Choosing Healthy Recipes for Community Nutrition Programs

Today Emily Todhunter and I continued to work on the community nutrition program at The Shack, which would be funded by a possible grant from Build A Bear.  The theme of the program is “Shop Smart, Cook Healthy, Eat Right”.  The “Cook Healthy” portion is going to consist of  cooking demonstration where children and parents can take part in cooking a healthy meal.  The recipes we chose for the cooking demo are chili con carne and baked potatoes for the adults and granola bars for the kids.  The theories behind choosing these dishes is that they are nutritious, easy to make, inexpensive, and last for a long time.  The program would include ingredients that were discussed during the first lesson, “Shop Smart”, which would be a grocery store tour.

We also worked on a targeted community nutrition activity for 3rd and 4th graders to be taught next week to around 20 children from The Shack.  This 90-minute lesson would be on “Healthy Snacking”.  During the lesson students will learn to make homemade salsa, whole-wheat chips, and fruit and cheese skewers.  The students will also play an “identify that fruit or vegetable game” in two teams. Kids will put their hands in the box/bag, try to figure out what fruit or vegetable is in there, and then run back to their team, where they will tell their team what they found, and write what they found (but doesn’t tell the other team!).  The team that figures out all the items correctly first, wins a prize.  The nutrition lesson will focus on balancing your snacks based on the MyPlate recommendations and how to choose a healthy snack.

Below are the recipes for the granola bars, chili con carne, and the salsa and tortilla chips.

Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

Ingredients for the granola bars. I can’t wait to try this recipe!


  • 1/2 c. honey or corn syrup (or a combination of both)
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 2 c. quick oats
  • 2 c. Rice Krispy cereal
  • 1/4 c. ground flax seed
  • 1 or 2 T. wheat germ (optional)
  • 1 c. total of your favorite mix-ins (chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, etc)


  • In a small sauce pan, mix honey (or corn syrup) and brown sugar.
  • Cook over medium-high heat until sugar is completely dissolved – stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat and quickly stir in peanut butter.
  • Mix the oats, cereal, flax seed, and optional wheat germ in a large bowl.
  • Pour honey mixture over dry ingredients — mix well.
  • Stir in chocolate chips, nuts, fruit, and any other “mix-ins”
  • Press mixture into a 9″ x 13″ pan that has been greased or lined with wax paper. {I find it works best when I put another piece of wax paper on top of the bars and press down with a measuring cup.}
  • Let cool and “firm up”
  • Cut into bars and store in an air-tight container. I cut mine into 24 bars that were about 1″ x 4″ {8 rows by 3 rows}. I used a pastry cutter/scraper because it cuts really straight lines — but a long knife would work just fine too.
  • And since I used chocolate chips, I figured it would be best to store our granola bars in the refrigerator so they don’t melt.


Chili Con Carne Recipe

Pictured: Chili Con Carne. To be served with baked potatoes. Healthy toppings for baked potatoes include: salsa, reduced-fat sour cream, greek yogurt, green onions, reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese, broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, red pepper flakes, chives…or just pour the chili on top!

Yield: 3 gal, Serving size: 1 cup

  • 10 lb Ground beef
  • 8 oz onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • Cook beef, onions, and garlic in a large pot until meat loses pink color
  • 2.5 qt diced tomatoes, canned
  • 2 qt tomato puree
  • 1 qt water
  • 3 oz chile powder
  • 1.5 Tbsp cumin, ground
  • 1 oz (1.5 Tbsp) salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 oz sugar, granulated
    • Mix tomato products, water, and seasonings. Add to beef. Cook until blended.
  • 9.5 lbs beans, pinto, kidney, or red, canned
    • Add beans to meat mixture. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add water if chili becomes too thick.

Source:  Food for Fifty (12th Edition) by Mary Molt

Tomato Salsa Recipe

Homemade tomato salsa with whole wheat tortilla chips is a healthy snack for children of all ages!

Makes 11 servings

  • 3 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped (3 cups)
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 medium green onions, sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno chili
  • 2-3 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients in a bowl.

Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Tomato   Salsa Nutrition Facts 1   serving = ¼ cup
Calories 20
Total Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 125 mg
Total Carbohydrate 4 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A 10% DV
Vitamin C 34% DV
Iron 2% DV


Whole Wheat Tortilla Chips Recipe

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cut whole wheat tortillas into wedges or strips.
  • Spray both sides of tortilla pieces with cooking spray.
  • Spread the pieces out on a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Season with spices—pepper, ranch dressing mix, chili powder, garlic powder, etc!
  • Bake until golden brown & crisp, about 12-15 minutes.

4 thoughts on “Choosing Healthy Recipes for Community Nutrition Programs

  1. Pingback: Healthy Snacking Lesson | Mary Rodavich – WVU Dietetic Intern

  2. Pingback: Salsa Recipe – Easy to Make and Delicious Homemade Recipes | salsaanyonetoday

  3. Pingback: Salsa Recipe | salsaanyonetoday

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