The Give | Catherine LeFort, Clinical Dietitian

Catherine LeFort, Clinical Dietitian

What made you decide to become a dietitian?

Being active growing up, I became very health conscious and naturally developed an interest in healthy eating and nutrition. When I went to university, I was studying sciences and was turned to nutrition by a guidance counselor that I sought. I’m so happy I made the switch; I find my career to be very rewarding and I’m very proud to be a dietitian. Every day I get to connect with so many people and empower them with tools to take charge of their health and wellbeing.

What’s the most important nutrition focus for the patients you serve?

As a clinical dietitian working with patients in various settings, including oncology, a large focus of my practice is preventing and treating patients that are at risk of becoming or are malnourished. A three-year study conducted by the Canadian Malnutrition Task Force indicated that 45% of Canadian adults are malnourished upon admission to the hospital. Malnutrition is serious and can lead to muscle loss, affect mobility, healing, and a patient’s quality of life.

If there was one thing you could shout from the rooftops to educate our community on proper nutrition, what could it be?

Stick to the basics. Nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated, it doesn’t have to be fancy, and it most certainly doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to eat the latest superfoods and you can certainly enjoy your grandmother’s homemade strawberry pie on special occasions. The best diet is one that includes healthful foods most of the time (not the exclusion of food groups), is maintainable and enjoyable in the long term, and provides a sense of wellbeing. If your current eating patterns are adding more stress and work to your already busy life, you’re not eating in the way that is best for you.

Catherine's Favourite Kaleslaw Salad

"My favourite thing about this salad is that it will last up to one week refrigerated; the texture doesn’t change, even with the added dressing, so it can be enjoyed all week long."- Catherine

Source: Yum & Yummer Cookbook by Greta Podleski Yields: 8 cups

For the salad:
- 4 cups kale (chopped, packed, ribs removed)
- 2 cups red cabbage (finely sliced or grated)
- 2 cups carrots, grated
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1/2 cup green onions (chopped, with white parts)
- 1/3 cup parsley, chopped (fresh)

For the vinaigrette:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients into a small bowl or measuring cup; set aside until ready to use. Place chopped kale in a large bowl and add ¼ cup vinaigrette and massage kale for 5 minutes using your hands. Add all remaining salad ingredients and at least 6 tbsp dressing (or more, if desired). Mix, cover and refrigerate for one hour before serving for best results.

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