Meals on Wheels-A View from The Outside

Kali Lents

University of the Incarnate Word

Student

A View from The Outside

My name is Kali and I’m currently finishing up my bachelor’s degree in dietetics/nutrition at the University of the Incarnate Word. Before graduation, nutrition students need to have a total of 60 practice hours at a local site in San Antonio to get outside experience in the dietetic field.

I’m currently doing my practice hours at Meals on Wheels with Registered Dietitian, Tiffany Batsakis. In the short time I have been here, I’ve learned a lot about Meals on Wheels and everything that is put into menu planning, meal preparation, and delivery.

Each month a menu is made for every day of the week. Tiffany showed me all the thought and work that goes into each meal for that week’s menu.  Providing senior citizens a variety of main course dishes, sides, desserts and drinks can become very complicated and time consuming. These senior citizens are receiving meals that are meeting the daily recommended intakes (DRI’s) of calories, carbohydrates, protein, sodium, potassium, and other minerals and nutrients. After these requirements are set, Tiffany makes 5 more menus for special clients that need certain diets like gluten free, diabetic/heart healthy, renal, puree and also a bland diet. Once these menus are finalized with nutritional analysis (meeting requirements), altering the special menus to fit the criteria, and menu meetings with the kitchen staff, they are sent off to the kitchen for production.

One morning I helped the kitchen staff prepare over 3,000 meals! It was a great environment, atmosphere, and was very fast paced. To complete over 3,000 meals in a very small kitchen is very difficult at times, but Meals on Wheels has it down to an art. The chefs continually make the meal for the day all morning and the assembly line was where the staff and I filled up the food wells, sealing them, and sending them off to the delivery drivers for a hot delivery.

Driving with the drivers was quite the experience as well. My area one day involved traveling on the west side of town and I was taught how Meals on Wheels delivers each meal to each citizen. Having a route of 60+ deliveries demands a fast pace.

All in all, it was a great experience seeing a registered dietitian in action and pulling off the largest meal prep for a variety of people with different needs and then ensuring on time delivery. This puts a whole new label on kitchen duty and crazy fast delivery!

Here is a simple and quick recipe you can try that is low in sodium, full of vegetables and lean protein, and quick to prepare. Enjoy!

In February, we talked about salt, sodium, and the importance of following a lower sodium diet.  Here is a simple and quick recipe you can try that is low in sodium, full of vegetables and lean protein, and quick to prepare.  Enjoy!

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Tiffany Batsakis, MS, RD, LD.

Registered Dietitian

Meals on Wheels of San Antonio

Chicken Enchilada Stew

Servings: 4

Cook Time: 15 minutes to prep.  4-6 hours in the crock-pot.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. Garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1 jalapeño, sliced

1 cup red bell pepper, diced

1 cup zucchini, sliced and cut lengthwise

2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth (70 mg/serving)

4 Tbsp. 505 Southwestern Green Chili Sauce (I use this because it is low in sodium)

1 lb. chicken breast.

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

4 Tbsp. of fat free cream cheese, sliced into a few chunks.

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a crock-pot. Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove chicken breasts and shred. Return chicken to crock-pot along with cream cheese. Stir well. Cream cheese will soften and mix in.  Serve or portion out into containers for later.

Note– As is, this is a good base meal. It is a low calorie, low carbohydrate meal and anything can be added. I add different frozen vegetables when I serve myself just to have variety. Anything works- green beans, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, and so on. That’s not stuff typically found in enchiladas, but it is a good way to add nutrients to your meal.  Add beans or rice for a more complete meal or serve with warm tortillas, or tortilla chips, and avocado.

Feel free to add chili powder and more jalapeños for more of a kick.

You can easily double this recipe and cook it all at once in the crock-pot on low for about 8 hours.