Happy July, friends!

I miss blogging. It’s hard when everything seems to go 100 mph at all times with school and I don’t have the brain space to think of a coherent post. Regular bloggers are amazing! So much goes into a good post.

I’m also working on giving my blog a different look. So far I’m stuck on what to use as a header photo, so things are pretty plain for now.

Last time I recapped on my first full-time semester in the program. The second (winter) semester was just as busy and jam-packed with info and new experiences. I found that I liked long-term care more than I thought I would (it helped to have a great facility and RD preceptor) and really started feeling like I could do this RD thing. I definitely still need practice in some areas, like effective counseling and motivational skills and am hoping to get more experience in my second year.

I also had to try my best to get over my fear of speaking in front of people, as I had to do so many presentations for class and  the Office of Nutrition Services on campus. I also helped teach some cooking classes for students and did food demos at some local senior centers.

This summer I just finished an integrative medicine course and am taking an entrepreneurship for dietitians course. Both super interesting and relevant! By the end of summer I will have a functioning business plan for a private practice, which I’m super excited about, whether or not I use it right out of school.

Some things I am loving right now:

  • Stone fruit season. Cherries and peaches and plums, oh my.
cherry berry tart

A fresh cherry berry tart from one of my favorite vegan spots, The Lunch Room


A favorite snack


  • This version of the “Polar Vortex.” It’s been  comfortably in the low 70s instead of humid death heat.
  • Zaalouk! I’m in love with a local North African restaurant called El Harissa and one of my favorite dishes they make is this eggplant dish reminiscent of baba ganoush. I haven’t tried the recipe I linked to, so can’t say whether it’s comparable to El Harissa’s zaalouk. I would definitely roast the eggplant instead of boiling it to get that smoky flavor.
  • Having a bit of time to catch up with friends (and meet new ones).

I’m going to try to be better about writing more consistently, but I’m not promising anything :)


Filed under dietetics school, recipes

First Semester Recap

Hello friends!

I hope you’ve been well. If you’ve been experiencing the “Polar Vortex”  like we have been here, I hope you’re keeping warm.

I’m now a few weeks into my second semester in the coordinated dietetics program. The first semester was indeed as busy and hectic as we were promised by the senior students, but I’ve survived and so far this semester is feeling like a breeze. I’m sure that will change once exams come up in nutrient metabolism and nutrition therapy II and projects and presentation due dates creep up, but for now I’m enjoying it!

Some of what I learned my first semester in the program:

  • Many different disease processes and the medical nutrition therapy used to treat them or ease symptoms.
  • Medication side effects and nutrient interactions.
  • How to write ADIME (assessment, diagnosis, intervention, monitoring and evaluation) notes using the appropriate International Dietetics & Nutrition Terminology (IDNT).
  • Foodservice management basics, including passing the ServSafe exam.
  • Counseling skills, motivational interviewing, and the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change.

And much more…

For my supervised practice experiences that coincide with my coursework I:

  • Worked in a hospital kitchen with the food service manager. Along with another student, developed a theme menu (Fall superfoods) to serve in the retail area of the cafeteria, as well as other assorted projects for the facility.
  • Worked with a preceptor at a different local hospital to develop clinical skills in acute care. Began assessing patients and using the electronic medical record system.
  • Worked at my college’s office of dining services and learned the behind-the-scenes of feeding thousands of students with different preferences, needs, and allergies.

This semester I’m spending the first half working at a nursing care center and the second half at my college’s Office of Nutrition Services, where I can learn more about running a private practice (my main interest in dietetics and goal). I think we’ll be doing more food demonstrations at nursing homes and schools, as well as some presentations. One is on fad diets, which should be fun. I already have my fad diet in mind, especially in light of new research debunking it (again). An assignment for my Food and Culture class that I’m looking forward to is shopping at an ethnic grocer and choosing five products/ingredients to write about. I plan to purchase them, though it’s not required, and post about what I make. I already shop at Indian and Asian markets periodically, but it will be fun to challenge myself to work with some new ingredients.

I think I’ll have more interesting things to share with you this semester and intend to post more!


January 19, 2014 · 5:29 PM

Oh, hi there

I did not mean to abandon my blog, dear readers!

I’ve been incredibly busy and quite disoriented since moving this summer (just to a new apartment) and then starting the professional phase of my dietetics program. I’ll save you from the details and more excuses.

I love this blustery, rainy fall weather. Especially because it means it’s comfort food season! To me, Indian curries fit that description perfectly. I’m making an improvised veg curry right now from some eggplant, zucchini, and red pepper we got from the farmer’s market and coconut rice. I found a couple of amazing sounding recipes online for another time while getting ideas for dinner. I’ll save them here so you can also benefit, if you’re inclined.

Baby Eggplant Curry

Zucchini curry

I think getting my hands on some coconut meat is my next culinary endeavor. How delicious do both of these dishes sound?!

Are you excited about fall? What are some of your favorite cooler weather recipes?

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Filed under food, Uncategorized

Learning your way around the (vegan) kitchen

Warning, a bazillion links ahead.

If I had a dollar for everyone who’s said to me some variation of “I’d be vegan if someone else cooked for me,” well, I wouldn’t be living in this crappy little college apartment. Although changing things about your diet can seem daunting, I’m here to tell you that you can make gradual changes and eventually be able to see that cooking and eating vegan is really not that difficult, and neither is making sure you’re getting balanced meals. Yes, it’s a learning process, but learning is exciting! I looked at the challenge of learning how to cook for myself as a fun opportunity to eat better and less expensively and hone some creative kitchen skills. It feels awesome when you create something delicious from scratch and it’s darn healthy, too. I also want to say, you do not have to be a chef to make delicious vegan food for yourself at home! I’m definitely not.

I’m under the assumption that you probably cook at home at least some of the time, right? And that if you’re balancing your meals already you are loading up half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with a whole grain (brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, bulgur, farro, etc.) of some sort, and the other quarter with a protein dish. So, if you’ve got that down, you’ll see how easy it is to swap out the meaty/cheesy portions of food for plant-based deliciousness. If you haven’t gotten that down, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that Americans are not eating enough vegetables and whole grains and are counting entirely too many French fries as vegetable servings. But if you’re reading food and nutrition blogs, you’re probably looking to change that, too.

The first thing I’d suggest is picking one of your favorite meals, say tacos. There are a ton of ways you can make them meat and dairy-free and still full of flavor! The easiest, most obvious route is to use some sort of (not totally full of weird, processed ingredients) veggie crumble instead of meat. The next thing I would think of, and the way I usually like my tacos, is to use seasoned black or refried beans and then load your tacos up with your favorite veggie toppings, like shredded cabbage, tomato, onion, and of course avocado and salsa! Seasoned lentils make another great taco filling, as do grilled or sautéed Portobello mushrooms, red peppers  and onions, or grilled marinated tofu or tempeh. Really, the options are endless. Do a Google search for “vegan tacos” and see what I mean.

On that note, not to be obvious or anything, but Googling for vegan recipes is one of the simplest things you can do to get some great meal ideas. People have asked and vegans have answered the question “what do vegans eat, anyway?” in a major way! If you’re a cookbook fanatic like me, there are hundreds out there. There are books on everything from simple comfort food to decadent, restaurant quality meals. Some of my favorites are Veganomicon, How it all Vegan (the first vegan cookbook I ever bought, aww), The Inspired Vegan and Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry, and Crazy Sexy Kitchen.

Some more tips for adding more vegan meals to your repertoire:

  • Try veganizing one meal at a time. Breakfast is an easy one. You can make fruit smoothies, oatmeal with berries and flax or chia seeds and soy, rice, almond, hemp, or coconut milk, tofu scramble, pancakes, muffins, etc.
  • Acquaint yourself with the basics of vegan nutrition. You’ll feel a lot better when those questions about where you’re getting your protein roll in and you can be ensured you’re getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals. The Vegan RD is one source I trust. She also co-wrote a book Vegan for Life that I highly suggest reading and has another on the way called Vegan for Her.
  • Try eating vegan one full day of the week to start out. Meatless Monday is great to participate in if you’re trying to eat more vegan meals.
  • Plan ahead and cook up enough beans, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, etc. to get you through the week. Wash and chop your veggies so they’re ready to grab and go. Add these ingredients to a variety of dishes so you don’t get bored of eating the same thing all week.
  • Check out the wealth of  free vegan recipes online and the vegan cookbook section at your local bookstore or library.
  • Replace the meat in meals with beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, seitan, mushrooms, eggplant, and on occasion vegan burgers, sausages, and other vegan meat-like products (check nutrition labels if you’re trying to watch your sodium or fat and look for products with minimal ingredients).
  • Replacing eggs and dairy in baked goods is simple once you know there are other options. This is a great guide to getting started (vegan) baking up a storm.
  • Make sure you’re eating your vegetables! Remember, half your plate should be vegetables. Ginny Messina, The Vegan RD mentioned above, has just come up with a great vegan plate graphic that will help you determine the right food proportions of your plate. Farmer’s markets are great for trying new varieties of the freshest, in-season vegetables. Farmers are usually happy to share their favorite way to prepare their vegetables, too.
  • Try a vegan meal-plan to make things easy, like the free one at PCRM.org  or the Happy Herbivore’s , which you pay a fee for.
  • If you are so inclined,  purchasing Kris Carr’s book Crazy, Sexy, Kitchen,  gets you free access to cooking videos  by her and chef Chad Sarno. I learned a new thing or two from watching these.
  • Another amazing cooking resource that you can access from your own home is Spork Foods online cooking classes! These sisters are amazing and make learning cooking so fun. It feels like you are actually there having a dinner party with Heather, Jenny and their students.
  • Keep in mind why you want to make this change and let it inspire and keep you motivated. Is it because you’ve recently learned the suffering that animals raised for food endure? Do you want to be healthier? Are you trying to lighten your ecological footprint?
  • The most important thing is to not stress about it, relax, and enjoy the endless possibility for trying new foods and flavors! It’s not about being perfect and you don’t have to change everything overnight.

As a side note, I’m super happy that one of my best friends who had been going back and forth with being vegetarian has been texting and calling me lately with vegan food recommendations. People make changes at their own pace when and if they’re ready. I never pressure, but I’m always here for support.

Do you have any specific questions or suggestions you’d like me to address?


Filed under food, health, meal planning, nutrition topics, tutorials

Vegan Athlete Talk

Still working on that post! Summer classes are no joke and move so quickly. I’ve also taken on an extra project giving a short talk about fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and having a station set up at a middle school health fair next week, so I have to prepare for that.

I really wanted to share this informative video with you by registered dietitian and vegan athlete Matt Ruscigno on athletes and plant-based nutrition. Lots of people have questions about getting enough protein, getting the right ratio of carbs-fat-protein, and getting in enough calories as an athlete trying to eat vegan.  Matt does an excellent job going over these things and more.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/67348332″>Athletes and Plant-Based Nutrition</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/burningheartsmedia”>Burning Hearts Media</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


Filed under health, nutrition topics

I Can’t be Everyone’s Personal Chef/Are Our Fruits and Vegetables Nutritious Enough?

I am working on a post right now about simple ways to incorporate more vegan meals into your life/make the transition completely if one so wishes. I have had so many friends and acquaintances tell me they would be vegan if they had a personal chef or if I cooked for them. Ha! Well, it’s easy enough to do it all on your own and I’ll tell you how. No more excuses then! I am still working on blogging regularly and having some sort of aim to it all. But really, I think it’s posts like the one I’m writing that meet my desire to help people where they’re at to make changes toward a more healthful, plant-based diet. That’s the drive behind me pursuing nutrition as a career, but if I can be of help now while I’m going to school, why not start? There are already tons of vegan nutrition/recipe resources out there, but hopefully I can still offer my perspective and reach some people without being totally redundant. If there is anything YOU would like to see here, please leave a comment and let me know!

This op-ed article, Breeding the Nutrition out of Our Food, has been making the rounds in my Facebook news feed. The basic rundown of it is that our current fruits and vegetables are lacking in nutrition and we have to choose the very best varieties in order to get the most nutrition benefits from plant foods. While I think this has some merit, Americans are already not eating enough fruits and vegetables as it is. I learned in my Nutrition of the Life Cycle class via the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) that 27% of American toddlers and preschoolers are not even eating a single serving of vegetables per day. I’m not sure making it more difficult and restrictive is the best thing we can do for public health. This article from the American Institute of Cancer Research sums up how I feel in response to that. So yes, eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, seek out high nutrient foods when possible, but really, just make sure you are getting the minimum 3-4 cups servings a day and you’re already doing better than most and increasing your health! Don’t get discouraged and don’t make it harder than it has to be to shop for and eat your fruits and veg.


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Filed under dietetics school, food politics, health, nutrition topics

End of Semester Break

Sorry to disappear for a bit! Winter semester is finally over. I had a pretty light load for finals, so I’m grateful for that. After taking organic and biochem all other classes have felt refreshingly light. I did develop some pretty killer study skills from those classes, though!

I had a little break until yesterday when my summer courses started. I’m taking Fundamentals of Speech (gulp) and Nutrition of the Life Cycle the first half of summer and Fundamentals of Nutrition the second half. So I definitely don’t get a summer break, but that’s okay with me because I do best when I keep busy and my mind is occupied. I’m really excited to start the actual professional phase dietetics courses! In fact, I already downloaded my 1072 page text for the Fundamentals of Nutrition class to my Kindle and have started reading the first couple of chapters out of interest. And that’s how I know I’m getting into the right field. Right now in Nutrition of the Life Cycle we’re working on a module regarding ethics in research involving human subjects. Interesting topic and before there were laws and safeguards in place, there were some horrific abuses taking place under the guise of scientific research (see the Tuskegee Syphilis Study for one relatively recent incident).

Since I’ve last posted, I attended VegFest in Novi, MI. I was too overwhelmed with the amount of people and vendor booths with samples of fantastic food and products to take any pictures. However, I volunteered for PCRM to sell books for Dr. Neal Barnard after his (well-attended) presentation, and of course had to have my picture taken with him after he was all done signing books for people.  What a great experience!

dr_barnard_me2 (2)

I was also able to attend a couple of the events for Ann Arbor’s first Veg Week. I went to the kickoff night where the mayor, who pledged to go veg for the week, and John Salley spoke. There was also free beer(!!) from Ann Arbor Brewing Co. and food from some local restaurants and from VegMichigan volunteers. Notably, vegan sweet-and-sour meatballs and ding dongs, and some delicious chaat from Hut-K Chaats. My boyfriend got lucky and won a raffle prize, which included a bunch of vegan food samples, like a chocolate chip cookie from Alternative Baking Company, a Primal Strip, and Suzanne’s Ricemellow Creme, which he was stoked about. He also won a door-prize at VegFest, which was a similar package, plus a t-shirt. I think he should try to play the lottery soon with his luck!

I also attended a talk given by Pattrice Jones, an ecofeminist, author, and animal rights activist who is the co-founder of VINE Sanctuary. She spoke on “Building Alliances Among Animal, Environmental, and Social Justice Activists.” I enjoyed hearing a bit about her experiences bridging the gap between activist groups and starting the sanctuary. Very inspiring.

Pretty much the last few weeks have been awesome and though I’d like a little more time off, I think I’m refreshed and ready to get back to studying.


Filed under dietetics school