Creating My First Educational Handout in a Clinical Setting – Kosher Diet.

“Wow, is it a type of diet? Isn’t it a type of salt?” That was my thought when people asked me about a Kosher diet. Born and raised in Vietnam, the only times I heard about Kosher was the salt brand used in cooking. After I came to the US, I learned more about this term and the diet associated with it. And I learned even more about it when tasked with creating a Kosher diet handout during the clinical rotation of my dietetic internship at Baltimore Washington Medical Center (BWMC).  

During the 10-week clinical rotation, I was assigned to design an educational handout about a topic that I am interested in. The handout was given to the food services and kitchen team during the monthly meeting to educate the staff so that they can better serve the patients. 

At the beginning of the project, I started researching about the Kosher diet and its restrictions. Kosher is a term used to describe food that strictly follows Jewish dietary laws. These rules are also known as Kashrut. Kosher foods fall into three basic categories: meat, dairy, and “parve.” Kosher meat includes animals that have split hooves and chew partially digested food from their stomach such as goats, cows, or sheep. Certain parts of the animal including fat, blood, and nerves are not kosher. All dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese must come from kosher certified animals. The parve group includes vegetables, fish, fruits, packaged foods, and eggs. In the kosher diet, there are many laws that fall below each category of food. I asked the dietetic manager how kosher food is served at the hospital. She explained that the dish is sealed and only opened by the patient or by someone at their request.

Although the dietitian provided a lot of information to me about the kosher diet, I only included the key information on the handout. The goal when creating educational handouts is to be detailed yet brief to hold the reader’s interest. I used Canva, a website, to design the handout. The first page of the handout shows key information about the diet and its rules. The second page has multiple choice questions that ask how to serve the food and what are the restrictions. This helps to enhance the readers’ knowledge and retention of the information.

Image credit: by Amino Science

Educational handouts like this are important resources in food service operations. Dietitians and food service workers must consider and understand  various cultures in hospitals and long-term care facilities when serving a variety of customers. This minimizes miscommunication, decreases health risks, and improves customer satisfaction. 

After completing this assignment, I felt more confident talking about a kosher diet. If someone approached me and asked about Kosher, I could easily explain it and provide examples of allowed foods in this diet as well as some of the rules.

In this experience, I not only learned about a special diet, but I also learned new technology skills to create effective nutrition education handouts. I know I will use this skill set a lot when I become a registered dietitian. Creating concise, reliable, and evidence-based nutrition education materials engages your target audience and reinforces the behavior changes they need to make which can result in positive health outcomes.

Manna- Yes, you CANna!

By Dietetic Intern: Rachel Amsellem

Part of becoming a registered dietitian is being able to effectively communicate with your patients through verbiage, facial expressions, or visuals. During my rotation with Manna, my visual communication skills were put to the test as I was tasked to create a video of a recipe they could use for their collection.

Manna is a food center whose mission is to eliminate hunger through education, advocacy, and food distribution. They do this by feeding residents at many pop-up pantries, markets, and distribution centers in Montgomery County, Maryland. In America, one in every eight people experience food insecurity.  And after the pandemic, almost 100,000 people did not have sufficient food in Montgomery County. With the increased cost of living and rising supermarket prices, Manna is seeing increased traffic. Growing up in this area, I previously volunteered with Manna as a Girl Scout packing boxes at one of their sites. I assumed my experience here this time would be the same, but I was so wrong. There is so much all-encompassing work that goes on behind the scenes from the committed employees, county, volunteers, and Manna participants.

My two-week experience at Manna was filled with a variety of activities and I truly saw the ins and outs of what this incredible organization does for its community. I packed individualized boxes for people with certain needs such as lack of microwave access, specific diets, and mobility restrictions. I initially thought that these boxes would solely be filled with canned items. However, they were packed with a variety of fresh produce and meats. I was impressed with an organization of  its size tailoring personalized care for its participants. In addition, we were able to speak with a representative from the Montgomery County Food Council and get a legislative perspective on how their work influences changes in the law. From making infographics,writing a newsletter, and participating in team meetings, I was a part of it all.  

I’m going to highlight a small glimpse of my work at Manna and discuss the food recipe video I created. These videos are a way to encourage people to use and showcase the versatility of different foods. The inspiration for my video was based on a combination of previous Manna videos posted on their YouTube account and Tasty videos from BuzzFeed. I wanted to pick a recipe that was simple, easy, and affordable.

After volunteering at Manna Market, I noticed that foods such as zucchini and eggplant were readily available. However, people don’t readily choose these foods; they gravitate towards more common options such as apples and oranges. Like myself, people can be hesitant in picking zucchini or eggplant because they perceive them to be difficult to prepare. In addition, they do not have much flavor on their own and can sometimes turn out to be soggy, spongy, bitter, or mushy. There was a great eggplant lasagna recipe already posted on Manna’s YouTube account, so I decided to come up with a recipe that would use zucchini. I researched some recipes and decided to make baked zucchini with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. I have never prepared zucchini this way, but I have always enjoyed when they are cut in spears instead of round circles.

My first predicament was figuring out how I was going to record a birds-eye view video from my phone by myself . I had only recorded and edited one recipe video for a group project in college, so I thought it was time to get creative. I first planned to use cardboard, tape, and scissors to create a device to hold my phone while I recorded. Fortunately though, Manna has a tripod that would securely hold my phone and record the video from an aerial view.

I recorded myself making the recipe, taking pauses to show ingredients, and snapping pictures along the way. The total time from setting up, to recording, to baking the zucchini, and then to plating was 45 minutes. Recording a video was much harder than I thought it would be. Getting the lighting correct and centering the item with the tripod was challenging. I even had my head blocking some of the camera when I was chopping the zucchini. It was a lesson learned for future recipe videos that I intend to record. Unfortunately, the video did not turn out as expected and I think it’ll take more practice to get the perfect shot. Here is the recipe handout for the zucchini if you want to try it out:

I had such a great time at Manna as it opened my eyes to the real food insecurity problem that is right in front of us. This experience was a catalyst for my future involvement in communities and how I can use various methods of communication to advocate and help eliminate hunger. 

Winter Nutrition and Wellness

By Dietetic Intern: Haley Flambaum

Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall. Each season has unique nutrition recommendations, tips, and seasonal produce that can offer health benefits. At my rotation with the University of Maryland Campus Dining, my colleague, Rachel, and I were tasked to create a nutrition bulletin board to be displayed around the South Campus Dining facility. The board had to highlight nutrition tips, cooking/kitchen tips, a recipe, and a featured food.  After much collaborating and thinking we decided to create our board with a winter season theme. 

For our nutrition tips, we wanted to focus on elements of nutrition that can be lacking in the winter. So we addressed how it is more common to become deficient in vitamin D in the winter because sunlight is a major natural source of this vitamin. We emphasized the importance of incorporating good food sources of this vitamin such as salmon, tuna fish, eggs, and fortified milk in the diet. Vitamin D is needed to help build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. And it also plays a role in our nervous, musculoskeletal, and immune systems. 

For cooking/kitchen tips, we focused on stocking the pantry, utilizing soup as an easy meal, and adding more light to beat the winter blues. In the winter months, the market may not have as many fresh fruits and vegetables available. You can remedy this by stocking up on things like canned goods, frozen options, and dried lentils/legumes. These options can be used in soups, stews, or curries which offer a hearty meal on a cold winter night. When schedules get busy or you are feeling under the weather, soup can be a great option for an easy meal. Try prepping your soup in advance and packing it in the freezer for a quick meal on busy nights. 

For wellness and self-care tips, we discussed the importance of making a daily schedule for self-care activities such as regular physical activity and sleep. People tend to hibernate in the winter so this is a good time to catch up on sleep. While catching up on sleep, it is still important to have scheduled meal times and some regular physical activity. One tip we gave for increasing physical activity, despite the cold weather, was meeting up with family or friends and walking around your local mall. We also explained that YouTube can be a great resource for at-home workouts with little to no equipment required. Some people are negatively affected by the longer nights and reduced light of fall and winter. So another tip we focused on was how to get more light by adding string lights in your house to help beat the winter blues. 

Our featured food was winter squash. We talked about why it is called winter squash, provided nutrition facts, and reviewed the different types. The recipe we provided was for a Winter Squash Soup and you can see the recipe in the picture below. 

After finishing the board, we translated it into Spanish to reach a greater audience. We enjoyed making the bulletin board as it gave us creative freedom as well as an opportunity to share nutrition and wellness tips we have learned throughout our education. This experience helped me not only trust my creative ability but also helped me hone my skills to create content in a visually appealing way to educate my audience. Additionally, I learned the importance of staying on top of the latest evidence to provide helpful and accurate information. I look forward to using these skills as a future registered dietitian.        

Access to Food without Education Feeds the Problems of Tomorrow

By Dietetic Intern: Amber Wall

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This saying came to mind after completing my rotation with the USDA’s SNAP-ED Connection program manager, Janice Schneider, MS, RDN, FAND. The SNAP Program serves its participants by not solely providing them with funds to purchase food but also encouraging the establishment of healthy habits through SNAP-Ed. The information provided is truly a valuable resource. It opens doors to life-long health improvements and promotes generational successes. Through the material created, I was able to contribute to SNAP-Ed’s mission and help provide resources that could impact the future.

SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This federally funded program provides money via EBT card to assist low-income individuals and families with getting groceries. SNAP-Ed stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education.  This program is dedicated to the mission of “implement[ing] a nutrition education and obesity prevention program for eligible individuals that promotes healthy food choices and physical activity consistent with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans”.  This rotation was dedicated to researching and preparing materials to be utilized by SNAP-eligible participants.

I was assigned multiple tasks during this rotation. The tasks consisted of creating electronic bulletins for their 176,000+ subscribers, creating two months of tweets for their Twitter account, recreating recipes, taking photos for their site, and more.  While the focus on knowing your audience was a very important element in creating resources, a larger picture was at play. I was creating material that could influence lifestyle choices and thus make a positive impact on health outcomes. While SNAP benefits provide funds to its participants to utilize at the grocery store, SNAP-Ed can influence what is being bought at the store. SNAP-Ed caters to the well-being of the participants before, during, and after the benefit funds are used.

The SNAP-Ed program provides recipes, training, videos, and nutritional information to complement the given funds. I attended a webinar during Native American Heritage month where I learned about some of the tribe’s cultures and traditions. I was able to hear the challenges and disparities amongst this population and how SNAP and SNAP-Ed have provided nutrition care and resources to those groups.  This experience reinforced my belief that dietitians have a responsibility to investigate not only current nutritional needs but also how those needs are met prior to and after nutrition care is provided.


Another task I was given was creating the E-bulletin for their email subscribers. The purpose of the E-bulletin is to provide information in a condensed format. Topics could vary from seasonal produce, food safety, and physical activity among other things. E-bulletins create shortcuts to direct subscribers to topics of interest on the SNAP-Ed Connection website. E-bulletins are also “food for thought”, consisting of tips to help members when it comes to changing nutrition and physical activity behaviors.  While working on E-bulletins, I used pictures to concisely provide as much information as possible. I created eye-catching images that provided information like this image below:

The picture can be absorbed within seconds and displays quick nutrition information that may influence participants to add more fruits and vegetables to their shopping carts. It provided an example of what the vegetables look like to help the participant identify these foods when shopping in the future. These types of infographics were usually accompanied by written information on how to use the food in recipes or as part of a healthy lifestyle. SNAP and SNAP-Ed are not only increasing nutritional security, but they are also improving the diet quality of their participants.

Twitter is another platform where participants can make quick connections to helpful health information. I created tweets and a brief seasonal infographic that would potentially reach a different audience on this social media platform.  The tweets consisted of quick teasers to encourage exploration of the SNAP-Ed site. The infographic I created on a winter vegetable was a fun way to grab the viewer’s attention by using wordplay while linking to a source on how to use it in meals and recipes.

My favorite task was making and photographing the food recipes for the USDA’s “My Plate Kitchen” online page. The recipes included on the site are healthy and budget-friendly. So, SNAP-Ed bridges the gap by providing nourishing recipes that are quick and affordable. The recipes I recreated included the Breakfast Parfait, Cabbage Stir Fry, and Chili Bean Dip. In addition to utilizing the SNAP funds and providing resources on how to prepare affordable nourishing meals, the recipes have the potential to become a generational staple meal. SNAP-Ed encourages including children in the kitchen when preparing meals. Including children in the cooking process helps establish healthy habits for the entire household.

The tasks I completed while rotating with the SNAP-Ed Connection allowed me to create content that is valuable and educational. Being part of such a hardworking and compassionate team made the experience even more rewarding. SNAP and SNAP-Ed are a powerful duo that truly embody the “Teach a man to fish” phrase. They could have stopped at just providing the funds to purchase food, but they have taken it a step further to implement a program that influences healthy lifestyle change. As a future registered dietitian, I now know the importance of not just evaluating and solving immediate problems, but also looking further into a person’s life and background to provide them with relevant resources that will help them establish and sustain healthy habits.

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Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone to Grow Professionally

By: Julie Henderson

The fear of the unknown can be a stronghold. That is what I felt when I was assigned to do my first podcast in my dietetic internship program. I chose this internship program with the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) because of what I didn’t yet know and what I wanted to gain better development in, technology and informatics. And one thing I have learned is not to let the fear of trying something new keep you from achieving new heights in your career goals.

You may not know much about podcasts if you are anything like me. I had heard of them, but I had no idea how to access them, let alone develop and record one. One of our wonderful preceptors, Megan Lautz, MS, RD, CSCS, TSAC-F has many talents working with and teaching technology and informatics. She created a schedule and assigned each intern specific dates that their podcasts would be due. During the 10-month internship, everyone must complete two podcasts. My first podcast was not due until February but knowing that I would have other assignments along the way, I chose to get started a few months early when I had more available time.

To start, I had to choose a topic and obtain approval from my preceptor. I chose to discuss the differences in packaged food labeling of sodium/salt. Even though I was intimidated by this assignment, choosing a topic made me realize that I had been taking my knowledge for granted. As it has been said, “knowledge is power,” and this was an opportunity to use my knowledge to educate others about nutritional topics affecting their health and well-being. My podcast highlighted the differences in the label wording and meaning of sodium amounts in food. For example, “Salt/sodium free” means that a serving of a particular food has less than 5 mg of sodium, while “Low sodium” means a serving has less than 140 mg of sodium. I learned that podcasting is not only an outlet to inspire or entertain people, but also a platform to educate on topics about which the speaker is knowledgeable. So, with my podcast, I hoped to educate future UMD interns and the public by cross-posting the podcast on multiple social media outlets.

The next step was to write the rough draft for the podcast. The requirement was 1 page, double spaced to accomplish a recording of 2-3 minutes in length. It wasn’t difficult to get to the 1-page requirement, especially since I knew what I wanted to relay and I had the knowledge and passion to discuss it. In this case, I felt like it was important to explain that there is a real difference in the amount of sodium in foods based on the food label wording.

The finishing touch was to record the podcast. As stated, the recording for this assignment was limited to 2-3 minutes. I first had to play around with the free downloadable recording software, Audacity Team and Sound Cloud. I then chose one and set it up to record in what I thought was a quiet space, my home office. The first 4-5 recordings were either too long or I got tongue-tied while trying to speak. Just as I finished the last couple of sentences on my sixth attempt, a family member walked into the office and ruined it. Although this was very frustrating, I moved forward and recorded my seventh attempt. And lo and behold, I did it! I accomplished my very first podcast. I happily submitted it to my preceptor for finalization and posting.

It can be intimidating to do things that you have never done before, although it is rewarding afterward. Completingthese podcast experiences will help me in my future as a registered dietitian by giving me an outlet to educate and interview others, research the latest food and nutrition-related topics, and promote the dietetic profession. I could create podcasts for my own nutrition business or private practice or be interviewed on someone else’s podcast one day. Thankfully, along with the schedule, Megan provided clear directions and helpful hints that allowed me to obtain the growth I needed to feel competent in creating podcasts. Looking ahead, I am no longer intimidated by my next podcast as I have realized that there are many topics I am interested in educating the public about when it comes to food and nutrition.

I felt accomplished after completing the assignment and look forward to the next podcast creation.If interested, you can find my first podcast at: