Jessie the Researcher


I work hard:

Typing furiously …

… and agonizing over the latest in nutrition research:

At least I have a healthy snack on my desk to munch while I pause and reflect on my education thus far.

As many of you know, after finishing an undergraduate degree nearly five years ago and working in the “real world” for a few years, I made the decision to go back to school and study nutrition & dietetics (you can read more about that journey here). As my prior degree had nothing to do with nutrition, I started my schooling at square one: organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, etc. At the time I began this dietetics journey, I thought I must have been nuts to give up a regular paycheck to sit in a classroom with college kids (even if I still looked like one).

I won’t harp on the virtues of study, or how I’m just so-goshdarned-thrilled to be in school, because you’ve read it all before (probably in one of my many posts about school). Instead, I’ll tell you a little bit about what I’ll be doing this spring – for the budding dietitians out there … and for everyone else.

At the time I started the University of Connecticut‘s Coordinated Program in dietetics 1.5 years ago, I didn’t realize how lucky I was to be in the program. While most dietetics students apply for a separate year-long internship toward the end of their senior undergraduate year (a process involving a harrowing match process somewhat similar to applying for a medical internship), I never went through that application stress. Why? Because, I am in a Coordinated Program where the internship is integrated into the undergraduate curriculum. I’ve already had 1.5 years of clinical, community, and food service experience, completed alongside my classes. Just 0.5 years to go, and I’ll be an RD! No additional application or year of internship needed. AWESOME.

We began our final semester on January 3, and will be rotating full-time through the usual experiences: clinical, community, food service. We also have some unique rotations: research, counseling, and a special rotation of our choosing (as long as we set it up 🙂 ). Right now, I’m finishing up my research rotation with a wonderful research group studying bone health. I’ve been writing, examining a lot of data sets, and preparing for a nerve-wracking presentation I gave last Friday (done!).

(My last name is obviously not “THIH” … just in case you didn’t know.)

I also had the opportunity to watch some research group members preparing for the arrival of subjects for a clinical trial.

What you can’t see past the left side of the frame are the other group members painstakingly measuring out calcium isotope. Yep. I like to pose work hard.

I did have to put the tops back on the milk bottles:

Gotta get it on right. Wouldn’t do to have any leaking.

I’ll be sad to leave this rotation and its plethora of learning experiences. Next up: clinical dietetics for six weeks. I’ll let you all know how it goes!

Not only have I been researching up a storm, I’ve also been whipping up some Quickies! While I was at work a few weeks ago, Peter sent me an email saying: “Your package from Singapore is here!” I immediately let out a huge squeal that caused everyone in the office to look up in astonishment. And no wonder, because my new copy of Quickies: Morning, Noon and Night had arrived!

When I returned home, I flipped through Denise‘s cookbook and marked all the recipes I wanted to make RIGHT AWAY.

Yeah, I think I’ll be cooking my way through Quickies for a while 😉

Quickies is more than a cookbook: it’s a concise guide to everything you need to know about cooking and enjoying food. The book starts with a summary of all the basic kitchen equipment you need (with Peter as a husband, we have all the items … and then some 😉 ). Denise also includes lists of basic kitchen ingredients to have on hand in your pantry and refrigerator. She even includes a conversion table (a lifesaver!). The final pages of the book include such tantalizing sections as “Homemade Creme Fraiche (!)”, “The Best Coffee You Can Make At Home”, and “Wine Without Fear” (<– I REALLY need that section!).

And the recipes … oh, my. I already have every other recipe bookmarked to make SOON. Each recipe is fast and simple: perfect for me. Over the past two days, I’ve made two Quickies recipes. The first: Confetti Spaghetti. Feast your eyes on THIS:

While this recipe is more of a summer pasta, I couldn’t wait ’til summer to try it out! I know I’ll be making this recipe again and again! Probably, like, next week 😀

The next recipe: Chicken Soup Mac and Cheese.

What a clever and delicious combination of flavors! I couldn’t stop tasting this mac and cheese while I was making it, which means fewer leftovers … but, now, I can make it again!

(You might be wondering where my typical overhead shot of the mac and cheese went. Well, here’s another example of how my aim is SO GOOD:

All because I refused to stand on a chair.)

I’ll be steadily working my way through this wonderful cookbook. Next up: Caldo Verde, Florence Nightingale Soup, and Plum Wine and Green Tea Syllabub. I’ll be sure to share pictures with all of you!

Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone!


  1. I’m currently in school to become an RD I’m just a sophomore but I can totally relate to the stress…..but the idea of the HUGE payoff at the end of the road 🙂 LOVE THIS POST AND GOOD FOR YOU FOR FOLLOWING YOUR DREAMS!

  2. I think it’s great that you’re going back to school. I can’t wait to hear about what you learn, please share with us!

  3. Jessie,

    First off, the OCD in me couldn’t help but notice how clean your desk was. I likies :-D. Secondly, I didn’t know you wore glasses. If anyone can pull off the glasses look, it’s definitely you, chickie. Thirdly, like I’ve said before, you’re off to a great start and have a very bright future ahead of you. Trust me, all your hard work will pay off. For now, just take it one step at a time. Wishing you all the best in your journey ahead!

    Don’t you just love Denise’s cookbook?! The first time I ever opened it, I was mesmerized by all the delicious pictures. Then as I began actually reading the book, I thought it was so cleverly and well put together. It was unlike any cookbook I had ever read. Oh I can see you’re going to have a wonderful time going through this book as I did. I’ve been meaning to try that crab recipe, but just haven’t got to it yet. Thanks for reminding me. You know us foodies, want to try everything we see, and before you know it, you’ve got 100 recipes you want to try out. I can say that there wasn’t one of Denise’s recipes that I didn’t love. She’s true culinary genius, that one. And I love her Asian touches on her dishes! Have lotsa fun with your new book. Take lotsa pics for us, preferably with better aim. Lol. I’m just bugging you :-D. Until next stalking session 😉 Have a great weekend, dear!

  4. Hey Jessie!

    Long time no see!! Hope all is well with you – despite all the hard and serious work you have been doing! I am sure it will paid off 😉 I really like the pictures – you looks like a very serious researcher!
    Chicken soup Mac&Cheese looks very yummy…in your blue bowl !

  5. This is really interesting!! I’ve gone back and forth about going back to school (again) to get a degree in dietetics, and if I did, I’d definitely want to take the CP route. Seems so much less stressful (once you’re in, of course!). I’m glad you’re enjoying your rotations. It may sound crazy, but now that I’m back in the real world of long work hours and endless bills, I miss being in school. Grass is always greener, i guess…

    And the cookbook sounds amazing! I hadn’t heard of it before but am going to look into it — I need to actually learn what I’m doing in the kitchen.

    Good luck with your final semester. 🙂

  6. Jessie, I didn’t realize you were so nearly through with your program! Congratulations. I know that you’re doing terrific work, and I’m really proud of you.

    By the way, I made the Oat Bars, and they are wonderful. I have some in the freezer and plan to give them to Carter for his after school snack! They are so good, they should hold him until dinner. Actually, he’ll probably have them all eaten in about three days with his appetite.

    Lots of Love!

    Aunt Joyce

  7. Jessie!
    You are my hero! To go back to school after out working and making real money takes commitment and passion. And, to go back to study nutrition and health will have me stalking you (well, I already have been). Two computers – love that! We have two laptops, too – but no desk area like that… we are each hording our own every time we sit down.
    You won the cookbook, I recall! What a great gift back to Denise – the enthusiasm and beautiful recipes tried with the two thumbs up from you. I don’t know how you do all you do, BUT I have a suggestion for you to add one more TO DO to your plate.
    I think you should have a very specific woman in health focus – starting at the very basic bottom every – say… MOnday… that does have to do with what we need to do that we may and may not know. As you learn and get an Ah -ha – share each of those with us on your site weekly. I know you are already doing that, but not on a schedule.
    Just a suggestion.

    1. That’s a great suggestion, Valerie 🙂 I’ll certainly try to incorporate more women-in-health tidbits in my posts for the future (especially as I know the majority of the audience is female!). I do find it difficult to keep to a regular schedule right now (and I also made a New Year’s resolution to post only when I want to 😉 ), but that doesn’t mean I can’t talk about this fascinating topic! Do you have anything in particular you’d like me to address first? Great idea!

  8. I didn’t know you were in an integrated program. That is so neat! I wish I could have done that but UNLV doesn’t offer that. Yay for almost being done!!!

    The chicken soup mac and cheese looks amazing!!

    Have a great weekend, Jessie!

  9. I am sure the next step in your study program will be equally as thrilling…
    Don’t you just love this cookbook…looks like you are having a great time so far working your way through the recipes 🙂 Delicious!
    Have a fantastic weekend

  10. Your program sounds awesome. I love that you get your internship experience throughout. I think real-life experience while you are studying makes so much more sense than doing it all at the end!

    Your food looks yummy! Mac & cheese is such comfort food… 🙂

    Have a great weekend!

  11. Hi Jessie! Wow, you’re almost finished your program, that’s so exciting! It’s inspiring how you followed your heart, and it’s great to see you in your element 🙂

    Those recipes look neat – colourful, nutritious, and unique. I never heard of this book before…when I first glanced at the cover I thought it was all cocktails and I was so surprised haha.

    Have a lovely weekend Jessie! Keep dancing 🙂

  12. Congratulations on wrapping up this rotation. You’ll be done before you know it! Looking forward to hearing about your clinical experience 🙂

  13. Congrats on nearing the finish line! It’s great finally finding what drives you, huh? I’m similarly far from my undergrad major, but unlike you, still have 1.5 years to go.

  14. You are a busy lady who obviously enjoys every minute of what you are doing. Your post was fascinating. I’m new to your blog and I’ve just finished browsing through some of your earlier entries. I really like the food and recipes you feature here. I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Mary! Have a wonderful week 🙂

  15. Yay, so exciting that only half a year to go and you’ll be an RD! You’ve earned it, Jessie! Mmm, the Confetti Spaghetti looks delicious…I wouldn’t be able to wait for summer for that beauty either! 😉

  16. Look at you go! So professional looking. As if you aren’t having enough fun, you should check out my post on statistics if you haven’t already. It will probably seem relevant for you at this time. It is great that you got a coordinated program. The computer matching process is crazy and nerve wracking.

  17. I think you look wonderful in glasses Jessie – I wish I could carry them off the way you do! But instead I just look…nerdy.

    Congratulations on your accomplishments and your future goals. I think its so great you have them totally identified and you are almost there. I wish I were as focused! But at least I am newly inspired.

  18. wow Jessie! all that work is paying off. i know it is hard but you are almost there girl! I went back to school in the 30’s and I thought I was crazy. It is so worth it in the end though. remember education is something NOBODY can take away from you 🙂

  19. Jessie, I freaking LOVE this post!!! Ah!! It’s so enlightening and inspiring to see someone follow their dreams, and it truly warms my heart to see you so close to your goal. It must be so exciting…and rewarding because an RD is def a GREAT service to the community.

    Also, that cookbook sounds awesome. All the way from Singapore? No wonder it’s awesome. 😀

  20. Jessie!!! 😀 You look like the consummate scientist! Love the pretty blue/aqua gloves – we only have yellow nad pink here LOL Kudos to you for throwing everything to the wind and pursuing your dream so doggedly! I don’t think I would have had the nerve to go back to school after leaving for so many years!

    I LOVE that you are liking the book so far! You are so sweet! I am blusing reading this, but loving it too LOL Hope you get lots and lots of use from it and uh, maybe for my next book, I could consult with Peter on kitchen equipment? 😉

  21. Wow, only 1/2 year to go?!?! That’s awesome!! You’ve come so far, and worked so hard, you will be an amazing RD. And, I can’t wait to read your research!! Seriously, I want a copy when it’s published! The title sounds so interesting, and you look like such a professional scientist with those gloves on, hehe.

  22. J,

    Glad you are putting the book to good use making some tasty food. It really is a wonderful cookbook.

    All the best to you as you head down the home stretch of your schooling.

    Be well

  23. By the way, the glasses look works…

  24. Aww Jessie you make such an adorable researcher! You officially have a job offer in my future lab. Just in case you want it.

  25. Jessie…your enthusiasm is addictive. Denise must be incredibly pleased on how you’ve embraced her hard work going into making a recipe book.

    I also have a tad of envy about you going into such a program…I’ve actually given it a thought myslef…especially since I had already done my chemistry courses while going into architecture…go figure!?!
    I soon put it to rest when I found out how far the school is from me and how maybe I should learn about nutrition through my light culinary journey instead ;o)I’ve learnt so much already.

    Great post and looking forward to seeing what else you cook up in your kitchen lab ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  26. Soooo exciting that you’ll be an RD soon!!! Congratulations already. And your dog is supremely cute!!! Have a great week.

  27. So glad you’re enjoying school and it looks like you’re able to share what you’re learning in some really great ways!

  28. Oh Jessie. I sincerely think you are awesome-blossom. 🙂

  29. You’re too cute! Love all the pics of you, Jessie. It’s hard to go back to school, isn’t it? 😀 I feel you! You will be an RD soon! How exciting. Hey, I watched a documentary movie called Food Matters and Beautiful Truth. They talked about nutrition, organics, fresh fruit and such to cure cancer and disease. It’s really interesting and made me think of you!

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