Valentine’s Fondue + 4th Dietetics Post

IMG_3563Last weekend was Valentine’s Day!  We celebrated by making fondue from Tony’s new Melting Pot cookbook  (<<click on link to check out the cookbook).  My favorite was the Green Goddess dip that tasted exactly like what I’ve had and loved at the restaurant.



This day will always be special for Tony and me because that’s when he proposed…3 years ago (wow!)  A brief background:  Tony is completely opposed to cheesy things like V-day proposals.  He chose that night to propose because it was the absolute last thing I expected him to do.



We were also dog-sitting two HUGE labs.  The post-dinner entertainment can be seen below 🙂IMG_3572

To quickly follow-up on my dietetics posts, here is the 4th blog post that I wrote a couple weeks ago:


>>>So I just realized that I haven’t blogged in, uh, a while. That means I have quite an update for you!  Since last time I blogged, I’ve completed food service, LTC, community, and my one random last week of clinical.

LTC was at a nursing home that is making waves in the industry.  They organize their residents in different group “homes”.  To gain access you have to ring the doorbell and someone must let you in. They are very patient/resident-centered and have all these other wonderful philosophies that nursing homes across the nation are starting to model.

My final four weeks of community (completed two in the summer) were at WIC.  I did numerous anthropometrics and hemoglobin tests, provided nutrition counseling/certifying to clients, created useful handouts, and was able to participate several community breastfeeding initiatives.

Food service and clinical–I already gave you the deets for these! 🙂

As for the worksite wellness rotation, I’m really enjoying it at the Health Department!  My preceptor is the local worksite wellness “champion” for a state grant.  She is the contact for 6 other local businesses/grant recipients who have developed their own worksite wellness plans. My role has been to 1) create the 2015 wellness plan for our county employees and 2) organize and conduct a workshop for all of the grant recipient wellness teams.  I’ve also given two Lunch and Learn presentations to county employees.

I have felt most confident in my roles as an educator at WIC and the Health Department.  I can easily apply my knowledge in these situations, whereas in clinical and LTC I was very unsure and constantly questioning myself. I have felt respected and appreciated as a community educator…talk about a good feeling!<<<

I’m working on a post about making freezer meals with my friend last weekend.  Get excited!


Exercise vs. Diet: Which one is more important for weight loss?

Straying a bit from my dietetics posts, below is an article that I wrote this week for a county employee newsletter.  I love writing about nutrition and the steps one can take to get healthier.

Earle pic, just for kicks. He was sad that "his" rug was rolled up!

Earle pic, just for kicks. He was sad that “his” rug was rolled up!


Exercise vs. Diet

Which one is more important for weight loss?

>>>Let’s say you’re trying to lose weight and, for whatever odd reason, you want to focus strictly on either exercise or diet.  Should you increase your physical activity or improve your diet?  Answer…

Eat a healthy diet!  Changing one’s dietary behaviors has shown to be more effective than increased physical activity alone for weight loss.  The dietary behaviors that are proven to work for weight loss include:

  • Increase fruit and vegetable intake
  • Choose whole grains
  • Opt for lean meats
  • Decrease empty calories (sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, creamy dressings)
  • Calorie restriction (don’t try anything crazy without consulting a dietitian; accomplish this by using a smaller plate at every meal)

But there’s a catch!
The combination of both diet and exercise is better for long-term weight loss!
 If you’re going to lose weight, you might as well keep it off.  Weekly, aim to get at least 150 min of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.  And don’t forget that you need at least 2 or more days a week where you work your major muscle groups.  Don’t worry, you don’t need to join a gym or become a fitness fanatic.  Even if you increase your walking, you will reap the benefit.

So can we actually say that either exercise or diet is more beneficial for weight loss?  Arguably yes, a healthy diet is better if you choose to pick between the two.  But, as was hinted at above, it would be slightly odd to make this an either/or decision.  Small steps to improve your diet and increase physical activity can make a world of difference for your health.  Do what you can to get healthier today!


“Start where you are. Use what you have.
Do what you can.”
—Arthur Ashe


3rd dietetics post

First off, thanks for reading!  Add your email in the box on the right to “follow” my blog.  AND, if you like what you read, “like” this post, too. 🙂

If you’ve read about the dietetics rotations, you might have some questions.  One being, “You go from the hospital to a school district and all these other places.  WHY?”

Answer–> because registered dietitian nutritionists wear many hats! Anywhere that you eat, see, buy, handle, read about, or even think of food, I can guarantee it’s passed by an RDN at some point.  If you have other questions, leave a comment below!


Who? Me?



Here is my third post from the internship:

>>>This rotation is certainly living up to my expectations. My preceptor is the Food Service Director for my city’s school district. At the halfway point, I have thus far completed the following projects:

-HACCP Food Safety checks at every school
-development of a food service quality check and waste assessment
-presentation on food safety in receiving and storing
-created the rest of the school year’s fun nutrition “tidbits” (facts) for the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program
-wrote the November nutrition newsletter for the district
-analyzed waste vs. food cost for two weeks of usage at 3 schools

I’m currently setting up a taste testing of a new breakfast menu item. I’ll conduct it at a middle school next week. I’m also creating a survey for all 8th graders in the district. This year they have very high participation in school lunch. The director wants to ensure that we retain the high student participation for next year.

I must say, at orientation I was slightly freaked out by school nutrition. Food-borne illness this, germs that. After all these HACCP checks, I think the students in my district are in pretty good hands…despite the fact that I saw someone drop tongs on the floor, hand them to the dishwasher to rinse off, and attempt to put them back in the fruit. Good thing we were there to intervene!<<<

Great Weekend, Second Dietetics Blog Post

I failed to deliver a post over the weekend!  It was too beautiful to stay inside…I’m talking 70 degrees on Saturday.  In February!  In Kansas, nonetheless!





My girl friends (I don’t say “girlfriends”) went out with me to celebrate my last few weeks of being pregnant.  We got pedis, lunch at Taco Lucha, and three of us painted pottery at the hip place in Aggieville.  Baby is now officially full-term at 37 weeks and can come whenever he pleases!Painting Pottery


Below is the second dietetics blog post.  I wrote it in September.  Keep in mind that these aren’t terribly exciting, but if you were ever curious about my internship these can help you get an idea of how it was!

>>>I have 8 more days of clinical and then I’m done!…plus one more week in December. Rats. I’ve really enjoyed this rotation. Last week I was in the ICU and trauma departments. ASPEN guidelines indicate that these patients should receive nutrition within 2 days for better outcomes. This past quarter my hospital had a 100% compliance rate with th3 2 day requirement. Talk about doctors on board with feedings!

I will move on to my food service rotation next. I’m REALLY looking forward to it for many reasons, but especially because I will no longer have to travel an hour each way everyday. It will be an easy ten minute drive from my house. Whew.  I can’t wait!<<<

Dietetic Internship

It’s been a million years since I last posted and so many amazing things have happened!  I’ll start by updating you on my dietetic internship (AKA how to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist).


As an internship requirement, I’ve had to write blog posts to update classmates on my different rotations.  Below is the first post that I wrote in August:

>>>I’ve had an unusual start to my internship.  My first two weeks of my wellness rotation turned into community.  Fortunately, I found a more fitting wellness rotation and will finish my community rotation at a WIC office.

My third week of the internship didn’t exist.  The hospital had an inter-office miscommunication about affiliation agreements and required paperwork prior to my start date.  Needless to say, I had a whole week off! …prepping for clinical of course!

This is my fourth day of clinical and I have been very pleasantly surprised.  I, pessimistically, thought I was going to hate every second of clinical.  However, the gals I work with are energetic and fun and I really enjoy the hospital setting.  I’m on the general medicine, stroke, and psychiatric floors to start out with.  I’ll follow someone different every week.<<<

I’ll post the next blog post that I wrote for my internship tomorrow or so.



Why did the duck cross the road? (August pic)


Michelle’s Food Fight

What’s going on in the nutrition world?…

First Lady Michelle Obama has tirelessly fought the fight against childhood obesity.  In 2013, childhood obesity did NOT increase for the first time in 30 years.  The First Lady has successfully played a major role in this  with her support of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and her national Let’s Move! campaign. Here’s the deal with these two initiatives:

1.  Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act–the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is allowed to make changes to US food assistance programs for the first time in 30 years.  This especially affects low-income children who receive meals at school.  More information can be found here.  This is really exciting because school foods have to abide by criteria to make the meals healthier! Woot woot!

The backlash is that schools have had a hard time implementing the changes because of the cost of foods, lack of food availability food from vendors, and increased food waste.  Some high school athletes are even attacking the First Lady via social media because they do not get enough food during lunch.  **I taught several nutrition classes last week.  I polled the high schoolers for whether they liked or disliked the cafeteria changes (as indicated by a thumbs up or down).  About 5% liked them, 10% were in between (they knew it was better, but improvements were still needed), and the rest strongly disliked the changes.**  Here’s more info about the HHFKAct.

2.  Let’s Move!–physical activity is the second half of the living healthy equation.  This national campaign, or the First Lady’s baby, encourages kids to get up and get moving.  From premier advertising to partnerships with celebrities, this very public effort is far from controversial.  >>watch this Let’s Move! video with Beyonce<<

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.58.41 AM

Click this image to go to the website!

For a great NPR article about the First Lady’s most recent activity, check out this link –>Michelle’s Food Fight

One step at a time to combat the national obesity epidemic is all we can do and hope for.  Let’s support each step and pray for the best!

Life after Grad School

I can breath again.  Whew.  I’m enjoying life post-grad school, pre-internship.  I have one month off and a loooong list of to-do’s that have been pushed to the back burner.  That list includes catching up on my reading list, cleaning out closets, adding some more running mileage, going home for the birth of a new niece (!), and so on…  the weirdest thing is not having homework or my thesis to work on at night.  It’s wonderful.

This last spring semester was a doozy.  I would wake up with Tony at 5am, work from home, head to campus in the afternoon 3 days/week, and come home to work often until after 11pm.  And weekends–what were those?  All I did was write, edit, and catch up on classwork.  I’m still working on a post–life of a grad student.  That will explain a lot. Regardless, I made it through the semester, defended my master’s thesis, and graduated!  You may now call me Master Kristen.

Get ready for some more frequent posts.  I can’t believe that my last post was in August. What a shame!

The future's so bright

The future’s so bright

New Beagle Puppy

Everyone, meet Earle Grantham!

Bringing 10-week-old Earle for the first time

Bringing 10-week-old Earle home for the first time

Tony has always had beagles and knew that he wanted to continue on the tradition for our family.  I wasn’t terribly  interested in my own dog until we moved here to Kansas.  Our apartment is too quiet and calm on the weekends and, although nothing can replace my little sisters, niece, and nephews running around all over the place; a puppy could definitely bring some of that excitement. An internet search found a beagle breeder a mere 1.2 hours away from us. It was most definitely God telling us that we needed to get a puppy!…the next day!


First trip to the vet: healthy, 8.6 lbs., 10 weeks old

If you know me well, you might be thinking, “Kristen–a dog? Really?” I assure you, though, this little guy already has won over my whole heart!  I can’t stand to leave him at home while I’m on campus. Luckily he has his Aunt Joni to come play and let him out when we can’t!


First time at Sonic. Shakes anyone?

And, although, I’m most definitely his favorite parent, Tony and Earle have quite a bit in common…


Earle clearly takes after his Dad


Didn’t I tell ya?

Just quit chewing on Tony’s boots Earle! And the rug, please?


Some quality outdoor time together

We have qualms over raising a dog in an apartment, but here goes nothing! Earle was just too sweet to not bring home! We plan to set up plenty of play dates with our friends’ dogs. I can never have enough excuses to get outside and walk around anyway. Plus I’m actually meeting my neighbors now that they all have to stop to pet Earle!

Feel free to click on the comment tab on the left side of this page.  Let me know if you want to hear about anything in particular. I’ve already had a request for healthy recipes and the recipe for those cookies that I mentioned.  I’ll get those up soon.  Also, you can subscribe via email so that you know whenever a new post is up–that way you won’t have to look for sneaky Facebook hints about posts. 😉

I hope you’re having a great weekend!

Planning Update

Did I previously mention that I am terrible at meal planning?! This week has been no exception and it’s, what, Wednesday?! Here’s the rundown (list of failures) thus far, beginning on Sunday…


Shopping at the Commissary.

I moved some chicken from the freezer to the fridge to thaw for Monday.  We then went shopping after the last update, but we forgot a pen to cross off items on our list, oats, and bottled curry sauce.  We planned to eat leftovers Sunday night, but got invited to a friend’s for chile instead.  Thus, all leftovers got pushed to Monday and no crockpot meal was prepared. The chile was the best I’ve ever had, by the way!

Monday I ran to the store to pick up oats because I had my heart set on making cookies.  I forgot the curry sauce again but I baked some dang good cookies! We ate the said leftovers.


Tasty whole wheat cookies with flax, chia, pecans, raisins, and chocolate chips…in our tortilla warmer to stay fresh.

Tuesday, hotdog night, was foiled because Tony ended up not coming home from the field at all and the hotdogs in the fridge looked too suspicious for consumption (have you heard about the increase in food poisoning lately?) I instead grilled tomatillos (so sweet and delicious!) and the tofu intended for Wednesday’s curry, and I made a pasta salad.  All of this cooking occurred during a much-needed phone conversation with my friend Amanda. Needless to say, I shouldn’t try to do too many things at once–I burned my arm on the pasta pot and almost burned my eyebrows off with the grill!  A huge fireball burst out as I lit it.  At least I would have died in good conversation!

We ate much of last night’s meal today when Tony came home to shower at lunch. Dinner was supposed to be a super easy curry night. Frozen veggies, pan-fried tofu, and bottled curry sauce.  Obviously this meal was not going to happen due to missing curry and tofu.  Instead we decided to grill  Monday’s uncooked chicken. Weeeeell, I didn’t thaw chicken. I apparently thawed pork chops. Go me! Fortunately Tony cooks a mad chop, we had pasta salad, and we were able to rum-coat our pineapple. It worked out in the end and we’re wrapping up the night watching The Bridge.


Cheese-filled pasta, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, basil from our porch garden, olive oil, seasoning, a splash of vinegar

Tomorrow looks like it will be leftovers again, which works with the Ladie’s Choice night.  Friday is supposed to be tuna salad sandwiches…we’ll see about that!

I think I forgot to leave out my disclaimer:  I’m NOT perfect!

All that being said, feel free to laugh at me.  Tony’s shaking his head, and I have no clue how my well-thought out plan has been such a bust.  Oh well, you live and learn…

Some future posts, both near and far:

-Life as a Grad Student
-100 Places to Wear a Dress
-Tough Mudder
-Brew to Shoe

Here’s to Meal Planning!

Planning until there’s no more coffee!


You would think that as one who leads an overall health-conscious lifestyle that I would be sufficient at planning meals for my family.  Unfortunately, it’s quite the contrary.  I, quite frankly, suck at meal planning!  So after endless “what’s for dinner?” texts, multiple disagreements about who puts more effort into making dinner, and pure frustration at myself for some of the eating patterns that we have found ourselves in, here goes nothing.  Here’s to a full-blown attempt at meal planning!

I did some digging around for some planning advice and I came across this Cooking Light list.  I figured this was as good of a place to start as any, so here’s where I am…

1.  Resolve to make an effort–I’ve always said that life would be easier if I’d plan my meals out. T’s always been on board, too, so why haven’t we done it? I guess that’s a thing of the past, now! We sat down last week and hashed out some details. Teamwork and accountability!

2. Pick a planning style to suit your personality–we enjoy cooking and can often get so caught up in elaborate meals that we burn ourselves out. We also find that we whip up some excellent meals but can never replicate them because we won’t write down or even print out the recipe.  Talk about a no-brainer! Another major factor for us is that we have to pack lunches at night because T’s out the door by 5:15 am and I’m gone by 5:40 am.

So the key factors for us are (1) simple meals most of the time, (2) follow a recipe, and (3) make enough for the next day’s lunch.

All that being said, we’ve developed our weekly plan:

  • Crockpot Monday–prep. on Sunday night, hit the workweek hard, come home to a warm delicious meal.
  • Manly Meal Tuesday–I typically teach workout classes this evening, so it’s the only day of the week when T beats me home. It’s grillin’ time!
  • Worldly Wednesday–since we’re usually missing the spicy flavor of food from home (oh, New Mexico!), this will likely more of a Mexican food day.
  • Ladie’s Choice Thursday–this might become leftover mania. I’ll enact my creative freedom right to make something tasty out of what’s on hand. Leftovers, cans of beans, salads, whatev!
  • Fish Fri.–get it?!  There probably won’t be any actual frying of our fish, but it’s still a fun pun!  We’ll probably go for whatever fish is on sale, but it would be nice to incorporate some omega-3s from salmon.

3. Make a shopping list–this part is still under construction. We’re trying to find a great app that allows us to always have our list on us, one that can be shared between devices. I can’t tell you how many times our shopping trip has been ruined by leaving the list at home!

We’re also going to try to create a database of our recipes so that we can easily access the ingredient list. This part will probably take sometime to develop and perfect. Right now we’ve tried to pick 4 meals that can easily fall into each category listed above. We’ll be able to pick from those recipes to create a sort of rotation. We should only have to eat that meal once per month so we shouldn’t burn out on it too quickly. I’ll let you know how this goes.

4. Shop strategically–the idea is to shop when convenient and be flexible with your plan.  For us, it’s going to be important for us to shop together as we begin this journey.  If I do the shopping by myself, which has typically been the case, there’s a whole miscommunication at dinner time. T doesn’t know what we have, where it is, or what I specifically have in mind. We’ll try to eliminate the ambiguity.

5. Cook perishables first–try to use fresh produce early in the week and frozen veggies towards the end.  This is also applicable for meat, but if you freeze and then thaw your meat, no biggy.  I find that it’s always good to have frozen fruit around, too.  It’s too easy to pour frozen fruit into a smoothie, top your yogurt or cereal with it, or any number of other things!

6. Grade your efforts–assess and reassess! I like this idea of grading your recipe and effort. If it took too much effort, then maybe it shouldn’t be in the weekly rotation.  If we substituted the ricotta with greek yogurt or cottage cheese, we’ll write down whether or not it worked. This will hopefully eliminate some of the guessing game that we find ourselves in.

Last week was for planning and this week is for implementing.  We’re off to the grocery store on post (that equates to a serious shopping trip because of the tax break). I’m grabbing a sweater, the list, and my husband!  More will follow about this meal planning adventure.

Do you abide by any meal planning rules or theory?–vote below!  Have any tips? Comment and let me know!