Washington, DC - For much of the nation, the long winter has presented a great opportunity to gather in the kitchen and cook up a new dish with the family. In the spirit of National Nutrition Month, USDA has recently released new cookbooks that feature 30 delicious, kid-approved recipes.

The offerings represent the top picks from the Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition where teams of students, teachers, community members and chefs competed to create dishes that could be incorporated into school lunch menus.

Inspired by the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, the Competition kicked off on September 7, 2010 at the start of the school year.  The Competition supported historic improvements made to school meals made possible by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and the aggressive goals set by the White House for the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC).

Schools must now meet updated standards that include more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and right-sized portions. All along, we knew that in order to truly inspire kids to make healthier choices, the meals couldn’t just be nutritious – they had to be tasty as well. The resulting recipes meet requirement to increase consumption of whole grains, dark green and red/orange vegetables, and beans/peas (legumes).

The dishes the competing teams came up with were so good, we decided to put them all together and make cookbooks for home, schools and child care centers. With dishes like Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, Crunchy, Hawaiian Chicken Wrap and Fiesta Mexican Lasagna, the teams proved you don’t have to sacrifice taste when making a nutritious and filling meal.

The Recipes for Healthy Kids: Cookbook for Homes provides downloadable recipes for six servings. Or, if you’re interested in feeding a larger crowd, the Recipes for Healthy Kids: Cookbooks for Child Care Centers and Schools provides recipes that yield 25, 50 and even 100 servings!

Cooking together is a great way to teach kids about the importance of nutrition and plays an essential role in securing a healthier next generation.