A Love Of Food And Nutrition By Way Of Pumpkins
Meet Maggie.The very first pumpkin food that I remember eating was pumpkin ice cream from Capannari’s ice cream in my home town of Mt. Prospect, Illinois. I often get the question of how a page solely devoted to pumpkin came about. The answer is simple. Pumpkins (and pumpkin spiced foods) make people happy! When I can show others a new way to use pumpkin, or a pumpkin product they’ve never seen before, I feel as though we are connected and truly celebrating the season together. I guess you could say I’m happiest when everything around me is crisp, spiced, seasoned and even a little spooky. The versatility of pumpkin itself is amazing, isn’t it? For being so seasonal, I’d argue it has a place in every season! Breakfast, lunch, dinner and especially dessert, there’s always a way to “pump” it up!
I started my Instagram page @onceuponapumpkin during my dietetic internship, a time when there were only a handful of pumpkin flavored items out there. Even Trader Joe’s had no where near what they have in their pumpkin collection today! Since picture number one my passion has lied in communicating how many different things you can do with pumpkin, and exciting people about getting into the kitchen to make something delicious and nutritious for their body and soul.
The beauty of it is that it has given me a platform to be a voice for other millennials when it comes to food and nutrition and to tell a story about my life, the ups and the downs, that spurs conversations on health, nutrition and lifestyle topics. Beyond the fall season, I naturally look for new products and foods that I eat and use in my own life and want to tell other people about them! Maybe they are wondering the same questions as I am, or maybe they had a similar experience with the item. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to add more nutrition to the diet in fun, easy-to-do ways even if that doesn’t involve pumpkin!
Having struggled with body image and self-perceived food rules during some of my teenage years, I knew I wanted to go into a field where I could communicate to others that it is possible to have a positive relationship with food, love your body and live your life free from constantly dieting. It took me a lot of personal growth to get to a place where food rules no longer exist for me, a place where I celebrate my body for what it can do for me instead of
It’s hard not to fall in love with fall when you go to Michigan State. October paints the campus bright hues of orange, yellow, red, and gold and the crispness in the air excited my soul. Maybe I was such a sucker for the fall because it signaled the wealth of possibilities for the year to come, and the start of one more year that would put me closer to becoming a registered dietitian.
Right out my dietetic internship, I landed my dream job in New York City. My mind was made up and my bags were packed faster than I had ever made any decision in my life. I spent almost two years working for a global PR firm. Professionally it was exactly what I thought I wanted. I got to travel on behalf of some of my favorite food brand’s and meet others who I greatly admire in the nutrition field. Personally, I was crumbling in the inside, falling into unhealthy habits and struggling to feel happy, constantly pushing myself to deny these feelings because I thought I’d be stupid to say that I didn’t like New York or that maybe this career path was not for me. I was scared to admit it because it was what I thought I wanted, and saying otherwise would showing that I failed and letting others down.
Leaving New York and returning home taught me that coming back home was not actually not failing at all, but rather succeeding in the most important lesson in life. Finding your happiness and going where that takes you. Mine took me back to sweet home Chicago. Illinois grows the most pumpkins after all!
B.A. Dietetics, Michigan State University
Dietetic Internship: Aramark Distance Dietetic Internship
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics