Shrimp and Asparagus Linguini and Frozen Sugar Cookie Sandwiches by Rachel from Illinois

Shrimp and Asparagus Linguini looks as scrumptious on the plate as it tastes — picture light pink shrimp nestled beside deep green asparagus on a bed of thin-flat pasta. It’s also delightfully adaptable for use with low-fat or fat-free cream cheese if you’re watching calories. Check your grocer’s freezer for frozen, cooked and peeled shrimp to make this recipe super easy and still super tasty.  After your linguine dish, follow up the meal with a little something sweet but not sugary. Frozen Sugar Cookie Sandwiches are much-loved by adults and children alike. Fill them with a variety of whipped topping flavors for variety.

As an exercise instructor for four years, DaVita renal dietitian, Rachel from Illinois loved exercise and fitness, which guided her to a career in nutrition. “In college, I was very focused on weight loss,” says Rachel, “and preventing high blood pressure, diabetes and improving physical performance.

Originally from Michigan, Rachel attended Michigan State University and graduated with an honors bachelor of science in Dietetics and a specialization in health promotion. “I interned with Michigan State University’s two sports nutrition dietitians. My senior year, I had the opportunity to work with varsity hockey, basketball, football and women’s crew. After graduation I went on to attend a one-year program at University of Michigan Hospitals and Health System to obtain become a registered dietitian. At University of Michigan, I spent over 6 months in clinical rotations and became interested in renal nutrition. In the ICU, I did tube feeds and total parenteral nutrition (intravenous feeding) for renal patients. I also completed numerous diet educations for newly transplanted patients. Two great mentors were renal specialist dietitians, and they provided me with lots of insight. I grew fond of the challenge and decided I wanted to start a career in renal nutrition,” says Rachel.

Rachel is quick to state that working as an educator and counselor is very rewarding. “When my patients open up to me about their lives I feel I’ve made a true connection. Then together we start making changes that will better their health. This makes me feel my true importance as a renal dietitian.”

Coming up with an effective coaching style was easy for Rachel. “I take time to listen to my patients. I try to form a trusting, open relationship so they can open up to me. I do my best to encourage them to modify their favorite meals and snacks so that food remains an enjoyable part of their lives. My approach varies widely from patient to patient. I first address their needs and then educate and counsel them based on their learning ability and personality,” shares Rachel.

New techniques can also help dialysis patients learn and retain information. A fun activity that Rachel created is called “What should I order?” For this game, Rachel prints out different foods that are commonly ordered when eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then she shows patients the pictures. The dialysis patients are asked to guess if the food is a healthy choice or a poor choice, and to explain why. Rachel says the visual images provided a better education than words alone.

Rachel stresses to her dialysis patients the importance of taking phosphorus binders with food to prevent bone disease. Most importantly, she says patients should inform their caregivers promptly of any new symptoms that occur. “I have patients who experienced diarrhea, nausea or vomiting for a week before they let anyone know about their symptoms,” says Rachel. If patients tell their health care team about new symptoms, the team will try to help patients so they won’t have to experience discomfort.

 “I have been with DaVita for 9 months,” Rachel says, adding, “DaVita challenges dietitians to reach many goals. The company keeps us on our toes and rewards us for hard work. I enjoy working closely with my medical director. He is very supportive and always encourages me to keep learning.”

“I’m taking weekly Spanish classes,” says Rachel. Until she is fluent in Spanish, Rachel says, “The Spanish-speaking patient care technicians (PCTs) at my center are very helpful and always willing to translate when detailed counseling is needed. They’re great!”

Rachel’s recipes are also great. Shrimp and Asparagus Linguine is creamy, delicious and packs protein and veggies in one dish. Save room for dessert and enjoy Frozen Sugar Cookie Sandwiches and cool and tasty treat for dessert or as a snack.


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