Dietetic Internship Ramblings + Ramen Noodles with Collards and Peanut Sauce

5 Oct

For the next year, I will be rotating around New York City, interning with registered dietitians (RDs) at various organizations, businesses, and clinics. I must complete this internship year and pass an exam in order to obtain my license as an RD.

As a dietetic intern, I have to complete a certain number of hours in a community nutrition setting, a clinical nutrition setting, and a food service nutrition setting. From September through December, I intern at three different community nutrition sites for five weeks at a time. In the spring, I do a 15-week clinical rotation, and next summer, I do a food service rotation.

I am currently four weeks into my first community nutrition rotation, and I love it! I work with clients who have HIV/AIDS. Some of the tasks performed at this five-week rotation include:

  • Observe initial client assessments, reassessments, and counseling sessions
    • Perform nutrition counseling with clients under RD supervision
    • Perform nutrition counseling with clients independently
  • Write up notes after counseling sessions
  • Host a group nutrition education session on cruciferous vegetables
  • Work in the food pantry greeting clients, unpacking food, setting out samples, and preparing emergency food bags. Lead food demonstrations and tastings with ingredients in the pantry, and pass out recipes.
  • Volunteer at meal service, serving food and cleaning up after meals
  • Create and write for the Nutrition Quarterly Newsletter, winter edition
  • Research a journal article on HIV and nutrition and present the study to the nutrition staff

I have two wonderful preceptors at my rotation who are guiding and mentoring me through this experience. This rotation is a good mix of clinical nutrition and community nutrition because I interact with clients who have HIV/AIDS (and sometimes other co-morbidities), and I also get to conduct education and cooking workshops and work in the food pantry.

Last week I presented a workshop on cruciferous vegetables. The purpose of the workshop was to review the family of cruciferous vegetables (arugula, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, kale, radishes, spinach, turnips, rutabaga, wasabi…) and discuss the nutritional benefits. I reviewed portions sizes and consumption goals (eat ~2 cups of cruciferous vegetables per week), and we had a fun discussion on farting and gas!

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The highlight of the cruciferous workshop was the taste tests. Clients tasted radishes with soft butter and sea salt, chopped cabbage, and tatsoi. I also did a cooking demonstration on Creamy Cauliflower Mash, which was a big hit. The mash recipe involved steaming cauliflower and pureeing it with some of the cooking liquid, a small pat of butter, and salt and pepper.

I had so many leftover vegetables from my workshop that the next day, I went down to the food pantry and prepared a Crunchy Cruciferous Cabbage Slaw and  a quick black bean dip to complement the leftover raw radishes and cauliflower.

The following day, the dietitians and I noticed an overload of collard greens in the pantry. The food pantry is open Wednesday through Friday, and we did not want the collard greens to sit in the pantry from Friday to the following Wednesday. So, I brainstormed a healthy, easy recipe with ingredients from the pantry that combined ramen noodles (discard the “flavor packet”), two big bunches of collard greens, and a quick, homemade peanut sauce.

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Ramen noodles are delicious, but the “flavor packets” that come with the noodles are full of salt and preservatives. Adding greens and a homemade peanut sauce amp up the nutrition without skimping on flavor.

I love seeing the clients’ (and the staff’s) reactions to tasting my recipes. Healthy really does taste good.

Ramen Noodles with Collards and Peanut Sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced

optional: 1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 bunches collard greens, washed, de-stemmed, and chopped into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive, or sesame)

2 packs ramen noodles

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup pasta cooking water

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 minute. Add the collards, stir, cover, and cook until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Add a dash of soy sauce, then scoop the cooked greens into a serving bowl.

Fill the same pan you used to cook the greens in with water and bring to a boil.

While waiting for the water to boil, start making the peanut sauce. Combine peanut butter, soy sauce, and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk everything together. It will be very thick. You will add some of the hot pasta cooking water soon.

Once the water boils, add the ramen noodles and cook for 3 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, take out the cooked noodles and add them to the greens. Ladle some of the pasta cooking water into the peanut sauce to thin it out, then add the peanut sauce to the ramen noodles and greens.

Easy, healthy, and delicious!

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