Hello everyone!

Eco RDN is a team of two. We are a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and a self taught, make-shift chef with over 40 years combined food service experience. We are plant-based foodies, animal lovers, artists, urban hikers, active commuters, car-free advocates and Netflix binge-watchers.

Darla Balthaser RDN, CDN, LDN

Darla Balthaser RDN, CDN, LDN

I am a registered dietitian/ nutritionist specializing in plant-based nutrition. Like most everyone these days, my life has been touched by the modern-day diseases associated with inactivity and over consumption. We have all read the grim predictions related to increases in obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc. in this country and all over the world. I want to help reverse this trend by sharing the things I have learned along the way.

For those of you who don’t really know what a dietitian is or does…

Registered Dietitians/Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDs/ RDNs) are highly educated and trained health professionals who provide nutrition education and dietetic services. All RD/RDNs have at the minimum a Bachelor’s degree, have completed a qualifying internship, passed a national registration examination and complete ongoing continuing education.

(check out this blog post, Why work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)?!)

Because I am “eco” minded, economical in this case, my prerequisite courses were completed through the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC). After earning an associates degree through CCAC I transferred to The University of Pittsburgh to receive my Bachelors of science in nutrition and dietetics. The internship was a grueling 1200 hours (about 9 months) of unpaid work in NYC, through Hunter College. Here I worked with the Food Bank for NYC, School Food, Institute for Family Health, Irving Place Dialysis, Beth Israel Medical Center and Jewish Home Lifecare. I passed the national registration examination on July 19th 2013 in Manhattan and it was a glorious day! Continuing education for an RDN is 75 CPEUs every five years. I continue my education almost daily (it truly is ongoing) by reading articles and deciphering scientific texts, periodically by participating in webinars and certification programs and annually during FNCE (an expo and conference of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) to keep up to date in this ever evolving field. Check out the blog post for FNCE 2015!

Through the internship I was offered employment at Jewish Home Lifecare (JHL) and worked there for 2 and 1/2 years. I ran the high paced sub-acute rehabilitation units in their Bronx division. Responsible for assessing nutrition status of each patient, providing medical nutrition therapy and nutrition education as needed.

I am currently living in Pittsburgh, PA where I am a licensed dietitian/ nutritionist offering my skills to those in need. I have been awarded a certificate of training in vegetarian nutrition by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Personally I follow a vegan diet for both health and ethical reasons. I am also a certified dietitian/ nutritionist in New York state. Check out my Nutrition Works page for a free 15-minute phone consultation!


John Thomas Menesini

John Thomas Menesini:

Q: Who taught you how to cook?

A: Everyone

I only turned down mushy peas as a baby, my Mother said, everything else was game. She helped construct the monster gourmand in me, reflecting on her ability to turn instant mashed potatoes and box macaroni & cheese into a savory sensory experience. She made instant food with the same love as scratch, and my mouth could only discern the love. She understood flavor at the fundamental level. No need for complexity, her food was pure, delicious and comforting.

My Grandfather was Sicilian and Calabrese, every Sunday there was sauce, rich red sauce. The house smelled of garlic and tomatoes and salt. I began eating hot peppers as a boy to mimic my Grandfather. It was a way to bond. Pickled hot Italian peppers and Cellone’s bread, uncut, ripped apart by hand. Soft, warm airy and yeasty. An amazing texture for a hungry mouth, and practical as the bread cooled the nightshade bitter fragrant peppers, soured from vinegar brine.

From there I ate everything and watched every cook. At every cookout and kitchen there was always some aspect of every dish that stood out, whether a marriage of flavors, a texture or consistency which went above the standard, making itself known. All good flavors should make the consumer reflect. Like Proust reflecting on the Madeleine,

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me.

Cook with intent, create umami alchemy, eat and prepare with an open mind.

Thanks for stopping by and getting to know us!

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