By Lisa Tome
Tammy Pryor can help you stretch your food dollars while making healthy nutritious food. Pryor, Maryland Extension's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Coordinator, was at Cecil College's Elkton Station last week teaching people to get more big for their food bucks. She had been invited to talk to those who are new SNAP (food stamp) clients.
"Your SNAP benefits can be used to buy plants and seeds. Not for flowers, but for things that are edible," said Pryor. SNAP benefits may also be used at Farmer's Markets.
Pryor was teaching the class how to make lo mein with chicken and vegetables. She explained that she cut everything up herself, saving money by not buying prepared food. She mixed one pound of whole wheat spaghetti noodles with one cup of cooked chicken. She then added a large carrot, garlic, an onion, sliced mushrooms, broccoli florets, and red, green, and orange bell peppers. She cooked the stir fry in canola oil and added a bottle of stir fry sauce.
"Canola oil and olive oil are the most healthy. And baby carrots are a lot more expensive than whole carrots," she said. She also told the class, she was able to make the huge skillet of food for less than $11.
"I try not to use a lot of salt. I like to use herbs instead of salt. This is a very adaptable meal. You can add more vegetables to stretch it farther," she said.
Pryor's meal was a hit with the students.
Ainsley, a class member and vegetarian, said he would replicate the meal at home but leave out the chicken. Student Deanna was impressed with the cheap, quick meal. "It is really tasty. I would make it at home. This is very similar to something I make, she said. Student Joseph said the speed at which Pryor made the meal was impressive. "It's so moist and tender for how quick it was made," he said.
After the samples were handed out, Pryor added a new twist. "You could have made a cold meal with these same ingredients. Substitute bottled Italian dressing for the stir fry sauce and you would have pasta salad," she said. "This is about stretching your benefits and getting you to eat healthier."
In addition to receiving the food and nutrition tips, the SNAL clients receive other services such as employment training through the Cecil County Department of Social Services.