Tips and Recipes

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Green Eggs and Ham Muffins

Makes 12 servings | Serving Size: 1 muffin


• Nonstick cooking spray
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 cup finely diced sweet onion
• 1/2 cup finely diced lean ham
• 1 cup finely diced mushrooms
• 2 cups finely chopped baby spinach (long stems removed) • 12 eggs (6 whole, 6 egg whites)
• 3/4 cup low fat cheddar cheese, shredded
• Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Place olive oil in skillet and heat over medium high heat.
  3. Add onion, ham and mushrooms to skillet. Cook untiltender, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in baby spinach. Cook until just wilted.
  5. Drain. Use paper towels to remove all water from cookedmixture.
  6. Spoon 1 tablespoon of meat and veggie mixture intoeach muffin cup.
  7. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until foamy.(Room temperature egg whites work best.)
  8. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining 6 eggs withsalt and pepper to taste.
  9. Gently fold beaten egg whites into whole eggs.
  10. Using a cup with a spout, pour egg mixture in eachmuffin cup until almost to the rim of the cup.
  11. Spoon 1 tablespoon cheese over mixture
  12. Gently stir each cup with a fork and bake for 22 minutesor until internal temperature reaches 160 F.

Nutrition Information Per Serving

121 Calories, Total Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 3g, Protein 10g, Total Carbohydrate 4g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Sodium 179mg. Excellent source of vitamin A.

Recipe contributed by Carol Pitts, NC EFNEP Educator

Choosing Healthier Cereals


Cereal can be a great breakfast option. It’s quick, easy, and there are lots of healthy options to choose from. Many cereals have lots of added nutrients that children need to grow up healthy, especially when they’re paired with milk. Make sure to drink the extra milk though, since that’s where a lot of the nutrients from the cereal end up!

There are many healthy cereals but there are also many unhealthy options too. Check out these tips to make sure you are choosing the best cereal for your family.

Cereals marketed to children–the kind with colorful packaging, cartoon characters, and miniature versions of sweets like cookies and marshmallows–usually aren’t a healthy choice. These are often full of sugar and sodium and have less of the important nutrients like fiber and protein. So don’t get distracted by pretty packaging! Instead, take a look at the nutrition facts label:

  • Look at the serving size. Some brands list small serving sizes to make their cereals seem healthier. If you know you’ll eat more than the recommended serving, make sure to adjust the information on the nutrition label to the portion you normally eat.
whole grain
  • Choose whole grains. If the box doesn’t say “100% whole grain,” or have this label, look at the first ingredient on the nutrition label’s ingredient list. If it says the words “whole” or “bran,” you’re on the right track! 
  • Fiber is also important in a healthy cereal, and goes hand-in-hand with whole grains. This nutrient helps with healthy digestion, and it helps us feel full for longer. Try to find cereals with at least 2 grams of fiber per serving.

Things to watch out for: added sugars, sodium, and saturated fats

  • Choose cereals with less than 12 grams of sugar per serving. You can also skim the ingredients list–if sugar is one of the first two ingredients, it probably isn’t the healthiest choice. Watch out for other sugars like cane syrup, agave, and honey.
  • Look for cereals with less than 40 mg of sodium per serving. Sodium is added to many packaged foods. 
  • Most cereals don’t have a ton of saturated fat, but some do, especially granolas with chocolate pieces or coconut. Look for cereals with less than 3 grams of saturated fat per serving.

Finally, if your kids are used to very sweet cereal, try adding fresh fruit, nuts or even cinnamon for a bit of extra flavor! You could also start by mixing healthy cereals with some of your kids’ favorites. 

Happy cereal shopping!

Sources: CSPinet and Healthy Children

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Bright and bold Latin American flavors are simmered in a punchy broth with a hefty amount of aromatics. Canned beans give this soup a hearty depth, while the addition of creamy ripe avocados adds a soothing touch. This workhorse soup – that makes for incredible leftovers – comes together in just under thirty minutes. 

soup dish

Serves 8 


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 4 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs 
  • 2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • 1 lime, zest and juice reserved 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes, low-sodium  
  • 1 15oz can black beans, low-sodium, drained 
  • 1 15oz can yellow corn, low-sodium, drained 
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, chopped 
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes 
  • 7 small corn tortilla rounds, cut into strips 
  • 6 cups water 
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro, stems and leaves 
  • 1 ripe avocado, for garnish


  1. Season chicken evenly with salt, black pepper, chili powder, cumin, and lime zest. 
  2. In a large pot, over medium heat, add the olive oil. 
  3. Place the chicken into the pot and sear for about two minutes per side. (The dark bits, known as fond, form the base of flavor for the soup.)
  4. Remove the chicken and set aside on a plate. 
  5. Reduce heat to low and scrape and stir up the fond. 
  6. Add the onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, beans, corn, bell pepper, and red pepper flakes to the pot. Stir to combine.  
  7. Add the chicken back to the pot then the corn tortilla strips (these will dissolve in the soup).
  8. Add the water then simmer covered for twenty minutes until the chicken reaches 165˚ F. 
  9. Garnish with the cilantro, lime juice, and avocado. Serve immediately.

Recipe by: Chef Brigid Washington


Sleep is a very important part of our health, but we can tend to overlook it. When we sleep, our body isn’t just resting, it’s doing work to keep us mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy. 

Not getting enough sleep can increase our risk of chronic disease, depression, poor concentration, and even obesity. In children and teens, a lack of sleep can hurt physical and mental growth. 

There are a few different stages of sleep, and different things happen during each stage. During some stages, we store memories from the day. During other stages, our muscles relax so we feel rested and energetic the next day. In order for all these stages to happen, we need enough hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Cutting our sleep by even one hour a night–or getting way too much sleep–can hurt our ability to focus, learn, remember, and react. 

  • Toddlers need 10-14 total hours of sleep each day (including naps)
  • Kids 6-12 need 9-12 hours of sleep each night
  • Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep each night
  • Adults of all ages need 7-8 hours of sleep each night

To make sure you are getting the right amount of sleep, and to make sure you are sleeping well during the night, follow these suggestions:

  1. Decide on a bedtime and stick with it, and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. It will be much easier to keep a good sleep schedule if you are keeping the same sleep schedule every day.
  1. Have a bedtime routine that tells your body it’s time to sleep. This might be a warm shower, brushing your teeth, or reading a chapter of a book. 
  2. Avoid electronics before bed. The light from our screens tells our bodies we should be awake, even when we’re tired.
  1. Eat at least a couple hours before bedtime. Large meals, alcohol, and caffeine right before bed can make it harder for us to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  1. Move around and be active during the day. Getting exercise during the day can be extra helpful in making sure our bodies are ready to rest at night.
  1. Keep your room dark and cool. If the room is too warm, or if there is too much light, you are more likely to wake up during the night. 

A few signs that you aren’t getting enough sleep include drowsiness, inability to focus, bad memory, and craving more unhealthy foods than usual. Kids who aren’t sleeping well might not seem tired during the day. In fact they might have more energy than usual but be unable to focus in school or on other activities. If you or your child are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, talk with your doctor. 

Make getting enough sleep a goal for this year and see what a difference it can make!

Source: NHLBI

Lentil Burger

Makes 10 servings Serving Size: 1 burger


• 1/4 cup olive oil, divided

• 1 cup brown rice, cooked

• 2 cups unsalted beef broth

• 2 large yellow onions, diced

• 1 cup finely diced mushrooms 

• 1 cup lentils, sorted and rinsed 

• 2 cups water

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 2 cups quick cooking oats

• 3 eggs


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium- high heat. Add rice and toast stirring constantly. (Rice will have a nutty aroma when ready).
  2. Add beef broth and bring rice to a full boil over high heat. Cover. Reduce heat to low and cook for 45 minutes without lifting lid.
  3. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet. Saute onions until dark brown. Add mushrooms and continue to saute 1–2 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, cook lentils for 10–12 minutes in water. Drain and let cool.
  5. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Shape into patties.
  6. In skillet, cook only the number of burgers you need over medium-high heat for approximately 3 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 160°F.
  7. If you do not need to make all of the burgers at once, freeze for a quick meal later.

Nutrition Information Per Serving

168 Calories, Total Fat 10g, Saturated Fat 2g, Protein 6g, Total Carbohydrate 17g, Dietary Fiber 2g, Sodium 99mg. Good source of vitamins A and C.

Recipe contributed by Paula Norris, NC EFNEP Employee

© 2021 North Carolina Cooperative Extension
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)