Lesson Three “Healthy Starts at Home!”

The following is a blog from NCSU student Kate Towery. It is the third (read Kate’s recap from Week 1 and Week 2) 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. How many of us out there know that we probably consume too much fast-food, and yet continually rely on its convenience?  As a college student I am right there with you!

This week in our “Side by Side” class we focused on:

  •  making healthy alterations when eating out
  • making our own fast, nutritious snacks at home.

For our nutrition lesson the kids made their own trail mix with dried fruits, wheat cereals, and pretzels, and the parents talked about how great of a substitute that could be to convenience snacks which are often made with high sugar, sodium, or hydrogenated oils.

We were especially excited for the cooking lesson with Chef Will where we made our own version of a typical fast food meal: Baked Chicken Fingers and Sweet Potato Fries.  (You can find Matt's recipe for Sweet Potato Fries here) Both items were kid-friendly and were baked to keep the fat content low.  We also used canola oil instead of butter and yogurt in place of mayonnaise or egg wash.  The kids had a lot of fun tossing the chicken and sweet potato fries in their separate breading or spice bags.  They were also introduced to the food safety issues of working with raw meat and, as always, practiced using safe knife skills.

As our dishes baked Cadi led the participants in a gardening lesson discussing the benefits of buying locally or growing our own food.  The kids had a great time planting their own pea seeds and decorating their pots. When the food was ready, I pulled the sweet potato fries from the oven and the smell alone gave away their flavor.  The meal was definitely a hit with the group.

We played a review game where both the kids and adults won some kitchen prizes and then I asked everyone, “Are these chicken fingers better than McDonald’s?”  “Oh yea!” they replied.  We hope to hear some great stories about the families making this meal at home during the week with their take home bag materials.  Next week we will be making Orange Oatmeal Pancakes and discussing breakfast trios and the importance of planning ahead.  See ya then!

Baked Chicken Fingers

serves 8

  •  2.5 lbs. boneless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1.5 cups low-sodium tomato sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and coat baking sheet with non-stick spray.
  2. Cut chicken breasts into 1 in. wide strips.
  3. Combine yogurt, water, salt and pepper in mixing bowl.
  4. Add chicken strips to mixture and toss together until well-coated.
  5. Combine cheese and bread crumbs into plastic bag.
  6. Add 3-4 chicken strips to bag and have child shake the bag until chicken is well coated.
  7. Place chicken strips on baking sheet, coat with non-stick cooking spray and bake 15-20 min.
  8. Warm tomato sauce in small saucepan over low heat and serve as dipping sauce.