Interns offer Valentine Idea

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interns. left Sarah Burton. Right Abbey Manley The Family and Consumer Science (FCS) team at N.C. Cooperative Extension is really excited to have two interns working with us this semester. Sarah Burton and Abbey Manley are both seniors in the Public Health program at UNCW and plan to graduate this spring. They are spending 40 hours a week with us through April. They have had a busy first few weeks shadowing the FCS team members.

Abbey is originally from Charlotte and is working on a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health. This major focuses on the implementation and evaluation of programs to benefit a community. She has found her first few weeks with us informative and engaging, saying she wasn’t previously aware of the many opportunities Extension has for community members to get involved and better their overall health.

Sarah also has a Community Health concentration and is looking toward a career in nutrition. She is from Norlina, NC but hopes to stay in the Wilmington area after graduation. Sarah says she’s learned so much about public health and N.C. Cooperative Extension during these first few weeks of the internship. She’s enjoyed seeing programs, like Med instead of Meds, in action. By experiencing this, she is able to apply terminology and concepts learned in class to real life. 

This internship with N.C. Cooperative Extension (NCCE) and UNCW is an exchange. The students agree to complete work that benefits our organization and in turn, we provide them with skills, expand their knowledge of local foods, nutrition, food safety, home food preservation. We also allow them to explore career options with NCCE and our partnering agencies. They are also bringing enthusiasm and new ideas to us!

We challenged the interns to develop a mini-lesson for Valentine’s Day. The objective of this lesson was to find a Valentine’s dessert or sweet option that wouldn’t sabotage someone’s health goals. They stepped up to the plate with a recipe for a healthier chocolate fondue.

The recipe originally came from a book called Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. This book was published in 2007 and offers ideas for incorporating hidden vegetables into traditional recipes. Seinfeld’s goal was to get picky eater kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. This Chocolate Fondue recipe surprisingly includes avocado and carrots which are pureed in the blender before mixing with cocoa powder.

Chocolate Fondue


  • 1 Tablespoon margarine
  • ½ cup avocado puree
  • ¼ cup carrot puree
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Melt margarine over low heat in a medium saucepan
  2. Add the avocado and carrot purees, sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract
  3. Whisk until smooth
  4. Serve warm, with fruit


  • Use sliced fruits, whole berries, or cherries for dipping 

The interns looked for ways to make this even healthier. They suggest two options for changing the margarine in the recipe. Canola oil could be substituted to make the fat less saturated. Or the fat could be omitted completely by using unsweetened applesauce instead (adds little fruit in the recipe, too!) Another modification is to reduce the amount of overall sugar. Start with half the sugar and taste test to see when it’s sweet enough, but not too sweet. Sliced fruits, whole berries, or cherries are used as the dippers to complete the menu!

Traditionally, color-coded long-handled forks are used with fondue, but in a pinch, use wooden skewers or regular forks. For sanitation purposes, this color coding ensures that you know which skewer is yours. To avoid double-dipping, don’t eat directly from your dipping fork, but transfer to a plate and eat with a different fork.

The Chocolate Fondue could be shared by two for a romantic treat. Or double it to use as a Valentine’s Day dessert for a larger group. Remember the fondue tradition: if your fruit dipper falls off the fork and into the fondue, you get to kiss the dining partner of your choice.

If you want to see our interns in action, they have made a video demonstrating this recipe and sharing some kitchen safety tips. This video can be found on N.C. Cooperative Extension Brunswick County’s YouTube channel and also on our Facebook posts.

Cheryle Syracuse wrote this article and more similar ones for the Family and Consumer Sciences Column in the Brunswick Beacon. Syracuse is an FCS team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, 910.253.2610 or by email at