Sunday, October 30, 2011

Life of a Dietetic Intern: Food Service Management at Texas Children's Hospital

For my third rotation I learned about Food Service Management at Texas Children's Hospital in the Houston Med Center.
Texas Children's is one of the top children's hospitals in the country and a great place to get the opportunity to see and work at. However, even at the best hospitals, it's rarely that you ever hear patient's raving about hospital food. It was an eye-opening experience to get to work under the Leadership team, see how decision around food and patient services get made, and what roles health (and $$) play.

A snippet of what I did: schedules, audits of food court effectiveness (ie standing in the food court for four hours counting people and wait time. Thrilling). I got to see all aspects of hospital tray line food production and delivery, including but not limited to taking temperatures, tray passing, menu passing, patient identification, & working on the trayline. While the Children’s hospital has not only a McDonalds, but a Chik-fil-a, Pizza shop, and Subway, they do have the adorable Bernie the Bean that helps you make healthy choices

But my favorite project was a vending machine audit. 7% of the country's vending machines are in hospitals and I located 19 of the hospitals vending machines and determined how many of them fit the contractor’s “healthy food” guidelines. Their guidelines were nowhere near what I would consider a healthy food, yet the machines failed to meet the vendor guaranteed 15% of products in machines being "healthy." Instead there were cinnamon rolls bigger than your hand, cookies, 3 types of cheetos, etc etc. Sad-especially in a major hospital where these machines are one of the few sources of nourishment for families waiting on or visiting loved ones. Let's not forget that 40% of total calories consumed by 2-18 year olds comes from “empty calories”-added sugars and unhealthy fats. And we’re falling far behind on fruit, vegetable and whole grain consumption. This when Illness and chronic disease linked to obesity account for nearly 17% of our health care costs $168 billion in medical costs alone!

I think this quote tells it best:
“Hospitals and health care facilities are among the environments that could potentially influence children’s health and their adoption of healthy lifestyles. However many health care institutions or facilities provide environments that may not support the adoption of healthy nutrition habits.”
-Sally Lawrence MPH, Maria Boyle MS RD, Lisa Craypo MPH RD, Sarah Samuels Dr. “The food and beverage vending environment in healthcare facilities participating in the healthy eating, active communities program.” PEDIATRICS June 5th 2009


It's a balance between the business of a hospital and the healthcare part of the hospital. Luckily most major companies and organizations are starting to realize that these two things are not mutually exclusive. Last year Cleveland clinic banned all sugar-sweetened food and beverages (minus those sold at au bon pain & starbucks even though those companies did change their menu voluntarily) Schools are leading the way in the healthy vending machine fight (USDA will be setting national guidelines for school vending machines by December 2011). Hopefully this is the future of vending machines: H.U.M.A.N I was super excited to be presenting not only to the leadership, but eventually the company itself about proposed guidelines and ways we could present healthier options to the staff and patients.

So like my preceptor told me to do I'm going to "Dream big and Dream early" and hope that small little changes lead to big results!

I was glad I got to spend my food service time in a managerial type position and learned a lot from my preceptors there. One of the most helpful projects in terms of career development was the interview project with the director. She had me create a series of technical and behavioral skill requirements for a job and then craft the appropriate questions to determine the perfect candidate. I’ve been on a handful of interviews so I knew the basics but she really helped me learn what it takes to be an effective interviewer. It was great to see that side of the table. She also helped to prepare me for questions as a fresh-out-of-internship-RD. Her suggestions and reminders for preparing for an interview were great. Although I won’t be applying for many clinical or food service positions remembering how to effectively prepare for an interview, as well as hearing her personal opinions on salary negotiation, asking appropriate questions of the interviewer and giving specific examples of your strengths and weakness was a great refresher. Since I’m now half-way done with my internship I will be applying for positions of my own sooner rather than later. Next: Supermarket Savvy, doing what I do best: Social Media, writing and food tasting!

What do you think about hospital food? any exceptionally good or bad experiences? Do you have any suggestions for people (ahem me) fresh outta school and job searching?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Godiva Pumpkin Spice Coffee Smoothie

Most of the time I like my coffee dark with a splash of soy/almond milk and stevia to spice it up. Lately I've been addicted to the espresso machine that resides in my new house. We have a bit of a relationship.

But I'm not going to pretend to be a coffee snob who only drink counter culture pour over drip. Not that it isn't fantastic, but I like variety a lot more. I also like Texas pecan, hazelnut, and most other flavored coffees.

Especially pumpkin.

In case you didn't read my last post, Pumpkin is another of my obsessions. So I COULD NOT wait to try Godiva Coffee's latest seasonal flavors-Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Pecan Bark as part of Foodbuzz's Tastemaker program.


Native San Franciscan Corinne was the first person who told me "YOU MUST TRY GODIVA COFFEE." I assumed she was just partial to the local, world-renowned chocolatier. Nope, girl was right, this stuff is gooood.

And what's way better than a Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, when it’s still over 80 in October in Texas?? A Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
  • 1 cup cold-pressed Godiva Pumpkin Spice Coffee
  • ½ cup pureed pumpkin ( I used fresh but canned will do)
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (soy works as well)
  • 1 banana
  • Ice
  • Vanilla Stevia to taste
  • Optional: protein powder of choice (I used hemp)
Blend! Cold-pressed coffee results in a creamy, smooth taste, and since it’s cold you don’t have to worry about it melting all the ice and making this less smoothie-esque. The cinnamon, nutmeg and clove notes shine through.
I'll be sipping this while thinking of my Boston trip that's just 3 weeks ago!
Have a fantastic weekend!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Even though it's still a balmy 80+ degrees in Houston, I like to pretend I'm still in New England and celebrate fall the best way I know: By....
I get a little bit crazy about pumpkin. Last year this time (which feels like eons ago) I had an entire party in honor of my favorite squash. It was glorious, with culinary delights such as pumpkin hummus, pumpkin whoopie pies, pumpkin cinnamon rolls, a pumpkin beer taste-off, and the best pumpkin vodka ever. I highly recommend you read the recap for recipes and inspiration.
Seriously, get on the pumpkin vodka boat. put it in a pumpkin white russian
So when I heard that this month's Recipe Redux was FRESH PUMPKIN THEMED I got very very excited. And then when my friend Katie and I were feeling homesick one weekend, we decided to go all out and make pumpkin soup, mac n cheese, AND vegan apple pie. It was delightful and I highly recommend that you pick a night to do likewise.
Yes you could use canned pumpkin. But have you ever done a direct taste comparison between fresh roasted and pureed pumpkin and canned? Fresh is so unbelievable sweet with spice nuances you'll never go back again!

Vegan Pumpkin Soup
1 small sugar pumpkin (a sweet baking pumpkin)
Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cloves, fresh grated ginger, sea salt, to taste.
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 yellow onion
1/2 apple, chopped
3 cups Almond Milk (unsweetened)

1. Cut pumpkin in half. Scoop out seeds. Sprinkle cinnamon, cloves, fresh grated ginger, nutmeg and sea salt on each half. Add 1/2 tsp coconut oil to each half. Roast in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.
2.While you're waiting for the pumpkin to roast, why not make some roasted curry seeds? rinse the seeds, and then lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Sprinkle on olive oil, curry powder, chili pepper, and turmeric and roast. I am notorious for burning my seeds, so i recommend that you chill out in the kitchen for 20-30 minutes and make sure they don't get to black....
3. Unscoop roasted pumpkin from skin and blend with 1 cup almond milk in a blender or food processor to make a puree.
You can use this puree in breads, muffins, oatmeal, smoothies, anything really! But if you want to stay with me and make soup, head over to step 3.
4. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a pan, adding the chopped apple once they are browned.
5. Add remaining 2 cups almond milk and pumpkin puree. Stir.
6. Carefully puree entire soup in blender.
7. Heat in pan
8. Enjoy!
Enjoy!

Still looking to get your pumpkin fix? Feast on these recipes!

  • Cherie Schetselaar - Grain Crazy - Fresh Pumpkin Risotto
  • Alexandra Caspero- Delicious Knowledge - Pumpkin Enchiladas
  • Katie Hamm - Healthy & Happy Hour - Pumpkin-Bacon Ravioli
  • Alysa Bajenaru - Inspired RD - Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Fries
  • Everyday Tastiness - Pumpkin Smoothie
  • Dr Barb, Nutriton Budgeteer - Pumpkin Chili Chicken Pizza
  • Kristen Bourque- Swanky Dietitian - baked pumpkin oatmeal
  • Marie Spano - Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins
  • Regan @ The Professional Palate - Pumpkin Ravioli in a Walnut-Sage Cider Sauce
  • Danielle Omar - Food Confidence RD - Pumpkin Goulash
  • Emma @ The Hearty Heart - (Vegan) Cocoa Pumpkin (Whiskey) Mousse
  • gretchen - kumquat - baked mini pumpkins
  • Emma Stirling - The Scoop on Nutrition - Recipe Redux Chermoula Chickpea & Pumpkin Sliders
  • Janel Funk: Eat Well with Janel - Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
  • Nicole @ Whole Health RD - Kaddo Bourani - Candied Pumpkin with Yogurt and Meat Sauce
  • Yuri - Chef Pandita - Pumpkin Apple Soup
  • Lisa @ Healthful Sense - Pumpkin Cream Pie Filling & Pudding
  • Jessica Fishman Levinson - Nutritioulicious - Recipe Redux: Pumpkin Pancakes
  • Kat Lynch - Eating The Week - Pumpkin yogurt dip for waffle sticks
  • Katie Caputo- East Meats West - Pumpkin Stuffing
  • Serena @ Teaspoon of Spice - Whole Pumpkin Cheddar Gratin
  • Kristina @ Love and Zest - Pumpkin Mash
  • Carrie Miller - Nutrition Know How - Baked Stuffed Pumpkin & Pumpkin Orange Muffins
  • Ann Dunaway Teh - Eat to Nourish, Energize & Flourish - Pumpkin, Squash and Apple Soup
  • Kara Lydon - Peace, Love, and Food - Pumpkin Yogurt Dip
  • Stephanie Howard - Give Them Something Better - Fall Harvest Chili
  • Karman Meyer-Nutrition Adventures - Pumpkin-Potato Breakfast Hash
  • Ayla Withee- Eat Simply - Salt and Vinegar Pumpkin Seeds
  • Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Defining Houston

    It's official. I'm obsessed with Define Body. Ever since taking a free class at Lululemon with Hank and barely being able to move the next day I'm 100% barre obsessed. I've taken similar classes at Exhale's Core Fusion and Life in Synergy in Boston and am so glad to have found an outlet in Houston. A combination of ballet, yoga, and pilates with low weight, high repetitions will make ever single muscle in your body scream-in the best possible way.
    The founder Hank is a former All-American Diver and former Core Fusion instructor who's bringing his genius workout to Texas, in gorgeous studios that are even LEED certified.
    The classes are all-levels and showing up is the most important part. They provide all mats and props all you need is socks, water and a great attitude. Every single muscle will shake and burn, but you leave feeling amazing, strong, toned, and just wonderful!

    So get your booty over to Define Body!
    Tanglewood: 5781 San Felipe St. Houston, TX 77057
    River Oaks: 1945 West Gray Street Houston, TX 77019
    Follow on Twitter @definebody

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Loving Giveaway

    As promised there will be one lucky winner of the Gluten Free Giveaway. But first I must share some recent loves:

    • How about some diabetic sugar bears every morning? Check out this artist's interpretation of our cereal aisles
    • Can you compete using REAL food? (not GUs, gels, etc?) My roommate wrote a great article for Penny Wilson RD's Blog and I think it's definitely worth a read!
    • If you're like me and you love plants and you love infographics check this one out on the benefits of a vegan diet!
    • Can you tell how compatible you are with you new beau? Check out each others' fridges. I love this article in New York Times and while I don't think it's the end all be all, I do agree with this: “Eating really is a mirror to the soul” and “To be in the kitchen with a person you are falling in love with or are in love with or have been in love with is such a great thing,”
    • I made my own sriracha last night. and it is amazing. If you ever get the inclining to do it it's well worth the effort
    . America's Test Kitchen shows the way!

    Thanks to all the entered the Annie's Giveaway! To be fair I used Random.org to figure out which comment/tweet would win. And the winner is... Melissa! Send me your address and some Gluten Free goodies will be on their way!

    Have a lovely week y'all!

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Lemon Poppyseed Smoothie

    I have always loved lemon poppyseed muffins. The tart combination of lemon with little bitty seeds is just delightful in baked goods. So when I saw Bite Me I'm Vegan made a lemon poppyseed SMOOTHIE I knew I had to try it. And despite being drank on a dreary downpour of a day, it was heavenly! Here's my version:

    Lemon Poppyseed Smoothie
    1/2 cup unsweetened plain soy yogurt (I like Whole Soy)
    1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
    1 TBS lemon juice
    1 tsp poppy seeds
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    vanilla stevia to taste
    Optional:
    2 TBS hemp protein powder (or other protein powder of choice)
    1 banana
    Blend all ingredients with a handful of ice. Add protein powder to boost the protein, add a banana to make it extra smooth and creamy!
    ENJOY!
    PS Have you entered my Gluten Free Giveaway yet? Get on that!

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Annie's Goes Gluten Free & a Giveaway!

    Annie's Homegrown and I go way back. At home my mother wouldn't dare let Kraft Mac n' Cheese or Ranch dressing in the house. Annie's White Cheddar Mac n' Cheese was a lunchtime staple and who doesn't love Goddess dressing? With that adorable bunny Bernie and their commitment to Organic, GMO free, no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, natural whole foods, what could you not love?

    So when they asked me if I would like to try some of their new gluten-free products, I said of course!

    First a note on Gluten-free: October is Celiac Awareness month. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting 1 in 133 Americans today, where your body is not able to digest gluten-found in wheat, barley and rye. Treatment for Celiac disease is elimination of gluten from the diet-for life. Some people are also gluten-intolerant or sensitive, and some people turn to gluten free foods as a type of fad diet. If you think you may be gluten sensitive, see a registered dietitian to help you navigate a gluten-free world and eliminate some of your symptoms.
    Only 5 years ago trying to eliminate gluten from your diet seemed like a death sentence of rice and beans for the rest of your life. Millet, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, nut flours, and spelt are "safe" foods, as are oats that are processed in gluten-free facilities. But the food industry has embraced gluten-free and now more than 2.6 billion dollars worth of products are sold each year. You can now find gluten-free breads, muffins, cookies, crackers, and scones in almost all grocery stores. Betty Crocker and Bisquick have even jumped on the wagon with GF cake mixes and pancake mixes. Just because something is labeled gluten-free doesn't mean it's healthy, but a great number of gluten free items are delicious and nutritious whether you stick to a strict GF diet or not!

    Speaking of delicious gluten free items... back to Annie's! I received a little package that just made my night!

    Annie's Bunny Cookies (think gluten free teddy grahams) don't stand a chance in my house. I love those little bunnies! Yes the first ingredient is still sugar so they're not the healthiest things in the world but you get 27 cookies for 120 calories. Instead off wheat flour they use rice and corn flours.

    Organic Orchard Fruit Bites have no added sweeteners and are made just with fruit juice. Try to find another fruit snack on the market that can beat that! Each pouch has 1 serving of fruit. They are also certified organic, gluten free and gelatin free.

    I tried grape and pink lemonade Organic bunny fruit snacks. They make a great pre-run energy boosts instead of gu-s. These would also make a great Halloween treat for trick-o-treaters.

    For Mac and Cheese lovers Annie's also offers two gluten free mac & cheese options - Gluten Free Rice Pasta & Cheddar and new Deluxe Rice Pasta with Extra Cheesy Cheddar. The gluten free noodles (made of white and brown rice flour) are some of the best wheat-free noodles I've ever tasted.

    I love Annie's commitment to reducing their carbon footprint. All the boxes are 100% recycled paperboard and they also use renewable energy sources.You can find Annie's products in most grocery stores, and they also shop free from their online store where you will also see that all their gluten free options are on sale this month!

    But I couldn't keep all this glutenfree deliciousness to myself. Annie's has graciously offered to giveaway a box of Bunny Cookies and Organic Orchard Fruit Bites to one of my readers

    Rules:
    • Open only to US residents
    • Leave a comment below telling me whether or not you've tried any Annie's Gluten-free products and what you'd like to try the most.
    • For an extra entry tweet: "Enter @Elizabetheats giveaway of @Annieshomegrown gluten-free treats http://tinyurl.com/3uk7tge"
    • Giveaway will close on October 16th, 2011 at noon.
    Good Luck!

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    California Olive Oil Hearts Boston

    While my feet are in Texas right now, there's still a huge part of my heart I left in Boston. I miss the people, the esplanade, the food, the hoards of college kids wandering around Allston every weekend...

    So when California Olive Ranch contacted me about their partnership with Boston's local food scene, I said of course I'd like to hear more! You never know when I'll be back in that dirty water. Plus, the pairings they sent me sounded so delicious they're too good not to share!

    • Farm Fresh: For those who want to take advantage of locally grown produce, the SOWA Farmer’s Market offers plenty of farm fresh fare. Transform a typical side dish by sautéing vegetables with Artois Ranch – Mild & Buttery for a delicious herbal hint and notes of banana and leafy greens.
    • For the Decadent Dipper: California Olive Ranch’s Oroville Ranch Bold & Peppery blend is a bold, abundantly flavorful oil with a strong, zesty finish that makes it perfect for dipping with artisan breads like Clear Flour Bread’s Ancienne French Bread, a rustic baguette with a daring crunch and mildly sweet flavor.
    Or at least that's what I would do if I was still in Boston. Since I am still in hot hot hot Houston, I tried this EVOO on my Massaged Kale Salad- a lunch staple.
    Ingredients: kale and Arbequina California Olive Ranch EVOO-which has a subtle flavor of tropical fruit and artichokes.
    Directions: Massage that kale
    Add chickpeas, spices-voila!
    I also used it when sauteing tempeh with mushrooms.
    no need to fear all white foods-mushrooms are little healthy powerhousesAn awesome vegetarian source of protein!
    Served over quinoa
    But adding fresh roasted garlic to it and using it as a dip for bread or on salad, that was divine.
    A couple more things I liked about this olive oil- they are very commited to transparency and sustainability. You can find out just where your olive oil came from and it's stored in 100% recyclable bottle.

    And next time you're in Napa, don't just sip the wine, but take in the subtle flavor nuances of olive oils too! Check out California Olive Ranch's website and follow them on twitter too!

    Off to go day dream of both Napa and Boston. Sigh!