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AHS March Blog: National Nutrition Month – EFNEP’s Role in Nutrition Education

The Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences publishes a monthly blog written by students, alumni and faculty sharing important topics and helpful resources related to the fields of agricultural, extension and human science. In the March blog post, EFNEP Technology and Social Media Extension Associate Megan Halbohm, discusses EFNEP’s role in nutrition education for National Nutrition Month.

Have you ever wanted to improve your health? Perhaps you set a goal to eat better or be more active. While these are not uncommon goals, there are some North Carolinians whose goals may also include having enough food to feed their family by the end of the month. This is where EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) plays a crucial role in improving the lives of limited resource families. Specifically, EFNEP works with adults who qualify for food assistance programs (such as SNAP or WIC) that are pregnant or are the primary caregiver for children 18 or younger as well as youth audiences who participate in free/reduced lunch programs. EFNEP provides these audiences with nutrition education classes to teach North Carolinians to cook healthy meals at home, be more active, save money on food costs, and handle food safely. In partnership with the Eat Smart Move More NC initiative, EFNEP Educators help families and youth adopt positive health behaviors to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. EFNEP is a program of Cooperative Extension through NC State University and NC A&T State University.

National Nutrition Month is a great time to kickstart your health and nutrition goals but EFNEP tackles these topics year-round. For over 50 years, EFNEP has provided nutrition programs at no cost to residents. As a result of EFNEP in 2021, 97% of participants improved their dietary intake while 96% now practice better food resource management. This means that families are eating more fruits and vegetables, reducing their sugary beverage intake, increasing their physical activity, and more! These healthy habits, especially among our youth, will help North Carolinians to live longer and healthier lives.

This year, the focus of National Nutrition Month is to Celebrate a World of Flavors. EFNEP employs educators from across the globe who work with North Carolinians from a variety of cultural backgrounds. We celebrate these cultures by working with participants to enhance the health of their favorite cultural dishes. Add some flavor to your next Smoothie with this Toasted Plantain and Cilantro Booster Recipe from two of our own EFNEP educators. 

To learn more about EFNEP and find a program near you visit: 


Recipe contributed by Natema Drummond and Jessica Kearney, NC EFNEP Educators

Makes 6 servings Serving Size: 8 ounces


  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can pineapple packed in own juice
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 yellow plantains, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Dash ground red pepper
  • 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, rinsed, stems
    removed and chopped
  • 16 ounces soy milk


  1. Drain pineapple, reserving 1 cup juice. Set aside.
  2. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Preheat skillet over medium heat.
  3. Place sliced plantains in skillet. Cook, covered for 5 minutes.
  4. Lift lid. Flip plantains to opposite side, sprinkle with red pepper and add 1/4 cup pineapple juice to pan. Cook an additional 5 minutes stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
  5. Remove skillet from heat and remove lid to allow plantains and juice to cool.
  6. In a blender, combine pineapple and remaining reserved liquid, yogurt, cilantro, and soy milk. Blend.
  7. Slowly add cooled plantain mixture and continue blending until all ingredients are a smooth consistency.
  8. Chill prior to serving.

Nutrition Information

  • 129 Calories, Total Fat 3g
  • Saturated Fat 1g
  • Protein 5g, Total Carbohydrate 21g
  • Dietary Fiber 2g, Sodium 67mg
  • Excellent source of Vitamin A. Good source of Calcium