Many of us see the New Year as a great time to make changes and improve our health. It’s a good time to look at your diet and lifestyle, and see what you can do to feel better and be healthier, too.
Going gluten free can be a big turning point to eating healthier. Many people are amazed to realize the impact that diet has on how they feel! All of a sudden, people need to start reading labels, and many begin to wonder why there are all of these ingredients they can’t pronounce and why high fructose corn syrup seems to be in everything. Or maybe after years of eating anything and staying slim, the pounds have started creeping upward. No matter what your reason, let this be the year you improve your diet.
Are you getting the nutrients you need?
Nutrition is important for everyone, but particularly for people who have food restrictions. Years ago, the Food and Drug Administration realized that many people weren’t getting enough vitamins like folate and several other B vitamins, and iron. So they added a variety of nutrients to the foods supply in every day foods like flour, bread, pasta, cereal, etc. However, gluten free breads and cereals are considered specialty products, and very few are enriched with these vitamins. Not only that, but many gluten free breads are filled with things like tapioca, potato and cornstarch to give a light texture, and these foods have very few nutrients. So when people switch from eating regular packaged foods to eating gluten free processed foods, they don’t realize that they’re actually eating a lot fewer vitamins, minerals and fiber and usually more calories, too. Not only that, but many people with Celiac may be deficient in many vitamins because they have not been absorbing foods well for years, and may need more than the average person while they are healing.
Gluten free does not automatically mean good for you! Often in the beginning, people want to try anything that’s gluten free, and are just focusing on getting by. The focus is on finding replacements for old favorites and learning all of the new rules. That is definitely a great short-term strategy but it’s only the first step! The good news is that that many healthy foods are naturally gluten free, like fruits, veggies, beans, many whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plain fish and poultry.
Here are some suggestions to make your diet healthier:
- Get whole grains in your diet. Try a whole grain hot cereal, brown rice bread, wild rice with dinner, or even quinoa pasta.
- Try a new grain, or two or three! Amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff are getting easier to find locally and online.
- Have fruit or vegetable with every meal-5-9 a day. That can be as easy as an orange with breakfast, a salad with lunch, dried fruit for snack and 2 servings of veggies along with dinner.
- Drink your water! 6-8 glasses a day are important to stay hydrated.
- Find a way to reduce stress: acupuncture, meditation, deep breathing, talking to a friend, dancing, walking the dog, whatever works for you. I consider this part of good nutrition because most people don’t reach for Brussels sprouts when they get stressed.
Gluten Free and Healthy!
Thursday, January 17th, 2008
The Art of Living Gluten Free
Saturday, February 9th, 2008
Food and mood: Eat better, feel better!
Saturday, March 8th, 2008
Click for class details and registration.
So many people want to eat healthier, but need recipes to get started. So during the month of January, email me your favorite healthy recipes, and people will rate them during February. The recipe with the highest average rating in each category will win prizes donated from places such as Allergy Grocer, Enjoy Life, Heartland’s Finest and the new GF cookbooks from Susan O’Brien. They do need to be your recipes, or a recipe that you’ve changed to make gluten free, allergen friendly or healthier. Here are all the details.
There are different guidelines for what counts as healthy, and some disagreement among experts. But there is a lot of agreement, too, and so for the contest, we’ll define a healthy recipe as:
- Featuring fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts
- Containing mostly whole grain flours (Amaranth, brown rice, millet, quinoa, sorghum, teff, wild rice) and limiting tapioca starch, potato starch and corn starch
- Avoiding trans and animal fats (butter, cream, etc)
- Containing limited amounts sugar (if any)
- When possible, adding in great sources of fiber, like flax seeds, bran, mesquite, etc.
- Favoring whole, unprocessed foods.
So let’s get cooking!
Here are some websites with many GF recipes featuring whole grains and fruits and veggies.
- Bob’s Red Mill Features many gluten free and whole grain recipes. Search under “gluten free”
- Dr. Weil has great healthy recipes listed. Most (not all) are GF
- Eating Vegan: All recipes are GF, dairy free and egg free. Most are plant based and most are pretty healthy, too.
- Health-e-Recipes from AICR (American Institute for Cancer Research). You can sign up for newsletters on their site, and you get weekly recipes in your inbox. Many (not all) are gluten free and dairy free. Many are quick and simple, use seasonal ingredients, and feature a lot of veggies.
- Vegan, (almost entirely) gluten free cookbooks from Vitalita by Mark Foy. There are two free downloadable books. Even if you’re not vegan, it’s yummy! Vegan cookbooks are a great resource if you can’t eat dairy or eggs. http://vitalita.com/cookbooks.html
- World’s Healthiest Foods: Good, basic healthy recipes. Most are gluten free, but you can check off the foods you want to avoid for a recipe search. http://whfoods.com/
- 101 Recipes: Some are GF, some aren’t. There are many great soup and vegetarian recipes, and many feature veggies and whole grains.
I have other recipe sites and many let you search for lighter and healthier recipes. Do you have a favorite healthy recipe site that isn’t listed? Let me know!
Chocolate Banana “Pudding”
Looking for a way to add more fruit into your diet? This treat is quick and child friendly snack. I had reservations about mixing avocado and chocolate, but I got over it after one bite. I don’t remember where I first got the idea, but this is our version:
1 large (or 2 small) very ripe banana
2 small ripe avocados
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3-4 Tablespoons honey
1T vanilla extract (optional)
Chopped nuts, chocolate chips, cacao nibs or unsweetened coconut (optional)
Blend avocado, bananas and honey until smooth. Add in cocoa powder and vanilla extract and stir very well. Adjust the amount of cocoa or honey to your tastes. Sprinkle with nuts or other topping if desired. Enjoy immediately, or chill for an hour. It’s best when eaten soon after preparing.
On the prowl for recipes:
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad: If you’re new to quinoa or looking for a change, check out this recipe from Allrecipes .
Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Cookies: These whole grain teff beauties are from Leslie Cerier’s cookbook, Going Wild in the Kitchen. I highly recommend the hazelnut variation. They’re gluten, dairy, egg, and soy free, so even I can eat them!
Wishing you and your family another year of peace, joy, health and happiness, Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD.
Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Whether you are dealing with Celiac Disease, food allergies, picky eaters, children on the Autistic spectrum, chronic illness, or if you just want to feel and look better, Cheryl can help you achieve your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please see www.harriswholehealth.com or call 571-271-8742.