“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

Source: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002469.htm


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 https://www.incredibleegg.org/egg-nutrition/egg-safety/#5 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 MyPlate.gov 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!

Source: https://lmld.org/food-art-ideas/

Source: coolmomeats.com

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: https://cookingmatters.org/recipes/ratatouille)


  • 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