Nurturing a Healthier Oldham County

The following Family and Consumer Sciences articles printed in the 2018 Winter edition of the Oldham County Extension Newsletter and the 2018 Oldham County Extension Report to the People.

Collaborating for Community Health

Extension creates partnerships to increase productivity, consolidate resources, and eliminate duplication of services that share the common goal of improving community health. The Oldham County Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) agent brought nutrition, food safety, and cooking classes to existing programs at the LaGrange YMCA, local food pantries, farmers markets, and health clinics. These combined efforts fight the growing rate of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and foodborne illness.

kids cooking camp

In June, Kids Cooking Camp provided an opportunity for youth to explore healthy eating habits and practice food safety. The participants took home recipes and prepared meals for their families.

During the summer, a partnership with Dare to Care Food Bank brought the Cooking Matters program to youth in La Grange.

In the fall, 4-H Cooking Academy reached youth at East Oldham Middle School.

healthy oldham county

Healthier Lifestyles for Substance Abusers

Although ranked highest for health and wealth in Kentucky, Oldham County suffers from a high rate of substance abuse. Binge drinking and opioid usage have greatly increased in the past few years. Currently, Oldham County’s alarming rate for binge drinking is 3% above the state average.

Moreover, the U. S. Department of Justice has found that 76.9% of drug offenders are rearrested. A judge supervised substance abuse program, Drug Court seeks to rehabilitate substance abusers, helping prevent participants from relapsing into criminal behavior to instead become productive members of society.

In May 2018, Oldham County Extension partnered with the chief circuit court judge to bring food safety and nutrition to the Drug Court substance abuse program. The Oldham County FCS agent encourages healthy eating and cooking as well as daily exercise. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Program (EFNEP) assistant helped demonstrate easy, economical recipes that emphasize “MyPlate” recommendations. Participants received pedometers and educational materials for meal planning, food security, and cooking skills. This program was offered in both the morning and evening to accommodate work schedules.

The participants in the court-ordered program all planned to reduce their serving sizes, cook and eat at home more often, and exercise daily. The program supervisor also reported that several participants indicated using the recipes the day after the programs.

Since the May program, the EFNEP assistant has taught ongoing monthly classes to help reinforce the important issues of food safety, budgeting, and basic cooking skills.

healthy veggie lasagna recipe

Written by Chris Duncan, Oldham County Family and Consumer Sciences Agent; Sherry Ragsdale, Oldham County Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Assistant; and Lauren Fernandez, Oldham County Extension Assistant.


Get Started Meal Planning

meal planning saves money

Plan Your Weekly Meals

Before making a grocery list, write down meals you want to make this week. Buying for the week means you will make fewer shopping trips and buy only items you need. Here are some basic tips for creating your menu and grocery list:

  • See what you already have. Look in your freezer, cabinets, and fridge. Make a note of what you currently have on hand.
  • Use a worksheet to plan your meals so everything is organized. Consider posting it on the fridge. If a family member is excited to see a favorite meal coming up, that will help motivate you.
  • Create a list of recipes to try. Find new ideas for healthy and low-cost meals based on what you have on hand, foods your family enjoys, and foods that are good buys.
  • Think about your schedule. Choose meals you can easily prepare when you don’t have a lot of time. Save recipes that take longer for days off. You can also prepare meals in advance to heat and serve on your busiest days.
  • Plan to use leftovers. Think about larger recipes with enough servings for multiple meals. This can reduce the number of ingredients you need to buy and save time that you would have spent preparing another meal.

Basic Budget Bites

Start Small

Adopting a healthy lifestyle may seem like a lot of work, but if you start small, your goals may be more realistic. Try only one or two new recipes a week max to save time and money and avoid being overwhelmed. Take note of your achievements. For example, if you decide to cut back on sugar-sweetened beverages and drink more water, notice how much money you save by drinking water and consider that an added reward.

drink water to save money

Original material sourced from USDA MyPlate and Choose MyPlate. Adapted to print in the August/September 2018 of Healthy Choices for Healthy Families. Edited by Lauren Fernandez, Oldham County Extension Staff Assistant.

Healthy Food Tips for Entertaining Guests

healthy recipes

Entertain the Healthy Way

We all enjoy getting together with friends and family for parties, tailgates, and potlucks! These gatherings sometimes offer few healthy choices and may tempt you to overeat. Set yourself up to make healthy choices with these tips:

  • Plan for colorful plates. Create a sign-up sheet for your party with categories for dishes from each food group so you have a variety of healthy options. Think about the edible rainbow. Red might be strawberries, tomatoes, or watermelons. Yellow could be bananas or squash. Purple options include figs, eggplants, and grapes.
  • Sip up some flavor. Boost flavor in water or unsweetened ice tea with mint leaves, lemons, or frozen fruit. Skip sugary drinks like soda, punch, and lemonade.
  • Keep foods safe. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until serving time. Don’t leave food out at room temperature for longer than two hours. After two hours, illness-causing bacteria may start growing.
  • Prioritize your plate. Take a quick lap around the food table to see what foods are available before filling your plate. Save calories with smaller helpings.
  • Include fruits and veggies. Fill half your plate with vegetables such as beans, broccoli, or mixed greens and fruits like berries or grapes.

Looking for healthy recipe ideas? Check out this yummy Tailgate Caviar recipe from Kentucky Cooperative Extension:

Tailgate Caviar Recipe

Original material sourced from Choose MyPlate. Adapted to print in the October/November 2018 of Healthy Choices for Healthy Families. Edited by Lauren Fernandez, Oldham County Extension Staff Assistant.

KY Proud Spaghetti Squash Casserole

The following Family & Consumer Sciences article originally printed in the 2018 Fall edition of the Oldham County Extension Newsletter.

Home Cooking Corner

Spaghetti squash is a member of the winter squash family. Summer squash is eaten before the seeds mature, whereas winter squash is consumed after the seeds have matured and outer skin has hardened. Get your sharp knife out, and make this delicious recipe that is calorie and carb friendly.

spaghetti squash recipe

Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash Casserole Recipe


  • 1 small (about 2 pounds) spaghetti squash
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 (4 to 5 ounce) can chopped mild green chilies
  • 1 1/2 cups low fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the squash by carefully cutting it in half lengthwise with a sharp knife and scooping out the seeds. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cut-side down and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a sharp knife can be easily inserted into the rind.
  2. Remove the squash from the oven and cool. Use a fork to scrape out the stringy flesh from the shell and place in a colander. Press out as much liquid as possible. Place squash in a medium bowl and keep warm.
  3. In a skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat until browned. Add the onion, red bell pepper and garlic. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the cumin, cayenne pepper and salt. Drain well and set aside.
  4. In a small bowl combine the chopped tomatoes and green chilies.
  5. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with non-stick coating. Layer half of the spaghetti squash in the bottom of the pan. Spread half the meat mixture on top of the squash. Layer half of the tomatoes and chilies on top of the meat and top with half of the cheese. Repeat the layers.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F until the casserole is hot all the way through and the cheese is bubbly, 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.

Nutritional Analysis: 140 calories, 4 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 5 g sugars, 17 g protein

Yield: 9 servings

Introduction written by Chris Duncan, Oldham County FCS Agent, and Lauren Fernandez, Oldham County Extension Staff Assistant. Recipe from Plate It Up! Kentucky Proud.

Enjoy Juicy Peaches for Breakfast

Did you know that August is National Peach Month? The following Peachy Breakfast Bake recipe uses half whole wheat flour, half all-purpose. Start living a healthier life by making half your grains whole!

healthy breakfast peach recipe

Peachy Breakfast Bake Recipe


  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with rack in middle position. Place butter in an 8-by-8 inch baking dish and place in oven on the center rack to melt. Add peaches and brown sugar to melted butter in baking dish, stir to coat. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Bake 15 minutes. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and egg whites with a whisk, add almond milk and vanilla. Whisk together. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until blended. Remove peaches from oven, pour batter slowly and evenly over baked peaches. Return to oven and bake 20 minutes, until the center of the batter is firm, puffed up, and browned. Serve warm with whipped cream.

healthy peach breakfast recipe

Nutritional Analysis: 140 calories, 4.5 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 140 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 17 g sugars, 3 g protein

Yield: 9, 1/2 cup servings

Source: Plate It Up! Kentucky Proud, University of Kentucky Extension

Summer Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe

The following recipe printed in the 2018 Summer edition of the Oldham County Extension Newsletter.

healthy zucchini lasagna

Summer Garden Lasagna Recipe


  • 5 medium zucchini
  • 2 yellow summer squash
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large eggplants, sliced 1/2
  • 8 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Thinly slice zucchini and summer squash 1/4 inch thick and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Roast in oven at 400 °F for 20 minutes, turn slices after 10 minutes. Slice eggplants, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil; place on baking sheet. Roast in oven at 400 °F for 20 minutes, turn slices after 10 minutes. If needed, place under broiler for 5 minutes to reduce excess moisture. Mix together yogurt, cottage cheese, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, diced onion, and chives.

Sauté garlic in remaining olive oil until golden. Add spinach to pan and cook until wilted. Spoon half of roasted zucchini, squash, and sauteed garlic into a greased 9 by 11 inch baking dish. Coat evenly with half of the cottage cheese and yogurt mixture. Place an even layer of eggplants on cottage cheese mixture. Spread a layer of spaghetti sauce on eggplants and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Repeat process for one more layer. Bake at 425 °F for 40 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped basil and cheese for garnish.

healthy lasagna recipe

Nutritional Analysis: 240 calories, 10 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 840 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 7 g sugars, 17 g protein

Yield: 10, 1 cup servings

Source: Plate It Up! Kentucky Proud, University of Kentucky Extension

Healthy Summer Squash Pizza Recipe

Summer Squash Pizza

Yield: 4 servings

Crust Ingredients: 1/2 tablespoon rapid rise yeast • 1 tablespoon sugar • 1/2 cup warm water • 1/2-1 cup whole wheat flour • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Topping Ingredients: 2 yellow summer squash, thinly sliced • 1 cup thinly sliced onion • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary • Salt and pepper to taste • 3 tablespoons olive oil • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sliced squash, onion and pepper in roasting pan. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to coat. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until onions are lightly brown and squash and peppers are tender. Set aside. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let yeast proof, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup flour, salt and oil. Mix until smooth then rest for 5 minutes. Add additional flour as needed to be able turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into flat 1/4 inch thick crust. Place crust onto a baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes to set crust. Remove from oven and distribute vegetable mixture on crust. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until crust is firm, being careful not to burn. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese and remaining tablespoon olive oil. Cut into quarters and serve.

Nutritional Analysis: 310 calories, 19 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 340 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 7 g sugars, 9 g protein

Recipe from Plate It Up! Kentucky Proud. The Kentucky Proud Project is a cooperation between County Extension Agents for Family and Consumer Sciences and Dietetics and Human Nutrition Students at the University of Kentucky.