For years, Dr. Ellie Pong ’03, ’02, a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) graduate, has shared her therapeutic knowledge both in and out of the classroom. As a contributing faculty member and current Doctor of Education (EdD) student, she teaches a range of physical and occupational therapy classes. She also trains school nurses and health technicians in Santa Rosa County, Florida.
“Being an OT and a PT has given me a unique perspective about treating the whole person,” Pong says. Nutrition is an essential part of that, she adds. Combining her love of cooking with her focus on whole health, Pong volunteers at local senior health fairs, offering participants homemade healthy baked goods as well as fruit and vegetable leathers created from ingredients grown in her garden to provide motivation to learn about healthy eating.
“Many seniors have a misunderstanding of what good eating is,” Pong says. “To them, sugar is candy.” Yet added sugar, which contributes little to seniors’ overall nutritional needs, can be found in everything from yogurt and cereal to pasta sauce and salad dressing. Instead, Pong encourages them to choose foods with naturally present sugars like fresh fruits or water-soluble fiber like oats, which can lower blood cholesterol. She encourages seniors to eat foods containing antioxidants like blueberries, which may help prevent cancer. To get a healthy dose of fiber and potassium, along with powerful antioxidants, Pong recommends trying this recipe:
Healthy Breakfast Bread
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2)
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup oil (canola, grapeseed, or safflower)
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon (separated) all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons salt (less for low-sodium diets)
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×5-inch metal loaf pan with cooking spray and dust lightly with flour.
- Whisk buttermilk, eggs, banana, sugar, and oil in a large bowl until well blended. Combine flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, mixing just until combined. Gently toss the blueberries with 1 tablespoon of flour. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Do not overmix. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
- Bake on the next-to-bottom oven rack about 60 minutes or until browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Store the bread in the refrigerator (if there’s any left).