Michelle Obama

Learning to cook healthy meals through Operation Frontline

Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign has made Americans begin a conversation about nutrition among children in America. Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is working to educate families and children by going into communities and teaching healthy cooking classes through Operation Frontline (OFL).

Today's guest post is by Madeline Frye, a senior in NC State's Nutrition program and OFL volunteer.

I am fortunate enough to be working with an amazing group of fellow students to teach the OFL Side by Side class in Knightdale’s Headstart Center. I have been keeping you all informed on how our classes have been progressing through our six-week healthy lifestyle adventure. This week sure was full of exciting activities!

For our second week (catch up with the 1st Knightdale class on our OFL blog), the class came together and learned many new things about fruits they had never tasted before, economic ways to purchase healthy foods, and how to tell the differences between whole and refined grains. At the beginning of class, everyone got to taste test some uncommon fruits and vegetables. Mangos, kiwis, and hummus were loved the most and became snacks for the rest of the day. Hummus is another form of chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), which was and ingredient we cooked with in our Chinese vegetables and rice last week.

The children learning about their plants!

We were also very lucky to plant our first snap pea plants! Byron, our class gardener, made sure to tell everyone the proper ways to care for their plants, such as making sure to water it every day, and place it in lots of sun light. Every plant also had a green stick for it to wind up as it starts to grow. Each family got to take them home to care for while they blossom over the next couple of weeks.

Nate and his daughter chopping some veggies

At the end of the day, we cooked an amazing meal of Barley Jambalaya. Chopping up all of the vegetables was no problem with our talented parents showing off their knife skills. The children were great kitchen aids by collecting the chopped vegetables, mixing all of the spices, and helping to set the table. Chef Jay really enjoys the amazing help and company in the kitchen!

It is always nice to sit down and enjoy an amazing meal with your family that you made together. All of the families loved our dinner and were discussing the different vegetables and spices that you could substitute and experiment with. Why don’t you try this week’s recipe on your own?



Barley Jambalaya

serves 6


  • 1 cup barley*
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 2 medium celery stalks
  • 1 medium green bell pepper
  • 3 medium onions
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 4 ounces turkey ham*
  • 1-tablespoon canola oil
  • 1-teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1-½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, no salt added

*Chef’s Notes:

Turkey ham can be substituted with ham, turkey, chicken, or turkey sausage. You can also substitute brown rice for barley if you like. To save time, cook the barley up to two days ahead of time, refrigerate, and add to soup pot in step 11.


  1. Measure and place barley in a colander and rinse under cold water. Add barley, water, and bay leaves to a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Place barley in a colander, draining any excess water, and set aside.
  3. Rinse celery and green pepper.
  4. Peel and rinse the onions. Peel garlic cloves.
  5. Dice onion, celery, and green peppers. Mince garlic.
  6. Dice turkey ham into tiny, ¼-inch pieces.
  7.  Heat large soup pot over medium heat, and add canola oil when pan is hot. Add meat, onions, celery, peppers, and garlic to the soup pot. Mix well.
  8. Sauté 5-10 minutes, scraping bottom of pan periodically.
  9. Measure and add salt, cayenne pepper, oregano, and black pepper to the pot, along with the canned tomatoes, and stir.
  10. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  11. Add cooked barley, and stir to combine.
  12. Add more liquid, if necessary, and cook over low heat for another 5-10 minutes to combine flavors and reheat the barley.
  13. Remove bay leaves before serving.

If you'd like more information on volunteering or sponsoring an OFL class, contact our Director of Nutrition, Katherine Andrew, at Katherine@foodshuttle.org