Roanna Martin

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

Vegetable Christmas Tree


Vegetable Christmas Tree

I hope that everyone had a wonderfully merry Christmas! I just wanted to share a little masterpiece that I put together for my family’s celebration. The only problem is that everyone thought it was too pretty to eat- although my almost 7-year-old niece was only too happy to eat the yellow pepper star ūüôā

I started with a simple styrofoam cone covered with aluminum foil, and then inserted broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, and yellow peppers using toothpicks. Thanks to Pinterest for the inspiration!


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Case Study: Anorexia Nervosa

As a culminating experience of my recent clinical rotation, I compiled and presented a case study with the dietitians at the facility.

If you would like to learn more about this critically ill patient that I was able to work with over the course of the rotation, feel free to look through the presentation.

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”Anorexia Nervosa Case Study” target=”_blank”>Anorexia Nervosa Case Study</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Roanna Martin</a></strong> </div>


December 5: World Soil Day

Soil. Ground. Dirt.

It’s really all about the dirt. The brown stuff that we walk on, brush off our shoes before we go inside, and even scold our children for playing in. (Side note: ¬†I grew up playing outside on my parent’s farm. I was not scolded for playing in the dirt, unless I was wearing my going-away clothes. Once I even made cookies out of mud and my cousin ate them. Literally. I learned to embrace soil at a young age).

Humans grow and are nourished by food, and food is grown in and nourished by the soil. Therefore we, as humans, owe some respect to this beautiful brown substance.

M.S. Swaminathan, an Indian geneticist, states it this way:

“Soil anaemia also breeds human anaemia. Micronutrient deficiency in the soil results in micronutrient malnutrition in people, since crops grown on such soils tend to be deficient in the nutrients needed to fight hidden hunger. (…) Managing our soil and water resources in a sustainable and equitable manner needs a new political vision.”

In 2010, the National Nutrition Month theme for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the ADA at that time) was “Nutrition from the Ground Up”. I was a big fan of that theme.
By treasuring our soil, we are preserving a precious resource. One of the ways that we can accomplish this is through recycling our food by composting. Fruit and vegetable scraps, paper, even lint from your dryer can be turned back into soil through natural biological processes.
When I moved into an apartment for grad school, I knew that I wanted to avoid throwing food scraps into the trash and the resulting greenhouse gases produced by such actions. So, I began researching options for composting in a small space, and I ended up with a vermicomposting system. Basically, it’s a plastic tub with worms in it where I throw my fruit and vegetable scraps for the worms to eat and produce worm castings, which are incredibly nutrient rich.
The other day I decided to empty out all of the chocolate brown goodness into my garden to prepare it for next year’s growing season.
This is what the remains of my summer garden looked like:
I emptied the few remaining beets out of my garden, and proceeded to work the worm castings into my soil.
And here’s the finished product.
If you notice, my Swiss Chard is still thriving because of the mild weather thus far. I tear off a leaf or so and cut it up in my meals- I love having fresh greens in December!

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Vitamin D: An Overview

Vitamins and minerals are a key part of nutrition, and I realized that I haven’t been addressing them a lot here. I lean towards a “whole foods” approach of nutrition. For the average person, it is incredibly time-consuming and therefore, in my opinion, unreasonable to calculate the exact amounts of particular nutrients. It is better to keep the big picture in mind, and “eat food, not too much, mostly vegetables”¬†(to borrow from the tagline of¬†Michael Pollan’s¬†book “In Defense of Food”).

However, vitamins and minerals are key components of healthy nutrition, and it is my job as a dietitian to educate consumers about them.

So, welcome to my version of Vitamin D 101.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, and is sort of an outlaw among the vitamins. As most people know, the body can synthesize vitamin D from the sun. And, even though it is called a vitamin, it is technically a hormone because it is a chemical messenger that causes a response in the intestines, kidneys, and bones.

Vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphorus absorption, and is therefore very important for bone mineralization and strength. In addition, research suggests that vitamin D helps to maintain muscle strength, promote a healthy immune system, and help regulate cell growth and differentiation.

Here’s a list of the different diseases and conditions for which vitamin D is perhaps involved in preventing or treating. You will notice that I use the word “perhaps”. Because scientific investigations are constantly expanding and evolving, it is generally not a good idea to use definite words such as “proven” or “will prevent” or “will cure”. It is difficult to nail down 100% definitive answers. But anyways, here’s the list (1):

  • Autism
  • Cancer‚ÄĒbest evidence for colon and colorectal cancers
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic pain
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Diabetes‚ÄĒboth type 1 and 2
  • Falling and balance problems
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gum disease
  • Heart disease
  • Lupus/systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscle loss and weakness
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Preeclampsia in pregnancy
  • Rickets resurgence
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Risk of death
  • Stress fractures

You can get vitamin D from food or from the sun. When UV light from the sun hits the skin, it reacts with 7-dehydrocholesterol (a vitamin D precursor made from cholesterol in the liver) to create cholecalciferol (vitamin D3).

This cholecalciferol, and vitamin D from foods, are converted in the liver to 25-hydroxy vitamin D, then sent to the kidney to be converted into 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3, the biologically active form.


Several factors that contribute to vitamin D deficiency include: lack of vitamin D in the diet, dark skin, lack of exposure to sunlight, and liver or kidney disease. It is estimated that more than 50% of men and women ages 65 and older in North America are vitamin D deficient (2).

There are not many foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Therefore, in the United States, most dietary vitamin D comes from fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, milk, soy milk, and margarine. Regulations state that all commercially available milk must be fortified with 400 IU/quart (3).

Food sources of Vitamin D include:

  • Salmon (3.5 oz) ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†360 IU
  • Mackerel (3.5 oz) ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 345 IU
  • Canned Tuna ¬†(3.5 oz) ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†200 IU
  • Fortified Orange Juice (8 oz) ¬† 100 IU
  • Fortified milk (8 oz) ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 98 IU
  • Fortified Breakfast Cereals ¬† ¬† ¬† 40-100 IU

The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for adults ages 19-70 is 600 IU of vitamin D a day, and for adults over 70, the RDA is 800 IU. (For an explanation of RDA, refer to my post on Alphabet Soup). The UL (tolerable upper intake level) for all adults is 4,000 IU (4). 

Dark skin, increased age (individuals aged 65 and over generate only 1/4 as much vitamin D as individuals in their 20’s do), and lack of exposure to sunlight inhibit the synthesis of vitamin D from sunlight. Research indicates that people who live above 37 degrees northern latitude have insufficient duration and intensity of sunlight exposure for optimal synthesis (2).


There is much more that can be said about vitamin D, such as medication interactions, disease states, risks of toxicity, etc. but that’s a bit much to fit into one blog post. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit about this vitamin!


(2) Harvard Health Publications

(3) Nelms, Sucher, and Long. Medical Nutrition Therapy and Pathophysiology.

(4) Office of Dietary Supplements