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!

Sleep Better with Food and Fitness

Just as sleep is important to our body, what we do with our body in terms of food and exercise plays a major role in the way we sleep (or don’t sleep).  Good nutrition and exercise can help you sleep, but poor sleep leads to poor eating and exercise decisions immediately. A lack of shut-eye is linked with ditching your workout. It’s one thing to skip the workout to get more sleep once in awhile, but if you ditch your workout and cheat yourself of sleep, then you aren’t breaking the cycle.

Contrary to what we have all been told, eating prior to bed is not such a bad thing after all.  In fact, a light snack containing 25-35 g of carbs can help release serotonin which contributes to a more restful sleep. Foods rich in vitamin B6 also help boost melatonin production, a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness. Lighter is better when eating a bedtime snack to avoid heartburn. Click here to see my latest appearance on the OWN Show to learn more about this old wives tale and the secrets to keeping weight off.

Catch Some Extra ZZZ’s With These Tranquil Eats

  • Magnesium-rich foods like almonds, and calcium rich foods like cheese and crackers help your body use tryptophan and serotonin to get sleepy.
  • 1 piece of raisin toast with 1 Tbsp cream cheese – sweet and satisfying with carbs in the form of grains and dried fruit to help you relax, and calcium from the cream cheese to build your stress-depleted stores will keeping you snoozing through the night.
  • tart-cherry-juice-sleepThis Red Recharger Smoothie combines Greek yogurt and tart cherry juice to give you a boost of melatonin along with powerful antioxidants.
  • A bedtime bowl of cereal helps you make serotonin thanks to the carbohydrates and calcium.
  • This Mango Cherry and Avocado Salad combines creamy avocado with the sweetness of mango and  tangy tart cherries which helps promote melatonin. Top this salad with fish, such as a piece of grilled salmon for some extra vitamin B6, which helps boost melatonin production.
  • Get a boost of vitamin B6 from fish–tuna, halibut, and salmon along with garlic, walnuts and pistachios help your body make serotonin and melatonin.
  • Drinking chamomile tea is associated with an increase of glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles and acts like a mild sedative.

If You’re Feeling Tired or Exhausted…

  • Go to sleep, take a nap. It is ok to allow yourself the time to take a nap. Sometimes it is really all we need.
  • If there is no time for a nap do a few jumping jacks or go for a little walk to get your heart rate up and blood pumping.
  • Stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can affect your mind and alertness. Aim for a minimum of 8-12 glasses of fluid daily, drinking more during warm weather.110310_grains
  • Limit caffeine in the morning – Instead of reaching for the 24 ounce Venti at Starbucks, sip on a  quarter or half-cup of coffee to give you more of a consistent level of alertness. Avoid caffeine after 2pm to prevent disrupted sleep.
  • Prevent spikes in blood sugar – Replace refined carbohydrates with whole grains to produce a steady surge of energy after a meal. Try these overnight oats for breakfast or a snack; they’re full of whole grains and have an ideal balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat to ensure a slow, steady boost of energy.
  • Don’t drink alcohol to fall asleep. This prevents you from reaching the important deep-sleep REM cycle that is required to feel fully rested.
  • Avoid screen time 1 hour prior to bed time. Backlit LCD screens disrupt melatonin production which disrupts you natural sleep cycle.
  • Exercise. Getting your heart pumping and body moving is a great way to reenergize and reduce stress, which is often one of the main culprits that keeps us lying awake at night.
  • Have a notebook by the bed to write down the worries and to-dos for the next day; get them out of your head for now so you can sleep.

Join the Challenge! 

What are your tips and tricks when it comes to getting a restful sleep? Be sure to join this month’s #30daysleepchallenge. All you have to do is “follow” me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll be posting motivations, and many more tips and tricks to help you get more zzz’s. I’d love to hear from you too! Be sure to share you thoughts and I’ll be responding to your questions EVERY SINGLE DAY. Use the primary hashtag #30daysleepchallenge and #mefirst as the secondary hashtag.

Disclosure: I am a spokesperson for Tart Cherries but was not compensated to write this blog.

Sleep Your Way to Better Health

I once heard a great Irish proverb that has stuck with me throughout my life, ‘A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.’ These days Americans are getting less and less sleep every year. Currently only 40 percent of the U.S. gets the recommended eight hours, on average receiving only 6.8 hours per night. While a short-lived bout of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about, long term sleep loss can really throw a dagger in your overall well-being and health. This month I would like to challenge you all to get a good nights rest. If you think you’re in need of some shut eye, join this month’s #30daysleepchallenge to learn how a good night’s sleep will help you be more productive during waking hours.

How Losing ZZZs Can Harm Your Health

Research has shown that most Americans would be happier, healthier and safer if they were to sleep an extra 60 to 90 minutes per night.

So why aren’t we snoozing? Stress is the number one cause of sleep difficulties. 48% of people report lying awake due to stress. We have too much to do and not enough time, but instead of respecting the boundary of sleep, we nudge precious minutes to hours off our sleep each night.

Stress is directly linked to poor health. According to the American Stress Institute 77% of Americans experience physical symptoms of stress regularly and 73% experience psychological symptoms. These include fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, hemorrhoids, digestive issues, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle tension, memory loss, fertility issues, teeth grinding, increased risks for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, changes in appetite, changes in sex drive, dizziness, irritability, and anger.

Whew. That’s a lot of crap!

Both quantity and quality of sleep are important. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation, and release of hormones that regulate our appetite. With not enough good quality sleep, we wake up unprepared to concentrate, make decisions, or engage fully in work, family, and social activities.

Could Your Lack of Sleep be Affecting Your Weight? sleep clock

If you think you can survive on 6 hours of sleep, think again. Our body needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, however most people put more importance on physical well being, including food and exercise than mental well being which includes being rested. There is a strong link between sleep, appetite, and weight. According to a recent study published in PLoS Medicine people who receive less than 7 hours of sleep each night have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI).

Lack of sleep elevates ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”  –so  if you’ve felt “tired and hungry” with strong craving for carbs, sugar, fat or  “comfort foods” that is your body looking for energy, when actually it needs to be energized through better sleep. Instead of reaching for a quick sugar fix, close your eyes and reenergize.

Stop Counting Sheep – Join the #30daysleepchallenge!

Be sure to join this month’s #30daysleepchallenge. All you have to do is “follow” me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll be posting motivations, and many more tips and tricks to help you get more zzz’s. I’d love to hear from you too! Be sure to share you thoughts and I’ll be responding to your questions EVERY SINGLE DAY. Use the primary hashtag #30daysleepchallenge and #mefirst as the secondary hashtag.

Healthy Eating With Canned Foods

Hey Nutrition Experts, It’s time to get excited!  Cans Get You Cooking is sponsoring a Twitter Chat on Wednesday May 28th at 8PM ET and I’ll be hosting! So many of our clients and customers look to us for help in making homemade nutritious meals, easyWell now the proof is in the pantry and it’s time we all talk about it!

cans get U cookingNew research shows people who eat canned foods typically have healthier diets and consume more essential nutrients. Join the social conversation to learn the latest evidence that has nutrition experts nationwide recommending canned foods as the key to getting healthy family meals on the table more often. With more than 1,500 food items available in cans you will learn how to provide your clients and customers with endless varieties of recipes all year long!  I’ll be sharing some of my favorite recipes and would love to swap recipes with you too!    cropped-rebecca-scritchfield246173.jpg

New to Twitter parties?

  1. Make sure you have a Twitter account and handle. Sign up here:www.Twitter.com.
  2. Choose a platform where you can see only the tweets for the Cans Get You Cooking Chat. My favorite is www.TweetChat.com
  3. All you do is login with your Twitter account and enter the hashtag #cansgetyoucooking in the search box. You should see only the tweets with that hashtag.
  4. Sign on a few minutes before the chat starts on May 28th (8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. Pacific).
  5. Participate by tweeting messages, replying to others on the chat, sending “re-tweets” etc.

RSVP:  Leave a comment below with your Twitter handle so I can start following you.

Share: Spread the word about the chat with sample tweets and Facebook messages below.

Tweet: Join me & @ScritchfieldRD for @CansGetYouCooking Twitter chat 5/28 8pm ET Learn new research and share your healthy recipes #RDchat #RD2Be

Facebook Post: Hey Nutrition Experts! #Didyouknow frequent eaters of canned foods have better diet quality compared to those who consume canned foods just once or twice in a 2-week period? Our clients and customers are always looking for our help in making homemade nutritious meals, easy! Well now the proof is in the pantry!  New research shows people who eat canned foods typically have healthier diets and consume more essential nutrients. Join me and @ScritchfieldRD on May 28th 8p ET for a Twitter chat with @CansGetUCooking to learn the latest research and recipes with #cansgetyoucooking.

Disclosure: I am working with Cans Get You Cooking on programs this year, including this Twitter chat. 

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

Fuel Your Active Lifestyle with Food and Recipe Ideas

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and National Bike Month! The weather is getting warmer so it’s time to get out and be more active.  You can walk, run, cycle, hike, swim – aim for about 60 minutes of movement a day. Right now most Americans only get 17 minutes a day – YIKES! We can all move more. You can’t mess it up. Do anything you enjoy and be consistent with it.

This past weekend I appeared on WBAL TV 11 in Baltimore to share some friendly meal and snack ideas that will help fuel your active lifestyle! You can watch the full clip below, or read on to see some of the highlights:

Begin with a Balanced Breakfast 

Breakfast has long been considered the most important meal of the day and for good reason! Fueling your body first thing in the morning helps to warm up your metabolism so it’s ready to work throughout the dayFor breakfast, fuel up on whole grains, fruit, and protein. Milk is a source of high-quality protein – 8 grams in an 8 ounce glass. Protein not only helps build muscle, it helps keep you feeling full. Milk also offers three of the top nutrients most likely to be missing in the American diet – calcium, vitamin D, and potassium.

Pudding FINAL

Breakfast Pudding

Besides including milk in morning cereal, you can try this breakfast pudding recipe made with milk, eggs, almond butter, vanilla and layered with your favorite fruit and whole grain cereal.

Did you know that milk is one of the top three items most requested by food banks, yet there is a nationwide shortage of milk at food banks according to Feeding America. The Baltimore community is in need of milk donations and it’s easy to do. Just go online to Milklife.com/give to show your support. Now through May 25, donations will be matched gallon-for-gallon by the nation’s milk companies and dairy farmers.

Recover with Red 

Red-Recharger-Smoothie-2007-Also-Cherry-Smoothie-700x455

Red Recharger Smoothie

People wonder what they should eat before and after a workout. For an ideal recovery you need to fuel your body with something that provides carbohydrates and protein, so I often find myself recommending smoothies. Both flavorful and easy to make, this Red Recharger Smoothie combines whole tart cherries, Greek yogurt and tart cherry juice to give you a boost of powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. Research published in the Journal

Mango Cherry Avocado Salad

Mango Cherry Avocado Salad

 

Nutrients shows that these natural compounds help reduce oxidative stress and muscle inflammation, which can help the body recover more rapidly from exercise.

This Mango Cherry and Avocado Salad combines creamy avocado with the sweetness of mango and tangy tart cherries for a balanced flavor pack full of nutrients. Top this salad with your favorite lean protein, such as a piece of grilled salmon to create  a perfect meal for the warmer weather.

You can also get tart cherries in dried form which make a great addition to any trail mix, cereal or as yogurt toppers.

Snack Smart 

When you’re on the move it’s always a good idea to keep a healthy snack close by. I love pistachios for snacks to fuel between meals because they are a convenient and healthy option for on-the-go with 160 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber per ounce – about 49 nuts.

WP flavors packshotWhen you choose Wonderful Pistachios you have options too, available in 4 flavors– no salt, lightly salted, roasted & salted, salt & pepper, and sweet chili. To make on-the-go even easier you can also purchase 100 calorie tubes or 80 calorie snack packs at local retailers or online.

Make Snack Time Fun!

In-shell pistachios are great for food art because your kids can help shell the nuts,turning the kernels into anything from water in the ocean to part of a smile or even ants on a log. This fun “Shark Plate” snack recipe below is composed of color, shape, texture, and nutrition. It just takes a little creativity to elevate a healthy snack of pistachios, cheese, red bell pepper, and toast into a delicious shark snack that you and your child can enjoy together. See recipe below.

“Shark Plate”

sharkplate

Shark Plate Food Art

Ingredients

  • In-shell Wonderful Pistachios
  • Whole Grain Toast
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Red Bell Pepper

Instructions

  1. Remove the shells from 49 in-shell pistachios to create the sea.  Your kids can help – cracking open the shells to create the sea is a fun and interactive way to involve them in the snack making process.
  2. Cut one slice of cheddar cheese about a half inch in width to create the body of the shark.
  3. Cut another slice of cheese the same width as the body of the shark to form the three fins.
  4. Toast one piece of whole grain toast, and cut your toast into a boat shape.
  5. Take half of a red bell pepper and cut into strips to form one triangle and one trapezoid for the sails of your toast boat.
  6. Cut smaller pieces of red bell pepper to create a small triangle or circular shape for the shark’s eye, and additional small triangles for its teeth.
  7. After the pistachios are shelled and the ingredients are cut, place your shark and boat on your plate and surround the shark and bottom of the boat with the shelled pistachios to create the ocean.

Cover Your Bases with Multivitamins 

Active people always ask me about healthy eating and the need for supplements. My advice is to look for a “healthy sweet spot”.  You want to eat healthy first and a good multivitamin can help fill in the gaps to help meet vitamin and mineral needs. Especially because active people need more vitamins and minerals.

I love Vitafusion Multivites – for adults and L’il Critters Gummy Vites - for the kiddos because they combine the power of vitaminsVF_MVPlus_HSN and a great-tasting gummy, making them a delicious alternative to hard-to-swallow tablets or capsules. Now there’s a PLUS line available, where you
LC_BoneSupport (1)can get more well-being support. The Vitafusion Hair, Skin, and Nails with biotin and lutein for adults and the L’il Critters Plus Bone Support for kids – with calcium and vitamin D. One serving of Lil’ Critters Plus Bone Support contains 200 milligrams of calcium which is as much as a 5 ounce glass of milk and 220 IU of vitamin D, which helps support calcium absorption and bone health.

It’s a small daily healthy habit that’s enjoyable and delicious so your family will be more likely to stick to it. Most importantly remember our health and enjoyment collide through the small, daily activities and habits that shape us into our best selves.

What Do You Fuel Up On?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send a tweet to @ScritchfieldRD to share your favorite tips for flavorful, healthy meals and snacks to keep you fueled.

 

Disclaimer: I was compensated by Milk, Vitafusion, Wonderful Pistachio and the Cherry Marketing Institute to do the tv segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.

How to Break Out of Scale Jail – OWN Show Videos

I can remember a time where I felt so great about my health, possibly the best I have ever felt. I was confident, comfortable in my clothes, and happy with my eating and exercise habits. Then I stepped on the scale. The number was surprisingly higher than I expected. I was deflated, mad, so pissed off, and I suddenly felt like crap. At that moment I realized I was letting a number rule that way I felt about my health and was completely disregarding what truly mattered –  that I felt awesome and healthy! I was in scale jail.

Has this ever happened to you? Giving so much power to a number? Stepping on a scale to see our weight can trap us in an emotional prison. However, some of us still continue to have more serious relationships with our scales than with ourselves and the most important people in our lives.

I recently filmed some segments for the The OWN Show to discuss why weighing yourself may actually be doing more harm than good. You can watch the full clips below and comment on the OWN Facebook page!

If there is ONE THING you take away, it’s this: There is more to your health than just a number on a scale. 

Watch these videos below to learn what happens to our bodies and minds when we step on the scale.

The Power of A Number 

Scale Jail

Phase it Out 

It’s important to know that day to day jumping on the scale does not tell you the complete picture of your health. Weighing ourselves tells us one thing: our weight. If you are weighing yourself and it feels like a judgement you should cut back. Do it once a year and  compare your weight to your own trends, not anyone else. If that seems too challenging try once a week, or once a month, and go from there.

When to Step on the Scale 

When to Step on the Scale

 How Often is Too Often?

Being ashamed of your weight can actually lead to overeating or skipping meals and body dissatisfaction. When weighing yourself makes you feel bad about yourself it is no longer benefitting you. Instead of focusing on weight, focus on healthy habits that can fit into your lifestyle. We have other numbers like lab values from blood work that can tell us how healthy we are and matter much more to our overall health. Weight can change daily but our health does not change that rapidly. We add muscle to our bodies, store more water, or just fluctuate, and we have to stop placing so much emphasis on the scale.

When to Step on the Scale

There are really not too many times when it’s necessary to know our weight. The only times I can think it would be important to know your weight is if you are going under the knife for surgery for medication dosing, sky diving, competing in a professional sport where weight class is required,  or if you are pregnant in order to measure the growth of your baby throughout your pregnancy.

Break Out of Scale Jail

I encourage you to take a break from the scale. Move away from determining your body satisfaction solely on a number and remind yourself that your weight has little to do with your overall health and well being.

Now You “Weigh In”

Feel free to join in the discussion and let us know how you feel about weighing yourself. 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!)

 

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