Tips and Recipes

En Español

Caramel Apple Dip

Serving Size: 1/2 cup – Makes 4 Servings


2 cups plain non-fat greek yogurt

1 tablespoon brown sugar 

1 tablespoon maple syrup 

1 teaspoon vanilla 

¼ teaspoon cinnamon  


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Serve cold with sliced apples.

8 Ways to Play Tag

Tag is a great game that gets kids running and their hearts pumping, but it can get boring quickly. Here are eight ways to make the classic game of tag more fun for kids and keep them playing for hours!

Classic Tag: In its basic form, the game of tag has one person who is “it”. Everyone else wants to avoid being tagged by the person who is “it”. When someone is tagged, that person becomes the new “it” and the game continues. 

1 – Shadow Tag

A low contact option that is great for little kids. In shadow tag, the person who is “it” jumps onto another player’s shadow to tag them. The tagged player becomes the new “it”.

2 – Freeze Tag

Freeze tag also starts with one person as “it”. When a player is tagged, instead of becoming the new “it”, that person stands still with their legs wide apart. Another player must crawl through the frozen player’s legs without getting tagged to unfreeze them. The game ends when all players are frozen. (To help the game go faster, consider having more than one person who is “it”.)

3 – Freeze Tag + Candle Tag

In this game of freeze tag, players who are tagged must put their hands together above their head and slowly lower their hands, like a melting candle. To be unfrozen, another player must “blow out the candle” by blowing on or tapping the frozen player’s hands. If a candle melts all the way to the ground (if the frozen player’s hands reach the ground before they can be unfrozen) that player becomes the new “it”.

4 – Freeze Tag + Robot Tag 

One player is “it” and another has the “oil can” (a spray bottle filled with water). The player with the “oil can” cannot be tagged. When a player is tagged, they must freeze and do robot movements until the player with the “oil can” unfreezes them by spraying them with water. The player who was just unfrozen takes over the “oil can”. This version doesn’t have a clear ending, so feel free to make up your own rule for when the game is over!

5 – Sharks and Minnows

This game requires a “start” and a “finish” line. One person is “it” and plays the shark. All the other players are the minnows and line up along the starting line. When the shark shouts “Go!” all the players try to run across the field to the finish line without being tagged. Anyone who is tagged stops running and becomes “seaweed”. They cannot move their feet, but they can wave their arms to try and tag more minnows in the next round. The last minnow alive wins and becomes the new shark.

6 – Blob Tag (or Link Tag)

This game is best with a large group. One person starts as “it”. When they tag someone, the tagged player joins arms with the person who is “it” to form a chain (or a blob). As people are added to the chain, they must work together to tag the remaining players. The last player to be tagged is the winner.

7 – Bandaid Tag

In band-aid tag, all players can tag and be tagged. Once a player is tagged, they must put one hand on the spot they were touched, like a bandaid. If they are tagged again, they must make another bandaid with their second hand and keep running. If someone with two bandaids is tagged a third time, they must visit the “hospital”–someplace out of bounds where they cannot be tagged again. Players in the “hospital” can either be out until only one player is left and the game restarts, or they can do an exercise (for example, 10 jumping jacks) to rejoin the game.

8 – Flag Tag

Flag tag is another great low-contact version of the game. Similar to band-aid tag, everyone can tag and be tagged. Each player gets a flag to tuck into their waistband or pocket (this could be a handkerchief, bandana, hand towel, or any other strip of fabric you have on hand). Make sure everyone leaves about the same amount of fabric hanging out to keep things fair. Instead of touching the other players to tag them, kids should grab the other players’ flags. Once their flag is taken, they are out. The player with the most flags at the end of the game is the winner.

Hearty Pasta Salad

Here’s a pasta salad that’s guaranteed to please and go the distance. Adding some of the fall’s hearty veggies will beef this dish when tossed with a tasty pasta. The addition of fresh basil in this naturally creamy pasta adds perfume and depth.

Serves 8-10


  • 1 pound box of whole wheat pasta (ziti or penne), uncooked
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound of white button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 small head purple cabbage, chopped  
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons salt (plus more for boiling)
  • Water for boiling 


  1. In a large stockpot, bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions. 
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. 
  3. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for one minute. 
  4. Add the mushrooms, cabbage, and salt to the pan and allow them to cook for about five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Reserve one cup of the pasta water. Then drain the pasta and set aside.
  6. Add the pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. 
  7. Add the pasta water, black pepper, and red pepper flakes and simmer for thirty seconds.
  8. Add the basil and the parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

How to Handle Picky Eaters

Almost every parent knows the struggle of a child who just won’t eat their dinner (or lunch, or breakfast, or snack…). Picky eaters can be a challenge, but there are lots of ways to help children learn to try and like new foods.


First, it’s important for you to have good eating habits. As the adult in their life, your kids look to you to know how to behave. If you are open to new foods and eat a well-balanced diet, your kids will be more likely to do this too!

Don’t encourage picky eaters by preparing special meals. Plan meals that include lots of food groups, and have everyone choose from what’s on the table. This will help kids learn to like new foods more quickly and will save you a lot of time and energy. 

It’s also helpful to let kids help choose and prepare meals. This doesn’t mean that your picky eater should get to plan the menu, but do give them some choices. Try letting them choose the vegetable, grain, or protein type, and ask them to help you in the kitchen. When kids feel like they have a say in what is served, they’re much more likely to be excited about eating it. (Kids are also more likely to try new foods they’ve grown themselves. Carrots, radishes, potatoes, and snap peas are all pretty easy to grow at home. Check out this guide from NC State Extension to help you start your own garden.

Set regular meal and snack times, and don’t serve snacks outside of these times. This way, kids are more likely to actually be hungry when it’s time to eat and will be more likely to eat the food they are given.

If your child doesn’t like a food one way, they might like it another. Try serving the same foods in different ways. For example, have kids try raw, steamed, and roasted vegetables. Be sure to switch it up often so picky eaters don’t get stuck on one food they like. Also keep in mind that it can take up to 10 tries to start liking a new food, so don’t give up if it feels like you aren’t seeing big changes in your picky eater’s habits!

Also remember that children don’t need as much food as adults, so tell kids to eat until they are full instead of until their plate is empty. Teaching kids to pay attention to how hungry or full they are will help them keep eating healthy amounts of food as they get older. 

Finally, there are some foods your child just won’t like, and that’s okay! As long as they give new foods a fair chance, it’s normal if they don’t love every single food they try.

Whole-Wheat Strawberry Muffins

Makes 12 servings


  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda


  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Grease muffin tin with cooking spray to prevent sticking or use paper liners.
  2. Melt butter in small saucepan or microwave. Set aside.
  3. Wash strawberries; remove stems and tops and throw away. Chop berries into small pieces and place them in a small bowl. Add eggs, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together whole-wheat flour, brown sugar, and baking soda. Mix well.
  5. Add strawberry mixture to flour mixture. Mix well until ingredients are wet. Do not overmix.
  6. Spoon the batter into muffin cups, about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Recipe adapted from Teen Cuisine Curriculum (Virginia Tech)

© 2022 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)