Food Ideas for Delicious Holidays

Need an easy appetizer? How about nutritious foods in festive colors? Or simple tweaks to those classic favorites for a flavor twist? And of course, what to do with leftovers. My “how-to-do-it” ideas for your holidays in this blog and my most recent Let’s Talk Live D.C. appearance video below.

Add Some Yogurt to your Holiday Recipes

Yogurt is more than a nutritious snack, it’s a great addition to the standard ingredients in holiday recipes. One of my favorites is Siggi’s yogurt. It’s made from simple quality ingredients you can pronounce, and doesn’t have a lot of added sugar like some other brands. It actually has more protein than sugar with about 13 to 15 grams protein per serving and just 9 to 11 grams of sugar. Plus, Siggi’s has no artificial preservatives, no thickeners, no sweeteners, no “fake” flavors and no artificial colors. It’s hard to beat that!

At Thanksgiving, use siggi’s in place of whipped cream. Try topping your Pumpkin and Spice Pie recipe with a dollop of Siggi’s Vanilla. You can also use it in place of butter. Try this delicious twist on your typical mashed potatoes by adding Siggi’s Coconut yogurt to a Sweet Potato Mash.

Find these recipes and more on www.siggisdairy.com and pick up siggi’s at Whole Foods, Giant, Safeway, and YES! Organic Market here in Washington DC.

Sensational Seasonal Flavors

Hummus has become more popular in the U.S. thanks to the #1 selling brand Sabra hummus. Nutrition wise, hummus has a lot to offer. It provides plant protein, fiber, healthy unsaturated fats, as well as iron, zinc, magnesium, and folate.

This is my seasonal twist, a pumpkin hummus, which is a great dish to put out while people are waiting on Thanksgiving. All you do is stir in pureed pumpkin, add a little water and warm it in the microwave for a minute. Top with roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and serve it warm with crudité and good pita bread.

Check out www.sabra.com and you will see there is so much you can do with hummus outside of the typical recipes! I love using hummus as a spread and ingredient in sauces and even salad dressings.

Not your Average Pita

Speaking of that high quality pita bread, look for Toufayan brand at Wegmans, Giant, and Shoprite. It’s fresh, authentic, and healthy. Toufayan is a family owned bakery providing our families with the best tasting breads for over 90 years.

Besides the pita triangles used in the pumpkin hummus appetizer, try their new Gluten Free wraps. They’re available in spinach, garden vegetable, savory tomato, and original. You can use them anywhere! Try these vegetable pinwheels in each of the varieties with hummus, baby spinach, shredded carrot, red cabbage, and sprouts. You make it like a pizza, roll it up tight, cut and hold together with a toothpick. This is delicious, easy to eat, and healthy for you. Find out more at www.toufayan.com.

Gluten Free Gravy Problems Solved

McCormick herbs and spices are always invited to my Thanksgiving. The cinnamon in the pie, poultry seasoning in the stuffing, the foolproof Turkey gravy, McCormick has me covered. Now, McCormick has gluten free turkey gravy, which is not made from flour, so those with gluten allergies can enjoy it too! Make this in five minutes with just McCormick’s Gluten-free gravy mix and water. Dial up the flavor, addng ¼ teaspoon of thyme or sage.

For the leftovers, change it up a bit with this leftover turkey chowder. Add your leftover turkey, gravy, leftover roasted potatoes, and corn for a delicious gluten free chowder.

Green beans are a Thanksgiving staple. Try them lightly cooked with McCormick rosemary, thyme, and salt and pepper and a bit of balsamic vinegar. You can find both of these recipes and more at www.McCormick.com.

Wonderful, Easy Snacks and Party Platters

If I’m going to a party or need a platter idea, “Wonderful”  foods are smart, healthy choices. POM Wonderful Pomegranates are in season. Take the “short cut” and pick up these Pom Poms Fresh Arils to get the sweet, tart taste without the fuss. The bonus? You’ll get fiber and antioxidants too. Try them paired with some dark chocolate. Find out more at www.pomwonderful.com.

Wonderful Halos are so easy to eat and peel. They’re great for kids AND adults. They’re sweet, seedless, and rich in vitamin C. Check out their website www.wonderfulhalos.com.

Lastly, Wonderful Pistachios, “the green nut,”  are a festive color, and easy and fun for your guests to crack. Pistachios are also heart healthy, and a good source of protein and fiber. Check out www.getcrackin.com for more info.

All of these foods are versatile, delicious and perfect for snacking. Have some fun and get creative!

Find out more about these products and topics through Twitter at @siggisdairy @McCormickSpices @Toufayan @getcrackin @pomwonderful and @HalosFun !

Let us know! How are your Thanksgiving plans shaping up? Please share below or tweet to @ScritchfieldRD! We’d love to hear them!

A quick pic before we roll. Lots of great folks making the TV work look easy.

A quick pic before we roll. Lots of great folks making the TV work look easy.

Disclosures: I was compensated by Siggi’s, McCormick, Toufayan, and Wonderful Pistachios, Halos, and Pomegranates for my work on the TV segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.

#HappyHolidaysChallege : Healthy Stress-Free Cooking around Thanksgiving

Happy HolidaysHello 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.

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Healthy Stress-Free Cooking around Thanksgiving

Turkey sandwich. Turkey salad. Turkey casserole. Turkey loaf. Thanksgiving is in a few days, and Forest Gump’s friend Bubba is moving in for the next couple weeks as you work through your leftovers!

With Thanksgiving meal prep looming, the last thing you should have to worry about is how to have healthy food ready during the days leading up to it.

You Can Do It Challenge:  Make life easier on yourself on these days leading up to Turkey Day!

Make Your Efforts Last

One great way to minimize your prep time is to cook a large batch of food at once that can either stretch across several meals, or be used in a variety of ways.

Try this on for size. Put 3-4 chicken breasts and any desired seasoning (I love to use a barbeque rub) into your slow cooker – what’s easier than not having to cook? Add some canned tomatoes (or any of your favorite veggies). Set to medium, and let cook for 3-4 hours. Using a fork or tongs, try to pull the chicken apart. It’s ready when it shreds easily. Shred well, throw it in a Tupperware and refrigerate.

You can now use that chicken for the following:

Breakfast: Omelet. Throw about ¼ cup of the shredded chicken, a couple handfuls of spinach, and a handful of halved grape tomatoes into an oiled skillet and lightly sautee. Scramble 2 eggs and pour over sautéed ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. Flip when underside is cooked, and cook until solid. Serve with a bowl of berries and a piece of whole grain toast with a bit of butter to balance your plate.

Lunch: Chicken wrap. Using a whole grain wrap, add about a ½ cup of the shredded chicken, your favorite lettuce or greens, a chopped slice of tomato, a couple tablespoons of feta cheese, and a tablespoon of hummus. Up the vegetable content by making a Southwest variety with added canned corn (you know you bought some for Thursday), a ¼ sliced avocado, sprinkle of shredded Jack cheese instead of feta, and a tablespoon of salsa instead of the hummus. Serve with a side of fruit.

Dinner: Stir fry. Slice peppers, onions, and mushrooms for sautéing. (If you’re really pressed for time, snag a frozen bag of stir-fry veggies from the store.) Heat your cooking oil and add desired amount minced garlic to flavor it. Toss veggies into a hot skillet. Once veggies are almost cooked through, add desired amount of chicken to pan and mix to heat. Salt, pepper, and more garlic (if desired) to taste. If you want to keep the Asian flavor profile, replace the salt with a few dashes of soy sauce, and add about a teaspoon of powdered ginger. Serve with a side of brown rice.

Do the Grab and Go Thing

The store can help you save time. Stock up on your favorite grab-and-go of these foods and add them to meals and snacks this week:

  • fruits
  • veggies
  • seeds and nuts
  • oatmeal
  • canned soups (I like lentil, black bean and minestrone and I add veggies and brown rice)
  • yogurt
  • canned tuna or salmon

Stop By The Freezer Section

If your freezer is full, use up what you have in there. Combine any vegetable with any protein food and any whole grain food. If you don’t have a huge stockpile to work through, consider picking up a few items at your grocer freezer section.

I have seen many more options of frozen veggies lately. It’s a food trend. (see my quote and others from RDs at FNCE)

  • frozen lightly creamed spinach – nutrition bump up: I add my own fresh spinach, kale, and already shredded carrot (whatever I have on hand)
  • frozen brown rice quinoa and kale – yes, it exists and it microwaves in only 3 minutes. I use this in soups or mix with two scrambled eggs for a super quick and easy meal
  • frozen broccoli – already prepped for you all you need to do is roast in olive oil and salt at 400 for 20 minutes or so. Roasting adds a ton of flavor

You can’t mess it up!

This is probably my favorite saying. If you like it and you know it’s easy and satisfying then it works. Sure, it’s great when it’s good-for-you too.  Use what you have on hand, do a quick pit stop. Make it easy on yourself. You don’t have to put tons of “work” into meals this week. Save that for the “Big Day” coming up.

Adjustable to feed any number of people, or just yourself, the idea here is to take the stress out of cooking so you can focus on the important parts of the holidays!

Don’t mind eating the same thing several meals in a row? Try cooking up a pot of this Quick Slow Cooker Chili. It’s loaded with protein, complex carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals. Add some canned corn, or diced peppers and onions to boost your veggie intake, and you can get your whole balanced plate in a bowl. The easier, the better.

Here’s to a fun and stress-free (Okay, LOW-stress) Thanksgiving!

Enter to Win a Prize Pack

cans get U cookingYou might have noticed that in several of my suggestions canned foods kept coming up. That’s because they are easy, convenient, and nutritious. Who doesn’t love that. You CAN win your own prize pack courtesy of Cans Get You Cooking (thanks for the donation) by leaving a comment below on your favorite time-saving food technique. While you are at it, check out their awesome recipes on Pinterest and Facebook. The prize pack includes fun cooking related items from an apron to measuring cups, utensils, and coupons for freebie canned foods. (Note: you have to be subscribed to the challenge to win. Sign ups on this page.)

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? Sign up below.

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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

#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.

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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.

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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.