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Beginning Well Lincoln Nebraska Registered Dietitian Amber Pankonin http://beginningwell.com Sun, 23 Mar 2014 00:36:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4 Now Blogging at Stirlist! http://beginningwell.com/2013/02/25/now-blogging-at-healthy-under-pressure/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=now-blogging-at-healthy-under-pressure http://beginningwell.com/2013/02/25/now-blogging-at-healthy-under-pressure/#comments Mon, 25 Feb 2013 16:15:50 +0000 rdamber http://beginningwell.com/?p=781 Hi Everybody!

In case you haven’t heard, I am now blogging at StirList. I will still use this site to promote my writing and speaking, but I will be focusing my blogging efforts on healthy recipes for high blood pressure and less stress in the kitchen. Please be sure to check it out!



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Dinner with Chobani http://beginningwell.com/2012/10/15/dinner-with-chobani/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dinner-with-chobani http://beginningwell.com/2012/10/15/dinner-with-chobani/#comments Mon, 15 Oct 2012 16:05:20 +0000 rdamber http://beginningwell.com/?p=744 Last Monday I was invited to have dinner with Chobani at a local Philly restaurant called Supper. A group of us including @CarleneRD, @pediRD, @allie_RD, @dishbytrish, and @karalydon were all there.

It was amazing because the Chef used all Chobani products to prepare the meal. We started with a lovely salad that included yogurt as a substitute for cheese on a typical salad. I would have never thought about putting yogurt on my salad but it was a very pleasant surprise! The spread meant for our bread was a wonderful mix of yogurt, oil, and herbs. Then we had a choice of 3 entrees. I chose the Veggie Mousakka which was an amazing blend of egg plant, pumpkin, and potatoes with a yogurt bechamel. I even snagged a bite of Carlene’s salmon and it was fabulous. Then dessert was frozen yogurt & peaches. YUM! Sorry the pictures are so dark but I had to manage with candlelight! =)






























Thanks to Chobani for a lovely evening!

PS- I do not get paid by Chobani. I just love their products!  


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FNCE 2012 in Pictures http://beginningwell.com/2012/10/14/fnce-2012-in-pictures/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fnce-2012-in-pictures http://beginningwell.com/2012/10/14/fnce-2012-in-pictures/#comments Sun, 14 Oct 2012 14:53:43 +0000 rdamber http://beginningwell.com/?p=686 Last week I attended FNCE 2012 in Philadelphia. Instead of telling you about everything, I thought I would show you. You can also read my personal take home thoughts in another post.

Goodies that we could select from at the Photography Workshop

Saturday: I attended the Photography workshop, the general session, and the NE DPG Dinner. I even had coffee with Janel Funk that morning.




The conference center was HUGE!


Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group Dinne









The nutrition entrepreneurs dietetic practice group held a dinner Saturday night which provided a great time of networking.  I even got to see fellow RD Carlene Thomas accept an award!



The expo

 Sunday: I attended several sessions, walked through the Expo, and got to see some of my Nebraska Colleagues. I also collected some great swag from the expo =) It was awesome and overwhelming at the same time.



Nebraska Dietitians

Sunday night dinner with my Nebraska colleagues. We actually had plans to eat Italian but after we got to the restaurant we found out it was “BYOB” and “Pay by cash only”. So we ended up not having Italian but walked to a Cozi nearby.


Alice Henneman & I

The very lovely & iconic Alice Henneman. Alice has really served as a sounding board, mentor, and friend to me the past two years. Sorry the pic is so dark but Love her!

Philly Cheesesteak




Ok, I realize I’m a Dietitian but I couldn’t go to Philly and NOT get a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. My advice? Split it & get it without the cheese whiz. =) Hahaha. I’ll just leave it at that.



RDs from Twitter that I met! 

Walking the expo floor with @bitchnnutrition! (Ok, I know the photo is awkward but hilarious at the same time, right?)




Yeah, it’s @davidgrotto!





She’s originally from Nebraska, the very encouraging @nutritionkids!





The sweetest girl ever, @i_ameatingright!





The wonderful @christyschomp 





And The lovely @elisazied 





Loved my time at FNCE and I can’t wait to see you all again next year!


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FNCE 2012- Personal Take Home Thoughts http://beginningwell.com/2012/10/13/fnce-2012-personal-take-home-thoughts/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fnce-2012-personal-take-home-thoughts http://beginningwell.com/2012/10/13/fnce-2012-personal-take-home-thoughts/#comments Sat, 13 Oct 2012 16:57:03 +0000 rdamber http://beginningwell.com/?p=670 Last week I attended FNCE 2012 in Philadelphia. I’ve been asked what I learned, so I thought I would write a blog to describe my take home thoughts. This was actually my very first FNCE. (Gasp, I know right?) Well, I’ve only been a dietitian for 4 years and this was honestly the first time because of schedule and finances that it was able to work out.

Here are the talks/sessions that I attended:

Saturday: The photography workshop, the general session, and the NE DPG networking dinner.

Sunday: Achieving 6 figure careers in dietetics, calling all food bloggers, and legal use of social media

Monday: Appetite for Technology: Food in the Digital age, Ins & Outs of Social Media, the RD tweetup, and then attended a dinner for bloggers on Monday night with Chobani.

Take Home Thoughts:

1. Twitter contacts are real. I’ve been on twitter for almost 3 years now and I really started using it as a way to connect with RDs. I got to meet RDs from all over the country that I have been building an online relationship with the past few years. It was truly awesome to connect with them and meet them in person.

2. Haters gonna hate. I realized that while sifting through the hundreds of tweets, there are several RDs who simply want to be known as the haters of our professional organization. I was raised to believe that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I didn’t spend the money to attend FNCE just to hate on it. In fact, during the social media session, the speaker said “What benefit do you have in slamming in your employer online? Very little.” I believe the same thing applies to professional organizations.

3. Hurry up & Wait. One thing that I found myself doing a lot at FNCE was waiting in line. Whether it was waiting in line for coffee, standing on the escalator, or waiting in line at expo booths, there was always an opportunity for a conversation. The time spent waiting in lines is when I got to meet several folks and exchange ideas. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation. Some of my most memorable from FNCE included talking to the lady that got locked out of her hotel room, meeting another RD while walking to another hotel, and the airplane ride on the way home.

Maybe you’re wondering what I learned from the actual sessions? I’ve got another post coming AND lots of photos. =) Stay tuned.


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Veggie & Goat Cheese- Grilled Cheese http://beginningwell.com/2012/06/21/veggie-goat-cheese-grilled-cheese/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=veggie-goat-cheese-grilled-cheese http://beginningwell.com/2012/06/21/veggie-goat-cheese-grilled-cheese/#comments Fri, 22 Jun 2012 01:19:39 +0000 rdamber http://beginningwell.com/?p=637 Alright, I admit it….I love pinterest and I love getting meal ideas from it! I saw this pin a few days ago and it looked SOOO yummy  that I just had to try it! The original recipe was just spinach, avocado, and goat cheese but I decided to add tomato and some orange bell pepper in the mix and it was awesome!

Here are my ingredients…

Spinach, Avocado, Orange Bell Pepper, Roma Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, and Sara Lee Whole Grain Bread (45 cal/slice)

Then I had to get my handy dandy panini grill ready to go. I got this amazing grill/griddle for my birthday and I love it because it has removable plates and it can also lay down flat like a griddle. This one is made by cuisinart.

After I turned on the grill, I prepped the bread & veggies. I applied a small amount of Earth Balance butter to both slides of the bread so that I could get that nice panini grill look! Then it was time to prep/slice the veggies & goat cheese.

Then it was time to build! I started with the spinach & avocado

Then I added the tomatoes, bell pepper & goat cheese

Time for the grill! I put the setting on high, took about 4 minutes…

Then my camera battery died on me! Good thing I had my cell phone! (lesson learned) And here my friends, was the sandwich I had for dinner. I paired it with some cherries and it was fabulous!

What happened to the other 2 sandwiches? Well, I shared with my parents since the hubs was out of town. Guess what? They loved it too!

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Big Omaha- Nope, not an obesity conference http://beginningwell.com/2012/05/12/big-omaha-nope-not-an-obesity-conference/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=big-omaha-nope-not-an-obesity-conference http://beginningwell.com/2012/05/12/big-omaha-nope-not-an-obesity-conference/#comments Sat, 12 May 2012 17:28:36 +0000 rdamber http://beginningwell.com/?p=612 After seeing my tweets about Big Omaha, I received a message from a fellow dietitian asking me if I was speaking at an obesity conference called “Big Omaha”??  Maybe she was confused because I also tweeted about taking a break during the conference to do a radio interview from a storage closet at Kaneko regarding the latest CDC obesity statistics. While it is true that 1/3 of people in Nebraska are obese, Big Omaha is not about obesity. The tagline “Hey, Giant cow” was meant to embrace the mascot, not the attendees.

As a nutrition entrepreneur, I work with patients who struggle with balance every day. Volunteering at Big Omaha, I saw many similarities. Entrepreneurs often struggle with stress, high blood pressure, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, overloading on coffee & diet mountain dew among other substances, and finding time to take care of themselves.

So I guess Big Omaha could be compared to an obesity conference in that it’s about indulgence, sharing insecurities, and finding acceptance.

Indulgence- Big Omaha attendees are spoiled in many positive ways. The entire experience is built around serving entrepreneurs and making them feel connected. The speakers provided great brain candy for the attendees to chew on. Diving in and building relationships with people is pure decadence. This is the kind of indulgence that should be encouraged among entrepreneurs. I was able to catch a few of the speakers and when I did, it felt like I was listening to friends giving advice.

Sharing insecurities- I was amazed to hear so many people sharing about what they struggle with as an entrepreneur. Yes, there were those that would never admit it but there were a lot of honest people trying to find success in the world.  Insecurities are often revealed in the way you treat people, especially when you perceive there is nothing to gain from that relationship. Some of the volunteers I worked with were pretty amazing. Some have some impressive credentials and some were students looking to connect with the community, which might have been overlooked by the pancake batter on their shirts or the cotton candy in their hair. However, even in the chaos of distributing lunches, I was able to make some great contacts that were surprised to find a Registered Dietitian assisting them with their specialty diets.

Acceptance- Struggling to embrace who you are as an entrepreneur is difficult.  This might mean struggling to find your niche as I’ve found in my own journey. It’s ok to admit it.  Even the last speaker alluded to the fact that what she does is seen more as a hobby than a business.  Maybe this is why I get so many offers from people trying to suck me into multilevel marketing.

Even though I purchased a ticket to Big Omaha, I was an offered an opportunity to volunteer which allowed me to sell my ticket to another entrepreneur that I knew would benefit greatly from the experience. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from this community and getting to observe entrepreneurs at Big Omaha taught me even more about entrepreneurs, my husband, and myself.  Whether I’m doing an interview from a closet, speaking to a group of obese individuals, or taking care of myself and my husband, I feel like I’m better equipped to serve those struggling with their health and entrepreneurship at the same time.

Thanks to Silicon Prairie News for the opportunity.

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I’d like to thank the Academy…. http://beginningwell.com/2012/05/07/id-like-to-thank-the-academy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=id-like-to-thank-the-academy http://beginningwell.com/2012/05/07/id-like-to-thank-the-academy/#comments Mon, 07 May 2012 13:41:40 +0000 rdamber http://beginningwell.com/?p=602 Time for a break in the NAND blog series. FYI, the Nebraska Dietetic Association recently changed it’s name to The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (NAND). So April 12th was kind of like the Oscars as I was the recipient of the “Outstanding Young Dietitian of the Year Award” from NAND.

With that…it’s time for me to thank the Academy & many others as I have had so many people that have invested time and other resources in me this year.

I’m thankful for….

Mentorship – Alice H , Jennifer L, Michelle W. Thank you for inspiring me to create.

Friendship – Bridget E, Zainab R. Thank you for listening.

Entrepreneurship – SCC Business incubator. Thanks for accepting me into the program and for your support.

Craftsmanship – Jo T, Erin C, Vicki R, My editor, and the Fatplate team from KFOR. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to refine my skills and for being awesome cheerleaders.

Fellowship -GC members & 2PC, thanks for keeping me grounded and for your prayers & support this year.

Showmanship – Mom, thanks for teaching me how to cook and Dad, thanks for teaching me how to run a room.

Kinship – To Ben, my husband- you are amazing. Thank you for letting me walk away from a stable pay check. I could not have made it through this year without your love and support.

And to everyone else that inspired me to go & create, I’m a better wife, dietitian, and entrepreneur because of you.




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NAND12 Blog Series: Fructose & Obesity http://beginningwell.com/2012/05/06/nand12-blog-series-fructose-obesity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nand12-blog-series-fructose-obesity http://beginningwell.com/2012/05/06/nand12-blog-series-fructose-obesity/#comments Mon, 07 May 2012 04:04:04 +0000 rdamber http://beginningwell.com/?p=594 Fructose & Obesity
Dr. Tim Carr, Ph.D.

Is sugar really toxic? Well, thanks to 60 minutes last month, several Americans were asking that question. Here are some thoughts shared by Dr Tim Carr from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Dr. Carr discussed the recent trends in obesity. Currently, close to 70% of adults are overweight and obese and obesity is increasing in younger age groups. We know that Americans are over-consuming energy, but the question remains about the complexities of why. Dr. Carr discussed how the problem of obesity cannot be blamed on one single type of food, such as fructose. He described the different types of high fructose corn syrup and how it is made and pointed out that high fructose corn syrup 42 is actually higher in glucose than fructose.

Dr. Carr described an extensive study he conducted with some of his students that looked at food sources of carbohydrates. The main food sources of carbohydrate in the American diet are grain products and sugar/sweeteners. Wheat is the main grain; we’ve increased our intake of wheat products, which represents an increase in starch, which is glucose. Sugar (sucrose) is the main sugar; we’ve decreased our intake of sugar and increased our intake of corn sweeteners.

Corn sweeteners were introduced in the mid-80s and of all the carbohydrates we eat, they provide three or four times more glucose than fructose. So what has increased the most over the years is glucose, not fructose. So if fructose is not to blame for obesity, then what? We should look at any food source that contributes total energy intake. Total carbohydrate appears to be the main nutrient that has been increasing over the past 40-50 years. Total energy intake has gone up due primarily to carbohydrate intake. Dr. Carr showed us a total energy intake curve over the past 40 years that correlates very closely to the increase in obesity.

A question was raised about how glucose and fructose are metabolized differently by the body. Dr. Carr said that they are handled differently in the body. But he also pointed out that the problem is not fructose intake in general; the problem arises when fructose is consumed in excess (excess being the key word), which goes back to his point about overall energy intake.

Bottom line- we are consuming more calories than we used to and it’s about total calorie intake including calories from all carbohydrates sources, not just fructose.

Special thanks to Amy Stalp for presentation summary 


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NAND12 Blog Series: Resistant Starch http://beginningwell.com/2012/05/04/nand12-blog-series-resistant-starch/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nand12-blog-series-resistant-starch http://beginningwell.com/2012/05/04/nand12-blog-series-resistant-starch/#comments Fri, 04 May 2012 14:15:17 +0000 rdamber http://beginningwell.com/?p=589 Resistant Starch: the Buzz, the Science & Clinical Practice Strategies to up the Intake
Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, BC-ADM

Hope defined resistant starch as a third type of dietary fiber with benefits of both soluble and insoluble and some unique benefits. There are four types of resistant starch. Americans eat enough carbohydrates, but they are falling short of the recommendations for fiber. There is a need to add functional fiber to foods to help people reach the dietary recommendations for fiber.

Hi-maize resistant starch is made from high amylose corn. It is resistant starch 2 (RS2); it is used in research and is easy to incorporate into foods. It has a unique digestive profile: 40% is digested in the small intestine and 60% is digested in the large intestine (fermentable). Studies have shown that RS2 can increase insulin sensitivity and have positive effects of satiety.

Hope gave some tips for increasing resistant starch at home: sprinkle flax and/or sesame seeds on dry cereals and salad, eat more legumes, choose corn instead of flour tortillas, eat more bananas (under ripe), use whole grain breads and cereals, and substitute Hi-maize for 10-25% of flour in baked good recipes (muffins, quick or yeast breads, cookies, pancakes, waffles).

For more information, visit:

Resistant Starch


Special thanks to Amy Stalp for presentation summary 

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NAND12 Blog Series: Organic Fitness http://beginningwell.com/2012/05/04/nand12-blog-series-organic-fitness/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nand12-blog-series-organic-fitness http://beginningwell.com/2012/05/04/nand12-blog-series-organic-fitness/#comments Fri, 04 May 2012 14:07:53 +0000 rdamber http://beginningwell.com/?p=584 Organic Fitness
Dr. James H. O’Keefe, MD

According to Dr. O’Keefe, the major cause of obesity is affluenza; the causes are debilitating convenience and toxic over-feeding. He believes that humans are not adapted to our current environment and way of eating and that ideally humans should adopt a lifestyle that is closer to the hunter/gatherer pattern of our ancestors. The current American diet consists largely of processed foods; Dr. O’Keefe recommends that we eat closer to nature, including things like plants, berries, nuts, venison, and fish. He suggests an eating pattern of lean protein three times a day, two colors three times a day, and non-caloric beverages. His version of my healthy plate includes two vegetables, one fruit, and one protein.

He also stressed that daily moderate exercise (at least 30 minutes) is very important as it has a detoxifying effect. He stressed the importance of moderate exercise over extreme exercise, such as marathon running, which puts too much trauma on joints and is not good for the heart or bones. His recommendation for exercise is to cross-train and to get deep rest after high-intensity exercise.

Dr. O’Keefe also discussed telomeres, which are stretches of DNA that are found at the ends of chromosomes. Decreasing telomeres is part of the aging process. He mentioned that green tea is associated with longer telomeres, and that drinking it is one of the few healthy ways to increase metabolism.

Special thanks to Amy Stalp for presentation summary 

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