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!

 

 

Instead of Wishing You Had Something Else, Find Your Best ‘You’

This week I’ll be making a number of posts to support Weight Stigma Awareness Week. Since my September “MeFirst” Mindset Newsletter focused on size diversity, I thought I would share it here as well. To sign up for my newsletter, just visit my website.

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The Courage to be Your Best “You”

Imagine a world where people are supported in living happy, healthy lives, free of judgment about the size of their bodies. That’s the mission of the national Weight Stigma Awareness Week, September 23-27, 2013. I decided to dedicate this newsletter theme to the cause.

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Weight stigma starts with you. In what ways are you (still) judging yourself about your body or your weight? How is it getting in the way of your happiness? Your health? In a new client’s first session she said to me “Rebecca, doesn’t everyone want to be thin?” I responded. “Actually, no. Some people are OK with being healthy and taking good care of themselves, regardless of what they weigh.” This was a completely foreign concept to her. She has spent a life yo-yo dieting and feeling inadequate in so many ways. She even admitted that even when she weighed the lowest, she still did not feel good enough. It’s amazing that after just one session and some soul searching, she was able to tell me that she wants to change her goal to be “my best me” and that she did not want to focus on weight loss as a goal. She truly wants to be healthy.

I challenge you to take a hard look at your own judgments about yourself, whether they are related to weight or not. Society will always be distorted in some way, but nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission. Hold yourself with compassion and you’ll be better prepared to deal with everyone else.

I hope you enjoy this newsletter with some weight-neutral, self-care focused tips for food, movement and fun!

Food: Break a “Rule”!

You can’t escape the diet mentality even if you aren’t following a diet. Somebody you know has food rules and maybe you do too. Whether it’s “always include a vegetable,” “never eat bagels,” or “always choose dark chocolate”… you know it’s a food rule when you use those absolutes always/never. How do food rules help you really? When I see clients with food rules at best they are a waste of time, but usually they are associated with fear of food and a loss of pleasure. So break a rule – or five. Yoga taught me “let go of what you don’t need.” You don’t need food rules. What you may need is some food-spiration! Check out the food blogs on Babble with Cans Get You Cooking. Or better yet, watch The Chew September 19 and 30th for fun, easy recipes with canned foods and watch these Chew videos.

Movement: Get Movin’ for the Right Reasons

Watch Amber Riley’s smokin’ hot cha-cha on DWTS. I love her body confidence and her attitude. Exercise shouldn’t be about getting thin. It should be about taking care of our body and making us feel good inside and out (ok, maybe exercise doesn’t feel good all the time). Think about what gets you moving. I always say that the best workout is the one you’ll do. Sometimes classes can seem intimidating, but there are ones out there that can be fun and non-judgemental. Curvy Yoga has a cool approach to yoga for people with all body types. The bottom line is that no matter what size you are you deserve self-care. There’s a saying that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Pick any activity you enjoy, and do it. Regularly.

For an interesting and enlightening read, check out the Dances with Fat blog to read about one woman’s story about being a dancer and choreographer in a thin-obsessed industry and world.

Fun: Seeing is Believing! Make Your Own Vision Board

This month, instead of trying to be like someone else, focus on being the best version of you that you can be. Make an effort to see the positives in you. A fun way to organize your thoughts around your personal goals and aspirations is to create a vision board. Sometimes in the busyness of life we can forget our destination and where we want to go. It can be beneficial to take time to pause and reflect about what you really want for yourself – personally and professionally. Taking time to vision can help you direct how to spend your time. If you’re always someone who struggles with body image, then maybe your board can focus on what you want your body image to be, and how you want to feel. Find out how you can make your own vision board here.

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MeFirst Motivation

“The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others” – Sonya Friedman

My Snack Ideas in Prevention Magazine

Read on to find out my top 20 snacks to fuel your workouts.

The Men Who Made Us Thin: Episode 3

Check out the 3rd episode in this 4 part BBC documentary series that examines the diet industry and why diets fail.

Catch Up With the Blog

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DIY Energy Snack: 2-Minute Peanut Butter Rice Squares

People are always asking me about snacks ideas for before, during, and after workouts. Oh, and something that needs no refrigeration, takes zero seconds to prepare, is easy to chew, digest, and helps me perform better.

Is that all?

How about this recipe is also:

  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • Delicious

This DIY energy snack is so easy. All you need is rice, peanut butter, and maple syrup. OK, so I am assuming you have leftover rice from another meal. If not, you can actually buy brown rice you can microwave in four minutes. I still take credit for this being super quick and delicious.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup leftover rice, brown or white
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
  • 2 tablespoon 100% maple syrup

Directions:

  • Place peanut butter in a microwave safe dish and warm for up to 45 seconds. This makes it easier to combine and coat the rice.
  • In a medium size bowl, stir together peanut butter and maple syrup.
  • Add the rice and stir to combine.
  • Remove to a 8×8 glass container, cover and store in refrigerator

Variations:

You can play around with the flavor. Here are just a few ideas.

  • spices like cinnamon or nutmeg
  • sea salt (yeah, you need that after you sweat)
  • shredded unsweetened coconut
  • any combo of dried fruits, pick 1-3
  • chocolate chips (need I say more?)

Servings:

  • Makes 3 servings for moderate workouts lasting less than 60 minutes.
  • Make 2 servings for workouts lasting 60-90 minutes.
  • Eat the whole thing if you are going longer than 90 minutes.

Why Is This Exercise Fuel?

Just in case any readers are wondering why this basic combo is great for exercise, it’s all about the carbs. Your “gasoline” so you can push yourself in your workout, whether you’re gone 45 minutes or 3 hours, is carbohydrates. In this quick recipe, you’ll get carbs from the rice, maple syrup and fruit if you add it. Peanut butter provides protein, heart healthy fats and vitamins, and minerals.

Enjoy, Fit Friends!

Foods and Gadgets to “Fuel” Your Active Lifestyle

If you like exercise like I do, then you might also like to know how to stay energized before, during, and after your workout. When it comes to eating, the key is quality foods, quality nutrients. I also think it’s important to “train smart,” meaning push yourself when you need to and cut yourself some slack when you need to. I support heart rate training as method for customizing your program to meet your goals and current fitness level.

I was on Let’s Talk Live DC this week sharing foods and gear that will help fuel an active lifestyle. Check out my tips on hydration, pre-exercise fuel, recovery nutrition and heart rate training tips.

You can watch the full video here, or check out highlights from my segment below:

Tip #1: Fuel Up Before You Exercise

You need to eat before you workout… the same way you put gas in your car before you drive. You want carbs, which provide “quick energy” to burn during exercise and quality protein for sustained and lasting energy.

KINDI love KIND bars for “on the go” energy, because they have ingredients you can see and pronounce (like real fruit and delicious nuts)  that provide that balance of carbs and protein you are looking for. As pre-exercise fuel “on the go” you can pair a KIND Bar with a piece of fruit, or on their own they’re a great snack too.

KIND Healthy Grain “clusters” provide quality carbohydrates from five whole grains, including ancient grains like amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa. Plus, they’re a good source of fiber to keep you feeling fuller, longer. Perfect for topping yogurt or oatmeal, or even on it’s own with milk.

-1Another great pre-fuel idea for any time of day is pancakes. The only problem is they tend to be low in protein. I was thrilled to find all natural “Flap Jacked Protein Pancakes” that have the protein already in the packet — a whopping 15-17 grams protein per serving! You’ll get your dose of carbohydrate from the whole grains (like whole oats and quinoa), and the protein and fiber will keep you full for hours.

They’re convenient and easy-to-make (just add water!) Plus they’re non-GMO, have no additives and no preservatives. Not only are they full of good nutrition, but they come in 3 delicious flavors – banana hazelnut, cinnamon apple, and buttermilk. You can find them in 4 ounce and 28 ounce packages on their website at www.flapjacked.com.

Tip #2: Replenish Nutrients and Reduce Inflammation with Recovery Nutrition

Endurance exercise creates inflammation and depletes your body of carbohydrates. Recovery 8588977321303240808nutrition is important to replenish those lost nutrients and to help reduce inflammation. Tart cherry juice and dried tart cherries are packed antioxidants called anthocyanins that reduce pain and inflammation comparable to some pain medications.

I drank/ate them as part of the Red Recovery Routine when I ran NYC marathon and recovered within 2 days and was back in yoga. The juice is great on its own or in a smoothie, and I love the dried cherries in my oatmeal and in yogurt parfaits. You can get the recipe for their Red Recharger Smoothie and other tasty goodies at www.choosecherries.com.

Tip #3: Train Smart with Heart Rate Training

Whether you want to manage a healthy weight, run faster, or just be more active, using a heart rate monitor is the best, most reliable way to maximize results. Polar is the industry leader in fitness assessment technology and has a number of affordable and simple to use monitors to fit any fitness level. Whether you’re new to heart rate training and are, or RCX3_black_340x395are an endurance athlete with thousands of miles under your belt.

As a bonus, every monitor comes with access to their Smart Coaching Program that can help you with tailored training advice. Go online to see all their heart rate monitors, including the FT4 and RCX3 models. You can also join their online community, or visit PolarPersonalTrainer.com to set up your free training plan.

Tip #4: Stay Hydrated with the Right Fitness Beverage

Vita CocoWe all need to stay hydrated all day long, but it’s especially important during physical activity. Vita Coco coconut water is a great alternative to many sports drinks, especially if you aren’t out there doing endurance training. You don’t need the calories or sugar from a fitness beverage, but you need to stay hydrated. Coconut water has electrolytes (like calcium, potassium and magnesium) and only 45-60 calories per serving.

A couple of recent studies showed that replacing sports drinks with coconut water helped to decrease sugar intake and increase nutrient intake. Check out the abstracts.

I also love that it is just the water from young coconuts — simple and delicious. It’s particularly delicious in “green smoothies” because it can actually help keep them from turning brown.

Here’s a refreshing “green smoothie” recipe you can try at home:

  • 2 c. Vita Coco coconut water
  • 1 sliced avocado
  • 2 c. lightly packed spinach
  • 1 sliced green apple, skin on
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 c. ice

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and whip until smooth. Serve in a cold glass.

To find Vita Coco coconut water in a store near you, visit vitacoco.com.

Disclaimer: I was compensated for my time to do this segment by Kind Snacks, Flap Jacked, Cherry Marketing Institute, Polar and Vita Coco, but was not compensated to write this post.

Cold Smoothie Ideas Perfect for Warmer Weather

As a sports nutritionist, ultra marathoner, busy working mom, and health nut… I love smoothies, especially in warmer weather. They’re quick, easy, and cold! Making them yourself is usually the best way to go because you control the ingredients to keep them good-for-you.

Last week I was on WBAL in Baltimore sharing some of my favorite warm weather smoothie recipes. You can watch the whole video here, visit WBAL’s website for the full recipes, or check out some of the highlights below:

“Red Recharger” Recovery Smoothie

For all those athletes out there, whether you run, swim, bike (or do all three… I know, I’m a triathlete too!) You will love this smoothie. Any exercise you do over 60 minutes is considered “endurance” and needs proper recovery nutrition.

8588977321303240808Why, you ask?! Endurance exercise creates inflammation and depletes your body of carbohydrates. You also create “damage” (tiny tears) to your muscle (it’s how you make them bigger and stronger!) Recovery nutrition is important in order to replace those lost carbs and fluids, along with protein for repairing muscle.

I recommend using tart cherry juice and dried tart cherries as part of the Red Recovery Routine. (side note: I did it for New York City marathon and recovered within 2 days!)

Research has shown that anthocyanins, the antioxidant compounds in cherries, reduce pain and inflammation comparable to some well-known pain medications.

This smoothie is made with tart cherry juice, frozen tart cherries (both found year round), strawberries, yogurt, a little nutmeg, OJ concentrate and honey for a little natural sweetness. To try the Red Recovery Routine or for more recipes you can check out www.choosecherries.com.

Soy Banana Nut Smoothie

This makes a great fast meal or pre-fuel for a workout. It’s made with Silk soymilk, banana, peanut butter and honey. I love Soymilk because it is a good source of wholesome, complete soy protein. Eating whole soy foods like soymilk and edamame are associated with lower risk of heart disease, breast and prostate cancer. Silk soymilk is especially great because it’s “GMO free” and has no cholesterol.

peanutsinhand-AdjustedI love using peanuts and peanut butter in smoothies! I consider peanuts a “superfood”. They have 30 vitamins and minerals and 7 grams of protein per serving — more protein than any other nut, for “lasting energy”. They’re also affordable and convenient.

To finish up this smoothie, I use banana and honey for “quick energy” carbs, potassium, and some natural sweetness.

Here’s the recipe I created especially for the segment:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Silk soymilk
  • 1 sliced banana, fresh or frozen overripe
  • 3 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup ice

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender and whip until smooth. Serve in a cold glass.

You can get more recipes in addition to the smoothies at nationalpeanutboard.org and silk.com.

Mango Lassi

MangoLassi_DTThis is a great option for a quick snack on a warm afternoon or if you wanted, you could add some ‘spirits’ to this and make it a frozen cocktail.

I made it with Silk PureAlmond unsweetened almond milk which has only 30 calories per serving — less than half the calories of skim milk. I like using almond milk here because you get a good flavor too. For a snack or cocktail, lower calories makes sense to me because a snack is meant to bridge two meals…and most people who drink frozen cocktails are looking for ways to keep the calories lower.

This beverage is made complete with diced fresh mango, fresh lemon juice, honey, ice and beautiful mint garnish. Get the mango lassi recipe at http://silk.com/recipes/mango-lassi.

“Green” Fruit and Veggie Smoothie

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.

In this smoothie I used avocado (also a fruit – and green!) to add a creamy texture, and for the liquid I used coconut water. I like coconut water because its hydrating and it provide potassium, an important electrolyte for muscle contractions.

Get all these recipes on the WBAL website

To get the recipes for all these delicious smoothies in one place, just visit WBAL’s website.

Share your favorite smoothie recipes!

Leave a comment below telling me your favorite smoothie recipes and/or ingredients. I’m always looking for new flavor combos!

Disclaimer: I was compensated for my time to do this segment by Silk, National Peanut Board, and Cherry Marketing Institute, but was not compensated to write this post.