IN HONOR OF NATIONAL REGISTERED DIETITIAN (RD) DAY AND AS PART OF NUTRITION MONTH, WE ARE HIGHLIGHTING OUR OWN RD, CAROLINE PULLEN
Caroline Pullen, RD has been with the food bank for more than two years sharing her incredible knowledge with those who are struggling with hunger in our community.
Each day, Caroline provides nutrition education and resources to our agencies and programs. A typical day in the life of our RD involves teaching afterschool nutrition and cooking classes at one of our Kids Café sites or senior nutrition lessons at local Senior Towers and Community Centers. She creates healthy, cost-effective recipes to handout at EFB (Emergency Food Box) sites–often with samples!–to help our clients eat better and make their money go further.
We asked her a few questions about the work she does.
What is one of your favorite activities to teach children about nutrition?
I love to cook with the students. When they make a recipe, they are more willing to try it and they learn a new skill. This winter we made vegetable pita pizzas and vegetable pasta salads with some of the Kids Cafe sites. We were able to then send them home with the ingredients so they could make them with their family. It was really amazing to see it impact the entire family and expose everyone to healthy produce and whole grains.
What surprises people when learning about nutrition?
That it doesn’t have to be hard to eat healthy! Eating healthy is simply increasing your fruits and vegetables, picking lean sources of protein, and selecting healthier grains. It also surprises people that you don’t have to cook for hours to make a healthy meal. I talk frequently about short cuts you can use to get a healthy meal on the table fast! One of may favorite tips is using frozen vegetables. They are just as healthy as fresh vegetable and they are already chopped up for you and ready to go.
What is the most versatile item that is included in the senior/EFB boxes?
Beans! They can be used as a tasty side or to replace meat in a main dish. Turkey tacos with beans is one of my favorite recipes for cooking demos. I add a can of beans to a pound of ground turkey or beef and it almost double the amount of “meat” for a minimal cost. It also boosts the fiber and lowers the fat content. Beans are a great source of protein, fiber, and potassium. These nutrients are often lacking in seniors’ diets. Through our senior nutrition lessons, we have taught seniors how to use beans in soups, dips and even black bean brownies!
Check out Caroline’s Turkey tacos recipe.
A healthy life starts with healthy food. That’s why we provide families in need with wholesome meals and nutrition education to help them stay healthy. It’s just part of how we help solve hunger. We are so grateful for the work Caroline does as she helps the hungry people we serve lead the healthy, active lifestyles they deserve. Support our efforts to fight hunger with nutrition!