Life Update – September 2014

Hello all!

Long time no see, eh?

Well I wanted to pop in and just update you all a bit on the happenings of my life. Why? Well, because I do think at some point I had a few readers here and there. And also because I like blogging, I miss it. I enjoy having an outlet for the areas of food, nutrition and healthy living that I may not get to share on a day to day basis in my career as a dietitian.

My plan is to come back to blogging now that I somewhat have my feet back on the ground, and I have visions of where I want this blog to go! Food is a huge part of my life, and I want to continue sharing what I’m cooking at home but I also now live in a city with fabulous culinary offerings and would like to start reviewing restaurants – but maybe with my own twist on how to remain relatively healthy with so many delicious choices. On another nutrition note, now that I’m out of school and into the real world, I find myself looking for the best ways to keep up-to-date on current nutrition research and trends. One thought I had about that is researching and posting about something new-to-me, on a regular basis.

I would also like to incorporate fitness and general wellness, as those are both imperative in maintaining good health. Using my blog as a tool for self-motivation and accountability when it comes to exercise would be so helpful, as I’ve fallen off the wagon a few too many times this past summer. Stress management would be another topic I’d like to divulge into a bit.

Anyway, those are just a few of the main ideas bouncing around in my head, but I’m sure more will pop up as I actually sit down and organize my thoughts into a concrete plan. More on that later – but first… where have I been?!

Well you may remember back in March, I moved out of South Florida to return to my hometown, Grand Rapids, Michigan. If you don’t remember why, here’s a post that generally explains the situation. Note: I may decide to make all of my past blog posts private soon, so if this link does not work and you’re truly curious just shoot me an e-mail! I moved back to Michigan just as winter was ending and the ground was starting to thaw – luckily I only got a little taste of the cold. It snowed one morning about an inch or two but I survived by scraping the snow off of my car with a shoe (I forgot how important it would be to have a snow-scraper!). I was now in a familiar city with familiar faces, but without a job or a place to live. To say that moving was the answer to all of my problems would be so, so wrong. I now faced a world of new issues to solve for myself.

My biggest issue: employment.  If you hadn’t noticed, the economy sucks. I’ve heard rumors that it’s improving but I have yet to see proof of this, so I call BS on that. The thing is, everyone and their mother would like to hire a dietitian, but here’s the catch – not fulltime, at least not in this area of Michigan. Since I moved with a decent savings, I wasn’t concerned about finding something fulltime immediately. In the spring and summer, I was fortunate enough to be offered a handful of part-time/perdiem/contract positions, and pieced these together to make-do. I thought for sure something would come along with more security and consistent pay, but I was wrong, of course. The more time went on, I actually began hearing less and less of open positions for dietitians. So, as of right now, after moving back 6 months ago, I am still piecing together multiple jobs. I actually really enjoy being able to exercise my knowledge of nutrition in different facets on a weekly basis, the only downside is that my income isn’t consistent month to month. I’m fortunate enough to be able to pay my bills and buy my groceries though – I remind myself of that often. If need be, I do know quite a few people in the foodservice industry that could get me in as a hostess or serving tables on nights and weekends if I was truly strapped for cash – I am so not above that! But right now, I am making it work.

Currently, I work in a dialysis clinic with patients that suffer from chronic kidney failure and must follow a very strict renal diet. I am also working as a contractor for part of a government grant, focusing on improving vegetable consumption of school-aged children and their parents – this one is a lot of fun for me because I’m able to cook and work on recipes quite a bit! And lastly, yet probably most importantly, I am working in private practice with eating disorders. This is so, so huge for me, as it has always been a passion of mine. I was so lucky to have gotten the experiences in South Florida at the residential treatment facility, and was worried I was going to lose my practice and experience once I moved away. Through networking, I found an established outpatient practice that was looking to add a dietitian to their team and they wanted me! Though my clientele will take time to build, I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the team.

Although I still have days where I feel like my life is a complete mess, compared to 6 months ago I definitely have come a long way. I’m happy, and that is not something I was able to say before. And since this post is now becoming more like a novel, I’ll leave it at that. In the next week or two is when I plan to make moves on my visions with the blog – so stay tuned!

It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, & to make your happiness a prority.

National Nutrition Month – “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”

To me, the month of March always meant my birthday and usually spring break.

Nowadays, although my birthday is still the shining star (don’t worry, you haven’t missed it yet), March offers up some other notable characteristics. If you haven’t already heard, it’s National Nutrition Month, and guess what else? National Registered Dietitian day is on the 12th – yep, tomorrow. I’ll be accepting flowers, chocolate and checks payable to… ok I kid I kid – it’s not all that special considering the fact that no one really knows about it. But I like to mention it because now, with the internet, everyone likes to think they’re masters of nutrition – but this day is to remind us and others that we have the training and qualifications to actually call ourselves experts. So hey boss where’s my bonus huh? Oh you mean.. oh.. okay.

Aaaanyway. Back to National Nutrition Month. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics creates a theme for each year – this year it’s “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”. For the most part, taste trumps everything when it comes to food selection. And as someone who is not shy when it comes to ordering french fries or triple-chocolate-something-plus-more-chocolate-dessert-thing, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that, I promise! – kale chips taste just like Ruffles! Don’t ever become friends with someone that tries to tell you that.

For your average individual who wasn’t raised on finishing their veggies before leaving the table and having fresh fruit for snacks (thanks mom!), I think eating healthier is somewhat of an “acquired taste”, if you will. If I had a choice between salmon&broccoli or mac&cheese, I would choose the fish and greens – but for a couple different reasons. First being that I know the nutritional benefits of that meal when compared to the other. And second, I know how to enhance the flavors and make it tasty and satisfying. It’s one thing to know, but it’s a whole ‘nother ball game when the know how comes into play.

From my personal experience in the kitchen playing around with making my healthy meals taste better, I’ve now got a few tricks up my sleeve. When I teach patients (or anyone really) how to add flavor without adding excess salt, fat or calories – these are some of my most mentioned tips:

 

Herbs, spices and garlic

Hellooo, this one is so very obvious. Aside from the fact that many of these things offer additional health benefits, there is nothing better than fresh basil in your pasta, or minced garlic in your sauteed veggies. There are tens, if not hundreds of different varieties to play around with.

herbs

Tip: When using fresh vs. dried herbs the ratio is 3 to 1.. so if a recipe calls for 3 teaspoons of fresh rosemary, using 1 teaspoon of dried will produce the same flavor.. but fresh is always best.

 

Cinnamon

Most of the time, cinnamon comes into play with sweet dishes rather than savory – like oatmeal. However, sometimes a dash of cinnamon into a savory dish can add an earthy depth and round it out with a bit of warmth. Regardless of if you need a little dash or a hefty dose (ahem, cinnaholic over here) – you can’t go wrong with cinnamon.

ground-cinnamon

Tip: Cinnamon covers up any of that extra “green” taste you get when adding kale or spinach to smoothies – try a dash in your next mix.

 

Hot sauce and black pepper

One thing is for sure, my pepper grinder gets the most use out of anything in my spice cupboard. I like it hot hot hot. There’s nothing better than fresh black pepper to finish off a dish. Same thing with my bottle of Sriracha – but something to remember is not to be too heavy handed on the hot sauce, because depending on the brand – and how much you use – it could add a bit of unwanted sodium to your meal.

Hot Sauce Lawsuit

Tip: It has been long believed that spicy foods may have a positive influence on our metabolism. Studies are mostly inconclusive but hey, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with a little spice.

 

A splash of this, a drizzle of that

A good follow-up to the hot sauce tip – don’t be afraid of condiments BUT – and that’s a big but – be conscious of how much you are using. A drizzle of honey in your yogurt, a swipe of dressing in your wrap, a bit of BBQ on your chicken – those are all fine and good and most definitely delicious but condiments do add the previously mentioned salt, fat and calories – so use them wisely and in moderation.

variety-of-condiments

Tip: Avocado and hummus are two of my favorite swaps for your typical sandwich spreads. In my opinion, if the condiments are going to add some fat and calories, you may as well get a little nutritional punch – and these provide you with a bit of those healthy unsaturated fats.

 

Roasting

My favorite way to prepare anything is by cranking the heat and throwing it in the oven til I see browned edges. It’s super simple and hands-off for the most part, giving you time to fuss around with other components of your meal. The biggest flavor profile, in my opinion, comes from roasted veggies – especially your root veggies like beets, brussel sprouts, squash, potatoes, onions – but roasting proteins is also a great way to develop flavor. Pork tenderloin @ 425 for 20-30 minutes and you wouldn’t even know what hit ya.

roasted

Tip: This Good Houskeeping chart is a good reference if you’re new to roasting veggies – it lets you know time and temp, how to prepare it both trimming and with seasoning. Genius I tell you, genius.

 

Personally, I love eating healthy. Yes, I truly love eating mass amounts of veggies in one sitting. But that’s why I’m a dietitian – I know that not everyone else is going to enjoy green things as much as me. I also enjoy eating things that aren’t so “healthy”, and I get it, that damn cheeseburger really does taste delicious. So my hope is that some of my tips help you to transform that chicken breast and asparagus into something delicious too.

 

Your turn! What tips do you have for adding flavor to foods?

Before Blogging I…

So first of all, thank you for your support on my last post. Going back and reading that, I almost cringe still because I just really don’t like talking about it all that much. But it’s the truth, it’s what’s happening, and it’s my life so I have to really just go with it and keep my head up as best that I can.

Pinterest “Quotes” page tends to help during those tough days.

Anyway, something I was thinking about on my way to work this morning was life before blogs. For some people, food and/or healthy-living blogging has been absolutely life changing, and for others it’s just a hobby that has simultaneously inspired us to become food-voyeurs and maybe workout a little more. But even if it is just a little side hobby, certainly there are things in our lives that have been influenced by the blog community – whether these things are good or bad, that’s up for debate. Never-the-less, here is how blogging has changed my life:

 

Before blogging I….

 

  • Never in a million years would have drank anything green… and liked it.

green smoothie

  • Felt accomplished if I ran more than a mile.. now everyone’s marathon training makes me feel lazy for only running 3 miles.

 

  • Thought eggs were solely meant for breakfast – this is by far the biggest lie I ever believed.

eggpizza

  • Really thought I was the only one getting that excited about a new recipe.

giada-enthusiasm

  • Felt ashamed for the amount of yoga pants that I owned – now I feel like I don’t have enough.

runlegs

  • Thought Whole Foods was meant for yuppies who were only vegans for the social aspects.

 

  • Never knew the answer to “what did you eat on Wednesday?”

 

 

You’re turn! Before blogging, you….???