Think Outside the Lunchbox with Healthy Meal and Snack Ideas

It’s that time of year! Summer is over and the kids are headed back to school! This year think outside the lunchbox with nutritious and tasty snack and meal ideas that your kiddos will gobble up! Check out my recent appearance on DC’s Let’s Talk Live to help kick off the school year with healthy food tips that will make the transition back to school easier and healthier!

Get Your Goodness to Go

Cereal can be a smart choice for a quick breakfast. Look for high fiber, whole grain options like Post Grape Nuts and Shredded Wheat.
But what about when you really need “grab and go”? chocog2gPost has a new breakfast shake called “Goodness to Go”. These new dairy blend beverages are an excellent source of protein and are made with natural sweeteners and flavors. Post is making it easy to have a nutritious and satisfying breakfast. Its available in three flavors, Dutch Chocolate, Tahitian Vanilla and Mocha, so there is something for everyone. Check out Post Goodness to learn more.

Power Up Your Lunch Box

About half our plate should be fruits and veggies. Besides the sandwich, the sides and snacks can be a great way to get in fruits and vegetables.
Pack Zespri kiwifruit, it packs a “punch”. Two kiwifruit have more vitamin C than an orange and as much potassium as a banana. And they’re high in fiber and cholesterol free. Kiwifruit are easy and fun to eat, but most people cut them wrong–All you do is cut it in half with a knife and spoon it out. You can send a cut kiwifruit in the lunch box and let your kids scoop out the goodness. Or you can slice it, which are great to snack on or even place on a peanut butter sandwich instead of jelly. Another option is to dice it up for a fruit salad you make at the beginning of the week and pack each day. Kiwifruit is quite versatile. You can also add kiwifruit to your kid’s yogurt for a sweet tangy taste.Zespri_Landing_Hero_Gold

Did you know Zespri kiwifruit is available in two varieties? The Zespri Green kiwifruit is probably what you’re familiar with. The SunGold variety has a sweet, refreshing Tropical flavor and it’s newly available in the U.S. And, two SunGold kiwifruit have 2.5 times the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. Don’t miss out! Zespri kiwifruit are only in season through October. You can find the Zespri brand at Safeway, Whole Foods and Wegman’s– or check with your local grocery retailer. Be sure to visit for more inspirational recipe ideas.

calraisinsSend the kids to school with a nutritious sandwich or wrap. I love tuna salad, egg salad, and the classic “PBJ”. The sides and snacks you send can be a great way to get fruits and vegetables.
California Raisins
are an all-natural, dried-by-the-sun fruit you can feel good about sending with your kids. The ingredient list says it all: Raisins. They have Zero fat, no cholesterol, no added sugar, California Raisins come by their sweetness naturally. Plus they have fiber, potassium and iron, too!
Convenient and portable, California Raisins are a great choice for wholesome, healthy, on-the-go snacking. Try them on their own or in one of the recipes from Love Your Raisins like the honey nut mix, crunchy cinnamon mix, peanut butter pretzel, or the cocoa peanut raisin mix. California Raisins have a great giveaway happening on their Facebook page for Back To School–if you love raisins check it out!

Choose a “Better Bar”

EnviroKidz Back to School Snacks Giveaway - prize graphicThere are lots of granola bars on the market to choose from. You want to pack a quality bar that tastes good and is good for you. EnviroKidz products come in delicious flavors that kids love like Chocolate and Berry Blast.
Parents can feel good about them because they are organic and non-GMO, which means they are not made from synthetic chemicals or Genetically Modified Ingredients. The entire EnviroKidz line is gluten-EnviroKidz Envirotrip contest graphicfree, so everyone in the family can enjoy them together. They are also whole grain, low fat, and trans-fat free. As part of their ongoing Conservation efforts, EnviroKidz is having a contest where you can win an all-expense paid family trip to Costa Rica to help save the Sea Turtles. Enter at and learn more about their Environmental initiatives.

Hydrate Young Athletes

After school, the real fun begins with after school activities like sports. Pre-fuel those practices with high carbohydrate foods like fresh or dried fruits, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Most kids doing sports are probably going to ask their parents about a sports drink, but not all sports drinks are equal. Body Armor_BRANDEDBODYARMOR is a healthier alternative to other sports drinks because it has no artificial ingredients. It’s made with coconut water and is high in potassium and low in sodium. Most people get enough sodium through their diet and don’t need to get it from sports drinks. BodyArmor has 2.5 times the electrolytes and more vitamins than the other sports drinks on the market. It comes in 6 great tasting flavors fruit punch, orange mango, and strawberry banana so everyone can enjoy!

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send a tweet to@ScritchfieldRD to share your favorite back to school tips and recipes for keeping the kiddos healthy and happy.

Disclosures: I was compensated by California Raisins, BODYARMOR, Post, Zespri Kiwifruit, and Nature’s Path for my work on the TV segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.


Family…It’s What’s For Dinner

In the past 20 years family dinners have declined 33%.

With all the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s difficult to contemplate sitting down to a relaxing family dinner each night or even a few times a week.  After all, who has time after a full day of work, sports practice/games, dance, homework, library, laundry, laundry, and laundry? Grocery shopping has to, once again, wait until tomorrow!

Family Meal

As a parent, it’s your job to raise your kids in a way that makes sense to you. Maybe there were some things about your childhood you loved and other things you’d rather not pass on. You focus on “breaking the chain” so things could be different for your kids.

When it comes to food and eating, What are you passing on to your kids? Children who eat with their families are less likely to snack on unhealthy foods and more likely to eat healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It’s about more than just food and nutrition. Family meals are critical to relationship bonding and connectedness.

Anita Gurian, PhD, a clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, wrote a fabulous article summarizing why family meals need to be a priority once again.

What is parent-child connectedness? It’s an emotional and mutual bond based on warmth and trust that starts early and has a powerful impact on a child’s development.

read the full article

You don’t find time for family meals, you make it.

There are only so many hours in the day and you decide what gets done and what doesn’t. That’ the fact.

Living in D.C. we have the added stress of the work commute that eats into the day. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is possible. In my personal scenario, my husband works pretty long hours 5 days a week. While he is “supposed” to be off at 4 and home at 5 p.m. during his work week, it rarely happens.

We cope by staying committed to family meals on his off days, usually two a week. We do our best to work his schedule so that he can do another 1-2 workweek dinners. When dinners can’t cut it, we try for breakfast.

The studies have shown that benefits of family meals can be seen at 3 meals a week. If your schedule is like ours, then maybe don’t think so “all or nothing” and make an effort to increase family meals from wherever it is now.

Read About It

51GwUB2118L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_The Hour That Matters Most written by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott with Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna, sheds light on how families can come together each night and reap its benefits.  It has been proven that children who eat at least three meals per week with their family are less likely to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders, and consider suicide—and they are more likely to eat their vegetables, know which fork to use, learn big words, do well in school, feel their parents love them, and delay in having pre-marital sex.

As if this wasn’t enough to give family meals a shot, parents enjoy benefits as well.  When time-starved and stressed-out parents made room for routine family dinner, they reported less stress and strain for themselves and their households.  They felt greater personal success as well as success in relationships with their spouses and kids.  They even felt more kindly toward their workplaces.

Making Family Meals Easier

When you are ready to make the most out of your family meals, I have found that the following suggestions are very helpful:

  • No electronics: Direct your full attention to your family and meal.
  • Spread the responsibility:  Let each family member take a night to plan/prepare meal or if you have little ones, set the table, pour drinks, place napkins. Having the table set before the meal eliminates the need for family members to leave the table to get things after the meal has started.
  • Don’t treat kitchen like a food court:  Prepare one meal.  Make a rule that kids must try everything that’s served to them, but they can decline to finish anything they don’t like. This helps kids try new foods and reduces extra work for the cook.
  • Discuss your day, what went well and what did not go well. Talking is key to getting the most out of the family meal. It may seem like “small talk,” but the value is quite large.
  • Listen and enjoy laughter:  Listening unearths hidden feelings, takes away the fear of feeling, and helps kids solve their problems.  Laughing warms relationships, smooth ruffled feathers, eases frustration and releases tension, besides just plain feeling good! Tell a funny thing that happened when you were a child or a joke. One of my son’s favorite jokes is Q: Why did the dinosaur cross the road?  A: Because the chicken hadn’t evolved yet!

Interesting side note:  our cardiovascular and respiratory systems benefit more from 20 seconds of robust laughter than from 3 minutes on a rowing machine!

It is important to remember to relax.

Not every meal has to be made from scratch.  Take out on paper plates can be just as good, as long as your family enjoys the meal together.  Keep in mind, however, that not every dinner hour is magical.  Sometimes kids (or mom) have an emotional outburst or the meal doesn’t turn out as planned.  Just continue to make an effort and you’ll realize that Family…..It’s What’s for Dinner!

The Case for Eradicating ‘Kid’ Food

Well said, Dr. Katz!  We Must Be Kidding! The Case for Eradicating ‘Kid’ Food encourages parents to resume control of what their children are eating, not to cave in to begging kids on the grocery aisles, relentless advertising, or convenience.

Imagine if baby whales, weaned from milk, didn’t learn to eat krill; they were indulged with sugar-frosted flukes or some such thing. Imagine the fussy eaters among the lion cubs who turned up their noses at wildebeest and held out for mac and cheese. Imagine mama and papa dolphin talking themselves into the need to indulge junior’s apparent aversion to fish. Crackers shaped like fish –fine, but actual fish? Fuhgeddaboudit!

read the full article

I have never understood “kid food” anyway. Shouldn’t kids eat what adults eat? I remember when I was visiting family in California and we asked the little boy what he was in the mood for — he said sushi! How awesome is that? We got sushi and he crushed it!

Feeding Kids What You Eat from the Start

As a new mom myself, I am dedicated to helping my daughter develop her food preferences. In that vein, I have decided to skip the whole “food stages” and spoon feeding purees in favor of providing her with the food I eat when I eat it and allowing her to regulate how much she eats and whether or not she eats, vis a vie Ellyn Satter’s “Division of Responsibility”

So far I can say it is going well after I got over my own “mom fears,” which I fully intend to write about soon. Suffice it to say, it takes some chillin’ out and rollin’ with it. F-L-E-X-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y.

Check her out! She’s only 7 months and she can pack down tomato, sweet potato, and even a lamb slider!


What Parents Can Do Anytime

One of the easiest ways to “eradicate” kid food is to choose quality foods that come into the house in the first place. Three simple grocery shopping tips:

  1. Fill the cart with a variety of unprocessed and minimally processed foods —  fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, fish, beans, nuts, seeds.  You can turn just about any fruit into a delicious snack or sweet dessert.
  2. Check the ingredients label of packaged foods. Can you pronounce them? Even something like potato chips can have few ingredients. However, lots of foods marketed as “kid friendly” or healthy in some way can have lots of colors, flavors, additives, or just hard-to-pronounce ingredients.
  3. Balanced house for balanced plates. After the abundance of fruits and veggies (half plate) and lean proteins (1/4 plate) and whole grains (1/4 plate), of course, there will likely be some dessert or snack foods that don’t get the A+ in nutrition. Pick one or two items to have around and offer them as part of meals.

These simple suggestions can help wipe out ‘kid’ food and pave the way for a healthier tomorrow.

Above all else, be a role model by eating healthy yourself.  Children tend to mimic the people they see daily, so be sure to send them the right message. Eat balanced and eat with them! I’ll be writing about the value of the family meal coming up!

Enter to Win 2 Free Bottles of Vitafusion and L’il Critters Gummy Vitamins

I’m thrilled to have a relationship with Vitafusion and L’il Critters. We’ve been working together this year on a number of outreach projects to help educate people on the benefits of vitamins, how I use them myself, and how I recommend to incorporate them. If you’d like to learn more, and perhaps even win some products to try, then read on.

Click to visit website VF-logo

As a dietitian, I encourage people to eat balanced every day, with a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, lean proteins from both plants and animals, dairy and whole grain foods. I’m a big fan of quality foods as a foundation for longevity. I’m also a realist and I understand we all have foods that don’t earn an A+ in nutrition and there is a way to keep those foods in your life in a balanced way. Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

Why Take Multivitamins?

It can be difficult meeting vitamin and mineral recommendations every day. There’s food preferences, seasonal eating, work travel and other normal life events that pop up.  Daily vitamin supplements can be an “insurance policy” to make sure you’re getting what you need.

Many people, myself included, may have a medical need for supplements. I have had vitamin D deficiency for years, before I corrected it with a vitamin D supplement. I need to take vitamin D to help it stay out of deficiency range. I found out my mom, sis, and brother all have vitamin D deficiency. I’m still taking my prenatal vitamins from when I was pregnant because I’m nursing.

If you fall into one of these areas I mentioned, you might want to take a look at Vitafusion.

Vitafusion makes a whole line of gummy vitamins that can meet the needs of your entire family — kids, adults, and prenatals to name a few. 10 lucky readers will get to take home two bottles of gummy vitamins to try them out for themselves. To find out how to enter keep reading!


What do I love Vitafusion?

Well of course I love that they taste great —  who doesn’t love gummies? Even my husband has been taking his vitamins and I’ve never been able to get him to take them before! They’re a great-tasting alternative to large, hard-to-swallow tablets.

Of most importance to me when looking at brands (and even deciding to try the product and work with them) was the quality of the products. They have natural fruit flavors, use only plant-based colors, and they’re made in the USA.


Vitafusion Multivites are specially formulated for adults and offer a balance of nutrients, including 200% of the daily value of vitamin D3 (as much as a 3 oz. piece of salmon!).

Why do we need vitamin D?

Vitamin D is especially important because it’s needed for calcium absorption to help ps-gummy-vitesprevent osteoporosis. Almost 2/3 of Americans, don’t get the recommended amount of vitamin D. If you are deficient, supplementation is recommended to help bring up vitamin D levels, as food sources of vitamin D are difficult to reach.

L’il Critters:

L’il Critters are a great-tasting children’s gummy vitamin that helps support and maintain healthy growth and development. They come in a variety of natural flavors and use only plant-based colors. Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E support immunity and vitamin D helps kids build strong bones.

I asked my “mommy friends” who already use L’il Critters why they give their kids a mulivitamin and they said various versions of this bottom line.

I do my best every day to make sure my kid is provided with a variety of healthy foods. But I’m not with them all the time and their appetite can seem so “off” like some days they aren’t eating much. They love the taste of L’il Critters and I feel better like they are getting what they need. There’s not a fight over food and I can be more flexible as a mom.

With my food and nutrition hat on, I can validate that this line of thinking makes sense. Trying to force your kids to eat a specific type and amount of foods each day is a losing “battle”.  The strategy I recommend follows Ellyn Satter’s “Division of Responsibility” which says parents decide what comes into the house and when and where food is served. Kids decide how much they eat and whether they eat. As moms roll with the normal variations in kids eating, while continuing to offer a variety of nutritious foods, a kids multivitamin that is high quality and great tasting, like L’il Critters can give parents peace of mind.


For all you moms (and wannabe moms!) out there Vitafusion offers a Prenatal vitamin. They’re easy on the stomach, which can help with nausea / morning sickness. I had “morning” sickness usually from 12-8 p.m. the first 15 weeks. It’s no picnic. The prenatal gummy may be better tolerated than a pill or tablet that you need to swallow. In addition, there is no iron, which means a reduced chance of being constipated. The prenatals are an excellent source of folic acid and DHA, which are important for proper fetus development.

10 winners chosen on August 1st, so enter today!

To enter to win 2 bottles of Vitafusion Multivites or Prenatals or L’il Critters Gummy Vites just leave a comment below telling me how these vitamins will improve your wellness — it’s that easy! Winners will be chosen at random and notified by me August 1-7th.

Disclosure: I was compensated by Vitafusion for my time to administer this giveaway.

New Research Released About Food Restriction, Pressure and Kids

-1It seems like you can’t turn a corner nowadays without being bombarded with messages about the obesity epidemic. This fear around obesity seems to be one of the reasons parents have started to police their kids’ food. They think that policing helps them, but recent research has shown that this is not the case.

In a recent study published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, they looked at diverse population (racially/ethnically and socioeconomically) of 2231 adolescents and 3431 parents of those adolescents to explore parent behaviors surrounding both food restriction and pressure to eat. Here are a few of their findings:

  • Mean food restriction was significantly higher among parents of overweight and obese adolescents compared with nonoverweight adolescents

  • Mean pressure-to-eat was significantly higher among nonoverweight adolescents.

  • No significant interactions by race/ethnicity or household income were found in the relationship between pressure-to-eat or restriction and adolescent weight status.

The authors also suggest that “the relationship between parental restriction and child weight status is likely to be bidirectional” and that “results from a small number of studies indicate that parental restriction often precedes excess weight in young children, suggesting that the bidirectional path begins with parental use of controlling feeding practices; this exposure then leads to weight gain over time for the child and creates a feedback cycle in which both food-related parenting practices and the child’s excess weight gain persist across time.”

My advice? Don’t police them to start with.

We all know that labeling something “bad” makes a kid (or adult for that matter) want to do it more probably because they’ll wonder about the appeal of this forbidden thing. Instead of restriction, and telling them food X is bad and off limits, think about introducing structure, and the concept of moderate restraint around food and meal times.

Moderation vs. Restriction

Moderation means that each person is responsible for eating in a way that feels pleasurable and calm vs. something they think they should be ashamed of or sneak and hide. It also means being able to pay enough attention to what you’re doing to know that food doesn’t feel good when you overeat it. It means baking a fresh batch of cookies with your kids, and sitting down together at the table to enjoy them.

Restriction means setting strict rules, and labeling foods as good/allowed and bad/not allowed. For example telling your kids that cookies are not allowed in the house because they’re bad for you. Kids are born intuitive eaters that recognize overfullness. Anyone that’s fed a baby knows that it’s pretty hard to overfeed them — they let you know when they’re done because they just stop when they’re full.

As your kids get older the structure that you provide in your household has a major impact on the taste preferences and skills that they develop, and that they’ll eventually pass onto their kids.

Eating Competence

I’m a big fan of Ellyn Satter, her books, and training for confident eating. Check out her eating competence model.

Consider the Satter Eating Competence Model (ecSatter). ecSatter encourages you to feel positive about your eating, to be reliable about feeding yourself, to eat food you enjoy, to eat enough to feel satisfied, and to let your body weigh what it will in accordance with your lifestyle and genetic endowment. Rather than expecting you to manage your eating by the rules, ecSatter encourages you to base your eating on your body’s natural processes: hunger and the drive to survive, appetite and the need for pleasure, the social reward of sharing food and the tendency to maintain preferred and stable body weight.

What Do You Think?

Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts on raising kids to be mindful eaters.