BECOMING A REGISTERED DIETITIAN NUTRITIONIST
Growing up in Northern California, I was surrounded by a health conscious community that pioneered sustainable food systems, organic produce, and farm to table dining. I took that healthy living mindset with me when I moved from California to Phoenix, Arizona to pursue my undergraduate degree in dietetics at Arizona State University.
Dietetics is a specialty nutrition degree with a strong science foundation and evidence based courses like medical nutrition therapy, micro and macro nutrient metabolism, and advanced human nutrition. I sat side-by-side with students on their way to become doctors, pharmacists, naturopathic physicians, and nurses, all learning about Western medicine and how nutrition, lifestyle, and disease states affect overall health.
While dietetics is an incredible degree, after graduating I knew I had to continue my education and become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in order to make real impactful change in the health and wellness space. Being a credible online source for nutrition information is extremely important to me and is a responsibility that I hold to a very high standard! I have more information about how to become a dietitian and what dietitians do on my FAQ page.
I've been an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Arizona Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 2010, and have served on committees and held board positions at both the national and local level. I also precept dietetic interns from local internship programs, which allows me to teach future dietitians about nutrition communication, blogging, entrepreneurship, and recipe development.
BECOMING A CHEF
For my entire undergrad, I lived in a dorm with no kitchen and one giant cafeteria buffet. I loved it. I never had to do dishes, buy ingredients, or keep a refrigerator stocked with food. When I moved into my first apartment, I quickly realized I had basically zero cooking skills. Yeah, I could boil spaghetti and chop vegetables but I wasn't creating anything of my own nor did I have a sense of basic flavor or recipe fundamentals.
Culinary school changed my life. And if you can believe it, I signed up for culinary school on a whim; it was never something I pictured in my 10 year plan or even life plan! I discovered the program about a week before classes started and decided it would be a fun challenge. I had just finished my undergraduate degree in dietetics, the program itself was pretty inexpensive, and my job was flexible enough to where I could go to culinary school and continue to work full-time. I thought, "Why not?!"
On the first day of culinary school we were thrown right into the kitchen, learning fundamental knife skills and flavor profiles while literally cooking meals to order on the line. It was chaotic, crazy, exhausting, and I loved every single second of it. One of the biggest things I learned in culinary school was that cooking is easy, you just have to know the basics, keep it simple, and be comfortable in the kitchen. I also learned how to add elements of elevation to a dish by taking something that would be considered a 'home cooked meal' into a restaurant-worthy dish with a few simple tweaks.
When presenting a dish to my instructors, I would constantly be challenged to take my dish to the next level. I would present a salmon en croute (salmon baked in puff pastry) with a blood orange hollandaise, and they would say, "This looks great. Now take it to the next level." Constantly pushing the boundaries, thinking outside of the box, and getting creative with my ingredients was ingrained from day one and is something I bring to every recipe I create.
BRINING IT ALL TOGETHER
Culinary school brought my love of food and nutrition education full circle. My undergraduate degree taught me what we should eat and why, while my culinary education showed me how. I get to not only tell you what you should eat but actually show you with a recipe, too! Not all dietitians create recipes and not all chefs know about nutrition, so I feel really, really humbled to be able to share both aspects with you here on my blog.
Awards & Recognition
2020 Preceptor of the Year Award for both the Arizona State University Dietetic Internship and the Maricopa County Dietetic Internship