Pineapple Bars by Jennifer from Illinois

Pineapple Bars are so sweet, gooey and yum you could almost guess this is a special recipe from mom. Jennifer from Illinois knew her patients at DaVita would love this family favorite.  It has a creamy texture and a sweet sensation on the tongue, plus the great flavors of pineapple and cream cheese. Spread it all out on a cookie sheet and bake, then cut it into bars. 

Way back in high school Jennifer startedshowing an interest in health and nutrition, but it wasn't until she took her first nutrition course in college that she knew the renal field was the right place. "After being in long-term care for a couple of years, I was ready for a change," Jennifer says, "My grandmother had been on dialysis, and it seemed that I was drawn to the renal field. I have to admit it was a little intimidating at first, but now that I have been working in the renal field for over eight years, I just cannot see myself doing anything else."

Jennifer was born and raised in the small town of Hastings, Pennsylvania. She attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania and obtained BS and MS degrees. Looking back on her years in the renal field, with its rewards and challenges, Jennifer says, "I think motivating patients to adhere to the diet and their binders is by far the most challenging aspect of the job. We can educate and provide the proper tools to help. but ultimately it’s the individual’s choice if he or she will follow the diet. The most rewarding aspect is watching patients adjust to this challenging lifestyle and realize that they can still have the quality of life that they desire. I try to put myself in their shoes. Many patients start dialysis feeling they have lost all control of their lives. It’s my job to help them get back a sense of control by making positive choices." 

DaVita dietitians have a personal sense of responsibility and caring when it comes to helping patients maintain and improve their quality of life. "I try to empower people by giving them the tools and knowledge they need to lead a healthier lifestyle," Jennifer says. "Many are amazed at how good they feel when they follow the diet and their labs are in goal range." Jennifer truly enjoys the special relationships she develops in the course of her work. "I really enjoy getting to know my patients. We have the opportunity to work with the same patients on a regular basis, which is not the case in many other settings. As with any relationship, a sense of trust and rapport is so important. What works for one person might not work for another. It is important to develop an individualized diet plan that works best. It’s not easy giving up your favorite drink or food; especially if you have been eating it for years. Small steps can make big differences in patients' lives." 

There are many steps that can be taken to improve health. After consulting her list, Jennifer advised positivity as number one. "Patients need to stay positive," she says. "Those that keep a positive outlook on life and their health, are more likely to lead healthier lifestyles." To that end, Jennifer and her team try new approaches and methods to keep patients actively interested. "Most of my patients love to play games," she says. "We are currently playing Phosphorus Survivor, and I love to hear the patients talking about whether they are on the island or have been “voted” off to the lifeboat each month. It's great to get the patients interacting with each other." 

Jennifer did not have to think long before answering the question, "What do you enjoy most about working for DaVita?" She answered, "It’s great to go to work and feel like a valued part of the team. DaVita clearly values their dietitians as the food and nutrition experts, and every day I have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. When I started with DaVita I was surprised to find out that we are all referred to as "teammates" at the company, no matter where you stand on the ladder. DaVita places a great value on working as a team to achieve great outcomes." 

Jennifer’s center is located inRockford, Illinois, and she notes that many dialysis modalities are offered at the unit including in-center HD, HHD, and soon, a nocturnal program. Jennifer says. "I am very excited to see how nocturnal will affect the outcomes of our patients."  She also adds, "We have a CKD clinic, nephrology office, and access center right next to our clinic. I am so fortunate to work with a great team here at Roxbury. We work together to help our patients set and meet goals to improve their lives. Over the years I have developed some great relationships with both patients and teammates." 

Jennifer knows a winning recipe when she sees it, and her mom's recipe for Pineapple Bars takes the cake! If you’re looking for a recipe that has a "special dessert taste," Pineapple Bars is a good choice.


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