Shannon Smith, left, and Susan Zies of the Wood County Ohio State University Extension Office.

J.D. Pooley | Sentinel-Tribune

PERRYSBURG — When the dynamic duo of Shannon Smith and Susan Zies of the Wood County Ohio State University Extension Office reaches out about a cook’s corner, it’s time to clear the calendar.

Not just because the recipe is going to be good — because it’s good for you.

Smith and Zies, who are family and consumer science educators, are regulars in the cook’s corner. The women are intent on helping the community get healthy with some tips and transformations that aren’t too difficult.

For example, these Double Chocolate Muffins are made with white whole wheat flour and unsweetened cocoa powder. The ingredients make it better for you than a regular recipe for muffins — but none of the decadent chocolate taste is missing.

“This one is a hearty healthy recipe,” Smith said. “It’s lower in sodium and lower in carbohydrates. And, we use the dark chocolate in it, too, which has a lot of benefits.”

The white whole wheat flour adds more fiber, she said.

“So you still get the fluffiness of a muffin, versus using whole wheat, which gets really dense,” Smith said.

If the muffins aren’t going to be eaten right away, stick them in the fridge or freezer.

“These don’t last very long because there’s no preservatives in them,” Smith said. “Put them in a freezer-safe bag, get them out, stick them in the microwave and they’re a good snack, or they’re a good little breakfast, if you’re busy.”

One other timely tip is to try flax as an egg substitute. Find it in the baking section, Smith said.

Ground flaxseed has fiber, helps with inflammation and has Omega 3.

“It has a lot of health benefits,” Smith said, and it may be more economical with the high price of eggs.

Their extension classes focus on substituting healthier ingredients, Zies said.

“A lot of time with our classes, it’s just exposing people to try different ways of cooking. And cooking healthier foods can be very tasty,” she said.

For example, Zies advised not using salt in a recipe, if it calls for it. Substitutes include the Mrs. Dash line, which has a lot of variations of salt.

Smith encouraged experimenting with garlic and onion powders, chives, dill and turmeric in cooking.

One exception, Zies said, is baking, where the salt is needed.

Zies has been with the Wood County extension office for 10 years; before that, she worked in the same capacity in Lucas County.

She practices what she preaches: both her 27-year-old son and her husband have heart issues.

“I have a very strong family of both heart disease and diabetes,” Zies said.

If diagnosed with a health issue, changing what you eat may help, Smith said.

“Some people may have to take medications, but it’s good to always try the diet first to see if that can help improve,” she said.

Smith is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes care and education specialist and has been with the extension office since 2016.

“I love the connections we’ve built,” she said. “I just love when they share their stories with us, when they email us for advice or tell us the recipes they’ve tried.”

“That’s the neat thing about this job, we get to know people,” Zies said.

People who want to make some healthy changes in their lives should start small, Smith said.

“Break it down into small, little things. Don’t look at the whole picture: ‘I just need to lose weight and eat healthier,’” she said. “That’s just too overwhelming. … Hone in on one thing.”

For more information about OSU Extension classes, including Million Hearts, Wellness Wednesday and Dining with Diabetes, call Smith at (419)819-3078.

Double Chocolate Muffins


• 2 cups white whole wheat flour

• 1/3 cup sugar

• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 2 eggs

• 1/3 cup canola oil

• 1/2 cup skim milk

• 3/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

• 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 12-count muffin tin or line with muffin liners.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, milk, yogurt and vanilla extract together. Set aside.

Using a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Stir well. Add chocolate chips.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Divide the batter among the muffin tins. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Store at room temperature for three days or in the refrigerator for five days.

Muffins can be frozen for up to three months.

This recipe will yield about 14 muffins or 30 mini muffins.

Calories 99, fat 4g, sodium 59mg, carbohydrates 13g, fiber 1g and protein 2g.