Teaching nutrition to parents and children Side by Side

The following is a Blog from NCSU student Kate Towery. It is the first in a series of 5 Blogs she will be writing chronicling her experience as a Nutrition Instructor for a OFL Class she is Teaching. Kate 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. Hi everyone! My name is Kate Towery and this semester I am taking on the role of “nutritionist” for NC State’s PACKed Kitchen program in association with the InterFaith Food Shuttle and Operation Frontline (OFL). This week my group taught our first OFL Side by Side class. We decided to start off by having the kids and their mom or dad make Mini Pizzas and fruit salad. We felt this was a familiar dish that is also a great example of combining food groups, having colorful plates, and making healthier substitutions. The pizzas were also a great demonstration that foods which are typically ordered out can be made at home, and that kids can lend a helping hand in the kitchen! Caitlin Rowe, our class manager, Will Florence the chef, Cadi Pelone the gardener, and myself as nutritionist, all had a great time getting to know the participating families and share in a yummy, low-budget meal. The kids were very eager to help during the cooking and cleaning process and individual pizzas allowed for personal alterations to the recipe. Lupe was most impressed that her son Allen was actually eating vegetables like mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes. While we made our fruit salad the kids shared with us their favorite foods and identified the colors and shapes of all the fruits. Their favorite was the big melon that Cadi brought out as our “surprise ingredient,” while the parents helped Will sauté in the kitchen. Many of the families expressed excitement in making the dish at home this week and we are looking forward to hearing about their experiences! Next week we are making Barley Jambalaya and showing the kids how to plant their own seeds for gardening, so stay tuned!

Recipe: Mini Pizzas


  • 6 english muffins, whole grain
  • 1 medium red or green bell pepper
  • ½ lb button mushrooms
  • 1 large tomato
  • 4 oz. chunk mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce, no salt added
  • 12 turkey pepperoni slices


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F
  2. Split English muffins. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for 10 min until edges are slightly browned. Remove and set aside.
  3. Rinse pepper, mushrooms, and tomato.
  4. Remove core and cut peppers into thin slices. Slice mushrooms ¼ in. thick. Remove core and dice tomato into ¼ in. pieces.
  5.  Grate mozzarella cheese.
  6. Heat large skillet over medium heat, add canola oil, and sauté peppers and mushrooms together for 5 min. Drain vegetables and place in bowl.
  7. Add diced tomatoes to vegetables and stir.
  8. Spoon 1 tbs. of canned tomato sauce over each muffin half.
  9. Layer vegetables and pepperoni slices over the sauce.
  10. Sprinkle shredded cheese over veggies.
  11. Bake muffins 6-8 min. or until cheese is melted.
  12. Let mini-pizzas cool 2 min. and then serve!