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Will Miss Lillie Finally “Eat Her Vegetables”?

By Blue Cross NC | May 10, 2019 | Healthy Lifestyle

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The award-winning chef and author Vivian Howard has a friend named Miss Lillie Hardy. They both hail from Eastern North Carolina. Miss Lillie loves making her mom’s dish known as “Kill Hungry,” because it does exactly what it sounds like: makes your hunger a thing of the past. “Kill Hungry” is loaded up with macaroni noodles, ground beef, and a hearty tomato sauce. To make it healthier, Vivian teamed with Nutrition Counselor Tracy Owens.

Their idea: swap out the beef for lean ground turkey, and cut down on the carb-filled pasta —  replacing a fair amount of it with a green vegetable.

Miss Lillie Hardy, Chef Vivian Howard, and Registered Dietitian Tracy Owens


Vivian Howard’s test kitchen in Kinston, NC. This is where her new dishes are born, revised and perfected before gracing the tables at Vivian’s award-winning Chef & The Farmer and The Boiler Room restaurants.


Vivian and Tracy wanted to see if they could take a local, traditional favorite, make it healthier — and still tasty! Miss Lillie is by no means a fan of vegetables, so Vivian knew they might have some hard work and arm-twisting ahead of them.

Vivian had a question for Tracy. “So, a nutrition counselor. That sounds like something almost anyone can benefit from?” Tracy responded, “Absolutely. If you can make simple changes to your diet, you can really make a big difference in your health. For members of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), nutrition counseling is covered in many of their plans.”


[button link=”” type=”icon” newwindow=”yes”] Learn about Nutrition Counseling, and how to find a Nutrition Counselor near you.[/button]  


Tracy explained the nutrition perspective on Miss Lillie’s favorite dish. “Kill Hungry calls for a lot of pasta,” said Tracy. “Pasta contains a lot of carbohydrates and calories.”

Vivian wondered out loud why that’s such a bad thing. “What’s wrong with carbs?”

“Your body breaks down the carbohydrates into simple sugars — while that sounds OK, your body has to do a lot of work to burn off the energy from the sugar. Unless you’re super active, eating a lot of carbs isn’t that healthy for you.”  So Tracy’s nutritional improvement to “Kill Hungry” was to replace a lot of the elbow macaroni pasta with nutrient-rich zucchini.

When Lillie heard the news about swapping out pasta for zucchini, she wasn’t too thrilled.  “Try to keep an open mind,” said Vivian.


“I figured out that one package of pasta has the same amount of carbs as 28 pieces of bread – that’s more than a whole loaf of bread,” said Tracy. “So for better health, you want to watch your intake of grains, bread, and cereal, and increase the vegetables for a more balanced and nutritious diet.”

The trio got to work sautéing onions, lean ground turkey, zucchini, tomatoes, and whole wheat macaroni, creating a beautiful dish.

Finally came the moment of truth. Vivian filled three bowls, with just a small portion for Lillie.

Tracy and Vivian enjoyed it, but Miss Lillie?

Lillie: “I like the rest. I just don’t like… zucchini.”

Vivian: “You may not like it but you finished your bowl!!

Lillie: “I didn’t take but a little bit of zucchini.”

Here’s the whole ‘Recipe Swap’ video. Dig in!


You can make delicious meals that also contribute to improving your health. Eating the right foods can help you prevent, manage and potentially reverse chronic conditions. A Nutrition Counselor can help you meet your health goals.

Next steps: 

Learn more about Nutrition Counseling, and how to find a Nutrition Counselor near you.