….pizza!

  14. MaryB
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 1:59 PM | Permalink

    Congrats! Favorite comfort food – mashed potatoes.

  15. Kristin
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

    My favorite comfort food it Tuna Hotdish!

  16. Terri
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

    Congratulations! My favorite comfort food is pot roast.

  17. Posted December 14, 2012 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

    Congrats, Robin Sue! I like the idea of a burger without the bun and you just can’t go wrong with pizza flavors!

  18. Liz Blunt
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

    Congratulations to you!! My favorite comfort food is meatloaf & mashed potatoes!

  19. jenn
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 4:43 PM | Permalink

    ‘grats, woman! we Chicagoans KNOW GREAT FOOD, and so it’s no surprise you won! yay!

    hoping to win one of these gift cards to give to my SIL, a single mom working on a very tight budget to feed her twin girls and 12-yr-old son. thanks for the chance to win!

  20. jenn
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 4:43 PM | Permalink

    forgot to mention that my favorite comfort food is roasted butternut squash. it’s almost like candy!

  21. Van
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

    congratulations! & thank you for doing a giveaway! my favorite comfort food would have to be macaroni and cheese =D

  22. Posted December 14, 2012 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

    I would have to say either clam chowder or pizza! Congratulations!!!!

  23. Posted December 14, 2012 at 5:37 PM | Permalink

    Congratulations on your win. I can hardly wait to try the winning pizza burger recipe.

  24. Posted December 14, 2012 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

    my favorite comfort food is my grannie’s fried chicken

  25. Kristin
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 5:55 PM | Permalink

    Favorit comfort food is creamy tomato soup with grilled cheese (Cheddar – not processed junk)

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