Celebrating National Nutrition Month

I often pinch myself when I think about my job with Unite for HER. In this time of female empowerment, I get to connect with and hear the stories of so many incredible women. Similarly, the dietitian world is filled with women who work so hard to educate about nutrition and inspire others to live healthier lives. Well, worlds collided recently when I spoke with Doris Piccinin, an oncology dietitian participating in our UFH program. While meeting and chatting with a peer is always something I enjoy, what really got me jazzed was our shared feeling of joy about one simple kitchen appliance…


The Instant Pot.


Oh yes, when we confessed our mutual love for this pressure-cooking machine, I knew we’d be fast friends!  It didn’t take long before we were gabbing like old friends about our love of good food, sharing Instant Pot recipes, and our favorite Philly restaurants (Zahav, if you were wondering). Having such a passion for cooking and good food, Doris asked if she could give back to Unite for HER by sharing some of her favorite recipe with our community? Of course! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate National Nutrition Month than by sharing the stories of our women and inspiring others to get back in the kitchen.

As a dietitian, specifically one who specializes in both diabetes and oncology nutrition, Doris truly walks the walk. Her nutrition philosophy is simple – eat locally sourced fruits and vegetables whenever possible, and eat in season.  You see, enjoying homegrown food is second nature for Doris. Her parents grew up on farms in Italy, both working as hobby farmers while also holding full-time jobs. Doris grew up on a farm in Windsor, Ontario in Canada where her family grew practically everything they ate – tons of fruits and vegetables, eggs, duck, chicken and rabbits. In fact, even today at the young age of 88, Doris’ Dad still farms and enjoys the fruits of his labor!


Like I said…walking the walk.

Doris enjoys a hike with her dog

Her love of health and food brought her to nutrition, where she has been an RD for more than 20 years.  Most of her career was spent working in Washington as a Certified Diabetes Educator until about 5 years ago when she and her husband moved to Philadelphia. She is now an RD at the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

In 2018 her job became personal when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Despite dealing with her own hurdles through her treatment, Doris sees the silver lining through it all. She says her diagnosis has allowed her to reflect on her own experiences and, as a result, better connect and help her patients.  


To help our women currently in treatment, I asked what are Doris’ two most important tips for getting through treatment?


1. Listen to your body. Don’t force foods that are going to make you feel worse. If you’re not having symptoms, try including cooked vegetables, as they are less stressful on the stomach.

2. Drink your water. Dehydration can cause side effects like dizziness, headaches, and even worsened swelling, so keep on sipping any way you can!

Another inspiration for Doris came from her weekly CSA delivery from Lancaster Farm Fresh. Like many women during treatment, Doris found that she simply did not have the energy to be creative in the kitchen, and this was a great struggle for her.  However, her interest was renewed with each delivery as she and her husband explored new recipes to cook up their organic veggies-and more!  

I’ve rounded up a few of Doris’ favorite recipes, including a couple of Instant Pot favorites, and hope they will inspire you as they nourish you.

(And, if you’re a fellow IP fan, be sure to check out her favorite recipe resource, Amy + Jacky.)

Carrot Muffins

Dry Ingredients

  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour ** I used 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3-cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp wheat germ * I used hemp seeds
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3-cup vegetable oil
  • 3-4 med carrots (2 cups grated)
  • ½ cup drained crushed pineapple
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Grease muffin tins
  3. Whisk the flours, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, then add the oil, vanilla, carrots and pineapple
  5. Carefully fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients with plastic spatula.
  6. Divide batter evenly into the muffin tins.
  7. Bake for 30 mints till golden brown, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Happy National Nutrition Month and Happy Cooking!

Erin Pellegrin RD, LDN

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