Preparing a Safe Turkey Dinner

If you are preparing for Thanksgiving, or just making a turkey, it is always good to follow food safety procedures and to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing. It is important to always use a food thermometer to make sure that the temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit so that bacteria that can cause foodborne sickness are reduced. There are lots of things that can determine the roasting time of the entire turkey which is how frozen it is, how the evenly the oven heats, if the turkey is stuffed, what type of a pan you use if it has a lid, and how the turkey fits in the pan. These things can all affect the time it takes for the turkey to cook and should be assessed prior to cooking.

When roasting a turkey, it is standard procedure to set the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The oven does not need to be preheated to do this. Another great and important tip is to make sure that the turkey is completely thawed before cooking it. A temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below is acceptable. Also, placing the turkey with the breast facing up on a flat wire rack is best for roasting a turkey. Putting it in a roasting pan that is 2-2½ inches deep is recommended. Make sure to tuck the tips of the wings under the shoulders of the turkey and add a half-cup of water to the bottom of the pan for moisture. You can put a tent of aluminum foil over the breast during the first hour or so and remove it or you can choose to wait until it is a golden brown to place the tent.

For the best practice of food safety, cooking the stuffing separate from the turkey is recommended. If you do choose to stuff your turkey, make sure that the stuffing has already been mixed together and do not stuff it too tightly. Additional time will be added for stuffed turkeys for these things to cook inside. To make sure the turkey is safe, make sure to measure the internal temperature and that it is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. When you take it out of the oven, let the turkey cool for 20 minutes before carving the turkey or removing the stuffing from it. Enjoy your turkey this Thanksgiving knowing that it is food safe and good to eat!

Written by:    Taylor Davis, Volunteer

For more information on turkey temperatures and food safety visit this website:

Back to School Snacking: Fighting After-School Hunger


It’s that time of year again! Children and families everywhere are preparing to head back to school. Children will be on the move and learning new things each and everyday. After a long day of fun-filled learning, children are more than likely to come home famished. After school snacking is a daily ritual in most homes and this can be a great opportunity to get extra nutrients in your children.

It is also important that we, as parents be a good model to our children when it comes to snacking. If children see how much you enjoy healthy eating and snacks, they are more likely to enjoy these foods as well. Allowing children to help prepare the snacks or other healthy meals will keep them more interested in healthy snacking and eating. With the right foods in the fridge and pantry, children who come straight home after school can start fixing their snacks (with parent approval). Try loading up the refrigerator with easy grab-and-go foods like veggie sticks and low-fat dips, yogurt, and berries.

One recipe for healthy snacking is called Lean Mean Deli Roll-Ups. This is a very quick, easy, and healthy recipe that children can make on their own (with parent approval) or with your help.

Lean Mean Deli Roll-Ups

Makes 1 serving


  1. 1 stick low-fat string cheese
  2. 1 slice lean ham or turkey deli meat
  3. 1 teaspoon honey mustard


    1. Wash hands and surfaces
    2. Wrap the meat slice around the string cheese stick and dip the roll up in mustard
    3. Refrigerate Immediately

Shae King

Shae is an EFNEP Educator in Forsyth County, NC A&T State University


Build an Easy Breakfast

Mornings can be a hectic time to get everyone fed and off to the places we have to be often early in the morning. Breakfast may not always be a top priority. However, breakfast is a very important part of the day for you and everyone in your family. For some ideas, Super Healthy Kids has a list of recipes to help make your mornings a little easier:

Here are some of the highlights:

However you choose to make breakfast a part of your family’s day, be sure keep it simple!


Food Safety: Are We Making These Mistakes?

We know that food safety isn’t something to take lightly in your home. In fact, some of our simple mistakes can be much more dangerous than we think.

In an article posted on, some of our biggest food safety mistakes are highlighted.

For instance, do you wash meat or poultry? What about eat raw dough, cookie dough, or other foods with uncooked eggs or uncooked flour?

To read all the common mistakes, read the full article here: .

Banana Split Ice Cream – Wait Until You Try This Twist

Although you may fool some, this delicious icy treat has no cream or ice. This dairy-free alternative to ice cream is a great option for our lactose-intolerant friends and a healthier option for us all! Even better, this sweet-treat has no added sugar and contributes to our daily recommended intake of fruit. According to the USDA’s MyPlate, most adults should consume 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit each day.

Makes 4, ½ cup servings


  • 2 medium bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced and frozen
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder


  • Food Processor  (A powerful blender can be used but may require a longer blending time.)


  1. Peel and slice the bananas. Wash, de-stem and slice the strawberries. Freeze the fruit ahead of time (at least 3 hours.)
  2. Place frozen fruit slices into a food processor.
  3. Cover and process until the fruit reaches a creamy consistency, about 3-5 minutes. You may have to scrape the sides of the food processor periodically, patience is key here!
  4. Add the cocoa powder and continue to process until the desired consistency has been reached.
  5. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, enjoy immediately or store in the freezer.

Try mixing it up with different fruits and flavors to find your family’s favorite combination. My personal favorite is bananas, peanut butter powder, and cinnamon!

Megan is the Adult EFNEP Nutrition Educator at NC Extension, Orange County.

Shop the local market for fresh produce

Farmers Markets are packed with fresh summer fruits and vegetables.  Watermelons, cantaloupes, fresh corn, cucumbers, tomatoes and squash are just a few of the food items found at many local markets. While, I don’t frequent Farmers Markets often (mainly due to the location from my home and because my local market is not open year-round), I like to go at this time of the year. There are so many varieties of delicious, freshly grown foods (especially fruits and vegetables) and homemade goodies such as jams/jellies, pickles. There are also baked items, which are typically local favorites made by hometown residents. Visiting the market also allows for interaction with farmers, neighbors and friends.

During a recent purchase, a friend noticed that the strawberries he bought from the local grocery store were grown by a local farmer from the county. He was so excited to know that his purchase is helping to support the local farmer in our community.

While, I really like the offerings of a Farmer’s Market, there are some valid reasons to purchase foods there. Firstly, they’re local and local foods are usually fresher and more nutritious. Since a shorter distance is traveled to where the food is sold, most local fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are fresher. Some are harvested within 24 hours of being purchased! This freshness is directly related to its nutritional value, as nutritional quality degrades rapidly after harvest.

At a basic level, when you buy locally, more money stays in the community. Money that stays in the community circulates and benefits all sectors of the local economy and therefore increases the quality of life we enjoy in our communities.

Buying from local farmers helps to preserve farmland and rural culture. Whether it is directly at a farmers market or at the local foods section of a grocery store, buying a local farmer’s product helps keep that farmer farming and in business.

Food produced and marketed locally uses much less energy for transportation and storage. Reducing the energy used means less air and water pollution, which is another way we can help sustain our resources for future generations.

When food is marketed locally, farmers aren’t limited to growing varieties that are bred for long distance shipping and long shelf lives. Local foods are often heirloom varieties that have been passed down through generations, which are usually especially delicious!

Finally, since local foods are not stored for long periods of time or transported long distances, fewer post-harvest treatments are needed. Wax coatings to prevent water loss and fungicides to prevent decay are used to preserve fruits and vegetables that travel long distances.

Local foods are really a win-win and something we can all support.

I encourage you to be a patron at your local Farmer’s Market. If you are unaware of the Farmer’s Markets in your area, here is a helpful resource. The North Carolina Farm Fresh is a directory of pick-your-own farms, roadside farm markets, and farmers markets throughout North Carolina. It is designed to help you find the freshest locally grown fruits, vegetables, plants and other items. Click the following link to find a market in your area:


Stephanie is the EFNEP Extension Associate for counties in the Southeast Unit.