Favorites foods from the Blue Ridge Parkway from Barb in North Carolina

The North Carolina Box Turtle, Billy Graham, David Brinkley, Howard Cosell and James Taylor—just like our featured recipes, all these recognizable names hail from North Carolina. Put any of these delicious foods on your table and find out why the taste of North Carolina is always worth coming home to—whether you were born there or not.

This month’s featured dietitian, Barb, was originally from Ohio and attended the University of Akron for her bachelor’s degree and earned her master’s degree at Kent State. Barb became interested in dietetics while participating in a science-fair project in high school. She tested the reaction of yeast to salt and sugar. “I always liked cooking,” Barb says, “just not the clean up!”

Barb was led into renal care when she first moved to North Carolina and took a consulting position for three dialysis centers. She learned the ropes under the care of an experienced and caring registered dietitian. Now Barb has been a member of the DaVita team for 3-1/2 years.

Adopting North Carolina as her home was easy, as Barb loves to talk about all the natural wonders. “People vacation in Pisgah National Forest. At Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock, you can slide down a huge boulder into the river. The water is a chilly 50 degrees most days.” We have the state zoo in Asheboro, and you can go antique shopping in Brevard. Look for white squirrels while you’re there. A quick hop over the Smokey Mountains and you can reach Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Dolly Parton’s birthplace, now commemorated by an amusement park called Dollywood.”

Getting back to her role as a dietitian, Barb admits that the most challenging aspect of her job is getting patients to eat enough protein without overdoing it on phosphorus. “Most rewarding is watching someone take direction about their diet, medicines or fluids and having it work. I help them eat foods they like, while usually maintaining labs within acceptable parameters.”

Barb states, “I would describe my approach to working with patients as calm and reassuring. I like to tell my patients that the single most important thing they can do to improve health is eat a variety of foods in moderation. The most challenging regional food temptations here in North Carolina are biscuits, cornbread, pinto beans, garden fresh tomatoes, cantaloupe and watermelon. Favorite regional foods include livermush, buttermilk, beans and apples, apples, apples.”

“Most enjoyable about working with DaVita is the large pool of professionals I get to interact with—and the way DaVita encourages that interaction. There are seven dietitians, and we travel to meetings together and discuss among ourselves, the ways we can handle challenging issues our patients face. We have teammates aged 17 to 62, and we’re bridging the gap. The most surprising thing I’ve learned since starting work with DaVita is that fun is a core value.” Barb puts the fun factor into action in her work stating, “During rounds of talking about phosphorus and renal osteodystrophy, I’ve been known to wear a Wisconsin Cheese head with a big red circle and a line through it, or a bone headband!”

Challenges particular to Barb’s North Carolina location are that, “flood, snow and ice have taken their toll over the last few years. Some units are in the mountains and the only way to get to the dialysis center is on two-lane, winging mountain roads. It takes some patients two hours to get dialysis and often, we operate on a later schedule to allow for the roads to be cleaned.”

Finally, Barb concludes with more interesting facts about her home state. “Most people know that Wilbur and Orville Wright were first in flight, here in North Carolina, but we also have famous sportsmen such as Richard Petty of NASCAR, Gaylord Perry of baseball and Michael Jordan of basketball.”

The longest and narrowest national park in the world is the Blue Ridge Parkway, running 469 miles, bending and twisting through the famous Blue Ridge Mountains. In the late 1800s George Vanderbilt visited the majestic Blue Ridge and Great Smokey Mountains that surround Asheville, and made his summer home there. Today, Biltmore House is America’s largest private residence, and has an annual Festival of Flowers celebration that attracts visitors from around the world.

Western North Carolina was originally named Garden of Eden by the Cherokee Indians, for its unending supply of scenic trails, sweeping vistas, cool valleys, cozy campgrounds, rushing rivers, streams and waterfalls. You can find some of the finest fishing for brook, rainbow and brown trout here.

And on that note, try Barb’s North Carolina sampler of regional cuisine: Country Soda Biscuits, Country Gravy, Baked or Grilled Trout, Grape Dumplings and Grand Champion Apple Pie.

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