California Walnuts Harvest Tour

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By: Michelle Burton, RD at Capitol Nutrition Group and Rebecca Scritchfield Media, LLC

Last week I had the pleasure of venturing out to Sacramento and the California Central Valley for the California Walnuts Harvest Tour. I experienced the autumn walnut harvest first hand, sampled a number of AMAZING dishes featuring this star ingredient, and learned about new research that’s coming out related to walnuts. I hope you’ll enjoy this brief photo journal of my trip, and that it will inspire you to incorporate walnuts into your everyday!

Walnuts Shaking

Donald Norene, his wife, and his son all took us on a tour of their family’s walnut orchard — Norene Ranches. They have a spectacular 750 acres of his farm dedicated to walnuts. He explained that you know when the walnut trees are ready for shaking when you can throw one on the ground and it’s outer shell comes right off. They showed us the tree shaking live which was very cool. It was wonderful getting to taste fresh walnuts right off the tree.

walnut sweeping

After the walnuts are shaken off the trees, they’re swept into piles, “vacuumed” up, and shuttled to a central location for the next step in their harvest journey — hulling.

walnut hulling

The walnuts arrive at the huller where the green outer shell is removed along with other sticks and debris. Then they’re cleaned, dried, and loaded into trucks to be sent to the local processing plant (which we were also able to tour). It was amazing to see the technology involved with sorting, shelling and packaging the walnuts for commercial distribution.

walnut orchard lunch

Wine & Roses put together a beautiful lunch for us in the orchard featuring a number of dishes that showcased the unique flavor and versatility of walnuts. It started with a caramelized onion, fig and walnut flatbread, followed by a squash, apple and walnut slaw salad, then a walnut quinoa salad with grilled chicken, and the finale was THE best caramel walnut cheesecake that I’ve EVER had. I’ll be sure to share that recipe once I get my hands on it!

walnut cooking demo

We came together again that evening for a food demo by Chef and Owner of Mulvaney’s B&L Restaurant, Patrick Mulvaney. He prepared a roasted chili in walnut sauce, and we dined on a salad of heirloom tomatoes with chunky walnut pesto and fettuccine with walnuts and squash among other fabulous walnut creations. During a nutrition presentation by Registered Dietitian, Heidi Diller, I was intrigued to find out that new research is coming out showing a potential link between walnuts and increased fertility in men. They’re planning to continue research in this area, but definitely some promising information!

Looking to satisfy your walnut craving?

You can find a number of easy and delicious recipes on the California Walnuts website at www.walnuts.org.

 

Disclosure: My attendance at the California Walnuts Harvest Tour was sponsored by California Walnuts, but I was not compensated to write this blog.

September 30-Day Challenge: Take Care of Your Heart

heart

I love the heart. For one, we all need our hearts to live and we need our hearts to love.

If you know me, you know I’m all about self-care and self-love. Most of my clients, family, and friends are so good at taking care of others, yet many of them struggle with taking care of themselves – yours truly included (hello, mom of two fabulous and energy-draining girls under two years old.)

We obviously need a healthy heart to live a long, happy life and enjoy the ride. Six years ago my mom suffered a near fatal heart attack. She’s had two more minor ones since then and quadruple bypass surgery. While she has heart disease, she has been able to quit smoking and she enjoys water walking.

As you can imagine, healthy hearts are personal to me. When it came time to come up with a new monthly challenge for September and I realized it was National Cholesterol Education Month, I decided to honor hearts everywhere – my mom’s, mine, and yours!

The focus of this month’s 30-Day Challenge is THREE SIMPLE WAYS you can take care of your heart (yes, only three!) and help keep your cholesterol in a healthy range. And maybe even more importantly keep your heart healthy for years, and years, and YEARS of love.

So What IS Cholesterol?

Our bodies actually need cholesterol in order to make vitamin D and hormones like estrogen and testosterone. We get some from out diet, but most of it is made in our liver. HDL (“good” cholesterol), is the kind that helps to protect our heart and carries cholesterol to our liver for our bodies to get rid of it. This is the one where a higher number is a good thing.  LDL (“bad cholesterol”) is the kind that carries cholesterol from the liver to other parts of the body. The problem is that when your LDL cholesterol gets too high it can end up accumulating in your arteries which can lead to serious issues like heart attacks and strokes. The goal is to have a low LDL and a high HDL to help keep your heart healthy.

What Are Some Ways I Can Take Care of My Heart?

The good news is that there are things each of us can do every day to help bring our cholesterol into a healthy range. 3 things you can do EVERY DAY are:

  1. Eat well — this means eating a balanced and varied diet full of color and wholesome, nourishing foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and lean proteins. Emphasizing heart healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, canola oil and nuts and seeds is important too. Cooking at home lets you control the ingredients of your meals, so set a goal to get in the kitchen more — even have your kids help out! Check out this list of 10 foods to break your low cholesterol diet rut to help keep your meals exciting and prevent boredom. The American Heart Association has a great collection of heart healthy recipes if you need some ideas to get you started.
  2. Exercise regularly — exercise has been shown to help improve your cardiovascular function, and it can help lower your cholesterol. Choose whatever kind of movement feels fun and makes your body feel good (yoga, hula hooping, walking your dog, playing outside with your kids, a dance class, etc.) and aim for 30 minutes per day (about 2.5 hours per week).
  3. Not smoke — smoking is the number one cause of heart disease and heart attack. Your body gets healthier even within 24 hours of quitting, so why not choose today to quit? For resources and support for how to quit, you can visit http://smokefree.gov.

I want to hear how YOU take care of your heart!

  • Share your heart healthy recipes, favorite workouts, and other inspiration with me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll also be posting motivations, tips, and responding to your questions EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  • If you have a blog, write about your experience and share those links.
  • I’m using the hashtag #heartsmart

Easy Weeknight Marinades Done Right

Grilled Tilapia2

I recently partnered up with the brand folks at Mazola Corn Oil to create this fun recipe for marinated grilled Tilapia with kiwifruit served over coleslaw. Mazola Corn Oil has more cholesterol-blocking plant sterols than other cooking oils, and can play an important role in lowering your cholesterol. It is a great source of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Its mild flavor and high smoke point also make it a fantastic all-purpose oil great for general cooking, baking, grilling, sautéing and stir-frying, and can be used as a butter substitute in certain recipes. It’s also the perfect oil to use in your coleslaw and marinades.

Why marinades? Because they help transform the taste of the foods without adding lots of fat, sugar, and salt to your meal. I love using fruit-based marinades because they add a delicious sweet, tangy flavor while making your dish even healthier. Plus, fruity marinades are perfect for the grill! You can make the marinade in advance to save time during the week – just throw in your favorite protein and you’re well on your way to a flavorful, wholesome meal. My basic marinade calls for just a few simple ingredients you probably already have on hand, which makes it quick and easy.

I chose to use tilapia in this fish-based recipe because it is economical and widely available. For a healthy diet, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week. Fish is a low-fat, high-quality protein filled with heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is also a great source of vitamins and minerals.

Below are the recipes for the marinade, tilapia, and coleslaw for a tasty and easy weeknight meal.

MAZOLA and Kiwifruit Marinated Grilled Tilapia with Crunchy Slaw

by: Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, ACSM HFS

Serves 6

Simple 3-Step MarinadeMarinade1

½ cup of Mazola corn oil

3 kiwifruits peeled and chopped

4 minced garlic cloves

¼ cup of fresh chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons of lime juice

1 teaspoon of black pepper

2 tablespoons of salt

Add all ingredients into a shallow bowl, mix with a wooden spoon until well blended and place in a gallon size zip-lock bag. Add the tilapia, and let it marinate for 30 – 60 minutes in the refrigerator.fishinmarinade

Note: You may also make this marinade ahead of time keep for up to 1 day refrigerated.

Tilapia

2 lbs of tilapia

Preheat grill.  When grill is ready, remove marinated fish from storage container and place on hot grill.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Turn once and grill other side for about 4-5 minutes until cooked through.  Serve over coleslaw with additional kiwifruit and lime to garnish.

Coleslaw

Grilled Tilapia31/4 cup white vinegar

2 T sugar

2 T Mazola corn oil

16 ounces or 1 half head of cabbage, shredded

1 cup shredded carrots

1 tsp salt

salt and pepper to taste

Mix vinegar and sugar. Add oil. Add cabbage to dressing and season with salt and pepper. Toss with tongs or fingers to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste. Let stand 20 minutes. Re-toss and serve.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories: 256

Protein: 32g

Carbohydrates: 10g

Fat: 11g

Saturated Fat: 2g

Cholesterol: 76mg

Sodium: 783mg

Fiber: 2g

Sugar: 8g

Share Your Favorite Grilling Recipes

What are your favorite marinades? Have you ever tried using fruit in your own marinades? Share your ideas in the comments below. Be sure to visit Mazola on Facebook to learn more health benefits and great recipes.

(Disclosure: I am currently working with Mazola as a paid spokesperson.)

 

Sorting Out Fact From Fiction: The Gluten-Free Diet Craze

Gluten free diets have become the latest weight loss “fad”. I think one of the reasons this trendy way of eating has evolved is that rather than working on incorporating balance and moderation into meals and snacks, it can be easier to cut something out altogether – whether that’s wheat, dairy or something else. What people may not know who are following a gluten-free diet for weight control, is that many times when gluten is removed from processed foods, sugar, fat and butter are often added to improve the taste.

wheat For most of us, there really is no medical reason to eliminate gluten. In fact, many gluten-containing foods can be very nourishing (ex: whole grain bread and barley). As this article summarizes, there really are only three true reasons to avoid gluten (and I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear that none of them are weight loss related):

  1. An autoimmune condition like celiac disease in which the presence of gluten actually alters the intestine and causes malabsorption and other GI issues like pain and diarrhea. This diagnosis can be made by a biopsy and blood test.
  2. An allergy, which would have symptoms that might appear similar to any other allergy – hives, sneezing, etc. This can’t be tested easily, but is evaluated similar to other allergies based on visible symptoms.
  3. An intolerance/sensitivity which may have symptoms like abdominal bloating, but can’t be accurately tested for.

I recently did a series of videos with the #OWNshow and @OWNTV which covered a number of gluten-related topics, including an overview of what gluten is, if going gluten-free makes sense for weight loss, identifying hidden sources of gluten in some foods, and uncovering some sneaky truths about some gluten-free products that are on the market today. Watch each video below: Can You Lose Weight By Going Gluten-Free?  Weight Loss Gluten Free

The Sneaky Truth of Some Gluten-Free Products  Sneaky Truth Gluten Free Products Could You Be Eating Gluten and Not Know It?  Hidden Gluten The Gluten Guide: What is Gluten Really? Gluten Guide  What do you think about the gluten-free diet trend? To join the conversation about going gluten-free, leave a comment below, use the hashtag #OWNSHOW on twitter, or check out the OWN TV Facebook page.

5 Easy Ways to Eat More Fruit and Veggies

We all need to eat more fruits and vegetables! Did you know over 2/3rds of Americans don’t meet the recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake?!  We typically throw away spoil fruits and vegetable two times a week on average, which translates into about $42 a week!
I am not saying you need to sacrificing taste or flavor or have to eat salads at every meal, I’m here to say “you can’t mess it up”!  Just add in fruits and vegetables to any dish you’re making. No matter what the recipes says, you can always add fruits and vegetables to any dish to help bump up the nutrition. Include a variety of fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies in your meals. They tend to cost less and since they’re at their peak they tend to be more flavorful and nutrient-rich. Below are some simple ways to help bulk up your diet with more fruits and veggies.

1. Blend meat with mushrooms. The trend is to blend!  Blend finely chopped mushrooms into any of your favorite ground meat dishes, like meatballs or meatloaf (I like to do about 50% meat 50% mushrooms).  You’ll increase the amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals in your meal while decreasing fat and calories.  The finely chopped mushrooms blend so well with the ground meat that you’ll barely notice the difference. In fact, I think the mushrooms add moisture and flavor – mushrooms have umami flavor just like meat. Plus, substituting mushrooms for meat is a smart choice for your wallet, too!

Learn more about “blendability” from my friends at The Mushroom Council and try some fabulous recipes like these delicious looking Chicken and Mushroom Enchiladas Verdes. Grainfree-Enchiladas

Chicken And Mushroom Enchiladas Verdes
Chicken And Mushroom Enchiladas Verdes

2. Bust out the slow cooker

General Tsos

This image was reprinted with permission from http://mealmakeovermoms.com/ and http://healthyaperture.com

You really can’t beat a meal that cooks itself. The basic ingredients are protein (whatever kinds your family loves) and vegetables. Use water and herbs to add tons of flavor without a lot of sodium. Find an easy, delicious recipe you can follow like my General Tso’s Slow Cooker Chicken. The cost of making it at home is a fraction of what it costs to order take-out. My version costs about $13.00 and feeds 4 people whereas you’d pay that much for 1 entrée at a restaurant/for take out. Not only that, but you get to control the quality of ingredients that are used to prepare it. It’s a win-win!

Photo From: ohsheglows.com

Photo From: ohsheglows.com

3. Add veggies to a DIY smoothie

If you’re not crazy about eating your greens, incorporating them into your smoothies is a great way to disguise them!  It might sound weird, but you can use green vegetables like spinach, celery, and even kale and it can taste good! When you pair it with fruit like green apple or green grapes, it provide sweetness and I promise it does not taste like you are drinking veggies. This Peppermint Green Patty Green Monster Smoothie is kid-friendly and packed to the brim with deliciously minty and chocolatey flavor, with the added bonus of masking the spinach, you’re family will never know what hit them!

4. Go meatless burger

Black Bean Veggie BurgersDon’t think you can have a meatless BBQ?   Think again! Grilling isn’t just about meat, try adding something new to your barbecue spread. Veggie burgers can be made with chickpeas, black beans, white beans, potatoes, lentils, and pretty much any other vegetable that can be mashed and formed into a patty. Try this delicious Vegetarian Black Bean Burger recipe that’s perfect for your next gathering.  This veggie burger is a crowd-pleaser that even your carnivore friends will love.

5. Pack in the Fruit 

Fruit is an essential part of a healthy diet, delivering many essential vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates for energy and fiber for a healthy digestive tract. It makes for a smart snack, easy to drop in lunch bags or grab when on-the-go.

Take a break for some “afternoon energy” with portable good-for-you snacks, like blueberries! What’s easier than picking them up from the store and eating them right out of the container? Or you can make a portable snack ahead of time and bring it with you to work, like this Gluten-Free Spicy Blueberry trail mix.blueberry trail mix

Stay cool with this healthy and  fun kiwifruit pops dessert to make with your kids. They are so simple and really something the whole family will love. It’s just diced kiwifruit and 100% pineapple juice. This cold snack is so much healthier for you than your typical summer frozen treat.

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks to eating more fruit and veggies! Feel free to share your comments and favorite recipes below!

Debunking Cleanse and Detox Diets

It is a million dollar question: Are detoxes and cleanses all they’re cracked up to be? The idea that drinking juice or taking a magic pill is going to do a better job than our own organs is very misleading to consumers.  I recently sat down with ABC7‘s Suzanne Kennedy to explain why detox diets and cleanses are a waste of money, and could actually be doing more harm than good to your health. Check out the video clip below and be sure to read on to learn the truth behind the hype.

Continue reading

My Exciting Partnership with the Oprah Network

Drumroll please.

Roll out the red carpet – I am one step closer to Oprah!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I am working with the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on a series of short segments about health, wellness, and weight.  I’ll be sharing my thoughts and perspectives on what it means to be healthy, common dieting mistakes, and how to make time for your very OWN happy hour every week.

If you know anything about me, then you probably know how I feel about dieting and finding the best weight for yourself.  When OWN asked me to share the #1 mistake women make when dieting, it was pretty easy for me to narrow it down: the fact that they are on a diet in the first place!  Throughout these segments we identify the common mistakes people make to derail their diets efforts. I explain the facts about the downfalls of dieting and bring focus to the different ways people can change their perspective on health, wellness, and dieting.

DIET DERAIL–Learn How to Be Happy in Your Body

SIZE DIVERSITY–Find Your Healthy Size

Here are some key takeaways

  • Dieting is not the same as healthy eating.
  • When you deprive yourself from foods you love it can often lead to overeating.
  • When you under eat and over exercise your body’s metabolism slows down and tries to prevent fat loss for survival.
  • Our DNA is what makes us unique, and there is no one perfect size for everyBODY.  We are not all meant to look alike.
  • Size diversity comes down to science and our genetic footprint.
  • If you are trying unsuccessfully to lose weight and are wondering what the problem is, maybe there isn’t one.  Maybe your body is happy there and your challenge is to become happy there, too.
  • Focus on balanced and realistic plan and avoid drastic, quick fixes. Ask yourself can I do this for the rest of my life?
  • Check yourself. Would you recommend your diet to your daughter or best friend?

Make your voice heard

I know I am not the only one who feels strongly that finding your best health and wellness is about more than a size;  it’s about finding a healthy balance, learning how to cultivate healthy habits, and accepting ourselves as we are.

Lending your voice can have a powerful influence on those around you.  Please help to encourage this positive attitude and spread scientific evidence-based information by sharing this video and with those you know and love.  We all would benefit from a better understanding of size diversity.

Feel free to share your comments and questions on social media. We’re using these hashtags and handles:

#OWNShow

@OWNTV

@DanishaDanielle (the host who interviewed me)

and, of course, @ScritchfieldRD (that’s me!)

I look forward to sharing my opinions throughout this series.  I hope that my messages will educate viewers on the negative impact dieting has on our health, happiness, and well-being.  Is there something you’d like to learn more about?  Leave a comment or tweet to share your topic ideas for upcoming segments – the cameras will be rolling again in April!

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