(ARA) – Like any teenager when they get home from a long day at school, Amanda Nunez is plenty hungry, but as the winner of The Art Institutes Best Teen Chef competition, not just any average after school snack will do.

"I love to eat healthfully, and after school I’m starving, having eaten only a bowl of cereal for breakfast," said Nunez. Because she works part time after school at a local Italian restaurant, Nunez often heads right to work and often skips the traditional after school snack. But when she does get home — either from work or school — she likes to keep it light and healthy.

"When I eat healthy, I tend to be happier and feel more energetic than if I eat something
greasy and filling. Being from California, I’ve grown up on fresh fruits and because so many are grown right here, they’re awesome," said the teenager. The sweeter the better when it comes to fruit, said Nunez. "I would rather snack on fresh strawberries or peaches cut up with a little raw sugar on top, instead of filling up on ice cream or cookies."

In addition to lots of fresh fruit, Nunez credits her restaurant job and her preparation for Best Teen Chef for getting her interested in the world of vegetables. "Only recently have I learned to embrace the vegetables — now that I know I love them, I can’t get enough! They’re all so delicious and versatile," she said. Her favorites include broccoli, carrots, asparagus and cauliflower, all of which she incorporates her steamed veggies dish (recipe follows).

Amanda beat out 22 other teenagers from across the United States and Canada to take the title of The Art Institutes Best Teen Chef. The Art Institutes Best Teen Chef Competition was created to inspire and reward high school seniors interested in the culinary arts with the chance to compete for tuition scholarships to The Art Institutes.

Like any great aspiring chef, Amanda took the supplied ingredients and recipes from the Best Teen Chef Competition and made them her own, impressing the judges with her creativity and panache in the kitchen. For her competition winning performance, Nunez won a full tuition scholarship worth approximately $40,000 to study culinary arts at The Art Institute of California — San Diego.

"I think eating healthy any time, whether after school, or work, or even just hanging out with friends, is really important. Now that I hope to make the culinary arts my profession, I really value the importance of good and healthy fresh food, not just for the taste, but for the energy it gives you to tackle anything the day might bring," she said.

For more information on The Best Teen Chef competition, visit www.artinstitutes.edu/btc.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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