Coffee and Health

This was originally posted by the NC Expanded Food and Nutrition Education program, here/

October 5, 2015

Did you know, a plain cup of brewed coffee has only 2 calories and no fat. However, if you like to add flavored creams, sugars, etc., the calories quickly add up. See how many calories just 1 tablespoon of these extras can add to your coffee:

• Heavy whipping cream: 52 calories
• Table sugar: 49 calories
• Half-and-half: 20 calories
• Fat-free milk: 5 calories

When purchasing coffee at a local shop, be sure to check out the nutrition information before you order. Some coffee drinks are more like dessert and can have hundreds of calories. Occasional indulgence is fine. But remember all calories count — even calories in liquid form.


Recent studies have found no connection between coffee and an increased risk of cancer or heart disease. Studies have also shown that coffee may have health benefits, including protecting against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease, including liver cancer. It also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression.

However, the research appears to bear out some risks. High consumption of unfiltered coffee (boiled or espresso) has been associated with mild elevations in cholesterol levels. And some studies found that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific, and fairly common — genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. So, how quickly you metabolize coffee may affect your health risk.

Although coffee may have fewer risks compared with benefits, keep in mind that other beverages, such as milk and some 100% fruit juices contain nutrients that coffee does not.



Faithful Families: An Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Strategy

September 9, 2015

by Vimie Magsino

In 2014, the North Carolina Division of Public Health (DPH) was awarded Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (ODHDSP) funding for the implementation of population-wide and priority population approaches to prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and the reduction of related health disparities among adults. This award will be administered by the Community and Clinical Connections for Prevention and Health Branch, housed within the Chronic Disease and Injury Section of DPH.

The work will focus on the following:

  • Environmental strategies to promote and support healthy eating and active living
  • Strategies to build support for healthy lifestyles, particularly for those at high risk to support diabetes, heart disease and stroke prevention efforts
  • Health system interventions to improve the quality of health care delivery to populations with the highest hypertension and pre-diabetes disparities
  • Community-clinical linkages that bridge community prevention efforts with health care systems

Beginning in 2015, environmental strategies will be directed toward the entire adult population within five funded regions (see gray area on the map). Lifestyle change programs and health care systems activities will specifically target populations at high risk for type 2 Diabetes; racial/ethnic groups with significant disparities in the burden of stroke, diabetes and obesity; and Medicaid beneficiaries with uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 11.41.13 AM

One of the strategies identified is the implementation of Faithful Families program. Five ODHDSP Regional Coordinators housed in a local health department in each of the five targeted regions will work with at least 10 faith communities each year. The Regional Coordinators will provide technical assistance to faith communities for food and beverage standards, promote physical activity through signage, social support and joint/shared use agreements and promote Diabetes Prevention Programs.

For more information about the ODHDSP grant and other strategies through this funding, please visit:

For more information about the implementation of Faithful Families as an ODHDSP strategy, please email: Vimie Magsino at or call 919-707-5245.

Vimie Magsino serves as the Program Specialist for Faithful Families, Eating Smart and Moving More, a partnership between the North Carolina Cooperative Extension and the North Carolina Division of Public Health. Her work is focused on program implementation and evaluation of Faithful Families, a practice-tested health promotion intervention that promotes healthy eating and physical activity in communities of faith throughout North Carolina.

Community Garden Updates from Voices into Action Project

August 19, 2015

Want to learn about some great community garden projects in North Carolina?  Our friends at Voices into Action: The Families, Food, and Health Project have funded several community garden mini-grant projects.  Here’s an update on two of those gardens in Lee County.

Originally posted by Voices into Action here.

by Zandra Alford

As the 2014 mini-grant funding cycle comes to an end, we would like to take this time to thank our partnering organizations for increasing access to healthy and affordable foods and safe places to be active in Lee County. Over the next few months, we will conduct end of year evaluations and will post a brief summary. Check out the Cameron Grove AME Zion Church Community Garden and the Peace and Unity Community Garden!

Cameron Grove Community Garden

Cameron Grove Community Garden (CGCG) recently planted a new crop of herbs, tomatoes, squash, peppers, and more, after a successful harvest of vegetables last season. Annie McIver, the garden organizer, showed us six raised beds with young plants, including some planted by the Cameron Grove AME Zion Church Youth Group.  Annie and fellow garden volunteers have also recently planted a traditional garden bed to supplement the food grown in the raised garden plots.  The food grown in the garden is shared with church members, nearby food pantries, and community members who can benefit from the fresh fruits and veggies. Last year, CGCG donated over 50 bunches of collards to the community, as well as other vegetables. The garden also features two rain barrels to conserve water, and compost from the City of Sanford to improve the growth of the plants. This year, CGCG will be adding an additional six garden beds. Volunteers work in the garden and transport the harvest to food pantries and community members. Thank you to Annie, Cameron Grove AME Zion, and all the volunteers who make the garden possible!

Cameron Grove Raised Garden Beds

Cameron Grove Traditional Garden Bed

Shaded spot in the Cameron Grove Garden

Cameron Grove Community Garden -  Growing Seedling with rain water barrel in background

Peace and Unity Community Garden

The Peace and Unity Community Garden is a tranquil place where community members work together to grow food for their families and others in their community. The garden consists of two growing areas: Peace and Unity. In Peace, garden plots are available for anyone who wants to grow and maintain their own space; while in Unity, community members work together to grow fresh produce to give as donations to organizations that feed the community. Fruit trees have also been recently planted in Unity and community members are working on caring for the young trees in order to cultivate a variety of fruit for years to come. The growing season has already begun at the Peace and Unity Community Garden, as many families and community members have already planted seeds and plantlings and are now working to nurture and maintain their plots. The garden hosts community workdays when people can come together to work on their individual plots in Peace, as well as volunteer in the community plots in Unity.   In addition to supporting their on-going gardening efforts, this year the Peace and Unity Community Garden will use their mini-grant funds to create space at the garden for children and families to play and relax. They will be setting up recreation activities such as tether ball, horse shoes and corn hole in order to give kids a space to be active while parents and other community members work in the garden. The garden also plans to host an upcoming Day in the Garden Event that will welcome the greater community to come visit and celebrate the garden. Thank you to Crystal McIver, Alfreda Clegg-Spivey and all the community members and volunteers who make the garden possible!

Peace and Unity Community Garden - Ramada with Picnic Tables

Peace and Unity Community Garden - Peace Garden

Peace and Unity Community Garden - Unity Garden

Peace and Unity Community Garden - Fruit Trees

Try a Pita Pocket Sandwich

August 12, 2015

Note: This was originally posted by the North Carolina Expanded Food and Nutrition Program here.

Sandwiches are a common staple food on a lunchbox menu for children, but I’ve noticed sandwiches have gotten a reputation as being boring or bland because children get tired of eating the same old sandwich for lunch every day. Sure, spreading some peanut butter and jelly on bread or just slapping on a few cold cuts makes for a tasty and easy meal, but eating that every day can make sandwiches less appealing. Get creative with new sandwich recipes and combinations to make lunch a meal that your child (and you) will look forward to!

Here are some tips on how to expand your sandwich selections:

  • Swap the usual sandwich bread for a tortilla, open-faced flatbread, or pita pocket. Aim for a whole-wheat option for added fiber, vitamins, and minerals!
  •  Try adding different vegetables (or even fruits!) for variety and color.
  • Have leftovers? Think about how you could put them together to create a unique sandwich.
  • Avocado, in small portions, is a healthy alternative to a popular sandwich condiment: mayonnaise. Mash up an avocado and mix it with plain nonfat or low-fat yogurt to make a creamy spread for your sandwiches. Add lemon or lime juice for extra flavor!

Corner Kick Pita Pocket

Makes 2 servings Serving Size: 1/2 pita pocket


  •  ½ cup spinach, trimmed leaves
  • ¼ cup cucumber, sliced
  • ¼ cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon salsa
  • 1 tablespoon fat-free Ranch salad dressing
  •  1 (6 ½) inch pita pocket
  • 4 oz. extra-lean ground beef (5% fat), cooked
  • 1 cup cantaloupe, cubed


  1.  Combine beef, spinach, cucumber, and carrots with salsa and Ranch dressing. Mix well.
  2. Cut pita in half. Using your finger, slowly open the pocket so as not to tear the bread.
  3. Divide beef and veggie mix in half and place in each pocket half.
  4. Serve each pocket with ½ cup cantaloupe.


Who says sandwiches are only for lunch? I’m having this for dinner tonight!


Cara is an EFNEP student intern.

Gardening 101 – Final Post, Funding your Project!

March 13, 2015

by Maryam Funmilayo

file8271306993793Welcome back to the final series of gardening 101. I hope you have started brainstorming on what, where, when, and how to plant, as the spring season is fast approaching.  I recently attended the Dig In! Event at the Marbles Kids’ Museum.  Experienced and novice gardeners, farmers, Master Gardeners, school teachers, and various community members, were all attendees at the event. It was a well-attended and successful event.  People shared success stories on how their empty lands became flourishing gardens.

As I mentioned in the very beginning of this garden series, this final part will be about organizations that are involved in giving free monetary grants to new or existing gardens. So, there is no need to worry if money is an issue for starting a garden. Below are 4 organizations that you can tap into if you are interested in starting a community or school garden.

  1. Project Learning Tree –
  2. Kitchen Gardeners International –
  3. Kids Gardening –
  4. Whole Kids Foundation –

There are so many others besides these four organizations. You can also ask community and school members for monetary and in-kind donations. It’s important to remember that not only finances are needed to start a sustainable garden.  For a successful garden campaign, approach and recruit volunteers who are willing to work and maintain the garden. Volunteers can range from elementary school children to senior citizens. You also need adequate humanpower, dedication, interest, zeal, and most importantly, a community of people who are ready to eat smart, move more, and feel good!

Maryam Funmilayo is a Program Assistant with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).  She teaches Faithful Families classes to the adult female members of the Islamic Association of Raleigh (IAR).