21 October 2014

Crock-Pot Butternut Squash Soup

Someone please tell me that I'm not the only one who goes through periodic phases of celery cravings...

Yep, you read that right.  Celery.  Well, more like celery topped with PB2 and Plum Amazins (ants on a log, anyone?), but celery nonetheless.  Realizing I was stocked at the bare minimum and in need of a grocery store run anyway, celery was promptly added to the list and off to the store I went.

And lo and behold, what should my eyes see but organic celery on sale.  Yes, organic celery was exactly 5 cents cheaper than the regular.  Five cents may not seem like much to you, but you have to understand, 5 cents is not just 5 cents to me right now.  In this time of zero financial reimbursement for my 40+ hour workweeks, 5 cents is magnified to more like $5.00.  And $5.00 savings here and there can add up.  I will take what I can get.

Well, it turned out my craving lasted exactly two and a half days, and my desire to eat celery went back to a "well, I guess if there's nothing else to eat, I'll eat it" attitude.  But there were indeed other things to eat, and so a week went by, with celery still sitting in the fridge.

And then the guilt kicked in.  I bought this celery with my hard earned, internship-depleted funds, and now I'm not wanting to eat it.  What to do with all of this celery?  Hmm, well let's consult Pinterest for some soup ideas.

And so tonight I present a delicious butternut squash soup adapted from this recipe: http://www.paleocupboard.com/butternut-squash-soup.html 

Butternut Squash Soup

What You'll Need
~ 5-6 cups raw, peeled butternut squash, chopped
~ 1-2 cups celery, chopped
~ 2 medium carrots, chopped
~ 1 medium red onion, chopped
~ 2 medium apples, skinned, peeled, and chopped (I used Fuji)
~ 2 cups chicken broth or stock (I used homemade no sodium broth)
~ 1 heaping tablespoon garlic powder (I would have used a couple cloves of fresh garlic, if I had had it)
~ 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
~ 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
~ 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt) --> optional
~ 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
~ 1 cup skim milk (Or milk of your choice. I wanted to try almond milk like in the original recipe, but I didn't have it on hand)

What to Do
~ Place the squash, celery, carrots, onion, apples, broth, and seasoning in a Crock-Pot (can fit in a mini Crock-Pot like mine).
~ Cook on high for 3-4 hours, until all ingredients are tender.
~ Stir well and slowly mix in the milk. Be careful to not pour the milk in too fast to prevent curdling.  You can slowly heat the milk ahead of time to prevent this as well, if desired.
~ Transfer contents to a blender/food processor and blend until thick and creamy.  You may need to split soup into two groups unless you are using a full-size Vitamix.
~ Top with dried parsely and enjoy!

Does anyone else have random weird cravings?  I can't be the only one who sometimes just really wants celery, right? ;)
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16 February 2014

Food Service Rotation Recap

Helloooo!  Let's begin this post with this adorable commercial I saw on Ellen. (Originally aired during the Super Bowl).

Of course, seeing the puppy only made me think of Charlie and how much I want to hug her right now. :)  She had surgery a few weeks ago to repair a torn ACL and is currently going through physical therapy.  Because I'm out-of-state right now, I wasn't there post-surgery, but my family reports that she's recovering well!  She just had to get through the cone phase...

Which apparently, wasn't that long!  Yay!

Internship-wise, I have officially completed my food service and management rotations!  Now don't get me wrong, most of the people I worked with were friendly and there were definitely some interesting parts of the rotation, but I am SO glad to be done with it.  Having already worked in hospital foodservice prior to the internship, I knew how it worked, and it just isn't what I want to do in the future.

Having said that, I have gotten a few questions regarding what you actually have to do during this rotation.  So, without further ado, here are my rotation highlights, and what you might expect during this part of your internship.

  • Shadowed my preceptor, the patient services director, for a day.  She also happened to be an RD.  (Some rotations don't actually require their preceptors to be RDs, but it depends on the internship.)
  • Attended all meetings/events that my preceptor went to (for the first two weeks).  Some were lectures on human resources topics, such as learning about lost time management, FMLA, and the hospital's overtime policies, and others were meetings with other managers and administrators in the hospital to talk about the medical center's expansion that is currently underway, for example.  I also did rounds with her where each unit's staff had to present a board displaying their goals for the month and whether or not they reached them the previous week.  So, I never really knew what to expect!
  • Patient Rounding.  Since I mostly did rounding in the cancer units, this was basically just a conversation with each patient to determine if they have been tolerating the food they've been receiving, if it has been tasting okay, if the service has been good, etc.  Generally, we just wanted to see if there were any changes in how they'd been eating since they'd been there (good or bad), if they'd been happy with the service (a Food & Nutrition associate is supposed to take their meal orders every day), and if there was anything we could do to help.
  • Followed a food.  It's basically as it sounds.  I sat down with a manager as he placed an order through one of their suppliers, chose a product on the list, and followed it through its production cycle.  (I chose pork loin.)  This means that I inspected it when it was delivered, saw how it was stored, and watched it as it was prepped, cooked, and served to the patient.  This gave me ample opportunity to observe whether employees were following HACCP safety standards, the hospital's standardized recipes, etc.
  • Conducted a sanitation check.  Yep, I was the spy, I mean, health inspector for the day.  If there were any violations, I had to complete an action plan and follow through with it.  This meant having to talk to certain employees who weren't happy with me talking to them, but if they had just been doing what they were supposed to be doing, it could have been avoided! :) Oh, the joys of being a manager...
  • Conducted tray and supplement assessments.  Checked each patient tray for quality, presentation, accuracy, and safety based on the diet order.  So basically just making sure everything that was ordered was on the tray and complied with the diet order.
  • Took a "regular" diet meal and modified it five different ways, then costed out each meal.  I chose to modify the meal into cardiac, renal, 5gmCHO (diabetic), lactose free, and gluten free appropriate menus.
  • Wrote a purchase proposal.  After discussing departmental needs with production managers, I researched several brands of a piece of equipment they requested and wrote a purchase proposal.
  • Performed a waste assessment.  Okay, this one was tedious, but interesting.  I chose to do my assessment on breakfast condiment waste.  I posted signs/asked associates to collect all unused condiments, milk, and juice that were left on trays during breakfast dishes.  Then, I separated and counted how many of each item was collected.  Per my preceptor's request, I also took pictures (below).  Then, I had to calculate the average cost of these items for a day, per month, per year, etc.
  • Pantry Checks.  This simply means that I went to each unit's kitchen/food supply room, or "pantry," as the hospital calls it, and checked to see that each Food & Nutrition employee was keeping his/her assigned pantry clean, rotating stock appropriately, etc.
  • Conducted daily meetings.  Every day at 10 AM, supervisors are supposed to deliver announcements, reminders, etc. to Food & Nutrition employees.  I lead some of them.
  • Conducted employee inservices.  My preceptor said they had been having problems with employees not recognizing food allergies, so I developed a lesson plan and presentation, and taught several allergy trainings to Food & Nutrition staff.
  • Acted as a supervisor for various areas/shifts in the kitchen.  I was assigned to supervise kitchen staff (cooks, dining on call (room service) staff, tray line staff, dietary aides) during the last two weeks of the rotation.
  • Created and implemented a themed meal.  This was fun, but also the most stressful, for me.  I developed a themed menu that would be served in the cafeteria during one day (I chose the last) of my rotation.  After debating between a couple of ideas, I settled on Eastern European/Russian in honor of the Sochi Olympics.  After supplying the recipes that I chose to the managing chefs, who luckily said they could do every one! (well, except the blini bar...), I did some basic cost analysis to determine how much the whole thing was going to cost.  Then, I had to advertise my meal in the couple weeks leading up to it, make pricing signs for the cafeteria, and do all of the decorating on the day.  Overall, it was a huge success!  Not to brag, but the lines were almost out the door! :)  Which made me feel like all the work I put into it actually meant something.  Whew!
Here are some photos from the event.  Sorry for the blurriness.  They looked good when I took them with my phone but apparently they didn't like being moved to a computer.

My Menu! (If you can read it...) I left several things off but they were still served.

Pan Seared Pierogi
Pierogi, finished dish
Kielbasa y Kapusta (Kielbasa w/Cabbage & Potatoes)
Kielbasa y Kapusta, finished dish

Setting out the strudel! (Apple & Strawberry)

I provided some of the recipes for people to take with them if they wanted.
Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Kiev, Lapsha, Braised Kale & White Beans, Lemon Basil Carrots, Broccoli (Not pictured: Tempeh Reuben w/Caramelized Onions & Russian Dressing) 

Super easy-to-make flag garlands!

So there you have it!  This was a lot of what I did at the site, but not all of it!  Plus I had several other outside assignments to complete.  It seems like a lot, and trust me, on my first day my brain was thinking "Umm, how am I going to get all of this done??," but four weeks was more than enough time!

So, with the conclusion of my hospital food service rotation (I will eventually have to do school food service as well), tomorrow begins my clinicals!  I'm excited to really get the ball rolling!

Question of the Day:  What's your favorite kind of food? Would you be willing to try something that looks crazy and that you've never seen before?
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08 February 2014

Crock-Pot Banana Bread Breakfast Quinoa

Good morning!

I can't believe I'm already four weeks into my dietetic internship!  I only have one week left of my foodservice/management rotation!  (Woohoo!  It's been interesting, but I already knew before I started this DI that foodservice is not where I want to be in the future, so...more on this later!)

The morning began with a brisk (aka...It's 8 degrees outside I want to go back inside where it's warm) 4 mile run.  I think I was feeling spoiled earlier in the week when the weather was in the 20s and 30s, so I thought hey, no biggie that it's in the single digits.  But alas, I'm sure you get the picture. ;) (So why did I choose to go up north again?)  At least the shower I took felt glorious!

By the way, if you are interested in what I'm doing to train for the half marathon I'm doing in April, take a look at my Weekly Exercise Log!  Since I decided a little late in the game to do this half, I don't have as much time as I'd like to prepare, but nine weeks is still decent!

Now on to food...

So you know how everyone is big into the crock-pot meals? I decided to jump on that bandwagon, breakfast style!

You may remember my Zucchini & Asiago Quinoa post, so you know I love quinoa! But quinoa for breakfast? I had seen things on Pinterest floating around about "sweet" dishes involving quinoa, but I never really got around to trying it. Thinking about how nice it would be to just wake up to breakfast already made, however, especially on a morning where I have to get at 4 AM, finally convinced me to give it a go! So, here is my first (quite delicious!) take on quinoa for breakfast!

Crock-Pot Banana Bread Breakfast Quinoa 

*I used a mini crock-pot, but if you use a full-sized one, you may want to double the recipe.


- 1/2 cup Quinoa
- 1 cup Vanilla almond milk
- 1 cup Water
- Splash of fat free dairy milk, optional
- A few shakes of cinnamon
- 1 ripe banana, mashed
- Sprinkle with walnuts or pecans, if desired!

*Remember to rinse your quinoa really well before use!!

Simply combine all ingredients in the crock-pot and cook on low for 3-4 hours. If you doubled the recipe in a full-sized pot, cook for 5-6 hours.

Yield: Made about 4 servings for me.

Enjoy waking up to this heavenly scent!
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01 February 2014

Hot Chocolate, Please!

It has been snowing all day today!  Why couldn't this have happened on Christmas morning?

In other news, I have officially signed up for another half marathon, complete with hot chocolate to welcome us at the finish line!  Yum!  After my last race (below), I had a blast but wasn't super happy with my time, so I'm excited to try and improve on it!  

Lunch today consisted of a delicious, homemade...
Apple & Black Bean Turkey Burger 

If you love a fiber rich, flavorful burger (without added salt, I might add), then this one is for you!

What I Used:

- ~1.5 lbs. Ground Turkey
- 2 Medium Gala Apples, finely chopped (~2.5 Cups)
- 3/4 Cup Roughly Smashed Black Beans
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 Heaping Tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Parsley Flakes
- 1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- Black Pepper, to taste

What to Do:

- Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Divide mixture into 3 oz patties. (There isn't much cooking loss, so they're still decently sized.)
- Push into the middle of each patty to make them slightly concave.
- Cook on stove over medium high heat, about 3-4 minutes on each side.  There's no need to grease the pan (at least with my nonstick pan).  Be sure to check the temperature.  Ideally, these burgers should reach an internal temperature of 165 F.
- Enjoy!

Yield: 15 Burgers

They look burned, but I assure you they're not!

Question of the Day:  Has anyone ever done an international half marathon?  We met a woman at the last race who travels all over the world to walk in half marathons.  Some places apparently give you wine along the way!  That would be so fun to basically do a walking tour of Italy or France while completing a half marathon!

Enjoy your weekend!

18 January 2014

Dietetic Internship!

And So It Begins!!

So after another long break (sorry!) I have an update!

This morning it really hit me, right smack dab in the face.  I finally, truly, came to the realization that it is going to happen.  What, you ask, is going to happen?  Well, my friends, I have news of the most excellent variety!  This past November, I discovered that I was accepted into a dietetic internship!

Okay, even though I believe that if someone really wants to find you, he/she will, for security reasons, I bleeped out a couple things.
So, you know how I said something was finally going to happen?  Well, I am finally going to become an RD!  Wohoo!  After all the schooling, all the planning, all the stress of thinking about what the heck I am going to do if I don't get an internship (it's about a 50% match rate for first time applicants, folks :( ), I feel so blessed that I am going to be able to do what I love!

Here's a graph from the AND website.  Keep in mind this only reflects the first round.  For those of you who don't know the process, there are two rounds for each matching period.  Since applicants rank each program they apply to in order of "I really want this one!" to "Well, it is not my first choice, but I will take it!," not all spots are filled on the first round if an applicant is accepted to multiple programs (even though we won't know that! Grr!).  Thus most, if not all, remaining positions are filled later in the week, after the initial notification.
Dietetic Internships Demand Chart
Source: http://www.eatright.org/ACEND/content.aspx?id=4294967919
So let's fast forward a bit, shall we?  I have actually just completed my first week of my DI!  Basically it was all orientation where we reviewed a bunch of information we learned in school, taste tested some oral and tubefeeding products, and shadowed a clinical dietitian for a day.  All I can say is, it's going to be TONS of work, but I know it's going to be worth it in the end!  I am so excited to really get started!  Monday begins my general foodservice rotation, so I will check back in later! 

Oh by the way, did I mention how we are going to use this foreign thing called a pager?  

I feel like hospitals are the only places left that use them.  As another intern pointed out, we probably all "looked at them like an old person looks at smartphones."  But the important thing here is that we all did finally learn how to use them! (With the help of a dietitian and a cheat sheet). :)

Anyway, enjoy the rest of your weekend!