UC Davis Health registered dietitians help keep our patients on track with food plans tailored to them. And now we're featuring some of our dietitians for National Nutrition Month as they share their favorite foods to go along with this year's theme Celebrate a World of Flavors. Check them out below! You may find something new you'll want to try.

Melinda Gong and her husband in Chinatown
Registered dieitian Melinda Gong and her husband enjoyed celebrating Lunar New Year in San Francisco's Chinatown.

"Celebrating the Lunar New Year centers around eating a lot of delicious food that has special meaning to Chinese culture. One of my favorite dishes is Chinese Whole Poached Chicken (in Cantonese we call it Bak Cham Gai), which symbolizes prosperity for the New Year. The chicken is slowly poached in a large pot of water with ginger and green onions and fills the house with a delicious warming scent. It’s served room temperature, along with a dipping sauce made up of finely chopped green onions and ginger that I could eat by the spoonful. And you can save the poaching liquid to start a pot of soup for another meal!"

– Melinda Gong, registered dietitian certified in diabetes and weight management

"Growing up in the southeastern U.S., I remember visiting my paternal grandparents’ farm in Indiana. The soil was so dark and rich, and the sweet corn was amazing. My maternal grandparents also had a garden in their backyard that had amazing dark red tomatoes. At the end of our family vacation each summer, we’d bring back fresh bags of produce from our visits with them. We just couldn’t find the same fresh tomatoes in the grocery stores and weren’t able to grow them as well in the red clay soil back home. Having traveled to other countries and states since then, and living now in California, I’ve come to love and appreciate many cuisines and other cultural foods. To this day, one of the best summertime comfort foods to me is a tomato sandwich, simply made, with your favorite bread, a little mayo and black pepper, and thick slices of a juicy red tomato. Tomatoes are great sources of lycopene, vitamin C, and potassium."

– Barbara Lusk, registered dietitian and Clinical Nutrition Manager

Persian dinner feast
A typical Persian dinner at registered dietitian Golnaz Ghomeshi Friedman's parents' house.

"A typical Friday night dinner at my parents’ house includes a feast of Persian food. My parents love to cook for my siblings and me, and they can never just cook one dish. This night, they made (from top to bottom):

  • Tah chin: a rice dish baked with yogurt, saffron, and egg yokes and left in the pot to get a nice crispy bottom
  • Chello: white rice to be served with either stew or kabobs
  • Two different kabobs: one made of lamb and wrapped in homemade bread, the other “kabob koobideh” cooked on skewers with roasted peppers and tomatoes
  • Two types of whole fried fish
  • Baghali polo: a rice cooked with a variety of herbs and lima beans and served as the side of fish
Golnaz holding a plate of Persian food

"Food is an extremely big part of our Persian culture. As a dietitian, one of the most important things that I can do is help my patients understand that their cultural foods can be a part of a healthy diet, and that they don’t have to compromise cultural foods for health. My job is to teach them how to make it fit!"

– Golnaz Ghomeshi Friedman, senior dieitian in UC Davis Health's Transplant Program

"If you've traveled to New Mexico or met a native from the state, you may have heard about a food that’s widely used in New Mexican cuisine: green chile. I was born in New Mexico, and growing up there, my family and I loved eating green chile. We still eat it regularly today! Green chile is a spicy, smoky chile with fantastic flavor that’s grown in a specific region of New Mexico known as Hatch Valley. The chiles are fire roasted inside a giant rotating cage called a pepper roaster. When the skin is blistered and blackened, the chiles are covered and allowed to steam so they’re easier to peel. Growing up, my parents would purchase several cases or gunnysacks of green chile every year. We would spend a day roasting the chiles on our backyard grill so we could fill the freezer with enough to last us the year, since the green chile buying season is so short. This remains a yearly tradition for my family, usually during green chile season in August and September. 

green chile sauce

"One recipe we use often is for a simple green chile sauce that can be used on pretty much any food. We especially like to make it for Thanksgiving on turkey and as a gravy with mashed potatoes! It tastes great on eggs, tacos, and inside burritos. There are many varieties of hatch chiles. Some are spicier than others, but all of them have a unique flavor that is truly delicious."

– Silas Lenhoff, registered dietitian

North Dakota farm
Registered dietitian Cathy Deimeke's family farm in North Dakota provided a bounty of fresh foods.

"Growing up on a farm in northeastern North Dakota, I have countless food memories surrounding my mom’s garden. It provided an incredible bounty for our family during the harvest season and resulted in canned veggies and preserves that sustained us during the winter. My mom planted broccoli, cabbage, corn, cucumbers, scallions and chives, radishes, strawberries, and 50 tomato plants – not to mention the dill and rhubarb plants that just seemed to grow in random places. She had a small asparagus patch and, as kids, we would fight over the asparagus (who does that?).

Norwegian flatbread lefse
Norwegian flatbread, made with potatoes, called lefse

"And despite coming from a very small town, there were diverse food options because families whose ancestors settled there years before carried on family traditions, like cooking and baking special treats together during the holiday seasons. My mom made a special Tourtière, or French Canadian meat pie. My sister, who married into a family of Scandinavian descent, made traditional soft Norwegian flatbread, made with potatoes, called lefse."

Cathy Deimeke

– Cathy Deimeke, registered dietitian and Health Education Manager