Dietitian Lucy Crain has come a long way since baking tough "brick brownies" in college.
Now, she's the Callaway County Health Department's newest staff member.
"As cheesy as it sounds, I like helping people be healthier," she said.
With 15 years of experience as a dietitian, Crain said she's done a bit of everything: working at a doctor's office, hospital and food distributor. She even spent four years as an on-staff dietitian at a Hy-Vee — a job that was part personal shopper and part nutritional adviser.
"I've always been fascinated by health and nutrition," she said.
In June, Crain's husband, Ty Crain, was hired as assistant superintendent at Fulton Public Schools. She and their two sons, ages 8 and 10, followed.
As a health department dietitian, Crain does Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants and Children workshops on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which are already proving popular. Under WIC, qualifying individuals are given checks that allow them to purchase certain nutrition-rich groceries.
"During the workshops, I teach WIC participants how to use WIC food to make healthy meals and snacks," she said.
In February, which is American Heart Month, Crain is planning tours of the C&R Market and Moser's. The times and dates aren't yet set, but there will be four tours, each limited to six participants. She'll point out examples of heart-healthy foods.
"Anything with soluble fiber is great," she said. "Americans don't get enough fiber in their diets."
Soluble fiber decreases bad cholesterol and is found in foods such as Cheerios, Crain said.
Ironically, for a person who has built a career around healthy eating, Crain doesn't enjoy cooking.
"My husband loves to cook," she said. "I do like to think up recipes, and I love to bake."
She experiments with swapping healthier ingredients into recipes, like applesauce instead of oil. Not all of her experiments work out, though — thus the notorious brick brownies.
While cooking might not be her forte, Crain knows nutrition.
She'll soon begin offering one-on-one nutrition counseling sessions for a small fee: $20 for the first hour-long visit and $10 for half-hour follow-up visits. She'll educate participants and help them make plans to achieve their health goals, from controlling diabetes to losing weight and beyond.
Crain said she is looking forward to helping Callaway County become a healthier place.
Crain can be reached at Lucy.Crain@lpha.mo.gov or 573-642-6881.