Tips and Recipes

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Cantaloupe and banana fruit smoothies

Many of us did not grow up drinking smoothies, but if you like cantaloupe and bananas, then you have got to try this smoothie. It really is tasty and easy to make. Bananas

  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 ripe cantaloupe, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup nonfat or low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Place the unpeeled banana in the freezer overnight.  Remove banana from the freezer and let it sit until the skin begins to soften, about 2 minutes.
  2. Remove the skin with a paring knife. (Don’t worry if a little fiber remains.) Cut the banana into chunks.
  3. Combine in a blender or food processor with cantaloupe, yogurt, dry milk, orange juice, honey and vanilla. Cover and blend until smooth.

The fresh combination of banana, cantaloupe and low-fat dairy in this smoothie packs a powerful punch of potassium, calcium, vitamin C and beta carotene.
Makes 1 serving and takes maybe 10 minutes tops to make.

Original Recipe from:

Kid-Friendly Individual Pizza


  • 1 whole wheat pita round
  • 1 ½ tablespoon low-sodium tomato sauceKid-Friendly Individual Pizza
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ cup low-fat shredded cheese, divided
  • variety of veggie, fruit and/or meat toppings


  1. Place the whole wheat pita on a cookie sheet.
  2. Spread tomato sauce evenly over pita.
  3. Sprinkle seasoning over sauce.
  4. Top with ½ of the cheese.
  5. Layer toppings
  6. Sprinkle remaining cheese over toppings.
  7. Bake at 400˚ F for 10 minutes.
  8. Slice and serve with a cold glass of milk.

Healthier fast food taste at home

Two of my favorite things to eat growing up were chicken nuggets and French fries from a well-known fast food restaurant. I didn’t eat very much fast food growing up so it was a real treat when I did. I can still remember the warmness and the crunch of the first bite of a chicken nugget. Of course, they were paired with the warm, salty taste of perfectly cooked fries.
Fast-forward to now, and in my adult mindset, I no longer think of that meal as a treat. I think of the excess calories that make “the crunch” of the chicken nugget and the overly salty taste of the (still perfectly cooked) fries. Today, I crave the taste of both, but I know my waistline can’t handle the extras—salt, fat, and calories—that come along with such a meal.
So in search of a tasty treat, I have discovered EFNEP’s Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets and Oven Fries as a good substitute for when I want the taste of fast food. However, this meal is even better since I can prepare the recipes at home.
At home, I am more in control of what goes into this delicious treat. The extras I worry about with fast food- salt, fat, and calories- can be reduced by making substitutions for items typically used in fast food preparation.
(See the recipes below).
In the Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets recipe, cornflakes give a good lower-calorie crunch and the Italian seasoning – or any of the other spices—provide a good punch of (little to no salt) flavor. My favorite is a no-salt added spicy herb blend and a dash of black pepper. Paired with a fat-free honey mustard dressing, these taste better than the fast food nuggets I ate as a kid. You can also try a low-fat ranch or tangy barbeque sauce.
In the Oven Fries recipes, I like to use sweet potatoes. Sometimes I season them with garlic powder and black pepper to give them a savory flair, or to add to the natural sweetness, I’ll use a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon. The key is to cut the potatoes into even sized pieces to ensure they cook evenly and to crispy perfection. They are good on their own or dipped into a low-fat or fat-free dressing.
Hope you enjoy them too!

Chicken NuggetsOven Baked Chicken Nuggets
Makes 4 servings, Serving size: 6 nuggets

  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons low-fat milk
  • 2 ¾ cups cornflakes, crushed
  • 2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into nugget size pieces
  • ¼ cup fat-free ranch dressing or fat-free honey mustard for dipping sauce
  • Non-stick cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Whisk the egg and milk together in a small mixing bowl with a fork.
  3. Place cornflakes in a plastic bag; crush finely. Add Italian seasoning to crushed cornflakes and mix well.
  4. Dip chicken pieces in egg mixture, then shake with cornflakes to coat.
  5. Put coated chicken on a baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Carefully place pan in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove the baking pan from the oven.
  8. Serve nuggets with barbeque, ketchup, or mustard dipping sauce.

Nutrition Information Per Serving
265 Calories, Total Fat 5g, Saturated Fat 1.5g, Protein 38g, Total Carbohydrates 17g, Dietary Fiber 0g, Sodium 240mg, Good Source of Iron

Swee PotatoesOven Fries
Makes 6 servings, Serving size: 10 fries

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 4 medium baking potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • Seasonings (black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika) (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  2. Lightly spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Wash potatoes thoroughly and dry with a paper towel.
  4. Cut potatoes into long strips about ½ inch thick.
  5. Put oil in a plastic bag. Add potatoes and toss to evenly coat with oil. You may add seasonings to the bag.
  6. Spread strips in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in preheated oven.
  7. Bake at 475°F for 20 minutes.
  8. After 20 minutes, take sheet out of oven and turn potato strips over.
  9. Immediately return sheet to oven and bake at 475°F for 15 more minutes.

Nutrition Information Per Serving for sweet potatoes
120 calories, Total Fat 4.5g, Saturated Fat 0.5g, Protein 1g, Total Carbohydrates 17g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Sodium 15mg, Excellent source of vitamin C.

NC EFNEP – Families Eating Smart and Moving More

Mama Always Said to Eat your Greens!

Every parent knows that getting young children to eat healthy greens can be a challenge.  Even now, as I watch my grown daughter encourage my granddaughter to eat just one more nutritious bite, I find myself asking whether we can make eating our vegetables just a little more interesting.
Thinking back to my own childhood, greens were a regular part of our family meal and they were a special treat during Thanksgiving.  Of course, we had probably cooked all of the nutrition completely out of them and loaded them with additions like fat, salt and sugar to make even the healthiest of vegetables unhealthy.
These two conflicting images bring me to questions like, “Why should we eat greens in the first place?” or “Is there any way to make greens a treat and keep them healthy?”
So, to cut to the chase, Mama was right.  We definitely should eat our greens.  Greens are rich in Vitamins A, C and K.  Some greens, like collard and mustard greens are also excellent sources of folate.  All of these nutrients are very important to our overall health.  Greens themselves are not only excellent sources of nutrients, but they’re low in calories and this time of year, pretty low in cost.  Bonus!
Okay, so how do we make greens, which are obviously good for us, good to eat without adding excess fat, salt or sugar?  For as long as I can remember, every green had at least two out of three of these unhealthy additions as part of the traditional Southern recipe.  So, in spite of our heritage, we can become creative chefs in our own home, making delicious tasting greens that are, yes, Healthy!  Here are a few tips to adding greens in the most unlikely places in your menu.   These tips will help you keep the greens both healthy and tasty.

  • Add collards to vegetable soup or macaroni and cheese.  These are foods kids love and the greens add both color and flavor.
  • Try kale blended in a smoothie, as a topping for pizza or added to a favorite casserole.
  • Add delicious, delicate greens like spinach to pastas, salads or even egg dishes.
  • Add turnip greens to stews.

Not to overlook the pending holiday, try making traditional Thanksgiving collards healthy. Instead of ham hocks and salt, use low-sodium chicken stock, smoked deli turkey, onions, garlic and red pepper flakes for a “can’t tell the difference” flavorful version of a southern classic.
Use your imagination.  You can even encourage your children to participate.  Ask them where they want to find the greens next: in their potatoes? mixed with beans?  However you decide to include them, encourage your family to eat their greens.

leafy greens

Easy Lasagna

easy lasagna in pot



  • 1/2 pound lean or extra-lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 8 ounces egg noodles, uncooked (try whole grain)
  • 12 ounces fat-free cottage cheese
  • 2 cups reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can unsalted, diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • Non-stick cooking spray


  1. Brown ground beef or turkey. Drain and return to skillet.
  2. Stir in diced tomatoes, water, parsley, oregano and Italian seasoning.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add uncooked pasta. Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in cottage cheese. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.
  7. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes to melt cheese.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 370 calories, Total Fat 11g, Saturated Fat 6g, Protein 32g, Total Carbohydrate 35g, Dietary Fiber 2g, Sodium 530mg, Excellent Source of Vitamin C, Excellent Source of Calcium, Excellent Source of Iron, Good Source of Vitamin A

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Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

North Carolina State University
Agricultural and Human Sciences Department

Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES)

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