March 5, 2019

Your Daily Dose of Vitamin ‘RD’

Last month was the month of love, and this month we’re LOVING our Registered Dietitians! March is National Nutrition Month, and in a world of circulating nutrition information (and misinformation), it is important to get evidence-based recommendations from the nutrition experts. Registered Dietitians are the “Real Deal”. They have completed a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics, followed by 1200 hours of supervised clinical practice, known as a “dietetic internship,” and have passed a national registration examination. You may encounter a Dietitian in several different settings, from the oncology unit in a hospital, to a community health setting, to a food service operation in a retirement home, or even your local grocery store, among several others! At MANNA, we have a team of seven sensational Dietitians, including Sue Daugherty, Jule Anne Henstenburg, Nicole Laverty, Tonya Cooper, Emma Leister, Lauren Snow, and Sarah Nash. It is fitting that during National Nutrition Month, we survey the nutrition experts!

1. What is something you wish more people understood about nutrition?

Sue: That all foods fit! Jule Anne: The field of nutrition is based on physiological, biochemical, food and behavioral sciences. Because of this, many great colleges and universities across the country offer a degree in it. Nicole: Healthy eating doesn’t have to be that difficult. If you focus on making sure that you get a good balance of mostly fruits and vegetables, layer in whole grains and lean proteins, and drinking plenty of water daily then you are giving your body what it needs. Tonya: So many people hear the word nutrition and assume they need to start following a strict diet. I wish they knew that a balanced, healthful diet that also considers their food preferences and cultural backgrounds is achievable. Emma: When people stress about the small details of healthy eating, it can take a toll on their mental health. We can enjoy all foods, from chia seeds to cheeseburgers! Lauren: There is no such thing as a natural ‘good food’ or a ‘bad food’, it’s more about eating the correct portion size for your body. Sarah: Dietary needs vary among individuals. Following healthy eating patterns along with maintaining regular physical activity may prevent the development of chronic illnesses, like diabetes.

2. What is a food or nutrition myth that you wish to dispel?

Sue: That diets are the answer. Diets start and diets end, but changing a behavior can last forever! Jule Anne: Supplements WON’T make you healthier. Dietary guidelines such as MyPlate, DASH, Mediterranean, and healthy vegetarian WILL make you healthier! Nicole: That eating healthy means having to spend a lot of money or that you have to go to specialty stores to purchase your food. I have found some of my favorite produce at farmers markets and fruit/vegetable trucks parked in the city. Typically these foods are sourced locally, fresh, and much cheaper that what you would get at your traditional grocery stores. Tonya: I would love for the ketogenic diet to hand in its two week notice to the fad diet world. Emma: That weight is the predictor of health. People can be healthy at any size! Lauren: That salt is the only way to season food! There are so many delicious herbs and spices you can use to flavor your foods. Some of my favorites are cumin and sweet paprika. Sarah: That carbs and fats are bad for you, and that you should eat clean and detox regularly.

3. What is your favorite food to cook? What is a food or dish that brings you joy?

Sue: I don’t really love to cook, but I can make a pretty good vegetarian tortilla soup. My mom’s tuna noodle casserole is definitely a food that brings me joy! It’s delicious and brings back childhood memories of Friday nights (my mom made it every Friday). It’s also is pretty unhealthy, but none of that matters when you’re fortunate enough to still have your mom making you a meal. Jule Anne: An old recipe of my grandmother’s called “boiled cake” or also known as “depression cake”. I make several throughout the holiday season as the cake is full of strong spices that both remind me of my childhood and make my house smell great. Nicole: Nothing makes me happier than getting to make a large salad filled with my favorite vegetables. I love chopping vegetables and layering them together, I typically top it with some source of vegetarian protein (falafel or marinated tofu) and some kind of crunchy element like sesame sticks or croutons. Tonya: I love holding Sunday dinners for my family when I am able. Gathering with food and loved ones brings a lot of joy. Of all of my dinners, my eggplant and mushroom lasagna with “tofu ricotta” seems to be a crowd pleaser. Emma: I love roasted veggies. They taste great on their own, or mixed into salads, wraps, and pasta. My mom’s carrot cake is a food that brings me joy! Some might say that IS a roasted veggie… Lauren: My favorite food is a food that is shared. My favorite dish to make for my family and friends is a spicy tomato and egg dish called shakshuka. Sarah: My favorite food to cook is salmon with roasted veggies. The sweet-citrusy flavor of berries, as well as tropical fruits such as passion fruit, pineapple, and pomegranate, brings me joy.

4. What do you love about working at MANNA?

Sue: That I get to work for an organization that I have so much passion for, and I get to do it surrounded but awesome, caring, smart people. Jule Anne: I love how everyone who works here exhibits generosity of spirit. It’s inspiring. Nicole: I love the people. I love the staff members that I get to work with, the volunteers who dedicate their time and energy every day, the students and interns that work on many important projects for us, and the clients that we get to serve and support every week. Tonya: I love the tangible impact that MANNA has on the greater Philadelphia community. It brings me great joy to come into work every day to connect with MANNA clients nourish, and educate them on how nutrition is key in improving their health. Emma: I have always enjoyed the education aspect of nutrition. My job at MANNA allows me to find new and creative ways to educate people who otherwise would not be able to see a dietitian, due to financial, time, and/or geographical restraints. Lauren: I am in love with teaching and I am so grateful for the many opportunities MANNA provides for me to speak to the community and answer their questions. Sarah: Encountering critically ill clients testifying that MANNA meals have been impacting their health positively is one of the many things I love about working at MANNA.

Happy National Nutrition Month, from all seven MANNA RDs! Here is a recipe, inspired by Nicole’s love for layering flavors, mixed with Sarah’s favorite salmon, Emma’s roasted veggies, Lauren’s seasoning tips, Tonya’s emphasis on simplicity and balance, Jule Anne’s push for a Mediterranean lifestyle, with Sue’s “all foods fit” motto! Customize your grain bowl to meet your flavor preferences!