Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes on the South Side of Chicago

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Diabetes Cook Off Contest Rules

Click here for printable Diabetes Cook Off Contest Rules.

The South Side Diabetes Project is calling on Chicago’s best amateur cooks to create tasty and healthy recipes for all to enjoy. Contestants are invited to submit recipes in four categories: side dish, entrée, dessert, and snack. The semi-finalists will participate in the Diabetes Cook Off, which will take place on Saturday, November 18, 2017 starting at 12:00 p.m. at Washburne Culinary Institute/Kennedy-King College, 740 W. 63rd Street, Building U, Chicago, IL.

All food items and cooking utensils will be provided by the sponsor and Save-A-Lot Food Stores. Semi-finalists should arrive no later than 11:30 a.m. to the Cook Off or the semi-finalist will be disqualified.  Each participant is asked to be fully prepared to begin cooking at 12:00 p.m. Cooking will end at 1:00 p.m. sharp.  Judging will take place immediately after the end of the cooking time, and winners of each category and one grand prize winner, will be announced by 3:00 p.m.


Twelve (12) semi-finalists will be chosen–the top three (3) contestants from each of the four (4) categories (side dish, entrée, dessert, and snack).  To win a prize, you must be a full participant (cook and present your recipe) at the Diabetes Cook Off on November 18, 2017. Prizes will include cash, cookware, kitchen appliances, gift cards and a host of other exciting items.

Prizes are not transferable or redeemable for cash.  Each semi-finalist is eligible to win one prize.  All taxes and other expenses, if any, are the sole responsibility of the winners.  This contest is void where prohibited or otherwise regulated. All federal, state and local laws apply.

The twelve semi-finalists from the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 Cook Off Contests are NOT eligible to participate in the 2017 Cook Off.  Any submissions from the prior winners will be disqualified.


Each participant may only enter one recipe. The four recipe categories are: side dish, entrée, dessert and snack. Please see description of each category below.

Side Dish

A side dish is a food item that accompanies the entrée or main course at a meal. Side dish examples are grilled asparagus, chickpea salad with feta, roasted herb potatoes, and rice with herbs and vegetables (celery, garlic and parsley).


An entrée is the main course or main dish of a meal. The main course is usually beef, chicken, or other meats, but can be meatless vegetarian dishes as well. Entrée examples are baked tilapia, honey glazed chicken,  bell peppers stuffed with rice and vegetables, whole wheat pizza with cherry tomatoes and portobello mushrooms.


A dessert is a course that typically comes at the end of a meal, usually consisting of sweet food.  Dessert examples are lemon pie, peach cobbler, and sweet potato pie.


A snack is a small portion of food eaten between meals  Snack examples are muffins , home roasted nuts, fruit salads, baked pita chips with dip, and granola bars.

In the past, successful recipes have included:

  • Fruits and/or Vegetables
  • Lean Protein (skinless poultry, fish, seafood, beef, pork, tofu, beans, eggs)
    (Lean as defined by FDA)
  • Whole Grains: Contains whole grains or whole wheat
  • Lower-fat Dairy (1% or skim milk)

Recipe entries for all categories are limited to 8 ingredients or less.  However, this does not include spices, oils, and garnishes which can be listed separately.
Please Note: Garnishes can be used for plate presentation only and cannot be used to enhance the flavor of your dish.


Your recipe must be original. You must be able to tell the judging panel how you created the recipe and what inspired you to make the dish. Judges will disqualify previously published recipes, such as, but not limited, to those in cookbooks, in magazines, from food companies, on food blogs or recipe websites and winners in cooking contests, unless the recipe features changes considered significant by the judges.  Finalists will be required to certify that their recipe is an original creation and has not been published, publicized or have not won a cooking contest.  Decisions of the judges are final in all matters relating to this contest. Recipes will be analyzed to ensure recipes meet contest requirements.


GRAND PRIZE: The contestant with the highest score overall of the twelve (12) semi-finalists will receive the Grand Prize.

  • One (1) Grand Prize Winner receives $1,000 cash.

CATEGORY AWARDS: For EACH category, there will be 3 prizes awarded as follows:

  • Three (3) Remaining 1st Place Winners Diabetes-friendly cookbook and a set of Cast Iron Cookware
  • Four (4) 2nd Place Winners Diabetes-friendly cookbook and a Low Fat Multi Cooker
  • Four (4) 3rd Place Winners (3) Diabetes-friendly cookbook and a $100 Save-A-Lot gift card.


You are eligible if you are eighteen (18) years of age or older as of August 18, 2017, and are a legal United States resident residing in the United States or the District of Columbia on the date of the Cook Off.

You are not eligible to enter and will be disqualified if:

  • You are a food professional, such as a chef, food writer, food home economist, food educator, or someone who creates recipes for pay.  This includes paid food bloggers.
  • You are a staff member of the Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes Project or staff affiliated with the program, or a member of the immediate family that is affiliated with the project in any capacity, including parents, children, siblings, and spouses, regardless of where they live or live in the same household of such staff.


To enter, you can submit your recipe by one of the methods listed below:

  • Online through our website: or through U.S. mail.
  • Only entries submitted via the electronic entry form provided on the website above or U.S. mail will be accepted. Entries submitted via any other method, including, facsimile or other delivery services, will NOT be accepted. 

Online Submissions:

  • Submitting your recipe online may be more reliable to ensure sponsor timely receives your submission.
  • All electronic entries must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. (central time) on October 27, 2017.  Each entry should be submitted only once.
  • Be sure that all of your correspondence is labeled with all of your identifying information (i.e. full name as well as the name of your recipe dish).

Mailed Submissions:

Fill in all information requested on the entry form completely and include your recipe name, listing each recipe ingredient and measurements/amounts used (including garnishes, oils, and spices), exact measurements and preparation instructions.  Contest sponsor is not responsible for any changes or effects caused to the entrant’s computer system as a result of submitting electronic entries or the United States mail system.

Contest sponsor is not responsible for phone, network, electronic or computer hardware or software failure, or technical failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, fraud, incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions, whether caused by Contest sponsors, entrants or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the promotion or by any technical or human error which may occur in the processing of submissions which may damage a user’s system or limit a participant’s ability to participate in the promotion.

Sponsor may prohibit any individual from participating in the contest or winning a prize if, in its sole discretion, it determines that the person violated any rules, committed any violation of law or acted in a non-collegial or disruptive manner.  Cheating, hacking, deception, or other unfair practices, abuse, threats or harassment will not be tolerated.


All entries must meet the requirements of these rules. Recipes not meeting contest entry criteria will be disqualified.  Initial judging will be done by a qualified food expert in addition to the criteria outlined below for the finalist recipes:

Healthfulness.  Think healthy thoughts.  Whether it’s low in calories and fat, low in sodium, made with whole grains or packed with fruit and vegetables, we like to see nutritious and flavorful dishes.

Taste.  Use bold flavors.  You’ve only got eight ingredients to work with, so make them count.  Think fresh herbs, a hint of heat, or a touch of zest.

Appearance.  Eye appeal is the first impression you’ll make with your prize recipe.  Besides being great tasting, the finished dish should LOOK tempting and delicious!  Color counts.  We eat with our eyes first, so if your dish is as visually pleasing as it is delicious, it could be a winner!

Originality of the recipe.  Be creative!  Let your personality shine and experiment with unexpected combinations.  Give your recipe a jazzy name, don’t just describe it.  For example, instead of calling your recipe “Jane’s Tex-Mex Chicken”, try something like “Hot Kickin’ Chicken.”

Prep Time.  Keep it simple.  Quick and easy methods are preferred.  Avoid overly complicated or time-consuming recipes.  Recipe prep and cook time should be no more than 1 hour from start to finish.  Concentrate on your own creative way of mixing textures and flavors, but use common ingredients that anyone can pick up at the local supermarket or grocery store.


The twelve (12) semi-finalists will be chosen by a judging committee of experts, including a dietician, a community health expert, a chef/culinary expert. Semi-finalists will be notified via email and/or or phone on November 6, 2017.  Semi-finalists must compete in person at the Diabetes Cook Off on November 18, 2017, where they will again be judged by a panel of experts and community members.


By submitting your recipe, you accept all contest rules and agree to be bound by the decisions of the judges, which will be final.  You also agree that your recipe(s) may be edited, adapted, published, or shared with the public without compensation. Any information or pictures that you provide, may be subject to be posted on our website, Facebook, or used in promotional material (e.g. newsletter).


I understand that University of Chicago and the Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes Project cannot ensure that my submission will be received.  To confirm receipt, I will contact the project via the information listed on the submission form.  I agree to assume all responsibility for injuries, damages or loss which I may sustain as a result of participating in this contest.  I hereby release, waive and discharge University of Chicago and the Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes Project, their trustees, officers, agents, employees, their contractors or subcontractors or their architects or their professional consultants from any and all liability, claim, damages and losses arising out of any loss, damage or injury that maybe sustained by me or to any of my property.  I further agree to indemnify and hold University of Chicago and the Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes Project, their contractors or subcontractors or their architects or their professional consultants harmless for any occurrence resulting from my participation in the contest.  It is my express intent that this Acceptance of Risk shall bind the members of my family, my heirs and assigns.  I further agree that my participation in this contest is at my own discretion and judgment.  I understand the rules that govern this contest and I agree to abide by these rules.  I further understand that University of Chicago and the Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes Project may terminate my participation at any time for any reason.  I am eighteen (18) years of age or older.  I have read and fully understand the above Acceptance of Risk and I voluntarily enter this contest.


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