Yesterday, a talented author died. I never met her, nor have I read any of books, yet I broke down and cried. I cried as I read excerpts of her work. Including her ominous last blog post pertaining to lamenting. I cried reading tributes from her family and friends about her life and influence. I cried because I know the feeling of loss.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been so impacted by a death in recent weeks. A friend of mine lost their brother to a brief illness. My voice trembled when I relayed this news to my husband. A person I have never met; gone too soon. I cried because I know the feeling of uncertainty.
On March 7th, my little brother, was diagnosed with leukemia.
So, to say my heart and mind are all over the place at this time is an understatement. I’ve taken a lot of walks. I’ve questioned Creation and have had doubts. Lots of doubts. How could this be happening NOW?
As you can tell, this is not a post about food, but a post about life. I owe it to you to be transparent about that. I have cultivated a habit of covering up spilling my heart, thus covering up the crappy parts of life. And you know, that’s not fair. Life happens.
Some may think this isn’t the place for that. That it’s not acceptable. I believe vulnerability is the ability to connect when things are not “okay.” And today, that’s what I needed to do.
As of today, my brother is getting treatment at one of the world’s top treatment centers as he plans to walk at high school graduation at the end of the month. He’s been accepted to numerous colleges and plans to attend one next Spring. He’s not dying. His labs continue to improve and astound the medical staff each day.
Although this is hard, unfair, and filled with unknown, this has also given us a reason to live each day fully and intentionally. Reason to appreciate every conversation and laugh. My brother is strong and this diagnosis is nothing more than a speed bump not a stop sign in his life plans.
As if nutrition isn’t confusing enough already. Where you get your nutrition advice from can be just as confusing and sometimes harmful.
All dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians.
What is a Nutritionist?
A nutritionist can be anyone.
Anyone who claims knowledge of nutrition at any level can call themselves a nutritionist.
Anyone with or without sound knowledge or understanding of dietetics, which includes the study of macro and micronutrients, anatomy & physiology, etiology of disease, prenatal and pediatric nutrition, tube feeds, fluid-restricted diets, the lifecycles of aging and its effects on nutritional status and intake, not to mention, nutrition assessments, nutrition counseling, interventions, monitoring and evaluating [holy run-on sentence] can call themselves a nutritionist.
Quite frankly, there is so much more!
While I do believe nutritionists can offer a lot to the conversation of nutrition, many fail to recognize dietetics fully. From my experience, nutritionists tend to be primarily weight-loss focused, and honestly, weight is not everyone’s health problem.
While some nutritionists may be degreed, they are not required to complete training or internships to hold their title. An increasing number of nutritionists do not have degrees or certifications in nutrition, health, dietetics or any related field.
What is a Registered Dietitian?
A Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD or RDN) is a protected title accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).
The Academy is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. It’s comprised of students, educators, researchers, retired and international members who help in constructing, advising, advocating, and influencing food networks, nutrition therapy, and food policies.
So, if you eat (which if you’re living, you probably do), The Academy and its members play the largest role in improving and advancing the food and nutrition industry.
To become a Registered Dietitian, one must:
Have at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, although many have higher degrees.
Complete 1200 hours of supervised practicum, commonly referred to as a dietetic internship or DI for short- many DIs are unpaid rotations in clinical, community, and food service settings.
Pass the national RD exam which consists of at least125 questions about the Principles of Dietetics, Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups, Management of Food and Nutrition Programs and Services, and Foodservice Systems.
Beginning in 2024, ALL RDs will be required to have a master’s degree in addition to the three REQUIREMENTS listed above.
In most states, Oklahoma included, RDs must also become licensed under the state medical board in order to practice.
This post is not to discourage nutritionist is doing their thing, but to enlighten those practicing nutrition how important it is to vet evidence-based information.
Some people may be under the false pretense that registered dietitians or those becoming dietitians spend years studying fad diets. With the blatant, “stay in your lane,” mentality, now more than ever, staying abreast of fad diets is now part of the job. Misinformation is so harmful to public health.
As most of you all know, higher education is not cheap. Even with assistance through fellowships, scholarships, assistantships, and even loans, expenses still occur here and there. When most of our time is in the classroom, it can impact the ability to save or earn money.
While I’m no expert, I have a few tips on what I have done to save a dime or two during graduate school.
tip number one)
Review your menu.
I know what you’re thinking, “Yeah, really?! Thanks a lot. [insert eye roll]”
While I love to eat out I have realized that a lot of my budget outside of education is spent on food. With food delivery apps making food available within a matter of minutes, consider the cost of convenience compared to cooking at home. Even simple meal prep delivery services can add up if you don’t eat the food before it goes bad.
By now, you should know, my favorite store is Aldi. I also have a Neighborhood Walmart within walking distance. Once a month, I make my “major” shopping trip to Aldi and stock up on produce, dried and canned goods, and snacks. And once a week or as needed, I can walk to the Neighborhood Walmart to get a few items here and there when they run out.
During the week, stress and a shortage of time may interfere with cooking meals. I try to cook a few meals ahead of time. That ranges from actually preparing an entree or two for the week or even just cutting up all my vegetables for ease of adding them to a salad or meal. Another big money saver for me is not purchasing meat. I am not a vegetarian. I like to eat what tastes good. Meat is an expensive protein source compared to other great foods such as vegetables, beans, and legumes. I am cooking-for-one on most days, so I can’t justify spending the money on meat, especially when it’s not the first food I reach for to satisfy my hunger.
(I save the meat purchasing for when hubby is in town.
Oh, by the way, I got married! I’ll blog about that later.
Tip number two)
Find a JOB
Okay, this tip is less about saving and more about acquiring money.
Find a full-time or part-time job in your field of interest, or just find something. There are so many contract jobs that can fit around your schedule. I know company’s like Lyft, let you rent a car if you don’t have one, to drive for them.
If your schedule allows it. Work from home! I have been very fortunate to start teaching online with VIPKID. My mornings start early around 5 or 6 a.m. I’m able to choose my schedule that works around my class schedule which has been really nice. I try to only teach on days I don’t have class. The income helps to cover some expenses such as food and rent and incidentals (and the wedding we planned in 45 days). But, it’s best to find something flexible around any exams, research assignments, study groups, or school engagements.
tip number three)
Cut cable and internet cost wherever you can. I think many of us have cut these cords a while ago. While I do have Wi-Fi at home, I don’t feel the need to have a top of the line package because I also live two blocks from campus. I’m essentially a stone’s throw away from free Wi-Fi.
I also decided to invest in a TV antenna instead of Netflix or Hulu. I only HAVE one show…”This Is Us” and that is pretty much the only time I turn on my television. It made more sense to me to spend roughly $17 on a TV antenna instead of paying for a plan ranging from $8 to $16 a month to watch one show a week.
tip number four)
Walk. Walk. Walk. Many grad students commute but if you live within walking distance, consider saving a few bucks and walk or ride your bike to class. My school also has a program where you can borrow a bike for a semester. I am rarely, if ever, late to class because I don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot which I hear is a pain in the butt on my campus.
tip number five)
Shop discount, resale or used. I have purchased most of my textbooks, clothing, and even apartment decor secondhand. Amazon Warehouse is a pretty good option, although sometimes it is a miss. Retail therapy is not a great coping mechanism to have in graduate school (or life in general).
Poshmark (earn $5 by signing up using my code KRYSTALWRIGHT25), ThredUp, Goodwill or even a local thrift store in your area is a good place to look for affordable brand name clothes for pennies on the dollar. I’ve found brands such as Anthropologie, Express, Banana Republic, and even designer brands for fractions of the retail price. Important to keep this in mind as you are preparing your research presentations and even a job interview.
Simple office and household goods can be purchased at a discount on Amazon Warehouse. I purchased two-reams of printer paper for under $3 per ream on Amazon Warehouse, discounted only because the packaging was ripped.
I won’t make any more promises about pumpkin recipes.
I feel as if cast iron skillets are quintessential for Fall baking. They remind me of the warmth of fireplaces and the heartiness of stews and soups cooked during this time of year.
I still wonder what America would look like if Starbucks made debuted a sweet potato latte instead of a pumpkin one. Anybody else? Maybe not. Is it only weird to me that we drink pumpkins?
Well, pumpkin is no stranger to my family’s Thanksgiving smorgasbord. From pies to custards, whether baked, boiled, or roasted, it makes an appearance in some form or fashion between October and December.
I recently shared a picture on IG but didn’t share the recipe. Rookie mistake, sorry fam. Without further delay,
Skillet Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
What you need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dairy-free butter, room temperature (not melted)
3/4 cup raw brown sugar
1 chia “egg” (1 tablespoon chia seeds and 1 ½ tablespoon water, let sit for 5 minutes)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 ½ cups of dark chocolate chips, chunks, or chopped
What to do:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, gently whisk the flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda, and salt.
Using an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Mix on medium-high until ingredients creamed together.
Add chia egg, vanilla and pumpkin to wet mixture until combined.
Add dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Do not over mix.
Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into cast iron skillet leaving at least 1/4” inch at the top of the pan for rising. (If the skillet is well-seasoned, you will not need to grease it).
Smooth out mixture and sprinkle on the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave in skillet to cool.
Entering this season of Thanksgiving, I realize how thankful I am for much in my life. This year has taken me to so many new places and has exposed me to so many new experiences; I will forever be grateful.
I was reading an article today (read: not my revolution) which made me realize how thankful I am for food.
Now, hear me out.
In my world, I am able to go to the store and buy food I need to make it day-to-day. Sometimes, I even buy food I want and food I don’t need. I buy food to try, just for the sake of trying it. On most days, I have extra food in my shelves. Even on my most intentional days, I still waste more food than I should.
I can easily take hundreds of pictures of my food before I consume it, share it with friends, or freeze it for later.
In my world, food is first: a source of recreation, and second: a source of sustenance.
I think it’s easy to incorrectly filter my reality for everyone’s reality. I hope that these lessons will continue to push me to be thankful and giving in everything I do.
If you are going into the field of nutrition, I implore you to stay woke (I’ve been gone since 2016, hope I used that right) on nutrition topics, movements, and the know. I think it’s important to read about many nutrition topics, (even when you don’t agree with them). I try to stay abreast on new diets, MLM brands, supplements, cleanses, etc., in order to find evidence-based approaches to support or deny methods. Quickly, one can observe the demographics of these product consumers and easily see the divide between food as recreation and food as sustenance, which I mention above.
To be fair, having margin to buy food for food photography puts me in the same boat. This article convicted me on so many levels. I could seriously go on and on.
While this time of year makes many of us more cognizant to give back and be thankful, I challenge each of you to make it a daily habit.
Since I am getting more clicks on my camera, I’ve been wanting to update my recipe pictures from years gone by. Part of the reason I stopped posting recipes is because my pictures just couldn’t hang with the many food bloggers out there, and learning photography was a daunting for me.
Well, here I am.
Mango Shrimp Tacos
1 tablespoon olive oil
15-20 medium shrimp, thawed, peeled, tails removed
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large jalapeno pepper, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced in 1/4″ chunks (I ate most of my mango before it made it to a taco, whoops)
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped and de-stemmed
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lime juice (fresh is best)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Stir together Greek yogurt, lime juice and salt. Set aside.
Add olive oil to a 10-inch non-stick skillet. On medium heat, saute shrimp, onion, ginger, jalapeno and salt until shrimp is cooked. This should not take long, about 6-7 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Place about 6-8 chunks of mango evenly over each lettuce leaf, then top with 1/4 of the shrimp mixture. If you’re one of the lucky ones to which cilantro doesn’t taste like soap, sprinkle on top.
Some of us may never have the opportunity to travel abroad to enjoy international cuisines. Fortunately, in a world of increasing globalization, food is no longer isolated to its place of origin and can spread across all borders.
Super Cao Nguyen is located in the heart of the Asian District of Oklahoma City. It is the largest international grocer in Oklahoma City and was opened by Vietnamese refugees, Tri and Kim Luong. While the shelves here are filled with many Vietnamese kitchen staples, foods from all over the world can be found here.
After living and traveling overseas, I am not a stranger to the sights and sounds of international markets. While I currently don’t have a car, I enjoyed venturing away from my typical grocery store routine to check out more varied and seemingly fresher food options.
Super Cao Nguyen opens at 9am on weekdays. At opening time, employees are seen going through their normal routines of spray washing, stocking shelves, and prepping ready-to-go meals for the day. As you walk through the doors, you are greeted with the aromatic scents of incenses and a bright display of floral arrangments and traditional festive decor.
I love signs like this that straight up, tell it like it is. The meat department cuts fresh fish and meat daily. Fresh salmon steaks on this particular day were $6.99 per pound.
In Mandarin, this dish is called zongzi. Zongzi is a traditional Chinese rice dish made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. Throughout Asia, there are different variations of this dish.
I am pretty adventurous when it comes to trying different foods, although I like to try international foods with someone with ties to a particular region (so I know if the food is actually good).
I was on the hunt for two items, but only I found one. The first was purple sweet potatoes, which I could not find this time. The second was the matcha green tea Kit-Kat bars. Which I gladly purchased a bag of, because no shopping trip is complete without sweets.