Plate of Peace Debut

Good morning!  Big changes today–My new blog is up and running! Please visit!

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Raw Apple Pie with Almond-Date Crust

I have a bit of an apple situation on my hands.

I went to Wasem Fruit Farm with a group of friends yesterday to pick apples and I did some serious work on the trees!  It was really fun, and they had a huge selection of apples—I grabbed Macintosh, Golden Delicious, Jonathon, and some unknowns.  I was a pretty hot commodity because I’m tall and could reach some of the prime apple clusters at the top of the trees. 🙂

My bargain shopping ways shined through when the orchard staff informed us that there was a flat fee for the U-Pick bags.  It didn’t matter if you picked 3 apples or 50, you paid the same price.  I attacked the trees like I was at one of those bargain basement sales where you stuff a garbage bag full of clothes for one price.  I think it’s safe to say that I have at least 60 apples.

Once I dragged my apples home, I dug out a Raw Apple Pie recipe from Whole Foods Health Starts here that I’ve been meaning to try.  I had a bite at Whole Foods last week and was really intrigued by the crust–dates and almonds comprise the bottom layer for a lighter take on traditional apple pie.

Three words for you: Make this now!  Better yet, make it yesterday because it needs to chill overnight.

Raw Apple Pie
Adapted from Whole Foods Health Starts Here
Time: 30 minutes prep, 8 hours chill time
Serves 8



8 oz. pitted dated
2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt


1 whole orange, peeled and sectioned
¼ cup raisins
2 teaspoons finely chopped peeled ginger root
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
4 small Jonathon apples, cored, and thinly sliced and chopped


  • For the crust, bring 1 cup water to boil.  
  • Place boiling water and dates in a small bowl and let soak for 10 minutes.  
  • Drain and reserve soaking liquid.  Place dates, almonds, walnuts, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of a food processor; blend to form a sticky paste. 
  • If needed, thin with a couple of tablespoons of reserved soaking liquid to help the blending process.  Spoon the mixture into 9-inch pie plate; press over the bottom and up the sides to form the crust.  Set aside.
  • For the filling, place orange, raisins, ginger, cinnamon, and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor and pulse.
  • Place sliced apples in a medium bowl and add orange-raisin mixture.  Toss to coat completely. 
  • Transfer apple mixture to prepared crust.  Let pie rest overnight to help soften the apples.  
So. Delicious.  All the spices and taste of apple pie without the sugar bomb and impending food coma.  Four apples down, 56 to go.  Do you have any apple recipe suggestions?!
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My DEXA Scan

Happy Friday!  I’m so excited to have the weekend off so I can attend the Michigan-Minnesota football game tomorrow.  Big Ten games are here!  GO BLUE!

I took a little break from football prep yesterday to undergo a total-body DEXA scan for my clinical nutrition class. DEXA stands for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and it is a large machine that quickly scans your body using an energy beam and emits a very low level of radiation.  The amount of energy lost throughout the scan is measured, and this is used to determine a person’s bone mineral density and fat and boneless lean tissue.  Here’s the DEXA machine I hung out it in.

DEXA machines are very expensive, so they are usually used specifically for research purposes.  The DEXA technician was so gracious to take time out of her schedule to perform a scan on me and each of my classmates.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect for the total-body scan, but I basically just relaxed on the bed section of the machine.  The scanner made a loud grinding noise and then traveled over my body, from my head down to my feet.  The whole process took about six minutes, and then the technician performed additional scans to measure the specific bone densities of my spine and each of my femurs.  All of my bone densities are normal, and it was no surprise that my biggest fat stores are in the booty. 🙂 I even got to keep several handouts of my results.  My skeleton is pretty cute!

I’m starting to hear whispers of mid-terms and huge projects, but for now I’m just ready to enjoy the weekend.  I hope you have a great one…GO BLUE!

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WIAW + U.S. Dietary Guidelines Tidbits

Good morning! It’s that time again…

What I Ate Wednesday!

I was running mega late yesterday morning and grabbed a few leftover pumpkin waffles for the road.

It’s hard to see, but can you make out the elephant-shaped waffles?? I have a circus themed waffle maker—each batch makes an elephant, a clown, and a lion. I breakfasted on two waffles made from this recipe, topped with 1 tablespoon of Naturally Nutty flax seed peanut butter and a few shakes of maple syrup.

I made a huge batch of waffles a few days ago using this recipe and froze all the leftovers, then simply popped two in the toaster in the morning, a la Eggos.  They paired well with my Nutritional Assessment class. 🙂

I also packed a snack of grapes to enjoy at school.

I snacked on an unpictured serving of cocoa roasted almonds during a lecture that explained the development process of the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines.  Dr. Eric Rimm, one of the scientists on the Guidelines committee, visited the University of Michigan to present a short lecture. The Guidelines affect program development for food assistance programs, WIC, school lunch, and nutrition education programs. It was pretty fascinating to hear about the advances that the Dietary Guidelines have made over the years—the Guidelines were compiled solely by expert opinion until 2005, when the USDA started to require evidence-based research for any recommendations given in the guidelines.  Isn’t that crazy to think that expert opinion alone ruled the deal prior to 2005? Looks like we are making some steps in the right direction!

I ran home for lunch, which was a special fish-tastic treat.  I always feel fancy when I eat a dinner-type meal for lunch.

Salmon fillet sprinkled with salt and pepper and baked in a 350 degree oven for 9 minutes, plus a sweet potato covered in pumpkin pie spice.  Sweet potatoes are great for a quick nutritious side—I stabbed this one with a fork a few times and microwaved for eight minutes, flipping once in the middle of cooking.

I powered through the afternoon and quickly ate a bowl of Lentil and Spinach Soup that I prepared using a recipe from this month’s Fitness magazine. I crave hearty soup in the fall and this batch delivered.

Going back to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, my soup craving just reminded me of something else that was newly added in the 2010 Guidelines—food consumption is affected by environmental factors (you can read the complete Guidelines here).  I think it’s very appropriate to include this message in the Guidelines because we are often guided to eat (or not eat) based on external environmental cues.  By recognizing this, we can discern when the cues are appropriate and when we can strive to alter our behaviors.  Some environmental factors that I linked to eating right away are:

  • Mood—Eating when something good, bad, or even in-between occurs in our external environment.
  • Weather—Eating heartier meals in the colder months and more fruits and vegetables in the summer.
  • Social Situations—Eating at a party or other social gathering simply because food is present and partaking is considered a social norm.

Can you think of any other environmental factors that play a role in when you eat and how much?

Moving back to WIAW,  I also ate a handful of Teddy Grahams (hello to my Kappa Kappa Gamma ladies…I miss eating these in the house kitchen <–social situation eating).

AND to top it all off, I inhaled a pumpkin whoopie pie at Bible study last night (another perfect example of social eating)! I didn’t take a picture, but I will be whipping these up in my kitchen very soon. 🙂 God is good.

Have a great day!

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Peaches and Capes

Good morning! I hope your Monday is off to a great start. I worked all weekend, so I’m thankful for a later start to my school week today—I don’t start class until 1:00 on Mondays!  My weekend was pretty fabulous because I traded in my lab coat for a cape on Saturday night!!

What do you think of the autumn cape?? I rocked it for the first time at a modern dance performance on campus, and I’m definitely a fan.  Just trying to figure out if I can wear my backpack when I’m frolicking in my cape.  This little wardrobe malfunction may prevent me from wearing my cape to class bringing my books and school supplies to class.

So I’m wearing capes and eating pumpkin and honey crisp apples, but I’m not completely ready to say good-bye to summer.  I’m still loading up on peaches for a few more weeks before they head out the seasonal door.  I enjoyed a peach in the raw a few days ago.

I transitioned to a chopped peach topped with cinnamon and heated in the microwave for a few minutes last night.  This came after a dinner recipe fail of epic proportions—I tried to make a new pasta dish using kidney beans and crushed tomatoes, and it just didn’t work.  But my peach pulled through. 🙂

And then today, I put it all together to make an individual serving of peach crisp.  For breakfast, no less.

Party of One Peach Crisp
Serves 1
Total Time: 10 minutes


1 ripe peach, chopped
3 tablespoons rolled oats
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
A few shakes of cinnamon
A few shakes of nutmeg



  1. Chop peach into bite-sized pieces. Place in a small microwaveable bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix all other ingredients together in a small bowl, coating oats completely.
  3. Pour oat mixture over chopped peaches and microwave on high for three minutes.

Perfection.  Serve in a cape, if desired.

P.S. Click here to check out my guest post comparing the USDA’s MyPlate to Harvard’s new Healthy Living Plate at the University of Michigan Risk Science Center Blog!

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Pumpkin Debut

I enjoyed my last piece of seasonal watermelon this week…And then I welcomed pumpkin into my kitchen with open arms.

We had the first meeting of Student Advocates for Nutrition this week, a group that I co-chair, and I knew I needed to make something amazing to lure in potential new members.  I can always count on pumpkin to bring in the masses, so I found this recipe and healthified it just a tiny bit.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies
Adapted from
Yields: 3 dozen cookies
Total Time: 45 minutes


1 cup all-purpose flour + 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ stick of butter, softened
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 ¼ cups pureed pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1.5 tablespoons almond milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a medium-sized bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Cream butter, sugar, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract together.
  4. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix to combine.
  5. Form dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place on baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until tops of cookies are slightly browned.
  7. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  8. Prepare glaze by mixing all ingredients together, adding additional milk if necessary to reach desired consistency.
  9. Drizzle glaze on cookies with a fork.

Very tasty! The combination of autumn spices really made the pumpkin flavor in these cookies pop.  I cut the butter in this recipe by half, and the texture really wasn’t affected due to the large amount of pumpkin I used.  The modifications that I made to the original recipe still don’t necessarily classify these cookies as healthy, but I think they are a pretty fabulous “sometimes” treat.  They were a big hit at SAN, too!

I purchased a monster-sized can of pumpkin and had plenty of leftover pumpkin puree, so I decided to wash down my pumpkin cookies with a pumpkin smoothie. Perfect for these days that aren’t quite summer and not yet fall.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Serves 1
Total Time: 10 minutes


½ cup vanilla Greek yogurt
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup pumpkin puree
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon honey
1 graham cracker, crumbled
3 ice cubes


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend to desired consistency.
  2. Add additional spices and sweetener to taste.

I was sad to finish this smoothie.  The creaminess reminded me of my favorite ice cream ever, Publix Premium Pumpkin Pie—it has chunks of crust and whipped cream laced throughout the carton!  I can’t wait to buy a container when I visit South Carolina in a few weeks for fall break, but my pumpkin smoothie was a good teaser to tide me over. And on a side note, I really miss grocery shopping in the south. My Publix in Columbia seasoned and broiled my salmon, and someone always brought my cart out to my car. It’s fend for yourself here at Meijer in Ann Arbor…

Have a great weekend and introduce some pumpkin to your life! You know you want the heavenly trifecta of fiber, vitamin A, and deliciousness that pumpkin provides.

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Tips for the Reduced Produce Section

Breaking news—fall has officially arrived because I saw honey crisp apples at the store yesterday!!

I love honey crisp apples, even though I sometimes wonder if they grow on golden trees in a magical land because they are so expensive. No worries though, I front-loaded my produce budget on honey crisps, and then headed to one of my favorite grocery store finds.

Once again, the reduced produce section saved the day!  I usually check out this cart before selecting any of my produce for the week, and yesterday I scored three red peppers for less than a dollar, a large carton of watermelon for a little over a dollar, and 5 bananas for fifty cents. The bargains can be amazing, but there are a few things I keep in mind when selecting items from the reduced produce section:

  • Inspect produce carefully.  A few nicks or outward signs of produce end-of-life are to be expected on the reduced produce cart, but it still needs to be edible.  I freaked out earlier this summer when I found a huge pile of raspberry cartons marked down to thirty cents each and threw several cartons into my cart.  I freaked out again an hour later when I opened the cartons at home to find sketchy patches of mold.

  • Develop a plan and purpose for the reduced produce items.  If I don’t want a cucumber to begin with, even a fancy-pants greenhouse expensive cucumber, then I definitely won’t reach for the slightly imperfect cucumber on the reduced cart.  It’s not a deal if the produce simply dies a slow death in my crisper drawer.

  • Be flexible.  I quickly survey the reduced produce cart and try to determine if I can use any of the items as substitutions in my planned menus and recipes.  For example, I randomly found a red onion in the reduced produce section a few weeks ago and bought it to use in a stir-fry instead of completing my planned purchase of a sweet onion.  The stir-fry still worked, I expanded my onion horizons, and I saved some money.

  • Freeze.  I regularly buy bananas past their prime and freeze them for future use.  Simply peel each banana, cut in half or in smaller bites, and place in a resealable freezer bag. They are great to have on hand for smoothies, whipped banana oats, or baking.

With a little help from the reduced produce section, I can buy my honey crisp apples and eat them, too.

Happy Wednesday! I hope you have a great day and are able to enjoy your apple variety of choice, too!

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Lentils are the New Ramen

Good morning! How are you? It’s going to be a fabulous day because I am prancing around in a killa pair of shoes.

These TOMS wedges used to be my heinous Biochemistry book. I ran to the store as soon as I sold my book last week because fifty dollars is just so much prettier in shoe form.

I worked two ten-hour shifts at the hospital this weekend so it feels a little weird to welcome in a fresh week already. The shifts are long, but I love my new job as a dietetic technician! I like being able to chat with patients and their families, and talking about food isn’t so bad, either. 🙂 I explained to one of my friends the other day that my job is basically really complicated waitressing. I visit patients in their rooms to pass out menus and help with meal selections, and resolve any diet compliancy issues or problems that arise throughout the day. I’m working a lot this month since I’m still in training, and it’s truly for the best since I have a lot of shoes autumnal capes books to buy for classes.

I could use a little help with my own meal selections lately! Since I’ve been running from class to work to meetings for the past few weeks, I’ve just been shoving in food when I get a spare minute.

Nothing wrong with a little lapside quinoa. I grabbed this container of quinoa, raisins, edamame and almonds from the deli section at Whole Foods and added extra edamame at home for another protein boost.

I also enjoyed this ham, (minimal) cheese, and basil pizza from Mani Osteria. Epic. I ran there after work on Saturday and clearly attacked this slice on the walk home.

I finally pulled it together last night and prepared a huge batch of lentils for the next few days. Haven’t you heard? Lentils are the new Ramen noodles. These suckers are cheap—all the more money to spend on shoes designer denim books. $1.99 per pound in the bulk bins!

So why dip into the lentil pool? Lentils are…

  • A great source of protein
  • High in fiber
  • High in folate
  • High in iron

Black lentils are actually my favorite, but my wallet prefers dried green lentils. Funny how that happens. 🙂 Both are good!

Lentils are the New Ramen
Serves 3-4
Time: 30 minutes


2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
1.5 cups dried green lentils
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine broth, water, and lentils in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.
  2. Meanwhile, heat medium-size skillet and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add chopped onion and sauté about 4 minutes.
  3. Add chopped bell pepper to skillet and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes or until onion is translucent.
  4. Add bell pepper and onion mixture to lentils and season dish with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Garnish with non-fat plain Greek yogurt and hot sauce, if desired.

I added a pinch of cayenne pepper to my bowl after a few bites for some extra pizzazz. My leftover lentils are packed and I’m ready to hit the road for class. Have a great day!

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Stigmatization of Obesity–What Can I Do?

I sent this tweet on Wednesday while reading for my Pathophysiology of Obesity class:


Our lecture on Wednesday focused on the stigmatization and discrimination that obese people experience, and I actually found myself tearing up in class. As someone who was formerly overweight and borderline obese, it makes me really sad and physically ill to think about the emotional turmoil that overweight and obese people endure in America today.  Overweight and obese people are people, first and foremost. Why is it socially acceptable to make fat jokes or searing comments at their expense? We won’t put up with derogatory comments regarding someone’s religion or ethnicity, but it seems to be par for the course to hear a few fat jokes or body image jabs throughout the day. Prejudice and discrimination in all forms flat-out should not be tolerated.

Here are a few of the key points that we covered in class.

Why are overweight and obese people stigmatized?

  • Many people subscribe to the attribution theory when it comes to obese people, which is based on the belief that they get what they deserve. They choose to overeat, so they get what’s coming to them. It’s not that simple. Various genetic, environmental, and psychological factors can cause someone to become overweight or obese. It’s also very interesting to note that most people are more accepting of an obese person upon learning that the person has a documented medical condition such as a thyroid disorder that causes him or her to be obese.
  • Our culture is obsessed with the thin ideal.
  • Overweight and obese people are generally portrayed negatively in the media, ingraining a sense of acceptability to stigmatize overweight and obese people in viewers. Remember Ursula, the overweight octopus villain in The Little Mermaid? We’re planting these images in our children early.

How does stigmatization occur?

  • Negative Stereotypes—obese people are more likely to be categorized as lazy, sloppy, and lacking self-control than their non-obese counterparts.
  • Discrimination
  • Unequal treatment
  • Ridicule

Source: Kopelman, Peter. Clinical Obesity in Adults and Children. 3. Blackwell Publishing, 2010. 25-35.

*If you are interested in specific studies documenting the stigmatization of obese and overweight individuals, I highly recommend visiting the website for the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. 

It was hard to listen to the lecture and hear the facts when I could associate a personal story to each of these categories of stigmatization. The memories of being picked last for teams in gym class, getting teased about my weight by classmates, and hearing teachers and other adults make negative comments about my teenage body and eating habits brought this topic a little too close to home. I was ready to peace out of the classroom.

But then we got to the “what can we do about the problem when we become health care professionals” section of the lecture. What can I do about the problem today? It certainly isn’t helping anyone if I run away from the situation.

Instead, I refuse to witness stigmatization passively. When I hear a negative comment regarding someone’s weight or body, I will start a dialogue with the commenter—what is the purpose of the comment? What exactly are you trying to say or portray?

Above all, I choose to be a friend and advocate. I know how difficult and isolating it can be to be overweight, and sometimes I just want to run up and hug people and tell them they’re worth it, just the way they are. While that isn’t exactly socially acceptable, I can portray this attitude in my everyday life and actions.

My professor mentioned to us that when we are dietitians, we should want overweight and obese people to leave our offices feeling empowered to make a change rather than ashamed of their bodies. That statement really resonated with me—I want people to feel empowered to make a change for their life because they love who they are now, not because they don’t. Does that make sense?

To be honest, I’ve been feeling a little down since Wednesday’s lecture—it hurts to relive those memories, and part of me wonders if I am still looked down on today by some people simply for having a history of being overweight and obese. Thinking about the proactive approach that I can take today to fight stigmatization makes it hurt a little less.

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Grilled Pork Chops with Apples

Hi guys! How are you? I’ve been sick for about a week—I think I caught a cold the first day of class. I’m off to a good start. 🙂 I’m finally starting to feel better, though!

I went on a plant hunt this week. I think I mentioned on the blog earlier this summer that I plant-sat one of my friend’s houseplants this summer while she was out of town. Unfortunately, I rarely watered the plants never got around to cultivating my green thumb.

Poor guy. He didn’t stand a chance with me! I channeled my inner scientist and brought a sample of the shriveled leaves to the plant nursery to show the employees.

I felt pretty hard-core whipping out my plastic bag at the store, and it actually turned out to be really helpful. The employee was able to identify the plant and I bought a very cute replacement!

Oh plants. I nixed my original plan of a plant-based meal and delved into the world of another p-word for dinner—pork! I always forget about the other white meat, but I picked up a few pork chops when they were on mega sale this week. I had the basic idea to make grilled pork chops with apples, and after investigating a few recipes a la Google, I threw this dish together using ingredients I had on hand.

Amazing. This was hands-down one of the best dinners I’ve ever prepared. I loved the mingling flavors of grilled apples and honey with the pork. Pork is back in my meal rotation!

Grilled Pork Chops with Apples
Serves 2
Total Time: 30 minutes


2 boneless pork chops (5-6 ounces each)
Dash each of salt, black pepper, and cinnamon
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
salt to taste


  1. Preheat grill and spray with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil mist.
  2. Whisk together honey, mustard, red onion, thyme, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Grill apples until softened, about 6 minutes.  Turn over half-way through cooking.
  4. Remove apples from grill and chop into bite-sized pieces. Add to honey mixture.
  5. Season pork chops with dashes of salt, black pepper, and cinnamon.
  6. Spray grill with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil and place chops on grill.
  7. Grill pork chops for 5-6 minutes per side, remove from grill, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  8. Cover pork chop with apple and honey mixture and serve.

The apples were phenomenal. I can’t wait to grill another apple and smother it in cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and fall goodness. 🙂

I served my pork with curried rice, which is very easy to make at home–I simply boiled 1 cup of low-sodium chicken broth, added 1/2 cup of dry jasmine rice, and covered the pot before reducing the heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. I mixed about 1/2 a teaspoon of curry powder into the cooked rice and voila! Two servings of kicked-up rice.

Have a great day! I’m taking my friend Lindsay for her very first PSL (pumpkin spice latte) ever today after class. So excited to initiate her into the pumpkin fan club!

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