Nutrition for Teens

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Have you noticed a change in your teen’s eating habits as they age? Some teenagers tend to eat more on-the-go foods and snacks that are loaded with unhealthy fats, sodium, and sugar. In the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), we teach teens the importance of eating healthy, food safety, and physical activity. For our youth here in the county, grades 6 – 8, we offer Teen Cuisine educational classes. In each class, we go over a new lesson with a food sample they can try, along with skill-builders to help them practice what they have learned at home.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Youth with obesity are more likely to have immediate health risks, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and impaired glucose tolerance. They also are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes beginning as soon as the teenage years and into adulthood.”  With the help of MyPlate, EFNEP shows how to create a healthy, balanced meal and snack that packs a nutritional value that is essential at their age. EFNEP also breaks down the food nutrition label and teaches the importance of limiting fats, sodium, and sugars while making sure the food item is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Along with nutrition education, we talk about the importance of physical activity. Did you know the recommended time for daily exercise is 60 minutes? Physical activity has many great benefits, such as building strong muscles and endurance, reducing the risk of several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and obesity, strengthening bones, helping regulate body weight, and reducing body fat. Always stay hydrated with water whenever you are doing physical activity.

Below are two great EFNEP recipes for your teen to cook and try at home:

Oven-Baked Chicken Nuggets


  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons 1% milk
  • 3 ½ cups corn flakes cereal; crushed
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper or chili powder
  • 1-pound boneless, skinless chicken highs, cut into nugget-size pieces
  • ¼ cup dipping sauce


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease baking sheet with canola oil and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the egg and milk together with a fork or whisk.
  4. Place crushed cereal in a second bowl. Add black pepper or chili powder and mix.
  5. Dip chicken pieces in egg mixture and then in cereal mixture.
  6. Put coated chicken pieces on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes.
  8. Serve with preferred dipping sauce.

Oven-Baked Fries


  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Brush baking sheet with ½ oil.
  3. Cut potatoes lengthwise into strips. Note: Pieces should be uniform and resemble traditional French fries.
  4. Place potatoes on baking sheet in a single layer.
  5. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.
  6. Drizzle the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil on top of potatoes.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the baking dish every 10 minutes. Cook for additional time if sides are not browned.

For more information, contact Joanna Rogers, Extension Youth EFNEP Assistant, at 910-671-3276, by Email at