Versatile chicken can be transformed to create two different taste sensations and still provide important nutrients. DaVita renal dietitian, Dee from Nevada, shares a family favorite recipe, her mother-in-law’s Easy Crispy Lemon Chicken. Even the recipe’s name makes your mouth start to water. Change out the ingredients and plain chicken turns into Fabulous Chicken Marsala.
The Marsala region of Sicily in Italy has been famous for its wine for centuries. In 1773, its fame went international when an English merchant sent a load back to England and everyone loved it. Not only did the English find Marsala wine good to drink, they also agreed it was tasty when cooked with food; which is certainly the case with Dee’s Fabulous Chicken Marsala.
Dee attended college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and became a dietitian “because I loved patient education and found the study of dietetics fascinating.” She thought she would go on to work in an eating disorder center, but Dee so much enjoyed her dialysis rotation she decided to pursue a career in renal dietetics with DaVita.
Dee enjoys working with her dialysis patients and finds that working through the challenges of the kidney diet bring great rewards. “What I find challenging is stressing to the patients that diet modification can really improve their condition with end stage renal disease (ESRD), as well as help prevent related complications,” says Dee, adding, “I find it rewarding when I reveal to my patients that their efforts in diet modification have resulted in improved lab values.”
Making a difference in her patients’ lives is easy for Dee. She explains, “I try not to make my patients feel as if they were a number. I want them to know that they are all special and unique in their own way.” Regarding working closely with her patients, Dee states, “I really enjoy getting to know what makes them tick.”
Regarding her approach to being a renal dietitian, Dee says, “First off, I try to be as upbeat and positive as possible, and then I introduce myself as part of the dialysis team and explain that together our goals are to improve their lives. I also try to know each patient on a personal basis, as this allows individuals to feel more comfortable about being honest in regards to their medication and diet compliance.”
As far as advice Dee would give to people on dialysis, she recommends, “I think that focusing on fluid intake control, as well as limiting dairy, are the two biggest ways patients can improve their condition. Overall, it’s important that a dialysis patient be proactive in attaining the right insurance and medication coverage, as well as knowing the right questions to ask of the right health professionals. Keep in mind that your health is in your hands.”
Dee says she has noticed that, “Phosphorus levels have improved when the patients take their ‘Low Phosphorus Foods’ and ‘High Phosphorus Foods’ lists with them when they go grocery shopping.” She also encourages patients to remember to take their phosphorus binders. Dee never gives up on any patient, “I have learned that some of the most non-adherent patients can improve their lab values in one month.”
In addition to getting to know her patients on a personal basis, she also enjoys her DaVita teammates. “We have an upbeat and lively team,” expresses Dee. She even enlists the help of her teammates to help educate patients. “We have the patient care technicians (PCT) wear different questions around their necks, such as 'Which food is a better choice, oatmeal or cream-of-wheat?' One side has the question and the other side has the answer. As the PCTs take care of their patients, they can ask their question. The PCT that has asked their question the most at the end of the day receives a prize. We have a wild and fun staff that is always ready to jump in and participate in any educational activity.”
Marsala wine is found in the kitchen of most Italian restaurants in America. It is the key ingredient in Fabulous Chicken Marsala, so you may want to also stock it in your kitchen. This popular Italian-American dish is pretty easy to make and goes perfectly with a side of fettuccini. Feeling like something a little different? Try Easy Crispy Lemon Chicken and a side of rice.