#HappyHolidaysChallenge: Give Yourself Permission to Eat

Happy Holidays

Hello there! If you’re reading for the first time or just stopping by for the fun, I’m doing a “Happy Holidays” wellness challenge to help you cultivate more health and happiness the rest of 2014. Catch up on the details on how to join and win the prizes. Or if it already sounds like a good idea, sign up below.


Give Yourself Permission to Eat

We want to be able to enjoy the holidays, and food is often a big part of what we look forward to. Food provides a lot of benefits, and only one of them is nourishment. It evokes positive and enjoyable memories, creates a feeling of togetherness, and can taste really good.

If you identify as a chronic dieter (or “food police”), the holidays may feel like a stressful time when you’re surrounded by a bunch of foods that you “cannot” eat, must avoid, or otherwise feel you have no self control around. White knuckling it through holiday parties to steer clear of delicious “bad food” is no way to embrace the spirit of the season – it leads to unnecessary stress, anxiety, and guilt (and likely overeating when you finally give in – ironic, isn’t it?)

Giving yourself permission to eat is a basic need and a foundation principle of intuitive eating, which is the natural way we are supposed to eat (click here for more info about intuitive eating).

Party On

There are going to be lots of fun parties with lots of food.  Don’t miss out on the good times because you’re too busy worrying and stressing  about what you can and “can’t” eat.  This season, instead of avoiding the foods you love, tell yourself that it’s okay to enjoy them. In the end, this is all about creating positive experiences with food and erasing guilt, shame, and diet-focused thinking.

Are You The “Food Police”?

Here’s a quick way to know if your food rules are out of hand: If you avoid foods for reasons other than food allergy or dislike for the taste or texture, there’s a food rule somewhere. I’m all for eating healthy and balanced, but healthy does not mean perfect and food should not be some kind of moral judgement.

Why not make some progress in this area, away from “all or nothing” thinking and toward balance.

You can do it challenge: Break Out of Food Jail

Take 5 minutes to think about 5 foods you genuinely enjoy eating that you may feel guilty about when you do. Instead of avoiding them, make a plan to eat at least one of them with family and friends this week. For example – bake cookies with your family and then share the delicious treats with your neighbors or coworkers.

What do you think happens when you give yourself permission to eat? In my experience (personal and with clients) you tend to enjoy the food sans guilt and you tend to eat it in moderation. You still get the healthy stuff you like too. Not because you have to, but because you want to.

I have never met a single person who said they got pleasure and enjoyment out of denying themselves foods they love.  By now you are more skilled at eating with awareness. If not, freshen up those skills from the previous challenge.

What are you going to do differently this year to let go of those food rules? If the thought is uncomfortable, it’s OK. Most new things require discomfort. Until they are comfortable. That’s called change.

Check In

How are you doing so far? Leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. If you’re on Twitter, follow me and the #HappyHolidaysChallenge for even more motivation.

If you’re not “officially” in the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? You’ll get weekly emails, along with the chance to win free prizes each week. All you need to do is sign up below.


Challenge Your Friends

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sharing on social media or just send them this e-mail with the link to subscribe to the challenge.

Facebook: Join me and Rebecca Scritchfield for a free 60-day wellness challenge.  Get healthier and happier this holiday season. http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Twitter: I’m taking the #HappyHolidaysChallenge with @ScritchfieldRD. Join us http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c

Healthy Holiday Entertaining on WBAL

Are you counting down the days to Thanksgiving? Is your grocery shopping list already taking shape on the refrigerator?

WBAL TV11 News

WBAL TV11 News

Before you set those Thanksgiving dinner menus in stone, take a look at my Healthy Holiday Entertaining tips from my latest WBAL TV 11 news appearance! Trust me, you CAN invite nutrition to the table this Holiday season.

Don’t Forget about the Cans

When you’re busy, cooking with cans can be a BIG help. Take advantage of canned foods! They are convenient, easy, and they help your family get the nutrition they need. New research shows that kids who eat canned fruits and veggies tend to get more fruits and veggies overall and have a better diet quality. Currently, 9 out of 10 kids aren’t meeting their daily vegetable needs, and ALL forms of fruits and vegetables, canned fresh and frozen, help kids achieve this!

WBAL TV11 News

Family Fiesta Tacos

Try these “Family Fiesta Tacos,” with canned tomatoes, corn and kidney beans – with nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. You can get this recipe and more at mealtime.org

Put Cranberries on the Menu

Did you know cranberries have health benefits like helping to prevent urinary tract infections? Compounds unique to cranberries help prevent bacteria from sticking to the cell walls and causing infection. On www.cranberryinstitute.org , I found A research review published in the international journal Advances in Nutrition. In it, cranberries reportedly help to:

  • reduce the incidence of certain infections
  • maintain a healthy urinary tract
  • improve heart health and temper inflammation
WBAL TV11 News

Cranberry Chutney

They may also help maintain heart health by improving blood cholesterol, reducing blood pressure, and reducing inflammation. All Cranberry products have these bioactive compounds including cranberry juice cocktail, dried cranberries, cranberry sauce and fresh/frozen cranberries.

Use Leftovers Creatively

I love honey because it is a versatile culinary ingredient used across a variety of cuisines! For example, it can easily be added to an Asian dish. Make this flavorful Chinese Noodles with Spicy Honey Peanut Sauce and serve it with your leftover turkey! With over 300 varieties of honey just in the US, each different type adds its own unique flavor profile to the recipe.

WBAL TV11 News

Chinese Noodles with Spicy Honey Peanut Sauce

Honey also balances any recipe enhancing the dish’s flavor: whether its sweet, sour, bitter, salty or savory. Get this recipe and more versatile uses at www.honey.com . Try it out with this easy cranberry compote and use it in LOTS of your fall dishes. Throw fresh cranberries in a pot with a bit of sweetener and simmer until soupy. Top oatmeal, yogurt, use as a spread on sandwiches and wraps – anywhere you can think of!

Entertain with Ease

If you’re hosting or going to a party and want a fun idea that’s super easy, try this KIND bar and cheese pairing: like a “wine and cheese” except with KIND bars! I love KIND foods because they are made from ingredients you can see and pronounce. The new STRONG & KIND bars offer savory flavors and 10 grams of protein per bar from almonds, seeds, and pea protein. These don’t contain soy or whey protein. There are Five Bold Flavors to choose from:

  • Honey Mustard
  • Thai Sweet Chili
  • Hickory Smoked
  • Roasted Jalapeno
  • Hickory Smoked BBQ
WBAL TV11 News

Strong & Kind KIND Bars Paired with Cheese

I love to pair Honey Mustard with a creamy goat cheese, Thai Sweet Chili with a Monterey jack, and Hickory Smoked with manchengo.

Tasty and nutritious, add some of these ideas to your Thanksgiving menu and you’ll be sure to add some health as well!

Find out more about these products and topics through Twitter at @USCranberries @CannedFoodFan @NationalHoney and @KINDSnacks !

Let us know! Have you day-dreamed out any Thanksgiving meal plans yet? Please share below or tweet to @ScritchfieldRD! We’d love to hear them!

Disclosures: I was compensated by Canned Food Alliance, National Honey Board, Cranberry Institute, and KIND Snacks for my work on the TV segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.

My 2014 FNCE: Food, Fitness, and Friends

Another FNCE (Food Nutrition Conference and Expo) has come and gone. This is the one event each year where I am guaranteed to see many wonderful RDs I have had the pleasure to get to know through the years. It’s always a special time. From the education, to the expo and the social events, FNCE is fun!

This year, I was honored to host, not one but TWO special events for a couple of my favorite brand partners – siggi’s and Mazola Corn Oil. Check out my recap of these events and some of my other favorite memories below.

NE-Time, NE-Where Fitness, Powered by siggi’s

Now a mom of two kids  under two years old, I have embraced the idea of “making it work for me.” That includes workouts. If I don’t have the window of time to hit my favorite workout, I do effective exercises with the only equipment I need – my body. I loved partnering with Nutrition Entrepreneurs (“NE”) and siggi’s for the NE-Time, NE-Where Workout at FNCE. (I guess that includes 6:45 a.m. in front of the CNN offices and quite possibly viewers everywhere!)

Planking with Siggi and NE. Engage that core!

Planking with Siggi and NE members. Engage that core!

We started with my all time favorite – the plank – with multiple variations and push ups. Also included were lunges, burpees, chair and sumo squats, mountain climbers, and everyone’s 6th grade favorite… jumping jacks. We completed 30 minutes of a sweat-fest with intervals from beginner to advanced. We finished with yoga poses and enjoyed a delicious siggi’s yogurt breakfast.

Gettin' Siggi with It!

Gettin’ Siggi with It!

I love that siggi’s yogurt is real- no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. I also love that siggi’s has more protein than sugar per container. Just a slight sweetness from real ingredients, all which you can find in your kitchen. Be sure to pick up some siggi’s yogurt at the grocery store this week or if you can’t find it, let your grocer know  you want it.

Recipe to try: Easy peasy Post-Workout Smoothie

Cooking Right with Mazola Corn Oil: Chicken Tinga Tacos 

When I find a recipe that is easy, versatile, and good for you, I am a happy woman. The chicken tinga tacos is so simple, but the best part is that it practically cooks itself in the slow cooker. This frees up a good chunk of your time to do whatever you want – a hot bath, a workout or both!

Making chicken tinga tacos at FNCE 2014

Making chicken tinga tacos at FNCE 2014

If you aren’t cooking with corn oil, give it a try. Corn oil can help lower cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil thanks to the plant sterols. Corn oil’s plant sterols block cholesterol absorption by the body. Corn oil has 4 times the plant sterols as olive oil and 40% more than canola oil. (See the study at Mazola’s website)

I gotta tell you, the live food demo was a lot of fun. I was happy I didn’t start a fire on the exhibit floor!

“Wonderful”  Reception at the Skyview Wheel

I love working with the Wonderful brands through the year on TV segments. You are probably most familiar with Wonderful Pistachios and the Get Crackin’ commercials. We had a blast at the Atlanta Skywheel reception complete with Wonderful pomegranate champagne cocktails, tasty bites like pistachio chicken salad, and a ride on the massive wheel.

Wonderful time with friends at FNCE

Wonderful time with friends at FNCE

Kudos, Carlene and Janet

I was thrilled to see a former intern of mine, Carlene Thomas, speaking at FNCE on social media! (Way to go, Carlene! Keep rising that star. Your blog pics are gorgeous!)

I was ecstatic for the one and only Janet Helm, who received career distinction with the Media Excellence Award. Janet has pioneered RDs as the nutrition experts on social media by founding Nutrition Blog Network.

My P’s – Wendy Jo and Leslie

And of course, I got time with Wendy Jo and Leslie – my P’s (as in peas in a pod – and I know it means something else too!) We met at Academy Leadership in 2009 having drinks by the pool :) We got the bright idea to form a mastermind group. A couple of years later we were selected to speak at FNCE on the power of peer support. We still get people coming up to us saying that we inspired them years ago and they are actively pursuing and living their career dreams. That feels pretty darn good.

I’m happy for Leslie’s latest biz – Your Supper Solution. Check it out, subscribe or at least start with her free e-mails.

John F Kennedy said “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” I think that sums up FNCE pretty well…  It’s full of leadership and learning… and fun! See y’all in Nashville 2015!

Disclosure: I worked with Mazola and siggi’s on the FNCE events, but I was not compensated to write this blog post. 

California Walnuts Harvest Tour


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

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

Walnuts Shaking

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

walnut sweeping

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

walnut hulling

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

walnut orchard lunch

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

walnut cooking demo

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

Looking to satisfy your walnut craving?

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


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

My Samba with Sabra

Written By: Lindsey Earl, Dietetics Graduate Student, Eastern Michigan University

As Rebecca’s intern, I had the privilege of attending a “hummus summit,” if you will, held by the popular hummus makers, Sabra. This gathering marked the opening of their “pop-up” restaurant “Hummus House” in Georgetown, Washington D.C. First, if you don’t know what a pop-up restaurant is (I certainly didn’t), it’s a temporary restaurant available for a limited time. In the case of Hummus House, it will be open just four weeks, for lunch and dinner, through October 26th. During this gathering, a collection of very knowledgeable Sabra representatives met with a diverse group of nutrition and food experts to discuss (and eat) hummus.

I’ll be honest, when I heard I was attending a meeting to talk about hummus, I wasn’t expecting a riveting and heated debate over the present state of the chickpea. What I was pleased to find was a very colorful and passionate sharing of information and ideas on a topic we all love. Hummus was simply the reason to talk about it. So while we munched on (shocker!) hummus, we learned a little more…actually a lot more…about this nutritious but sometimes unfamiliar food.

What the heck is hummus anyway?

The basic formula for hummus includes primarily ground cooked chickpeas, oil, tahini (ground sesame seeds), and is typically seasoned with garlic and a bit of salt. Chickpeas carry the most weight for making hummus what it is, so our discussion went on to help familiarize us with this vegetable…um, protein, er, grain? Wait…what is it anyway?

Every member of the panel was asked to give their opinion on what category the chickpea fell into and, it turned out, the vote was split! 8 people thought it was a vegetable, 8 thought it was a grain, and 8 thought it was a protein. Guy Johnson, Ph.D. put our confusion at ease by explaining that nutritionally, it actually falls under several categories, including the ones we chose. He went on to reveal quite the nutritional wrap sheet, which included (in ½ cup serving) 7.5 grams protein, 50% of daily fiber requirements, 250 mg potassium, appreciable amounts of minerals magnesium and manganese, and a significant proportion of resistant starch, to name a few.

Sabra Speakers Take the Floor

A Food Scientist Helps us with the Science – Guy Johnson, Ph.D.

As a former biology major and current nutrition student, the science-y portion of Guy’s presentation was what I really “geeked out” about. Recent research has shown a low glycemic response from chickpeas and apparent correlation to decreased LDL (bad cholesterol). Further, studies have also shown that those who eat hummus are also increasing their vitamin and mineral, fiber, and polyunsaturated fatty acid intake. This isn’t solely from the hummus, this is also from the vegetables these people are eating WITH the hummus. So, incorporating hummus into someone’s diet can actually help them eat more vegetables, which is almost always a good thing.

A Counseling Dietitian’s Perspective – Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, LD


Cue Rebecca. Sharing the real-life and counseling view of hummus’s role in an American’s diet, she shed some light on not only its nutritional benefits, but its convenience, versatility, and simplicity as well. Assuring her clients they “can’t mess it up,” hummus is a nutrient-dense food that can be taken to work or school with vegetables as a snack, used in place of peanut butter for peanut allergies, and can replace cheese or mayonnaise to healthy-up just about anything you could think to put it on. In short, it’s an easy addition to healthy eating habits that doesn’t require significant time, effort, or thought.

I think this convenience aspect is hugely important. How often do we hear “I don’t have time for that” as a reason for just about anything? In a current world where it takes a lot more money to fill up the gas tank, and a second (or third, or fourth…) job to put food on the table, the last thing you should have to say this about, is your health. As a future dietitian in today’s busy world, my responsibilities have grown to emphasize how to fit achievable healthy eating into someone’s lifestyle. The Sabra panel proved this point yet again.

The Possibilities are Endless –  Chef, Mary Beth Albright

The chef behind the Hummus House dishes, Mary Beth Albright, shared her mission in creating the restaurant’s menu. She wanted to open visitor’s minds to the limitless faces of hummus. We learned that in Mediterranean communities, hummus restaurants are open early, as this food is no stranger to breakfast. Topping their morning oatmeal with hummus, Mediterranean people are consuming a hearty nutrient-packed meal that can keep them satiated for hours. She wanted to illustrate how much just changing the temperature can alter a food. Serving hummus warm, instead of the typical refrigerated form, can change the flavor profile completely. Our eyes lit up as the conversation explored the many delicious possibilities for this already tasty food.

Food and nutrition reaches out to such a diversity of communities, it’s difficult for a single entity to anticipate and comprehend all of their opinions and needs. So why not bring people from a variety of communities together for each to share their unique viewpoint. This was what we did! Internet bloggers, chefs, and food service experts alike, shared how they have observed hummus to be represented and perceived in their respective communities.

This turned out to be just as fascinating as the science for me. It seems that as Americans, we have a bit of hummus-fear. This is a food well seated in Mediterranean cultures, but not so much in the land of steak and potatoes. Most understand hummus to be a dip, and that’s about as far as their knowledge goes. So, those at Sabra learned more about something they already knew. They, as the hummus experts, need to educate the unfamiliar public about the possibilities for this emerging food. What I learned, is that it’s part of our job too. As dietitians, we know this is a food our clients can benefit from. From salad dressings, to oatmeal, grilled cheese paninis, and stuffed fruit, this panel certainly taught me how to help them do that.

Sharing Their Passion – Laurie (from Sabra)


I mentioned earlier that this was a passionate group of people. One of the big highlights of the panel included a presentation on chilies by Laurie (from Sabra), to introduce the relatively new salsas Sabra has developed. Learning quite a bit of facts about different types of chilies (pre-dates the apple in the Americas!), we also learned that certain recipes of these salsas were developed specifically for those people who are proud “heat addicts.” This is going to get Bill Nye for a second, but it turns out capsaicin, the chemical in chili peppers that gives them their “heat,” stimulates the Trigeminal nerve in the brain. This nerve then creates what is known as a feedback loop, allowing us to feel pleasure in response to a sensation that burns. Thus…a heat addict is born! IMG_0977It was a pleasure to be in the presence of so many people who share the same passion and positivity about what they do. I believe this is where amazing things come from.

The Hummus House in Georgetown is meant to be a pilot restaurant. With success will come additional pop-ups, maybe even in your own town! In the meantime, take a trip to the Sabra Hummus House in Georgetown, and experience for yourself what the people at Sabra are so passionate about!

To read more from Rebecca about Hummus House dishes and nutritional benefits, check out her blog entry, Sabra Pop-Up Restaurant “Hummus House” Opens in Georgetown.

Follow the fun and keep up on social media updates with Twitter hashtag #sabrahummushouse.