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Chef ZeCarter with new pic2Chef Ze Carter, also known as “The Roaming Gourmet Ze Carter” for over a decade has been sought out by people in our community for ways to enliven their culinary and eating experiences.

"Food and cooking are my passions. Through teaching and hands-on instruction, I have brought my passion to others." says Chef Ze Carter, "I give private instruction to people of all ages, my classes are an immersive interactive experience where I learn from my students and my students learn from me!"

We are so honored for her to be providing our “Pantry to Plate” recipes, many of which use most or all of the ingredients our pantry clients might receive. Since 2010, Chef Ze Carter has been a food columnist for The Daily Commercial.

April is the beginning of Blueberry season in Florida. There are plenty of local farms right here in Lake County and for this reason it is a good idea to take advantage of local U-Pick farms and their low cost blueberries. Many farms also donate a portion of their crop to local food pantries.

I love blueberries because not only are they packed full of vitamin C you can also be sure you are getting a good start on your daily recommended fiber and cholesterol controlling manganese.

I love this recipe it has a deep history in the south with African and French influences which includes okra a native vegetable of Africa. This recipe can be made with a variety of meats many versions call for seafood, chicken and my favorite addition, sausage. Feel free to use one meat or all.

When creating recipes like this for Lake Cares Food Pantry and their Pantry to Plate recipe series I like to provide a variety of healthy options that can be made from items found in just about anyone's pantry, we hope you enjoy!  

Healthy food can taste good and be a delight to the senses, take for instance pesto. I love pesto and a simple pesto is full of flavor and aroma and can be used in a multitude of dishes. Pesto is quick and easy to make and is friendly with most diet plans. Even if you are not a good cook my quick pesto can make you shine like a star. Try this pesto in your new year, or for any special gathering and let the flavor and aroma of sweet basil wake up your taste buds.

Add this pesto to riced cauliflower for a keto friendly diet or if trying a diet with more animal-based protein like the Atkins diet then marinate chicken breasts before grilling. Freeze leftovers in ice cube trays to use later.

I decided that I would create a healthier party mix that was equally delicious and nutritious. By default I also realized the no bake mix that I created also happened to be dairy and gluten free, which is a nice bonus for those of us who are avoiding either one or both of those. The hardest part about this mix is not eating it all before you bag it up.

With the summer upon us, sometimes cooking over a hot stove is the last thing we want to do, yet you and your family still need to eat! Deciding what to eat is not always a simple task, who wants burgers, who wants chicken, oh heck, let's just go out and grab something. Well no more! This super simple, super yummy, Mac n Cheese done in the crockpot will have your family wanting leftovers. It's certainly filling enough to eat by itself, or just dice up a cool salad and maybe some fresh fruit and you'll have a nutritious and delicious meal. 

Panty to Plate recipe - butternut squash-tumeric-bisque

Resolve to try something new this year, try butternut squash.
Have you ever seen this long odd shaped gourd and wondered what it is and what it actually tastes like? Well the sweet and nutty flavor paired with all of its health benefits are just what the doctor ordered to help you start the year off right. Instead of chicken soup I love adding some pepper and turmeric and this soup instantly becomes a "souper" soup. Butternut squash is also very affordable and it usually only takes one to create enough to feed the entire family and once made this soup freezes really well. Pick up one today and try this awesome soup.


It is that time of the year, pumpkins are everywhere. In the past I was not a fan of everything pumpkin but each year I am learning to embrace pumpkin in my own special way and enjoy the taste of real pumpkin in my favorite fall recipes. This recipe is great for fall and the best part about it, is many of the ingredients are pantry staples. Try making these on the weekend, store in an airtight container and enjoy them all week long. If you like walnuts try adding a little or a lot.

Corn Salad Recipe for Lake Cares "Pantry to Plate" blog.

I cannot think of any time of year that corn is a bad menu choice, corn goes with everything. I love summer months because you can peel fresh corn and place it directly on the grill and enjoy it with your barbecue; or in the winter months, add it to a creamy chowder or make it the star and make a corn chowder. No matter which way you serve it, you really can't go wrong making a dish of corn. 

Often, we think of corn as a hot dish, but corn is great in a salad or as a salad. A mother of a good friend of mine gave me a recipe for her corn salad before she passed away and I am so glad that I was paying attention because her children say that I am the only one that makes it as their mother used too. 

Quick and Easy Hash browns by Ze Carter

I love potatoes, they are perfect for feeding any family large or small. Potatoes are very versatile as well. Over the years, potatoes have gotten a bad reputation when it comes to nutrition but these brown beauties are full of Vitamin B and Vitamin C and one medium-size potato has only 110 calories. Did you know that a potato has more potassium than a banana? Yes, it is true, adding a potato to your diet is really not that bad for you after all. 

Homemade blueberry muffins by Ze Carter for Lake Cares Food Pantry's Panty to Plate Blog

I love spring because it means that even though we are nearing the end of orange and strawberry season Mother Nature does not want us to feel blue but to eat it. Yes, it is blueberry season and the local u-pick farms are ready. All I can say is the early bird gets the blueberry pancakes, muffins, and pie.

Speaking of muffins, if you are like me as soon as you get your hands on some fresh blueberries you turn the oven on. The word muffin is not complete if the word blueberry is not in front of it

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Florida's strawberry season runs from December to March and this recipe is great for all strawberry lovers. It is easy to make, and because you are making this recipe yourself you can adjust the sugar or use an alternative such as agave or honey.

Oldways Sweet Potato Peanut Stew "Mafe"

Last year I taught a plant based class named "A Taste of Africa Heritage" for Black history month that focused on the healthy diets of Africans. Africa is vast and so are the flavors and many regions nearly all have a plant based diet. I love this recipe because it proved that you can have a meatless meal that is easy to make and full of flavor.  "Mafe", or groundnut stew, is common throughout West and Central Africa. This traditional stew can include meat, vegetables, or seafood, and it is always based on a savory sauce made from peanut butter and tomatoes. This recipe features the sweet potato, a staple and is a much-loved African heritage food.

This recipe isn't your typical jello salad. This salad is a hit with everyone during the holidays, skip traditional cranberry sauce and watch it disappear. If you would rather serve this as a dessert, instead of adding to it individual serving dishes, after it is completely set, cut into small squares and mix with cool whip. 

Everyone loves corn and when you are in a rush to get dinner on the table, canned corn turned into Easy Corn Pudding makes the perfect side dish to any meal. The problem many of us run into is that we just served the same old boring corn, meal after meal. This recipe is fast, easy and tasty. Try this easy corn pudding with your next meal. 

crunchy roasted chick peas

We have all over indulged this holiday season and with the turning of our calendars we all promise to eat better and possibly loose weight this year. January is the month of diets and New Year's resolutions. This year try a new resolution, a different approach to your weight loss and healthy eating journey, try to resolve to eat less processed foods.
Making your meals and snacks from whole food ingredients have a positive effect on your body in more ways than one. Some of the benefits to eating less processed foods include lower sodium intake, lower refined sugar intake that can lead to diabetes and weight loss. When your body can recognize the things that we consume, it can use them more efficiently.
Want a crunchy snack that is full of protein, easy to make and budget friendly? Try these roasted chick peas. They have the satisfying crunch and taste of peanuts but with less calories. Be creative and add your favorite no salt seasonings.


Enjoy this delicious pasta salad; it's fast and easy! This quick recipe can be on the table in 30 minutes or less and is an excellent way to get the entire family involved at mealtime by giving everyone an ingredient to prep and add to the bowl of pasta. Elbow macaroni is great to use in this recipe, but any other shape will work too.