Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nutrition Nerd Alerts!

So excited today to have purchased my very own domain name!  And even more excited to get Nutrition Nerd Alerts up and running on a more regular basis.  I've been waiting for this for a long time!!!

More details coming soon!  Thanks for being so fabulous, nutrition nerds!

:) - Jenn
The Nutrition Nerd

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Vegan "PB&J" Pancakes

I woke up this morning and wanted to write a blog.  I'm also on an intense budget this summer while my job at school is on temporary hiatus and I've been focusing on volunteer experiences instead of paid ones (SO worth it!).  So ... I decided to see what I could come up with from my pantry, fridge and freezer that is easy, quick and healthy to make (and FREE since it was with ingredients I already had!).

The first thing I found was my whole grain kamut pancake mix in the refrigerator that I needed to use by the end of this month (Do you store your whole grain flours in the refrigerator or freezer? You should!) I bought it to play around with different ingredient substitutions anyway, so this was the perfect opportunity to do something fun and creative.  If you don't have a mix to start with, this is a great vegan recipe where you can do your own substitutions or follow along as-is :)

The original recipe called for:
1/2 cup pancake mix
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup (+1 Tbsp) milk

I didn't want to use the last of my good local honey and had always wanted to remove the canola oil from pancake recipes ... and it hit me!  I'll substitute homemade blueberry jam a friend had sent me (thanks Teej!) for the honey and tahini leftover from a hummus recipe in place of the canola oil!  I wanted to try to keep this vegan (something I try to do at least once a week, in addition to Meatless Mondays) so the milk was out and water was in.

With my new recipe in hand I prepped my work station

and got to mixing.

I like my pancakes thick, but even this was too thick for me.  I added an extra 1/4 cup water and was ready to cook.

I used the lightest of sprays of olive oil and cooked until large bubbles formed on the top.  A quick flip and lightly browned the second side.

All done!

Played around with presentation (note to self: powdered sugar is easy to get everywhere when you only meant to sprinkle a little here and there!).

My favorite photo of the day is actually from my phone:

The final recipe:

1/2 cup pancake mix
1 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp blueberry jam
3/4 cup water (add up to 1/4 cup more if you like your pancakes thin)
olive oil spray
fresh/frozen fruit
cinnamon/nutmeg (freshly ground)
1/4 cup measure
Mix ingredients (with whisk or fork) until lumps in batter disappear.  Heat non-stick pan on medium-low.  Spray very lightly with non-propellant-based olive oil.  Pour pancakes from 1/4 cup measure into heated, oiled pan for perfect individual-sized cakes.

Cook on first side until top has large bubbles (about 3 minutes).  Flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes until lightly browned.  Top with fresh fruit or a small dab of jam used in the pancakes.

This creation is dedicated to the lovely Nutrishh, who will love the Malliard reaction reference :)

- Try not to mix too much past the point where the lumps disappear (not including the lumps created by using a chunky jam).  Working the gluten (protein in wheat) too much and cause the pancakes to be tough!  This is mostly a note for those using an electric mixer.
- You can easily omit the olive oil spray if you have a high-quality non-stick pan.  I am slowly diminishing this habit myself.
- The time for cooking pancakes depends on your pan, heating sources, and altitude.  These may need to be adjusted based on how long it normally takes to cook pancakes on your stove.
- Lightly browned (completed Malliard reaction for you nutrition nerds) is a good thing, but don't let the pancakes get too dark.  Starchy foods like pancakes can begin to form acrylamide (a carcinogen) if they get too dark.

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Reduce Your Impact. Improve Your Health."

What a fantastic slogan.  It says so much by saying so little.  This is the slogan of the Environmental Working Group's 2011 Meat Eaters Guide - what an incredible resource.

First, did you know that lamb has a 50% larger (aka 1.5 times greater) carbon footprint than beef?  Although we often think of beef as the big bad culprit of agricultural carbon emission increases (and it still is due to the huge beef industry in the United States), it looks like we need to mind our lamb, too.

For the comparison of all protein sources (including a comparison of lamb and beef) - check out this detailed infographic.

And for those seeking even more info, there is a 25-page PDF that describes how they collected their data and general recommendations for improving your environmental impact while making smarter choices :)  My favorite facts compare reducing meat consumption to other environment-saving ideas.

So now that you know all this, what should you do?  Great tips from EWGNote:  For even better, earth-friendly sustainable seafood options - try this site from NRDC.

Please, please, please check out the guide.  The earth and your body thank you :)

- Jenn
The Nutrition Nerd

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I know that 90% of the world has seen this already.  But if you have not - check it out.  You will not be dissapointed.  There is truth to every joke.  Sometimes more truth than humor :)

Conan O'Brien's Dartmouth Commencement Speech - June 12, 2011

A few of the snippets that inspired me today:
"There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized."

"It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It's not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right - your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention."

"Whether you fear it or not, dissapointment will come. The beauty is that through dissapointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes true originality."

"Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen."

Here is a full transcript, too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nutrition Nerd Alert: National Artichoke Hearts Day!

Are you obsessed with artichokes like I am?  I lived in Los Angeles during part of my childhood until I was 12.  When I moved back for graduate school in 2007, it was one of the first things I bought at the farmer's market and cooked for myself that summer.  Artichokes used to intimidate me because they can be difficult to prepare.  I stuck to baby artichokes and artichoke hearts canned in water to add to antipastos and chop salads.  I tried repeatedly to steam them myself but always struggled to prepare them without losing half of the heart.  I was so traumatized over a ruined batch a few years ago that I did what I always do - consult my mom!  She studied horticulture in college and is a self-taught cook (her homemade bread or grilled, well, anything are not to be missed).  She's one of those people who have an idea for any question you can come up with.  She's incredible (Love you, Momm!!).  Thanks to her tips I've had the confidence to steam them myself ever since.

So why all the trouble to prepare the artichokes myself when I could buy them prepped already?  Well, for starters the Nutrition Nerd in me knows that fresh is better than processed vegetables (that includes the chopping and preparation needed to can artichokes and artichoke hearts).  Artichokes also increase their antioxidant capability (by up to 15 times) when steamed.  Antioxidant capability is just a fancy way of saying the antioxidants are more bioavailable (aka more active and effective).  Boiling, the second best option, can increase antioxidant capability by 8 times (still great!).

Some of my favorite artichoke heart nutrition facts:
  • Artichoke hearts naturally contain both vitamin C and iron.  That means you absorb this non-heme iron source better than from plants that do not contain vitamin C.  Add a squeeze of lemon to enhance this effect and brighten the inherent flavors, too!  Not too much, though, as too much acid tends to make artichokes taste bitter.
  • Artichokes contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are in the carotenoid antioxidant family.  That means artichokes are great for your eyes!  While artichokes are relatively fat-free, carotenoids are fat-soluble.  Paired with a light vinaigrette including a small amount of healthy oils will help absorb these eye-protecting wonder antioxidants!
  • Being from the thistle family, artichoke hearts contain silymarin.  Silymarin is an antioxidant known to be hepatoprotetive aka liver-protecting.  With its 10% of daily fiber, it's great for your digestion in other ways, including cholesterol reduction!
  • Talk about nutrition density!  For a minimal number of calories, artichokes also contain potassium, folate, phosphorous, and calcium.  Artichokes are also a good source of magnesium and chromium (meaning 10-19% of your daily value).  Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body.  Chromium enhances the activities of insulin, making it vital to diabetes prevention.
If you've ever had canned artichoke hearts (even if they're in spices and/or oil) - the flavor is nothing compared to freshly steamed artichokes.  They're also a great food for kids.  It's fun to peel off and eat the bits of the heart that remain on the leaves.  Just be careful of the "choke" - a sure sign that they are part of the thistle family.  In fact, they're a perfect green category addition to National Nutrition Month!  BONUS!

Artichokes grow wild in southern Europe to this day and have been cultivated in California since the 17th century (thank you Spanish settlers).  Originally, artichokes were deep fried and served to the noble class in ancient Rome.  They're even mentioned in Greek mythology!  Today, there are many healthier ways to serve them (although I have to say I'd love to try a fried one someday!).  Just over 80% of our artichokes in the US come from one place - Castroville, California.  Who wants to go with me to the Artichoke Festival in May?!

If you're new to artichokes, I recommend starting with the NY Times Recipes for Health link here.  Tips for selecting them at the farmer's market or grocery store are here.  It's a little early for seasonal artichokes, but there's plenty of time to learn a few tricks before they're ready for you!

Special note:  Thanks to my fellow RD-to-be classmate, Nancy, for inspiring me to write a Nutrition Nerd Alert today!  I've been wanting to start these for AGES.  They'll be shorter than this, normally, but I got too excited about artichokes :)

Peace, love, and nutrition,

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Guest Post - Nutrition Round Up: The National Nutrition Month Edition (PART 1)

Factual Fridays Guest Post on Healthy Men Today (Friday, March 4, 2011)

PART 1: Add One New Color to Your Plate Every Week

Eat Right With Color. That is this year’s theme for National Nutrition Month. Over the month of March I’ll share some of my favorite tips that help make small changes in the colors of your plate that can lead to BIG benefits. This week’s post includes tips that can help you add one new color to your plate per week this month (that’s 4 extra servings of fruits and vegetables if you start this weekend!).

Half of Your Plate = Fruits and Veggies

The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines were released on January 31, 2011. As part of these guidelines, the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services released tips for consumers. Among these: make HALF your plate fruits and vegetables. You can do this in many creative ways. Here are a few of the tips that I have used to implement this in my life:
  • Adding seasonal fruit to breakfast every morning
  • Switching from a side salad at lunch to an entrée salad (more veggies, not more dressing)
  • Keep easily transported fruit (i.e. bananas, apples, pears, grapes, kiwis, citrus fruits) with you through the day for snacks
  • Focusing on a vegetarian entrée for dinner several nights a week
  • Shrinking meat portions (or replacing them with a plant-based protein)
  • Browse the produce aisle for easy pre-made fruit salads, chopped salads, and healthy veggie side dishes that you can take with you on-the-go
  • Try a new fruit or vegetable
What’s On Your Plate? Spin that Color Wheel

More than just overall fruit and vegetable tips, it’s important to focus on colors. Each color (green, orange/yellow, blue/purple, red, and white/tan/brown) provides unique benefits. Start by thinking about your typical plate for dinner. Does it include all of the colors of the rainbow (including the clouds at the end!)?

For a helpful list (and a really fun challenge for the month of March) see Inspired RD’s blog post from this week.

Completing that Rainbow

Once you’ve determined which color(s) is/are missing, pick a color to add this week. In addition to the tips above, you can also use resources that help you add color to your meals and snacks.

The simplest option is to add fresh produce to meals and snacks you already have planned. If you’re not sure where to start, try getting the smallest box at your local CSA as a trial box. This is a common practice for many CSAs and will help you experiment with fruits and vegetables you’ve never tried before. Even better, most CSAs include recipe ideas with their produce boxes. This is also a great opportunity to focus on local foods and help local businesses. Even if you live in a colder winter area, many of these CSAs are about to come out of hibernation!

Frozen produce is a great option if the fresh produce section of your local supermarket or a CSA is not an option. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a great way to get added colors that may be hard to find in your area and have equivalent nutrition. This also means that you can find many foods year-round, reaping their benefits. Try organic when you can (usually only a marginal increase in price).

Canned fruits and vegetables are also an option. If you think this is the only change you will make, go for it! Any change is a good change. 

You can add a new recipe with the color you chose. There are many sites with healthy food recipes, but a few of my favorites are here, here, and especially here. There are great healthy snack ideas, too!

I hope this blog post helps you get started by trying at least one new fruit or vegetable this week (especially if it’s a color not normally on your plate). I hope you’ll share your adventures with me and keep adding a new color every week this month. In the coming weeks I’ll explore ways to help your kids eat more colorful plates, what all these colors in your foods mean, and how to sustain a more colorful plate beyond the month of March.

Happy eating!

Jenn Jackson, MPH 
The Nutrition Nerd

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What is your favorite food fact?

One of my favorite things is food facts!  What is your favorite?

The Nutrition Nerd

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hunger Action Los Angeles

Happy weekend, nutrition nerds!

I went to an incredible meeting yesterday morning and wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.  I attended the Hunger Action LA monthly meeting with several of my fellow dietitians-in-training and some amazing organizations working to diminish food insecurity issues across Los Angeles.

Ever had one of those experiences where you hear someone say your thoughts outloud?  It was beautiful to hear walk-the-walk (not talk-the-talk) nutrition, public health, grassroots, and non-profit folks describe all they had accomplished and all that was left to be done.  I was especially excited because, as part of my new job, I will be connecting organizations like these with students in my program.  Remember my post from last week where I talked about finally using my Master of Public Health degree (in the context of my new degree)?  This was another one of those moments.  Instead of sitting in a classroom hearing about nutrition resources that have been established, I was out there learning about what was left to be done.  This is where nutrition students should be - active in grassroots efforts, making real changes, educating the public with practical tips, and learning through hands-on experiences (far beyond the competencies required by a Dietetic Internship).  It gave me inspiration on why and how to connect with them in the future.

I'm so grateful for this clarity!

Before I wrap up, I just wanted to highlight these organizations and some of their efforts:

  • Re-Imagining Empty Space - Bike through areas to see for yourself how much empty space can be utilized for positive, healthy purposes.  Then meet to discuss ideas for each space with those who can make a difference (free dinner!) - March 12 and 15, 2011
  • Food For Lunch - Working on added sugar issues with LAUSD (even collaborated with Jamie Oliver).  Their canteen (instead of "cafeteria") idea was really impressive!
  • Proyecto Jardín - Community garden that runs a CSA!  Irene has such an incredible spirit and needs committed volunteers.  They're part of the CA Endowment-funded Boyle Heights Collaborative.  They meet at 1718 Bridge Street (the corner of Bridge St and N Boyle Ave) on the third Thursday of every month from 3:30-5:30pm.
  • Comment period for Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs - Comments are possible through April 13, 2011.  School food service operators are likely to comment on how expensive, time-costly this is.  Let's comment on how nutritionally beneficial, not to mention proactively financial, this is!
Please check them out! Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Guest Post - Nutrition Round Up: The Healthy-on-a-Budget Edition

Factual Fridays Guest Post on Healthy Men Today

Everyone can eat healthy on a budget. Don’t believe me? Here are tips and tricks from some of the best.

An Oxymoron or The Way of the Future? Food Stamps and Organic Foods

I was inspired this week by Jenni Grayson’s incredible article of practical tips for eating organic on food stamps in the Huffington Post. It is one of my favorite articles ever written on the subject of healthy eating on a budget. Food stamps – called SNAP nationally and CalFresh in California – has become a reality for more people as times get financially more difficult across the country. While programs like FSNEP publish healthy eating education materials on a regular basis, Jenni’s tips reign supreme for me. I highly recommend that you click through each of the links she includes. Each and every one is unique, useful, and a money saver! Here’s a rundown with a few of my own links:

Jenni will be putting her tips to the test and writing a follow-up column. I hope you’ll stay tuned with me for an update! (And, no, I don’t just love her because she has the best name ever ;)

Still Need More Tips? 30 Ways in 30 Days

Imagine how much of an improvement you can make in your food budget with just a few of these 30 tips from the CDC. Just in time for March’s National Nutrition Month)! I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites:

Do you think you can eat healthier on a budget? If not, what do you think stands in your way? If so, what are your favorite tips?

Jenn Jackson, MPH
The Nutrition Nerd

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Guest Post - Nutrition Round Up: The Groceries Edition

Factual Fridays Guest Post on Healthy Men Today

This will be the first in a weekly series including the ever evolving changes in promoting health and nutrition. This week’s focus is on the successes, and contradictions, of healthy food options.

Walmart Community Nutrition

The largest food chain in the country (by far!) has partnered with Michelle Obama to begin a system of change: building stores in current food deserts, reducing produce prices, and reducing sodium and sugar in some processed foods sold at Walmart. Can this industry food giant change the landscape of grocery shopping and redeem itself?

Junk Food Banks

Times have been hard for a majority of Americans in recent years, and the need for assistance from local and regional food banks has also increased across the country. While grocery stores are improving the nutritional quality of their foods, they are donating their not-so-healthy food items to local food banks. Does this strike anyone else as counterproductive?

Goodbye To An Era

If the predictions are correct, the era of cheap food is coming to a close. As the world’s population grows, so do food demands. As subsidies turn grain crops into processed foods and alternative energy sources, prices increase. How can we make changes to prevent this and who will implement them?

Mandate 100% Truthful Labels

What a concept! This is one of the central ideas of Mark Bittman’s Food Manifesto for the Future. Imagine the products that companies would have to make in order to obtain the best in truthful labels. Now remind yourself how little truth labels tell us now. If we do take a giant step and regulate truthfulness in food labels, who will come up with the rules?

McDonald’s 2.0

What if the brains (and money!) behind the most famous fast food chain in the world decided to open a new restaurant, except that this time it would be “healthy.” Trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup will be banned and all menu items contain less than 600 calories. Using fast food profits for good? Too good to be true? This article from the Huffington Post describes the controversy that is Lyfe Kitchen.

When looking at all of these news stories together, is each initiative doing enough to facilitate measurable change in healthy food options? Or, akin to greenwashing and pinkwashing, are these deceptive ways to give the appearance that they are making a difference while still turning a profit? Will we ever know until it’s over? Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Hi nutrition nerds!

As usual, I'm still updating the Tumblr daily.  Beyond that - the winter quarter is in full swing!  It's been a very busy month of packing, moving, and unpacking but the end is in sight!!  As the boxes disappear and my new apartment becomes less cluttered, I feel my mind becoming less cluttered as well.

So what has happened over the last month?
- I got a job as a Graduate Assistant with my school's Community Nutrition track.  I get to help shape the program and encourage my fellow students to get out and do the work we spend so many hours talking about in class!

- I am using my MPH degree more now within the context of my MS/DPD program than I ever used it in my previous "public health" jobs.

- I am completing field hours for my Community Nutrition class, while also seeking "out of the box" volunteer opportunities.  I can't wait to share my thoughts on these experiences.

- I may have found my future DI internship - or at least two ideal options!  Has anyone else explored the Distance Learning option?  I'm looking into that as one of my options.  Now to find an RD who can help me implement my ideas!

I hope this post finds everyone having a great February so far!  Can't wait to share more on my journey very soon :)

The Nutrition Nerd

Friday, January 21, 2011

The BIG 21

Good morning, nutrition nerds!

I have blogged for 21 days straight!  And to think that I only blogged 5 times in the past 2 years, that's such a huge step!

You may have noticed that this site has not been updated since I got sick a few weeks ago.  I'm still coughing but other than that finally able to get back to normal.

During that time, I still kept up with my food photography mini-blogs on Tumblr - check 'em out!  I talked to my dear friend @sonnypatel last night and he wasn't able to see my posts when he clicked on the Tumblr link.  If you can't, let me know!  My profile should be public and you should be able to see them.

I'm about to start a long 10-day process of moving and organizing in my new apartment!  My blogs will probably be short until February, but I'm BACK!

Love to you all! - Jenn

P.S.  Something beautiful to inspire you this morning: Inspiration in a Parking Garage

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Same Story, Different Day

Another day, another missed blogging opportunity :S No Internet on top of this virus is not helping!

Today is going to be a better day - I can feel it!

Hope you had a great start to your week yesterday!


Sunday, January 9, 2011


Hi nutrition nerds! How did three days pass me by?  I've been posting on Tumblr all weekend and completely spaced on also blogging here.  I've been sick and, apparently, forgetful.  Forgive me?  ;)

I'll try to do a summary post tomorrow so you can see all the cooking and food photography I've been practicing while trying to lay low and get better.

Horrible things in the news this weekend.  Let's hope for a more positive week.  Love and hugs!

The Nutrition Nerd

Thursday, January 6, 2011


That is literally all I can think of right now :) Now I'm off to catch those few winks.

Really cool blog post should be finished tomorrow. Excited to share it!

Night! Zzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Featured Nutritionist?! :) :)

So cool!  I was featured today on Organized Wisdom.  Super, super, super totally rad!

And who knew that someone could write something so awesome about me?!

"5. @NutriNerd Jennifer Jackson, MPH, specializes in preventive medicine and is an MS/RD student 'creating my own brand of public health and nutrition.' She writes a blog and explores nutrition resources, specific foods, recipes, and incorporating nutrition into your way of thinking."

It's so nice that they totally get me!  What a great start to the day.  Thanks, Julie and @organizedwisdom!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Car free

Something I've always wanted to do is be car free.  Today I found the perfect apartment to let me park my car (not ready to fully give it up yet) and be a 5 minute walk from the metro.  Perfect.

Now I'm one step close to shedding the car altogether and being a happier, healthier me.

After an exhausting day, tonight's post will be short.  I can still feel the adrenaline pumping, but it's time for some chamomille tea and a hot bath. :)

Anyone else trying to be car free?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Eat in Month Challenge 2011

One month without going out to eat, buying Starbucks, purchasing anything from the vending machine or movie concession stand, and cooking and preparing everything for myself.  Although I mostly cook for myself and pride myself in my ability to sneak homemade snacks in to the movie theater ... I didn't realize how much I spent on food outside my house and how often I did it now that I'm back in school.  Once I heard about @thechiclife's Eat in Month 2011 Challenge, I was in!

It's day 3 and since I made homemade green chile stew last Friday I've had plenty of motivation to eat in.  One of my goals for 2011 is to improve my photography.  So I've started a Tumblr to help me do just that.  They're only on my iPhone camera so far (and man are they rough), but I have a new camera ready for using!  It's so fun to combine multiple goals (practicing more of what I preach, and photography) into one bigger goal.  This green chile stew is also meat-free so I can still use it for Meatless Monday, too.  I love multi-tasking!!! :)

Thank you to @thechiclife for today's motivation and inspiration :)

I'm off to my first day of classes for Winter 2011 quarter.  Can't wait to share more info with all you nutrition nerds!

Thanks for reading.  You make my day every time you do :)

The Nutrition Nerd

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A healthy reminder ...

I was just tweeting back and forth with Andy Bellatti (if you do not follow him on twitter - @andybellatti - then you must!) about nutrition class requirements in medical school.  A staggering 75% of medical schools do not even require a single nutrition class in their curriculum. Most of the remaining 25% that do only require medical students to complete a whopping 25 hours.  In the discussion that follows this post on his Facebook page, Andy also described that 40% of US hospitals have a fast food chain in their cafeterias.

Although this has me scrambling to think positively, it reminded me of why I am studying to be a Registered Dietitian and why I left my last two careers behind.  I used to work at an unnamed government set of institutes with the same initials as Nutrients Inwardly Heal (hint hint).  I was fresh out of college and excited to start my career in cancer research as a post-baccalaureate researcher.  My institute was inside of the main hospital building and I ate at the same cafeteria as the doctors and used the same money from drug companies to find cures for cancer.  It was awful.  Not only was I not seeing patients (as promised), but I felt completely unfulfilled.  Not to mention the health habits of almost everyone I worked with seriously left something to be desired.  Did they not know the same risk factors I did?! I just didn't want my mentors to be people who did not practice what they preached.  On top of the individual health habits, there were at least 5 different fast food chains in the basement cafeteria and a fattier, unhealthier selection in the "faster" cafeteria for hospital staff only.

As part of my job, I attended a weekly brown bag seminar.  I got to see the best of the best in every aspect of cancer research once a week.  It was the highlight without a doubt.  Then, an expert from UC Berkely came to our brown bag.  He was not a cancer drug researcher, but a nutrition researcher!  He spent the next hour completely blowing my mind and relating nutrition to the prevention of everything that we worked on in our labs.  Sadly, a much smaller number than usual asked questions and many of those I thought needed to hear his thoughts the most were in a rush to leave the auditorium. This is not to say that clinical cancer research in the laboratory is not valuable (because it most definitely is), but this was the turning point when I realized that I was at the wrong end of the health spectrum.  I remember feeling lost at the time, but also incredibly focused and motivated.  It was a strange dicotomy.

I switched gears (albeit with the complete support of my PI, who saw the passion in my eyes :) and applied to and attended an MPH program on the west coast in Preventive Nutrition.  I left that program in 2008 with the knowledge and skills I wanted to start my career in nutrition.  I knew I had more school to go, but wanted to get experience while I began the clinical portion of my education. I began working at the local children's hospital for an RD and thought - THIS IS IT!  I'm at a great DPD (Didactic Program in Dietetics) program and I'll get experience while I'm in school without loans!  This is the life. Unfortunately, having no clinical experience meant that I could not enter rooms where patients were being seen, I could not sit in with the 7-part multidisciplinary team (that I had taken the job to get experience with) to debate cases, and I could not attend clinical nutrition seminars because they weren't in my "job description."  And as many of you know from working in salaried hospital jobs, 40 hours quickly turns into 50 then 60 (and sometimes 70).  There just isn't enough staff, money or time in the non-profit world sometimes.  My school suffered and I almost put school on hold for this job that was taking me away from what I knew I should be doing (and what I was good at!).

Then I started using my Twitter again like I had in the beginning - as a way to enhance my education while connecting with those around me that share my passions.  Not only that, but sometimes I learn more from Twitter than I do from the classes I pay for.  I knew I needed to make a change and do things my way.  I was so fortunate, again, to have the support of my coworkers and mentors at my job. I've realized that being a little chatter box can be very helpful - people know who you are and what you're about.  They can tell when I'm happy and fulfilled ... or not.

I found the strength to quit my job, shell out my savings for school, and I haven't looked back.  Now I'm ready to make blogging a priority in 2011 (while still using Twitter, of course!).  It's only the second day of 2011 and I already feel like it's going to be a great year.  And becuse I said that, it definitely will be!

This is kind of a rambling post, but I think I really needed to have this conversation today.  I feel completely refocused and re-energized ... just in time for the first day of the quarter tomorrow.

Thanks, Andy!

The Nutrition Nerd

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Seems like the absolute perfect date to start my 1st of many consecutive blogs.

I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions (mostly because I never keep them), but I am a big fan of planning!  I'll write more about this tomorrow ... but my big plan of 2011 is blogging every day!  Even if it's only a single word that I can write, I'm going to do it.  I want more confidence in my own writing and more practice.  So let's do this!

Tomorrow's post will be all about the rest of the steps towards my goals so you all can help keep me accountable.  2011 is going to be my year of practicing what I preach.  I'm giddy with the prospect of it!

Love and hugs to you and yours!

- Jenn