Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
I am a happily married mother of 13-year-old twin boys. My husband works for Ford and I am employed by the Livingston Educational Services Agency doing nutrition education with the PE-Nut Program in elementary schools. We are an active family, doing lots of traveling, hiking, bicycling and geocaching together. We lived in Salvador, Brazil from 2011-2014, enjoying travel to many parts of South America as well as going on safari in South Africa. We have a dog and a hamster who have not yet learned how to get along with each other.
What made you decide to pursue a career in dietetics?
My Grandma (who has passed) was very focused on preventive health and nutrition back in the 70's, before anyone knew the value of good food. I spent a lot of time with her and picked up her love of healthy, natural, clean eating. I also worked for 17 years in a pediatric dental office with practitioners who preached a healthy diet to their young patients. I love how something as enjoyable as food can make such a difference in many areas of body health, actually healing the body the way medicine does, but without the side effects. I left the dental field in 2003 and returned to school for a degree in dietetics.
How did you find out about Cooking Matters?
We had just moved back from Brazil and I was looking for some experience in my new dietetics career path. I had done some other volunteer work with Gleaners in the past and thought it was a good organization that fulfilled a crucial need in our community. I saw the Cooking Matters program on their website and felt it would be a good fit for my interests and talents.
What is your favorite thing about volunteering with our program?
I love the other volunteers and coordinators I have worked with. They are great people who have such a passion for helping others. It is such a fun class for the teachers as well as the students. Everyone enjoys it.
Do you have any tips for those who are trying to make healthy lifestyle changes this year?
The biggest thing I have learned about health is that we need to keep moving. In any way possible. Your brain, body and emotions are much more fit with regular exercise. I have stopped trying to make things physically easier for myself. I take stairs, walk when I can, bike to the store (don't forget a bag or basket for purchases), and do yoga in the house. Nearly everything I have heard and read in the past five years emphasizes the importance of physical activity.
Is there a recipe you would like to share with us?
I love to make my own applesauce. It is lower in sugar than the jarred version, and I can use whatever apples are in season or my favorite - Jonathans. Plus you can serve it warm and add yummy toppings, like curled apple peels, shredded carrots, raisins, chopped pecans, or even granola. Here is what I do.
8-10 apples, cored and peeled
(If you have a food mill, leave the peel on until finished cooking for a nice pink color)
1 cup of water
1 Tbs. lemon juice (optional)
1/4 cup white or brown sugar (optional) 1 tsp. cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
- Cut apples in quarters or eighths, depending on their size.
- (a) If cooking on stove, put water and lemon juice in a large pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat, add apples and cinnamon, cover and simmer on low for 20-25 minutes, until apples are mushy. Turn off heat and let apples cool slightly, remove cinnamon if using sticks, stir in the sugar, then smash with a potato masher or food mill. (b) If cooking in a crock pot, add apples, sugar, water, lemon juice and cinnamon. Cover and cook on low for four hours.
- Turn off the heat, let apples cool slightly, remove cinnamon sticks, then smash with a potato masher or food mill. The potato masher creates a "chunky" style applesauce. The food mill gives a slightly smoother texture. If you like it pureed, use a food processor or blender.
You can add this to muffin recipes in place of oil (pureed works best), or use with fruit in a blender for smoothies, or mix in with plain yogurt for some flavor, and even add with drizzled honey on top of ice cream.