CALS Donor Event

The College Cook Smart, Eat Smart program had the opportunity to set up a booth at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences donor event on Sunday, November 6th. Kristen and Sarah set up the booth with samples of the crock pot low-fat turkey chili and a display of the Cook Smart, Eat Smart curriculum materials. Below is a picture of the two instructors in front of the booth.

A few of the Cook Smart, Eat Smart participants also attended the CALS donor event. The students had the chance to dress up, eat some delicious food, and socialize. Donors and other representatives from CALS enjoyed learning about the Cook Smart, Eat Smart program. They also enjoyed sampling the chili and hope that we continue to teach the program in the future! The CALS donor event was the perfect ending to a successful class.

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The Final Class

First, let us start off by saying thank you to all of the students who participated in the first NCSU Cook Smart, Eat Smart class. We were blessed to have such a great, enthusiastic group of students. The students shocked us at the end of class with a poster including pictures from the class and messages from each student. We are sad the class has ended, but we definitely had a great last class!

On the menu last night was a healthy baked ziti and salad with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. The students learned how to make baked ziti healthier by using part-skim mozzarella cheese and low-fat ricotta cheese, instead of whole milk products. They were shocked at how easy it was to make a baked ziti and most of them want to try the recipe on their own for their friends and family. Below is a picture of the class with the finished product! 

The students then learned how to make a homemade dressing for salad. We made a balsamic vinaigrette out of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Most of the students had never made their own dressing and enjoyed the taste of our balsamic vinaigrette. They were surprised to learn how many calories and grams of fat dressings like ranch and creamy caesar contain. Creating dressings at home is definitely a healthier alternative. Below are a few pictures of the students preparing the dressing and salad ingredients.

We are going to miss teaching the Cook Smart, Eat Smart class. Not only did the students learn a lot, we learned a lot being their instructors. These students aren’t just “students,” they have definitely become our friends over the 8-week class. We hope to teach the class next semester if we can secure funding and a location to teach the class.

We will be presenting the NCSU Cook Smart, Eat Smart program at the CALS Donors event on Sunday. About half of the class will be at the event and we are planning on having turkey chili, a recipe we made during class, for the attendees to sample! Please stop by to see us if you plan on attending this event.

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Steaming- How Easy!

Last night the students learned about steaming. A few of the students had never seen a steaming basket and started being creative in guessing what it was- one student thought it was a flying saucer or a frisbee! We discussed how to use a steaming basket and how steaming is a healthy cooking technique, which doesn’t involve adding oil or butter.

The students first washed and cut fresh green beans in order to make the first recipe, steamed lemon walnut green beans. Below is a picture of Sarah and the students learning how to place the green beans in a steaming basket.

Alex and Cory enjoyed preparing the green beans, here they are squeezing lemon juice onto the green beans.

The students were amazed that green beans can taste just as good without adding a spoonful of butter or fat for flavor. The class then made lime steamed fish fillets. While the fish was steaming, Sarah and Kristen discussed the importance of food safety with the students. They learned how to create their own sanitizing solution, how to prevent cross-contamination, and how to cook meats to the correct temperatures. After the lesson, the fish was ready! Below is a picture of a few of the students tasting their fish.

The students were pleased to learn that steaming is an easy, quick cooking process. They were also happy with the way everything tasted!

Not only are Sarah and Kristen sad that the first NCSU College Cook Smart, Eat Smart class is over next week, so are the students! A few of them couldn’t believe how fast time has flown by. We hope to continue the class in the future. The students and the instructors have become great friends and enjoy learning and cooking together.

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Perfect Quick Breads for Fall!

This week we were very excited to make quick breads great for fall- Cornbread, Breakfast Muffins, and Pumpkin Muffins! Quick Breads are “quick” because you don’t need yeast as the leavening agent- what makes breads rise. Yeast breads can take hours to rise. We used baking soda and/or baking powder as our leavening agents to make our muffins and cornbread rise in the oven.

First we made a traditional cornbread, perfect to go with the Crock-Pot Turkey Chili!

Then we made Breakfast Muffins using Grape Nuts cereal.

Since most of the students told us they loved foods with pumpkin, we decided to make an easy, inexpensive pumpkin muffin recipe. All we did was combine one (15 oz.) can of pumpkin and one box of yellow cake mix, no oil or eggs. The result was a fluffy and moist pumpkin muffin that the students loved!

Here are all of our final products, yum!

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Class 5- Packet Cooking

This week we focused on packet cooking- one of the easiest ways to cook a complete meal! First, the students picked their protein (chicken or fish), then chopped the vegetables and started assembling their packets. It’s ideal to put hardy vegetables on the bottom of the packet (such as potatoes, onions), then place the meat, then the softer vegetables on top. Finally, students were able to choose their own spices and/or sauces to put on top of the meal. A favorite combo for the fish and chicken was fresh lemon juice with a lemon-basil-thyme seasoning. Students also enjoyed the teriyaki sauce topping for their packets. After adding spices and sauces, students wrapped up their packets (made of parchment paper) and put them in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

This easy and quick meal only cost around $20 and we made 8 packets! That’s about $2.50 per meal!

Going over the basics of building a packet meal:


Students preparing their packets:


The final product:


Students enjoying their packet meals:

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Fourth Class: Baking!

The Cook Smart, Eat Smart students learned about baking this week. We made baked parmesan fried chicken, sweet potato wedges, and microwave baked apples. They also learned more about the nutrition facts label and portion sizes.

A few students mentioned how their moms made fried chicken and they noticed that a lot of grease was used in the cooking process. Instead of frying chicken, we taught the students how to cut the calories by making a delicious baked parmesan fried chicken. The students each dredged the chicken in non-fat, plain yogurt and then coated the chicken in a mixture of parmesan cheese, various spices, and bread crumbs. The chicken turned out great! Plus, the students had a lot of fun with this recipe, as you can see in the picture below!

The next recipe that we made was sweet potato wedges. The recipe called for a few spices that the students had never used before on sweet potatoes such as, curry powder and turmeric. The students enjoyed learning about new spices and how easy it is to incorporate a unique, delicious tasting vegetable into their diet. Below is a picture of the chicken and sweet potato wedges hot out of the oven!

For a healthy dessert we made microwave baked apples, which were a hit! Alex picked a bushel of apples from an apple orchard near Asheboro and brought a few to class for us to use. The students learned that desserts don’t always have to consist of chocolate chips and sticks of butter. Apples have natural sugar and when prepared with delicious spices they can satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth!

Some of the students learned how to core an apple for the first time too! We had a fun class and everyone learned a lot about baking. We are looking forward to next week.


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Third Class

For the third session of Cook Smart, Eat Smart we introduced Crock Pot cooking and made a hearty and healthy turkey chili! Some of the students had never used or even seen a Crock Pot before!

Cooking with a Crock Pot is very simple and convenient. Our recipe only took 15 minutes to prep, then just let the chili simmer for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low! This turkey chili recipe is also very budget friendly, it will yield 4-6 meals and only costs around $10. That can be less than $1.70 per meal! Not to mention a Crock Pot itself can cost as little as $15!

Here are pictures (thanks Alex!) of some of the students cooking:

Putting all the ingredients into the Crock Pot:

Turkey chili before it simmers in the Crock Pot:

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Second Cook Smart, Eat Smart Class

The second NCSU Cook Smart, Eat Smart class occurred last night. The students learned that grilling doesn’t always happen outside, you can grill delicious food indoors! We used George Foreman grills, which are easy to store in an apartment or dorm room setting.

The students first made a balsamic marinade for chicken. They learned how marinades help to tenderize and flavor meat.


After the students mixed the marinade, we allowed the chicken to marinate for one hour. While we waited, the students broke up into two groups. One group stayed in the kitchen with Sarah and learned how to chop squash, zucchini, and eggplant. They brushed the veggies with olive oil, salt, and pepper and then grilled them on the George Foreman.

Pedro is one of our international students from Brazil who is at NC State for the semester. He had never tasted eggplant and really enjoyed all of the veggies- we even caught him licking his fingers! Alex also really enjoyed grilling the veggies- check out the cool chef hat below.

While some of the students were grilling, the second group of students went on a C-Store tour with Kristen. The students learned to look for foods in the C-Store that are “Wolf Approved,” which means the food is less than 240 calories, contains no trans-fat, and 1/3 of the calories are coming from fat. They were shocked to learn that some of the items in the C-Store contained large numbers of servings, especially in packages of candy and nuts. For instance, the sunflower seed package was 210 calories per serving and had 9 servings in the whole bag! The students gained a better understanding about how to read ingredient lists and nutrition labels. One of their favorite products to look at was the honey bun, which contained over 50% of their daily amount of saturated fat! They also became more aware of the high amounts of sodium in packaged foods and learned more about trans-fats. After the tour, the students definitely learned how to pick healthier options at the C-Store.

Here is one group of the students with their favorite healthy option at the C-Store in Talley Student Center.

After the students went on a tour of the C-Store and grilled veggies, everyone came together to grill the marinated chicken. The chicken was delicious. The students thought grilling was an easy cooking technique and a few of them want to buy a George Foreman grill now!

We are excited for next Tuesday’s class- crock pot cooking!

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First Cook Smart, Eat Smart Class

The first Cook Smart, Eat Smart class was a hit! We have a diverse group of students participating in the program. Most of the students decided to take the class because they do not know how to cook or they just wanted to learn how to cook healthier (i.e: not using sticks of butter in casseroles!).

We made chili garlic roasted broccoli, brown rice and a beef stir-fry, which included carrots, bell pepper and onion. The students learned new cooking skills and nutrition information. For instance, they learned about food safety, how to chop vegetables and how to cook with ingredients that are typically lower in calories and filled with flavor!

Below is a picture of the students learning how to stir-fry:

After cooking, the students were ready to chow down! They definitely enjoyed what they cooked, can’t you tell?

We are looking forward to the second class tomorrow night!

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Cook Smart, Eat Smart

University Dining is partnering with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension to offer the Cook Smart, Eat Smart program at NC State University.

The eight week program will teach you how to prepare simple, healthy and delicious meals on a college budget. Cook Smart, Eat Smart keeps it simple – simple healthy preparation techniques, simple ingredients and simple equipment.

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