My name is Jaiden Swanson and I’m a student at the University of Connecticut in the coordinated dietetics program. I’ve always had a passion for cooking, health, and fitness so dietetics was the perfect fit for me. In the future I hope to become a registered dietitian and work in pediatrics. I’ve always loved working with children whether babysitting or volunteering as a teacher. I’m excited to join the Food Explorers team and work with children in an encouraging, educational, and fun environment. In my free time I enjoy experimenting with new recipes, spending time with my family and going to the gym. Some of my favorite foods include sushi, pizza and açaí bowls!
My name is Grace Carangelo and I am excited to join the food explorers team and teach kids how to enjoy cooking! I was born in West Hartford, CT, and I am a senior at Quinnipiac University. I am majoring in Health science studies on the nutrition and fitness track. I am also minoring in nutrition as well. My goal is to become a registered dietitian and eventually have my own private practice to help individuals learn more about food. I’m very excited to work with kids this summer and spread the joy of cooking.
Hi, my name is Ella and I’m extremely excited to be working with Food Explorers this Summer! I recently graduated from the University of Saint Joseph Dietetic Internship in May where I had the pleasure of interning with Katie for two weeks where I got to help with the different programs. I plan to take the registration exam later this Summer to become a Registered Dietitian and will begin the role of the Nutrition Support Manager for New Milford Public Schools this Fall! I chose to study nutrition because of my love of food and desire to help others. I greatly enjoy the diversity of the field when it comes to the many different settings in which a RD can work as well as how nutrition can be applied to all age groups.
I am greatly looking forward to being a Food Explorers Instructor as ever since I was young, I enjoyed working in the kitchen, especially baking. I found it to be a helpful way for me to relax and destress as well as enjoy delicious baked goods with friends and family! During the two weeks I worked with Katie I saw how happy and proud the kids were of the foods they created and found this to be truly special. Since beginning my path to becoming a RD I knew I wanted to work with kids. I feel that it is incredibly important for them to feel comfortable with food and working in the kitchen at a young age as it creates life-long skills.
Working with children has always been my goal, and I've been able to combine my two passions within Food Explorers: working with kids and cooking. As a Registered Dietitian, my goal has always been to introduce children to delicious, tasty and healthy food.
I graduated from UCONN in 2015 and started working at the WIC program. I then transitioned to a Retail Dietitian with ShopRite before leaving to start Food Explorers
Food Explorers wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the support of every single library, school, Girl Scout Troop, Parks & Rec department and most importantly, the parents and children that make up the Food Explorers family.
Program Development Coordinator
Lara’s favorite place to be is in the kitchen! She loves teaching children how to cook and helping them build confidence with their cooking skills. It is her mission to help people appreciate all the delicious ways foods can be prepared. Lara believes all foods have a place on your plate. Her favorite foods are waffles, sushi, and strawberry rhubarb pie.
During her time as a preschool teacher in Hartford, Connecticut she enjoyed growing vegetable gardens, exploring foods, and making recipes with her class. Her love for learning about food with her class inspired her to further her education in nutrition. Lara has a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Wellness from the University of Saint Joseph and an associate's degree in Early Childhood Education.
My name is Rachael Whitney, and I was born and raised in Connecticut. I earned my bachelors, masters and completed my dietetic internship all at the University of Saint Joseph. I am a new Registered Dietitian but have always loved finding and trying out new recipes in my kitchen at home. I am looking forward to passing on my love of cooking and baking with all the children that pass through my classes. Some of my favorite things to make are zucchini bread, apple pie and pizza. When I am not working, I enjoy reading, gardening and crafting.
My name is Alison Murphy and I am excited to join the Food Explorers team to teach kids about the power of food to help them feel their best, both physically and mentally. When I’m not studying or driving my kids to sports, I love to play paddle tennis, ski with my family, walk my dog in the woods and try new recipes. Some of my favorite foods are homemade pizza, jalapeño hummus, arugula salads, and oatmeal cookies. I graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.A. in English and received an M.Ed. from the University of Massachusetts. I am currently working on an M.S. in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport.
I was born in New Haven, CT and grew up in Meriden, CT. I have always been fascinated with food, and my love for cooking began at an early age thanks to my family, which instilled strong Mexican and Italian traditions. My love for food and helping people is what made me choose a career path in Nutrition and Dietetics. I attended Johnson & Wales University for a BS in Culinary Nutrition and the University of New Haven for a MS in Human Nutrition. Throughout the years I have worked in many various nutrition and culinary environments including working as a personal chef and as a chef at a local restaurant, selling and demoing infused olive oils and herbal teas all over New England, and also completing a year of service with AmeriCorps FoodCorps. When I am not working or studying, I enjoy studying languages, traveling abroad, cooking for my family and Fiancé, sewing, and working on home DIY Projects. My favorite things to cook are my grandmother’s Eggplant Rollatini, Chicken Enchiladas, and Albanian Byrek.
My name is Jackie Martin. I am super excited to join the Food Explorer Team! I am currently an Assistant Youth Service Coordinator/Outdoor Adventure Facilitator with Newington Youth Services and own a Pampered Chef business. My degree is in Recreation Leadership/Outdoor Adventure Education. I have over 20+ years of experience working with youth of all ages and in many different environment; including the outdoors, in the kitchen, in the garden and on the challenge course (fire building, fort building, outdoor cooking, rock climbing, high ropes, low ropes, rock climbing and kayaking). I enjoy spending time with my beautiful daughter, cooking, gardening and kayaking
Hello, my name is Michelle. I am a Registered Dietitian who recently joined the Food Explorers Team. My background includes years of teaching both adults and children, including my own three children, the principles of healthy eating and the joy of trying new foods. It is widely known that making healthy food choices every day is paramount for good health, but it is often
challenging to make those choices. Between the number of new foods showing up on store shelves and the often-confusing nutrition messages presented in the media, making decisions
about what is best to feed ourselves and our families can be difficult. For this reason, I chose nutrition as my field of study and have made helping children and families understandthese principles and their relationship to lifelong health a priority.
The absolute best part about working with children, is seeing their excitement and sense of accomplishment when they complete a recipe and taste what they have made. This sense of accomplishment, along with a newly developed understanding that foods can be healthy and delicious, increases the likelihood that they will go on to be true “Food Explorers”. Individuals who understand the relationship between food choices and health while trying and enjoying foods they may have otherwise ignored.
I am excited to be part of a team that strives to make their classes engaging, supportive and fun. Where each student has a chance to build their skills in the kitchen, develop a curiosity about unfamiliar foods and understand that food choices are an important factor in overall
Hi! My name is Jen and I'm one of the Food Explorers instructors!
My love of food started at a young age. One of the earliest memories I remember having as a child was tasting mango for the first time. It was the most heavenly sweetness I had ever experienced and I'm not sure how my mom wrestled the pit away from me!
Growing up my grandmother and mom were always busy in the kitchen and prepared homecooked meals everyday. They often shoo'ed me out of our small kitchen to focus on cooking - later on as a young adult I realized I didn't have the necessary skills to whip up a quick meal because they had always done it for me. While working as an inpatient dietitian in NYC hospitals I spent many evenings improving my cooking skills. This was what led me to want to work with kids because being able to prepare your own food is such an essential and empowering life skill, one which I wish I had from an early age.
My favorite recipe to make with kids during my classes is the chocolate croissants bites. Not only do we use a cake pop maker (!!) but the chocolatey filling has chickpeas which gives it a nutritional boost!