Tartare-ly Awesome Tuna

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Seafood Nutrition Partnership and I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

October is National Seafood Month and I couldn’t be more psyched to take part in the Seafood Nutrition Partnership’s Start with Seafood Recipe Contest! As many of you know, seafood is near and dear to my heart not only because it may help reduce the risk of heart disease, but also because you can regularly find me enjoying omega-3 rich oysters, tuna and shrimp.

The abundance and variety of North Carolina seafood isn’t lacking and I’m grateful to enjoy our sea’s bounty year-round. I decided to highlight yellowfin tuna, as it’s ranked as one of the best choices on Seafood Watch’s list as well as being regularly line-caught off the coast of NC. Prepped and ready in less than 15 minutes makes this delicious appetizer Tartare-ly Awesome!

Now let’s kick off this #SeafoodParty with my recipe!

Tartare-ly Awesome Tuna

Number of servings: 6
Prep time: 15 minutes

12 ounces yellowfin tuna, diced into bite sized pieces
3 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon scallions, sliced thin
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Serve with butter lettuce, multigrain tortilla chips

1. Gently mix together tuna, orange juice, orange zest, cilantro, scallions, sesame oil, soy sauce and salt in a bowl until well combined.
2. Serve Tartare-ly Awesome Tuna in butter lettuce leaves or dip into it with multigrain tortilla chips.
3. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to two days.


Tartare-ly Awesome Tuna fit for any occasion


100 Years of the RD

Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) is right around the corner and I’m so excited to be presenting this year with talented chef and dietitians Sara Haas and Ellie Krieger! This is the world’s largest conference that gathers thousands of food and nutrition experts in one spot to “address key issues affecting the health of all Americans.” FNCE is an extraordinary opportunity to meet colleagues to network and share information on how we’re actively problem solving with clients from across all areas of nutrition.

Don’t miss out on our presentation – we’d love to see you there!

155. Cooking Essentials for Every Dietitian: Tips from Chef RDNs
Room 185 ABCD
Sunday, October 22, 2017 1:30pm-3:00pm

I’m excited to head to Chicago to celebrate our career’s 100th birthday at FNCE. As we move into the next century of dietetics, a lot of dietitians are sharing their thoughts on how they hope we learn and grow into the next century. I wanted to share a few of my own thoughts on how I think we can work together to progress our profession as registered dietitians.

In the modern world where social media reigns supreme, it can be hard to tune out the noise and focus in on credible nutrition information. Shockumentaries, Insta-famous “nutritionists” and celebrities all want to weigh in on what they think is the best way to eat. You know what’s the most shocking part? Some of these people have thousands, if not millions, of followers who are hanging on to every word they have to share. That is both a powerful and terrifying realization.

Countless people claim to be “nutritionists.” Technically, anyone can be a nutritionist. There are no qualifications or credentials required to call yourself one. However, being an RD (Registered Dietitian) or RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) is a protected credential. In order to become an RD, you must have a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a related science field, apply and hope to be matched to an accredited internship consisting of at least 1200 hours of supervised practice (the national match rate for dietetic internships is less than 50%) and then pass a registration exam. Our learning never ends, as we must complete 75 hours of continuing education credits every 5 years to prove we are still keeping abreast to the latest nutrition science in the field of dietetics.

One small way I think (along with many other RDs I’ve talked to and separately highlighted by Leah McGrath, the dietitian and founder of Build Up RDNs) we can boost our “followers” is by making sure we represent ourselves as dietitians when being interviewed, writing pieces and working with clients. Most RDs have worked through at least 6 years of school and internships to become a registered dietitian, so why discredit all that effort to be called a nutritionist? This only muddies the water in confusing the public in what the difference between an RD and nutritionist is.

Whenever you’re curious about if the latest trendy diet really is all it claims to be, instead of searching the depths of the internet, reach out to a registered dietitian in your area. They are the nutrition experts who have the background to provide credible nutrition information for you to sift through the noise.


HCOTT & #HungerActionMonth

My friends from Tabletop Media Group and I teamed up last year to launch the inaugural Hottest Chefs of the Triangle Calendar. This was a fun way for us to celebrate the vastly talented chefs in our area while raising recognition for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina’s efforts in making sure #NoOneGoesHungry. We were more than psyched to see the amazing turn out for our first year and can’t wait to share with everyone our 2018 calendar!


Kristen, myself, Stacey – missing Karen!

September is a particularly meaningful month for us, as we highlight #HungerActionMonth in our calendar. Hunger doesn’t discriminate against race, religion, age or gender. We’ve all experienced hunger on some level or another, but there’s no excuse for our neighbors to go without a meal. Without a nourishing meal, how can we be our best selves at work, home or play?

September is the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina’s special month to showcase how people can get involved with active ways for people to help solve hunger. The most important step is taking action. It takes a village comprised of state and federal nutrition programs, public-private partnerships with corporations, retailers, and agriculture leaders, and community support in the form of volunteering, funds, and food donation to make this happen. It starts with giving what you can. There are so many ways for us to help our nearly 630,000 neighbors across central and eastern North Carolina who know a little too well what it means to run on empty.

Our small action to help fight hunger has been to create the Hottest Chefs of the Triangle Calendar. In honor of #HungerActionMonth and the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina’s efforts to make sure #NoOneGoesHungry in our area, we are offering a special on our calendars. Purchasing a calendar will not only brighten up your year as you flip through the chefs, but also by helping our neighbors in need. Please check out more info here and stay tuned for details for our upcoming 2018 Hottest Chefs of the Triangle Calendar!


Image provided by Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina


TNC Foodtracks Vol. 1

This first volume is inspired by Paten and Quinn, the lovely ladies behind Soulfull Sisters. On the drive back from our last farm tour, they posed a question I’d never thought of. “What was your favorite bite from this trip?” I can list countless food memories I’ve shared with friends and family over the years. But my favorite bite?

Much like music, there are some dishes I’ve eaten and I just can’t get them out of my head. The flavor, the texture, the atmosphere, all of it. This is more or less a way for me to track my favorite bites that I’m currently replaying.

Now sit back and enjoy the first volume hot out of the kitchen!

1. M Sushi – salmon sashimi

Slightly cured, this salmon doesn’t leave your lips slick from the rich omega-3 fats. It’s a touch sweet and the texture is as if someone told the salmon to stand at attention before blissfully melting in your mouth.


M Sushi’s salmon sashimi in the middle

2. Sassool – tabouli

Easily enjoyed by the pint, Sassool’s tabouli has enough lemon to keep the parsley vibrant and green and lend an acidic note to the cracked wheat.

3. Garland – tteokbokki

These little rice cakes alternate between crispy exterior and chewy interior. Dressed in a sweet-forward sauce, it leaves your lips tingling with heat but craving for more.


Garland’s tteokbokki

4. Piedmont – braised cheesy carrot

Hats off to celebrating the beautiful bounty of North Carolina produce. The savory familiarity of grilled cheese bits that fall around the edges of the carrot before giving way to a sweet, soft carrot.

5. Clowes’ Kitchen – fried chicken

Pickle brined and seasoned with everything but the kitchen sink, this double dipped fried wonder is a game changer. Hoping this will be available to the masses soon.


Clowes’ Kitchen’s fried chicken

Farm to Fork

The phrases “Farm to Fork” and “Farm to Table” get thrown around a lot, but what does that really mean? On my latest Western NC Farm Tour sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, we were able to follow several ingredients grown on farms and transformed into products sold at the local grocery store.

Gardens ≠ Farms

Let’s be real. I do not have a green thumb. I was gifted a “low maintenance” plant once as a housewarming present and it was dead within a week. I admire those who are able to have a garden to grow odds and ends of herbs, vegetables and fruit. However, I deeply revere the farmers who plant, nurture and harvest our food on a daily basis. They provide food and sustenance for the billions of people across the world. Just think about that. That is a lot of people! Farming is by no means an easy job, no matter how romantic it may sound. These men and women often work 12+ long hours consisting of strenuous labor under the scorching sun. Which leads into my next point.

Planting Cabbage.jpg

Transplanting cabbage

Farming isn’t glamorous

H-2A is a U.S. program that allows employers within agricultural industries to hire foreign nationals to fill temporary/seasonal jobs. This means they’ve already hired any and all U.S. workers who have applied. On the tour, we were fortunate to shadow 5th generation farmer, Cassandra Benfield Bare, on her farm, Harvest Farm. Our group spent only a couple hours “working” by picking tomatoes and transplanting cabbage in between taking copious amounts of photos. Despite it only being 9am, the 90 degree heat and high humidity had us drenched in sweat and covered in soil. Now imagine doing this for at least 10 more hours or until all the crops were harvested for the day and work was done in preparation for the next day. This didn’t sound very appealing to most of us, even for the short time we were out there. Do you know many of your friends who would voluntarily want to work in these conditions?

Picking Tomatoes

Picking cherry tomatoes

Taste of Local

After the hot sun had the best of us, we made a beeline for air conditioning and to check out Taste of Local, put on by Ingles Markets and their awesome dietitian, Leah McGrath! We were able to replenish our energy in the form of delicious bites crafted by regional Western North Carolina companies. A few of my personal favorites included the Sriracha Spice pretzels from Asheville Pretzel Company, Woogie’s Beer Mustard & Dippin’ Sauce, Salted Caramel Peach Spread from Unicoi Preserves and finally, tomatoes and sweet potatoes from New Sprout Organic Farms.

Final Thoughts

With each gained connection with a farmer and participating in these farm tours, the phrase “Farm to Fork” seems rather redundant to me. Whether you’re dining in a restaurant or at your home, the food has made it to your fork. Your food was grown by a farmer, whether they live down the street or miles away. Someone has spent numerous hours laboring so that this plate of nourishment can make it into the bellies of you, your family and friends. To discredit this would be a huge disservice for these people who provide food to billions around the world.

Last, but not least, no trip with Tabletop Media Group is complete without a hopstache courtesy of Pisgah Brewing Company.



In the WYO West

Fresh off the tails of a rejuvenating jaunt including deep breaths of crisp, mountain air and celebrating my dear friend’s nuptials, it’s been hard adjusting back to the everyday routine. Instead of pining for the comfort of a blissful week, I’m sharing a few of the moments that made me fall in love with our 44th state all over again.

Drop down and get your elk on

Forget the lions, tigers and bears (OK – maybe not the bears, there are plenty of bears in Wyoming). Wyoming is full of ranches offering top quality cattle, but many friends and family members hunt to provide for their loved ones in the form of elk, bison and deer, depending on the season. On our first visit in 2014, we were treated to elk and bison. Three years later, my mouth was still watering with nostalgia in hopes of recreating this food memory. I was on cloud nine when the Steinhorst family spoiled us with the riches of the past hunting season in the form of a backyard cookout featuring elk burgers. Lean, flavorful and fresh – the last bite was bittersweet, but will keep my taste buds going until the next time.


Elk burger with red cabbage slaw, BBQ beans and spiced sweet potato mash

Down on the farm

I imagined farm land would be rather easy to come by, as the drive from place to place is rather long with rolling fields and countryside on both sides of the road. However, Theresa from Shiloh Valley Family Farms let us know arable land is rather expensive and exclusive in Wyoming. Theresa grew up in a family of farmers, so she’s well versed in the laborious lifestyle. She’s continuing on the tradition with her husband and children on their farm in Sheridan. More than 1500 miles from my home, Theresa is receiving the same consumer feedback and questions our clients have in the Triangle area. The hot topics of pasture raised meat, grain vs. grass fed, organic vs. conventional and, not to be forgotten, GMO vs. non GMO grain. The world got a little smaller when we were able to relate over the desire of the market for certain products, but realizing there is a cost that comes with the demand, whether it be economic, environmental, or both.

Shiloh Valley

Piglet from Shiloh Valley Family Farm

Midwestern charm

This is the most underrated characteristic of everyone I ran into, regardless of if they were friends, friends of friends or a complete stranger. Despite having only visited once before, I felt at ease walking downtown with all the smiles, tips of cowboy hats and friendly hello’s. There’s something to be said for the simplicity of the great outdoors and humble small town vibe. The pace of life is a bit slower so as to be intentional and savor each moment. Work is important, but equally so are the interactions and relationships you have with family and friends. If you haven’t had a chance to make it out west to see what Midwestern charm is all about, you’re missing out. Special thanks to the Kirven family for sharing their slice of heaven with this East Coast girl.


Three friends turned RDs


Farmed Fish Fables

Last month I was lucky to tag along on the North Carolina Department of Agriculture‘s sponsored Eastern NC Seafood Farm Tour. If you follow my social media feeds, it’s clear I have a soft spot for all things seafood. Oysters, grouper, shrimp – I don’t discriminate.

Living in a coastal state, there is an abundance of regionally available seafood choices native to North Carolina. There were countless highlights of this tour, including the ever present delectable samples of fresh seafaring goodies. However, I’m most excited to bring to light a few of the fables commonly surrounding the topic of aquaculture.

Farm raised fish isn’t as “clean” as wild caught fish.

We can google everything now and find the worst case scenario emblazoned on the first page of results. This doesn’t seclude aquaculture. Within the food and nutrition field, I regularly hear how “dirty” farmed fish is and how it should be avoided. However, every aquaculture stop we visited was as clean as a farm should be expected to be and tanks were by no means crowded. When it comes down to it, fish are animals and that means they have inputs and outputs just like humans. Circle G Farm, Mill Point Aquaculture, Mr. Big Seafood and Marshallberg Farms have filtration systems set up within their tanks to produce fish and shellfish that more than surpass the food safety and sanitation regulations.

Oysters are only in season during “R” months.

I’ve always been taught this, whether it was from a past chef or an old wive’s tale. However, this ideology was quickly put to rest by Jimmy Morris from Mill Point Aquaculture in Sea Level. The reality is oysters are commonly consumed raw, which means strict temperature regulations are enforced upon hatcheries, such as Mill Point, to make sure they are safe for public consumption. When water levels fluctuate more than 2 inches, natural bacteria and pollutants in the water disturb the oyster’s normal environment, so there is a moratorium put on consuming said oysters for 48 hours. This means oysters are “in season” year round, especially as we have access to the beauties grown down on the NC coast.


Fully grown oyster

Frozen seafood isn’t as good as fresh seafood.

Our stop at Mr. Big Seafood on Harkers Island squashed this myth before our tour of the facilities even started. Mr. Big, along with a majority of the other farms we visited, processes and freezes a large portion of their product within mere hours of harvesting. The frozen vs. fresh debate is common when looking at vegetable options, too. Seafood is in the same boat as vegetables in that they are harvested, processed quickly and frozen to maintain their freshness to be shipped to customers near and far. Mr. Big Seafood also sells a fair amount of their coastal treasures in their quaint storefront.

Soft Shell Crab

Freshly molted soft shell crab

Aquaculture farmers are just in it for the money.

The bottom line is the places we visited are all operating businesses. However, that means producing and harvesting quality product that will actually sell on the market. Many of the producers we met on the tour are second and third generation farmers, fishermen and fisherwomen. The family tradition beams not only from the talent and skill they’ve acquired over the years, but in the stories they’re able to share of Eastern North Carolina coastal culture through something as simple as their daily catch. Spending just a few days with them it’s easy to see how tirelessly long the days are full of laboring and providing for their families and us, as consumers. There is immense pride and care that shines through their work for you to see this is more than just a job for them.

My love for shellfish dwindled after this tour.

My love for NC Seafood only grew tenfold after this tour. See picture below for evidence.

Oyster Smiles

Oyster smiles are the best smiles