Mac-and-Cheese Makeover

February 27, 2014

By Anne Haddad

Publications Editor

The cafeteria at the Medical Center has always made a mac-and-cheese to rival any home-baked version. The trouble was, it was high in fat and sodium. A group of interns in Clinical Nutrition Services accepted the challenge to revamp it without disappointing the hundreds of people who look forward to this comfort food.

The interns conducted a taste test with staff and visitors – who liked the lighter version a lot. The secret ingredients are pumpkin puree and vegetable base, which add flavor without being obvious. I can enjoy it now without feeling like I’m on the fast-track to cardiac care.Mac.2.AC9A0275 I usually have it with a side of steamed cauliflower or broccoli, which makes for a 300-calorie lunch.

I tried duplicating it at home, after the hospital’s executive chef, Stephen Mack, whose recipe makes enough for 150 portions, divided it by 10 for me. (See recipe below.) The whole family loved it, and even my super-taster daughter did not detect the pumpkin. The leftovers reheated well  in the microwave or in the oven.

The new version’s 13 grams total fat (7 grams of which is saturated fat), 65 mg cholesterol, and 388 mg sodium per portion fall well under the USDA maximum daily recommendations of 67 grams total fat, 16 grams saturated fat, 300 mg cholesterol, and 2300 mg sodium, based on a 2,000 calories-per-day diet.

University of Maryland Medical Center Macaroni and Cheese

Makes 15 4-ounce portions, 250 calories each

  • 1 pound of elbow macaroni
  • 3 whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 TBS vegetable base (such as Better Than Bouillon or Trader Joe’s concentrated vegetable broth)
  • 2 TBS pureed canned pumpkin
  • 3.2 fluid ounces heavy whipping cream
  • 3.2 cups whole milk
  • 20 ounces (by weight, not volume) of shredded blend of cheddar and Monterey jack
  • 1 cup of panko bread crumbs

Boil and drain the macaroni and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

After macaroni has cooled, stir in the vegetable base and pumpkin, then the  eggs.

Add half the cheese, reserving the other half for topping, and then the milk and cream. Stir the whole mixture gently but  thoroughly.

Coat a 9” by 13” baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and spread the macaroni mixture evenly in the pan. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and the bread crumbs.

(If you like, cover and allow to refrigerate overnight.)

Bake uncovered for about 35 minutes, or 45 minutes if refrigerated overnight. Serve immediately.






By Mary Beth Sodus, RD/LD,ACE-CPT/RYT
Personalized Bariatric Nutrition Coaching
Center for Weight Management and Wellness

With a few days notice that a snowstorm is on its way, you’ve probably had time to make a run to your local grocer to stock up on essentials and favorite foods. Like a bear who eats as much as possible to store up calories for a long hibernation.

Bears need those extra calories for an extended period of no eating or drinking, but most of us will not. We’re more likely to eat because we’re inside and bored.  Here are some tips to avoid setting a trap for yourself:

Healthy Hibernation Habits

  • Practice mindful eating. Ask yourself this question:  What am I really hungry for?
  • Think: Are you eating from emotional triggers or true physical appetite?
  • Pay attention to boredom eating versus physical hunger. Physical hunger builds gradually, occurs several hours after a meal and eating results in a feeling of satisfaction.
  • Boredom eating can be triggered by the sight or smell of food, watching cooking shows or just because something tastes good.

To avoid that winter weight:

  • Focus on healthy and wholesome stews, soups or chili with a lot of vegetables.
  • Pause between each bite to focus and enjoy the sensation of eating.
  • Cultivate a strong support system that includes family and friends that you can call on.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated. The human body is approximately 75 percent water and needs every drop to function, especially if you are outdoors.

As you hibernate from winter’s cold, snow and wind, know that you can stay healthy for the warmth of spring in Maryland.

Mary Beth Sodus is a registered dietitian and nutritionist and a personal trainer and expert in all things healthy.  She provides personalized bariatric nutrition coaching in the University of Maryland Center for Weight Management and Wellness. 



Mother of 6 Sponsors a Blood Drive to Give Back for the Blood She Received

By Emmie Taylor, MS

Communications Intern

As dozens of UMMC staff and visitors take time from their day on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 28 and 29, for the next scheduled blood drive, they can look to the drive earlier this month that was sponsored by a very grateful patient.

Like many expectant mothers, Brandy Firth, of Hagerstown was nervous when she arrived to deliver her sixth child at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Although Brandy had five older children, she knew that this delivery was going to be much different than the others – the risk of complication was high, and there were already units of blood on standby for when she would need them.

Earlier in her pregnancy, Brandy had been diagnosed with placenta previa and then also placenta increta, in which the placenta attached deeply and firmly into the lower part of the uterus and into the uterine muscle wall. This was a scary diagnosis for Brandy and her husband, John, as the risk for massive blood loss during delivery was very high. Brandy’s physician referred her to UMMC, where she and her baby went under the care of  Kristin Atkins, MD. and Mehmet Turan, MD. Dr. Atkins, who specializes in high risk pregnancies, worked with Dr. Turan, a fellow in Obstetrics and Gynecology, to ensure that both mother and baby were given the best possible treatment.

On Oct. 3, 2013, Brandy delivered a healthy baby boy, William, via cesarean section at 36 weeks. William had no complications and was able to spend his first days of life at his mother’s side, a relief for his parents. The rest of Brandy’s surgery went as expected – it was a complicated procedure and Brandy lost a lot of blood. She ultimately required 13 units from the UMMC blood bank, which must obtain blood products from nationally regulated blood suppliers – primarily the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross, in turn, relies on blood donors all over the country to keep hospitals stocked with much-needed human blood.

Earlier this month on Jan. 10, Brandy, fully recovered, returned with her family to UMMC to sponsor an American Red Cross blood drive, remembering with gratitude donors who helped to save her life. She organized the drive in coordination with the Hope for Accreta Foundation, (placenta increta is a more severe form of placenta accreta) and made sure that drives were held both in her hometown of Hagerstown, as well as at UMMC.

When asked why she wanted to come back to Baltimore to sponsor a blood drive, Brandy said, “Because my heart is here.”

Her husband, John, (below, with a Red Cross phlebotomist) agreed and decided to donate while at UMMC.

John.Crop.2014-01-10 17.09.48

Today, Brandy is extremely thankful for the doctors, nurses and other staff who cared for her and baby William, and especially for the American Red Cross and people of all walks of life who donate their own blood. Donation is the only source for blood to be transfused into human patients. US law does not allow transfusion of blood from paid donors. Organizations or companies that pay people to donate blood can use that blood only for research, not for patient care.

Brandy hopes to raise awareness of the need for donation to the American Red Cross. She has daily reminders in each of her six children, but she says, “You go through every day life never imagining that you’d need blood. And then one day you do, and you realize how important it is.”

Make an appointment for UMMC’s next blood drive on Tuesday, Jan. 28, and Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the Gudelsky lobby of the Medical Center, just inside the entrance at the corner of Lombard and Greene streets.  


National Arts Program Features UMMC Art Exhibit

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By Rachel Hercenberg, MS Supervisor of Oncology Operations and C2X Healing Arts Team Lead Thanks to the success of our first employee art exhibit in October, the National Arts Program (NAP) selected University of Maryland Medical Center as its “sNAPshot” of the month. The NAP website is showcasing photos of much of the UMMC artwork. For 31 [...]

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Zora Neale Hurston’s Lesson

January 7, 2014

By Anne Haddad UMMC Publications Editor Yesterday was the 123rd anniversary of the birth of Zora Neale Hurston, a prolific African-American writer, folklorist and anthropologist. Thank you, Google, for reminding us by making her the Google Doodle, which in turn reminded me of an essay by Hurston that’s as powerful as it is brief — [...]

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Compassion and Healing

January 7, 2014

The Greenebaum Compassion Award goes this winter to Lisa Mayo, a discharge coordinator, and Michelle “Shelle” Besche, BSN, OCN, CCRP, a research nurse coordinator. Read about why they were chosen from among the staff of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center — where everyone is known for compassionate care.

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Greenebaum Cancer Center Patients and Staff Celebrate Together

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Each year, the staff of the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center coordinates “A Cancer Center Christmas,” a buffet dinner and party for patients and families who must celebrate Christmas in the hospital.  A deep bond develops among the cancer center “family,” as patients and the relatives and friends who support them make frequent trips [...]

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A Hero’s Story: CT Tech Delivers Neighbor’s Baby

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By Sharon Boston, Media Relations Manager Brad Jones noticed something unusual when he arrived home in Abingdon on the morning of Nov. 7 after an overnight shift as a computerized tomography (CT) tech at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center: His next-door neighbor, Matt Kulaga, was also pulling into his own driveway — not [...]

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Therapeutic Music Program Helps Cancer Patients

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By Sharon Boston Media Relations Manager Music and sound, such as a happy song on the radio or the frightening score of a scary movie, have the ability to change our moods. Many people have a physical and emotional connection to sound, and scientific research has shown that music can be beneficial in healing. Now, [...]

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A Little Hero Recovers from Heart Surgery to Run Like Superman

Thumbnail image for A Little Hero Recovers from Heart Surgery to Run Like Superman November 20, 2013

Editor’s note: For 2-year-old Thaddeous McKenzie, the Baltimore Running Festival was just a fun day when he got to run fast with a bunch of other kids. For his mother, Jennifer McAnany, and others who formed “Team Thaddeous,” it meant a lot more.   By Jennifer McAnany (as told to Amy Katz) I felt my son [...]

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