1. It’s National Nutrition Month – a time for us to focus on the advice that nutritionists share with us all year long! As an RDN, you have a pretty cool job, providing information to help people make healthy choices. What drove you to pursue this career?
After I graduated from college with an English degree, I worked at a consulting firm in the marketing department. During that time, I did a good deal of reading, research, strategic soul-searching (is that a thing?) and informational interviews until I realized I wanted to work in three seemingly-separate industries: education, culinary, and communications. I also wanted my work to help people. Instead of following one path, I found a way to follow them all. I went back to school to get a masters degree in nutrition communication and become a registered dietitian nutritionist. Now my career merges three of my major interests and it helps people feel better!
2. We know from your bio that you have many “food-centered childhood memories.” What kind of food traditions from your memories do you carry on to your family and friends today?
I inherited my grandmother’s food mill and cranking strained apples through the sieve like she did always brings me back to my childhood. My mother cooked dinner for my family every weeknight growing up, and she perfected an arsenal of comfort foods like perfectly crispy baked potatoes, ‘mommy’s chicken’ (chicken stir-fry with pineapple), golden brown and melty grilled cheese sandwiches, and meatballs over fluffy white rice. I try to replicate them in my kitchen, but they always tastes better in hers.
3. We love all of your healthy pasta recipes featured on your website. What kinds of ingredients do you like to include when making a light, healthy pasta meal?
Thank you! When pasta is the main course, I always choose a no-sugar added pasta sauce made with whole food ingredients like tomatoes, olive oil, basil, fresh onions, garlic, and oregano. You might be surprised, but many popular sauces contain added sugar (some even as much as a 10 grams or 2 ½ teaspoons in a ½ cup serving). Whenever possible, I like to add fresh basil, which makes the flavors really pop. I typically serve a simple salad first, which ensures you get your greens, and also helps fill you up so you’re less likely to carbo-load by accident. Other times, pasta is a supporting actor, not the star. For example, a chicken piccatta, beef stew, or baked chicken Parmesan on top of a smaller bed of spaghetti with roasted vegetables. One key to a healthy, light pasta meal is to fill half of your plate with vegetables.
4. As an RDN, we’re sure you hear many misconceptions about the health benefits of different foods. What are the most common misconceptions about pasta, carbs, or other foods that you would like to publicly correct?
That you shouldn’t eat pasta. As a pasta-lover, I’m happy to dispel this myth. As long as people manage portion sizes and eat an overall healthy diet, they can eat white pasta guilt-free.
5. With spring right around the corner, are there any seasonal ingredients you like to include in your meals?
Oh absolutely. I’m very excited for the spring California strawberries (I’m a spokesperson for them because I love their strawberries so much). While they’re grown and harvested year round, their peak season runs March through August. On their own, they are a naturally low-sugar, nutrient-packed dessert or snack, but I also have a mean strawberry shortcake recipe I like to make once a year… I also love spring asparagus—my husband makes a fantastic salmon dinner with simple roasted asparagus. I’ll probably just head over to the farmer’s markets when I can and get whatever looks good!
6. Finally, can you share one of your favorite pasta recipes with us?
This recipe is really more about technique than anything. I was so excited when I figured out how to make pasta sauce stick to spaghetti noodles. At a good restaurant, I noticed the noodles were coated with sauce, instead of floating on top of it, and I had to replicate that at home. Here’s the trick: While the pasta is cooking, pour sauce into a skillet and heat on low. When the noodles are done cooking, drain and toss with the warm sauce. At this point, you can also add veggie extras like black olives, capers, or blanched spring vegetables. Top with a dusting of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a sprig of basil for garnish.
About Caroline Kaufman:
Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN is a nationally recognized freelance writer, blogger, and nutrition consultant specializing in nutrition communication. Her advice has been featured in over thirty publications, including Health Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Rodale’s Organic Life, Real Simple, Self Magazine, Yahoo!, Environmental Nutrition, Shape, CNN, PBS Parents, and New York Magazine. Caroline is a signature contributor to The Huffington Post, where she focuses on helping busy people eat better and stress less. She has an M.S. in Nutrition Communication from the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and an A.B. in English from Harvard College. In 2015, she received the Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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