August is National Breastfeeding Month

Happy mother lying on bed with child.Breastmilk provides your baby with the best source of nutrition they can get. However, breastfeeding may not come easily for mom and baby–it takes practice! The key is to do the best you can and get the support you need from healthcare providers trained in breastfeeding support and friends and family. To recognize National Breastfeeding Month, we’re sharing just a few of the many benefits of breastfeeding:


  • For Mom: Moms who breastfeed have a lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes, certain types of breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding can even help moms lose weight and tighten their bellies. Breastfeeding can also be more convenient than formula feeding. For one, you don’t have to worry about the temperature of the milk. There is no need to sterilize bottles or artificial nipples and you don’t have to buy, measure, or mix formula, which can save valuable time. Breastfeeding bonds mom and baby together, helping them form a special relationship.
  • For Baby: Breastfed babies are less likely to get ear infections, diarrhea, and vomiting, and they have a lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes, asthma, and becoming obese during childhood. Breastmilk is easier for babies to digest than formula, making breastmilk easier on their bellies. In fact, mothers’ bodies naturally adjust the nutrition content of their breastmilk supplying all the baby needs. The closeness of breastfeeding makes babies feel safe and comforted.
  • For Society: Breastfeeding saves babies’ lives. Research shows that if 90% of families exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of a baby’s life, almost 1,000 infant deaths each year could be prevented. Breastfeeding saves the community money as it prevents illness, which reduces healthcare costs. Formula feeding creates waste for the environment (from formula cans and bottle supplies), so breastfeeding can help reduce waste.

Many women pump and store breast milk so they can return to work. Like any other food, it’s important to store pumped breastmilk properly to keep your baby safe. For tips on storing breastmilk properly, visit

There are many opportunities for emotional support as well as help with breastfeeding for breastfeeding moms. Using these resources is key to breastfeeding success. Whether you’re a breastfeeding mom or have a friend or family member who is pregnant or has a baby, keep these options in mind:

  • Lactation Consultant: International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are your go-to healthcare providers when it comes to breastfeeding. Lactation consultants are available at hospitals, community health programs like WIC, pediatrician offices, and other locations. Many can even do home visits! Talk to your doctor if you’d like to meet with a lactation consultant.
  • WIC & Community Programs: The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (called “WIC”) offers breastfeeding counseling and may be able to provide breast pumps and other supplies. To find your local WIC program, visit
  • Family and Friends: Loved ones can encourage you to breastfeed through all the ups and downs of breastfeeding. They’re the ones there for you when healthcare providers can’t be there (at home in the middle of the night, for example). Family and friends can also offer other help, such as changing the baby, getting the baby ready to be fed, making sure you have enough water to drink and get enough rest, helping around the house, caring for other children at home, and loving and playing with the baby.
  • Other Breastfeeding Moms: Other breastfeeding moms can offer advice, support, and encouragement. There are different ways to connect with other breastfeeding moms at breastfeeding support groups. You can talk to your doctor, who may know about a breastfeeding support group at their office or a nearby hospital. Also, you can check Internet websites like the Nursing Mothers Advisory Council and org to find a breastfeeding support group near you. Your local La Leche League may offer meetings near you where you can connect with other breastfeeding moms.
  • The National Breastfeeding Helpline: You can call 1-800-994-9662 to talk to trained breastfeeding peer counselors who can answer women’s health and breastfeeding questions in English or Spanish. This is a free service and you can call as much as you need!

Breastfeeding is natural and the rewards and benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby are endless. With the assistance of health care providers, family and loved ones, and other breastfeeding moms, you can get the support to help overcome challenges you may have.


Quick and Easy Summer Salad

Summer is the time when I am looking for great recipes to add to my go-to list. My new found Tomatoes, Onion & Cucumber Salad has been on my rotating list for side-dishes for a few months now, and it’s delicious every time I make it.

It tastes great with everything from grilled fish to chicken. You can also add pasta to this and make a great tasting pasta salad for your next picnic or get-together at home.

The salad is best served at room temperature but tastes excellent otherwise as well. I have made the recipe as is but I have also used red onions and cherry tomatoes because that is what I had on hand that day. However, I reduced the amount of red onion because it is bit overpowering for me. You can choose to edit this recipe to match your liking, and I am sure it will taste great.

Here is the recipe in detail for your reference.


  • 3 Tablespoons  rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper, or more to taste
  • 2 medium cucumber
  • 4 medium tomatoes , cut into 1/2- inch wedges
  • 1 Vidalia onion, or other sweet onion, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley, chives and/or tarragon


  • Whisk vinegar, oil, honey, salt and pepper in a larger shallow bowl.
  • Slice the cucumbers into thin rounds. Add the cucumber slices, tomatoes, and onion to the dressing; gently toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.


Neha is a Special Programs Assistant for NC EFNEP

Nutrition information:

  • Per serving: 66 calories; 3 g fat(0 g sat); 2 g fiber; 10 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 36  mcg folate; 0 mg cholesterol; 7 g sugars; 1 g added sugars; 838 IU vitamin A; 18 mg vitamin C; 31 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 204 mg sodium; 361 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (30% daily value) 


Food-Themed Calendar For Summer

Getting ready for summer can mean plenty of things such as buying sunscreen, bathing suits, and shorts. But getting ready for summer can also mean looking at a monthly food calendar as well. There are national food days along with national food weeks and months.

Egg day is June 3 and there are many ways to celebrate and create your own recipes. There are deviled eggs recipes, egg salad sandwich recipes that enhance flavor, ham and egg frittatas, microwave omelets and scrambled eggs, and even tips on preparing eggs. These recipes and tips are useful in helping people avoid making a green ring around a hard-boiled egg, how to make homemade ice cream without raw eggs in it, and how to crack the date code on egg cartons. These tips and techniques are very helpful, especially on Egg Day, June 3.

Cheese Day is June 4th and is celebrated by making easy black beans and cheese quesadillas, vegetable cheese quesadillas, and spaghetti pie. There are multiple ways to use cheese in various recipes and there are also tips on how to freeze different types of cheeses, what the best types of cheeses are to freeze, how cheese is made, and even how it can be used for healthy eating.

A day kids and parents can enjoy together will be June 7 which is Chocolate Ice Cream Day. Kids will have fun helping parents make old-fashioned chocolate ice cream and can even learn how to make homemade ice cream without using raw eggs. This is very useful, especially if a family is vegan or does not eat eggs. This could also be useful if they wanted to cut down on egg consumption as well.

A fun way to spice things up on June 10 is by adding herbs and spices for flavor in foods without the added calories! There are many healthy cooking recipes that involve fresh herbs and since herbs are in season in the springtime, it is a great way to enjoy the flavor of foods. Not only do herbs and spices add flavor, but they can also be combined with different types of foods. There are herb and food combination charts and seasoning mixes to make for Herb & Spices Day as well.

For those who are new to cooking and who have been making attempts, there is even a day for you! Kitchen Klutzes of America day is June 13 and this day is dedicated to anyone who has made a mess in the kitchen. There are multiple lessons to make recipes successful and to make sure it is not a recipe for disaster. There are even newsletters including easy to-do recipes for kids as well.

Newsletters about physical activity are also available to these kitchen klutzes and how to get involved in some family fun on the run.

For veggie lovers, June 17 is national Eat Your Vegetables Day. There are tips and tricks on how to add more vegetables to your day and for help eating vegetables along with quick, easy recipes that make vegetables taste great. Making baked kale chips, black bean & corn salsa, foil-baked veggies, roasted baby carrots with garlic, vegetable pasta salad, and roasted broccoli and red peppers are all great ways to make the flavor of your vegetables pop! These are great recipes and easy ways to incorporate higher vegetable consumption, which will benefit health-wise. For those who love the outdoors, International Picnic Day is June 18. This is a great way to get outside and celebrate the beautiful weather. There are grilling tips on how to grill meats and vegetables properly and since Herbs & Spices Day has taught you ways on how to season, this would be a great opportunity to put that to use while grilling meats or veggies. There are also resources to use for practicing good food safety while having a delicious picnic as well. Keeping foods fresh and in the right temperature is highly important.

The First Day of Summer is June 20th and a great way to celebrate is by hosting a family and friends barbecue. Knowing barbecue safety practices will help things go smoothly. Cleaning, separating, cooking and chilling the meats properly will make the barbecue twice as delicious and fun. If you and the kids decide to go camping, there are even ways to eat healthy in the wilderness. Making foil packet potatoes on a camping trip could really bring the family together. There are also ways to handle food safely on the road and practice good food safety that way as well, such as planning ahead by bringing a cooler

Men’s Health Week is June 13th-June 19th Men’s Health Week is established for the purpose of raising the awareness of preventable health issues and the diagnoses and treatment of disease in boys and men. This week leads up to Father’s Day and educational newsletters are available online. There is also a Men’s Health Month as well.

There are many months and times to be celebrated such as Beef Steak Month, Dairy Month, Ice Tea Month, Vegetable and Fresh Fruit Month, Papaya Month, and Turkey Lover’s Month. There are recipes for each month available online and tips and tricks for these as well. For more information on how to celebrate the national food days, weeks, and months, visit the site listed in the references.

Taylor Davis

Taylor is a student intern working with EFNEP at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Pitt County Center.

Source: For more information on daily, weekly, or monthly food calendars and recipes, check out this site :


Are canned fruits and vegetables healthy?


My husband, who grew up in rural North Carolina spent many of his summers with his grandfather. He saw acres of farmland with fresh vegetables including cabbages, collards, green beans, okra, field peas, squash, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes, Muscadine grapes, peaches, etc. He and his grandfather would get up early in the mornings to gather the crops. Some would be used for daily meals while others were canned and frozen by his grandmother, sold at the farmer’s market, and given to needy families. They would do this every day until it was time to replant for the next season.

While many of us don’t have access to a large family garden for fresh fruits and vegetables, there are still many available healthy canned options.

Researchers at Michigan State University found that canned fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as frozen or fresh. For canned tomatoes in particular, canning improves the content of B vitamins, vitamin E and carotenoids compared to fresh. Fiber in beans becomes more soluble through the canning process,  and thus more useful to the human body. Additionally, a nationally represented survey of American adults found that adults and children who frequently eat canned foods (6 or more items over 2 weeks) have healthier eating habits compared to those who eat 1-2 canned food items in the same time period.  

Eat the fruits and vegetables you prefer whether canned, fresh, frozen or dried. Canned foods simply make healthy eating easy. Canned fruits and veggies are convenient to have in your pantry for times you can’t get to the store; they can even be kept at work (with a can opener) for a quick lunch or an afternoon snack. Since they don’t expire quickly, you won’t waste money when buying canned veggies – which sometimes happens with fresh produce that goes bad. Here are a few tips when buying canned fruit and vegetables:

Watch for sodium:
Sodium is usually added to canned foods to preserve them. Look for low-sodium, reduced-sodium or no-salt-added labeled foods. Compare the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label and choose the product with the lowest amount. Drain and rinse canned veggies to reduce sodium even more.

Watch for added sugar: Look for fruit that’s canned in water, its own juice, or light syrup (drain and rinse).

Delicious uses:

  • Add drained cans of corn, tomatoes and pinto beans or any other vegetable to low-sodium chicken broth for a super-fast and filling vegetable soup.
  • Use a blender, food processor or a fork to smash drained and rinsed garbanzo beans, northern beans, or any beans into a bean dip for baby carrots; add a little lemon juice and garlic powder for some zip.
  • Serve canned fruit as a dessert topped with low-fat, no sugar-added yogurt; or top whole grain cereal with canned fruit.

You can feel confident that canned fruits and vegetables are nutritious, safe and full of flavor. Fill up your pantry with your favorite canned produce to help you prepare nutritious, quick everyday meals for your family more often while saving time and money.





Spring Clean Your Kitchen!

Spring is just around the corner which means it’s time to start planning my spring cleaning activities. Top on my list this year is the kitchen. It’s important to give the kitchen a good food safety check and cleaning, especially refrigerators and freezers where raw meat, poultry and seafood is stored. There are three basic areas in cleaning a kitchen.


I always start with checking the shelf life of food in both the pantry and the refrigerator.
 This is a good time to throw away foods that are losing their quality or have spoiled. For
a detailed listing of the shelf-life of foods, as well as a kitchen safety quiz, download the
free “Is My Food Safe?” app.

 Make spring the time to begin new food safety habits. Once a week, make it a habit to throw out perishable foods that should no longer be eaten or even better, turn your leftovers into planned-overs and use them before they spoil.


Next, move to your refrigerator. You should routinely be cleaning your refrigerator, but spring is a perfect time to do a more detailed cleaning.

  • Check that the refrigerator temperature is set to below 40°F. Purchase a refrigerator thermometer if you don’t have one.
  • Keep the refrigerator clean always; this is a good time to look for unnoticed spills and
    remove lingering odors. Wipe up spills and clean surfaces with hot, soapy water and
    rinse well. If shelves, produce drawers, and door bins are removable, take them to the
    sink and wash them there. Check to see that the door gasket still has a tight fit.
  • To keep the refrigerator smelling fresh and help eliminate odors, place an opened box of baking soda on a shelf. Avoid using solvent cleaning agents, abrasives and any cleansers
    that may impart a chemical taste to food or ice cubes, or cause damage to the interior
    finish of your refrigerator. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Wipe down the top and outside of the refrigerator. How does all that dust end up on
    the top of my refrigerator? Since I’m only 5’2” tall, I can’t see that dirt unless I’m on a
    chair reaching for something in the cabinet above the refrigerator.


The last area I clean are all the kitchen surfaces. Remove all items from your countertop and wash with hot soapy water. Sanitize your counter top by spraying the surface with a solution of 1 Tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Let the countertop air-dry. Clean all countertop appliances and decorative items before returning to the countertop.
This is also a good time to get rid of unnecessary items taking up room on your counters. I’m going to go minimal this year! Having a clean and sanitized kitchen will help reduce cross contamination in the kitchen, and minimize the risk of food-borne illnesses.
Now, to empty out all the kitchen cabinets…that’s work for another day! I think I’ll go outside and enjoy the spring sunshine.



Go Nuts!!

Nuts are my favorite snack to munch in between meal times. They are bite-size nutritional powerhouses, packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. When I choose this vitality-boosting snack, I stick to a handful mix of unsalted nuts to get the best valuable vitamins and minerals in my diet.

All nuts have different nutrition credentials and will offer various health benefits. Here are our top 5 nuts and with their benefits.

1) Almonds – Almonds are the best choice if you are avoiding dairy from your diet. They are calcium-rich and high in vitamin E, a nutrient which helps to improve the condition and appearance of your skin. For some extra heart help, swap flaked almonds for the whole nut with the skin intact because the almond’s skin is full of heart-protecting compounds called flavonoids.

2) Cashews- They are your go-to if you’re in need of minerals like magnesium, iron, zinc, biotin and copper. The nutrients in cashews are thought to improve recall delays and age-related memory loss. It is also a great meat substitution if you are following a vegetarian diet. Just add a handful to your stir-fry or use as a nut butter on crackers or bread.

3) Pecans- Pecans are heart-friendly and packed with plant sterols, that are effective at lowering cholesterol levels. They’re rich in oleic acid, the healthy fat found in olives and avocados. As a good source of vitamin B3, pecans are the perfect option if you’re fighting fatigue and stress.

4) Walnuts- Walnuts are a cancer-fighting agent due to the extremely high number of antioxidants. They are good for your brain and heart and helps in lowering bad cholesterol.

5) Pistachios- They are high in calcium, potassium, fiber, and B vitamins. A handful of these little seeds provides you with one fifth of your recommended daily fiber.