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Sandra Stringer: Don't judge cookbook by its cover or recipe names
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People often make assumptions about others based on their hair color, hairstyle, clothes, skin tone, purse or even car.

We may think we know all about their situation at home, their job or their personality.

Have you ever been surprised that someone was nice, even though your assumption or first impression was quite the opposite? Maybe someone looked mean or unfriendly, but a simple “Hello” or “How are you?” brought a smile to the surface and a conversation began.

Just like we can make those snap judgements about people, we sometimes do that with food and recipes.

Several years ago, when I looked through the ingredients of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program recipes for the very first time, I was a little skeptical. Some recipes were met with a raised eyebrow like “Star Trek’s” Spock and a thought of “I don’t know about that.”

I just wasn’t sure about the curly noodle supreme, which uses ground turkey, corn, diced tomatoes and the small, inexpensive noodles that cost 10 cents or less. It’s now one of my favorites and program participants have been really surprised at how good it tastes, not to mention how easy it is to prepare.

Our fiesta quesadilla recipe uses pinto beans for the protein instead of beef or chicken. Just add low-fat shredded cheese, diced zucchini and bell pepper and you have a very tasty, time-saving meal. It’s absolutely another personal favorite, and sometimes I’ll just have the mixture of bell pepper, zucchini, beans and cheese together in a bowl with some salsa.

By the way, if you don’t care for zucchini, you can use diced cucumber.

Reading labels can quickly diminish your preconceived notions about the nutritional value of a food or beverage. The sodium, salt, sugar and fat content per serving can be quite surprising.

Knowledge is power, right?

So, reading food and beverage labels can help you make better choices.

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If you’re looking for some new recipes, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl” at

Visitors can select and choose from a variety of recipes. Plus, you can build your own free cookbook and make it into a PDF.

It’s a great way to add more flavors to your menus, and it’s a great gift idea.

I made one for a friend. I hope she enjoys it.


Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Call her at 770-535-8290. Her column appears biweekly on Wednesdays and on

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