We are pleased to introduce Astrid De la Cruz, Project Angel Heart’s new nutrition services manager. Astrid is here to ensure our medically tailored meals meet the unique nutritional needs of our clients. We caught up with her to learn more about her background and how she became interested in nutrition.
Q: Hello…and welcome! Tell us a bit about your background.
A: Hi! My name is Astrid and I am a Wisconsin native turned Coloradan. I earned a B.S. in Conservation Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For a couple of years after completing this degree, I worked to support the development and operation of programs that promoted sustainability in food supply chains. My background in food systems and interest in helping others improve their well-being at the individual level set me up to pursue a career in nutrition. After obtaining my dietetics degree, also from UW-Madison, I moved to Colorado to complete my dietetic internship at the Tri-County Health Department and to take the registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) exam. I am thrilled to be joining the amazing team at Project Angel Heart!
Q: What is your favorite part of being a dietitian?
A: My favorite part about being a dietitian is that I get to connect with other people in my community through food. Time and time again, I have seen how helping people make empowered dietary changes can have lasting effects on their mental and physical well-being. It is so rewarding to help folks navigate the oftentimes confusing and overwhelming world of nutrition in order to better their lives.
Q: What is your favorite type of food to cook at home?
A: I love to cook Mexican food at home since it allows me to return to my ancestral roots and explore cooking with traditional ingredients. One of my favorite Mexican dishes to make is tamales; they are versatile, can be frozen to facilitate many future meals, and are the perfect vessel for all of the salsa and guacamole your heart desires!
Q: How did you get interested in nutrition?
A: I have been interested in nutrition since childhood. As part of a large, Mexican family, food was always at the center of every family gathering. I began helping my parents in the kitchen from a young age and that familiarity transformed into a passion for wanting to help others feel a sense of nurture, joy, and curiosity when it comes to food.
Q: What does food as medicine mean to you?
A: To me, it means recognizing food’s innate qualities to heal, nourish and support our general well-being. Used as a health-promoting tool, food can have a powerful impact and result in improvements in energy levels, disease management and prevention, and overall quality of life. Having a nourishing relationship with food is one of the best things that anyone can do for themselves.
Q: If you had the opportunity travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I think I would go to Japan! The culture, food, and natural landscapes of Japan really appeal to me and I think it would be completely different from any place I’ve ever been before. Also, nothing sounds more relaxing or restorative than soaking in traditional Japanese Onsen (hot-spring baths).