Southwest Quinoa Salad

I started my clinical rotation this week in Santa Maria. It has been an incredible experience that has taught me more than I could have dreamed about an acute care setting. The not so glamorous part of clinicals is having to get up at 5:30am. I know, I know, some of you are reading this thinking “I’ve been getting up that early for 10 years!” Well this girl hasn’t and she is strugglin! With that in mind I needed to pack a lunch in the evenings that would be quick and allow me to just grab and go in the mornings. So I will be sharing my simple weekly lunches with y’all during this process. My first recipe is Southwest Quinoa Salad. I have been able to make this ahead and keep it in my refrigerator throughout the week to pack in my lunch bag. It has been a life saver!

img_0770.jpgIngredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup canned corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, course chop
  • dressing of choice!

Directions:

  1. Bring water to boil in sauce pan.
  2. Pour in quinoa and cover for 15 minutes or until it has reach the texture that you want. (Make sure all liquid has evaporated).
  3. Place quinoa to the side to cool.
  4. In a gallon sized bag combine black beans, corn, onion, tomatoes, broccoli, and cilantro.
  5. Once quinoa has cooled, add it to the bag of ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Seal bag and mix ingredients.

It’s as simple as that! Just scoop your portion into your tupperware for the next day and put your salad dressing on the side. I HIGHLY recommend El Torito’s Caesar Cilantro Dressing. It is life changing!

RD2B: Letters of Rec

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When I first began applying for scholarships and programs I would cringe at the sight of “Letter of Recommendation required.” I would rack my brain and try to figure out who in the world would write me a letter! Letters of recommendation require so much more than just a simple request. They require a relationship to be built, responsibilities to be given, and character to be displayed. The best advise I can give for a stellar letter of recommendation is to start building connections NOW! I have written out a few tips and tricks for requesting letters and proper etiquette that goes along with doing so.

Focus On the Field:

When you are building relationships with professors and supervisors make sure that at least one of those people is a registered dietitian. I was not very good at getting volunteer positions with registered dietitians so it was a challenge for me to find a RD to write me a letter when required. If you are applying for an internship program many of them will recommend having at least one RD write you a letter of recommendation. I asked my DPD director, research professor, and advanced nutrition/soon-to-be research professor to write my letters. Only one of them was a RD, which I’m assuming didn’t look great on my application.  So try to build a strong professional relationship with at least one registered dietitian. Having connections to volunteer coordinators and non-RD professors is not a bad thing! Some of my best letters of recommendations have come from employers, volunteer coordinators, and professors that aren’t even in nutrition! This is just one thing I wish I would have done as an undergrad!

Get Over the Fear of Asking

When you build relationships with professors, employers and registered dietitians they are more than happy to write a letter of recommendation for you. In fact, they expect it! I remember thanking my adviser countless times and apologizing for asking for another letter of recommendation. She quickly stopped me and explained that it came with the territory. She told me how it was almost a form of payment. Professors count on their students who participate in different programs. They know and see the countless hours that students put in studying, preparing and attending events. A letter of recommendation is a form of compensation for the student putting in all that effort. However, NEVER feel entitled to a letter of recommendation but never fear asking for one.

Don’t Fear the NO!

Don’t be afraid of being denied by someone writing you a letter of recommendation. When I was applying for a scholarship it required a letter of recommendation from an employer. I went to my supervisor of TWO YEARS and she told me no. She said that she didn’t like writing letters for her employees and she would be happy to fill out a form but she did not want to write a letter. So I gave her the form to fill out and it was horrible! I ended up not even using it because she was not able to speak successfully on my behalf. I went to a previous employer instead who wrote me a TWO PAGE letter of recommendation. So don’t be afraid of someone rejecting your request, it doesn’t say anything about who you are, it might just be a personal preference.

Always Ask!

When I was applying for DICAS I learned that it was required to submit a letter of recommendation from your program director. My program director knew that she was going to be responsible for writing a dozen or more letters of recommendation that year. Although she was prepared to do so, the ask was still required. I still had to formally go into her office and ask her to write me a letter of recommendation. I try to ask for letters of recommendation in person. If this is not possible due to time or distance then asking over email is also acceptable. If I have never asked someone for a letter of recommendation though before I try to make sure it is in person.

After the Letter

So you’ve built your relationship, gotten over your fears and asked for the letter of recommendation….now what? Always be sure to informally and formally thank your letter writer. I will typically send an email after I have received the letter of recommendation or know that the writer has sent it in. Then I will get a thank you card and hand write a more personal thank you. Once I get into the program or receive the scholarship I will send another thank you email informing them that I got in/got the scholarship. I think this is such an important part of the recommendation process. I love having an excuse to remind my mentors and professors just how important they are in my academics and future career.

Letters of recommendation can be a stressful part of DICAS and scholarship applications. Preparing ahead of time can save you an awkward conversation with a professor that you only had in a general ed class. So start building relationships now! The value extends so much further than just an impressive letter of recommendation.

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Bridal Shower: Tea Party

This past weekend I had the pleasure of throwing a bridal shower for my beautiful cousin Katelyn! Katelyn and I are three weeks apart and have been best friends since birth. There are not enough words to describe my relationship with Katelyn and the life that her friendship brings to me. The best part about weddings are the events that you get to be apart of to demonstrate your love for the people getting married. Since Katelyn is the David to my Jonathan I wanted to make sure that this shower was perfect! I threw the shower with my co-maid-of-honor and cousin, Alyssa, along with the help of our aunts.

Theme

The party theme was “Brunch and Tea with the Bride to Be.” Katelyn has always loved tea! I thought a tea party would be the perfect way to celebrate this beauty!

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Location

The tea party was located in my grandma’s backyard. Now this isn’t your typical “grandma backyard.” You won’t find the tire swing or chicken coops in my grandma’s backyard. What you will find is a gorgeous waterfall and beautiful landscape.

Decorations

This is my favorite part of bridal showers! I LOVE DECORATING! For Katie’s shower I wanted it to be a little on the vintage side to match her taste. So we added a vintage chair for Katelyn to open her gifts in, a side table to hold her gifts, vintage cake stands, and a different china pattern on each table.

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Food

The menu for this brunch is very similar to the other two showers that I have thrown this year. I mean if it isn’t broken….why fix it?

Menu

Over-night egg casserole

Hash brown casserole

French Toast Casserole

Fruit Platter

Champagne Cake

Activities

For the games I used two different game cards from Target’s wedding dollar section. These games were life savers! Make sure that you check out Target’s dollar section in the spring for some AMAZING deals on wedding items! The second game was Bridal Bingo which I have included on here. It’s a free printable! Have your participants fill out what they think that bride is going to get. Then when the bride is opening her gifts you can yell out what she got and have the guests play bingo.

 

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It was an incredible day of celebration and I loved every second of it! Hope these ideas and activities make your wedding planning a little simpler. Happy wedding planning!

 

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Chicken Pesto Bake

This post is a quick shout out to my former roommate Morgan! Morgan had a few recipes that she made often that I loved and this Chicken Pesto Bake is one of them! I have added a few things to the recipe but all the credit goes to Morgan! It’s really simple and makes for great left overs the next day! The pictures don’t do this dish justice but it is delicious! It’s a great warm meal when you just need something cheesy and saucy! Good news though, it’s still great for you!

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Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 small jar of pesto (this stuff goes a long way!)
  • 2 small fresh tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 8 slices of provolone cheese
  • salt and peper

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash chicken breasts and place in baking dish (I like to add foil to my baking dishes for easy clean up). Season chicken with salt and pepper
  3. Spoon pesto onto the chicken
  4. Add sliced tomatoes and mushrooms on top of pesto
  5. Cover with two slices of provolone cheese
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until chicken reaches 165 degrees.

 

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Banana Muffins

This week marks my first week of my dietetic internship. Our Santa Barbara interns came to stay at my house to avoid an extra drive so I thought I’d make them a few treats for breakfast the next day. I was asked to create a product to sell in Fresno State’s Farm Market for a class project. My team came up with this banana nut recipe. It is a mixture of a recipe found on Food Network, my own family recipes, and some additional ingredients that I felt would enhance the flavor. Here is my go to banana nut chocolate chip muffins recipe!

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Ingredients 

  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Stick of Butter (softened)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 Ripe Bananas (mashed)
  • 1 Tablespoon Milk
  • 2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Diced Pecans
  • 2 Cups Mini Chocolate Chips (Or more….)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine sugar and butter in mixing bowl. Mix until well combined.
  3. Mix eggs into the sugar and butter mixture.
  4. Add mashed bananas, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  5. In a separate bowl add cinnamon, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  6. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients gradually.
  7. Once both mixtures are combined add the pecans and chocolate chips.
  8. Scoop into cupcake tins.
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes are until golden brown on top.

Enjoy!

 

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RD2B: Volunteer Hours

Good Morning RD2Bs!

I recently posted an article that was an overview of how I got into Cal Poly, SLO dietetic internship program. I discussed my conversation with Kati Fosselius (the Cal Poly DI director) about volunteer and work experience. In this article I will be expanding on volunteer and work experience that stands out on an application. I mentioned briefly that Kati was specifically looking for breath and depth. After hearing these concepts explained I quickly changed the way I was volunteering. To recap: I heard a talk from a Fresno State dietetic intern my sophomore year of college. She shared that her volunteer experience was built by grabbing every volunteer opportunity that came her way. Eager to begin this same strategy, I quickly learned that I wanted a social life, good grades and sleep, more than I wanted to volunteer 20 hours a week at different health fairs. The idea behind breadth and depth is that you get more bang for your buck!

Breadth refers to the types of volunteer experiences that you have. Dietitians work in a variety of different areas such as food service, school systems, cooperate offices, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, eating disorder clinics, community action partners, WIC, the list goes on and on. The best way to demonstrate breadth is to first pick volunteer opportunities based off of the type of nutrition it is. You will need experience in food service, community and clinical. If you already work in a restaurant and have volunteered at WIC for a year, I would recommend by-passing anymore community or food service opportunities and looking for a clinical volunteer position so that you have breadth. Look for opportunities that are going to expose you to all three areas of dietetics. I will list my volunteer experience below so that you can get an idea of what breadth looked like for me.You can never have too many clinical volunteer hours. It’s the hardest type to get and I highly recommend you start these ASAP. Use volunteer hours to not only build your resume but to get exposed to more areas of dietetics so that you can write in your personal statement what area you are leaning towards. I will list my volunteer experience below so that you can get an idea of what breadth looked like for me.

Depth is just as important, if not more important than breadth. Depth means that you have spent time in your volunteer positions and invested yourself in them. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with volunteering at a health fair for two hours or serving at a non-profit banquet once a year. But internship directors will be more impressed by the 6 months that you spent as a volunteer at Children’s Hospital than the number of health fairs that you have attended. Find one of two volunteer positions every year or every semester and sink into them. Get to know the dietitians working there, learn the culture of that facility, talk to clients and patients. Depth will not only shine through on your internship application it will also be the making or breaking of your letters of recommendation.

Volunteering is essential to the application. You can have a perfect GPA, but if you don’t have experience it doesn’t really matter. Work smarter, not harder with your experiences. For example, get a job at a hospital as a tray server. You’ll be able to kill two birds with one stone – food service/clinical dietetic experience and you’re making money. RD2Bs live busy lives, there’s no way around that. It’s important that you are strategic with your time and don’t waste it on useless experiences that won’t get you any credit. I spent too many hours volunteering at small random events that I didn’t even end up putting on my DICAS application. Those experiences  looked pointless next to my research hours and time in a clinical rehab facility. Find volunteer hours that are going to benefit you as a person, an applicant, and a student. Volunteering doesn’t have to be meaningless work. When you are about to accept a volunteer position ask yourself these questions:

  1. Will this experience benefit my as a student?
  2. Will this experience demonstrate depth and breadth on an application?
  3. Do I have the time to put into this opportunity?

If the answer to any of these is no, you need to evaluate the benefits and costs of the opportunity. If the answer to these are yes then I say go for it. It’s important to start making mindful decisions in college even if it’s about a volunteer opportunity. You don’t want to get into an opportunity and realize that it isn’t going to help you grow or benefit the other party that you are volunteering for. You also don’t want to be known as someone who cannot manage their time. You might make someone happy temporarily by saying yes, but they will be very disappointed when you determine that you don’t have time once you are already committed. Part of being a great applicant is being true to your word and accountable.

As promised here is a list of my volunteer opportunities.  I have also included a document that you can start using to keep track of your volunteer hours. One of the greatest tips I received from a graduating senior was to write down your volunteer hours along with a detailed description of what you are doing at that facility. When you get to your senior year and you are applying for DICAS you aren’t going to remember what you did at Community Action Partners your freshman year.

Click here to see My Volunteer Hours

Click here to download your Volunteer Hours Log!

I hope this was a helpful resource to you future dietitians. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or want some advice on a volunteer position. Remember, your advisors are a great resources as well!

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Over-night Egg Casserole

Good morning beautiful readers! I have been posting about this over-night egg casserole on my instagram for the last week because it was such an easy and yummy way to start my orientation week. I had a few girls staying with me from Santa Barbara and I wanted to make sure that all of us were well fed for our first week of the DI. I threw all the ingredients together the evening before we started and put the casserole in the oven when I got up the next morning and let it cook while I was getting ready. This casserole wasn’t just delicious it was also extremely practical. My roommates and I were able to enjoy this casserole for three mornings. It not only bakes well but microwaves well also! I found the base of this recipe on Pillsbury’s website but changed it just a little bit for health reasons and personal preference.

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Side note: how adorable is this casserole dish! I got it at Target (of course) and it came with a smaller square dish.

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 medium bell pepper
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, course chop
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 cups of cheddar cheese

Directions: 

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, flour and milk. Whisk until the mixture is combined well.
  2. Add onion, tomatoes, spinach, bell pepper and mushrooms to egg mixture.
  3. Pour into 9×13 casserole dish.
  4. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  5. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and place in refrigerator over night
  6. In the morning preheat over to 350 degree
  7. Place uncovered casserole dish in oven for 1 – 1.5 hours.

Simply Sara

 

 

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Please enjoy this picture of me being way too excited to serve this casserole dish!! 

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