Meet Dito van Reiserberg – also known as – Martha Graham Cracker

We are so excited to have Martha Graham Cracker returning to the Forrest Theatre stage as host for Shut Up & Dance for the second year in a row. Dito van Reiserberg, the genius behind Martha, sat down to share some of his memories and insights of the evening.

Favorite Memory

One year we did “Cold Hearted Snake” by Paula Abdul. If you haven’t seen the music video, you should. We had either a ladder or an actual scaffolding. And there are all these dancers, taking their shirt off and writhing on this enormous scaffolding. It’s very funny. And sexy.

Another year I did “Tiny Dancer” with Abby Mentzer.  And I’m tall – you know, especially in my heels I’m about 6’7. And she’s not a very tall dancer. There’s a part in Tiny Dancer that goes “tiny dancer in my hand,” and so I put out my hand and she put her little toe shoe into my hand. It was very fun.


How did you get involved?

My boyfriend is Matthew Neenan, Choreographer in Residence, who was part of Pennsylvania Ballet. And so I know the Pennsylvania Ballet crowd through him. He was part of some of the very early Shut Up & Dances. And that gave him his very first choreographic opportunity. Now that’s what he does for a living! In terms of something that creates an unintended result, a lot of dancers test the waters choreographers. And Matthew he did it several years in a row. We were like – you actually know how to choreograph! You should do it! And then he did it. I don’t know that he would be where is he is right now without Shut Up & Dance.

Nic Stuccio, who founded Fringe Arts, he was one of the co-founders. I want to say that Shut Up & Dance was a thing that allowed him to begin to cut his teeth organizationally as well. That created an impact allowing him to go off and make the Fringe Festival. So Shut Up & Dance has created a lot of opportunities, and has had an enormous impact.

When Michaela Majoun wanted to pass on the [Shut Up & Dance Host] torch, they were like – you like to talk and be ridiculous in front of people. Why don’t you do it? And so I said “okay!” You really can’t argue with the worthiness of the cause.


Could you describe Shut Up & Dance for those who have never been?

The evening has funny dances – the opening number is usually really ridiculous, and might have something to do with current events. But then there are pieces that are quite serious, or comedic, or uncategorizable. But they’re all new pieces of dance.

The tradition is the last dance before the ending is the Dying Swan. Which is a tribute to those we’ve lost, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch a ballerina do. It says ‘this is the heart of the ballet community giving itself to this worthy cause.’ So I feel that no matter how fun or ridiculous or goofy the evening is, there’s always an underlying thread of ‘let’s remember why we’re all here.’ It’s really moving.

Ask a Dietitian: Cooking Oils

Q: What’s the healthiest oil to use for high heat cooking, like for pan frying, wok cooking or under a broiler?


MANNA Registered Dietitian: What a great question! But before I give you the actual answer… I will break it down as to why certain oils are the healthiest and best to use for occasions of high heat cooking. This is because different types of oils, which are also called ‘fats’ have different heating and cooking temperatures.

There are generally 4 different types of fats/oils:

Types of Fats Sources of Oils Health Effects



Hydrogenated Vegetable oil




Raises laboratory values, such as LDL (bad cholesterol)

Lowers HDL (good cholesterol)

-Increases risk of heart disease & stroke






Animal sources:



Animal fats & bi-products

Plant based sources:

Coconut oil

Palm & Palm kernel oil




Raises Total Cholesterol & LDL (bad cholesterol)


-Primarily from animal sources

-Solid at room temperature






Olive oil

Canola oil

Peanut oil

Avocado oil

Walnut oil



-Plant based source

Lowers lab values such as Total Cholesterol, Triglycerides, and LDL

-Liquid at room temperature, solid when chilled





Soybean oil

Corn oil

Canola oil

Sunflower oil

Safflower oil

Flaxseed oil


Lowers LDL (bad cholesterol)

Raises HDL (good cholesterol)


The healthiest oils are those that are high in MUFA and PUFA, such as olive oil and safflower oil. These types of fats can help lower your risk of heart disease when used in place of SFA and TFA. Replacing your cooking oils that are high in SFA with MUFA or PUFA oils can help lower blood cholesterol levels and improve lipid profiles.

In regards to cooking with oils/fats, not all are the same, just as they are different structurally. When cooking with oil there is something called a “Smoke Point.” A smoke point is when the oil reaches a heated temperature and it will start to produce smoke and even combust. The nutrients in the oil break down from the high heat, creating a rancid smell and darker color.





To answer the question- healthiest oil for HIGH heat cooking is ….

Heat Range Temperature Range Oils
Low Heat 200° – 300° Flaxseed oil

Walnut oil

Extra Virgin Olive oil


Medium Heat 300° – 400°  

Olive oil

Canola oil

Corn oil


High Heat 400° – 500°  


Sunflower oil

Safflower oil

Soybean oil

Peanut oil

Sesame oil





BUT, remember- Fat is Fat! All fats are 9 calories per gram. So, 1 tablespoon is a serving size of oil, (which looks like a half-dollar or poker chip size in a pan) is equivalent to 14.3 grams.

14.3g x 9 kcals/g = 128 calories per 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Though, fat is necessary and needed in a healthy diet, all fats/oil should be used in moderation.

– Brittany McCauley, RD, LDN

Meet Harrison Monaco

Harrison Monaco

Dancer & Choreographer

5th year performing in Shut Up & Dance

Photograph © Vikki Sloviter

Favorite Memory 


“I really love the moment when we’re doing dress rehearsals, and all the tech prep, and we’re on stage for the first time doing all this new choreography. Then afterwards we all get a lovely lunch served by MANNA. Which is the best food ever. We all sit around underneath the stage and it’s a bonding moment. And then we all go and get our makeup done by MAC, and that preparation makes us feel special and is bonding time as well.”

Recipe of the Month: Bruschetta

Fresh Tomato Day is April 6th!

Enjoy fresh and flavorful tomatoes with this quick and easy bruschetta recipe:


• 4 ripe tomatoes

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• ¼ onion, chopped

• 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

• 1 tbsp. Olive oil

• Salt and pepper to taste

• ½ loaf of French bread (or bread of choice) Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine all of the ingredients (except the bread) in a bowl. Slice bread and bake for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove bread from oven, let it cool, and serve tomato mixture on bread.

Ask a Dietitian: Frozen v. Fresh Vegetables


Q: How does the nutritional value of frozen, canned, and fresh vegetables compare to each other?

MANNA Registered Dietitian: Vegetables are primarily available in 3 ways of purchasing. The nutritional value of frozen, canned, and fresh vegetables are very similar yet mildly different, yet there are pros and cons to each type of vegetable for purchasing. Ultimately it depends on your lifestyle when it comes to storing, preparing, and cooking meals. It is recommend to eat 2-3 cups of vegetables a day.

Vegetables Pros Cons
Fresh -Full of vitamin & minerals

-Versatile in cooking & preparing

-Perishable & short shelf life





-Harvested fresh & flash frozen to preserve nutrients

-Easy to cook and prepare

-Store up to 6 mo. in freezer

-Less waste compared to fresh



-Vegetables with a high water content do not freeze well & are not available for purchase

-Some frozen varieties are packed with a seasoning mix or sauce that  contains extra calories & sodium

-Texture change



-Pasteurized for a longer shelf life

-Easy to cook & prepare

-Cheaper in price

-Allows the availability to consume veggies all year long


-Contains added Salt & Sodium for preserving

-Heat from pasteurization may decrease vitamin & mineral content

– Texture & flavor change


If you have been told by a Doctor or Registered Dietitian that you need to watch your salt or sodium intake, then frozen or fresh vegetables may be a better option for you.

*Tip: To reduce the sodium content of canned vegetables, drain the liquid from the inside of the can and rinse the vegetables with water. Or look for ‘low-sodium’ versions.

Frozen vegetables are becoming more popular because of their freezer shelf life and ease of cooking by steaming in the microwave.

*Tip: Add fresh or frozen vegetables such as broccoli florets into a microwave safe bowl with lid and cook for 3 minutes for perfectly steamed veggies for you next meal.

Purchase fresh vegetables in season or in bulk quantities. When vegetables are in season, they are cost efficient and last longer. If you purchase vegetables in bulk you can always freeze or can fresh veggies at home using the food safe techniques for them to last longer.

Vegetables come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ways to purchase them. And if you are feeling up to it, you can always grow your own! Overall, it does not matter how you have them, it is best to always eat your veggies!


Want your nutrition question answered on the MANNA blog? E-mail to receive personalized nutrition advice while also sharing that information with others! If you have the question, someone else is probably wondering too. 

Ask a Dietitian: Proteins

Question: Are there health differences between plant-based proteins and animal-based proteins?

MANNA RD: Before I go into detail about the differences between animal and plant proteins, it is important to understand the role of protein in the body.
Most of our muscles, organs, and cells in the body are made up of protein. One of the many important roles of protein is to support, build, and repair body tissues. They also provide the body with energy and build up our immune system.
There are some individuals that argue that a protein is a protein no matter what the source, while others beg to differ. Animal proteins are similar to those that are found in the human body, and also considered complete proteins.
This means that they contain all the essential amino acids our body needs to function. Even though they contain all the essential amino acids, animal proteins can also contain higher amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat, which are contributing factors to heart disease when consumed in high amounts over a long period of time.
Plant-based proteins such as nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains contain protein as well as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Even though they are good sources of protein, they do not contain as much as their animal counterparts.
For example, 3oz of chicken breast contains 21g of protein and 3oz of tofu contains only 7g. Since they also offer less g of protein per serving, not all plant based proteins offer all the essential amino acids that animal proteins do.
Balance is key in the equation of plant vs animal based proteins. If you consume animal proteins, choose seafood and lean cuts of meat as your protein source and try to balance your weekly intake with some plant-based sources. If you consume mostly plant based proteins, make sure to combine with whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat bread to make sure you are getting all the essential amino acids your body needs. 
If you want to submit a question for our dietitians, please email Maris at or send us a message on Facebook!