Branching out and facing new challenges

Published 6:20 pm Saturday, July 12, 2014

Working as a dietitian for the past 13 years, I’ve discovered I have a hunger for learning new things.

Daily, I take time to read the latest on food and nutrition via compilations of just-released studies, as well as magazines and news articles, watch what’s trending on social media, and traditional media and even have Google alerts set to email me on certain topics.  I’ve also taken the time to learn from all of you — in the aisles.

Yet the statement “The days may be long, but the years are short” couldn’t be more true.  I’ve worked with very critically ill patients in intensive care units, and I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and work with many of you, striving to make positive changes to your lifestyles to avoid complex medical problems.

That’s what leads me to my next adventure in my career.

While I have enjoyed my time working as a supermarket dietitian at Hy-Vee, I am eager to dive into working to optimize and inspire healthy changes for the students in Austin Public Schools.  Not only am I excited about this new opportunity, but it seems like many in the community are as well.

Parents and even students have already shared their excitement and even offered suggestions.  But before I go, I can’t help but share my gratitude with all of you in reading this column for the past five years.  Something else I want to share?  A few of my most-requested recipes from this column.

 Chicken Sausage Scramble

Makes 4 servings

All you need

•Non-stick cooking spray

•½ cup diced chicken apple •sausage

•¼ cup diced onion

•¼ cup diced red pepper

•¼ cup diced sweet potato

•4 eggs

•2 tablespoons fat-free milk

•½ cup chopped fresh spinach leaves

•Salt and black pepper, to taste

•2 whole wheat English muffins, split, toasted

 All you do

1. Coat a nonstick skillet with nonstick spray; heat over medium. Add the sausage, onion, red pepper, and sweet potato and cook, covered, stirring often, until vegetables are tender (test a chunk of sweet potato to be sure).

2. Meanwhile, beat eggs with milk in a small bowl until blended.   When the vegetables are tender, transfer them to a plate. Return the skillet to the burner, add the egg mixture and cook, stirring often, until eggs are softly scrambled. Off heat, stir in spinach, reserved sausage mixture, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately with a toasted English muffin half.

Nutrition Facts per Serving: 210 calories, 10 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 240 mg cholesterol, 14 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 410 mg sodium.

 Garden Patch Muffin Tin Pizzas

Serves 12 (1 pizza each)

All you need

•1 (16 oz) loaf frozen 100 percent whole wheat bread dough, thawed

•½ cup finely chopped fresh cherry tomatoes

•¼ cup finely chopped green pepper

•2 tbsp finely chopped broccoli

•2 tbsp finely chopped cauliflower

•12 tsp Hy-Vee pizza sauce, divided

•12 tbsp Hy-Vee mozzarella cheese, divided

 All you do

1. Spray a large knife with cooking spray and cut thawed loaf into 12 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a disk and place in muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray.

2. Combine cherry tomatoes, green pepper, broccoli and cauliflower in a small bowl.

3. Place 1 teaspoon pizza sauce on crust in each muffin cup. Divide vegetable mixture among pizzas (about 1 heaping tablespoon each) and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon cheese.

4. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Let rest in muffin cups 2 minutes before removing.

Nutrition facts per serving: 120 calories, 2.5g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 240mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g sugar, 6g protein.

Watermelon Salsa

Serves 16 – ¼ cup each

All you need

•2 cups chopped watermelon

•2 kiwifruits, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced

•1 cup diced strawberries

•½ cup diced red onion

•1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

•Juice of one lime

•Salt, to taste

 All you do

1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Serve with baked pita chips, over chicken or fish or as a refreshing salad alongside a sandwich.

Nutrition facts per serving: 20 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 0 g protein, 30% vitamin C.