Grr! Let me show you “the claw”!

The following post is written by NCSU student, Madelaine Frye. It is the first in a series of 5 blogs she will be writing chronicling her experience as Nutrition Instructor in her second section of spring OFL classes.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 you might remember me from blogging about the OFL Side by Side class held at the Knightdale Head Start Centerheld on Thursday afternoons from a few weeks ago. We just recently graduated one class and have now began another. Once again 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, safely and efficiently, with their families. Our Side by Side class is taught by myself, Madelaine Frye, (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 one fellow student, Victor Saxena, who volunteered to aid us with translation.

For our first class lesson, 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. One thing we learned was that some food items, such as sandwiches, salads, and pizza, can fit into many groups at the same time! Sometimes we like foods that aren’t as healthy as others, which is why we should eat them in small amounts. Each of the five food groups 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 to try to vary our food groups that we eat each day. Make it a fun goal to eat at least three different food groups in every meal!

In class, we 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, playing on the playground, and walking our dogs. Some children even had examples of exercise moves that could be easily done in your home right before bedtime!

Gardener 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. Many of our fellow classmates had planted flowers and small vegetable plants before. We 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 is a fun way that we all learned to hold our foods properly when we cut them to avoid any injuries. If we use the claw while cutting, there is no possible way to cut ourselves! We also learned the proper way to hold a knife, at the bolster with our thumb and index fingers holding either side of the knife. This ensures that we have the most control over the knife while using it. Also, if you move the knife back and forth like a saw, it will make the cutting process so much more smoothly. Cutting round vegetables can be very hard, so chef Jay taught us to always create a flat surface with our foods to help us have more control while cutting. Don’t forget to always wash your food before cooking with it!

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!

The recipe we made this week was

Chinese Vegetables and Rice:

Serves 4, 1 1/2 cups per serving


  • 1 cup brown rice (substitute: white rice)
  • 2 medium celery stalks
  • 1/2 pounds 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
  • red, green, yellow 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.