Shannon Smith has three nutrition-related licenses and leads classes for the Ohio State University Extension Office.
But even with that pedigree, cooking for teens has to be based on taste, followed closely by nutrition.
In researching recipes, Smith developed healthy snacks for her young cousins, who live near her in Perrysburg.
Lydia and Chase Mackiewicz, who attend Perrysburg High School, both can make Smith’s No-Bake Energy Bites and Fruit and Peanut Butter Wraps – but they prefer to eat them.
Lydia a sophomore, said making the fruit and peanut butter wraps is super quick and easy.
“It’s also a bonus that I can eat it at any time, for breakfast, lunch or a snack,” she said.
With all the ingredients in the house, they can be made whenever, Lydia said.
Chase, who is a senior, prefers eating to making the energy bites, adding that they are portable.
“It’s a special treat because it’s a snack that my mom and I make together, so we get some bonding time,” he said.
“I have used both of these recipes in several of the classes I teach at OSU Extension here in Wood County. These two recipes have been a hit with both kids and adults,” Smith said.
She developed the fruit and peanut butter wrap on her own.
“I was talking to the kids too, trying to figure out what they like,” she said.
She has used that recipe in the Million Hearts class, with a high-fiber tortilla to boost people’s daily intake of fiber.
The energy bites came from Allrecipes and was found by her cousin, Tanya Mackiewicz.
Smith is program coordinator for Family and Consumer Sciences at OSU Extension, and teaches Dining with Diabetes, Million Hearts for heart health, and Cooking Under Pressure featuring pressure cookers such as Instant Pots.
The classes target adults, but they have done a class for kids and their parents.
Smith has worked with OSU for 3 ½ years and develops a lot a recipes.
“I like helping people make healthy decisions for food and sharing many recipes with them,” she said.
She also will take a recipe and make changes, often adding more vegetables to make it healthier “and showing people eating healthy can taste good.”
Smith recently passed her exam for a certified diabetes care and education specialist. That is added to her registered dietitian and licensed dietitian titles.
That new certification gives her greater knowledge and skills that she can utilize while working with clients that either have pre-diabetes or diabetes, she explained.
She has a master’s degree in food and nutrition.
Smith added that the extension office is hoping to secure some grant funding for work with individuals who have pre-diabetes, through education, cooking demonstrations, face-to-face classes and online courses.
Being at home with the statewide “stay at home” order is giving Smith time to try out new recipes, including requests for air fryer recipes.
“That’s what I plan to do now that I have some time working from home,” she said.
Teaching hand washing to children and adults is not a novel message, Smith said.
“It has always been important to wash your hands, not only during our current pandemic. This is a great time to practice and educate others about the importance of handwashing, as well as reinforce the importance of hand washing with family members before preparing foods in the kitchen.”
Smith is taking long walks, plus baking and cooking. Her kickboxing classes are on hold.
She prefers cooking over baking.
“Because you don’t have to follow recipes closely,” she said. “You can be more creative.”
Smith still bakes, however, and is planning on trying a peanut butter and jelly muffin.
“I think it’s perfect for kids.”