Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Taste of Italy: Riderwood Theme Meal

By: Sammy Koterwas & Josh Naumann

With food service as our final internship rotation, we were extremely excited to plan our theme meal. While other partner pairs were given the ability to choose their theme, we were given the task to bring Italian cuisine to Riderwood. This worked to the advantage of both sides of production; interns were able to spend more time in the kitchen practicing our culinary skills, while kitchen staff felt more confident aiding in the preparation of familiar recipes. 

Although we were given our Italian recipes, through “taste-testing” we were able to adjust ingredient amounts, as well as put our signature on dishes. While testing our lemon and chive risotto, we decided to put a spin on the original recipe. We first formed our finished risotto into cake patties. We then fried half them on the griddle, and baked the other half the oven. All cooks were then given a chance to taste both versions of our risotto cakes. The fried version on the griddle won unanimously, and the new recipe was then incorporated into our final menu.

Other adjustments came with each recipe we tried; vegetables were cut uniformly in the ratatouille for aesthetic appeal, fresh eggplant was used instead of frozen to easily roll our rollatinis, and mascarpone cheese was made from scratch instead of ordering it premade.

Spending less time on menu planning also allowed us to spend more time with marketing materials. Our commercial was recorded week 2 of our rotation, allowing the filming crew to add extra editing and effects to our finished product. Our commercial was able to air more than a week prior to our theme meal attracting more Residents to our event.

Our theme meal was a hit with residents with almost 100 in attendance! Authentic music played softly while residents enjoyed our Italian dishes. We were able to make our rounds with tables, thanking them for attending our meal while obtaining feedback and suggestions. It was a rewarding experience to hear first-hand how much the residents appreciated our hard work.



With the guidance of the Riderwood cooks and staff, we were able to make our final project in our final rotation a success! We enter the world of dietetics with a new appreciation for food service industry.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Happy Maryland Day!



Even though I am not originally for Maryland, I was pretty excited to be a Maryland-er for the day! Maryland Day is an annual event hosted at the University of Maryland, College Park. It attracts thousands yearly where everyone enjoys a day of good food, games, informative booths, raffles, cooking demos, and more! The interns were fortunate this year to volunteer at either the UMD internship booth where there was a game of corn hole, the UMD extension booth where they were passing out Maryland swag, or the UMD Campus Sustainability booth which was hosting a "What's in Season" game and passing out kale plants or making bean pots.


We all took turns volunteering at a designated booth, but also took some time to walk around and explore the other events. This was a great way opportunity for the interns to get involved in the community help out at a campus event. Luckily the rain held off and people were able to enjoy the nice weather as they strolled around campus.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Life of a Traveling RD2be

As interns, we seldom have a moment to breathe. If it’s not time spent working for free it’s case studies, projects, and miscellaneous homework assignments. I’ve found that in between a full time job and college-like amounts of homework, I sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic. More times than I’d care to admit I’ve had some form of road rage knowing I have so much looming over me. An irrepressible anger that won’t seem to go away with the soothing guitar riffs from Dave Matthews Band or the latest catchy Taylor Swift lyrics.

With the ever-changing, ever-advancing technology that is right at our fingertips why not kill two birds with one stone? I’m not saying break out the metabolism textbook mid-commute nor am I condoning the use of cell phones while driving. In this day and age however, nearly any smartphone is equipped with a voice recorder or some form of voice to text application, if not readily available it can be just a download away from an app store of your choosing. Simply turn on voice-to-text or voice memo, drop the phone in a cup holder and use these moments to knock out the latest mandatory internship blog you’ve been assigned to complete, rattle off any ideas for upcoming projects, or set reminders of points to discuss during a presentation. The uses for an RD2be are limited only to how creative you choose to be. When you’re finished just save the note and email to yourself. ¡Voila! One assignment less to stress over. Sure, there may be a few errors, but how hard is it to spend 5 minutes cleaning up a paper compared to an hour it may have originally taken you?
  
So use that travel time for good, and remember eyes on the road and hands-free keeps you a smart and safe RD2be.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Building Your Own Blue Zone

One aspect of the University of Maryland internship that sets us apart from others is our concentration in information technology.  During March and April, I rotated at Wellness Corporate Solutions in Bethesda, Maryland for one of my technology rotations.  Wellness is a provider of customized wellness solutions to public and private sector companies.  Their goal is to help develop and support workplace wellness  that encourage healthy life choices in and outside of the workplace.  Services and programs include biometric screenings, health coaching, health informatics, and full circle wellness.  Full circle wellness incorporates a well employee portal, program management, customized incentive programs, and wellness campaigns.  

During my time at Wellness I was able to observe many ways they use technology to develop a workplace culture that helps put wellness at the forefront.  I had the opportunity to write blogs and newletters to be used for employee education material.  I also researched and put together a package of educational material in Spanish focusing on MyPlate, hypertension, diabetes, and healthy eating.  One of my major assignments was developing a presentation on "Healthy Aging".  While researching for my presentation, Juliet Rodman, the Co-Founder and Chief Wellness Officer of Wellness Corporate Solutions, introduced me to "The Blue Zones".  This is a book written by author and researcher, Dan Buettner.  He spent time traveling the world finding areas that seem to have found the secret to longevity and quality of life.
"The Blue Zones"
The five areas are: Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Icara, Greece; and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.  These regions have seem to have found a "Fountain of Youth".  Although each community is in a different part of the world and have a unique culture, they each follow similar principles to live a healthier lifestyle.  Buettner has named these common practices as the "Power of 9". 

The Power of 9
Visual depiction of the "Power of 9"
Move naturally: many communities allow for people to get physical activity in their everyday lives.  Like gardening and walking outdoors.  This concept teaches us to not only add physical activity, like going to the gym to our routines, but also to fit regular activity to other aspects of our lives. 
Right outlook: People in these communities felt they had a strong purpose in life and actively worked towards lowering their stress levels. 
Eat wisely: In the Blue Zone of Okinawa, Japan, the saying “hara hachi bu” before meals to remind themselves to stop eating when their stomach is 80% full.  This is similar to idea of mindful eating.  
Belong: All Blue zones had a strong sense of community and emphasis on relationships.  One of their main goals was to build and maintain their personal connections.
  Although my time at Wellness Corporate Solutions researching the mystery behind healthier aging, I did find the guidelines to healthier living.  Finding ways to fit the Blue Zones concepts into your everyday life may help lead to a healthier (fingers crossed), longer life!  Time to build your own Blue Zone!  Start with small steps and build your Blue Zone with movement, a sense of purpose, a balanced diet, and the relationships that matter most to you. 


Sunday, May 1, 2016

The DCMAND Conference

Every state has an affiliate chapter under the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and on Friday our internship class attended the annual conference put on by the DC Metro Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, or DCMAND. As a resident of Washington DC, I was excited to see what my local chapter was all about! 

The conference was titled “Planning with a Purpose: Modern Strategies for a Better Food Future” and it focused on the entire food supply chain, food policy, customer patterns, federal oversight and technological advancements of both food production, access and consumption. 
Some of the highlights for me included:
  • Learning how local urban populations are growing and increasing the demand for locally sourced and produced food products – only with the help of technology used in food production can these demands be met.
  • Hearing about how a specific product (Chobani yogurt, in this case) can grow to be a national leader and still maintain locally oriented production with a strong commitment to sustainability, quality and nutrition.
  • Understanding how the FDA reviews prospective changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel. 
  • Seeing how science-focused communications are most effective when delivered with a bit of humor. 
  • Reviewing some of the methodology used to conduct NHANES, and learning how anyone can assess the treasure-troves of nutrition and eating behavior data the USDA collects on an ongoing basis, including the Healthy Eating Index. 
  • Understanding how public schools are measured according to the USDA’s healthy lunchroom standards – and seeing how few schools actually meet the relatively attainable standards.
  • Getting introduced to new apps that can help dietitians council their patients and clients towards personalized food and fitness goals. 
  • Learning more about how grocery store dietitians can coach shoppers towards making healthful purchases, and manage their specific nutritional needs. 
  • Being introduced to local DC companies that focus on local, healthful, affordable meals for lunch and dinner (check out Scratch DC and Tiny Grocery!). 
We were encouraged to tweet about the conference with using #DCMAND2016, take a look at some of the topics mentioned during the conference, here.

Meredith next to her award winning poster project!
In addition to attending the conference, our class and dietetic interns from National Institutes of Health and Howard University were invited to present posters and original abstracts. Our classmate Meredith Dillon won an award for outstanding original project! Congrats, Mere!

Attending the DCMAND meeting is a great way for our intern class to see how important it is to be connected to our local Academy affiliates. These groups provide great networking and discussions about potential job opportunities. We also were introduced to future opportunities for leadership roles. Involvement in local Academy affiliates can only help each of us grow in our careers as we become dietitians. 




Wednesday, April 13, 2016

More Than Just Food Service

I am currently doing my rotation at Riderwood retirement community for six weeks. My partner and I have been very busy here and learning so much (which I could say for all of the rotations, really!). The biggest thing that we do here is prepare a large theme meal that is served in one of the restaurants at the end of our rotation. There have been other intern blog posts about that project, so I am going to focus on the more behind-the-scenes projects that we also complete while here.

When people think of food service, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the actual cooking preparation in the kitchen and then serving meals.  However, there is much more that goes on, and this rotation has a large variety of projects for us so we can be very well-rounded in case we decide to pursue a food service type career in the future. We were able to look at the binders from years of past interns, which was a great source of inspiration and guidelines for our projects.


While here, we complete SWOT analyses.  These are a broad picture analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in a situation so that managers can determine how to continue to improve the business both for profit and for customer satisfaction. I think this is a project where interns can really take initiative and produce a result that is truly helpful to the organization, so I was glad to do it. For one of our SWOT analyses, we looked at Windsor restaurant, one of the five restaurants on this campus.  We interviewed residents, employees, and managers for information as well as observed the restaurant in progress for a couple of days before typing up our report and submitting to our preceptor.  I am proud of what we created, especially since I think we identified some opportunities that they have not considered in the past.
Open source image from Wikipedia
Besides typed projects, we also learned a lot about staff management. Most days, we attended the pre-shift meetings for both the waitstaff and the chefs. We began by observing these meetings to see how the managers communicate and set expectations in order to have the best possible functioning department, with efficiency and good morale. Heading into this rotation, I only knew about the theme meal from other interns, but this rotation exceeded my expectations by teaching me about employee management and food service management also.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Elective: Vegetarian Resource Group

I had the pleasure of completing a rotation at the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) for the last two weeks. I had known about them in the past, from their newsletters and booths at conferences. They are a non-profit organization in Baltimore, MD that has the mission: "we are dedicated to educating the public on vegetarianism and the interrelated issues of health, nutrition, ecology, ethics, and world hunger." In such a short time, I was able to learn so much and I loved the experience. 

One project that VRG has been working on is promoting vegetarian meals at Our Daily Bread, a local hot meal program that serves breakfast and lunch to anybody in need of food. They have a high number of requests for vegetarian meals, but many of the donations are not vegetarian, so we are working to promote more vegetarian donations and recipes there. I got to talk to many people involved with the program to learn about its history and efforts to include vegetarian offerings. Brigette (the volunteer coordinator at VRG) and I went to Our Daily Bread to see it in action and see how popular the vegetarian meals were. We were again told that many people request vegetarian meals, but they usually get the same plate of salad, fruit, peanut butter and jelly or mac n' cheese, bread, and dessert. One food service director enthusiastically told us that they would love more vegetarian donations, so the next day I cooked three types of vegetarian casserole recipes that VRG has formulated to add to their donation recipe database. This was a great hands-on experience to be able to test out these new recipes and suggest changes to make them easier. When I delivered them the next day, I was told they would be used very soon! I wrote blog posts for VRG's website about the whole process in order to encourage others to do the same. It was great to feel like I had a direct impact on providing a variety of nutritious meals to less fortunate people who are requesting vegetarian meals.



I also helped a dietitian at VRG to do research for a webinar she is putting together. I was tasked with sorting through the various laws and government organizations to find any requirements or guidelines for meals served to senior citizens, so we could try to propose vegetarian menus that would meet those guidelines. I learned a lot during this process and hope it will also be able to make it easier for large federal facilities and nursing homes to provide great meals to vegetarians. One particular law does not currently allow tofu as a meat substitute in adult daycare facilities, but the bill to change it is being considered now, and I'll be rooting for it to pass!

In the VRG office, I was also able to help with some more day to day tasks. I helped sort through applications for scholarships and compose replies to the applicants. I researched vegetarian and vegan restaurants to write listings to add them to their international restaurant guide, which was a difficult task indeed: it's hard to look at so many delicious menus without being able to eat the food! But I didn't go too hungry, as there were many vegan food samples sent by companies to VRG, that I was able to try and write reviews about.

Overall, I really enjoyed being in this supportive environment that is dedicated to learning and supporting learning in others. The astounding number of books and resources in the office have given me a big “to read” list that I am excited to get started with. I am sad to be leaving so soon, but it won't be the last time I see them! I've signed up to help with the VRG benefit at a local vegetarian restaurant next month. Also, every year all 10 dietetic interns visit VRG for one day to educate them on how to work with vegetarian patients and clients in their careers, so I look forward to seeing them again on that day in May.

Maria Pittarelli
@beyondlettuce
@RDintern2016