Hug a dietician today and keep eating well

Published 2:43 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2020

This hasn’t happened before.  Because it’s Wednesday, instead of Friday, it’s my favorite professional day. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day is celebrated during National Nutrition Month® on the second Wednesday in March.

According to The American Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics “this occasion increases awareness of registered dietitian nutritionists as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition services, while recognizing both RDNs and nutrition and dietetic technicians, registered for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.”

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Because March is National Nutrition Month® and in case you didn’t know:  A registered dietitian nutritionist is a food and nutrition expert who has met academic and professional requirements to be able to use the title RDN (we were called RDs to start with, now we’re RDNs)  RDNs first must earn a bachelor’s degree with coursework approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics which typically includes food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.

Next the RDN candidate completes an accredited, supervised practice program at a health care facility, community agency or foodservice corporation (usually called an internship) before passing a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

And afterwards, to maintain that registration, the RDN must complete continuing professional educational requirements on an ongoing basis or forfeit his or her registration status.

Currently over half of RDNs hold advanced degrees.  To further strengthen our profession, in 2024 all incoming RDNs will be required to have a master’s degree. Some RDNs also hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric or renal nutrition, nutrition support and diabetes education.

Registered dietitian nutritionists who are members of the Academy are not only food and nutrition experts they also play a key role in shaping the public’s food choices and in treating persons with illnesses or injuries. Members offer preventive and medical nutrition therapy services in a variety of settings, including health care facilities, home health care, public and community health, foodservice, business, research, grocery stores, educational organizations… and through journalism, I might add.

And according to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics our member benefits are “designed to advance knowledge and skills and enhance networking opportunities of Academy members.”

These resources, combined with the qualifications that are required to become a registered dietitian nutritionist, “enable RDNs to translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living and contribute to the nutrition expertise that RDNs use to help individuals make personalized, positive lifestyle changes.”

No brag, just fact.  And if you know anyone interested in a career as an RDN do nothing but encourage him or her to find the path to a very satisfying profession in the health sciences.  There are excellent dietetic programs and job opportunities right here in Mississippi!

Eat well to be well, today and every day! Our recipes for today are from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Baked Oatmeal

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

1½ cups fat-free milk or soy milk

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup egg substitute or egg whites

1 tablespoon melted margarine

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1½ cups chopped apples

Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a small bowl mix milk, brown sugar, egg substitute/whites, margarine and cinnamon. In a larger bowl combine oats and baking powder. Pour wet mixture into bowl with oats; add apples, stirring to combine. Spoon mixture into an 8-by-8-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until top is firm and a toothpick comes out clean in the center. Makes 9 servings each with 160 calories.

Romaine and Bacon

Eat your veggies!

4 slices bacon

2 bunches romaine lettuce, rinsed and spun

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon peanut oil

Fry the bacon in a wok or very large frying pan over medium-high heat; remove from heat. Clean the pan. Drain bacon on paper towels; cool and chop into ½-inch pieces.  Shred the romaine; season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in wok; add lettuce. Flash-fry only 1 to 3 minutes, turning constantly. Makes 8 1-¼ cup servings, with 100 Calories each.

Shrimp Tacos

More seafood, less red meat!

12 taco shells

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pound frozen small cooked shrimp, thawed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1½ cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained

½ cup salsa

1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional toppings: diced avocado, chopped tomato, light sour cream, shredded lettuce

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake taco shells according to package directions, set aside. While shells are baking, heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and seasonings; cook until shrimp are warmed through, about 1 minute (if using fresh shrimp, cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes). Stir in beans, corn, pineapple and salsa; heat thoroughly, about 2 minutes. Add cheese, heat until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove excess liquid with slotted spoon. Place ½ cup of shrimp mixture in each taco shell. Serve with optional toppings. Makes 6 2-taco servings with 380 calories per serving.