Roasted Veggie One-Layer Lasagna

For the past few weeks (up until now), I haven’t been inspired to cook anything exciting but I am excited about something…my classes for fall semester start next week! I’m excited because it means I’m one step closer to my master’s and the beginning of my career. On a food-note-I wanted to make a dish for the next few days so that when I come home, I can just heat this up for an easy lunch or dinner (or healthy midnight snack). The following recipe is chock full of nutrients in the form of root veggies and whole grains. You can also roast some green veggies, like kale or brussels sprouts and add them to this recipe (which I didn’t do, but just thought would taste amazing). If you’re not a vegan, feel free to add some cheese, but this version I made is vegan.

photo 3-11Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 6 sheets/pieces of whole grain lasagna
  • 2 large beets, chopped into cubes in a size to your liking
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1.5 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil or olive oil (but not extra virgin olive oil, because this is going in the oven)
  • 1 additional carrot to be grated
  • pepper, to taste
  • a sprinkle of garlic powder

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit
  • Place chopped veggies, pepper, and 1 tbsp. oil in an oven safe dish and mix so that the oil covers the veggies
  • Roast veggies at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
  • While the veggies are roasted, boil a large pot of water
  • When the water comes to a boil, place sheets of lasagna in water. Don’t break them to allow them to be fully submerged, just wait until half of them become pliable enough to fit entirely in the water.
  • After 8-12 minutes, the pasta should be ready.
  • Remove from stove and drain. Then, pat dry or lay them across a surface to dry
  • Remove the roasted veggies from the oven after 30 minutes
  • Grease another oven-safe dish and then lay three of the lasagna sheets down on the dish
  • Add a layer of tomato sauce to the lasagna sheets
  • Add most of the roasted veggies and sprinkle garlic powder, add 1 tbsp. oil, and another layer of tomato sauce if desired
  • Add the second layer of lasagna sheets (you should have three remaining) on top of the roasted veggies/tomato sauce mixture
  • Add one more layer of tomato sauce on top, and (optional) a few more roasted veggies on top of the sauce
  • Grate a carrot using a cheese grater and add on top (like you would with cheese)
  • Stick in the oven at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes
  • Remove from oven, allow to cool, and serve (or save for later)
  • Enjoy!

-Jess

An Ode to Oats

A while ago, I wrote a post about several different ways to prepare oats. Tonight, I was hungry, but didn’t really feel like cooking an elaborate meal. I also had a bunch of veggies that I wanted to use, so I decided to make a savory oat recipe that combines veggies, whole grains, and a good helping of plant-based protein and healthy fats. Next time you’re craving something filling yet quick, try this recipe. Oats are a great grain to use because they’re rich in fiber and leave you feeling full for quite a while. They’re also so easy to make and mild in flavor on their own, so think beyond breakfast when it comes to oats.

This dish might not win any awards for being visually pleasing, but it is sure to leave your belly satisfied!

This dish might not win any awards for being visually pleasing, but it is sure to leave your belly satisfied!

Ingredients (serves 1 hungry person, or 2 people):

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (gluten-free oats are also an option, if you’re following a gluten-free diet)
  • 1/2 cup black beans (drained of excess water and salt)
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms, bell peppers, or whatever veggies you have available
  • 1 cup spinach, or other leafy green
  • guacamole (or avocado slices)
  • red pepper hummus (optional), you can also use salsa if available
  • non-stick spray or 1-2 tsp. olive oil

Directions:

  • Spray a pan with nonstick spray oil (or pour some olive oil on a pan), chop up veggies, and allow to cook on medium heat
  • Measure oats and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the suggested amount of water listed on the box. Heat for about 3 minutes in the microwave (but watch the bowl, because sometimes oats like to overflow and then you’ll be spending some time cleaning your microwave. Not fun!)
  • When the veggies have lightly browned, add 1/2 cup black beans to heat them up (canned beans don’t really need to be cooked) for a few minutes
  • Remove the pan of veggies and beans from the stove
  • Remove the oats from the microwave and combine the two
  • Add hummus, guacamole, salsa, or whatever you think would complement this dish well. Get creative and enjoy!

-Jess

Farm to Table: Kale and Pumpkin Sauce

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When I’m not working on this blog, taking notes in class, or at work, I also volunteer for a cause that I’m passionate about: supporting local agriculture! Living on Long Island for most of my life has given me a huge appreciation for the local farmers that dedicate their lives to providing communities with real, fresh, sustainably-raised produce. Because of this, I spend time helping out at a Farmers’ Market where we sell all types of fresh fruits and veggies planted on Long Island. This past weekend, I picked up some kale (among other nutritious goodies) and was thinking about possible recipes I could come up with. I looked in my cupboard and saw that I had a can of pumpkin (it would be even better if I had fresh pumpkin, but it’s not late enough in the season for that). I decided to combine the two to make an awesome, delicious sauce that I’m sharing today. I made this sauce up as I went along, so feel free to adjust it based on your tastebuds.

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups of kale (raw), chopped
  • 1 twelve-ounce can of pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix in a can!)
  • 1 cup unsweetened, plain almond milk, rice milk, or soy milk
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped, or 2-3 tsp. dry basil
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano (I didn’t have fresh oregano, but if you have it, use it)
  • a dash of salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. of nutmeg (this is optional, nutmeg complements pumpkin really well, but if you don’t have any on hand, don’t worry about it!)

 

Directions

  • Finely chop garlic and use non-stick spray to grease a pan on low-medium heat
  • Allow garlic to sizzle a little
  • While garlic is cooking, use blender to combine kale and unsweetened non-dairy milk until uniform
  • Add 12 ounces of pumpkin and the kale/non-dairy milk mixture to the pan containing the garlic
  • Continuing to stir on low-medium heat, add olive oil, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, and nutmeg for 10 minutes or until warm and uniform in color and texture
  • Prepare your favorite pasta, rice, or protein and use this sauce to add an unexpectedly delightful feast your body and tastebuds will equally enjoy! I roasted some veggies and made some sprouted grain fettucine, but the possibilities are endless with a little imagination.

-Jess

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

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Having some overripe bananas in your kitchen is a great “excuse” to make this healthy, vegan, banana bread. This recipe is equal parts nutritious and delicious, especially for summer. Bananas are high in potassium and with increased sweating comes an increased need for electrolyte replenishment. Eating bananas (in whatever healthy form appeals to you) is one way to achieve this! I consider this a “treat” to be eaten in moderation, but it’s a healthy one which is a plus. If you’re on a gluten-free diet, feel free to substitute the whole wheat flour for gluten-free flour or almond meal. Also, keep in mind, when using coconut oil in a recipe like this (and in brownies or bar-shaped baked goods), you may want to eat this heated up since coconut oil is solid at room temperature and will harden after cooling.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread (vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour (or another whole-grain, or nut-based flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1.5 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 overripe bananas (the bananas I used were completely brown)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup coconut oil (I used about 3/4 cup. My final product was super moist, but coconut oil is high in calories, so you can adjust this based on your preferences and it’s not going to have a huge effect on the taste).
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 16 oz. dark chocolate chunks (or chips).

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar together
  • In a smaller bowl, mash bananas
  • Melt the coconut oil in the microwave (in a microwave safe dish) for a minute (it will harden quickly if it’s cooled, so do this step shortly before adding to the rest of the ingredients)
  • Add the applesauce, vanilla extract, and melted coconut oil to the dry ingredients in the larger bowl
  • Add the mashed bananas to the large bowl
  • Add in chocolate chips and cinnamon
  • Stir together until well-mixed
  • Grease a baking tin or pan (I used a Farberware 9″ square baking pan)
  • Add the ingredients to the pan and heat for 25-30 minutes (or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean)
  • Allow to cool for a bit, cut, and enjoy!

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-Jess

 

So you want to be an RD?

The field of dietetics involves the combination of nutrition, food science, and medicine (among others).

The field of dietetics involves the combination of nutrition, food science, and medicine (among others).

I decided to write this post because I think many people are confused about whether to see a nutritionist or a registered dietitian when it comes to their diets. When I tell people that I’m studying nutrition, I always add that I want to eventually become a registered dietitian (or an RD for short). Registered Dietitians are often confused with people who call themselves “nutritionists” and this is something that many RDs take issue with because the process of becoming an RD is extremely competitive, expensive, and time consuming. The process of becoming a nutritionist is a little different. In fact, right now I am a nutritionist, but the title is essentially meaningless because anyone (regardless of whether they’ve even taken a single course on nutrition) can call themselves a nutritionist.

So, what does it take to become an RD? First you must complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. The required coursework is laid out by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is called a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). The coursework includes general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, introductory nutrition classes, clinical nutrition classes, medical nutrition therapy, food science, food service management, community nutrition, nutrition education and counseling, and research. These courses are essential because RDs work in areas where they’re directly responsible for the health and well-being of their patients or clients. Many RDs also work in food service management where knowledge of food science and food safety come into play.

After completing the DPD, aspiring RDs must apply for a residency, called a dietetic internship, at specific, accredited hospitals, long-term care facilities, universities, or food service management corporations. The internship is probably the most competitive part of the process, because a majority of people do not get into an internship on the first try. The internship is also unpaid and typically lasts 6-12 months, depending on whether it is full-time or not. Students must pay for their internships, so working and saving money is a top priority for many aspiring RDs. Having a high GPA and having over one hundred hours of volunteer service in an area related to nutrition and food are some things that are expected to even be considered for an internship. After completion of the internship, aspiring RDs must take the registered dietitian exam and if they pass, they become registered dietitians.

You might be asking: why is the process so competitive?. The process is competitive because of a few reasons. One, there’s only a limited number of accredited internship positions. It takes a lot of time and effort for experienced RDs to train interns and it can be costly to hospitals and food service facilities. Another reason is that as more people realize how important diet is to health, more people are interested in becoming an RD, so it’s just a matter of the number of applicants vs. the number of spots available.

Another reason why the process is set up to be this way is because RDs need to have a knowledge of science and apply this to different populations whom they’ll be working with. When you see a nutritionist, you never know what their formal training is, what their education is in terms of applying science and research to real people, and whether or not they know how to properly assess your nutrient needs and concerns. RDs also specialize in counseling and treating certain populations and are trained to do so in their internships and/or master’s degree classes. For example, many RDs specialize in treating eating disorders, some work with the geriatric population, while others help many members of a single community. There are many knowledgeable nutritionists without the RD title, but the problem is the nutritionist title is unregulated, and that leads many unqualified individuals to give advice which may not have a client’s best interest at hand. One thing I’ve noticed about some nutritionists who aren’t RDs is that some tend to have a holistic approach to nutrition, which I can appreciate because food is so much more than what we eat! It’s what we’re made of and what directly influences our health on a physical, mental, and emotional level.

Hopefully this post has shed some light on the process of becoming an RD. I still have some time before I apply for my internship, but it’s definitely always on my mind! Have you ever had a consultation with a registered dietitian or a nutritionist? What was the experience like? I like getting feedback, so feel free to comment or write me an email on this topic (see my “contact” page).

-Jess