There is a reason pork chops and applesauce are an American favorite. The pairing of savory pork and sweet apples is a perfect combination, and dates back to the first American settlers. While this combination has stood the test of time, Jennifer, a DaVita dietitian from Maryland, has brought it to new heights with her Apple Spice Pork Chops recipe. Enjoy the rich flavor of lean pork chops with the natural sweetness of fresh apples in less than 30 minutes with Jennifer’s kidney-friendly Apple Spice Pork Chops.
The foundation to good health is eating a well-balanced diet. Jennifer understood this simple rule as a girl. “I’ve always been fascinated with food, and its power to both heal and harm. At a young age I asked my mom to step down from the role of family cook so that I could create healthy and nutritious meals for everyone to enjoy. I also offered free nutrition advice to anyone who would listen.”
By the time Jennifer attended college, her passion for nutrition was fueled. “I started my college career at St. Mary’s Honors College of Maryland as an archeology and history major. That didn’t last long! After one class of nutrition 101, I knew dietetics was the career path for me. From there, I transferred to Radford University in Virginia and got a degree in Dietetics. I did graduate work at University of Kentucky in the field of nutritional science. From there, I went to Virginia Tech in Northern Virginia to complete my dietetic internship and (finally) become a registered dietitian.”
Jennifer naturally gravitated to the renal field after completing her education. “I had the opportunity to care for renal patients while working as a clinical dietitian in a hospital setting. The work was challenging, but also rewarding. To see kidney patients get noticeably better on the proper diet was so gratifying; I knew that my advice had a direct and immediate impact on their quality of life. It was then that I knew I wanted to be a renal dietitian.”
Living in the modern world of prepackaged food seems like a convenience, but it’s Jennifer’s biggest challenge. “The renal diet is a particularly difficult diet to follow. With food companies putting food additives such as phosphorus and potassium into so many different items, it is a constant challenge to find which foods are deemed “acceptable and safe” for my patients. Phosphorus is in everything these days. What a challenge for patients!”
Homemade meals seem like more work, but the little extra effort helps maintain health and spreads happiness. Jennifer’s philosophy on meal planning reflects her approach to working with her dialysis patients. “I like to spend quality time getting to know each of my patients. When patients feel more comfortable, it is much easier for a dietitian to teach and motivate. The job becomes so much more enjoyable and rewarding. I love getting to know each and every one of my patients. They become family.”
We live in a fast food world, but Jennifer believes slowing down and being thoughtful is the key to being healthy. “The most important things dialysis patients can do to improve their health are to learn everything there is to know about their disease and what measures need to be taken to ensure that their quality of life is the best it can be.” A few minutes a day on the DaVita website can make a big difference in helping dialysis patients learn about kidney disease.
Educating patients doesn’t have to be boring. Jennifer’s DaVita dialysis center encourages creativity. “My clinic just recently finished a 6-month-long game called “DaVita Olympics — Phosphorus Hurdle Race”. Each patient was assigned a track runner to monitor for the duration of the race. If the patient’s phosphorus level was in range for the month, their runner leaped a hurdle. All patients that made it to the finish line within 6 months were awarded a prize. Bigger prizes, including basketball tickets and football memorabilia, were raffled off to the winners."
Jennifer’s biggest reward is sharing her patient’s accomplishments. “If my patients are feeling good, I feel good. I like to think that my job enables patients to live longer, healthier lives,” says Jennifer.
Jennifer’s Apple Spice Pork Chops are sure to be a family favorite. Pork is a delicious, low-fat and nutritionally-rich protein. Apples contain vitamins and necessary dietary fiber, while providing natural sweetness. This is a simple and satisfying meal that only takes 30 minutes to prepare.
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