- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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April 17, 2010
Are you food illiterate? You're not alone
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
Are you food illiterate? If so, you appear to be in the majority. Recent headlines paint a dismal picture of what's happening to cooking these days:
- "People's lack of food skills is getting in the way of them being able to make healthy food choices."
- "Kitchen gadgets take the fast-food mentality into the home."
- Some people — parents and children alike — have never seen a cabbage or a baked potato but they know coleslaw and French fries.
Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology studying the food skills of 16 to 26 year olds noted that these teens and young adults are food illiterate — they don't have the skills to choose and cook healthy food. The root cause, they suspect, is that these young people come from homes where meals and food preparation were outsourced.
At the recent International Home and Housewares show in Chicago, which drew 60,000 people, the focus was on gadgets that reduce cooking to a one- or two-step process, such as:
- A toaster that toasts bread and poaches an egg simultaneously.
- Toaster ovens with a "pizza bump" (a rounded front) to allow frozen pizza to more easily fit.
- Ovens and microwaves with pizza and chicken-nugget buttons for "one-touch cooking."
If you count yourself among the food illiterate, would you like to change? Then try this one-week challenge:
- Just say no to eating out. Yep, no eating at restaurants. Eat only food from home, preferably at home.
- Eat only "real food." Think whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, small cuts of poultry, fish, lean meat, and low-fat dairy. Avoid boxed or frozen dinners and "junk food" snacks.
- Get a cookbook. Or go online for recipes. Look for ones from recognized health organizations. Choose a few easy and appealing recipes, and give them a go.
By the end of the week, you'll definitely know what skills you have — and the ones you lack.
What have you tried to improve your food literacy? Share your ideas. Let's learn from each other.
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