Full disclosure: I am a proud partner with Unilever's Agents of Change program. My travel and accommodations to participate in the immersion experience detailed below were sponsored, although the views and opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.
You never know who is reading the content you put out into the blogosphere. You never know who is paying attention to the photos, recipes, articles and comments you post on your website and social media platforms. You never know how people learn about the work you do until one day you receive an email or a phone call that stops you in your tracks. You wonder, is this real? Are these compliments intended for me? Then you realize that yes, someone is paying attention and they like your work so much, they want to collaborate with you.
This is what happened to me back in the spring when I received an email followed up by phone call about being selected as a 2016 Unilever Agent of Change. As part of this program, which is now in its second year, Unilever selects a small group of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) from around the country to partner with and impact change in three key areas: nutrition, chefmanship and sustainability. As a company, Unilever is committed to impacting change through their Sustainable Living Plan and global mission to help one billion people improve their health and well-being by 2020. In June, I had honor of traveling to New York to participate in Unilever's immersion program, which included a full day at the incredible Culinary Institute of America where I learned about the company, their mission and how they source their foods and beverages from their team of dietitians, chefs and research and development managers. The most exciting part for me was the hands-on experience in the CIA kitchen alongside the Unilever and CIA chefs. A dream come true!
My short video on what it means to be an Agent of Change. Check it out!
One of my missions as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is to teach people how to prepare simple, nutritious and delicious meals at home. After listening to and speaking with Unilever Chef Normajean Longfield, it turns out our missions are perfectly aligned! Chef Normajean has developed recipes with Knorr® Rice Sides that are simple, nutritious and easy to cook at home; although these products can be used alone as a side dish, they can also be converted into a meal in three simple steps: Knorr® Sides + Protein + Vegetables = Main Meal. In our 30-minute Top Chef style cooking competition in the CIA kitchen (see photos below), Alyson and I were paired-up and challenged to create a dish using Knorr® Rice Sides. Using Knorr® Fiesta Sides™ -Mexican Rice, we created our Southwest Stuffed Portobello recipe. By simply sautéing several fresh, colorful vegetables and adding canned beans, we made a nutritious and delicious entree in a snap! See my Southwest Mexican Skillet recipe inspired by our CIA dish below.
Being selected as a 2016 Agent of Change means so many positive things to me. Participating in the immersion weekend with my dietitian colleagues has not only allowed me to grow my professional network, it has also introduced me to a company that is working diligently to improve the lives of people around the world through sustainable practices, and nutrition and cooking education. This experience has also introduced me to brands of foods and beverage products that I wasn't quite familiar with. Now, with all of my gained knowledge, I can speak to the benefits of using these products in the kitchen and continue to roll out my mission of educating my community about living well and creating nutritious, better-for-you meals!
Thank you, Unilever. I look forward to working with you and your team!
Southwest Mexican Skillet
Recipe by: Christy Wilson
Created for Unilever using Knorr® Fiesta Sides™ -Mexican Rice
Time: 30 minutes
- 1 Knorr® Fiesta Sides™ -Mexican Rice packet
- ½ tablespoon buttery spread (i.e. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®)
- ½ cup sweet onion, diced
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 medium zucchini, diced (about 2 cups)
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup mushrooms, diced
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- ½ cup Cotija (or feta) cheese, crumbled
- 2 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 avocado, diced
- Prepare Knorr® Fiesta Sides™ -Mexican Rice as directed on package.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add buttery spread. Once melted, add onion and red bell pepper to the pan and sauté for two minutes.
- Add zucchini and tomato to the pan and cook for another two minutes. Next, add in mushrooms and garlic to the skillet and mix all vegetables together. Sauté until mushrooms are soft and garlic is fragrant, about three minutes.
- Add prepared Knorr® Fiesta Sides™ -Mexican Rice and black beans to the skillet. Mix to combine all ingredients together and heat over medium-to-low heat for five minutes. Top with cilantro.
- Top with optional ingredients, including crumbled Cotija (or feta) cheese, fresh lime juice and diced avocado.