Raw desserts sound intimidating and expensive. Sometimes, there is a laundry list of obscure ingredients involving multiple layers and complicated steps. But, they can actually be surprisingly easy to make, and man, are they satisfying! I secretly dread dragging out my food processor and the ensuing clean-up to make them, but these cashew coconut snickerdoodle truffles took no time at all. I could easily devour the entire recipe in one sitting because they taste incredible.
If you told me these truffles were made from less than 10 simple ingredients, I wouldn’t believe you. I also wouldn’t believe that they are nut based and full of healthy ingredients! No expensive, hard-to-find add-ins here. In fact, I bet you actually have most of what you need to make these on hand already. Free from refined sugar, flour, dairy and eggs, these truffles would be a perfect addition to your holiday dessert line up. I guarantee they’ll be a hit, and will suit the dietary needs your guests may have (vegan, gluten free, and paleo).
Cashews are one of my favorite nuts. Their neutral and mild flavor lends itself nicely to a variety of recipes. Compared to other nuts, they become particularly creamy when blended, making for a great cream replacement. Cashews are an excellent source of magnesium, a mineral that is essential for energy production in our bodies, but one that many of us may fall short of in meeting our daily requirements. One serving of cashews provides about 20% of our daily magnesium needs! Reach for a handful of cashews for a protein packed snack that is also rich in minerals and healthy fats.
FlavaNaturals chocolate bars are one of my recent favorite products. I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic with a huge sweet tooth, so I was thrilled to create this recipe. These bars come in creative flavors like blueberry matcha, so they are delicious eaten on their own. What separates FlavaNaturals chocolate bars from others on the market is their flavanol content. Flavanols are the reason we consider dark chocolate to be a healthy treat. These powerful antioxidants are anti-inflammatory and may promote good heart heath. Unfortunately, many of the flavanols in chocolate are lost during processing. FlavaNaturals takes painstaking steps to ensure the flavanol content of their chocolate is preserved as much as possible, so you reap all the health benefits!
Now, on to the recipe! You’ll be able to whip these babies up in 20 minutes with minimal cleanup. No baking required, too! Raw desserts really are a beautiful thing 🙂
Even though Thanksgiving is still a week away, I can’t help but feel excited for Christmas. I get very nostalgic around this time of year, and start to miss my family even more than usual. There is nothing I love more than to be surrounded by everyone I love with a cozy fire, good food and lots of laughter. Growing up, my extended family would gather for a huge Christmas Eve party every year. My sisters and I LIVED for these parties, as we got to stay up late with our cousins, eat plenty of cookies, and meet Santa Claus (AKA my Uncle Erik). These days, my favorite part of the holidays has become helping my mom out in the kitchen. I love preparing big batches of roasted veggies and desserts with her in our pajamas, listening to Christmas music. I truly cherish these moments, and hope it never changes.
This year, I am absolutely bringing these roasted beets, sweet potatoes, and pears to the table. I am so excited to share this recipe with you guys. If you’re looking for a healthy side dish to share with your family and friends, this is the one! It’s simple, inexpensive, and mouthwatering. I’m so happy with the way this turned out! The flavors blend so beautifully thanks to fresh ginger and thyme, and is a celebration of fall produce. This recipe will suit many dietary needs - it is vegan, paleo and gluten free!
Traditional side dishes are often laden with unhealthy ingredients. While I am ALL for indulging a bit during the holidays, I definitely feel run down and lethargic after a few days of eating like this. What I love most about this recipe is how nutrient dense it is, without compromising on amazing flavor! Beets are an excellent source of fiber and contain organic nitrates. These nitrates are converted into nitric oxide in the body, which helps blood vessels relax, and thus may play a role in lowering blood pressure. Sweet potatoes are a richer source of vitamins and minerals, like beta-carotene, than their white counterparts. They also have a low glycemic index, so the sugars from sweet potatoes are released slowly and steadily into the blood. This does not cause a sharp spike in blood sugar levels like more refined carbohydrates.
I hope you all try this recipe for a holiday gathering and share with your loved ones! What are your favorite holiday traditions? I would love to hear all about them!
3 medium-large beets, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes (I actually keep the skin on as it does not bother me, but most people prefer beets without the skin)
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 large sweet potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes (peel or keep skin on, either works)
2 green anjou pears (ripe but still firm)
1-2 tsp fresh thyme
Salt to taste
1-2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
1-2 tsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, combine beets, onion, garlic, ginger, salt and about 1 tbsp avocado oil. Toss so veggies are well coated in oil. Spread beet mixture evenly on baking sheet, and roast for 15 minutes.
While beets are roasting, combine sweet potatoes, pears, thyme, salt, and remaining oil in bowl.
Add the sweet potatoes and pears to the baking sheet and mix to combine.
Place mixture back into the oven and roast for an additional 40-50 minutes. Toss mixture halfway through.
Add more salt to taste after cooking, and garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy warm or cold – it tastes delicious either way!
This warming bowl of oats is the perfect way to start a chilly morning! Naturally sweetened with banana, this breakfast is topped with a caramelized, soft, hasselback baked pear. Prep the pears the night before, and you can throw this bowl together in 5 minutes! Baking fruit may not sound appealing, but it makes them SO sweet and juicy. I have tried baking pears in the fall and peaches in the summer. Both taste like dessert when added to a hearty breakfast bowl. I hope you all give it a try!
Pears are definitely an underutilized fruit in my eyes. They have a smooth, not overly sweet taste that is enhanced when cooked. Pears, just like apples, come in many different varieties! Bosc pears are one of my favorites for this recipe because of their soft and creamy texture. If you're looking for a more firm, tart variety, try Bartlett or D'anjou. Pears are an excellent source of fiber, and just like any fruit, they are part of a well-balanced diet. I would love to try replacing some of the apples with pears in a Thanksgiving apple pie!
I love seeing all of your Hasselback pear creations on Instagram - they are stunning! I decided to post the recipe here so you have a permanent place to refer back to it. I can't wait to continue to see all your delicious baked pears 🙂
1 cup dry oatmeal (old fashioned or quick)
1 large ripe banana
1 USA Bosc pear
Pumpkin Pie Spice or Apple Pie Spice
1 tbsp chia seeds
Creamy almond butter (other nut butter is fine)
Blackstrap molasses (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Slice pear in half and remove seeds. Cut side down, make narrow slits into each half, being careful not to slice all the way through.
Grease a small cast iron skillet or baking dish with coconut oil. Place pears cut side down in skillet.
Sprinkle with a little more coconut oil and Pumpkin Pie Spice. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour until soft and tender.
Meanwhile, prepare the oats with water or milk, according to package instructions.
Mash banana in a bowl, and add to cooking oats with chia seeds and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice.
Stir well until oatmeal is cooked to desired consistency.
Divide oatmeal evenly into two bowls. Top each bowl with half of the baked pear, a scoop of almond butter, molasses and other toppings of choice. Enjoy immediately!
If preparing the pear the night before, microwave for 30 seconds – 1 minute to reheat.
Tag your baked pear bowls with #Daisybeet so I can see your creations 🙂
Rise and shine! You guys know by now how much I love my oatmeal for breakfast. I’ve been eating it every morning 99% of the time for years - it’s almost comical! I occasionally get messages for my oatmeal recipes or for tips to make oatmeal more exciting. I decided to write a post here for you all to refer to! Not to toot my own horn, but I think I’ve mastered the bowl of oats.
Before my oatmeal love affair came to be, I went through many years of protein smoothies for breakfast, starting in college. I would start my day with a smoothie consisting of ice, a frozen banana, some skim milk, and a scoop of chocolate meal replacement protein powder. Sometimes I would add in a spoonful of powdered peanut butter, too. This breakfast couldn’t have been more than 300 calories, and while it was delicious, I never felt completely full afterwards. I always NEEDED a midmorning snack a few hours later as I could hear my stomach rumbling. This coincided with a time in my life where I was very “calorie conscious”. I would select foods based off of their calorie count rather than their nutrition qualities. I was eating a lot of low fat products, that, looking back, were definitely loaded with artificial ingredients. I absolutely loved my college experience, but I realize now that it was an environment which perpetuated this type of eating and thinking about foods. I subconsciously compared my body to others and made food choices based off what my peers were doing, which meant low calorie, low fat, and sometimes lacking real food ingredients.
Once I began researching nutrition more, I realized this protein smoothie habit was probably not the most nutritious way to start my day. Not only did it leave me hungry for real food a few hours afterwards, but the ingredient list was a mile long. There was a myriad of ingredients I could not pronounce. I decided to transition to real food based smoothies, and began making oatmeal in the winter when it was colder. I noticed that oatmeal filled me up much more than smoothies, and sustained me all the way until lunch on my less active days. I also enjoyed the act of eating food, physically chewing, and taking my time enjoying breakfast, rather than slurping down a smoothie in 3 minutes.
Don’t get me wrong now, I think smoothies are delicious and refreshing! They are an excellent way to add calories and nutrients in the clinical setting, and can be very healthy when you are mindful of the ingredients you add. For me, though, physically eating a big breakfast works best. Oatmeal is my breakfast of choice for so many reasons. It is quick and easy to make, cheap, delicious, customizable, and filling. One of my favorite ways to flavor my oatmeal is by adding sweet caramelized banana, cacao powder, cinnamon and nut butter. This satisfies my undying sweet tooth in a nutritious way! I hope all of you who have a sweet tooth try this recipe.
Here are some of the RD Approved ingredients you’ll need:
Old fashioned rolled oats
Raw cacao powder (unsweetened cocoa powder is fine, too)
Oats: Oats are one of the best sources of soluble fiber. This type of fiber has many health benefits. A diet containing soluble fiber can lower cholesterol levels, because the fiber binds to cholesterol in your body so it can be excreted. It also is not fully absorbed, so it does not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber keeps you fuller for longer because it is digested slowly, and helps keep you regular by adding bulk when you go to the bathroom.
Cacao Powder: Raw cacao powder is rich in antioxidants in the form of flavanols. The flavanols found in cacao powder may have more powerful antioxidant effects than those in green tea and blueberries! Flavanols may have numerous heart-healthy functions. They can reduce inflammation by inhibiting inflammatory cytokine production. Flavanols also may prevent blood clots by reducing platelet aggregation and reduce oxidative damage within blood vessels.
Salba Chia chia seeds: Chia seeds are also a good source of soluble fiber, and thus exert similar health benefits as oats. Notice how they swell when you add liquid? They expand to 10x their dry weight! This adds a lot of bulk to your diet and fills you up. Chia seeds are also a rich plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are essential fatty acids we must consume in our diets, because our bodies cannot produce them. They are essential for growth and development, can lower blood triglyceride levels and may be anti-inflammatory. I love Salba Chia in particular for so many reasons! There are over 100 different strains of chia seeds, but they grow only the 2 strongest varieties. They are a single source company, co-own and operate all of their farms, and partner directly with the farmers to ensure the best possible seeds. Salba Chia also grows ALL of their chia seeds organically with no pesticides! Therefore, the nutritional profile of their products is always top quality.
Without further adieu, here is my favorite oatmeal recipe. Adding the banana to the bowl before you microwave your oats breaks it down so it becomes super creamy and extra sweet. No other sweeteners needed!
½ cup oats (I use old fashioned)
~1 cup water (enough to top off the oats in your bowl)
1 small ripe banana
1 tbsp cacao powder
½ tbsp Salba Chia chia seeds
Dash of Cinnamon
1 tbsp nut butter
Toppings of choice: I like fresh fruit, hemp hearts, cacao nibs, etc.
In a microwave safe bowl, add oats and water.
Slice the banana into the bowl and stir.
Microwave for 2-2.5 minutes, until cooked.
Remove bowl and stir in chia seeds, cinnamon and cacao powder.
Add nut butter and toppings of choice, and enjoy!
I hope you guys enjoy this simple recipe. Oatmeal is very customizable – I love to experiment with different spices! Tag your oatmeal bowls with #Daisybeet so I can see your lovely creations.
This post was written from the air on my way to Denver, CO to visit my sister for a long weekend. I had the best time exploring a new city, taking in the natural beauty of the state, and checking out the food scene!
I was inspired to write this post as I had about an hour to kill waiting to board my plane at LaGuardia Airport. The security line was surprisingly non-existent, so I spent my time floating around the terminal and checking out the food options. Even though I was in a small, probably older terminal, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of healthy options I found. I found a hot oatmeal bar at Au Bon Pain for breakfast! I added slivered almonds, some chocolate chips, and a packet of Artisana almond butter + a banana I brought from home. If you happened to look at my Instagram stories that morning, I highlighted a few nutritious options that were available. These included Siggi’s yogurts, 88 Acres granola bars, packets of hard boiled eggs, unsweetened matcha tea, and bananas.
After this experience, I wanted to address a problem I think many of us face, which is – “How do I eat healthy while travelling?” Over the years, I’ve come up with some pointers that help keep me on track, and I would love to share them with you!
• Pack healthy snacks. This is likely the simplest way to plan ahead for travel. Making sure you have nutritious snacks on hand is essential for when hunger strikes on the road (or in the air). This also extends beyond just “snacks”, as I like to pack non-perishable options that can make a meal. Here are some of my favorite choices:
• Bars: RX Bar, Square Bars (20% off with code DAISYBEET), 88 Acres, and The Yes Bar are some of my favorites.
• Fresh Fruit: Apples, bananas, pears, and oranges are all easy to pack and don’t need to be refrigerated en route.
• Trail Mix/Mixed Nuts: The perfect salty treat to satisfy the munchies. Look out for added sugars and excessive sodium in your trail mixes (Most dried fruits contain added sugars, and try to limit sodium to <140 mg per serving). I also recommend making your own trail mix! You can get so creative with healthy add-ins. I like unsalted almonds and cashews, unsweetened coconut chips, pepitas, popcorn, and maybe some dark chocolate chips.
• Nut Butter Packets: So many great nut butter companies sell individual serving packets these days. These are great to add to fresh fruit for a protein-packed snack, or to oatmeal to make it more filling.
• Oatmeal Packets: Plain oatmeal packets are so easy to pack, and all you need is some hot water in your hotel room for a quick breakfast! You can add some fresh fruit, nuts, and a nut butter pack for a really satisfying meal. I’ve even been known to pack a cinnamon spice shaker – optional, but definitely recommended.
• Salba Chia Chia Seed Packets: Another easy, portable way to add a boost of nutrition to hotel oatmeal, or oats you make yourself.
• Prepare something portable the night before. If you’re really unsure of the food situation where you’ll be travelling, preparing something easy the night before to take with you can be so helpful. Here are some ideas:
• Bake a sweet potato, add some nut butter, cinnamon and granola and put it in a small Tupperware. If you find your favorite yogurt at the airport, you can have a really delicious sweet potato yogurt bowl!
• Hard boiled eggs are easy to transport – just make sure you consume them within ~2 hours of taking them out of the fridge.
• Make a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread. Healthy fats, protein, and complex carbs make for a delicious and filling meal on the go that does not require refrigeration.
• Research the restaurant and grocery store scene at your destination. I love to spend some time looking up restaurants in my destination! Checking out the local food scene is one of my favorite parts of traveling. Mostly all restaurants have their menus available online, so you can see the available options before you go. It is also helpful to see which grocery stores are in the area. If there is a Whole Foods, you’re bound to get lucky with a classic brown box meal when you want a quick, inexpensive lunch or dinner.
• Make exercise fun. When I travel, I still love to start my day with some movement if I am able. Running is one of my favorite ways to explore a new area. It allows you to see more on foot than you would by walking. If running is not your thing, by all means, walk! I love to walk anywhere, especially in a new city. I also sometimes do a quick cardio/bodyweight workout if my hotel has a gym. Kayla Itsines has some great workouts that do not require much equipment. In addition, it’s so fun to check out local workout studios! I love talking to people in the health and wellness community, and this does not stop because I am traveling.
• Explore the local delicacies. One of the best parts of traveling is that it allows you to stray from your routine. I encourage you to try new things, and don’t be afraid to indulge! Variety and new experiences make life memorable, so don’t pass up on The World’s Best Donut because it strays from your usual eating pattern. One way I like to find this balance in my own life is by filling up on all the nutritious foods I love during breakfast and lunch (think oatmeal, fresh fruit, big salads, lean protein, veggie packed omelets) and not worrying about how “healthy” dinner is. Knowing I’ve already nourished my body with these healthy foods helps eliminate any guilt, and adds to the excitement of trying new things (which may be vegetables, or may be French fries and pizza). And of course, I always leave room for dessert.
My Denver Picks:
Denver and the surrounding area exceeded my expectations. I had an incredible time exploring the city and mountains, getting outdoors, and (of course) eating delicious food! Here are some of the highlights from my trip:
Garden of The Gods, Colorado Springs: This was a fantastic park about an hours drive from Denver. There are towering red rock formations that you can hike around and take in the beautiful colors of the landscape. This was a great destination for those who don't want a strenuous hike, but still want breathtaking views. We spent about an hour wandering around and taking everything in.
Red Rocks Amphitheater: Truly a sight to behold! I didn't get to see a show here, but went late one morning for the views and a quick workout. During the day, Red Rocks is a fitness lover's dream. People were running up and down the stadium stairs, doing planks and tricep dips, and walking their dogs. I would love to come back someday for their summer yoga events. It really is incredible!
Guanella Pass: After our Red Rocks excursion, we drove into the mountains and went up 11,000 feet to Guanella Pass. The temperature dropped about 20 degrees, and there was already snow on the ground! On our drive up, my sister and her boyfriend told us all about the camping scene here, and I learned about tree line. The summit felt like a different world! We were too cold to stay long, but it was so vast, beautiful and unlike anything I'll ever get in NYC.
Boulder, CO: We spent an afternoon wandering Pearl Street in Boulder. It's about 40 minutes driving from Denver, and the cutest town ever! Pearl Street is the main area, and it is lined with beautiful boutiques, outerwear shops, art stores, restaurants and coffee shops. I definitely need to spend more time here.
Red Rocks: As I mentioned above, Red Rocks is worth the drive to get in your workout. You'll be surrounded by likeminded people to inspire you, and the views are breathtaking.
Trail Runs: My sister's boyfriend took me on a trail run in Boulder one morning, and it was incredible. There are countless routes in the area, but the one we did was called Sunshine Lion's Lair Loop on Mount Sanitas. It was such a challenge, and felt SO different from my usual flat road runs in NYC. I could have run forever!
CorePower Yoga: One of my recent favorite yoga spots has many locations in Colorado! I took a Yoga Sculpt Class one morning, and it was the perfect way to start the day.
Barre3: I met my friend here after flying in for a class and lunch. It was the best way to stretch and move after sitting on a plane, and the employees were so welcoming.
Sushi Den: Who knew you could get some of the best sushi in a landlocked state? Sushi Den ships in fresh fish from Japan daily, so the quality is very high. The menu is extensive and super creative, and I would eat there every day if I could! What to get: Japanese eggplant (seriously amazing), toro sashimi, shitake salad, miso soup, and miso black cod.
Acorn: This seasonal eatery is located in a more industrial part of town, inside the coolest building called The Source. The building houses cute shops and markets, as well as Acorn. The plates are small and meant to be shared. What to get: kale and apple salad, coal roasted beets, yams, and gnocchi. Also - ask for bread at the start of the meal. It was excellent.
True Food Kitchen: I was so excited to finally try True Food Kitchen! It did not disappoint, and we had a wonderful dinner here. What to get: Seasonal salad with salmon, fish tacos, the burger, the squash pie, and the flourless chocolate cake.
Shuga's: Shuga's is a casual diner in Colorado Springs with a Mediterranean flair. My sister loves to come here whenever she is in the area. It has a retro vibe, and the service is very friendly. What to get: spicy coconut shrimp soup, the nicoise salad, and the bruschettas.
Poke City: This was a fast, delicious, and healthy lunch stop! You can build your own poke bowl with a base of grains or salad, and the toppings are basically unlimited.
Zeal: We ate at Zeal in Boulder before heading off to the airport. They have tons of salads, sandwiches, and bowl options, as well as fresh juices. What to get: Build your own bowl with toppings of choice and coconut curry sauce.
I hope these tips help eliminate any anxiety you face when traveling! I know staying healthy is a huge priority to a lot of you, and I understand that. Eating healthy and exercising gives me so much energy, happiness, and a positive outlook for the day. I love to extend this when I travel, but I also don’t forget to try new things. What are your favorite ways to find balance when you travel?
Pumpkin spice season is back in full force! As much as we try to deny it, I think the majority of us shamelessly love curling up with a warm and cozy pumpkin spice anything. Pumpkin itself is full of health benefits, as are the traditional “pumpkin” spices. But, all the pumpkin spice products you’ll find in coffee shops and on grocery store shelves may be full of added sugars and other ingredients that negate the nutrition benefits you’ll get from the good stuff. For example:
Starbucks Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte: Has 4 grams saturated fat and 48 grams of added sugar. That is more sugar than a can of Coke! For a visual, 48 grams of sugar = 12 teaspoons of sugar, or 12 sugar packets! I doubt you all would add that many packets to your regular coffee at Starbucks.
Pillsbury Pumpkin Quick Bread Mix: This quick bread mix has 15 grams of sugar per serving. Sugar is also the first ingredient listed on the label, meaning it is the most abundant ingredient in the mix. These pre-made mixes are also full of preservatives, dyes and unnecessary ingredients.
Whole Foods 365 Pumpkin Spice Granola: This granola has 3 kinds of added sugars listed in the ingredients, plus the dried fruits included are processed with sugar.
After making my blender banana bread the first time, I started dreaming up a pumpkin version. The cooler temperatures were begging for a cozier version of this treat! This recipe is very similar to my blender banana bread. It has minimal, nutrient-dense ingredients, is easy to make using just your blender, and tastes incredible!
Canned pumpkin: I wish pumpkin and winter squash were seasonal all year round! Pumpkin is high in fiber, which helps with digestion and may help lower elevated cholesterol. It is also rich in Vitamin A, so it supports healthy vision, skin and immune system. Make sure the only ingredient is pumpkin when buying canned pumpkin.
Chosen Foods Avocado Oil: I just recently started using avocado oil, and it’s become my favorite oil to cook with (along with good old olive oil). Avocado oil has a similar fat profile to olive oil, so it is very high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats and low in saturated fat. Avocado oil is better than olive oil for high heat cooking, because the smoke point is 500 degrees F. This means the fats in the oil will not oxidize into harmful substances at temperatures lower than 500 degrees. It also has a mild, neutral taste and odor, making it extremely versatile.
Peanut Butter: This is one of my pantry staples! Peanut butter is an inexpensive source of plant based protein and healthy fats. Nuts and legumes are also rich in micronutrients such as potassium and magnesium. Studies show that including this food group in your diet on a regular basis is linked to maintaining a healthy body weight. Make sure your peanut butter only has one ingredient – peanuts!
I hope you guys are ready to embrace pumpkin spice! It’s going to be hard to share these RD approved squares with everyone, but I know you’ll all be nice 🙂
3-4 tbsp maple syrup or honey (can use less if banana is riper)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups almond flour
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
½ tsp salt
2-3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or grease pan.
In a small bowl, mash banana with a fork.
Add mashed banana, pumpkin, eggs, avocado oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract to a high-speed blender, and blend on medium until smooth.
Add almond flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt to the blender, and blend again until smooth and well combined.
Fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour batter into the loaf pan and smooth out with a spatula. Drop spoonfuls of peanut butter on top of batter, and use a knife to swirl throughout. Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips, if desired.
Bake for 30-45 minutes until edges are just starting to brown.
Let cool before cutting into 8 squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.
I hope you guys love these pumpkin spice treats! Tag your photos with #Daisybeet so I can see your creations 🙂
This post is dedicated to all you nutrition students and RD-to-be’s. As somebody who finally finished the long road towards becoming a dietitian, I know the struggle. I understand how intense the coursework is and how the daunting the internship application process feels. I can also tell you that the hard work is ABSOLUTELY worth it. I have never been more proud of myself than after passing the RD exam. It’s an amazing feeling knowing your hard work has led you to a career you are passionate about. In this post, I hope to address some questions I've frequently been asked about the path to getting a dietetic internship.
Depending on what stage of your education you are in, you can always do different things to prepare for the internship and make yourself a competitive, desirable candidate. I’ll break it down into a timeline about what you can do to make yourself stand out.
If you’re still in your DPD courses:
Now is the time to really put in a lot of the grunt work. You’re probably balancing a full, challenging course load. While grades are not everything, it is important that you do well in your DPD courses. I spent many of my nights and weekend days during this time in the library, keeping on top of my schoolwork and studying very hard. This is also a great time to build relationships with professors who you’ll ask for recommendations for your application. Go to office hours and try to interact outside the classroom, if you can. Why? Internships like to see that you not only understand the complex material from your classes, but also that you are a hard worker. Good grades are evidence of these both!
I know keeping up with your classes is a full-time job, but start seeking out opportunities to volunteer at a hospital. Many hospitals accept student volunteers to help with the nutrition or food service department. If you can’t get into a hospital, try another type of acute care or long-term care facility. You should have at least 6 months of consecutive volunteer experience by the time you apply for the internship, so plan accordingly. Why? Working in a hospital is not the most glamorous environment. Internships want to see you’ve spent time here because a vast majority of your internship is spent in a hospital. This will show them that you understand how a hospital works (to some extent), and were able to handle seeing some potentially unpleasant things (blood, very sick patients, etc.).
In your free time, I recommend saying YES to as many nutrition-related opportunities that come your way. This may mean attending talks at your school, interning with private practice dietitians, or even just keeping up with the latest nutrition research by reading journal articles. The more exposure, the better! I got a part time job at a Soul Cycle studio, and even though it was not directly nutrition related, it was still a health and wellness company that helped me develop invaluable people skills and flexibility. I can confidently say that experience played a big role in helping me land the NYU internship. Why? Nutrition is a science, and science is always changing. Staying up to date and in the know about the latest research and best practices is something required of a dietitian, so why not start now? This is also a great time to explore the many paths you can take as an RD. By giving your time to these opportunities, you will learn more about what you want to do with your career.
If you’re applying for your DI:
You’re wrapping up the last of your DPD courses, and the internship is your next step. This is a very exciting time, but it can also feel overwhelming. The first thing to think about is, what is important for YOU in your internship? For me, that was location. I only applied to internships in New York City and Boston. For others, location may not be a concern (and to be honest, this will give you an advantage. A general rule of thumb for DIs is that those in major cities tend to be more competitive and harder to get into, because more people are applying). Why? Deciding what your main internship priority is will greatly help you narrow down where to apply. You’ll have more time to research those internships you’re truly interested in, and spend less time sorting through all the other programs.
Fill out your DICAS application. It doesn’t take a ton of time, but it’s important that you go through it carefully. Double and triple check for typos, spelling errors and formatting. Check out the essays each program requires, and start writing! Be authentic, concise, and honest in your essays. I also HIGHLY recommend you have a few people edit your essays and give you feedback. I was lucky to have my boyfriend’s brother & sister-in-law edit mine, and it really brought my essay to the next level. Why? The internships know nothing about you, and your application is their first impression. Make that impression perfect! Also, each program may have a different essay question, so you want to make sure the each essay is tailored to each program.
Ask for recommendations. I recommend professors/supervisors that are RDs or in a nutrition-related field that know you well. I also suggest asking EARLY. While they will be happy to write your recommendation, they are busy people and things get lost along the way! Giving them time will help them craft a better picture of you, and will give you time to follow up.
Rank your internship programs honestly. From my knowledge, matching will always work in your favor. Don’t play mind games with yourself, and put your top choice first, even if it is a reach!
If you’ve applied:
Congratulations! It’s such a relief to submit your application. First off, relax and give yourself a moment to breathe. Then, take the time to write a thank you note to those who gave your recommendations. Why? Life is about balance! Relaxing is necessary so you don’t burn out. And thank you notes are polite, and will help you keep up meaningful relationships.
If the internship programs you applied to have interviews, start preparing. What I did to prepare was think of tons of different possible internship questions, and corresponding scenarios/examples from my own experiences that would answer these questions. It helped to type them, then practice SPEAKING them many times. Coming from an introvert, I HATED doing this (and still do), but it was essential to answering interview questions confidently. It also helps to get together with your friends to practice with each other. Try to think of examples of the following scenarios:
- A challenge you’ve faced, and how you dealt with it
- Leadership skills you possess/a scenario in which you were a leader
- Examples of teamwork/working well with others
- Other desirable skills outside of the classroom that you have developed
- How you stay up to date with the latest nutrition research
- Your best qualities, and your biggest weakness
- Adjectives a previous boss/supervisor would use to describe you
- Why you are a stand-out candidate
The day of your interview: arrive 10-15 minutes early. Bring copies of your resume. Dress in something appropriate, but also something you are comfortable wearing. After your interview, send your interviewers a thank you note sometime that afternoon or the morning after.
You can re-rank your program choices again, so once all your interviews are finished, think about if your top choice has changed. I still believe putting YOUR top choice is the right move, even if you think you have a better chance at an internship elsewhere.
And now, you wait. On match day, be kind to yourself and keep yourself busy. I went to work in the morning, then took a barre class and did some light studying in the evening. BREATHE. If you’ve worked hard and prepared well, odds are, you will match. If you DON’T match, I promise you this is not the end of the road. I have many friends from the NYU internship that did not match the first round they applied. Not matching does NOT make you any less of a strong candidate. Don’t let it affect your self-esteem! Use the time between now and the next match round to make yourself an EVEN STRONGER candidate. If you put your mind to it, you will make it happen!
I hope this post was helpful to all those pursuing their RD certification! I truly know how long of a road it is, and how sometimes, you honestly feel like you’re drowning. Again, I promise you it is worth it! Be patient, keep hustling, and you’ll land your dietetic internship!