This Culinary Dietitian Champions Southern Cuisine In Plant-Forward Ways

mbg Director of Scientific Affairs By Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., R.D.N.
mbg Director of Scientific Affairs
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., R.D.N. is Director of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.
Oatmeal Topped With Banana, Chocolate, Shredded Coconut And Blueberries
It's National Nutrition Month! All month long, we're highlighting the importance of a personalized nutrition approach and celebrating R.D.s across a range of specialties—hospitals, schools, community programs, universities, private practice, industry, and beyond.

She had me at "okra." A fellow Southerner who embraces the unique cuisine of the South in healthy, plant-forward, and delicious ways, Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, L.D., is a culinary dietitian based in Atlanta.

Moore and I recently caught up to chat about National Nutrition Month, explore what foods her pantry and fridge are always stocked with, and gain intel on her favorite meals and standout ingredients in her nutrition life right now. 

Moore is an integrative dietitian with over a decade of experience helping clients improve health outcomes, lower chronic disease risk, and improve overall well-being. 

Wearing many "hats" in the nutrition space, Moore is a food blogger, spokesperson, consultant, and writer. Through all of these platforms, Moore shares her plant-forward dietary approach through mostly vegetarian recipes and nutrition information rooted in science. 

Here's more from Moore.

What does this year's National Nutrition theme "Personalize Your Plate" mean to you?

Honestly, this year's theme reflects the way I've practiced throughout my professional life as a registered dietitian. It's always been about the person in front of me and finding the foods and habits that work for their personal preferences.

This year's theme might serve as a nudge to the dietetic profession to more broadly embrace this individualized approach. It's an opportunity for food and nutrition professionals to evaluate how we work with clients from different backgrounds than our own. There is no one way and no two people alike.

And for me, it's an opportunity to highlight the delicious and healthy Southern foods I grew up eating and still love today, such as okra, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and all kinds of beans and rice.

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Do you follow a specific dietary pattern?

No, not really. I've been vegan. I've been vegetarian. But I'm not anymore. I simply focus on the foods that I like and that make me feel my best.

But if I had to put a name to it, I'd say I follow a plant-forward way of eating. It's a plant-centered, mostly meatless approach. I enjoy a mostly plant-based diet, but if I want to eat fish, yogurt, or other foods, I don't think twice about it.

My pantry is always stocked with a variety of nuts and seeds, beans, peas, and lentils. My fridge is full of fresh and frozen fruit, vegetables, and seafood. And I also keep shortcut convenience foods, such as frozen brown rice or quinoa, on hand because it makes my life easier!

What's your go-to nutrient-dense meal right now (breakfast, lunch, or dinner)?

I have a few go-to meals. My mornings are when I am most productive with writing and other tasks that require me to focus. So I put breakfast on autopilot. I usually go with something I've prepped over the weekend. It might be a bowl of steel-cut oats with a swirl of nut butter and fruit. I love the nutty flavor of steel-cut oats, so I usually buy them in bulk for a fiber-rich base at breakfast. 

Other weeks I'll prepare a breakfast egg bake or my freezer-friendly spinach and egg breakfast sandwiches to pop into the toaster oven for a quick breakfast or lunch. Another breakfast that comes to mind (clearly, I'm a fan of breakfast): I'll make an egg scramble with as many vegetables as I can fit in—usually with a side of toast. One of my favorite scrambles includes grape tomatoes, arugula or spinach, and olives.

These days, lunch can be anything, as I'm spending many days deep in recipe development. But I'm a big fan of bowls. So I often prepare salmon to flake into a rice bowl with avocado and any greens I have on hand. With the vegetables, rice, and good fats from both the salmon and avocado, I feel satisfied and nourished for hours. It's easy to pull together because most of the components can be made ahead of time. Convenience (but still healthy) is a bit of a theme for me these days!

Is there one "MVP" healthy food or meal addition you're personally loving right now?

Ginger. This spice is one of my all-time favorites. I'm always looking for a reason to add it to my plate. I keep fresh ginger root in the fridge to grate into sauces, salad dressings, and stir-fry. I also toss pieces into smoothies and steep it in tea. 

I love the fresh bite and spicy freshness ginger adds, and we can't forget about the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich properties this humble root serves up.

Connect with Marisa at marisamore.com and on social @marisamoore (LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest) and @marisamoorenutrition (Facebook).

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