Joanna Rogers
                                Contributing Columnist

Joanna Rogers

Contributing Columnist


Has your family ever wondered where their favorite foods come from, or what makes their favorite dish come to life? In the Youth Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), we teach youth participants the importance of eating healthy and eating fresh produce throughout the year.

Shopping at your local farmers market or local produce stands are great ways to get fresh, seasonal items. But did you know most local farmers markets offer more than just fruits and vegetables? They also sell fresh local meats, eggs, and some of our favorite jams and jellies.

Here in Robeson County, our local farmers market hosts and highlights farmers who grow seasonal items to sell. Be sure to check out their new location on May 17, 2024, at the corner of 3rd and Water Street, in downtown Lumberton.

Another way to get fresh produce is planting your own family garden. Start with planting your favorite fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Research different beginner-gardening techniques and see which one would work best for you and your family. Container gardening is my favorite way to grow herbs.

It is easy to store small containers around your kitchen where it is easy for herbs to thrive. Also, raised-bed gardens can be placed in areas normal gardens can’t, and can take up less space for small plant options.

Below is a simple, fun, and easy recipe sure to please everyone, along with kid-friendly tips they can do in preparing the recipe. Remember to practice kitchen safety when preparing food and handling raw eggs and meat.

Super Stir Fry

EFNEP Recipe


Choose 5 vegetables (½ cup of each)










Choose 1 starch (1 cup per person, cooked according to package directions)

Brown rice

White rice

Rice noodles

Whole-wheat spaghetti noodles

Other Ingredients

¼ cup stir-fry sauce (see recipe below)

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Wash and chop selected vegetables into small, evenly-sized pieces. You may cut them into circles, strips, or cubes as desired. A variety of shapes will make the stir-fry more pleasing to the eye.

Make Stir-Fry Sauce (see recipe below).

Heat a small amount (1 tablespoon or less) of vegetable oil over high heat in a 10-inch frying pan, electric skillet, or wok.

Keeping the heat high, add vegetables to the pan in order of firmness – harder foods first, and ending with the softest foods.

Toss vegetables during cooking to keep them from sticking. When stir-frying, cooked vegetables should still be crisp and retain their bright color.

Add sauce to taste (about ¼ cup). Stir-fry until all vegetables are thoroughly coated.

Serve with the starch of choice.

Stir-Fry Sauce

Makes ½ cup


2 tablespoons sodium-free beef bouillon

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon dark molasses

⅛ teaspoon ground ginger

Dash of black pepper

⅛ teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch


Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and boil gently, uncovered for 5 or more minutes, or until sauce is reduced to ½ cup.

When cooked, pour into a lidded jar, and keep in the refrigerator.

Stir before using.


North Carolina Cooperative Extension is a strategic partnership of NC State Extension, The Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA), and local government partners statewide. Extension delivers research-based education and technology from NC State and N.C. A&T that enriches the lives, land, and economy of North Carolinians. Extension professionals in all 100 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee provide educational programs specializing in agriculture, youth, communities, health, and the environment.

Joanna Rogers is a 4-H Youth EFNEP assistant. contact her by email at [email protected].