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

Carrot Cake Bites


• Non-stick cooking spray

• 1/2 cup flour• 1 cup dry oats

• 1 tablespoon cinnamon

• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 1 egg

• 1/2 cup butter

• 1 cup shredded carrots

• 1/2 cup raisins

• 1/2 package cream cheese (about 4 ounces)


1. Preheat oven 350°F. 

2. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

3. Mix together flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and brown sugar in a large bowl. 

4. In a separate bowl, beat egg, butter, carrots, raisins, and cream cheese together.

5. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Stir until all ingredients are mixed and batter forms.

6. Drop dough by small teaspoons onto cookie sheet.

7. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:

110 Calories, Total Fat 4.5g, Saturated Fat 3g, Protein 1g, Total Carbohydrate 15g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Sodium 55mg. Excellent source of vitamin A.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month – June 2019

Summertime brings back memories of working in my grandma’s garden. We would gather up the fresh green okra, warm red tomatoes, bright yellow squashes, and dark purple eggplant in the morning before the heat of the day and then have the freshest, most flavorful (and colorful) supper that evening.

Fruits and vegetables contain the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. A healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables can actually help prevent the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type II diabetes, and obesity. In-season produce is fresher and tastier than produce that has been shipped and stored…and since June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, there’s no better time to enjoy fresh produce!

Try this fresh, veggie-packed Ratatouille this week as a summer favorite your family is sure to love! (Recipe courtesy:


  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 large tomato
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Rinse and peel the onion and garlic. Rinse the eggplant, zucchini, squash, and tomato.

3. Dice the  onion and eggplant into ½-inch pieces. Slice zucchini and squash into ½-inch slices. Chop tomato and mince garlic.

4. In a medium bowl, add the onion, eggplant, zucchini, squash, garlic, oil, basil, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Toss until veggies are well coated.

5. Coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Spread veggies out in a single layer so they do not touch. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven.

6. Add tomato to baking sheet. Return baking sheet to oven. Bake, stirring occasionally, until veggies are golden crisp, about 15–20 minutes more.


Logan, EFENP student employee

National Strawberry Month – 2019

Many North Carolinians look forward to fresh strawberries each spring. Strawberries are a popular fruit with 94% of American households eating strawberries each year. Although strawberries can now be bought in a grocery store year round, these strawberries, usually from California, are not as sweet and juicy as the locally grown strawberries. Strawberries are grown locally in all fifty states.

In 2018, North Carolina farmers grew about 1,000 acres of strawberries that produced about 12.5 million pounds of berries. Compared to the 1 billion pounds grown in California, production is small but still provides over $21 million in income to North Carolina growers. The big difference in strawberries from California and North Carolina are the types of strawberries grown. California grows strawberries that can be packed and shipped while strawberries grown in North Carolina do not ship well and are consumed locally. In North Carolina you can pick your own or buy freshly picked strawberries at roadside or farmers markets.

The harvest time for strawberries in North Carolina is late April through early June. Fresh Strawberries are a popular and refreshing treat. Strawberries are great fresh but they can also be enjoyed as a healthy snack in a homemade smoothie like the one below.

Strawberries have high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. Eight strawberries provide 140 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C for kids. With only 55 calories per cup, strawberries are a great snack.

Be sure you celebrate May as National Strawberry month by enjoying fresh strawberries locally grown in North Carolina. You can make it a fun family event by taking everyone to a local pick-your-own strawberry farm. You can find a pick-your-own farm near you at

James Wynne – EFNEP Intern

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Eating healthy on a budget may seem difficult but it can be done. With a little knowledge and practice you can eat healthy without blowing your budget. Below are some tips and ideas for how you can choose healthy foods on a budget:

  • Shop and Prepare at Home – The best way to save money and eat healthy foods is to shop and prepare the food yourself. However, to eat healthy on a budget at home still requires a strategy to purchase healthy low-cost foods. The first step to successfully prepare a healthy low-cost meal is to plan your grocery list.
  • Plan Your Meals – usually for a week at the time. Choosing budget-friendly recipes with healthy ingredients that are easy to prepare. Check out our other blog posts for healthy, low cost meals. Try cooking large portions with inexpensive ingredients which can save both time and money. Use leftovers for lunches or to make stews and casseroles.
  • Be a Smart Shopper – Make a grocery list that only includes the ingredients you need to prepare the meals and stick to it when you go shopping. Only purchase what you know you’re going to use so you don’t end up wasting a lot of what you buy.
  • Look for Discounts and Special Deals – Finding the best deals can help anyone on a budget. You can save by stocking up on your favorite products or staples when they’re on sale. Just make sure the food doesn’t expire soon.
  • Don’t Shop When Hungry – Being hungry causes you to stray from your grocery list and buy things you don’t need on impulse. Eat a healthy snack before you go shopping.
  • Choose Whole Foods – brown rice or bags of peas are less expensive than buying unhealthy processed foods. You can also buy whole foods in larger quantities which makes them cheaper per unit.
  • Buy Store Brands – Store brands are often of equal quality as the name brands but are just less expensive.
  • Avoid Junk Food – Soda, crackers, cookies, prepackaged meals and processed foods offer little nutrition, often have unhealthy ingredients and can also be very expensive. By not having unhealthy foods you can use the money saved to buy healthier items.
  • Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat – use these in burritos, casseroles, soups, stews or stir fries. You also might consider eating less meat and replacing it with other proteins. Protein sources such as eggs or canned tuna are inexpensive and nutritious.
  • Buy Produce in Season – this can be more economical and nutritious. When produce is not in season may be better to buy frozen fruits and vegetables. You can use only what you need and keep the rest for later.

There are a lot of foods available that are inexpensive and healthy. You can prepare many delicious and inexpensive meals by using eggs, beans, seeds, frozen fruits and vegetables, cheaper cuts of meats and whole grains. These foods taste great, are nutritious, and can be less expensive. Try adding these foods into your daily routine to save you money and help you eat well this month!

James Wynne – EFNEP Intern