New Country Representative to Spain for the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (IAAND)

As of June 1, 2021, I’m the new Country Representative to Spain for the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (IAAND).

Based in Chicago, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is the world’s largest food and nutrition professionals organization, with over 100,000 credentialed practitioners, including students, retired professionals, and international supporters.

Formerly called the American Dietetic Association, The Academy was founded in 1917, with a commitment to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education, and advocacy.

I graduated from Queens College with a degree in Family and Exercise Sciences, completed my 900-hr internship through Queens College, and earned a Master in Nutrition Education from Queens College as well. I was certified as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and earned a certification in Diabetes Education as well.

I’ve served in several volunteer positions for the Academy, beginning with an elected position to the Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group (WM DPG). A DPG is a professional-interest group of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics members who wish to connect with other members within their interest and/or practice areas. The Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group supports the highest level of professional practice in preventing and treating overweight and obesity throughout the lifecycle.

As a founding member of this DPG (2001), I was elected as Secretary for two years starting in 2005, followed by seven years as Sponsorship Relations Chair, an appointed position.

As Sponsorship Relations Chair I worked with sponsors and members to produce an annual Symposium. In 2013 we were in Indianapolis, at the Hyatt Regency.


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April 1, 2014, on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC representing the WM DPG at the PPW 2014 (Public Policy Workshop) – now known as the Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy Summit


After moving to Cuenca, Ecuador with my husband Ken in 2014, I served as the new (and first) Country Representative to Ecuador.

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Cuenca is Ecuador’s third-largest city, located high in the Andes, with beautiful lakes and hiking trails.
It has a world-class Symphony Orchestra, typically free for all to attend.
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The view from our window February 13, 2018 – we lived for two years at the lovely Boutique Hotel Floré on Mariscal Sucre, and enjoyed every minute of it.


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Taken two years later on February 13, 2020 – Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción – The New Cathedral, Mariscal Sucre, Cuenca, Ecuador


Now that we have relocated to Valencia, Spain I have assumed a new volunteer position with IAAND – Country Representative to Spain.

July 2020 – Arrived in Valencia, enjoying the views – Plaza de la Reina


Formerly known as the American Overseas Dietetic Association – www.eatrightinternational.org


About the IAAND:

As the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,  IAAND has over 1000 members and supporters, including student members and supporters, living in more than 78 countries. Members are internationally-minded Active, Student, International, and Retired Academy members, living inside and outside the United States, who practice in a wide variety of settings, including:
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
SCHOOLS AND THE COMMUNITY
LOCAL HOSPITALS AND CLINICS
PRIVATE PRACTICE AND CONSULTATION
INDUSTRY AND FOOD SERVICE FACILITIES
GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT


IAAND appoints Country Representatives (CRs), who serve as first points of contact for IAAND and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics within their country.

What does a country representative do?
Serves as a local resource to integrate new IAAND members into practice in the country.
Serves as an information base for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics/IAAND regarding country-specific food and nutrition issues.
Serves as a resource base to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics/IAAND, helping field inquiries regarding practice & educational opportunities abroad.
Establishes relationships with key nutrition and dietetics associations and other relevant professional organizations.
Serves as a resource for referrals in collaboration with local dietetics professionals.
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I’m working on a draft of the Country Information Sheet – Spain. This is member benefit.
There are two ways to enjoy the benefits of IAAND membership.

Country Information Sheets are created by Country Representatives to describe dietetics and the environment in their country. This information is useful to those who are seeking employment or interested in pursuing projects in the country.

Registered Dietitian Denine Stracker is Spain’s previous CR, now living in the U.S. IAAND member Aitor Sánchez is a Spanish dietitian-nutritionist, who lives in Madrid and has offices in Valencia. Click here for more information about the Aleris Centro de Nutrición Valencia, a center that offers services from professional dietitians-nutritionists, psychologists and exercise experts for weight and health management. Aitor is an entrepreneur, and has many successful endeavours, including the Aleris clinic, the Aleris academy, regular podcasts and blog posts. He is an excellent communicator – an author and media expert with two books in print and more to come. He’s an excellent professional and I thank him very much for all of his help.

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Aitor Sánchez – Mi Dieta Cojea

At present Spain does not have a national certification for dietitians-nutritionists. Spain has 17 Autonomous Regions and each has a regional dietetic association, and a written consensus that guides universities in the competencies and basic content for training. Click here to learn more about CODiNuCoVa The College of Dietitians and Nutritionists of the Valencian Community, officially constituted on December 19, 2009.

To work in Spain: EU nationals are free to work and live in Spain without restrictions but non-EU residents must have the correct visas to work in the country. Requirements for this include a job contract with a Spanish employer as well as other necessary documents

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Enjoying Valencia! Parque Turia – masks permitted to be off outdoors beginning June 26, 2021

Our Bono Cards

It took three months to get our appointment but we did it! After living in Valencia for at least six months you can apply for the “gold card” that allows you “free” rides on all buses for one year. Cost – about €18.

Bono Oro Regulations

This is a bus pass for the over 65’s, pensioners and disabled people who meet specific conditions and are registered in Valencia as well as being legal residents of Spain. It allows unlimited use of all EMT bus routes without exception from the moment the bus pass is paid for, until the end of the year. Requests are processed at the local municipal administrative offices.

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LIA Restaurant in Valéncia

When we landed in Valéncia July 8, 2020, I’d noticed this restaurant near the Mercat Centrál – and we finally tried it for the first time May 8, we were so pleased! An interesting menu and delicious food and service. We returned again with Andrea & Phil on May 28, and they were equally impressed. https://www.liavalencia.es/carta-lia/ LIA Restaurante Valéncia

Valéncia 2020-2021

Background Note:

November 11, 2019: We were flying back from an eight-week stay in Spain to our home since September 2014 in Cuenca, Ecuador. This was our third visit to Spain, and as we departed from San Sebastian/Donostia, I said, “let’s more to Spain!” Ken agreed, and we decided that our next adventure would be… relocating to Spain! We wanted to live in Europe. We’d done dozens of Home Exchanges since 2009, and the last one, in San Sebastian/Donostia, just sealed the deal. Cuenca is a great city, and we made many close friends, but Spain just ticked off all of the boxes. Great infrastructure – roads, rail, air, biking lanes in cities and bike-share programs, pedestrian safety; good health care, interesting culture, and we were thinking, Valencia weather.

We returned to Cuenca and engaged the trustworthy and very able facilitator Monica Gonzaga who shepherded us through the visa application process. We submitted our paperwork successfully on February 5, at the Spanish Consulate in Guayaquil.

Then we took off for a two week wine and hiking tour in Argentina with Esteban Coobija Arévalo, our esteemed guide and great friend, who is based in Cuenca and with whom Ken had enjoyed many, many great hikes in the Cajas. We joined a bunch of other expats and had a blast! If you would like to see the itinerary for our wonderful tour that included great hotels, dinners, wine tastings, hikes, biking, and visits to museums and Cathedrals, just contact me for the link.

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We had many opportunities to enjoy the wines in Salta, Cafayate, Cachi, and Mendoza.

On Wednesday March 11, we flew from Buenos Aires back to Guayaquil, and on Thursday March 12, as planned we visited the Spanish Consulate to have our new Spanish residency visas inserted into our passports. All went smoothly but by that time, covid-19 had been pronounced a pandemic. I just was reviewing our Facebook posts from that date and see that someone in the USA asked “how is Ecuador handling the covid-19 outbreak.” And Ken had answered that just the schools were closed, but otherwise no changes.

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Exito! Spanish Consulate, Visas in our Passports – with Monica Gonzaga


With our new visas in hand, we had planned to visit Valencia for two months, April 1-June 1, but on Monday, March 16, 2020, our world as we knew it, changed. For everyone. Our airline flight to Valencia was canceled.

But, luckily for us, we were rescheduled for July 7, 2020.

And in the nick of time! For we only had until July 12 to register our visas in Spain! And to do that they require at least a six-month lease. And health insurance, of course. A year-long policy. So. The decision was made. We were moving to Valencia. We hustled and sold most of our stuff, stored some stuff, and packed our suitcases.

July 6, 2020. Thank you Orlando Sigüenza for a comfortable and safe drive with our eight suitcases and two backpacks from Cuenca to Quito, with our overnight in the airport Wyndham Hotel.

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At the Wyndham Quito Airport the night before our flight to Valencia via Madrid July 7 2020

We landed in Valencia on July 8, 2020, and on July 9 we found our new apartment and moved in on July 15… thank you, Carmen Freund! Our apartment is a spacious two-bedroom/two-bath on Plaza de la Reina, with a great terrace. Our building is about fifty years old, and we’re on the top floor.
However, as comfortable as we’ve been, since April we have lived in a construction zone. Now almost a year later, we’re moving to El Cabañyal.

It was pretty hot landing in July in Valencia
Plaza de la Reina – the newly renovated plaza – half the plaza taken over by the entrance and exit for the parking garage
The original Plaza in 1953 with a fountain – pre-underground parking

From Valencian.es written by Miodrag Pepic
Reconstruction Of The Plaza De La Reina: A Facelift For The Queen Of Valencia

The long-awaited reconstruction of the Plaza de la Reina starts today, Monday 26 April, just three days after the works around the Mercado Central area began, opening the Ayuntamiento to sniping about timing since it will render the central area and Ciutat Vella effectively a building site…

After a wait of around two years for the start of these two renovation projects in Valencia’s centre, the Plaza de la Reina and the Mercado Central area, they are both starting at the same time – the latter on Thursday last week, and the former today. Because they will cause complete chaos in the Old Town, critics are claiming that it reveals the fact that the City Council has already written off the upcoming tourist season.

The City Council justified the fact that both sets of works begin at the same time by stating that the works are projects by two different departments, leading to one wag on social media saying, “There are obviously no phone lines in the Ayuntamiento building”.

Reconstruction of the Plaza de la Reina was due to be completed by the start of Fallas 2022, and the works around Mercado Central by June 2022. So everything will be ready by the summer of 2022, when tourists are expected to be able to return. When they do, they will find a completely redesigned Plaza de la Reina.

The square is to be completely pedestrianised, and a 115-tree urban forest planted. A new area will also include benches, kiosks, a children’s play area, public restrooms, drinking water fountains, a Valenbisi station, underground garbage containers and newly designed loading zones. The most significant change will be the installation of massive awnings that will protect people from the harsh Valencian sun and make this area the most appealing location for a restaurant. When completed, the total space will be nearly 12,000 square metres, possibly making it the premier selfie hotspot in Valencia.

plaza de la reina valencia

Around 1,700 businesses in 70 streets will be affected, estimates say, but large companies with annual invoices of more than €1m will receive a 95 per cent discount on the Economic Activities Tax. Aside from major hotels, however, few businesses will benefit from this, so it remains to be seen what provisions the government and the Association of Merchants of the Historic Center and the Ensanche will be able to provide.

The renovation of Plaza de la Reina will begin with closure of parking spaces, so if you plan to drive to the city centre as of today, it will be tremendously difficult to find a parking space anywhere. This might have the welcome effect of forcing Valencian drivers out of their cars, finally, given the excellent infrastructure with regard to public transport, not to mention the dedicated bicycle lanes that criss-cross the city.

A nice reporter from Levante noticed my video posts in the Facebook group Valencia Expats and asked if he could edit some for an article – click here to view.

A reporter from Levante noticed my posted videos on the Facebook Valencia expats page and asked if he could share them. Por supuesto!

Sweet Potatoes & Spices

This week I’m featuring information about where to buy sweet potatoes and spices here in Cuenca, EC. In response to an article that I wrote on Cuenca HighLife, readers submitted tips for locating and cooking sweet potatoes (camotes) and different spices. Thanks for all of your contributions!purple_sweet_potatoes

Thanks to those who wrote in about where to find the best sweet potatoes in Cuenca, what are they called, how to best prepare, etc! Lots of good info:
A number of readers wrote to say that sweet potatoes are called “camote” or “camote amarilla”, and are found in a number of fresh mercados in the city.
Cheri wrote to say, “Many vendors sell the purple sweet potatoes, but the ones we’re used to in the States are called “camote amarillo”. We buy them at Feria Libre…and have heard they’re at the 10 de Agosto mercado. “
Other readers have also commented about using a microwave to start them off (I like to do this too): Bob reminds us to use a fork or knife to pierce the skin in a few places before microwaving (and scrub and rinse).
Gary at Gary’s Cakes & Bakery wrote, “The yellow orange sweet potato is called a batata, pronounced using the soft b or v sound. Most mercados do not have this but carry the purple camote. The camote has a similar flavor and texture but is not the same as the batata.
Here in Cuenca, water boils at about 198 F. If one is making a candy, you have to adjust the temperatures on your candy thermometer down by those 14 degrees F. When baking, it is a good idea to buy an oven thermometer and check the thermometer against the dial on the oven. I have found most ovens are way off the mark of the dial.
And Kathy wrote also about the “sweet potato lady” at the Feria Libre “who sells the best sweet potatoes I have ever had anywhere, hands down. The potatoes are from Peru (I just learned Peru has 3,000 kinds of potatoes). They look more like yams and it cost me about $1 for 5 big ones and she also sells dried chili peppers and Peruvian dark beer. I cook them in the oven at about 350 degrees for an hour and a half. You could also use a slow cooker. So the difficult part is where in the Feria Libre is this lady? (who is very sweet and looks like a kindly grandmother). She is not with all the other folks who sell potatoes. A friend found her by asking for sweet potatoes (camote) and I would add “de Peru”.

Chuck wrote to say, “The Comote lady is Amanda. Her booth is easy to find. Go to the street, parallel to las Americas, in back of the fiera libre. About mid block, look on the opposite side of the street from the market for a tienda named ¨Abcderia Israel¨. Directly across from that tienda is a small square building with bars on the windows. Amanda´s booth is between the small building and the market proper. Amanda sits with her back to the small building. When she sees a gringo approaching, she usually holds up a comote amarillo cut to show the yellow orange color because she knows that gringos prefer them to the purple variety, which she also sells.

Comote is a Nahuatl (the language spoken by the Aztecs) word. When we were in New Zealand, we were surprised to be see comote on the menu. We then checked the grocery stores and found sweet potatoes marked as comote. We also saw them labelled kumara, which is a Quechra word from Peru. We think this is linguistic evidence of pre European trade between Polynesia and Central or South America.”

Lucia y Yanni from Nectar wrote to say…”the sweet potato variety that one can mostly find in Cuenca is a purple inside that once cooked, smells like a rose. Check for freshness by digging you nail bypassing the skin and if it is soft – it should not be brown on the outside. Our preferred method of cooking: Brush and wash: add some water to a pan with the potatoes and bake, covered, in a pan with a little water at about 200 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes, then keep checking with a fork until soft. Or boil them on stovetop. after they are cooked, you slice them in half lengthwise and put them in a skillet cut side down with coconut oil, or a sunflower oil to sear that side for a few minutes, until you hear them sizzle. Sprinkle some cinnamon on the seared side. Yum!”
Regarding a good place to buy spices, a reader wrote to describe three: One on Remigo Crespo next to Boyoca, just east of Unidad National: very small, look hard. Another is a block and a half from the flower market downtown, on Padre Agurire between Presidente Cordova & Juan Jaramillio. It’s very small but has many good spices. The last one I use is by Mercado Doce De Abril. It’s on the corner across the street from the market.”
“Kong’s Mom” has some great recommendations: “My spice, grain and nut ‘go-to’ place in Cuenca is Esafran located on Padre Aguirre between Pres. Cordova and Juan Jaramillo in El Centro just south of the San Francisco market. The glass counter is full of nuts and spices and is almost flush with the sidewalk. You verbally request the items you want and the clerk brings them to you at the counter. This store stocks loads of items at fair prices e.g. golden raisins, dried cranberries, mustard seed, thyme, rosemary, cloves [whole and ground] along with a good selection of nuts e.g. peanuts, walnuts almonds [whole and slivered] and hazelnuts. Also quinoa, whole oats, sesame and flax seed can be found along with a host of other seeds, grains and goods for baking.
For cayenne, I just recently found a source at ‘Live Green Superfoods’ at their store at Luis Moreno Mora 323 y Francisco Moscosco. They have another store at Gran Colombia y Padre Aguirre but I don’t know if they stock cayenne there. To check on supply at this store you can contact owner Marcelo Garcia at marcelogarciap@hotmail.com or check out their Facebook page livegreensuperfoods.