Meatless Monday Recipe: Citrus and Avocado Kale Salad with Farro and Hazelnuts

Happy Meatless Monday!

Today I wanted to share an absolutely gorgeous, bright, and seasonal salad favorite: Citrus and Avocado Kale Salad with Farro and Hazelnuts. This simple, yet decadent salad celebrates the vibrant flavors of a (finally!) waning winter with juicy blood orange and grapefruit segments, accentuated by creamy avocado and crunchy hazelnuts. I serve this salad with farro, but if you are unable to find farro at your local market feel free to substitute brown rice for an equally delicious experience. This salad makes 6 healthful servings and can easily be made in advance, left undressed so the kale stays crisper, then packed as a lunch throughout your workweek.

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Spring Clean Your Eating and Your Pantry

Spring reminds me of renewal and rejuvenation.  It’s a great time of year to give everything a little tune-up, including your eating habits.  When spring arrives, it inspires me to freshen up my menu with foods from the Earth.

I love the idea of “spring cleaning” your eating habits and believe it or not, I think the “cleaning” starts with literally organizing your pantry and kitchen!

Read on to learn how to refresh your meals and add flavorful nutrition to everything you eat with quality foods and ingredients.

Spring Cleaning on TV in D.C. and Baltimore
I recently appeared on WBAL and Let’s Talk Live with fresh and fun food ideas. Watch both clips for my tips and check out the highlights below.

Featuring: McCormick spices flavor tips and zesty spring salad recipe, Sunkist citrus and tangy star ruby grapefruit avocado salsa recipe, overnight apple pie recipe with Grape nuts, almond milk, and chia seeds, Silk water conservation info and smoothie ideas, and my favorite KIND snacks.

 

Featuring: Delicious fruit & veggie Silk smoothie recipe, Sunkist mandarins and curry chicken mandarin and cashew salad, and Gulf shrimp and citrus grilled shrimp recipe.

Spring Clean Your Pantry

One of the first things you should do with your pantry is toss anything that’s expired, or if it’s growing something… get rid of it.  Also double check your spices to make sure they are still fresh and flavorful.

Herbs and spices are smart for, “spring cleaning”, because they help you add flavor to meals without adding salt, sugar or fat.  McCormick has an infographic on their Pinterest page that shows when you should consider tossing your spices and refresh them with new ones. To see if your spices are fresh:

  • Look for bright vibrant colors – faded color could mean the flavor is faded too. (use with chili powder spice)
  • Rub the spice in your hand, you want a nice aroma – weak aroma indicates it time to toss. (use with cinnamon spice)
  • Taste your spice – if it’s lacking flavor it’s past it’s prime. (use with garlic powder

Another “spring cleaning tip”:  I love reaching for garlic powder instead of the salt shaker – anywhere you would use salt, using garlic powder instead helps reduce sodium.  When you refresh your pantry with McCormick spices, it helps make healthier meal prep easy.

Lemon Pepper Spinach Salad Gimme Some Oven_Recipes_1007x545.ashx

Lemon Pepper Spinach Salad with Chicken Recipe. Photo credit: Ali Ebright from Gimme Some Oven.

I really love this Lemon Pepper Spinach Salad with Chicken. It’s a lighter, more refreshing dish than some of those wintery “comfort foods”.  It’s full of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and flavor with the McCormick “perfect pinch” lemon pepper spice.  McCormick has a whole line of salt-free Perfect Pinch products that make meal prep easy while reducing salt.

McCormick’s website, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook page are great resources for more information and recipes to add flavor this spring!

Stock up on Citrus Fruit

Make sure your kitchen has a fruit bowl to make it super-easy to reach for a healthy piece of fruit to snack on.  Adding fruits to meals and snacks is a simple and easy choice to instantly “spring clean” your eating.  Citrus is one of my favorite fruits to keep on-hand because it’s healthy, versatile and  delicious.  If you’ve been eating heavier foods in the colder weather, now is the time to lighten up the recipes.

Sunkist Sticker Co-op Logo (2)

Sunkist offers more than 40 varieties of premium quality, fresh citrus year-round including oranges, lemons, and grapefruit available in organic and specialty varieties. So there’s something for everyone!  Grapefruit and

img-grapefruit-varieties

Grapefruit provides antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and promotes heart health and healthy skin.  It also plays a supporting role in helping you with weight management due to its fiber and water content. You get a greater feeling of fullness and stronger appetite control when you add grapefruit to a day.

Add grapefruit to ANY meal, breakfast, for lunches – try grapefruit in wraps and salads. For dinner grapefruit is delicious with grilled foods.  This is an easy grapefruit salsa made with avocado, red pepper, green onion, and cilantro. It would go fabulous with eggs at breakfast or anything you make at lunch or dinner.  The vitamin C in the grapefruit will help keep the avocado green so it will stay pretty.

curry chicken and gold nugger cashew salad2Early spring is prime time for mandarins like Sunkist Smiles, a sweet, seedless snack that you and your kids will love,
and late season Gold Nugget mandarins, that is only available for a couple months.
Mandarins are easy to peel and separate into segments, making them great for lunch boxes or snacks.
With their incredibly juicy taste, they also brighten up salads and recipes. You can use them anywhere, any meal – even a very simple, nutritious dessert. This curry chicken mandarin cashew salad is an easy lunch you could make ahead and eat all week.

You can get this, and hundreds of other recipes, at Sunkist.com.  Their Pinterest and Facebook page also have loads of great information and recipes.

 

Power up with Plants

For a “spring clean” refrigerator, consider adding in Silk plant based beverages as a choice that’s healthy for your body AND the planet.

I love the idea of a morning smoothie.  This Get Your Greens On Smoothie is easy and a good opportunity to get some plant-based nutrition into your breakfast.  It’s loaded with kale, cucumber, and banans plus 1 cup of Silk unsweetened vanilla almond milk, which provides delicious, plant-based nourishment. You could also try Original Silk soymilk or coconutmilk in this recipe.  

Get Your Greens On Smoothie. Photo credit: http://silk.com/recipes/get-your-greens-smoothie

If you’re too short on time for a smoothie or like the idea of an option of “pour and go”, try Silk Almondmilk Protein + Fiber

Each serving contains five grams of protein and five grams of fiber that can help promote a feeling of fullness. This is available in Original and Vanilla.

You can also enjoy Silk with breakfast cereal or in smoothies where you would use dairy milk.  You can many delicious plant based recipes at Silk.com as well as Silk’s Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

April is also Earth Month – a timely reminder that we can do our part to conserve water.  Silk saves a lot of water. For every half gallon of Silk Original soymilk, almond milk, or coconut milk you swap for dairy milk, you save 500 gallons of water.  That’s like brushing your teeth 500 times, 20 showers, or 10 loads of laundry.

‘Spring’ Into Seafood

The Dietary Guidelines recommend Americans eat 8 ounces of seafood per week, including fish and shellfish. Look for wild-caught Gulf shrimp from the Gulf Coast at your grocery store. It’s a lean source of protein, which helps you feel full and satisfied at mealtime.

Gulf Shrimp

I like to make Boiled Gulf Shrimp in advance, keep it in the refrigerator, and then use it all week, adding it to salads, wraps and for dipping in hummus and guacamole as a snack!

I especially love using Gulf shrimp on the grill because it’s so easy and flavorful. This Grilled Citrus Gulf Shrimp is marinated in citrus juices, mint and lime for about 30 minutes – then toss it on the grill for just 3 minutes per side and you’re done. I like to serve it over brown rice, which is whole grain, and to save even more time, I use the microwave steamer bag of brown rice, then stir in some cilantro and serve the shrimp and rice with a side of grilled vegetables.

Visit Eat Gulf Seafood.com for recipes with delicious Gulf Coast seafood. And Check out Gulf Coast Seafood on Facebook and Twitter.

Refresh Your Cereal

Overnight_Apple_Pie_Breakfast_Pudding_W_thumbnail

Overnight Apple Pie Breakfast Pudding

Cereal can be an easy morning breakfast, but many cereals are lacking whole grains and have added sugar that rival a candy bar. I love Grape Nuts for the “spring pantry” because it’s a classic cereal with crunchy whole grain and it’s filled with fiber.

Grape-Nuts recently did a national survey and found that more than 70% of Americans feel their meal plan needs a makeover, and 86% admit they replace meals with snacks.  In the spirit of healthy snacking, Grape Nuts offers recipes that integrate hearty whole grains into portable, delicious options.  This Overnight Apple Pie Breakfast Pudding, made with apple, almond milk, chia seeds, and cinnamon, offers a great morning protein boost.  It has apple, almond milk, chia seeds, and cinnamon.  You can get this recipe and more at GrapeNuts.com

 

Be KIND to Yourself

Snacks are a vital part of my day, and I always choose higher quality packaged foods when I need to grab something quick and easy (and recommend that my clients do the same).  “Spring clean” your snack drawer by choosing healthy snacks – I love KIND snacks because they have ingredients you can see and pronounce and they taste absolutely delicious.Kind Vanilla Blueberry

This Friday, April 11, is National Read Your Nutrition Label Day and it’s a good reminder to pay attention to what exactly is in your food.  Try  KIND Healthy Grains Clusters and KIND Healthy Grains Bars for a wholesome, tasty snack that you can feel good about; both have whole grains as the first ingredient – like oats, quinoa, and buckwheat.

Clusters are great for yogurt toppers, cereals, or just a crunchy snack on their own.  I adore the Vanilla Blueberry Clusters with flaxseed, which is high in fiber and contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Healthy Grains bars come in varieties like maple pumpkin seeds with sea salt and peanut butter dark chocolate.  KIND also has a flavorful “nuts and spices” bar that contains only 5g  or less of natural sugar – no “fake sugars” in these babies. They come in wonderful flavor combinations like Madagascar Vanilla Almond, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, and Cashew Ginger Spice.

Both the Healthy Grains bars and Nuts and Spices bars are great for on-the-go healthy snacking at the office, in your car, or your gym bag.  I have at least one with me pretty much everywhere I go!

Check out the KIND website, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter for more info and fun facts.

 

Thanks for checking out my favorite ‘spring cleaning’ tips! I’d love to hear  what  some of your favorite ways to fine-tune your diet in the spring?

 

Disclaimer: I was compensated by McCormick, Silk, KIND Snacks, Post Cereal, Gulf Coast Seafood, and Sunkist to do the tv segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.

Time for Happy Hour! (No, it’s not what you think)

A few weeks ago, I taped some interview segments for The OWN Show – web exclusives for the Oprah Winfrey Network (that’s right, Oprah!!). The host of the show and I talked about a variety of health and nutrition issues, but the one theme we kept landing on was the influence of happiness on your health. You can watch the full clips below and comment on the OWN Facebook page!

There’s More to Health than Diet and Exercise

Watch these videos to find out how setting your own “happy hour,” “me time,” and editing your to-do list can improve your health and happiness, without an ounce of guilt.

Happiness & Healthy Choices

Take a Break from the To-Do List

What makes you happy?

I have a busy nutrition and health counseling practice here in Washington, D.C., and one of the things I work on with my clients is identifying things that are more important than weight when it comes to good health.  We talk about bloodwork, cholesterol, exercise, sleep, time management, stress, eating enough protein, fruits, and vegetables, getting some down time, and many other things … but the one thing we always end up talking the most about are the things that make us happy.  Why?

Well, when you’re happy you’re more likely to stick to your healthy habits like getting good exercise and eating well, which in turn engage the hormones and neurotransmitters that influence your happiness.  When your mood is down, you’re more likely to skip workouts, do some heavy-duty emotional overeating, and have difficulty sleeping.

Schedule a ‘Happy Hour’!

happy-47083_640So, one thing I ask my clients to do is schedule a once-a-week “Happy Hour.”  And, no, I’m not suggesting they scope out 5 o’clock drink specials (though, I’m not opposed to that every now and then)!   What I mean by Happy Hour is, I ask them to schedule one hour a week — just one hour a week — to do something that makes them happy.

You can’t cancel it, you have to protect it on their calendar, and I kinda prefer you not make it family-related.

I can just hear some of you now:  but, I’m already overscheduled!  I don’t have an hour!  I have too many commitments!  My family needs me!  My kids need to be driven places!

I understand.  I really do.  I work full-time (and have to travel a lot), I’m a mom, I have a husband I adore and another baby on the way.  I like to see friends, and I like to go do things with the people I love.  I have family far away that I worry about and want to see more.  And, I have a hard time balancing everything my life.  I do.  I’m not gonna lie.

But, I found that if I actually, physically scheduled that one hour a week, I really used it and it made a difference in how the rest of my week went.  Otherwise, I might’ve just hung around on Facebook a little longer, or done some housework, or just paid attention to everyone else but myself.

Practicing What I Preach

I make sure I schedule a Happy Hour every week, just like I tell my clients to do.  I make sure that hour is mine, all mine, and I do different things each week, depending on my mood:quote

  • Sometimes, I go for a walk outside because it helps me feel energetic, and I crave the Vitamin D from the sun.
  • Other times, I’ll watch TV alone in bed.
  • I’ll call a friend and just gab and laugh for an hour.  Laughter supports the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces pain, and promotes organ health.
  • Every now and then, I’ll go out for a coffee with a girlfriend and have a doughnut (or two).  What!  It makes me happy.  Even nutritionists eat doughnuts sometimes!
  • I’ll make a playlist and just sit and listen to songs I love and sometimes dance around.
  • Sometimes, I just take a nap.
  • One time, I spent an hour going through my HUGE to-do list and just crossed stuff off I knew I was *never* gonna do.  That felt amazing and lifted my spirits.

Scheduling a Happy Hour once a week is a great first step toward creating healthy habits that last a lifetime.  The world won’t end if you say “no” to them and “yes” to yourself. This is your Happy Hour and you need it. You deserve it.

Tell me what YOU are going to do with your very own Happy Hour!

Leave a comment below and tell me what you’re going to do during your own “Happy Hour”! Don’t forget to tweet your #HappyHour ideas to @ScritchfieldRD and #OWNshow!

Spring into Health

Now that spring is in the air it’s time to turn over a new leaf and shake off those winter blues! Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with CNN’s Karin Caifa to share my ideas on how to make some healthier switches as spring approaches – switches that won’t be too drastic, dramatic or too easy to abandon! Watch the clip below or read on to learn about my tips.

The key to succeeding when making a change is to start small and start simple. The most important thing is being consistent. The more you are consistent these new behaviors they will eventually become habits (good ones). Here are a few tips to help freshen up your eating this spring.

  • Add any fresh produce to your menu. You can’t mess it up. Spring is a great time of year for fresh apricots, cherries, kiwi, grapefruit, swiss chard, green beans and all types of lettuces.
  • Add herbs and spices to help make healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains more flavorful without adding salt, sugar, or fat.
  • As the weather gets warmer, eat more cold foods like salads with fresh fruits, lean meats or tofu, and beans. Make your own dressing with herbs and spices, olive oil, and vinegar.
  • It’s not too early to fire up your grill for a flavor boost without added salt and fat. Grill vegetables and lean meats like fish, chicken, or beef seasoned with herbs and spices. Check out these delicious grilling recipes: Asian Turkey Burgers or Grilled Tofu with Ratatouille Vegetables 

Don’t forget about Spring Cleaning!

  • The first thing you should do to eat healthier is “spring clean your kitchen” to make cooking easier.
  • Make room in your refrigerator for new fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods you can make ahead of time.
  • Refresh your pantry by stocking up on herbs and spices that will allow you to flavor your foods without adding extra salt, sugar, and fat.
  • Add some nutritious canned foods like beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, and canned tuna and salmon to help you get healthy meals on the table quickly.
  • Simplify cooking. You don’t need to prepare a 3 course meal every night! Try this easy and healthy Lemon-Parmesan Broccoli as a delicious side dish.

What should we spring clean out of our diets?

  •  Reduce your intake of “empty calorie” foods and beverages, such as desserts, sugary drinks, and alcoholic beverages.
  •  Swap fresh fruits like citrus and berries, which are in season for desserts. I love freezing sliced bananas or a handful of grapes for a sorbet or ice cream substitute.
  • Drink water or sparkling water infused with mint, fresh cucumber, or lemon instead of caloric beverages.
  • Cut back on sodium by preparing your meal at home and checking food labels for hidden sources of salt.
  • Sauces, seasonings, and marinades can be high in sodium. Try making your own with herbs, spices, citrus, vinegar, and healthy oils.
  • Avoid higher calorie fried foods and rich foods, which tend to be difficult to digest and make you feel sluggish. Instead, grill your vegetables and lean proteins, which will add flavor.

What are some of your favorite spring time foods and activities?

Leave a comment below and share your spring time tips with us! Happy Spring!

 

 

Produce of the Day: Parsnips

All this month I’m making it fun to eat better with my 30-Day Challenge “Half Plate Produce” in the spirit of National Nutrition Month’s theme “Enjoy the taste of eating right!”

Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite pics and recipes that help make it fun for YOU to eat better. (Use #30DayChallenge and #NNM in your messages.)

Image Source: edenbrothers.com

Image Source: edenbrothers.com

From late fall to early spring, parsnips are at their peak.  You can snatch them up in many grocery stores and farmers markets.  These root vegetables are related to carrots, celery root, parsley, and fennel.  They look a lot like a white carrot, and they have a sweeter flavor than carrots.

In the middle ages, parsnips were thought to be aphrodisiacs and to cure sore feet and toothaches.  I’m not making any guarantees that parsnips are going to make you any better in bed, but they are good for your heart, gums/teeth, and muscles.

Here’s how:

Folate

Folate is a water soluble B Vitamin that is naturally found in fruits, vegetables (especially dark green leafy ones), liver, and beans.  Grain-based products, like breads and cereals, are required to be fortified with 25% of recommended daily folate.

Folate is important in energy metabolism and DNA synthesis.  Deficiencies in folate can lead to birth defects, so this nutrient is especially important for women of child-bearing age.

Antioxidants

Parsnips are rich in falcarinol, which is a type of phytonutrient with antioxidant properties .  Falcarinol is linked to decreased incidence of cancer cell formation and decreased inflammation.  Chronic inflammation is associated with many conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.

Potassium

Potassium is an electrolyte that helps balance water and minerals in the body, maintain normal blood pressure, contract and build muscle, transmit nerve signals, and regulate the body’s pH.  Most American’s do not get enough potassium in their diets, so it’s important to try to include potassium-rich foods, like parsnips, often.  A diet high in potassium is associated with reduce risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Parsnips are also rich in soluble fiber and vitamin C.

How parsnips can help make half plate produce:

Roast Them

I love roasted parsnips – the high heat from the oven caramelizes the sugar in the parsnips to bring out their naturally sweet, nutty flavor.  Plus, roasting is quick and easy and it requires no fancy kitchen skills, so anyone can do it.

You can roast parsnips by themselves or add other root veggies, like carrots, turnips, and rutabaga.  I like to slice mine into matchsticks, toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in a 425 °oven until they’re just starting to brown (20 -25 minutes).  After I take them out of the oven I drizzle them with pomegranate molasses (about 1 Tablespoon) – the sweet/tart taste brings the parsnips to a new level.  Serve the roasted vegetables as a side with your favorite protein.  Leftovers make great additions to any salad!

Add them to soup

You can use parsnips pretty much anywhere you’d use carrots.  Making chicken noodle soup?  Try dicing parsnips up instead of/ in addition to carrots.

Parsnips puree nicely, so they’re wonderful in creamy soups as well.  This recipe from Martha Stewart uses just a touch of cream and tops the soup with crunchy toasted almonds.  A small bowl would be an elegant first course, or serve as the entrée with whole wheat bread, green salad, and fresh fruit – that’s way more than half a plate (or bowl) of produce!

Image Source: marthastewart.com

Image Source: marthastewart.com

Mash them Like Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are one of the ultimate comfort foods – they’re decadently rich, creamy, and buttery.  One of the reasons mashed potatoes need so much butter and cream is that they don’t have much flavor on their own.  Parsnips, however, have loads of flavor and make a great mashed side dish that doesn’t require so much fat.  This recipe modifies a Julia Child method for making delicious mashed .  If uses only a touch of butter (definitely less than what Julia used!) and the cooking liquid from the veggies to add loads of flavor.

Your Turn to Share

I’ve shared my tips and now I want to hear yours!  What are some of your fave ways to add parsnips into your diet? Did I miss any of your favorite tricks? Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite pics and recipes that help make it fun for YOU to eat better. (Use #30DayChallenge and #NNM in your messages.)

(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for this blog post.)

Produce of the Day: Avocados

All this month I’m making it fun to eat better with my 30-Day Challenge “Half Plate Produce” in the spirit of National Nutrition Month’s theme “Enjoy the taste of eating right!”

Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite pics and recipes that help make it fun for YOU to eat better. (Use #30DayChallenge and #NNM in your messages.)

Feature Produce of the Day: Avocados

Once upon a time, avocados graced the tables of only the wealthiest people – they were a delicacy that no one short of royalty could afford.  And if you were lucky enough to be sitting at one of these historical tables you might have heard the fruit (yes, I said fruit) called an “alligator pear” – in reference to its scaly green skin – instead of an avocado.  Can you imagine?!  Luckily today avocados are accessible and affordable, so everyone can reap the benefits of these luscious fruits.

Image Source: BigStockPhoto.com

Image Source: BigStockPhoto.com

Anyone that knows me knows I love my avocados.  They have a wonderful balance of nutrients that helps you stay healthy, feel full, and get strong.  So just what is it about avocados that makes them one of my favorite foods?

Heart Healthy Fats

Yes, fats are high in calories. And yes, I recommend that my clients be mindful of how much fat they eat.  But it’s important to remember that we do need fats in our diets every day, particularly the healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fats found in avocado.

These “good” fats have been shown to benefit our health in any number of ways, from combatting inflammation to helping our skin glow.  Oleic acid is one fat of note in avocados – research shows that eating foods rich in oleic acid can actually increase absorption of other fat-soluble nutrients, such as beta-carotene and lycopene (found in tomatoes).  Try adding half an avocado to your next salad and you’ll increase nutrient absorption and feel fuller longer thanks to the fats, protein, and fiber in the avocado.

Avocado heart

Image Source: huffingtonpost.com

Fiber

I know we’ve already talked about fiber this month, but it’s worth revisiting since it’s so beneficial to our health.  Avocados have a whopping 10 grams of fiber per medium fruit.  About ¾ of that fiber is insoluble – insoluble fibers act like little scrub brushes that help keep our intestines clean and move food through the GI tract .  The other ¼ is soluble fiber, which helps lower blood cholesterol, keeps our hearts healthy, and prolongs the feeling of fullness after a meal.

Potassium and Protein

Did you know that avocados have more potassium than bananas?  Potassium is an electrolyte important to building muscle and proteins, maintaining appropriate body pH (no need for alkalized water and foods), muscle contraction, and keeping our body fluids balanced.

Most fruits and vegetables are virtually protein-free, but avocados boast 3 – 4 grams/serving.  The protein content plus the high levels of potassium make avocado a great food to incorporate in post-workout recovery nutrition. I really like this delicious green smoothie made with avocado, spinach, and banana – after a workout I substitute ½ cup Greek yogurt for the almond milk to get even more protein.

Now that we know more about what makes avocados so healthy, let’s talk about ways they can help you make half your plate produce.  Guacamole, which I adore,  is the first thing that pops into many peoples’ minds when they think about avocados, but there are so many options beyond the creamy dip.  Here are a few of my favorite ideas to easily add more avocado into your day:

Sub Avocado for Mayo

Healthy egg/tuna salad is simple go-to lunch when you need something quick, easy, and satisfying.  Instead of mayo, I like to add avocado.  It helps bind all the ingredients together and, unlike mayo, isn’t laden with saturated fat and sodium.  This healthy tuna salad with hummus and avocado is a regular staple in my house.  Serve it in a whole wheat pita with lettuce, tomato, and cucumbers with a piece of fruit on the side and you’ve got at least half your meal from produce.

Mashed avocado also makes a great sandwich spread.  I like to add a squeeze of lime juice and black pepper to give it a little zip.

Avocado and Eggs are a Perfect Match

Traditional breakfast foods are notoriously short on vegetables.  Eggs are a great morning meal, but they’re even better with creamy avocado.  I like to scramble my eggs, and add some diced peppers, onions and a little cheese.  Then I top it all off with splash of hot sauce and a sliced avocado.  The avocado almost melts once it’s placed over the hot eggs – the combination is heavenly.

Avocados are also amazing in fritattas, like this Avocado Frittata made with swiss cheese and ham (omit if you prefer to keep it vegetarian).  It’s a breakfast that feels about as decadent as it gets, but is actually good for you.

Image Source: avocadosfrommexico.com

Image Source: avocadosfrommexico.com

Add Avocado to a Pasta Dish

Carbs are one of the “evils” of modern dieting, but we all need them to provide our bodies and brains with ample energy to get through the day.  So instead of shunning pasta, I recommend that my clients “dress it up” with as many vegetables as possible.   This Creamy Avocado and Veggie Pasta is a prime example – it’s full of mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, and asparagus.  Instead of an overly rich cream-based sauce, the pasta is tossed with a satisfying, healthy sauce made with pureed chickpea and avocado.

Image Source: avocadosfrommexico.com

Image Source: avocadosfrommexico.com

A few more fun tips for avocados:

  • They make great hair and face masks – all those healthy fats are great for our appearance!
  • Avocados are picked unripe and then ripen off the tree – if yours’ aren’t ripe enough, store them next to an apple or banana to help them ripen faster
  • The inner portion of the avocado just under the skin is rich in vitamins and minerals – avoid losing these valuable nutrients by removing the flesh as close to the peel as possible
  • Mashed avocado is a perfect first food for baby – the texture is smooth and creamy, the fats are vital to healthy growth, and introducing non-sweet foods first is linked to a more diverse diet as the child ages.

Want More Avocado Information?

If you’re looking for even more ways to add avocado to your game plan, check out the Avocados from Mexico website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Your Turn to Share

I’ve shared my tips and now I want to hear yours!  What are some of your fave ways to add avocado to your diet? Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite pics and recipes that help make it fun for YOU to eat better. (Use #30DayChallenge and #NNM in your messages.)

(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for this blog post.)

Produce of the Day: Citrus

All this month I’m making it fun to eat better with my 30-Day Challenge “Half Plate Produce” in the spirit of National Nutrition Month’s theme “Enjoy the taste of eating right!”

Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite pics and recipes that help make it fun for YOU to eat better. (Use #30DayChallenge and #NNM in your messages.)

Feature Produce of the Day: Citrus

Nothing brightens up a dreary March day like a pop of vibrant citrus – its bright color and fresh flavor help remedy most cases of late-winter funk.  One bite of a juicy tangerine immediately gets me dreaming of sunshine and citrus groves, which is just what I need when there is still snow on the ground!

Image Source: White on Rice

Image Source: whiteonricecouple.com

One of the things that I love about citrus is that there are so many varieties – each one has its own unique flavor and appearance.  What they do have in common is their nutritional profile; citrus is a healthy choice no matter which variety you pick.

Here are some health benefits associated with all citrus fruits:

Vitamin C

Image Source: http://www.thejournal.ie

Image Source: thejournal.ie

We all know that oranges are an excellent source of Vitamin C, but what does that really mean?  Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, so it helps protect our cells from damaging free radicals.  Free radicals can alter our cells’ structure and even their DNA, which could lead to inflammation or cancer.  Protecting our cells with antioxidants like Vitamin C is key in keeping them healthy.

Vitamin C also contributes to a healthy immune system and strong bones and muscles.  Additionally, Vitamin C can improve iron absorption, so it’s vital for anyone with an iron deficiency.  One serving of citrus provides at least 100% of the daily recommendation for Vitamin C.

Heart Health

A diet rich in citrus fruits has been shown to offer protection against cardiovascular disease.  Citrus contains:

  • Folate, a B Vitamin found lower risk of heart disease.
  • Potassium, which lowers blood pressure and helps prevent stroke.
  • Flavonoids and carotenes, phytonutrients shown to improve cardiovascular health
  • Fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol

Citrus has also been linked to the prevention of arthritis, improved blood glucose control, reduced risk of kidney stones, and many other positive health benefits.

Source: www.eatingwell.com

Source: eatingwell.com

With so many citrus fruits available, you’ll never get bored!  Here’s low down on a few options and a few tips to use them to make half your plate produce:

Oranges

Oranges are one of the most popular fruits in the world.  They’re great fresh out of hand, added to salads, or as part of a fresh salsa. You can also:

  • Snack on them after a workout  to rehydrate and replenish electrolytes (anyone remember orange slices after soccer practice?)
  • Try orange segments instead of juice with breakfast; when you juice you lose all the heart-healthy fiber and some nutrients.
  • Serve these Snow Peas with Orange and Jicama as a side dish with your favorite protein.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit’s Latin name is Citrus paradisi, a fitting name given that its taste, aroma, and gem-like fruit conjure pictures of paradise.  Red and pink grapefruits are rich in lycopene, a phytonutrient that is shown to protect against the formation of tumors.

Grapefruit “brulee” makes a fabulous dessert or breakfast.  To make, just slice in half and sprinkle with a little brown sugar. Let the sugar caramelize under the broiler for a seemingly decadent treat.

Tangerine

I love how portable tangerines are; they come in their own natural wrapper!  I like to keep some handy in my purse in case my one-year old or I get hungry while we’re on-the-go.  They have a looser peel than most other citrus, so they’re ideal in a pinch.

Tangerines are also great in recipes. I like this Warm Chicken Salad with Tangerine, Tarragon, and Arugula for lunch or a light supper.

Image Source: www.sunkist.com

Image Source: Sunkist.com

Lemons

These bright yellow fruits add loads of tangy flavor with very few calories.  I recommend that my clients try seasoning with lemons instead of salt to reduce their sodium intakes.

Add their zest to steamed veggies, use their juice in salad dressing, or even just throw them in your water to give it some zing.  Meyer lemons are an interesting variety of lemon with beautiful floral undertones that are wonderful in desserts.

Limes

You know the term, “limey”?  It actually comes from British sailors in the 1800s who added lime juice to their rum while they were at sea to prevent scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency).

I like to add lime juice to marinades, guacamole, and dressings. It also adds zippy flavor to roasted veggies – just roast them in the oven and add fresh lime juice and zest.  Makes a great side dish or salad addition.

Kumquats

These little guys are known as the, “little gold gems” of the citrus family.  What make them so interesting is that, unlike most citrus, their rinds are sweet while the flesh is very tart.  Slice them up (skin and all) and toss them in a salad or try them in this Citrus Habenero Salsa with fish or chicken.

Image Source: http://blog.needsupply.com

Image Source: blog.needsupply.com

Learn More about Citrus

If you want more citrus info, Sunkist is a great resource. Check out their website and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Your Turn to Share

I’ve shared my tips and now I want to hear yours!  What are some of your fave ways to add citrus into your diet? Did I miss any of your favorite varieties? Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite pics and recipes that help make it fun for YOU to eat better. (Use #30DayChallenge and #NNM in your messages.)

(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for this blog post.)

Flavorful Ways to Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right — Any Time of Day!

We’re still celebrating National Nutrition Month and I’ve had a great time spreading the word that we can all “enjoy the taste of eating right.” 

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You know, to “enjoy the taste of eating right” we want to focus on FLAVOR. Our food should look good, taste good and be good for us — it doesn’t have to compromise one for another. I was on WBAL TV 11 in Baltimore this past weekend sharing foods that are full of flavor AND nutrition. You can watch the full clip here, or read on below to see some of the highlights:

Get Your “Gut” Healthy With Active Cultures
Great-Grains-Digestive-BlendWe have billions of “good bacteria” in our gut that help digest food, make vitamins, and keep our immune system healthy. You want to help support digestive health with whole grains, fiber, and active cultures, which you can actually get in your breakfast cereal. New Great Grains Digestive Blend cereals gives you all three. Per serving you get:

  • Over 40g of whole grains
  • An excellent source of fiber – 7g
  • Active cultures to support digestive health

Plus it comes in two delicious varieties: Berry Medley and Vanilla Graham. They’re flavorful on their own, but you can also add fruits and nuts to your morning cereal or try a yogurt parfait with either one of these delicious flavors. You can find Great Grains Digestive Blend at most local grocery stores.

Choose Quality Dairy Foods

Cottage cheese is an easy way to add flavor to your meals, but all cottage cheese is not the same. Quality and ingredients matter.

DaisyDaisy Brand Cottage Cheese is introducing new, modern packaging that highlights what makes “The Daisy Difference” – better ingredients. Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese has no more than four high-quality ingredients, compared with other leading brands, which could have 10 or more.

Cottage cheese is delicious and versatile, with many FLAVOR possibilities for meals and snacks. It can be incorporated into recipes like this Apple Walnut Breakfast, or try it mixed with your favorite toppings, such as berries, nuts or granola.

Look for Daisy regular cottage cheese, with the dark blue lids, and Daisy low fat cottage cheese, with the light blue lids, at your local grocery store.

Snack Smarter

Who doesn’t love a crunchy snack? Sometimes chips and guac or chips and salsa hit the spot. Well, I’m adding a new fave to the snack scene. Full-of-flavor veggie chips. Yes, veggie chips. VC Siracha Packaging These new sriracha veggie chips by The Real Deal All Natural Snacks are so yummy. They have a wonderful balance of spicy and crunchy. The Veggie Chips also come in aged white cheddar and original.

  • They’re made with real green peas, corn and rice – a serving and a half of vegetables in 1 ounce
  • They have only 110 calories for 100 veggie chips
  • They’re all natural, gluten free, kosher and non-GMO – and have 80% less fat than potato chips.

Give them a whirl. You can find them at your local Whole Foods and Wegman’s

Make Healthy Dinners Flavorful

It’s easier to get the family to eat healthy when the food tastes delicious. McCormick herbs and spices help make healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains more flavorful without adding salt, sugar, or fat.

Tuscan Pasta.ashxThis Tuscan pasta is a great way to get more veggies on your family’s plate. You can use any veggies you have on hand, like tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini. Then add whole grain pasta, and tomato sauce you make yourself with McCormick “perfect pinch” Italian seasoning, black pepper and garlic powder.

Here’s a side tip: If you love flavor but know you need to cut back on salt. Replace your salt shaker with garlic powder. Use it anywhere you would use salt.

For a quick, no-cook fresh fruit and veggie dish, make your own vinaigrette to control salt levels and customize flavor. This field greens with strawberries, oranges and chai vinaigrette will be an easy family favorite. The chai gives a flavor boost with McCormick cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. The “acid” for the dressing is orange juice and I used extra virgin olive oil for the oil base. You can’t mess up this recipe! Get help from the grocery store with the premixed salad greens or try a combo of any two like kale ribbons and romaine. Add any two fruits you like and you’ve got a fresh, nutritious weeknight meal in no time.

You can find more delicious recipes like these at www.mccormick.com and look for McCormick spices at your local grocery store.

How Do You Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right?

Leave a comment below to share your favorite tips for flavorful, healthy meals and snacks.

Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right with Flavorful Foods

It’s National Nutrition Month and all month long we’re sharing fun and delicious ways to “enjoy the taste of eating right.” To me, it’s all about making practical food choices, and about blending taste and nutrition. When we’re trying to eat right, we want to focus on FLAVOR, because who wants to eat something that doesn’t taste good, right?

I was on Let’s Talk Live this week sharing some of my favorite tips for snacks and breakfasts that are full of flavor and packed with nutrition. Hopefully it can help make eating right a little easier (and a little tastier!) for you and your family. You can watch the full video below, or read on for some highlights:

Build a Better Breakfast

You can have a quick and flavorful breakfast — even on a work day! In just minutes you can make a nutritious breakfast sandwich Southwestern_Bagel_updateusing Thomas’s Bagel Thins. I love them because they’re just the right size (only 110 calories) and have 4-5g of fiber to help keep you fuller, longer. They’re also the only branded bagel endorsed by Weight Watchers®, with a PointsPlus® value of 3 per bagel. Here are a few ways I love to enjoy them:

  • A “southwestern”  sandwich on an Everything bagel thin with egg, avocado, red pepper, and cilantro – full of flavor plus lean protein and good fats.
  • A 100% whole wheat bagel thin “Mediterranean style with garlic hummus, baby spinach, and tomato.
  • Cinnamon Raisin and Plain bagel thins are good any time of day, paired with a little low fat cream cheese and fresh fruit.

You can find them in your local supermarket, and keep an eye out for their new packaging!

Smartly Satisfy a “Crunchy Craving”

Surveys suggest that more than 97% of people feel a “snack attack” come on in the afternoon. But don’t run to the vending machine. Instead, choose a better-for-you snack that’s packed with flavor, like these new sriracha veggie chips by The Real Deal All Natural Snacks.

VC Siracha PackagingThey have a wonderful balance of spicy and crunchy. What else makes them so great?

  • They are made with real green peas, corn and rice – and there’s 1.5 servings of vegetables in each ounce
  • They only have 110 calories for 100 veggie chips!
  • They are all natural, gluten free, kosher and non-GMO – and have 80% less fat than potato chips

The Veggie Chips also come in aged white cheddar and original. Or try their tortilla chips in blue corn and white corn. Look for them at Whole Foods and Wegman’s.

Nuts and Fruit: A Perfect Pair

pistachios

Fruits and nuts are some of my favorite nutritious and easy-to-eat snacks. Pairing them together packs even more nutrition and

flavor in one amazing snack. Wonderful Pistachios and Halos go together perfectly for a super snack that offers fresh, sweet taste and savory crunch. It’s a delicious way to balance taste and nutrition because the Halos are packed with vitamin C and contain only 50 calories. And to complement that, Wonderful Pistachios provide protein, fiber, and antioxidants.

What else is so WONDERFUL about them you ask?

  • A one-ounce serving of pistachios is about 49 nuts — more nuts per serving than any other snack. And, a recent Harvard University study suggests a daily handful of pistachios may have a role in health and longevity.footer-product@2x
  • Wonderful Halos are sweet, seedless, easy to eat and peel, making them a healthy grab-and-go snack for kids and adults.

You can also kick the flavor up a notch with mint and chocolate. This Greek yogurt snack is made with pistachios and mandarin orange segments, mint, shaved dark chocolate and a little honey. You could even serve this for dessert — yum!

How do you “enjoy the taste of eating right”?

Leave a comment below with one of your favorite tips for flavorful and healthy snacks and breakfasts.

March 30-Day Challenge: Fill Half Your Plate With Fruits & Veggies!

NNM

It’s National Nutrition Month and in going with this year’s theme of “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” I’m using this month’s challenge to encourage people to “eat right” by filling 1/2 your plate with fruits and veggies. With the MyPlate icon, it’s easier than ever to picture what an “ideal” plate would look like (see below).

USDA_MyPlate_green

Here’s how I did it with my breakfast the other day.

balancedplate

This month you can look for delicious (and easy!) produce-focused recipes and tips to help you fill up your plate AND make it taste amazing. My goal is to feature a different produce on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram — something every single day throughout the month. Each message will have the #NNM (national nutrition month) tag.

Join me in Pinning/Tweeting/Posting

Enjoy the Taste, Ditch the Guilt

My goal with this month’s challenge is to make it easier to incorporate delicious veggies and fruits into your every day routine. I think you can absolutely “enjoy the taste” of those fruits and veggies with FLAVOR — herbs, citrus, oils, and yes a bit o’ salt. (Just don’t get crazy.)

My other idea for “enjoying the taste of eating right” is to put food you are craving on the other half of the plate. Think about it – how does it help you enjoy eating if you are policing your food choices? You can eat, enjoy the taste, and ditch the side of guilt.

Joining the FREE challenge is easy:

  • No sign ups required. You just jump in and participate as you can. (Remember–progress, not perfection!)
  • All you have to do is “follow” me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll 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 primary hashtag #NNM and secondary #30DayChallenge

What’s your favorite fruit and veggie-friendly recipe?

Leave a comment below and share you favorite veggie dishes with other readers. I’d love to see it and share it.

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