A perfect meal ends with the perfect dessert, and few desserts are more enjoyable or memorable than Tiramisu. Our recipe from DaVita dietitian Leslie in Kentucky owes its scrumptious flavor to a blend of cake, espresso and a rich cream cheese filling, pumped up with cocoa and grated chocolate. Luckily, Leslie has adapted this recipe to be low in phosphorus so those on the renal diet don’t have to miss out on this delectable treat.
A Kentucky native, Leslie became interested in healthy eating while just a teenager. “I was referred to a dietitian for high cholesterol when I was 13 years old,” says Leslie. “I remember thinking how pretty and smart she was, and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.” Once Leslie attended Western Kentucky University, her career began to take shape. “In college, I knew I wanted to work in healthcare and work directly with patients, especially in ways that helped prevent diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and the like.”
After graduation, Leslie began working as a dietitian, but it was several years before she entered the renal field. “I chose the renal field, because I was ready for a new challenge after working as an acute care RD for 4 years and then as a consulting dietitian, mainly for nursing homes, for about 4 years,” she explains.
Working as a DaVita dietitian for more than three years now, Leslie finds that the most challenging aspect of her job is motivating patients to keep their phosphorus in goal range, especially around holidays and other special occasions. That’s where a recipe like her low phosphorus Tiramisu can really be helpful for them.
Leslie’s approach to working with patients is very supportive. “I let them know I am a resource to them, like a counselor or advisor there to report the facts, whether it be their monthly labs or nutrition facts, rather than the diet police ready to issue a citation or punish them,” she explains.
Every day, Leslie’s goal as a DaVita dietitian is to make a difference in patients’ lives. “I help them learn how to make better choices when it comes to their everyday lives,” she states.
Although being a renal dietitian is a challenging job, it can also be very gratifying. “Seeing patients adjust to the dialysis lifestyle and being a part of why they adjust so well” is the most rewarding part for Leslie. Working with her patients, what she most enjoys is “helping to teach them how to have the best outcomes while living their life in a practical way.”
For a kidney patient, supporting their own good health requires both action and positive thinking. Leslie advises her patients that the most important thing they can do to improve their health is “come to treatment and keep a positive attitude.”
As Leslie educates her kidney patients about steps they can take to support their health, she likes to use examples that are easily understood. For instance, she will often make a comparison to something they are passionate about. “You wouldn’t think about getting in your car without a seat belt would you?” Leslie asks them. “Not taking your binder every meal is like getting in a car and driving with no seat belt.”
While Leslie is working hard to support patients, DaVita is providing tools to assist her and the rest of the DaVita team to do the best job possible. “What I enjoy most about working for DaVita is the support that we are given with resources like the Dietitian Connection, as well as the emphasis on working as a team,” Leslie explains.
Leslie enjoys her days at three DaVita centers in Elizabethtown, Leitchfield, and Radcliff, Kentucky. She says the hometown environment in these clinics make them special to her. And we’re sure that her down-to-earth approach to helping her patients makes her special to them.
Remember Leslie’s low phosphorus recipe for Tiramisu the next time you want to treat yourself or a loved one to an impressive dessert that is sure to rival your favorite restaurant’s version.