Lively Lemon Tart and Lemon Cream Cheesecake, Plus Hot Crab Dip by Janis and Janna from Illinois 

“Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet,” goes a popular song recorded by Harry Belafonte. The lyrics say that the fruit of the lemon “is impossible to eat.” Well, Harry was actually singing about the fruits of a love affair gone wrong, and only comparing it to the poor lemon. So it’s good news that DaVita renal dietitian, Janis from Illinois knows how to make a lemon taste sweet and yummy with this recipe for Lively Lemon Tart. But wait there’s more! Janna is Janis’ eager intern, and she also had the magic touch—Lemon Cream Cheesecake. Both desserts are not too sweet, not too tart and a refreshing way to add extra calories to your diet if needed.

Janis grew up in Southern Illinois and completed her education at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois and admits, “I was always interested in health, fitness and nutrition.” When Janis joined DaVita more than 10 years ago, she was looking for a full-time job after working part-time while her children were young. “When I came across a want ad for a renal dietitian, I decided to apply for the job. I was hired and loved it—I’ve been here ever since!

Intern Janna says she’s always had an interest in healthy food options and wanting to help people. “As a dietetic intern, renal is one of my many rotations,” she says. “I will be working with Janis for two weeks.” Originally from Belleville, Illinois, Janna completed her undergraduate studies at Murray State University in Kentucky. “I’m now doing my internship and graduate school at St. Louis University,” she adds.

Rewards and challenges are many in the renal field. “I love helping patients who come into the unit almost afraid to eat because of all the foods they’ve been told not to eat.” Janis shares, “I help them incorporate the foods they love into their diets by providing recipes for new foods and they are actually relieved that they can enjoy eating again.” Janis says the biggest challenge she faces is, “working with kidney patients from a variety of backgrounds, educational levels and economic conditions.” The most rewarding aspect is, “helping patients improve their health while providing education to dialysis patients and families. They are never dull!”

When it comes to improving their health, Janis stresses that kidney patients should not focus on diet alone. “One of the most important things they can do is to take their medications — blood pressure medications, phosphorus binders, insulin, etc.  It affects their health greatly and makes the job of the physician, nurse and dietitian easier. It’s difficult to assess what changes need to be made with diet or medications if patients do not consistently take their medications,” states Janis.

Janis describes her approach to meeting nutritional and health goals: “I try to provide education and services individualized to my dialysis patients’ needs,” she says. Janis encourages each patient to “be an active member in their own health care. Learn as much as you can about your condition and the treatments available.”

Janis has seen many changes and improvements in renal care. “I enjoy the people, both teammates and dialysis patients,” she says. The most surprising thing I’ve learned in my time here is how many things a kidney really does.

Janis works at two DaVita facilities, about 15 miles apart, and just across the Mississippi River. “Both centers are special,” she stresses, “not only because of the teammates and patients, but we also have fantastic medical directors at both facilities.”

Janis has dreamed up a luscious dessert featuring fruit and cheese in one dish — Lively Lemon Tart. It’s a refreshing dessert that will deliver a tasty zing to your taste buds. Her intern Janna, has another variation of lemony dessert—Lemon Cream Cheesecake. There won’t be any sour faces when you serve these creamy desserts!


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