Beets are tasty and colorful vegetable that can be found in season during the fall in North Carolina. This root vegetable has a sweet taste and contains fiber. Check out these four recipes to include beets in your diet this fall.

Chicken Quesadillas with Beet & Green Apple Salsa 
Makes 4 servings/Serving size: 1 quesadilla
-Non-stick cooking spray
-¼ cup chopped onion
-1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
-2 tablespoons Beet & Green Apple Salsa
-¼ cup Monterey Jack, Colby, or other cheese, grated
-4 (10-inch) whole-wheat tortillas

  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 ¼ of chicken mixture on one side of tortilla and top with ¼ 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 if desired.
  • Beet Salsa
  • 4 small beets, preferably a mix of golden and red, roasted, peeled and cut in very small dice
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 jalapeño chiles, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro (more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (more to taste
  • ½ small green apple, cored and cut in very small dice 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Remove the tops and roots of the beets and peel each one with a vegetable peeler. Cut the beets in desired size.
  3. Place the cut beets on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and black pepper.
  4. Roast for 35-40 minutes, turning once at the 20-minute mark.
  5. When tender, remove from oven.  Serve warm. 
  6. In a large bowl, toss to combine all the ingredients.
  7. Serve immediately. 

Chicken & Ratatouille Sheet Pan Supper 
-2 tablespoons olive oil 
-4 tomatoes, quartered or one can tomatoes 
-1 medium zucchini, large dice 
-1 medium white onion, large dice 
-2 small beets, scrubbed, peeled and cut into large dice 
-1 medium eggplant 
-10 cloves of garlic, minced
-6 chicken thighs 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 ̊F.
  2. Drizzle a little olive oil on 2 sheet pans. Spread olive oil to evenly coat pans.
  3. In a small bowl or jar with lid, mix all ingredients for Balsamic-Thyme Oil. Set aside. 
  4. Combine all cut vegetables including the garlic in a large bowl.
  5. Place 3 chicken thighs on each pan. Brush each thigh with Balsamic-Thyme Oil. Pour remaining Balsamic-Thyme Oil over mixed vegetables and toss to coat.
  6. Divide the vegetables between the two pans. (Do not crowd).
  7. Roast chicken and vegetables in oven for approximately 30 minutes, stirring vegetables every 15 minutes.
  8. Internal temperature of chicken should be 165°F before removing from oven.

Beet & Sweet Potato Oven Fries 
-Non-stick cooking spray 
-2 large sweet potatoes
-4 large beets (2 red, 2 golden)
-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
-Juice and zest of one navel orange
-Salt to taste 

  1. Preheat Oven to 400.
  2. Lightly spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Wash potatoes and beets thoroughly and dry with a paper towel.
  4. For the beets, trim tops and roots.
  5. Cut the sweet potatoes and beets into long strips about 1/2 inch thick. 
  6. Drizzle the sweet potatoes and beets with oil and the zest and juice of the orange.
  7. Spread the beets and sweet potatoes evenly in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in preheated oven.
  8. Bake at 400°F for 40 minutes. After 20 minutes, take sheet out of oven and turn the potatoes and beets over. Immediately return sheet to oven and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and season to add salt to taste. 

Beet Greens Pesto
-1 bunch beet greens (leaves, not stems)
-2 cups spinach
-½ cup almonds
-3 large cloves garlic
-1 lemon, juiced
-1 tablespoon salt
-2 teaspoons black pepper
-¼ cup olive oil
-2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until well blended (about 2 minutes).
  2. Using a rubber spatula, wipe the sides down of the food processor and repeat the pulsing process for another minute. Do NOT pulse with rubber spatula in the processor.
  3. Serve immediately over fresh whole grain pasta or freeze for future use.

Recipes contributed to by: Chef Brigid Washington

Eat Better Together Month

The “Family Dinner Project” is a nonprofit organization at Harvard University. This is a growing movement of “food, fun, and conversations about things that matter.” There has been a lot of research looking at the relationship between regular family meals and the physical, mental, and emotional benefits that come with them.

Family meals have been found to improve:

  • Academic performance
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Greater sense of resilience
  • Lower risk of substance abuse
  • Lower risk of teen pregnancy
  • Lower risk of depression
  • Lower likelihood of developing eating disorders
  • Lower rates of obesity

The Family Dinner Project has a website that is a great resource for families trying to eat healthier on a budget, together. You can find weekly dinner menus with recipes and a shopping list as well as conversation starters. 

Learn more and find healthy budget tips here:

-Amy Owens, Dietetic Intern

“I Can’t, I’m Watching My Carbs”

You have probably heard someone say they are “watching their carbs” or “not eating carbs”, but what does that really mean? Carbohydrates (or “carbs”) along with proteins and fats, are a major nutrient that gives our bodies energy. Carbohydrates include breads, pastas, cereals, rice, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Baked goods, syrups, soft drinks, and candy are carbohydrates as well. 

Cutting out processed foods and refined carbohydrates could help to reach a healthier weight but our bodies need some carbohydrates to stay healthy. 

The media has created a lot of confusion around carbs, but it’s actually pretty simple. Most of the carbohydrates we eat come in one of two forms: simple or complex.

Simple carbohydrates include candy, sugary drinks, baked goods, syrups, white bread, and white pastas. These foods break down easily and are stored as sugar in the body. If we eat too many of these simple carbohydrates it could lead to weight gain. 

Complex carbohydrates include whole grain pastas, whole wheat breads, vegetables, dairy, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fruits. These foods take longer to break down and give us energy. Unlike simple carbohydrates, these healthier carbs contain fiber and can help you to maintain your weight more easily. Fiber can also keep you feeling full for longer and improve your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. 

So the next time you consider “cutting your carbs”, try including “complex” carbs such as brown rice, whole grain pasta, sweet potatoes, beans, and oats into your diet instead. 

Here is a sample dinner menu for getting complex carbohydrates in your diet:

  • 5 ounces grilled chicken breast
  • 1 cup spinach salad
  • 1 baked sweet potato
  • 1 whole wheat dinner roll
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce

Here’s to happy and healthy eating!
-Logan, EFNEP student employee


Food Safety Education Month – Eggs

In honor of Food Safety Education Month, let’s take a closer look at eggs. Eggs are an affordable high-protein food. They contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants. Sunnyside up and over easy eggs seem to be what everyone is serving these days. But did you know it’s safer to eat eggs that are cooked all the way through? That’s why we’re always told not to eat cookie dough because it contains raw eggs! Keep your family safe by following these food safety guidelines: 

  • Eggs: cook until the yolk and whites are firm
  • Egg dishes (quiches and casseroles): at least 160°F 

Salmonella is a bacterium that can be found in eggs and leads to foodborne illness. There is no way to tell if an egg has Salmonella just by looking at it. The best way to avoid Salmonella is by practicing food safety —from the grocery store, to your fridge, to your plate. Below are some important food safety tips.

At the Grocery Store

  • Check to make sure your eggs are clean, uncracked, and kept refrigerated before buying. Cracked or dirty eggs should be thrown away.
  • Purchase “pasteurized” eggs.
  • Keep eggs away from fruits, veggies, and other shelf-stable foods in your shopping cart to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Keep your eggs at the top of your shopping cart so they don’t crack.

Storing Eggs 

  • Put the eggs in the fridge as soon as possible. Make sure your fridge is set to 40°F or below. 
  • Do not store the eggs in the door because this is the warmest part of the refrigerator. 
  • Do not wash the eggs because they have a protective coating that could be destroyed. Without this layer, there could be extra bacterial growth.
  • Do not keep the eggs at room temperature for more than 2 hours total (1 hour in warmer weather)

Cooking and Handling Eggs

  • Wash your hands before and after handling eggs.
  • Sanitize all surfaces that came into contact with the eggs. 
  • Salmonella is killed at 160°F, but you still have to be careful with everything the eggs touches, including your hands.

If you have more questions check out for answers to frequently asked questions about eggs!

-Amy Owens, Dietetic Intern

August – Kids Eat Right Month

The CDC reports that 9 in 10 children do not eat enough vegetables. Do you know how many vegetables your child should be eating each day? Here is a chart from that might help:

Do you have a hard time getting your child to eat veggies? You are not alone. Some people believe that children have more taste buds than us and are more sensitive to bitter foods. Unfortunately, we will never know for sure because taste cannot be measured. Just know that it is normal for kids to avoid veggies.

However, it is important to keep trying to give your child veggies, without forcing them. It could take 10-20 times of putting a veggie on your child’s plate before they try it. Keep offering your child vegetables, it may help! Being a good role model and eating your veggies is more likely to get your child to eat theirs. On the other hand, forcing kids to eat can lead to them disliking those foods. As a parent, it’s your role to offer a healthy meal, and your child gets to choose what they eat, even if they leave a plate of food behind. Let your children decide when they’re full. This will help them to stop eating when they are full and not make overeating a habit.

Here are some tricks you can try:   

  1. Make the veggies look more appealing: Check out our blog from July on food art with your kids!
  2. Make the whole plate healthy: Children are less likely to eat their vegetables when they have unhealthy food on their plate, such as chicken nuggets and french fries.
  3. Switch up the cooking method: There are many ways to prepare vegetables. Try roasted, sautéed, boiled, grilled, hot, or cold.
  4. Add flavor: Think about adding different spices, dipping sauces (like Greek yogurt-based ranch, ketchup, honey mustard, peanut butter), or even a little melted cheese on top!
  5. Let your kids help cook: Not only does this teach life skills, but they might be more interested in eating their creation!
  6. Add vegetables to meals they already love: If your child loves hamburgers, mix in some veggies into the ground meat before making the patties! Vegetables like onions, mushrooms, and black beans will add fiber, nutrients, and flavor.
  7. Have them eat veggies first: If your child often gets full before he or she gets to the veggies, consider serving the veggies first.

This may take patience but stick with it! Even if your kids aren’t eating up all the vegetables right now, that means more vegetables for you! Your kids are watching what you’re doing, eating, and saying more than you may realize.

-Amy Owens, Dietetic Intern

Culinary Arts Month – July 2019

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear culinary arts? Perfect looking plates of food, right? The definition is actually a lot simpler than that. The term “culinary arts” is defined as “the practice or manner of preparing food.” To put it simply, it means the act of cooking food rather than “art” as we know it.

Have some fun with your little chefs and make some food art today! Below are some ideas for making food fun. Here’s a challenge: pick out the pictures with the fruits and veggies that your child might not like. Even if they don’t taste the fruit or veggie, exposing your child to the food and having them touch it is a step in the right direction. Let’s get started!



Which one is your favorite? Try it with your kids and take a picture. Tag us in your photos on social media @nc_efnep. We would love to see what you come up with! You never know, you might find that you or your children love food art.  Are there any future chefs out there?

-Amy Owens, Dietetic Intern