Meet Janice Gardler, a registered dietitian with an impressive resume full of a wide-ranging positions in the field. Also, check out her recipe for her Nana's Pasta Fagioli soup. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Born and raised in the southeastern suburbs of Philadelphia, I’m a true “Philly girl.” I grew up in a household where education was very important. Through college, I studied at Catholic schools. Eventually I earned my master’s degree. Fifteen years ago, my husband and I moved from the Philadelphia area to metro Detroit with our three young children. In moving, I left a job I loved at a teaching hospital that was like family to me. It was where my three children and myself were born. I had most recently worked there as an outpatient nutritionist/registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. Arriving in Michigan, I focused on settling my family in their new environment. I quickly became involved in my children’s schools, Girl Scout programs and sports activities.
What led you to go into nutrition and become a registered dietitian? In my early high school years, we had a career center at school that was staffed with women who listened and offered good direction. Back then, I knew I liked working with people, had always enjoyed studying science and had thought about a teaching degree. That combination added up to dietetics/nutrition science. My various work experiences in high school and college continued to strengthen my passion for and interest in the nutrition field.
Tell us about your career in dietetics. Where have you worked? Before working in hospitals and even studying dietetics in college, my work in the health care field began young – at the age of 16. After graduating from college, I spent a year in a dietetic internship in New York City. All those experiences helped me become a motivated young professional. As a young clinical dietitian, I had an insatiable desire to provide my patients with the best nutrition care I could offer. At the same time I began my master’s degree, I took a job at a teaching hospital where I engaged in experiences I had been seeking – such as, teaching medical interns and residents, dietetic interns and staff, and classes of inpatients. I moved into an outpatient nutritionist position after a few years. I worked with a wide variety of patients and taught various group classes for specific needs. Before our family’s move to Michigan, I helped start up our hospital’s accredited Diabetes Education Program, and I became certified as a diabetes educator.
How did you hear about Cooking Matters? Why did you decide to volunteer? I first heard about the program at the March 2011 SEMDA meeting. Sarah Mills, a registered dietitian from Gleaners Food Bank, had a table with information and encouraged registered dietitians to sign up for training. I decided to volunteer because I knew teaming a chef and a registered dietitian could make a strong impact with a clear message. And it would be fun!
What do you like best about volunteering for us? I enjoy seeing a new class bond throughout the weeks and form a strong connectedness. We all share our knowledge with each other. I always learn so much from the chef, coordinator and participants.
Can you give a specific example of a highlight from class? The Cooking Matters participants enjoy the grocery tour and they are amazed about the content of packaged foods that are presented during the tours. The grocery tour gives the participants a great experience where they can pick out specific food items and we can discuss the nutrition significance of the products that they are interested in knowing more about.
What do you like to do in your spare time? How I use my time has changed in recent years since my youngest children are away at college. I enjoy hiking, biking, gardening, traveling, reading, watching movies and weaving reed baskets for family and friends. My favorite pastime is planning, preparing and enjoying a good meal around the table with family and friends.
Nana’s Pasta Fagioli Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ -1 pound ditalini pasta -whole wheat
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoon dried basil
1 – 29 ounce can tomato sauce
1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano
6 cups water
1/3 cup grated cheese
1 – 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
DIRECTIONS 1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion in olive oil until translucent. Stir in garlic and cook until tender. Reduce heat , and stir in tomato sauce, water, parsley, basil, oregano, cannellini beans, kidney beans an d grated cheese. Simmer 1 hour. 2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Stir into soup.