Eating like a dietitian

Stopped at Kroger today on my way home from work. My shopping bag was filled with:

  1. Clementines – on sale, I hope this was a good batch!
  2. Broccoli – also on sale. my garden’s broccoli have gone to seed, I guess it’s too hot to grow them now??
  3. Zucchini – in a few months I’ll have homegrown, organic zucchini coming out of my ears, but for now I pay $1/lb for Kroger’s version and plan to create mock “crab” cakes and delicious muffins
                                           remembering last year’s harvest……zucchini 002
  4. Mushrooms – I buy the “baby bella” type for maximum flavor; these guys will be featured in tonight’s dinner!
  5. Biscoff spread – I almost wish I never discovered this jar of deliciousness. Definitely my “whoa” purchase of the day
  6. Clif Mojo bars – I pick up a few of these when they’re on sale. Unlike granola bars, I find that these guys actually fill me up – thanks to the healthy nuts, dried fruits, and maybe some chocolate… :)
  7. Special K cereal – this is the chocolate variety. I know, I am a chocolate-addict. But it’s better than a candy bar, and a nice crunchy snack!
  8. All Bran wheat flakes – to mix in with the above cereal and boost the fiber and nutrient profile


I spent most of my after-work hours in the kitchen today, working on 2 wonderful recipes. Both of these feature super ingredient combinations!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
mmmmmm. My sister has a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that are to die for (quite literally) because they are filled with oil and sugar.
This recipe I found is lower on the oil and sugar side, and still tastes delicious. Since I still have a few cans of pumpkin in the pantry, I figured it would be wise to start using them up before the move.

Julia Child’s Leek and Mushroom Quiche
I cheated, sorry Julia. Pillsbury’s frozen pie crust was used for tonight’s dinner, as I was too stressed and frantic to make the dough from scratch. But I have done it before!
The leeks in the quiche were from the garden – we have tons of them that pop up without having ever been planted. Delicious!
Cheat #2 – 1% milk was used in place of heavy cream. I just can’t do it Julia. My arteries harden at the thought.
My Martha Stewart baby yellow dutch oven is the star of the show to make this quiche and cook down the leeks & mushrooms until they caramelize. mmmm

And now this dietitian is going to sit down and watch House, while trying to figure out how to pay for graduate school, which suddenly became a year longer than I was initially planning for! :(


Happy St Pats!

The weather finally turned into spring today. It’s been absolutely beautiful – over 70 degrees, and staying up there for the next 10 days!! How exciting!

The trees are in bloom, the grass is green, the sun stays out later, and my allergies haven’t started yet. All is good in the world.


What could be better?

Having a lucky day thrifting, and coming home with some new pyrex and federal glassware.

Haven’t photographed them yet, but some of the pieces may end up in my etsy store to generate some grad-school money.

DSCN1383 here is a preview – very retro/geometric!

In other news:

Harley is very excited to let you know that he graduated from obedience class last night and passed the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test! He’ll now have official paperwork and a certificate letting everyone know how well-mannered he his! This might also help if he decides to go into therapy-dog work in the future…


yay Harley!!

(Annie, who still acts like a caffeinated speedster and can’t hold still for more than a nanosecond, decided to skip the test and just enjoy the pizza party)


March is also National Nutrition Month. Being the RD that I am, I hope to write a few posts about some important nutrition topics, and changes I am making to my own diet, after being educated at the annual SCAN Symposium in Chicago last week.

DSCN1370this was taken at Navy Pier. and no, this is not my dietary advice 

1 year RD-versary

Today marks my one year anniversary of passing the RD exam and officially becoming a Registered Dietitian. Thought I should dedicate a post to the occasion.

People always often ask “What made you decide to become a dietitian?”. Not that I’m complaining; I frequently ask others (or at least wonder). The stories behind anyone’s career path always fascinate me, and dedicating yourself to teaching others about food and nutrition usually was motivated by some story of interest.

I actually made my decision to study nutrition back when I was in high school, which seems like eons ago. I never changed my mind once I started class, although my plans for a double major or minor changed almost monthly (biochemistry, linguistics, child and family development, before settling on food science).

My dietetic internship at Vanderbilt (when I first started this blog) was an intense but rewarding post-college 10 month experience, and opened my eyes to all types of avenues for dietitians to explore.

Did I ever think I’d work in mental health? Heck, no. The only exposure I got to anything remotely close to mental health was a few patients who would end up in the medical ICU, which I chose as my “staff experience" rotation, post-suicide attempts, and we’d get them back up and running, medically, and then send them to the psych hospital for further psychological treatment. I can remember how unstable they were, yelling, crying, threatening, and the thought of having to sit down and talk to them about nutrition seemed impossible.

And in many cases, it is impractical and not a top priority. Since starting this job last fall, I have certainly learned to “meet the patient where they are”. Some patients do actually have questions and want to talk to you – those are the highlights of my job, where I can sit down and really teach them. Other days, you can barely get a patient to listen to you. Of no fault of their own, they may be completely depressed, anxious, psychotic, sedated, feeling horrible from detox symptoms, etc. So you do what you can.

My work on the side with the local school districts is a little more stimulating, refreshing and exciting. I would bet that if I worked with schools full-time it could become frustrating fairly quickly, dealing with difficult budget restraints, USDA regulations and overworked staff. Honestly, the only way schools make big changes in nutrition is with an entire community of motivated and determined staff and parents. My infrequent visits and recommendations can not do it all. But again, you do what you can.

So maybe that’s my lesson learned from being an RD for a year: just do what you can.

Who knows what I can do in this next year? Kind of exciting to think about it :)

D-Lightful Facts

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of today’s focus on the earth, I thought I’d provide some information on Vitamin D, “the sunshine vitamin” that I learned from today’s conference:

  • Vitamin D was traditionally just thought of for bone health and preventing osteoporosis.
    • New research shows it can help prevent much more than bone disease: diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer
  • Don’t count on getting enough vitamin D from your diet. Other than fortified milk/orange juice, your only real food options are wild salmon and mushrooms
    • Yay for mushrooms finally being recognized as a nutritional powerhouse!
    • Farmed salmon has practically no D, so choose wild (but know that you’d have to eat a serving everyday to get enough vitamin D)
  • Ask your doctor to check your level. And make sure they check 25(OH)D, not 1,25(OH)2D (- that’s the active form of D but won’t show whether you’re deficient). You’re aiming for a level greater than 30-50 ng/ml. (I just looked up in my records and saw that mine was 44 last winter, so that’s awesome news for such a sun-phobic person as myself)
  • Being a fat soluble vitamin, vitamin D often gets “stuck” in the excessive fat cells of obese people, meaning there’s less out there circulating in the blood. Therefore, obese people need 2-3 times as much vitamin D on a daily basis!
  • Do you live north of Atlanta? If so, you ain’t makin’ any Vitamin D during the winter months (November-February).
    • Oh, and during the spring/summer/fall months, when our skin is synthesizing D from the sun, it’s only during 10-3pm. So your morning/evening run isn’t helping you out (at least not related to vitamin D).
  • And yes, sunscreen is your enemy in the world of vitamin D. Even little old SPF 30 blocks 99% of vitamin D synthesis. Windows also block the synthesis (so you don’t make any D on those long road trips)
  • Pertinent to my mental health patients – vitamin D deficiency is also correlated with schizophrenia and depression. An interesting area I should look more into!

Happy Earth Day!

Go, Slow, Whoa!

Work was a little on the slow side, so I did some research for my school nutrition projects. I’m currently working with some local schools here in East Tennessee on implementing the NIH’s “Go, Slow, Whoa” program. A really fun and easy concept – foods are categorized into the color-coded Go, Slow, Whoa, and kids learn to eat more green foods, less yellow, and even less red. You can read about it here.

Basically, the GO foods are what some of us call “Real Foods” or “Whole Foods”, unadulterated, good for you basic food ingredients like fresh fruits/veggies, lean protein sources, and whole grains.

Once you start processing, adding sugars/fats, foods become SLOW, and if you take those food products even further from mother nature (i.e. a french fries) you’re now in WHOA land.

GO foods – eat as often as you want (technically.. although I guess it could become WHOA if you overdosed on anything)

SLOW foods – every few days

WHOA foods – reserved for special occasions

The cafeteria will place color-coded circles next to each item in the lunch serving line, so students will be able to see the colors/categories as they choose their lunch. Hopefully the program will have great success. We’re due to start in less than 2 weeks now.

To see how my day’s eating has added up, I though I’d run my meals through the color-coding and see how much green/yellow/red my day had:

Breakfast: whole grain hot cereal, almond butter, coffee with creamer (just a tsp)

Snack: Hershey kiss from nursing station, 1/2 banana, oatmeal squares cereal

Lunch: potato soup, apple, low-fat chocolate milk

Work Snack: donut from nursing station (ahh nurses you’re killing me!), skim milk

Home Snack: light string cheese, whole-grain crackers

Dinner: roasted broccoli, chik’n patty, whole-wheat bread, light laughing cow cheese

So, moral of the story: stick to foods from my kitchen. Most of the reds came from hospital territory today, with the exception of my daily coffee creamer. haha.

The program has really opened the staff’s eyes as to what they’re serving the kids (obviously no school wants to have 80% WHOA foods, with just a few GO options mixed in). After analyzing the schools’ menus, it’s been fun to educate the staff about healthier GO substitutions.

Now I will say that this program does not address portion control at all. You could eat a completely green/GO diet, and gain weight. But I think it’s a very simplified, easy-to-understand method to teach nutrition to young kids.

Clapton Tutorial

Playing wonder-woman…

Being the awesome girlfriend that I am, I bought The Boy tickets to the upcoming Eric Clapton concert in Nashville. I know, I’m awesome :)

In preparation, I spent this afternoon Groovesharking Eric Clapton’s greatest hits, so I would be familiar. It’s embarrassing to admit that I don’t know much of his music, but after listening to it I realized that I knew a lot, I just didn’t know those were his songs. I think we’ll have a fun time!

Playing Teacher…

So yes, I taught two classes today at the local high school. And… I had a blast! Turns out I am able to lecture/teach for an entire 90 minute class – WOW! The kids were actually pretty attentive, asked questions, and seemed somewhat interested. Such a relief! The teachers were sooo appreciative of my volunteering to come out and speak, and I’ll admit – it was a nice break!

I return tomorrow for the afternoon classes. I’m going to bring my “Eat This Not That” book and show them a couple things – I think that will go over well.

Most of their questions seemed related to

  • label reading (we had a good tutorial)
  • artificial sweeteners (apparently they cause Alzheimer’s and the formation of embalming fluid in your stomach!?)
  • fad diets (after I just finished talking about how fad diets are not healthy)

Oh high school. I do not miss those years at all. The guys still act like jerks, and the girls still act like morons….

Playing news woman… (my life news, not world news, sorry)

Starbucks in Burger King? Not cool.

– I feel a little sore from yesterday’s workout. But after watching the sprint skiing events, I should be ashamed. That looks like quite possibly the most all-out athletic event ever. Those poor guys/girls just collapse into the snow as soon as they make it past the finish line. And kudos to Slovenia’s Petra Madjic for taking the bronze, after crashing and injuring her ribs earlier today – although she seriously collapsed after the final and had to be carried off the course.

– Received my awesome chocolate/peanut butter cookies from Lindsey today (from the Bake4Haiti online bake sale), so delicious!

– Temps this weekend will be in upper 50s, possibly 60 in Georgia! Yay for a warm birthday celebration :)



Today’s Lesson

I’ve been doing lots of reading/researching today on nutrition news, partly for my high school presentation that I’m still working on.

Some really interesting things I’ve come across:

A study out of Austria has shown that young adults with beginning signs/symptoms of schizophrenia might benefit from taking fish oil, possibly prevent psychotic episodes. That would be such a wonderful alternative prevention, rather than relying on antipsychotic meds that all my patients take, with such messy side effects. High cholesterol, obesity are my #1 reason for doctors to call me in for a patient… and yet those are all side effects of their drugs. Not that I think we could prevent everything (and certainly not reverse schizophrenia) with fish oil, but it’s such a healthy and simple thing to try!

We’ve seen girls reaching puberty at earlier ages these days… seems to be affected by the obesity epidemic, and possibly on the hormones in our food production (although that’s fairly controversial). A study shows that obesity may actually have the OPPOSITE effect on our young boys – by delaying their onset of puberty. So now we’ll have even more mature girls, and even less mature boys. Oh this is so not going in the right direction!

Today is day 3 of Snobby Joes week. Loved the tater tots last night, but loved tonight’s roasted broccoli, perhaps even more. I chopped up one crown of broccoli (probably 3 cups raw florets) and ended up eating the whole thing… roasted vegetables are so much better than any other prep method!!

I wonder if I could introduce roasted vegetables into the local schools here. I’ve spent most of tonight analyzing the elementary school menu, reading through their recipes and scrutinizing their food labels. I was impressed to see butter buds in place of butter for their vegetables, but I wonder if the kids would try them roasted. I was semi-impressed to see their choice of bread “made with whole grain” (it’s a step in the right direction at least… although I bet we could get the kids on 100% whole grain). But definitely NOT impressed by their using full-fat mayonnaise in coleslaw, tuna salad, chicken salad, pasta salad, etc; full-fat cheese (come on!! there are so many 2% cheese slices out there), full-fat salad dressings, and margarine filled with trans-fat. Those are some seriously easy and important changes to make!

Alright, Sheff has been whining at me to stop work and watch last night’s episode of House with him on the couch. Sounds good to me!