Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Alabama. I am married and the youngest of six. I started my first career in upstate New York after completing my 1st bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. My job relocated me to Michigan in 2000 where I worked as a Software Engineer until 2009. I am a recent 2015 graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a 2nd Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics. I am currently busy studying for the RD - Registration Examination for Dietitian Nutritionists. I was recently awarded a Community Service Award by my church, Triumph Church, during the 2015 Pastor’s Scholars recognition program. This honor was bestowed upon students who were actively involved in volunteerism and community service while maintaining high academic levels
When did you decide to pursue a career in dietetics?
After spending 24 years in the field of Computer Science, I was looking for something that would really be helpful to others. I wanted to provide information for healthy living through healthier diets for others live longer, quality lives. I enjoy baking and I really enjoy cooking and modifying recipes to make them healthier. We all enjoy eating! We all can do better, sometimes by making very simple changes if we only have the information. When we know better, we can do better. In addition, diabetes has impacted my loved ones - my father, many in his family, and even my husband. Making informed eating decisions are an important part of maintaining a healthy weight, preventing or delaying the complications of diabetes, reducing the risk of other chronic disease or managing chronic diseases, and promoting overall health.
What led you to Cooking Matters?
I learned about Cooking Matters while attending a SEMDA (Southeastern Michigan Dietetic Association) meeting. I was inspired to volunteer with Cooking Matters because the program offers nutrition information to participants to help them make healthier choices and cook meals that are delicious, healthy and affordable, which are exactly some of the reasons I pursued a career in dietetics.
What is your fondest food memory?
I really love fruit. Growing up in Alabama, I loved visiting my grandparents who had a farm. On the farm, my grandfather had all kinds of fruits and vegetables. I can remember being able to pick strawberries, apples, plums, pears, peaches, and figs. He also has watermelon, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, and all kinds of different vegetables and nut trees. My grandmother was an excellent cook who made wonderful dishes out of the harvested produce.
Is there are healthy recipe you would like to share with our volunteers?
While in school I did a demonstration on how to make a dessert pizza that is not only delicious, but full of nutrients and not just empty calories. The pizza is made with a cookie crust that can be made from scratch or you can use a pre-prepared cookie dough or cookie mix. What I really like is that you can make your own cookie crust and that way you can control the amount of butter and sugar that’s used.
The toppings on the cookie crust include a cream cheese mixture as the “sauce” which is topped with fruits of your choice. This is great because you can select your favorite fruits. If you want to save a little money, because fruit can get a little expensive, you can select fruits that are in season which will be cheaper or catch them on sale.
Yield: 12-16 servings Prep: 35 min. + chilling Bake: 15 min. + cooling
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or whole wheat)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (or reduced fat)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup whipped topping (or fat free topping)
Sliced fresh strawberries
Kiwifruit, peeled and thinly sliced
Fresh blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
Or fruits of your choice
- In a small bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture and beat well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Press dough into a greased 12-in. x 14-in. pizza pan. Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- For topping, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Add whipped topping; mix well. Spread over crust. Arrange fruit on top. Store in the refrigerator.
© Taste of Home 2014 – Adapted from Summer Dessert Pizza