Q&A with Dixya Bhattarai, MS, RD/LD
So much has changed throughout 2020 with the COVID-19 Pandemic sweeping the globe. However, there is one thing that does remain the same, and that’s summertime and the delicious recipes to go along with the season! If you’re in need of seasonal ideas that are still easy to cook from home during this time of lockdown and social distancing, our July Pasta Spotlight can help you out. Dixya Bhattarai, MS, RD/LD is a Culinary Dietitian, Recipe Developer, and Content Creator at Food, Pleasure, and Health. She answered our questions we had this month about cooking from home tips, the flavors that inspire her cooking from the many places she has lived, and how pasta continually serves as a great and versatile option for all lifestyles.
- As an RD, what are some tips and recommendations you provide for those looking to lead a healthier, more balanced lifestyle?
My number one recommendation is to remember that living a healthier and balanced lifestyle is a journey. Instead of making drastic, unrealistic changes, start with small, sustainable habits daily and build on to it. Everyone has unique needs when it comes to their health and wellness so it’s vital that you listen to your body first and not get overwhelmed by too many food/diet/nutrition-related pieces of information that are out there.
- What do you say to people who have negative misconceptions with pasta?
Pasta and carbohydrates in general get a lot of bad reputation but as a Registered Culinary Dietitian, I am a big advocate of all food groups. Rather than avoiding a whole food group (carbohydrates) or singling out an ingredient (pasta, bread), I teach my clients/readers on how to incorporate them into a wholesome, delicious meal.
- How have the places you’ve lived (Nepal, Texas, etc.) influenced the foods you love and cook?
I was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal and have lived in Texas for about 8 years now. My cooking style is globally inspired but I do gravitate a lot to the flavors I grew up around in Nepal. Personally, it’s been a great culinary journey because I didn’t cook at all while growing up but now with the help of mom and aunts (thank you FaceTime), I can make my version of Nepali food in my Fort Worth kitchen.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a huge increase in the number of people learning how to cook and how to cook from home. What advice can you give to novice chefs when looking to cook healthy, nutritious, yet still delicious meals for themselves and their families?
For a novice cook, a few tips I have are to stock up your pantry and fridge with basic ingredients like pasta, rice, oats, canned tomatoes/canned beans, eggs, fresh or frozen vegetables, good olive oil, and a few spices to get started. Also, having essential cooking tools/equipment such as a sharp knife, baking sheets, pots/pans, and a blender makes a huge difference. There are so many resources online such as YouTube, food/cooking blogs, and apps so I would definitely encourage making use of those. If you do not have prior cooking experience, give meal kit services a try or sign up for a basic cooking class!
- What has been your favorite meal to cook from home during the pandemic?
During the pandemic, I have learned to stretch my resources, which I didn’t pay much attention to before. A few things I have loved to cook are sipping chickenbone broth, savory pancakes using discarded sourdough batter, and watermelon rind curry! Before the pandemic, I’d normally throw these ingredients out, but now I am a lot more conscious of food waste and finding creative solutions to use them up.
- Finally, can you share one of your pasta recipes with us?
Pasta is a staple in my kitchen and if I had to pick one – it’s definitely simple tomato-based pasta with fettucine and little parmesan cheese on top. I also love to make pasta sauce with leftover hummus as it makes a creamy base. Try out my Vegetable Hummus Pasta to see for yourself!
About Dixya Bhattarai
Dixya Bhattarai, MS, RD/LD is a Culinary Dietitian, Recipe Developer, and Content Creator at Food, Pleasure, and Health. She has many years of experience in a clinical setting, but her ultimate passion lies in the culinary world teaching cooking classes & culinary workshops. Dixya is also an adjunct instructor at Tarrant County Community College in Fort Worth, Texas where she currently lives.