Nutrition Corner With UD Chef & Dietitian Jen Muzzi 

Welcome everyone!!!!!

My name is Jen Muzzi. I’m a Registered Dietitian, Chef and the Nutrition Outreach Coordinator for Employee Health and Wellbeing here at UD. This space will highlight recipes, cooking videos, tips and my blog. Here’s your first tip– healthier eating is easier than you think! While some prep and planning are necessary, it’s well worth it. Check out the latest cooking video and recipes listed below. You’ll never miss any of these, as we will have all of these archived so that you can always access these whenever you need them!

Bon Appetit!

Breaking Bread in Unity Episode 2

Herbert’s Vegan Fried Chicken with Knock Yo Socks Off! BBQ Sauce

Vegan Chicken

Recipe by Herbert Bell

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups vital wheat gluten
  • 3 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp onion powder
  • 3 tbsp dried poultry seasoning
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

Kneading Liquid:

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 7 dashes liquid smoke (Mesquite flavor preferred)
  • 3 tbsp coconut aminos (may substitute soy sauce, tamari or Braggs aminos)

Boiling Broth:

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 14 dashes liquid smoke
  • 6 tbs coconut aminos (may substitute soy sauce, tamari or Braggs aminos- just make sure it’s the same as what you use for the kneading liquid)


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs


  1. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients well. In a separate bowl, mix kneading liquids well. Pour wet into the dry; using your hands mix very well until tacky consistency forms. On a plate or bowl, mix breading mixture.
  2. Once the dough has been kneaded and formed. Pull “chicken nugget” sized portions from the dough and let rest for 30 minutes on a large plate or bowl.
  3. While nuggets are resting, prepare boiling broth in a large pot. Set heat for a low boil (not rapid boiling). After resting time has completed, carefully drop nuggets in boiling broth and let simmer for 45 minutes.
  4. Mix breading ingredients together in a bowl. Pull nuggets out of boiling broth and set on a plate and cool. Then, roll each individually in the breading.
  5. Frying the nuggets: Recommended frying in either canola or vegetable oil. Fill frying pan that’s around 2” deep with oil. (If you have a home fryer, fill with oil per manufacturers instructions). Fry nuggets for ~ 5-9 minutes, or until browned. Remove and place on paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil. Serve with Herbert’s BBQ sauce listed below (or sauce of your choice)


Knock Yo Socks Off! BBQ Sauce

By Herbert Bell


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup cane sugar (brown preferred)
  • Scant ½ cup habanero sauce*
  • Scant ¼ cup Tiger sauce*
  • 1 tbsp PickAPepa sauce*

*should total ¾ cup hot sauce

  • 6 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp chili powder


  1. Mix all ingredients well with a whisk. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Jalapeno Poppers (Frozen)

By Chef Jen

Print PDF


  • 25 fresh jalapenos
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup plain, fine breadcrumbs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups whipped cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack or cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese
  • Salt, pepper to taste


  1. Boil medium- large pot of water. Carefully, slice jalapenos in half, removing tops, seeds and veins. Boil ~ 2 minutes. Immediately remove peppers and place in ice water bath using a slotted spoon. Remove from ice bath after 5 minutes and line on sheet pan. Pat dry.
  2. in a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and shredded cheese of choice. In 3 shallow bowls, add buttermilk and egg, flour and breadcrumbs.
  3. Using a spoon, scoop out cheese mixture and fill jalapeno cavities. Do not overfill. You may have some leftover cheese mixture.
  4. Once filled, dip entire jalapeno in buttermilk, shake off excess, then dip in flour. Shake off excess and set on sheet pan. Repeat process until all jalapenos are done. At this point, they should be slightly dried.
  5. Re-dip floured jalapenos into buttermilk, then into breadcrumbs. Line on sheet pan so that poppers do not touch. Repeat steps until all are breaded. Freeze on sheet pan for 8 hours- overnight. Then transfer to freezer bag or freezer safe container. Can store up to 6 months.
  6. To prepare frozen poppers:

Oven: heat oven to 400⁰F. Line and/or lightly spray pan with desired number of poppers. Bake for ~ 15 minutes, or until browned and heated through.

Fryer: Fry in oil at 350⁰F for ~ 3-5 minutes or until browned and heated through.

Air Fryer: Preheat for 3 minutes at 360⁰F, cook for ~10-12 minutes or until browned and heated through.

Southern Tomato Pie

Adapted from Southern Living Magazine, by Chef Jen

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  • Premade pie crust, or single pie crust recipe from scratch
  • 2 lbs fresh tomatoes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, diced
  • ½ cup fresh chopped herbs: Parsley, Basil and Scallions or chives
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • ½ cup fresh shredded gruyere cheese
  • ¼ cup fresh shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan


  1. Let pie crust warm up slightly to room temperature, or until it’s pliable. Layer in 9” pie plate. Cover the entire crust with foil. Fill dish with pie weights or bag of dry beans to prevent the crust from bubbling up. Pre-bake the pie crust in a 400⁰F oven~ 10-20 minutes. Turn down oven to 350⁰F.
  2. While crust is baking, slice tomatoes into ~ ¼ “slices, removing excess seeds as you go. Layer on paper towels and lightly sprinkle with salt. Let tomatoes rest and prep onion.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in skillet, add diced onion and sauté until translucent and tender ~ 10-15 minutes.
  4. When crust is baked, set on cooling rack and cool until you are able to safely handle the beans or weights and foil. Pat dry the tomatoes with clean kitchen or paper towel.
  5. In a layer fashion, cover the bottom of the pie crust in tomato, sprinkle with onion and chopped herbs until all are used up.
  6. in a small bowl, mix cheeses, mayo and yogurt. Dollop mixture over tomato pie. Using either aluminum foil or a pie crust protector, cover the edge of crust to prevent burning. Bake at 350 for ~ 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
  7. Let cool slightly, cut into 8 pieces and serve immediately.


      This is where I get deeper into the nutrition aspect of the recipes of the week and sometimes, it’s just my journal. It’s updated weekly with the videos and recipes so, if you’ve missed any they are achieved here as well. 

   Have a question related to healthy eating that you would like to see on the blog? Have any requests for recipes? 

Email me:

Diversity, Facing our In/Actions and Food

By Jen Muzzi, RDN/LDN, RYT-200, Chef


While I was going through yoga teacher training, I was taught to evaluate my thoughts, actions and face past traumas. Also, to take a moment or two to think before speaking and avoid passing judgement. As my teacher stated, “Y.O.G.A, Your Own Great Awareness” and so it is.  I’m also a dietitian. Both of these make it important for me to have a heightened awareness, to be mindful and present to the needs of my students, patients or clients. I have learned to “read the room” by noticing body language and energy and with that, comes the responsibility for setting the tone of that space. Sometimes it can be difficult because, I am human being and am far from perfect.

Emotional wellbeing has been brought to the forefront in discussions only recently in American history, as well as its interdependence on physical wellbeing. If you are emotionally spent, you may be physically too, and vice versa. Physical wellbeing is not just your activity level, but your diet as well. As a clinical dietitian, there were many times when I entered a patient room, introduced myself, my job title and received groans, eye rolls and “You’re going to take all the good food away from me, aren’t you?” I’ve learned so much about the mind and its connection to food through my work. It was in the hospital, that I realized patients are acutely aware that their lives are out of their control while admitted and they feel helpless. But the one thing that they can control is FOOD!

FOOD has such an impact on our emotional wellbeing. Food can mend fences and broken hearts; show love, share celebrations and sorrow. Food is a universal language of hospitality and inclusion, because it’s inviting. Sometimes, food can be abused when it’s used to “eat your way through” (or avoid) your emotions or even used as a form of self-punishment. Given current events, I believe FOOD is how we can all come together. WE need to “break bread”, gather, share stories and truly listen to one another. 

My New Awareness:

I have been sheltered and living in a bubble, so to speak. I came to realize my ignorance about 2 years ago, when I was speaking with a friend of mine who was married to an African American man and has bi-racial children. I remember saying how things are better at this day and age and she quickly said that it was not. She went on to discuss her son being pulled over by police without cause, the looks that her family would receive out in public and other sad stories. I remember thinking, “How is this possible today?”

Another time my ignorance showed was after hearing of Anti-Semitic vandalism and destruction in Texas. I remember thinking, “Who is still Anti-Semitic in today’s society?!” It is so appalling to me.

It was after those few things that I realized, and am being reminded of that now, that not everyone thinks like me. Not only is our division in America over race and religion, but politics and how to handle the Coronavirus are also further dividing our society. This is leading to discrimination, harassment and is hurting our brothers and sisters; Hurting our American family. Where and how can we come together and heal this relationship? How do we make this place a better one for not just ourselves, but our children the many generations to come? Through FOOD.

Here’s a little bit about me:

First, I grew up in suburban, lower middle class in upstate NY. I had a modest upbringing where we travelled some of the east coast and not internationally. The first time I left the US, I was 26. Not including my trip to Epcot (joking), the first country I visited was Canada. Which, to me, didn’t really feel like another country. Montreal had, what I can only assume was a European feel, with its open-air restaurants and historic architecture.

Otherwise, they said “Bonjour”.

We said, “Hello”

They replied, “Table for 2”?

Second, I’m such a blend of heritages that I’m an American mutt. I always was a little envious of those who can claim one specific heritage, which in upstate NY was mostly Irish, Italian or Puerto Rican. So, when my cousin married a Jewish man, I was beyond excited to be a part of that cultural experience and it was THE BEST wedding I have ever been to!  (Sorry to my friends who think it was theirs 😉). 

My lack of travel wasn’t due to the lack of desire, but more a lack of funds. It is my dream to travel to Hawaii (yeah, it’s US but not really…), all of Europe, Australia, Seychelles and the Middle East. I’m such a mutt, that when I meet new people and experience new cultures and activities, I want to immerse myself in them! “Show me everything and feed me!”, I say.

Emotional Wellbeing, the Struggle and Action:

I think the reason some people aren’t jumping on diversity, cultural and racism education like the explosion of online resources and such that occurred with COVID-19, is because it’s very emotional. We have to face ourselves, the demons that haunt us, our actions (that we may have been totally oblivious to) and realize with doing that, we’ve caused harm to other human beings.

It is hard to face emotions and to “face the music”. Remember when you were a kid and you had to fess up to mom or dad about something you did wrong? This is the same feeling that I wonder if people are feeling now: Shame. No one likes that feeling and having to face the fact that what we have done, likely unintentionally, was hurting a large group of people as a whole.

In some cases, it might not have been our actions, but our inaction. This quote was somewhat altered from the original, but gets the point across in modern language:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men stand by and do nothing.”

How many times have we passed by something and thought “Oh, someone else will do that” Or “That’s not my job to help with that” or something to that matter?

I know I’m guilty at times of “Someone else will do that”. There is a term in psychology that defines this as “the bystander effect”. Google that term and read the shocking story behind it.

Since I have identified my ignorance, or my bystander effect, it’s been a struggle. I believe I am accepting of many cultures and differences and I thought that the majority of Americans felt the same way too.

Why Culture and Food Experiences are Important:

For a while, when I thought of culture, OTHER country’s culture is what came to mind. One of the great things about this country is that we are truly a melting pot. There is so much culture that we can learn about here in the US. I have my husband to thank for my experiences since he was in the Navy when we were first married. As newlyweds, I was hopeful for an international duty station so that I can finally “see the world” and was slightly disappointed when that didn’t occur. But, I quickly overcame that when we were stationed in North Carolina, where we lived in a small town in the southern outer banks. Then transferred to Charleston, SC. Just those two places helped to “broaden my horizons” more than I had ever expected.  

Through immersing ourselves in the towns and new states, we learned a lot! There were many things that I learned, that I didn’t expect. As I’ve mentioned, I’m from upstate NY, so North and South Carolina was a bit of culture (and weather) shock! Side note: I’ll never forget our trip to Savannah when the tour guide was discussing the Civil War as “The War of Northern Aggression”. Wait- What?!

Travelling the different regions in this country, you can experience other cultures. An example from the Carolina’s is their BBQ traditions. For me BBQ was just using the grill and the sauce. Holy Moly! I am here to say that it is not that to them! It’s far from it! Did you know that NC BBQ is vinegar based and SC BBQ is mustard based? It also involves smoking the meat for hours and sometimes days on end! There are many epic arguments over which BBQ joint has the best sauce and who makes it “the right way”. In Carolinas, we got to experience different elements of culture besides BBQ, such as Gullah cuisine and culture and soul food. The Carolina’s have some of the best food I have eaten in my life! It so happens, that Charleston is also where I went to culinary school.

So now, whenever I travel to new places, I NEED to try the food! Mind you- my inner Dietitian is silenced quite often when we do this, 😉. For example, here are some of my recent experiences:

Chicago: I ate deep dish pizza and had a Chicago style hot dog (mustard, onions, sport pepper, relish and French fries).

Colorado: I (reluctantly) tried Rocky Mountain Oysters. (yeah, that’s crossed off the list and not doing again)

NYC: I ate pizza, bagels, a pastrami sandwich (it was only ¼ of it because it was the biggest sandwich I’ve ever seen in my life!). Whenever I’m in NY, I am always on the hunt for falafel, like a Beagle in search for the rabbit (or food).

I only eat at Waffle House if I’m south of the North Carolina border (covered and smothered ma’am)

Philly: Chicken Cheesesteak (provolone, wit)

South Carolina: I ate pulled pork sandwich with slaw ON THE sandwich; I overindulged on the fried chicken, collard greens and Coca-Cola cake at Jestine’s. Fell in love with Shrimp and Grits at SNOB’s and Foie Gras at Charleston Grill. I lived for the ball park and its BOILED PEANUTS. Also, I have a Philippine friend there who once invited me to her child’s baptism and reception and now I’m asking anyone who has that heritage if they will make me and give me the recipe for puto! Then there was that time my husband and I ate a 5 course dinner in the Captain’s quarters on a Taiwanese Naval Ship. (Great story for another day)

Dallas: I ate TX BBQ- ribs, brisket, mac and cheese and PECAN PIE.

Memphis: RIBS, RIBS, RIBS, RIBS! Also, PB, Banana & bacon sandwich at Graceland.

Vermont: EVERYTHING MAPLE, especially Maple Creemees

New York State: My sister married a Dominican man and she’s learned that when I’m visiting she has to make beans and rice, or else I won’t step foot in her house! Then there’s the Italian bakery’s simple, but incapable of replication, buttered hard roll. Mmmmmmmmmmm…..

Is anybody else hungry now?????

Even though I lack travel experiences away from the US, my travels within have exposed me to many cultures and backgrounds so that I can tell you this:


Anthony Bourdain once said: “Meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways that were charming and interesting and intoxicating to me……… Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go. ….The perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself.”

Right now, the focus is on race, but it’s so much more than that. We need to celebrate our differences both physically, spiritually and intellectually. One is not below the other, we are all the same. We are all humans and it’s time to act like it. It’s time to learn about each other and adapt so that we can overcome our fears, insecurities, differences to just love and appreciate one another

Coming Together

Why am I discussing all of this? It’s all due to an amazing suggestion from a colleague. In an effort to help us all to see, be seen and unite.  

Employee Health and Wellbeing is starting a new event that we need your help with:

“Breaking Bread in Unity”

SHARE: The request is for people of different cultures to share your favorite foods that you believe define your culture, heritage or childhood.

STORY: Describe why it’s your favorite, where it came from and let’s break bread together over these recipes. Answer Q&A and have your story and recipe highlighted. If you desire, you can remain anonymous!

COOK:  If you feel comfortable with Zoom and cooking, we will cook your recipe together and discuss your story in a recorded Zoom session for the University. (If not, we will work something out regardless 😉 ).

Your Q&A will be posted when the video goes live on the College of Health Sciences Facebook page and EHWs Nutrition Corner page.

Finally, maybe, I’ll take a stab at helping to adjust it from a Dietitian stand point or maybe I’ll just let them be.

Here is the link to submit your recipe(s):

Breaking Bread in Unity Sign Up Sheet

Be well, eat well, walk your dog, love one another and Bon Appetit!
~~ Chef Jen

Excess Garden Produce:
By Chef Jen, RDN/LDN, RYT-200

            With the pandemic and transition to working from home, many people had extra time on their hands and many planted a home garden. At this point, most people are drowning in tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and other produce. In this weeks’ cooking video, I’ve used ~2 lbs of tomatoes for Southern Tomato Pie and 25 jalapenos for jalapeno poppers.

            If you have excess vegetables, like peppers, onions, zucchini and squash, you can easily slice and freeze them for winter time use. I would recommend slicing the zucchini and squash into half-moons. You can easily sauté them up with olive oil, salt, pepper and if desire, other herbs, as a great side dish to accompany your protein choice.

 You have 2 options for peppers and onions:

1- slice for use in fajitas, cheesesteaks, sausage and peppers sandwiches

2- dice for use in omelets or other sauces and sautés.  

You can mix them together after freezing or separate.

            After you’ve prepped the veggies to the desired cut, lay them out on a sheet pan that can fit in the freezer. Make sure that the pieces aren’t touching one another. If they do, they may freeze in a big clump and be “icy”. You can check after 2-3 hours, if frozen, you can transfer to a freezer bag or freezer safe container for later use. Usually they keep 6 mo-1 year in the freezer.

            The jalapeno poppers in this video are prepped for freezing with the same idea in mind. I suggest freezing for 8-24 hours before cooking. They can last up to 6 months in the freezer as well.

            The tomato pie is the only item that I do not suggest that you freeze. The tomatoes are too delicate and will turn to mush. I suggest eating this pie right away or using leftovers within 2 days.

            You can also use tomato, jalapenos (or bell peppers) and onion from your garden to make and jar salsa. There are strict guidelines, however to canning that must be followed to prevent the growth of a fatal bacteria that causes botulism.  See this link to UD’s Cooperative Extension’s canning tips or the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  I’ll see you all again next week!

Be Well, Eat Well, Walk your Dog and Bon Appetit!

~~ Chef Jen







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