Roanna Martin

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

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WIC in Words

         I just wanted to share with you loyal readers a bit more about my experience at WIC (Women, Infants, and Children). 

            After learning about WIC in classes, it was extremely beneficial to be present in a clinic where I could see policy in practice. Throughout the 80+ hours of my rotation, I was able to learn about the “big-picture” policy, and shadow a large number of nutritionists in both the main Lancaster City clinic and in the smaller county clinics in Columbia and Ephrata.

            The busy clinic in the city was able to serve a large number of participants each day, and the demographics were notably different than in the county clinics. In both Columbia and Ephrata the nutritionists were responsible for more of the visit (i.e. lab work) than in the main clinic. I was also able to engage with other community agencies that provide services to low-income women and children such as Healthy Beginnings Plus and HeadStart.

            I learned a variety of practices and techniques specific to WIC, such as the contents of the supplement packages, and the VENA (Value Enhanced Nutrition Assessment) model. Although my rotation was too short to develop a firm grasp of the utilization of the QuickWIC (electronic documentation) system, I was able to become competent enough to perform nutrition evaluations and issue checks with the supervision of a nutritionist. I truly enjoyed sitting with each of the nutritionists (14 in total) and learning their style of nutrition counseling. Each one brings strengths to counseling that I was able to learn from.

            I developed a basic understanding of WIC policy, and refreshed my knowledge on maternal and child nutrition. In particular, the developmental stages of infants and the recommended timeline for introducing new foods and feeding practices was a good review. The opportunity to practice my Spanish language skills and enhance my vocabulary- particularly the colloquial “Spanglish” spoken in the region- was beneficial.

            I need to continue to develop my nutrition counseling skills, and I believe that this will come with more experience. In particular, I would like to continue to strengthen my ability in helping the client to share what motivates them to make change, and help them to identify ways that they could make a change.

           While it has it’s flaws, I see a lot of benefits of the WIC program for low-income, nutritionally at-risk mothers and infants.  


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At the beginning of this month I attended a joint intern class day on Nutrition Informatics at the National Agriculture Library in Washington, DC. Various speakers were discussing ways that technology is being used to distribute health information.

One of the presentations was about the national program text4baby a completely free program that provides health information directly to the cell phones of pregnant women and mothers of infants up to one year old. And by free- I really mean free- major cell phone companies have agreed to not charge recipients of the text messages, even if they don’t have a texting plan! It’s a really neat concept, and I was eager to learn more about it.

One of the presenters suggested that we sign up for the program and receive messages, just to see what kind of things mothers are receiving. So I did, setting my graduation date as my false “due date”- and I’ve been getting reminders to take my prenatal vitamins, and visit my doctor, and even info about access to health insurance! 

Last week at my WIC rotation, I was able to sit in on a webinar where I learned that text4baby is partnering with WIC to offer free appointment reminders to WIC clients. Like anything, it’s not perfect- it does take a minute or two for a mom to sign up for the program (but that is a small amount compared to what a lot of people spend on their phones), and she has to text the system every time she wants to schedule her next appointment.

So, as one of my projects for WIC, I made a brief powerpoint that can be used as an inservice for nutritionists- to help them share about the program with their clients.



My experience at WIC has been really great so far. I was able to personally do nutrition education and issue checks for about 15-20 families in the past few days. I needed an experienced nutritionist beside me, though, because I am still learning the computer system!

Why Do Millions of Americans take Multivitamins?

Take a moment to click on the above link for an excellent article about supplementation.

The article, published yesterday on WebMD, is a good reminder that most of us really don’t need to be taking multivitamins and other supplements. The best nutrition comes from real food: with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy. So eat up, but keep it real!


Green and Gold

I needed a ray of sunshine tonight. Just a bit. It was dreary and drippy and my shoes got wet walking home from my rotation.

 Please don’t get me wrong- I was thankful for my raincoat, and my umbrella, and my warm home to dry off in. But my spirits needed an extra boost. In addition to exercise, nutrient-dense fruits and veggies are a great way to stave off the winter blues.

Every Wednesday night I gather together with a group of friends for dinner, and tonight I was asked to bring a vegetable side dish. I didn’t want to spend a long time cooking, and I was ready for something fresh and raw. 

I pulled a handful of carrots out of my mega-bag that I have been chowing down on the past few weeks.

I scoured the outsides well with a vegetable scrub brush. I don’t bother to peel my carrots- I buy organic carrots- because that way I get to keep a bit of the extra fiber and nutrients, and there isn’t as much waste.

Speaking of food waste, I just happened across this article about using carrot peels (byproducts of the ready-to-eat vegetable industry: aka baby carrots) to create an antioxidant high dietary fiber powder. Cool! But, I’d rather just buy whole carrots, and eat the entire thing, rather than buy pre-cut ready-to-eat baby carrots that create a lot of waste. That being said, if you want convenience food, baby carrots are still a MUCH better snack than a bag of chips!


I haven’t costed it out, but I am nearly certain that it is cheaper per ounce to purchase whole organic carrots than pre-cut conventionally grown. And considering that I took me only 5 minutes to transform  the above pile into a full bowl of short, easy to munch on carrot sticks, this is a worthwhile way to pinch your pennies at the grocery store.

To accompany my little Vitamin-A rich spears, I decided to make Green Surprise Dip. I first made this with my supervisor from Joshua Farm when we were giving a demonstration on fresh veggies to a group of moms at a local pre-school. 

It’s super easy.

I steamed and drained a handful of kale, and measured out plain yogurt, chickpeas, a bit of mayo, some garlic, onion, lemon juice, and  a of salt.


Then I threw them in my handy-dandy food processor, and voila, I had a delicious dip.


I modified the recipe slightly from the original. My onions and garlic were really strong (they’ve been stored for a while!), and I wanted to keep the concentrated green color so I actually reduced the amount of those three ingredients.

Here’s the recipe:

Green Surprise Dip

1 cup steamed kale, Swiss chard, or spinach

3/4 cup plain yogurt

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 clove garlic

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

The dip didn’t quite get RAVE reviews like an herb veggie dip that I’ve made before, but I really like this one. A bit more salt, and more experimentation with spices would perk it up a bit, but I was on a time crunch.

It only took 15 minutes from when I started cutting the carrots to when I had this dish assembled. But then I had to clean up- and that was another 12 minutes. With a few tunes playing and some dancing around my kitchen, it was a pleasure.



Sprouts Day 5

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These photos were taken last night…

Things are a bit steamy in the tower- I believe that has something to do with the photosynthesis going on. One of my biologist friends might be able to correct me on that, though! The sprouts are just about to the top of their trays, so I think they will be placed in the fridge tonight.



I continue to harvest a little bit at a time. Last night a little bit of each sprouts were stuffed inside a pita bread with tuna salad. I make my tuna salad with tuna packed in water, chopped celery, plain (homemade) nonfat yogurt, and simple seasonings like celery seed, paprika, pepper, garlic, and minute sprinkle of salt. It’s a great high-protein meal. 





Mung Beans

Mung Beans

The mung beans have a tendency to get pretty long, stringy, and a bit tough. This might be because as I am taking out sprouts, the remaining ones have more room to grow. I don’t particularly like the stringy texture, so sometimes I’ll chop them before adding them to dishes.

Last week I made some mung bean “pancakes”- pretty much just an omelet. I haven’t quite come up with a plan for these yet.

Does anyone care to share their favorite ways to eat sprouts?

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Sprouts Day 2

Day 2, and it’s time for a sprout update. There isn’t a whole lot of action, but subtle signs are starting to show…

Day 2

Day 2

I just finished giving my sprouts their second rinse for the day. Sproutpeople– a company I came across that has had a lot of experience in growing sprouts- recommends using water that is between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, and using a lot of water. Sproutpeople also doesn’t recommend the sprouter I have due to some functionality issues. But it’s been working just fine for me, and I don’t intend to go out and buy a brand-new one.

Rinsing sprouts 2-3 times daily gives them the proper moisture that they need to germinate and grow- creating the little nutritional powerhouses of protein, fiber, and antioxidants like vitamin C.

In addition, it is important to make sure that the water is drained off so that the seeds are not sitting in stagnant water to prevent growth of pathogenic microbes such as Salmonella or E. coli O157:H7.  Any food you eat could be potentially risky, so I simply recommending that you make sure to rinse regularly and follow basic kitchen hygiene. Because of the potential for growth of these organisms, the very young, elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are recommended to avoid consuming raw sprouts.

Mung Bean

Mung Bean

You can see the little sprouts starting to burst through the casing. It’s just a little… but it’s a start!




You can’t see too much happening here with the alfalfa seeds, but just wait another day or so.



And the broccoli has begun bursting out pretty rapidly.

All of the seeds have definitely swollen since last night.

I keep the sprouter in the middle of my kitchen. There isn’t very much natural light available, but they seem to do just fine. 

Note: Sprouts were featured in the Food and Nutrition Magazine by a few other dietitians last year if you feel like checking out what they had to write.

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 🙂

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!