Cooking is one of Naomi Jimenez’ favorite hobbies. Now, one of her favorite recipes has been included in the new 4-H Fresh Chefs digital cookbook.

Jimenez is a member of the Jefferson County YEAH8 4-H Club. Her recipe was chosen for the cookbook that features nearly 50 recipes from 4-H’ers, supporters and 4-H alumni including chef, author and Tennessee 4-H alumna Carla Hall.

The cookbook includes healthy, everyday recipes and dishes for youth and families, according to a news release.

The 4-H Fresh Chefs digital cookbook is part of the National 4-H Council’s 4-H Healthy Habits program funded by the Walmart Foundation. Launched in 2012, the 4-H Healthy Habits program has reached more than one million youth from across the country with nutrition education and physical activity, with an intentional focus on populations who face challenges in achieving positive health outcomes, officials say.

Jimenez was encouraged to submit her recipe by her mother, Teki K. Hunt, director of 4-H/youth programs at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB).

“Recipes were solicited around the time everyone was shutting down due to COVID-19,” Hunt said. “I suggested to my daughter that she submit her shredded BBQ chicken sandwich recipe because it is pretty easy and a lot healthier than pulled or shredded pork BBQ,” Hunt said.

A 9th grader at Watson Chapel Junior High School at Pine Bluff, Jimenez also enjoys playing basketball, reading and listening to music. Cooking has remained one of her top favorite things to do.

“I like to cook because it’s fun and I enjoy making food for myself and others,” Jimenez said. “I love cooking shows and I like to try new things.”

She hopes to one day get a chance to go on a cooking show, her mom said.

“Perhaps one day she will ‘Beat Bobby Flay.’”

The pandemic has caused more families to cook at home. Since she already enjoyed cooking, the opportunity to cook more often has been a welcome pleasure.

“With school out (due to COVID-19) my mom didn’t want us eating junk, so we tried creating different recipes,” Jimenez said. “Mom is always talking about ‘eat your colors,’ so that is how the bell peppers were added to the recipe. This meal is served on wheat buns because that is a whole grain. You can add tomato and lettuce or coleslaw to your sandwich to make the meal at least half fruits and vegetables.”

This is the third year that UAPB’s 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences programs have partnered to provide the Healthy Habits program.

“Our motto is, ‘Eat Smart-Move More,’” Hunt said.

The Jefferson County YEAH8 4-H club leader is Laura Hildreth. She has been involved with the program for five years.

“Naomi’s recipe looks delicious and I am definitely going to try it,” Hildreth said. “I am so proud of her and I am thankful 4-H has been so great in encouraging healthy eating, living and lifestyle. Naomi, you rock and I can’t wait for your next recipe.”

The 4-H Fresh Chefs digital cookbook can be found at

Jimenez’ original recipe for Shredded Chicken BBQ Sandwiches is found on page 33 of the cookbook.

Shredded Chicken BBQ Sandwiches

Submitted by Naomi, 14, Pine Bluff, Arkansas. 4-H Healthy Living Ambassador:

Servings: 8. Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time – 45 minutes.

Ingredients: 2 lb (6-8) chicken breast, 1/2 large green bell pepper (diced), 1/2 large red bell pepper (diced), 1 tbsp Mrs. Dash seasoning salt (original), 1 tbsp dried onion, 1/2 tbsp powered garlic, 1/2 tbsp poultry seasoning, 1 cup BBQ sauce (your choice), 1 tbsp of olive oil.

Directions: 1. In a big pot, boil the chicken with the seasonings in enough water to cover fully. 2. In a large skillet, sauté the diced bell peppers on medium-low until soft, then turn off. 3. Once the chicken is done, remove from the pot (do not throw out the broth) and shred with a fork (it will look stringy). 4. Add a cup of broth to the skillet of bell pepper and add the chicken and the BBQ sauce. Stir and let simmer on medium until it cooks down and is saucy but not soupy. 5. Serve on whole wheat buns with your favorite fries (baked or air fried) and a pickle.

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.

— Debbie Archer is an Extension associate-communications at the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.