A Weber High School graduate was recently named a 2021 Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.
McKenzie Rockwood, a registered dietitian nutritionist, founded Citrus Pear, a healthy dinner-assembly company that accommodates food allergies and special diets. The Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year program honors the leadership and service of younger members in the academy, which represents over 100,000 certified practitioners nationwide.
“I’m very humbled and honored to be recognized among a group of such intelligent, experienced professionals,” said Rockwood. “Empowering people to implement and maintain healthy lifestyle changes has been so rewarding, and my team and I are committed to keep making a difference.”
Rockwood, 35, grew up in Ogden, graduated from Utah State University and has been a registered dietitian nutritionist for 11 years.
For six years, she counseled patients at Logan Regional Hospital who required special diets for medical conditions or allergies. She saw a need to make healthy eating easier, which sparked the idea for Citrus Pear. Beginning in 2016 with meal prep classes for her family and friends, the company has since expanded to five states and 150 employees, of which about 30 are also registered dietitians. Through in-person preparation classes or pre-assembled meals, customers receive freezer dinners suitable for a slow cooker or pressure cooker.
“The biggest pitfall to eating healthy is the perceived lack of time, where we’re all so busy,” Rockwood said in a telephone interview. “The classes or pre-assembled meals get rid of that barrier so we can focus on other things that are important, but still live that healthy lifestyle.”
She said that family mealtimes are important, and having make-ahead dinners makes it easier to bring everyone together.
What sets Citrus Pear apart from restaurant takeout or other pre-made meals is that, “Our menus are planned by dietitians, so we can accommodate any food allergies and special diets,” said Rockwood. “People can feel confident that it will be safe for their family whether it’s a peanut allergy, or gluten-free, or other health issue. Dietitians are trained in all of that.”
She said the company is bouncing back after the COVID pandemic stopped all group meal prep classes, which were taught in grocery stores. The company pivoted to offering more pre-assembled meals. Now, classes are being offered again, and the company was recently deemed eligible for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (food stamp) Program.
“We’re excited about being able to provide our services to a wider demographic,” Rockwood said.
Rockwood, who was also named one of Salt Lake Magazine’s Women in Business, lives in Logan with her husband and three sons.