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Nutrition student whips up Valentine dinner recipes

As she layered crushed graham crackers, sugar free pudding, strawberries, and a dollop of nonfat topping to create a delicious dessert, Kim Lett talked about her progress as a mature UTC nutrition student. Lett decided to try her culinary skills as a participant in The first annual Valentine's Day Healthy Cooking Recipe Contest, held in the Food Lab of the UTC Department of Human Ecology. The contest was sponsored by the Step One, Chattanooga District Dietetic Association and the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department.

After spending years as a strategic planner working for Lockheed Martin Corporation, Kim Lett transferred to Chattanooga with her husband and decided it was a good time to change careers.

"I've always been athletic, and I enjoy sports. I became a certified aerobics instructor and a personal trainer," Lett said Satisfying as her new experiences were, Lett knew she did not have the depth of knowledge she needed to advise her clients with their diets, so she decided to enroll in the Human Ecology Department at UTC.

Now, the fourth year student understands there is much more to know about food than carbs and calories. "I am taking a lot of science courses like chemistry, anatomy and physiology. I hated chemistry in high school, but now I realize I really enjoy these classes," Lett said.

The Dietetics program at UTC prepares students to become registered dietitians upon successful completion of an accredited Dietetic Internship/Supervised Practice Experience and the national Registration Examination for Dietitians.

Lett is hopeful that her degree will lead her to work in sports nutrition.

In recent years, the UTC Dietetics Program had a 94% acceptance rate into post baccalaureate internship programs.

For more information about the Dietetics program, contact Holly Dieken.

Curious about the recipe for the Valentine's dessert? Lett was kind enough to share a whole heart-healthy menu of recipes:

Berry Parfaits
1 (1.5 oz) package of sugar-free, nonfat, vanilla pudding mix
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 & 1/2 cups fresh berries*
Small amount of nonfat whipped topping (optional)
To prepare:
  1. Prepare vanilla pudding according to package directions (use skim milk).
  2. Fill each parfait with alternating layers of pudding, cracker crumbs, and berries(layer each ingredient twice)
  3. Top with whipped topping if desired.
Serves: 4
*Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, blackberries, or chopped strawberries work well.
Nutritional information:
206 calories, 2.9 g fat, 2.5 mg cholesterol, 356.3 mg sodium, 24.1 g carbohydrate, 2.1 g fiber, 6.4 g protein
(Strawberries used in determining nutritional information)
Kim's Mediterranean Chicken
2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, halved, with visible fat removed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and sliced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (2.25-ounce) can black olives, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup port wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Steps in Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Place chicken in a 9-inch square glass-baking dish.
  3. In a large pan, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add remaining ingredients.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  6. Pour mixture over chicken.
  7. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside.
Serves: 4
Kim's Black Bean Dip
with Whole-Wheat Pita Chips
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup nonfat yogurt cheese* or cream cheese
1/2 cup Taco Bell Thick'n Chunky Salsa (use medium for a slight "bite")
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (12-oz) package Toufayan Whole-Wheat Pita Bread
Steps in Preparation:
For Dip:
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
  2. Chill for at least 2 hours.
For Pita Chips:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Slice pita pockets into triangular-shaped pieces (like cutting a pie).
  3. Unfold slices, separating each into two "chips".
  4. Place chips on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until chips are slightly brown and no longer soft to touch.
  6. Cool completely Store in an air-tight container.
Serves: 4

*Nonfat yogurt cheese is made by draining nonfat yogurt to separate the "cheese" from the whey Place the yogurt in a strainer lined with coffee filters, and then place the strainer over a bowl to catch the liquid whey Let yogurt drain in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Discard the whey, or save for another use.

February 11, 2005

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