Graduation Glory

“You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.” -Tom Brokaw

Wow! Can’t believe I am an intern graduate with the whole world ahead of me. Graduation was such a great time to hang out with some of my closet friends, although it was very hard to leave many of them…I wish we could have had an extra week or so to just hang out…without the graduate classes, homework or internship competencies!! Is it depressing that I am already looking forward to a reunion?!

Anyway, here are some pictures from the momentous occasion!

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XOXO, Danae

Over the Biggest Hurdle. Almost to the Finish Line.

As you are reading this, I have graduated from my dietetic internship at Louisiana Tech University.

WOW. Can’t believe I typed that sentence.

The past 11 months have been such an intense time, yet it has been one of my best years, both educationally and personally.

I’ll be the first to admit that when I found out I was coming to Louisiana for my internship…for a year….I was nervous. I had lived in Illinois my whole life and I was moving to a new area where I didn’t know a single soul — no family, no friends, nothing. That first week 6 weeks I was in Louisiana was a weird and stressful time. I was in new place, I was meeting new people, I was getting acclimated to LA summer and graduate school, plus getting ready to be a dietetic intern. There was a lot of change happening.

Over time though, things have eased up. I learned (and am learning) something new about the field of dietetics and myself every day. I thought I knew myself pretty well after my undergraduate experience, but I feel this has been one of my biggest growth years. I am pretty much a professional now. During the past year, I have gotten to work with some amazing dietitians, ones that will do anything to help me succeed and be an excellent dietitian. I have developed my skills to help me be the professional that I want to be. I have strengthened my strengths as well as worked hard to strengthen my weaknesses (because yes, even I am not perfect! haha).

I have been so blessed to have an great internship experience. I have made lifelong friends, who I will miss seeing on a regular basis, but am so excited to see where they go from here. Even though I am so excited to move back to Chi-city, I think I will miss Louisiana, because of all the memories. And the winters. Definitely going to miss the Louisiana winters..

I plan on up keeping this blog until I get a job and pass the RD exam. I enjoy having an outlet. I have found I enjoy writing and blogging, so I hope this can lead to something in the future. Maybe like a food blog! Only the future will tell.

Thanks to all my family and friends for your love and support during this exciting  yet tumultuous year. And thanks to all who have read my blog and kept up with my journey.

XOXO, Danae

Days to Graduation: 0….its finally here!!!

Illinois vs. Louisiana Showdown

With my internship coming to a close this coming Friday, I have done a lot of reminiscing about everything. Since moving to Louisiana for a year after being a Illinoisan for 22 years, I have now experienced a whole new culture. Illinois and Louisiana are two completely different states, so let’s do a little compare and contrast.



Deep Dish Pizza


Concealing your beer with a paper bag while drinking it

Drinking a daiquiri while driving

Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Dr. Pepper

“Which Coke you want?”

Starbucks on every corner

Fried chicken joint on every corner

#29 obese state (27.1% of people)

#2 obese state (33.4% of people)



2 Seasons: Winter and Construction

2 Seasons: Summer and Humid Summer

Ice cream trucks in the summer

Ice cream trucks every day

St. Patty’s Day in Chicago

Mardi Gras in NOLA

Fast and reckless driving

Slow and dumb driving

City Girls

Country Boys

The Dark Knight

Duck Dynasty

Lake houses


“The higher the heels, the closer to God”

“The higher the hair, the closer to God”

Safe to say Illinois and Louisiana are two completely different areas, but I now have an excuse to wear cowboy boots and say ya’ll.

XOXO, Danae

Countdown to Graduation: 3 days

Happy Mother’s Day!!


Yes, my mom is better than your mom.

Thanks mom for always loving me and supporting me. It is your encouragement that has gotten me through stressful times, and we both know I have had my fair share of those. Love you!! Can’t wait to see you in 4 days!

XOXO, Danae

Countdown to Graduation: 5 days (what?!)

Think outside the {Nature} Box

This is not really a product review. So let’s call it a “product awareness”.

You have probably heard of “Wine of the Month” club or “Cheese of the Month” club or, my favorite, (monthly shoes for $39.95). Well, NatureBox is the health freak cousin of all those clubs.


NatureBox is a company that wants YOU to make healthier changes to your life. According to their website, the average American eats almost 25% of their calories from snacking! Snacks are one of the first places you should look when you are trying to cut back or lose a few pounds. Snacking is the number one cause of childhood obesity, which puts a child at great risk for becoming obese as an adult.

So, I know you are asking, “Danae, this is awesome. But it is probably really expensive.” Actually…..

For $19.95 per month (w/ FREE shipping), NatureBox will send you a box of 5 of their healthy snack items (15-20 total servings per box, about 5-6 servings per bag). If I wasn’t as broke as  I am, I would definitely join this club! You can also set up a NatureBox delivery schedule for a loved one as a gift!


Each box will even contain snack items relative to whatever month you receive the box in. For example, in February, they will send you snack items that will indulge you, with out you indulging in that box of chocolate from Valentine’s Day candy. Or in October, since it starts to get chilly then, NatureBox will send items that will boost your immunity and keep you energized. This really is a cool concept!!


NatureBox boasts that their snacks contain (or more don’t contain):

  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • No hydrogenated oils
  • No trans fats
  • No artificial flavors and colorings
  • No artificial sweeteners

Plus, every item in your NatureBox has been nutritionist approved, so you know you aren’t getting a mislabeled product.


For every NatureBox that is delivered to any doorstep, NatureBox, in partnership with Feeding America will donate one box to help feed a hungry child. About 14 million children in America go hungry every year. Not only are you helping yourself by choose better quality snacks, but you are helping other Americans eat.

So, don’t waste your calories on empty calories, like soda and Ho-Hos. *In cheesy infomercial voice* Order your NatureBox today!! *Thumbs up, Big smile*

XOXO, Danae


Countdown to Graduation: 9 days! (SINGLE DIGITS)

Life’s a Picnic

So, currently I am in my second and final management rotation. The BIG project that normally gets completed during your second management rotation is your theme day. This is when you combine all your skills you have developed and you plan, execute and evaluate a themed meal. I planned my theme day in about a weeks time. It was a lot to get done, but I would rather than then wait to the last minute. April 24th was the day!

My theme day was Springtime Picnic themed, so I decided to have BBQ Chicken, Garlic Bread, Pasta Salad and Apple Cobbler as my menu. Here is all I had to do:

  • Develop and standardize recipes (I had to make about 120 servings).
  • Determine ingredients I needed to purchase.
  • Ordered my food items from my food distributor.
  • Develop a production schedule (What needs to happen when).
  • Determine cost per meal and selling price for the meal.
  • Receive the food from the delivery truck.
  • Prepare the food.
  • Decorate the cafeteria.
  • Develop an meal evaluation tool.
  • Advertise the meal.
  • Serve the meal.
  • Make sure everything runs smoothly on the day of and make sure we don’t run out of food.

Overall it went very very well. It was a long day to say the least (I got there at 6 am!) I am so lucky that I have a great and helpful staff. The cafeteria cook helped me with my chicken.

All my chicken!

All my chicken!

The day before my theme day, I made my pasta salad, so all I needed to do with that was scoop it into little cups for service. The cobblers were really easy to put together, as was the garlic bread. My goal for this theme day was to put together a great meal, but also make it relatively easy and simple. I didn’t want anything super high stress or technical. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

The day went smoothly except for one little hiccup…

My 2nd Degree Burn

My 2nd Degree Burn

I almost dropped a large sheet pan with two cobbler on it. Instead of letting the pan drop, I jerked the pan towards me and it slid onto the underside of my wrist. It hurt, but at least my cobblers weren’t ruined. The executive chef at the hospital assisted me in pouring some salt on my wrist. This helps draw out the moisture to prevent a blister from forming. I slide a glove over it to protect myself, but I ended up working the rest of the morning with only one arm. You do what you got to do though!

The cafeteria was very very busy during lunchtime, which is unusual for Glenwood. There is usually a steady stream of people, but there was an extra amount of people that day. It was awesome!

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After the day was over, lots of the cafeteria workers told me my theme day was one of the most well planned and smoothest theme days that had seen. I thought that was a huge compliment. They also loved my decorations!!

Overall, I thought it was a successful day, and now I get to spend my last two weeks writing up my evaluations about my theme day and doing whatever my preceptor needs. It’s all downhill from here!

XOXO, Danae

20 Days Until Graduation!

“Better Performance Through Nutrition”

Monday was a busy but fun day.

First I was at my internship. I am in the middle of planning my Theme Day for Glenwood (more on that  later), so I had a long day of prep work and organization before the actual day (April 24th).

After work I got to give a presentation to the men (and woman) of the Monroe Fire Department. For my graduate class, which is about work-site wellness, a group of us instilled a nutrition education program with the fire department. I do not remember if I talked about this earlier but a few weeks back we actually got a tour of the of the firehouse and got to sit in the firetruck and learn about all the bells in whistles. The guys even let me try on their suit and jog around in it to see how heavy it was.

Yep...this happened.

Yep…this happened.

We kind of a got a feel for the lifestyle of a fireman and then found out what some things they wanted to know more about. We decided to do a nutrition presentation centered around the work the firemen do and what they put their body through daily, hence our program title “Better Performance through Nutrition”. The four of us each talked about a particular aspect and then made a corresponding handout/recipes that correlated with our section, so that way they could keep copies of them and give them out to others who maybe couldn’t come to our presentation.

The first section talking about what a diet actually is and how the lifestyle of a fireman affects their diet and vice versa. It is so important that these individuals eat a well balanced diet because they do put their body through so much. Also, with inhaling smoke and sometimes being forced to eat food out on the road when going from job to job, it is important that they eat the right stuff so they are not putting themselves at risk for heart disease, obesity and cancer.  They have enough stuff going against them, they don’t need their diet to be one of them. We emphaized that these individuals stay on a heart healthy diet, which is low in saturated fat and sodium and high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and mono and polyunsaturated fats

The second portion was a break down of the five main food groups. What items make up the various food groups were discussed, as were the nutrients food in those food groups, what counts as a proper serving and what that serving looks like in real life terms. (Like 3 ounces of fish is about the size of a deck of cards or 1 1/2 ounces of cheese is about 3 dice). The Paleo Diet was also touched upon, because not only is it a fairly popular diet right now, but lots of the firemen have been know to be on it. As said in the presentation, the Paleo Diet is great because it encourages high fruits and vegetable intake, but a negative is that you are often consuming higher levels of saturated fat, which can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease.

The third part of the presentation touched on the importance of hydration and how being hydrated can help them function. One fireman told me that during the summer months in Louisiana, the can literally pour sweat out of their boots. This is all water that they need to be replenishing. For the normal male and female, we need about 3 liters and 2 liters, respectively. We determined that for these firemen, for ever hour of exercise (or firefighting  they do, they need to basically double what they drink. So on a slow day where maybe they just work out for an hour, they now have to drink 6 liters. But, throw in a 2 hour time span where they are actively fighting fire on top of that, you can see how easily they can get dehydrated and how important it is that they drink water and/or sports drinks.I can barely get the two liters I need to get by (I get my water through coffee…ha).

I wrapped this whole bad boy up with applying all of the techniques and information that was talked about prior to an actual lifestyle and how they can use this knowledge when cooking food or grocery shopping (Read this previous post, where I talked about similar things)I gave a list on what some of the heart healthiest foods are (yogurt, nuts, green tea, salmon, wine (score!), pomegranates and bananas…just to name a few). I then went into healthier ways of cooking. For some reason, people in the south think the only way to cook something is to throw it in a deep fryer?! Weird. I discussed omega 3-fatty acids and the benefits to them, as well as where they could be found. I informed them of what good oils and bad oils are and a nice little trick to remember. The more liquid a fat is at room temperature, the healthier it is for you. So, your Crisco Tub of Lard hydrogenated shortening oil (yuck!) is way worse for you than your spreadable margarine, but your canola oil is going to be better than your spreadable margarine. Think Crisco –>Stick Butter –> Spreadable tube Margarine –> Canola/Olive Oil. To wrap up, I talked about salt, alternatives to salt (Remember this?!) and hydration. Drinks like coffee, soda and alcohol are fine in moderation, but you need to make sure you drink water with them, because they can dehydrate you. Make sure you replenish! Your urine will be the easiest way to tell. You want the color of water or lemonade, not apple juice.

Overall I thought it went very well. Some of the guys were even taking notes and asking questions. They seemed very receptive of the information and where very thankful for the talk. But really, the pleasure was all mine. Not only am I know halfway done with my end of the class project, but I got to stand in front of a room full of firemen. FULL. OF. FIREMEN! pretty much a girls dream (one of many). It was a good time, and definitely a different experience. I learned a new side of firemen. Who knew that there was more to it than sliding down poles and cruising in a red truck?!

XOXO, Danae

24 days until Graduation

Brain Mush

As a continuation from my last post….

The second half of the week (last Thursday through Saturday) was our internship RD exam prep course through Breeding and Associates. We met on campus for 8 hours the first two days and then about 6 1/2 hours the very last day pretty much reviewing all our nutrition courses from the past 5 years!! I definitely think a lot of us went brain dead, and would have much rather hung out and talked then listen to the information, but I did think it was very beneficial  I have a lot of information to review before the exam, which I take in a little under 3 months!

On Thursday, it rained. all day. Coincidentally, we had our internship picture day, which was supposed to be outside. Instead, we had to take it inside. The location of the picture was fine, but outside would have been better. It was also “freezing”, both outside and inside out classroom. I actually ended up bring my Snuggie the next two days, because it was cold. After our class on Thursday, our director had all of us over to her home for a crawfish boil! I got to touch a live crawfish, and then eventually got down and dirty with them. Even though it was cold outside, I think all of us really enjoyed time to relax and kick back. I think we have been very blessed that we all get along with each other (for the most part), and I don’t know if all dietetic interns can speak to that. The night ended with a bonfire and s’mores before everyone heading their separate directions. Kelly and I brought Chrystal and Grey home with us and they were our house guests through Saturday. We really enjoyed having house guests!

Me and my crawfish, Theodore Roosevelt.

Me and my crawfish, Theodore Roosevelt.

Trying crawfish with Kara and Kelly!

Trying crawfish with Kara and Kelly!

Friday was another day. We managed to get some sunshine and warmer temperatures compared to the day before. After the class was over, I was able to indulge in some great sushi at Rawz Sushi with Gwen, Nate and Derrick. After dinner, I came back home and watched Sister Wives with my favorite girls while we ate Funfetti Brownies, made by yours truly!!

Saturday was the last day of a VERY long week. I was bummed I had to miss my cardio kick-boxing class, but I guess cardio kick-boxing won’t help me pass the RD exam, so maybe it was beneficial that I was there. After class was over, Chrystal stayed with us an extra night. While Kelly was at work, Chrystal and I had a girls night!! We spent about an hour and a half in TJ Maxx perusing the aisles and exploring. We then made our way over to the mall, where we visited Kelly at work, and wandered in and out of stores, making a few purchases along the way. Before heading home, we grabbed some Chinese food to go from the food court and rushed home to watch…yup, more Sister Wives.

I felt like overall, it was a good week. Time is of the essence right now, so I really enjoyed just hanging out with some of my best friends and enjoying each other’s company  During this time, I was in-between internship rotations, so I didn’t have any competency stuff to worry about, I just had to worry about learning, which was sort of a breath of fresh air. I am enjoying being at Glenwood right now, but more about that later.

So in the end, I’m a couple under dollars shorter, yet an extra 22 hours smarter…I hope everything pays off in the end!

XOXO, Danae

Countdown to Graduation: 28 days! (wow….)

Healthy Eaters of Louisiana Unite!

Well, Louisiana might not be full of healthy eaters, but I would like to think the dietitians that attended the annual Louisiana Dietetic Association meeting are. This past Tuesday and Wednesday, I was in Lafayette for the LDA Conference “Responding to the Challenge“.

The Monday before the conference, Gwen, Nate and I drove to Alexandria and stayed with Derrick. We had great bonding time as we drove an hour and a half back and forth. During the conference, I really enjoyed meeting new people, hanging out with my fellow interns and seeing some old faces, like fellow student dietitians from Diabetes Camp. Since the conference was in Lafayette, the dietetic interns from University of Louisiana @ Lafayette were there, so it was fun to see how they have been since July.

On the first day, there were two seminars that I really enjoyed. The first one was Mary Lee Chin, MS, RD, a dietitian that talked about sustainability. The presenter talked about the impact that environmental concerns and food sourcing trends have on how the public purchase foods and what foods they purchase, especially with fresh produce and meat products, like beef and chicken. She told us the truth about claims and benefits of local organic foods versus modern and conventional foods and how they are each different in the way nutrition gets to the consumers and the sustainability of each. She also gave a comparison about foods from the local, regional and national realm and their impact on the economy and nutrient composition. She made sustainability sounds interesting, and she was a very good speaker.

In-between some of the talks, we made two trips to Starbucks within probably 3 hours. haha We needed some caffeine.

The second lady that I liked was Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD, a dietitian in the New Orleans area. She is a part of this awesome project where she has gone to local restaurants in NOLA and gotten their executive chefs to give her recipes of their dishes  where she then does the nutritional analysis of them. Then they work together to develop either healthier options of the of the dishes, or even develop a whole new “Eat Fit” menu listing. I think this would be a cool thing to bring to Chicago. I believe that while Chicago people love their deep dish pizza and steak, they are also fairly active and enjoy eating healthy. Many restaurants I think would want to be a part of something like this. We learned about the criteria she uses to designate healthy menu items and gave us some strategies are working with local restaurant owners. This is something I could see myself doing. Nutrition AND eating out — sounds like a dream job!

After the conclusion of the first day, the four of us went to this Mexican restaurant called El Pasado. The food was good, except at the time we ate dinner, there was very little patrons in the restaurant, yet our service was somewhat slow.

On the second day, there was really only one speaker I enjoyed. She was a dietitian, Heidi Greenwaldt, MS, RD, LD, CNSC, that worked at a large hospital in Minnesota that has their dietitians placing tubes for tube feedings. In most hospitals, the nurses are the ones that place the tubes. At this hospital, the dietitians place the majority of tubes, and they are doing them well. In 2012, there were 454 tubes placed, and 414 of those were placed by dietitians. They get trained and have all the proper certifications. At first, I was scared about the idea of RDs placing tubes, but I feel that it is good that we learn how to do this as a profession. Because we care SO much about feeding patients, I think it is great if we could just place feeding tubes ourselves. That way we wouldn’t have to bug the doctors or the nurses. I thought it was interesting.

On the last day of the conference there was a business meeting where recipients of all of the various scholarships were recognized. I actually won a scholarship that was given by the Louisiana Dietetic Association. I was one of the recipients for a $500 dollar Graduate Studies Scholarship. My roommate Kelly was the other winner! I even got to meet the President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Ethan Bergman, PhD, RD, CD, FADA (who is from Seattle! Snaps for Ethan!) and the president of the Louisiana Dietetic Association, Bridgett Scott, MS, RD, LDN. And THEN, I won one of the raffle prizes, which was a Diabetes Education book. Granted, it was written in 2003, so it’s a little dated, but maybe it is a sign that I really am supposed to be a CDE (certified diabetes educator). It was exciting and I felt so important! I got a picture with the two of them, plus we also got a group picture with them at the end.

Here is the Crew at LDA (minus one..or two)

Here is the Crew at LDA (minus one..or two)

It was an exhausting couple of days, but it got me excited for this next chapter in my life. This is only the first half of my busy week. I will soon tell you about the second half.

XOXO, Danae