MyPyramid, My Skills, My Family

The following blog post is writte by Madelaine Frye. It is the first in a series of 5 blogs she will be writing chronicling her experience as a Nutrition Instructor. Madelaine is teaching OFL as part of a Service Learning Class that has teamed up North Carolina State Students with the Inter Faith Food Shuttle’s OFL/Nutrition Program. Through this partnership the IFFS and NCSU hope to engage students in service learning and community nutrition while expanding the reach of its OFL program. Hello! My name is Madelaine Frye and I am one of the NC State students that teach the OFL Side by Side class that is held at the Knightdale Head Start Center on Thursdays. The stars of our class are parents and their pre-school children who are trying to learn the best way to live a healthy lifestyle and enjoy the wonderful benefits of cooking at home with their families. Our Side by Side class is taught by myself (the nutritionist) and four other NC State students: Jay Seman the chef, Mary Andrews the class manager, Kelsey Wilson the community liaison, and Byron Green the gardener. We also have two fellow students who volunteered to aid us with translation: Victor Saxena and Vincent Feucht.

For our first class lesson, our mantra was “There are no bad moderation!”  We discussed the sections of the food pyramid and how all of our favorite foods fit into the five food groups. The five food groups are grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, and meats and beans. Each family got to share their favorite foods and, along with their classmates, helped me place them in the correct categories. Sometime we like foods that aren’t as healthy as others, which is why we should eat them in small amounts. Each food pyramid gets skinnier at the top showing us that we should consume more of the healthier foods at the bottom and all of our treats in small amounts located at the top. It is always best when we try to vary our food groups that we eat each day. The class also discussed the importance of exercise along with consuming nutritious meals, and how it is a step-by-step process on our main mission of eating healthy. We picked things that we like to do everyday that might help us exercise a little bit more than usual, such as jumping jacks, taking the stairs, and walking our dogs.

Byron spent some time sharing gardening experiences of his with the class and finding out some of the things that each family may have participated in on their own. The class had a wonderful conversation about the reasons why we enjoy cooking at home and how much fun it can be to help out our families.

The most exciting part of our afternoon was learning cleanliness, knife safety, and how to chop with Chef Jay. Both parents and their children learned “the claw”, which was a fun new way that we all learned to hold our foods properly when we cut them to avoid any injuries. We all also learned the proper way to hold a knife, at the bolster, to ensure that we had the most control over the knife while using it. As a group we cooked a wonderful meal of Chinese vegetables and brown rice. The children did a fantastic job with helping us stir our soy sauce ingredients together and monitored for individuals who may have needed to wash their hands while the parents stir-fried some tasty vegetables.

At the end of the evening, we all sat down and enjoyed a scrumptious meal together. Cleaning up was also a group effort and was a fun end to an exciting day. All of us had a great class and are very excited to meet again in the five upcoming weeks!

Chinese Vegetables and Rice, serves 4


  • 1 cup brown rice (substitute: white rice)
  • 2 medium celery stalks
  • 1/2 pound broccoli
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 (15 1/2 ounce) can chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • optional ingredients: 1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, mushrooms, peppers, red onion


  1. Cook rice according to package directions. Make vegetable mixture while rice is cooking.
  2. Rinse vegetables.
  3. Chop broccoli into small pieces, peel and dice carrots and celery.
  4. Drain and rinse canned chickpeas using a colander (strainer).
  5. Measure and stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl.
  6. If using, stir 2 teaspoons of peeled and minced fresh ginger into the soy sauce mixture.
  7. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add canola oil.
  8. Add chopped vegetables and chickpeas into saute pan. Stir frequently and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  9. Pour soy sauce mixture into saute pan.
  10. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 2 minutes or just until sauce is slightly thickened.
  11. Serve vegetables over brown rice.

TIP: If you cook more rice than is needed for this recipe, you can use it for another recipe later on in the week.