Tips and Recipes

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National Banana Day



Bananas are high in many vitamins and minerals, including potassium, vitamin B6, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin C. This fruit is an excellent source of potassium which is a mineral and electrolyte that helps to maintain a healthy balance of water and offset the effects of excess salt intake. Bananas are also easy to digest and can improve your overall digestive health.

How to Store Your Bananas

  • Store at room temperature away from direct sunlight.
  • Do not refrigerate green bananas as this can disrupt normal ripening.
  • To speed up ripening, store in a brown paper bag or place bananas near ripe fruit. On the other hand, if you want to slow ripening, store bananas away from other ripe fruits. 
  • Do not store in plastic bags as this traps excess moisture and promotes rotting.
  • If a banana has ripened to a brown color, remove the peel and chop or mash the fruit to include in baked goods or freeze to be added into smoothies. 

How to Add Bananas to Your Diet

  • Add a sliced banana to a fruit salad.
  • Swap an equal amount of mashed banana for butter in baked goods like muffins, quick breads, or cookies. 
  • For a frozen treat, slice a peeled banana in half and turn the fruit into a popsicle. Dip the banana into yogurt and sprinkle with nuts, chopped dried fruit, or other toppings. Freeze for a few hours.
  • Add a banana or frozen banana into your smoothie. 

Written by: Lauren Hinze, EFNEP Student Intern

Working With Common Ground Food Pantry

Alyssa Smock, EFNEP educator, and Linda Minges, FCS agent of Gaston County, partnered together to provide healthy recipes and tasting samples to the clients of Common Ground Food Pantry at First United Methodist Church of Stanley. With the help of countless volunteers including ECA members, Extension Master Food Volunteers, and dietetic interns, they were able to create this wonderful cookbook utilizing common foods distributed by the food pantry. Take a look to get some new recipe ideas and healthy eating tips!


Vitamin C


Vitamin C is a nutrient that can help our bodies to make collagen, protect our cells, and support our immune system. It also helps to keep our brain and nervous system healthy. Another benefit of this antioxidant is that it supports our body’s healing process. 

Because our bodies cannot make Vitamin C, we need to get it from our food. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources for this vitamin. If you do not eat enough fruits and vegetables it could put you at risk for a vitamin C deficiency. Eating a variety of servings of fruits and vegetables each day can help you get enough vitamin C. 

Food Sources of Vitamin C

  • Fruit Sources: Citrus fruits (kiwi, lemon, oranges, grapefruit), strawberries, tomatoes, cantaloupe
  • Vegetable Sources: White potatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, brussel sprouts

Importance of Vitamin C 

  • Vitamin C can help prevent or treat health conditions like heart disease. 
  • Evidence suggests that eating more fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of most types of cancer because of their high vitamin C content. 
  • When you have enough vitamin C in your diet it could decrease the length and reduce the symptoms of the common cold.
  • Vitamin C also helps your body to process other nutrients like iron from plant-based foods.


Written by: Lauren Hinze, EFNEP Student Intern

Chicken Quesadilla

If you ever run out of dinner ideas for you and your family, try out this simple quesadilla recipe!

Makes 4 servings | Serving size: 1 quesadilla


  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
  • 2 tablespoons salsa
  • 1/4 cup low-fat shredded cheese
  • 4 (10-inch) whole-wheat tortillas
  • Hot sauce (optional)


  1. Spray skillet with cooking spray and preheat over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté onions until tender.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix chicken, salsa, and onions.
  4. Place 1/4 of chicken mixture on one side of tortilla and top with 1/4 of cheese. Fold over mixture and seal edges. (Use a small amount of water for a perfect seal.)
  5. Spray skillet. Brown one side of quesadilla over medium heat for about 3–4 minutes. Turn and brown the other side. (Chicken temp should be 165°F.)
  6. Cut each folded tortilla into 3 wedges for easy handling. Serve with extra salsa and hot sauce if desired

Seafood Tips

fish filet

Seafood is an important part of a healthy diet. Try to include seafood at least twice a week with a goal to eat 8 ounces per week. Use these tips when buying fresh fish:


Whole Fish

  • Choose fish that smells like the ocean. Fresh fish should not have a strong odor.
  • Look for bright, clear eyes. Dull eyes indicate that the fish is old.
  • Look for a fish with shiny, tightly connected scales.
  • Choose fish with firm flesh. It should spring back when touched.
  • Look for bright red gills.

Frozen Fish

Frozen fish is often a good buy. If you live inland, frozen fish will likely be less expensive than fresh fish. Today, much of the frozen fish is flash-frozen within just a few minutes of being caught. Here are a few tips for choosing frozen fish:

  • Check the packaging. Avoid loose, damaged, or torn packages.
  • Look for moisture-proof packaging. Vacuum-sealed packages offer the most protection to preserve the quality of the fish.
  • Choose only fish without ice crystals. Frost or ice crystals on the fish could mean that the fish was thawed and re-frozen or has been stored for a very long time.
  • Avoid any fish with signs of freezer burn.


Makes 4 servings | Serving size: 1 fish filet packet


  • 4 frozen tilapia filets (or other mild flavored fish)
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 (15-ounce) can low-sodium whole-kernel corn, drained
  • 1/2 (15-ounce) can reduced sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Tear off 4 pieces of aluminum foil big enough to wrap 1 fish filet each.
  3. Spray foil with cooking spray.
  4. Lay 1 filet on each piece of aluminum foil and sprinkle each filet with desired amount of black pepper.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine corn, black beans, tomato, and green pepper. Top each filet with 1/4 of the vegetable mixture.
  6. In another bowl, combine onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Add 1/4 of this mixture to each filet.
  7. To make each packet, bring two sides of foil to meet in the middle and fold together to seal. Fold remaining open sides together to seal packet.
  8. Place each packet on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
  9. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 190 Calories, Total Fat 3g, Saturated Fat 1g, Protein 26g, Total Carbohydrate 19g, Dietary Fiber 4g, Sodium 150 mg. Excellent source of vitamin C.

Experiment with different seasonings and vegetables.Packets can be cooked on a grill if desired.


© 2023 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)