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 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 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

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

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

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

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 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.

Sorting Out Fact From Fiction: The Gluten-Free Diet Craze

Gluten free diets have become the latest weight loss “fad”. I think one of the reasons this trendy way of eating has evolved is that rather than working on incorporating balance and moderation into meals and snacks, it can be easier to cut something out altogether – whether that’s wheat, dairy or something else. What people may not know who are following a gluten-free diet for weight control, is that many times when gluten is removed from processed foods, sugar, fat and butter are often added to improve the taste.

wheat For most of us, there really is no medical reason to eliminate gluten. In fact, many gluten-containing foods can be very nourishing (ex: whole grain bread and barley). As this article summarizes, there really are only three true reasons to avoid gluten (and I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear that none of them are weight loss related):

  1. An autoimmune condition like celiac disease in which the presence of gluten actually alters the intestine and causes malabsorption and other GI issues like pain and diarrhea. This diagnosis can be made by a biopsy and blood test.
  2. An allergy, which would have symptoms that might appear similar to any other allergy – hives, sneezing, etc. This can’t be tested easily, but is evaluated similar to other allergies based on visible symptoms.
  3. An intolerance/sensitivity which may have symptoms like abdominal bloating, but can’t be accurately tested for.

I recently did a series of videos with the #OWNshow and @OWNTV which covered a number of gluten-related topics, including an overview of what gluten is, if going gluten-free makes sense for weight loss, identifying hidden sources of gluten in some foods, and uncovering some sneaky truths about some gluten-free products that are on the market today. Watch each video below: Can You Lose Weight By Going Gluten-Free?  Weight Loss Gluten Free

The Sneaky Truth of Some Gluten-Free Products  Sneaky Truth Gluten Free Products Could You Be Eating Gluten and Not Know It?  Hidden Gluten The Gluten Guide: What is Gluten Really? Gluten Guide  What do you think about the gluten-free diet trend? To join the conversation about going gluten-free, leave a comment below, use the hashtag #OWNSHOW on twitter, or check out the OWN TV Facebook page.

Washington Post Interview: The Truth About Gluten-Free, Paleo, and other Diet Books


I was happy to be one of a few experts quoted in the Washington Post article The Truth about Gluten-Free, Paleo, and other Diet Books which discusses some of the flaws with today’s “quick fix” restriction diets.

Keep Calm and No DietI don’t believe in diets. They just don’t work.  Diets are not only often ineffective, but they can also be unsafe (particularly ones that involve food restriction and/or fasting).  You don’t need to stop eating food to be healthy.  A well-balanced meal plan and mindful eating are much more practical solutions to weight-loss and lifestyle improvement.

If one diet worked, we would need only one!  However, dieting is a multi-billion dollar industry. Talk about selling “snake oil.” Everyone has an agenda and if what is being promised sounds “too good to be true,” it is.

Check out some of my favorite comments from the article’s other experts:

“Diets are, almost by definition, things you get on and get off.  It really needs to be about your whole dietary pattern. If you wouldn’t put your 4-year-old child or your 80-year-old parent on this diet with you, it’s a gimmicky short-term fix and not a way of eating better for a lifetime.”

—Dr. David Katz

“Any diet that excludes one or more entire categories of foods is difficult for many people to follow.  For some people, it’s easier to exclude whole categories — wheat, meat, dairy, carbohydrates, et cetera — than to just eat less and eat better. But the more food categories excluded, the more people are likely to give up on the diet.”

— Dr. Marion Nestle

To read the full article, visit The Washington Post

10 Things You Can Give Up in 2013

With the new year rapidly approaching, I wanted to compile a list of my top 10 things that I think you should give up in 2013. Take a look and see how many you can cross off your list next year!

1. Guilt

I’ve blogged about food guilt in the past, and still feel that this is something worth mentioning as we move into 2013. Many times the guilt associated with food comes from the food policing that I mention below. It creates a cycle of restriction/avoidance of food, overeating, guilt, and restriction again. The only way to break the cycle is to give yourself permission to enjoy foods you love without guilt or shame.

2. Food Policing

Setting rules around food by labeling them as “good” or “bad”, and avoiding foods you love isn’t going to help you in the long-term. The reality is that when you eat foods that you like, you increase your levels of satisfaction and are less likely to overeat them. We’ve all experienced it at one point or another, even as a child — the more someone tells you that you can’t have something, the more you want it! Unless you can do something for the rest of your life, there’s really no point in giving something up for a brief period. Any outcomes that you do see will just go away once you stop holding yourself back. Instead the focus should be on incorporating all foods in moderation and balance and enjoying the foods you eat.

3. Comparing yourself to others

Walking through the grocery store checkout line you can be bombarded with images of models and celebrities who look “perfect”. What you don’t see behind the image is the team of stylists, hair and make-up artists, trainers and airbrushing that made that image appear flawless. Those images are not realistic or achievable for most people, and comparing yourself to those unrealistic images of perfection will only bring you down. Instead, learn to embrace your uniqueness and beauty and let go of those attachments you have about what you “should” look like. What’s important are the habits and choices you make every day — not how you compare to anyone else.

4. Buying in to Food “Myths”

If you read something about avoiding food that should be good for you, listen to your “gut” and ignore the hype. Food myths are a dime a dozen.

One of my favorite examples of this is eggs – a natural, whole food. Many people avoid whole eggs because they think “egg whites only” is better. It’s actually not true. There are good nutrients in the yolks. The yolks are packed with choline, vitamin D and vitamin A. People think eating whole eggs raises their cholesterol, but actually new research suggests that consuming whole eggs, instead of just the whites, may have a positive impact on blood lipids in people with metabolic syndrome.  So next time you’re whipping up an omelet, don’t toss those yolks!

5. Weighing yourself frequently

weight_loss_scaleInstead of setting a goal weight for 2013 — set a goal for healthy habits you want to incorporate into your life that can last you forever. There are plenty of thin people who have unhealthy habits, and there are plenty of larger frame people who have very healthy habits.

I encourage you to look at the research and mission for “Health at Every Size”.

Basic Principles of Health At Every Size®

1. Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes.

2. Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include
physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects.

3. Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes.

4. Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger,
satiety, appetite, and pleasure.

5. Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather
than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss.

You have to understand exactly what the scale is measuring – the force of gravity pushing on your body and your body pushing back against gravity. But too many people let the scale judge their self worth. Your scale weight doesn’t determine your health, it’s the choices you make and the behaviors you display that determine your health.

I think being aware of your weight is a good thing. Know your trend and compare only to YOUR trend. But you can weigh yourself monthly and have enough data points. Use it as one of factors in looking at your health trend, not THE factor. If you want to look at numbers – count all the positive self-care habits you have been doing. Count the number of days you get good sleep, count the times you DON’T soothe away bad feelings or stress by eating emotionally. Count your time working out, steps, miles, or improvements in strength. The list goes on… By taking your focus off the scale and onto your daily habits you can make much more meaningful and lasting positive changes in your life.

6. Counting calories

One thing you should not count is calories. It is so obsessive and honestly a colossal waste of time. First off, you can eat 1200 calories of complete crap and that’s not good for you. The quality of your food matters too. Second, it’s probably not realistic that a person will continue to count calories for the rest of their life. So why not make it easier on yourself and instead make a balanced plate your goal. I think this is a nice way to provide “broad strokes” to your nutrition and food choices. This is the ideal. Not every meal will look like this. Consider it’s like hitting a “bullseye” or getting a “hole in one”. Look at your plate. 1/4 of your plate should be lean protein (animal or plant based), 1/4 starch (either starchy veggies like potatoes or beans or whole grain foods) and 1/2 your plate colorful, delicious fruits and veggies. Don’t forget to include a source of heart healthy fat with each meal like low fat dairy, nuts, olive oil or avocado.

If you are going to a meal out and you know they post the calorie information, I personally think it is OK to look, but look beyond calories. I have seen salads marketed as healthy with tons of sodium and saturated fat and I’ve seen where the lean sirloin and asparagus was way lower in calories and saturated fat than a fish dish with risotto. So it is OK to look, but don’t just think “low calories” is best. It is not. When I go out, I try to think of the balanced plate and get close or at least think “half plate healthy” so if I want mac-n-cheese, go for it… but can I balance it out with a salad starter instead of jalapeno poppers? That kind of thing. Make choices.

7. Body bashing

It seems like people are often so much harder on themselves than they are on other people. Would you ever tell your niece or daughter or friend that they should criticize their own body? Of course not, but it seems all to common for people to make negative comments about their own bodies. See if you can give yourself 1 compliment each day — it could be anything — that you did a good job packing the kids lunches today, that your new sweater really highlights your eyes, anything! If you do catch yourself body bashing, then immediately interject with something positive so the negative thoughts can be chased away.

8. Going gluten-free for weight loss

This seemed to be a trend that exploded in 2012 so I felt I needed to include it here. The reality is that some people really do need to avoid gluten due to having celiac disease or an allergy to it, people with GI issues that have a problem digesting gluten and people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. These people truly feel better and their medical symptoms disappear when they eliminate gluten from their diet. People that do experience weight loss as a result of going gluten-free likely did so because this meant they replaced processed foods with more whole foods.

9. “Eating like our ancestors”

The paleo diet does encourage eating more wholesome foods and lots of veggies — which I completely support. The part of paleo that I have a problem with is that certain whole foods like potatoes and beans are not allowed. While we all know that diets don’t work, anything that eliminates whole food groups is certainly not the best thing to follow. I’m sure if our ancestors were around today, they would love these foods and would think us crazy for attempting to avoid something so nourishing.

pure-maple-syrup10. “Sweet is bad”

Fruits have natural sweetness but they also have vitamins, minerals and fiber that our bodies need. When used in small amounts other natural sweeteners like pure maple syrup or and honey can add a touch of sweetness to nutritious foods like oatmeal, salad dressings and smoothies. If adding a touch of natural sweetener to an already wholesome, healthy food will get a person to eat it (when they wouldn’t otherwise), then I say go for it! Maple squares can be a great sweet treat and are made with wholesome ingredients like oats, sunflower seeds and almonds.

What other things do you want to give up this year to improve your health and wellness?

2012 #FNCE Celiac Disease Session Recap and G-Free Pavillion

I had a lot of fun walking through the gluten free section at the expo at #FNCE and saw a lot of great g-free products – some old and some I hadn’t seen before. Then later, I got to sit in on a really interesting session called “Celiac Disease: It’s Not Just the Digestive Tract” with Alessio Fasano, MD and Carren Sellers, MMSc, RD, LD, CDE.

By now, most people have at least heard of Celiac Disease, or might even know of someone who has it. It’s become much more commonly diagnosed over the years, mostly due to new diagnostic developments.

I wrote a session summary below and included links to some of the exhibit hall gluten-free products.

My key “take-aways” from the session were that people with Celiac need to be very careful with cross-contamination issues. There is no mandatory labeling for gluten-free so there is a chance products marketed as “gluten free” have traces and can cause a reaction.

Although this was not brought up in the session, I am aware of the gluten-free certification organization — “Products carrying the GF logo represents unmatched reliability and for meeting strict gluten-free standards. GFCO is the leading gluten-free certification program in the world.” You can look for the seal below on products to know they are truly gluten-free.

The other key “take away” was that people could have Celiac disease without GI symptoms that most people expect to feel. For example, iron deficiency anemia or fatigue could be the only symptom. If you aren’t sure you should definitely see a Registered Dietitian who specializes in digestive health.

If you are in the D.C. area, you may want to take a look at my digestive health services. If not, email me anyway and I can help you find a good RD in your area.

Here’s the detailed summary.

What is Celiac?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center the prevalence in the US is 1 in 133; an estimated 97% of those people living with it are undiagnosed.

What are the Symptoms?

If a person with celiac disease eats foods with those ingredients they might experience GI issues like chronic diarrhea. But one thing the panelists discussed was that many people don’t, and that makes nailing down a diagnosis potentially very difficult. Many people don’t experience any physical symptoms, but instead feel fatigue, and also very commonly anemia. It’s also found to be a co morbidity of Hashimoto Thyroiditis, another autoimmune disorder. Many times family history can also be a factor.

Gluten in Hiding

Many times foods that wouldn’t normally contain gluten can become cross contaminated through processing. Always read labels because many times you’ll see it will say somewhere on the label that it’s processed in a facility that also produces wheat. Labeling requirements are still being sorted out, but some products do carry a seal of approval. Here a few other hidden gluten sources mentioned in the session:

  • Coffee flavorings
  • Lipstick – the long-lasting kinds
  • Imitation seafood – the real stuff is g-free, but not the fake stuff
  • Fries – if they’re fried in the same oil as anything battered
  • Any contaminated cooking surface
  • Oats can potentially be if they’re produced in a plant that also processes wheat products
  • “flavorings”, “seasonings” and “smoke flavoring” all can contain barley
  • Basically, “when in doubt, leave it out”!

I’m Celiac – Now What?

The good news is, it’s completely treatable. The bad news is that you will need to avoid gluten for the rest of your life, which most likely means a big change to your eating habits.

Walking through the FNCE exhibit hall I found a lot of great products that can be a part of a well balanced gluten free diet. Here are some of the ones I really liked:

  • Gluten Free Living Magazine – great articles, tips, recipes and resources for people living with celiac.
  • Bob’s Red Mill has a over 70 products that are gluten free including baking mixes and flours
  • Pamela’s – she’s been making g-free foods since 1988 including a line of baking mixes
  • Udi’s has a really tasty line of g-free breads, tortillas and other baked goods
  • San-J – gluten free soy and tamari sauces that taste delicious
  • Dried cranberries – I was really excited to hear they’re coming out with 50% lower sugar versions next year!
  • Lundberg Rice – they offer a number of rice snack chips for those crunchy cravings as well as pastas, rices, couscous and, of course rice.
  • Sorghum flour – a whole grain alternative to wheat flour that’s great for baking. I tried cookies baked with it and they were amazing

Other Helpful Resources

Here are a few resources I found in the expo that I thought might be useful for folks

  • – if you’re newly diagnosed you might qualify for a free Gluten Free Care Package
  • – find local gluten intolerance support groups and educational materials
  • Jump Start Your Gluten-Free Diet: Living with Celiac/Coeliac Disease & Gluten Intolerance – download the free e-book put out by the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center
  • Shelly Case has a great resource guide
  • Rachel Begun, The Gluten-Free RD
  • InspiredRD blog has great recipes

Does someone you know have Celiac disease and need more information on how to cope?