Thinking Out Loud: Summer Weather

Happy Thursday! Busy week over here, so let’s jump right into this weekly dose of randomness.

*I’ve been loving pumpkin spice added in with the coffee grounds lately when I brew a pot. Mine make 4 cups, and I’ve been adding about a teaspoon. It’s a delicious way to DIY the whole pumpkin pie spice thing without all the syrup or sugar.

Trader Joes Pumpkin Spice

Of course, if you’ve got your heart set on a PSL, I’ve got some tips over on Shape for making it healthier. You can also make your own at home with just a few ingredients.

Continue reading “Thinking Out Loud: Summer Weather”

Allergy-Friendly Food

Today I want to talk a little about food allergies. It’s estimated that over 15 million Americans have food allergies. A 2013 CDC study also suggests they’re on the rise. There are lots of factors to take into account there, such as improved awareness and screening as well as things like environmental changes and changes to our agricultural practices that may impact the body and its tolerance to various foods and instances of cross contamination.

I didn’t grow up with any dietary restrictions (I started having issues in my mid-20’s and thought it was all in my head until I went to an allergist), so it’s been quite adjustment, mentally, to feeling comfortable speaking up and reading labels carefully. Then there’s always making sure my purse is big enough to carry an epi pen—no cute little clutches for me. I’m still working on getting over the feeling that someone is going to get mad at me for not being able to eat what everyone else is eating or that people will find it annoying when I ask what the ingredients are in a dish.

Case in point: I had a team meeting at a new job site last week, and they ordered lunch from a nearby restaurant. In the email where the menu to the restaurant was included, we were asked about allergies, and I had a moment of anxiety where I worried it would reflect negatively on me to list mine.  I did appreciate how easy the little red allergy flag made it to tell whose meal was whose, though!

smith seared tuna salad

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Thinking Out Loud: National Nutrition Month

Happy Thursday! Can you  believe it’s March? What the eff? Okay, okay—I’ll shut up about it. March is a special month for dietitians, though, because it’s National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” I LOVE it. Food should taste good—especially healthy food.

kefi grilled octopus

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What You Can Learn From Keeping A Food Journal

When I was in school, lots of my nutrition classes involved projects where we had to keep food journals and analyze our intake. I’d expected it to seem tedious, but it was amazing what I learned from getting an honest look at what I put in my mouth over the course of the day.

WIAW 226Whether you have a specific health goal in mind or are just curious to gain a little more insight into your habits, tracking your intake for even a few days can show you a lot. I recently wrote a post for The Lady Project on some of the things you can learn from keeping a food journal.

Have you ever kept a food journal? 

Thinking Out Loud

Time for another random-awesome Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party !


1.) OMG: Somebody call the grain police—I’ve got carbs in my basket! I never noticed that “carbs” and “crabs” are dangerously similar. “Crabs in my basket” sounds like a euphemism. carbs in my basket

2.) I am proud of my Autocorrect for not recognizing ‘McNuggets” as a real word.

3.) My recyclables probably say a lot about me.


4.) When I was a nutrition student, I thought I knew what I wanted my specialties to be. Then as an intern, I found that actually, maybe I wanted to focus on other areas. Then as a new RD, I thought for sure I was going to focus on diabetes and cardiovascular health above all else. Along the way I found that clinically speaking, I actually like pediatrics, tube feeds don’t scare me, and that hey—all this ortho stuff is pretty cool. Most importantly, however, has been seeing just how much my patients and clients’ needs compel me to study and revisit meaningful subjects that help me enhance the care I provide. To learn more about gastrointestinal health, I’ve been reading The Inside Tract by Gerard E. Mullin, MD and Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN. I bought a copy after hearing Swift speak at this year’s Integrative Healthcare Symposium, and it’s become one of my favorite resources for information on GI health—they explain some very complex stuff in language practically anyone can understand.

5.) Culinary Spring Cleaning featuring brown rice this week. I was also trying to work through a bag of the Trader Joe’s shredded cruciferous veggies blend along with some roasted asparagus and cauliflower.  The first night featured chickpeas, and an egg. The second night I nixed the chickpeas in favor of an extra egg white and some hemp seeds and avocado. Since my white miso and tahini were almost all gone, miso-tahini sauce was a no-brainer. File this under “Things I Would Never Make for Company.” Unless said company was of the crunchy-granola/culinary mad scientist persuasion.

brown rice bowl

6.) A friend recently pointed out to me that the word “avocado” can be traced back to words for “lawyer” and “testicle.” Great. 


7.) You Did Not Eat That. Hilarious.

What’s on your mind this Thursday?  


Happy Anniversary to Me

rose champagneThis day a year ago, I walked across the stage of Radio City to receive my grad school diploma and officially became an MS, RD.

The day started with a fire in my basement and ended with oysters and champagne. At the time, I mused about what I would have told my younger self. Of course, now I’m wondering what I would tell the me of May 20, 2013.

I’d probably tell her to get plenty of sleep—and not to be afraid to call bulls***.

What would you tell your younger self? 

2013 in Review

diet fortune cookieI can’t believe it’s already time to welcome a new year. Of course, this also means turning the final pages on the “old” year, which may or may not have any additional text on them. I tend to get surprised in the final days of December, saying, “Wait, I thought we were done and onto the acknowledgments page.” I will never learn, and that is probably a good thing.

That said, as we gear up for a fresh & shiny new 12 months, we look back on what the previous 12 brought—and what they did not bring. What did we accomplish that we set out to do? Where did we fall short? In what ways did we surpass our wildest expectations?

For me, 2013 was an objectively transformative year. Then again, the past few have been in their different ways. 2011 was all about endings and saying goodbye to what no longer served me well. 2012 was a clean-slate year of setting plans into action and planting new seeds. 2013 has been about beginnings and change and scaring myself on an almost-daily basis and reconnecting the heart, mind, and mouth.

Continue reading “2013 in Review”

It’s Official!

So, first, this: I am now officially a Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN).  Finally!  Jess, MS, RD, CDN.

Notice that Kitchen Lady is not listed as a credential. Wondering what the f*** a CDN is?  You’re not alone. As explained here, a CDN “integrates and applies principles derived from nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, food management, and behavioral and social sciences to achieve and maintain people’s health.”

Warning to other RDs applying for CDN certification: it can take months for all the documents to be processed. Sometimes it doesn’t, though. My intern partner had his approved within a few weeks—not typical. I actually had an alert set for next week on my phone to check up on my paperwork, so this was a nice surprise! I’m having dinner with my dad tonight, so it’ll be nice to have a reason to celebrate.

The next little mountain I want to climb is attaining my CDE to become a Certified Diabetes Educator. This will involve a little more work/logged practice hours and an exam, but it’s something I really want to pursue. When it comes to our ambitions, Sagittarians aren’t really into the whole concept of “no.” Unless we decide we want to say “yes” to something different.

Then there’s this lab coat selfie I took this morning at my friend Laura’s request:IMG_3354I’m always a little fried by the time I get to Friday. Heh, Fry-Day. Yeah, I went there.

Hope you have a great weekend ahead! I’m going to a diabetes lecture tomorrow morning and then getting my hair cut before celebrating a former classmate’s birthday. And hopefully shaking this late-summer “maybe it is a cold.”

What are you most looking forward to this weekend? 

“Dietitian, S*** is F***ed Up!”

I’ll answer to almost anything these days.

foodservice bookJust because I did a foodservice rotation in my dietetic internship doesn’t mean I really understand what goes on in the underbelly of a large healthcare facility, even when I run down there ten times a day to straighten out issues. Sometimes it seems like the kitchen is trying to mess up trays. I swear, hospital foodservice is like the rubik’s cube of customer satisfaction.  There are a few places that have gotten it right, but no one really knows how…

Basically my entire life, I’ve taken on challenges like they were options, only to find out later that the place/situation/job had a reputation for being notoriously difficult. For example, when I was volunteering in a little-slice-of-hell longterm care facility for HIV patients several years ago, people would ask, “Isn’t that…depressing?” or “How do you deal with that?”

I’d say, “Well…it’s certainly interesting.” And then I would rattle off some colorful stories and talk about how it was teaching me a lot about meeting people where they were at. In answer to the second question, I’d say, “How do I deal? I just kind of do.”

Most of the people I know who work in healthcare have said similar things, that they don’t really stop and say, “Wow, look how awful this is!” They just jump in and do their job, laugh at the day-to-day amusements, roll their eyes when they need to. The camaraderie you have with your co-workers definitely keeps you going. Of course, there are always going to be those moments when you need to vent behind a closed door or go cry in the bathroom and ask yourself why the hell you decided to do this—that’s part of any profession—but it rarely takes long before you find a positive to balance out the negative.

For me, right now I’m learning a lot about communication between departments and about ensuring that people feel like their concerns are being addressed. I’m also honing my technique of keeping it all together when I want to start speaking in my New Jersey expletive dialect. It can be tough when I put in so much effort to communicate clearly that a particular patient needs xyx, only to find them irate over a plate of exactly what they’re allergic to/something they won’t eat/the opposite of what they asked for, but so far so good. And also, you have to celebrate the little victories. I never thought I’d get so excited over someone getting a carton of milk with their lunch.

How do you approach challenges? What has your experience with hospital food been like? 


Best Medicine

When I first went back to school to become an RD, I had all these identity crisis thoughts swirling around in my head. Did this mean I would have to morph into a Type-A cookie cutter? I had an image in my head of the bottle-blonde, well-heeled dietitian who only seemed to talk about fiber, green juice, and childhood obesity. Was I allowed to have non-food/health-related hobbies? Luckily, time mellowed out my fears as I realized that for better or worse, I will always be me, regardless of how blonde my hair is at a given time or what kinds of shoes I’m wearing.

And you know what? My version of healthy living leaves room for things like drinking a gin cocktail while making oatmeal for the week ahead. Or one-person dance parties just because. Growing up, I danced in my bedroom all the damn time. Then I got out of the habit—dorm roommates, live-in boyfriends, etc. Eventually I rediscovered some of my sillier solo pastimes, and um, yeah.

Dancing like no one was watching circa 2005 or 6.
That costume party where I went as Mick Jagger, dancing like no one was watching circa 2005 or 6. <3 embarrassing old photos…

When everything around you feels so serious, sometimes the best medicines are laughter and movement and music. I might have danced and listened to this song a lot last night. Best cure for the sad bastard blues ever. Way better than online shopping. And besides, what’s the point of having your own apartment if you can’t dance around in your pajamas? Even if you are 27 and not 17…

Be honest, do you still have dance parties by yourself? What are your favorite songs to dance to?