Recipes and Reads: Culinary Labs

Culinary Lab workshops serve up comprehensive, culinary literacy programs that include hands-on demonstrations of food and nutritional literacy; food acquisition methods; food handling, hygiene and safety; culture and history of food; and consumer cost-saving techniques and meal stretching.  Each of the culinary lab workshops may include the use of fully stocked mobile, kitchen carts to aid in these food-related demonstrations.  The labs are strategically located at library branches throughout the county and serve all ages.  Registration may be required, at some locations, for Recipes and Reads: Culinary Lab workshops. 

Introduction to Nutrition for Teens

Confused about proteins and carbs? Here is a basic guide to nutrition.

Nutrients- Nutrients are substances that help fuel the body. There are two types of nutrients: micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals and macronutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

Calories- Calories equal energy, and the body needs them. Calories are not good or bad, but calories from food that contain very few vitamins or minerals are considered to be “empty calories.” Some examples of empty calorie foods include candy, cake, and alcohol.

Protein- Every cell in the human body contains protein. Protein is needed for cell growth and repair. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy, broccoli, and peanut butter.

Fat- Fat is also needed by the body. Fat on the human body helps to store vitamins and protect organs. Two types of fat in food include saturated and unsaturated. The main difference between saturated and unsaturated fat is that saturated fats stay solid at room temperature, (like butter and animal fat) and unsaturated fats stay liquid (like olive oil). The healthier fats to eat are unsaturated. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends people limit their intake of saturated fat to 10% per day of their diet.

Carbohydrates- Carbohydrates are found in plants and convert to glucose during digestion. Carbohydrates are split into two basic categories: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates break down into glucose quickly and provide immediate energy. Candy and fruit juice are simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates, however, contain fiber which convert to glucose more slowly. This causes a slow and steady release of energy. Examples of complex carbohydrates include whole fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains such as wild rice and wheat berries. When fiber is removed from complex carbohydrates, such as with white bread, pasta, and white rice, they are considered to be simple carbohydrates since they convert to glucose as quickly as simple carbohydrates.

It is important for teens to practice good nutrition because their bodies are still growing. Be sure to eat the correct proportion of protein, fat, and carbohydrates and to eat foods rich in nutrients. For more information about teen nutrition, see the dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture


Photo Credit: Image by thesomegirl from Canva

Recipe: Spinach Salad with Japanese Ginger Dressing


  • 3 tbs minced onion
  • 3 tbs peanut oil or canola oil
  • 2 tbs distilled white vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tbs finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbs ketchup
  • 1 tbs reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 10 oz baby spinach
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, very thinly sliced


  1. Combine onion, oil, vinegar, ginger, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender. Process until combined.
  2. Toss spinach, carrot, and bell pepper with the dressing in a large bowl until evenly coated.

Per serving: Calories: 135; Fat: 11g; Sodium: 355 mg; Carbohydrates: 8g; Fiber: 3g; Protein: 3g

Information from: Teens, Nutrition, and Dieting by Christine Wilcox

Recipe from: 500 Calorie Dinners by Jessie Price

Recommended reads

Book cover for Teens, Nutrition, and Dieting Teens, Nutrition, and Dieting by Christine Wilcox.

Reserve a copy

Book cover for Teen Chef Cooks Teen Chef Cooks: 80 Scrumption, Family-Friendly Recipes by Kid Chef Eliana.

Reserve a copy

Book cover for the How-To Cookbook for Teens The How-To Cookbook for Teens by Julee Morrison.

Reserve a copy

Book cover for Teen Baking Bootcamp Teen Baking Bootcamp: 60 Essential Recipes to Take You from Amateur to Pro by Matthew Merril.

Reserve a copy

Upcoming programs

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Division of Library and Information Services Institute of Museum and Library Services

This project was funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Florida’s LSTA program is administered by the Department of State’s Division of Library and Information Services.