Roanna Martin

"make [food] simple and let things taste of what they are." {Curnonsky}


Food Safety During Power Outages

I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and talk about what everyone else has been talking about the past few days: Sandy. The “frankenstorm” that hit the northeast, leaving millions without power, has also hit the home where I live.
I woke up early yesterday morning to peek outside before reporting to the hospital for work, and being the snow-bunny that I am, my eyes were delighted with what they saw.
Before the busy-ness of the day started, I took a few moments just to savor the glorious white of the powdery film on the trees.  When I was little I would wake up EARLY on two hour delays to go out and play in the snow, and I am still a big fan of winter activities: cross country skiing and ice skating being at the top of the list. So although I’m not quite accustomed to a snowstorm at the end of October, I wasn’t completely opposed.
Then a resounding “CRACK” and a faint flash captured my attention. A limb fell in the front yard, and the “host dad” that I’m staying with attributed the flashes to exploding transformers.
The reality of a storm isn’t always pretty. And this is a record-breaker- I don’t have to pull together the stats for you- it’s all over the news.
And I’m sure it’s hit home for a lot of my readers, considering how widespread it was!
When refrigerator and freezer units lose power, temperature will rise, bringing food into the danger zonewhere bacteria  grow most rapidly.

Here are some recommendations from the USDA for after a power outage:

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
  • The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours unopened, and a full freezer can maintain temp for about 48 hours (24 hours if half full) and you keep the door closed.
  • The following perishable foods should be discarded after 4 hours without power:
    • meat
    • poultry
    • fish
    • soft cheeses
    • milk
    • leftovers
    • deli items
  • Food can be safely refrozen if it still has ice crystals, or is lower than 40 degrees Farenheit.

My recommendation is that if you have some meat that has thawed  to just above 40 and your power has come back on, go ahead and cook it up, and then quickly chill and refreeze it. It’s no different than if you had intentionally been defrosting meat to cook.
Here’s a picture of the fridge- which was without power for more than 4 hours. The only things we left in the fridge were things that don’t really need to be stored below 40 degrees, such as carrots, bread, apples, condiments, etc (and my “host dad’s” bottled Starbucks cappucino!).

If the weather is less than 40 degrees outside, and you have a safe place to keep food where animals won’t get to it- you can set food outside for a short while (This statement is not taken from the USDA- this is my own common sense speaking).
And what exactly does one eat during a power outage? Well, last night we fired up the grill for some fantastic turkey burgers, and the grill even has a gas burner so we were able to cook up some green beans, and finish off the lettuce that was in the fridge.
Don’t take any chances- never taste food to test safety. If in doubt, throw it out!

Food safety recommendations courtesy of the WVU Extension Service.

ps. To write this post I visited a nearby Panera (we’re still without power!), and a lot of others here are without power as well. For example, there’s a little 4-year-old girl singing a song about “Susy has power”… And there’s a long line- I don’t usually go out to eat during the week, but the staff are yelling “No more potato soup!” Everyone’s ready for some hot and tasty food, and a warm place to enjoy it.


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Saturday’s Activities

Finally, it feels like fall.
The weather was rather overcast today, but 40’s seems more appropriate for late October than the 70’s and 80’s that we’ve had the past few days.
And I love fall. I adore the brilliant beauty of the trees as they change color (and the mountains of West Virginia offer a SPECTACULAR show), the chilling of the air, wearing cozy sweaters and scarves, the crunch of the leaves under my running shoes, and the smell of cinnamon and baking apples.
After finishing up my first week of clinical rotations at Charleston Area Medical Center, I decided to spend my Saturday doing a bit of exploring. Well, first I stayed curled up in my bed and finished reading “The Color Purple”, then came downstairs to a surprise breakfast of waffles (the family that I’m staying with is wonderful!). After that my exploring began. I went for a run through the surrounding leaf covered streets, then headed off to town.
First stop: The Capitol Market
Big surprise, eh? If there’s a farmers’ market, there’s a good chance I’m going to be there. I find it hard to stay away.
In addition to several permanent stores inside, there was a wide array of fresh produce, gourds, live music, and art displays outdoors.
Here’s a bit of the loot that I came home with:
Second stop: the Nina and the Pinta. Yep, replicas of the ships that Columbus and his crew sailed across the ocean 500 years ago have come to dock in Charleston.
Did you know that vitamins were discovered because of riding on ships? That’s right. Scurvy– a disease caused by the lack of vitamin C- was first treated effectively in the mid-1700s by a Scottish surgeon in the Royal Navy, James Lind when he provided citrus fruit to sailors who were previously subsisting on cured meats and dried grains.
I decided to whip together a favorite fall dessert: apple crisp. On average, one medium apple (2 1/2 inches in diameter) contains about 8 mg of vitamin C. However, the content does vary by apple variety. And almost half of the vitamin C is located right beneath the skin, so be sure to keep the skin on so that you’re not cheating yourself out of vitamin C and insoluble fiber.
I use recipes a lot in the kitchen, but I also love to just cook intuitively. Apple crisp is something that I don’t really use a recipe for.
So here’s my “nonrecipe” for apple crisp:
A baking pan full of sliced apples (I used an 11×7 inch pan)
And then in a cereal bowl I tossed together:
Rolled oats (about 1 1/2 cups)
Whole wheat flour (about 1/4 cup)
Brown sugar (about 1/4 cup)
Butter (about 2 Tablespoons)
Cinnamon (maybe 1 tsp)
Cloves (1/2 teaspoon)
Ginger (1/2 teaspoon)
A few tablespoons of orange juice (until mixture is just moist)
Using the juice cuts down on butter, and makes a nice crispy sweet crumble.
Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for about 35-40 minutes. Apples aren’t too picky- temperature and time can be altered depending on what else you have going on in the oven. 
Just watch for the topping to turn brown. Then pull out of the oven and enjoy!
If you couldn’t tell from my previous posts here and here– I love apples. 

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The Ornish Spectrum: Sustainable Lifestyle Choices that Lead to Better Health

One of the things that I have noticed in my study of nutrition is that many people are looking for a quick fix. 

A magic food that melts away fat, or a special diet that will be completely composed of desserts but will result in complete and optimal health. But a one-time choice isn’t going to make or break your health. It’s all about the little things. Your character is not defined by how you respond to one event, but in how you respond to the little choices in life.

This concept has been well grasped and even documented by Dr. Dean Ornish, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and the founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute. The research and documentation behind his program is what makes it some remarkable- it’s hard to collect solid evidence about lifestyle choices, and this doctor has done it. Patients in a randomized controlled trial lost an average of 24 lbs over one year, and maintained a 12 lb weight loss after 5 years. To read more about Ornish’s approach, take a look at his article published in the New York Times last month.

Dr. Ornish created an intensive lifestyle change program that has been shown to reverse heart disease, and a spin-off of this is the “Ornish Spectrum”, which is available to those who are interested in lowering their risk for developing heart disease.

The program encompasses 4 elements of life:

What you eat

How much activity you have

How you respond to stress

How much love and support you have

The hospital where I am currently interning offers a Dean Ornish Program for reversal of heart disease. This incredible program is covered by major insurance companies, and offers over 100 hours of intensive compassionate care to each participant. Two days a week, participants gather for an hour of exercise, an hour of stress management, an hour of group therapy and relationship building, and an hour of food. 

This evening I was able to participate in the hour of food. It was pretty spectacular. There were a handful of participants enjoying healthful foods that fit within the Ornish guidelines, sharing their personal experiences of purchasing these foods at the grocery store (one woman found a great deal on veggie burgers at Sams club!), and listening to a Registered Dietitian share helpful meal planning and shopping tips.

It was truly a nurturing and supportive environment, and I can see why the program is so effective.

The meal ended on a sweet note- with some fantastic little chocolate cupcakes.

Sweet treats are fine- in moderation 🙂

If you want to know more about the highly structured Dr. Dean Ornish Program for reversal of heart disease, you can check out my friend Mary’s awesome post, or visit the Dean Ornish website.

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Dialysis: The Artificial Kidney

Kidneys are incredibly important for our bodies.

Their function: they filter toxins out of your blood, allowing them to be excreted from the body to maintain health. But for various reasons, including diabetes and hypertension, kidneys sometimes fail to function. A hundred years ago, this would be fatal. But thanks to a young Dutch physician, Dr. Willem Kolff, life can continue despite kidney failure. Dr. Kolff constructed the first dialyzer in 1943, and dialysis has since been called “one of the foremost life-saving developments in the history of modern medicine” (DaVita).

Patients can undergo hemodialysis, in which the blood is taken out of the body and run through a machine. An alternative is peritoneal dialysis, where the dialysis fluid is placed within the peritoneal cavity and toxins are absorbed into the fluid which is then removed from the body. However, renal patients still have to follow a pretty strict diet, limiting sodium, phosphorous, potassium, and water.

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about dialysis, take a moment to check out the presentation that I put together for one of my courses:

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Do you like sugar? I do too- but moderation is key! It’s ok to have a bit of sweetness, but Americans have a tendency to go overboard.

I just watched this video  and this video about sugar, and I thought they are both consumer-friendly and could spark some interesting discussion. 

Of course, sugar itself is not the exclusive cause of the current obesity epidemic. This problem can be traced to a multitude of reasons, but the amount of sugar consumed in America today is startling. In 2010, per capita sugar consumption in the US was 66.0 pounds and, and corn sweetener was 64.5 pounds (ERS). That’s a whole lot of sweetness!

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Overly Inspired.

FNCE finished up on Tuesday, and oodles of ideas are dancing around my brain. I filled a reusable grocery bag with the handouts and information from the conference. Neatly categorized? Not so much, but available, for when I decide to revisit some of the topics that were discussed.

The conference center was overrun with dietitians- an overwhelmingly estrogen-rich population- wearing purple name badges and discussing and brainstorming and networking like it was their job.

Oh wait: it is their job.

I think one of the most beautiful roles of a dietitian is to connect people and communities with the information and resources that they need to make conscientious and healthful decisions about the food that they consume in order to maximize health.

That is a pretty broad statement, and there are a lot of avenues that this job can play out.

By the way, the opening session of FNCE featured Dean Karnazes, UltraMarathon Man. Incredibly inspiring. I had seen him featured in Runner’s World (a Rodale publication, interestingly enough) a few years ago, but it was awesome to hear him in person.

This is what Day 1 of the conference looked like for me:

“Community Influences to Enhance Childhood Overweight Interventions: Putting Research into Practice”.

• Social determinants of health lead to certain behaviors which in turn lead to health outcomes.

• We are strongly influenced by the environment in which we live.

• Additional information from the White House Child Obesity Task Force report can be found here.


“Tomorrow’s Culture Shock: What it Means for Health and Wellness”

• In 2012, there are 314 million people in the US with an average life expectancy of 78 years.

• In 2050, there are projected to be 439 million people with an 83 year life expectancy.

• The changing demographics in the future have a multitude of implications on healthcare and nutrition.


“Calling All Food Bloggers: Stay in the Game”

• It was great to learn from 2 dietitians who blog for the Food Network “Healthy Eats” blog.

• There were all sorts of tips for writing great blog posts- some of which I will try to implement in this intern blog, and others of which are probably more appropriate for a different style of a blog that I may write in the future.


“To Inflame or Not to Inflame: An Evidence-Based look at Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids”

• There has been speculation that a high Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio in foods is linked to inflammation, but this theory has been discredited according to the latest research.

• According to human studies, there is no data to suggest that omega-6 causes inflammation.

• Basically what it comes down to is that inflammation is very complex, and pinpointing the condition on one small nutrient is useless (In my mind this is a “duh” observation- although great progresses have been made in nutrition science, there are so many things yet to be discovered. Chemical and hormonal pathways in the body are incredibly interwoven, and we can’t possibly break nutrients and foods into stark black and white.)

So, that was an overview of my Day 1. I’ll save more about the conference for future posts!

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FNCE: Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition

I am currently in Philadelphia, PA for one of the very largest gatherings of nutrition professionals in the country.

This event is put on by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and is an awesome networking event for dietitians and other food professionals.

This is my first FNCE to attend- and I’m very excited to be here.

The event officially kicked off this evening, but today I got to attend a pre-conference workshop that was right up my alley: a Rodale Farm Tour.

I’m a member of a dietetic practice group HEN (Hunger and Environmental Nutrition), which focuses on empowering members to be leaders in sustainable and accessible food and water systems. This practice emphasis lends itself well to partnership with organizations such as Rodale Institute.

Rodale Institute has been pioneering in the field of organic agriculture since 1947, and I’ve read a lot of their publications, so I was excited to visit the farm today.



Here, an organic dairy farmer from Vermont spoke to HEN members about herd management and health. The farmer who actually owns the herd was at a family reunion today, but it was great to get a perspective from a New Englander who is also a member of the Organic Valley Family of Farms Cooperative.




Here are the hard-working gals themselves. As a farm girl from Lancaster County, I was in my element in the rolling hills of southeast Pennsylvania. It was enjoyable to be there with a group of dietetics professionals from all over the country- Boston to LA.Image


The milking equipment is pictured below. Research on milk quality and profitability is underway as this farm has recently transitioned to an organic model. It sounds like there are some pretty exciting results that will come out of these studies- I’m hoping to see some news headlines by the end of the year, but I don’t want to give out a spoiler!



Zuma. Isn’t she beautiful?Image


The tour ended with a fabulous lunch with Maria Rodale- and she even gave us a copy of her book “Organic Manifesto”. Image

Dairy farming is hard work. It’s a struggle to make ends meet financially- and selling organic dairy products provides an option for a more livable income for family farmers.