Nourishing Your Body for Better Health

Topic: Newsletters

G-free Thanksgiving ’17

Thanksgiving tips & Recipes

Happy almost Thanksgiving! I’m sure this is already on your radar if you’re gluten-free.

AnchorThanksgiving tips:

It takes a little planning ahead to guarantee a great Thanksgiving. In many ways, it’s easier if you’re hosting, because you’ve already got the most familiarity with the diet. Most people hate to impose on their hosts, but it’s easier on you AND your host to ask beforehand than sit through a four-hour meal and watch others eat. Remember, nothing is more important that staying safe! I love these tips from Shirley of GFE and from GF Jules.
My 3 favorite tips:

  • Plan ahead, and try to bring along safe options when possible.
  • Bring along or order ingredients online that might be a problem. This includes broth, gravy, butter without crumbs, soups, flour for thickening, etc.
  • Keep it as simple as possible.

Turkey:
Though it’s always good to check, the good news is that all plain, fresh turkey is naturally gluten-free. Again, that’s ALL plain, fresh or frozen turkeys. I know there are emails that go out every year about warnings of “hidden gluten” in the turkeys, but ironically, the turkey usually the easiest and safest part of the meal. For the past 6 years I’ve been looking, calling and asking around if any of the brands of un-stuffed turkeys have gluten, and I haven’t found a single one in all that time. If you’ve seen one, email me or leave me a comment below. So you do have to look out for stuffed turkeys, and you do want to look out for gravy packets and of course, the preparation of the turkey.

The only exception Tofurky, which has gluten, and some glazed hams DO contain gluten. As always, read carefully! I have a gluten-free turkey list, with has manufacturer contact info.

As always, there can still be risks in the ingredients used on or in the turkey, and cross-contamination always needs to be on your radar. You’ll need to talk to your host about:
* Preparation method: Broth used for basting, or even the butter used for basting. This also includes the kind of flour used if a turkey is cooked in a bag.
* Seasonings
* Stuffing in the turkey
* Cross contamination<–and this is the most common problem.

AnchorGravy

Many regular canned gravy and gravy packets are not gluten-free. Gluten-free gravy is available online, and Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s, etc. sell  some now. Even Mc Cormick’s has a gluten-free gravy packet that’s certified GF! Also, it’s pretty easy to make a simple gravy with gluten-free broth and cornstarch instead of wheat (and if corn is a problem for you, arrowroot can be substituted 1:1 instead).

Herb Gravy From Elana’s Pantry

My favorite gravy (paleo/starch free)

Gravy using Cornstarch from Simply Recipes

Side dishes

There are lots of good options here. Green bean casserole works, just sub the french onion–Aldi’s even has GF version in stores now, or use Fritos, or almonds, and buy a GF cream soup–Pacific is in most stores. Or get creative–we do roasted green beans, baked yams, cranberry relish, gelatin salads, butternut squash soup, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, applesauce…all of these things are easy to adapt to food restrictions, and they’re healthy and delicious to boot.

Stuffing:

This is obviously requires a bit more planning. You can go the nontraditional route and do a wild rice, buckwheat or quinoa stuffing. You could use a gluten-free cornbread or pre-made GF bread crumbs, too. Aleia’s and Arrowhead mills are easy to find locally.

Make sure that “regular” stuffing is not used to stuff the turkey. Not only does that raise the risk of food poisoning, but the whole turkey would be cross-contaminated with gluten.

Cornbread stuffing with roasted acorn squash from the Gluten-Free Goddess

The NY Times Blog had a G-Free Stuffing section with a few recipes

Dessert!

For many people (myself included!) dessert is the highlight of the Thanksgiving route. If you’d like to use your standard old-school recipes, you can easily make a crustless pumpkin or sweet potato pie or check out Whole Foods’ GF crusts. Or, you can easily make a crust from crushed up gluten-free cookies, shredded coconut or almond meal. Apple crisps are also simple, too. And, of course, now with the GF Wegman’s or Betty Crocker mixes, a cake or brownies are pretty simple, even if they’re not traditional.

The Best Pecan Pie (one of my very favorites)

Sweet Potato Pie (vegan)

Easy, Crustless Apple Pie from Gluten Free Easily

Super-cute baked apples from GF Jules

Ginger Lemon Girl’s Pecan Pumpkin Pie bars

Apple Crisp: simple, delish!

T Day Recipes:
It’s dangerous when someone asks about food while I’m hungry. Here are a bunch of  wonderful things that would make for an absolutely amazing gluten-free feast some of my favorite GF bloggers and around the web.

And as a bonus, the Happy Tart has a bakery in Falls Church in addition to the Alexandria location, so it’s even easier to get a g-free pie without pulling out a rolling pin. Same goes for Rise in DC, Lilit Cafe, and the new Red Bandana

  • Wanting to make sure you’re not overdoing it through the holiday season? Here are my tips for keeping food balanced.
  • For those of you up in Maryland or who are up for a drive, Dr. Fasano of the Center for Celiac Research is speaking in Baltimore November 18th at In Good Health Holiday Expo. He’s always an informative and engaging speaker.

As always, wishing you and yours a joyful, peaceful and yummy holiday season.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, digestive issues, food allergies, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742. 

GF Halloween & News

Happy almost Halloween!
First things first: if you’re getting Halloween candy, make sure you’re checking the gluten-free status. Many brands that are typically gluten-free have special versions of holiday candy with different ingredients, which can include gluten, or other allergens.Celiac Disease Foundation has a great list with gluten and other allergen info listed.
Simply Gluten-free has a list of candy out, too.

But…maybe it’s time to go the non-candy treat route instead? I’m a fan, and I’ve been doing it for years. We give away slinkies, rubber duckies, and other fun toy assortments. Less temptation, of course, but great for kids (or parents) with Celiac or food allergies, too. If you decide to go the non-food-treat option, Food Allergy Resource & Education (FARE) launched the Teal Pumpkin Project. It now has an interactive map so that children with food restrictions can find safe houses to visit and you can add your house to the map so children and parents know that safe options are available.

News:

  • Some of you know I’ve long been concerned about the reports of contamination issues in Cheerios. The Canadian Celiac Association just announced a decision by the  Canadian Food Inspection Agency that by Jan 2018, the words “gluten-free” must be removed from boxes of Cheerios sold in Canada. Per the release: “Based on the advice of the members of our Professional Advisory Board, the experts of the Gluten-Free Certification Program, and other professionals working in the field, we believe that there is not adequate evidence to support the claim. When added to many reports from consumers with Celiac disease reacting to eating the cereal, we believe this is the safe recommendation for Canadians.”

My take: there is no indication that the FDA will take a similar step. However, I am hopeful this will push General Mills to take additional steps for safety and monitoring to ensure that their cereals are labeled accurately and appropriately.

  • A new study suggests that there’s a test on the horizon sensitive enough to detect Celiac accurately, even if gluten was consumed one time. This should make diagnosis much easier, and reduce the need for a long gluten challenge when this test is available.

Fall recipes:

One of the things I love most about autumn is the beauty of the leaves.  The food is a close second! Here are some of my favorites:

  • Butternut Squash Bisque: The tastiest way to get vitamin A! A wonderful soup for the fall or winter. Allergen friendly with a dairy free option.
  • Hot Mulled Apple Drink: a favorite at our annual pumpkin carving party. It’s the perfect drink for a crisp autumn day.
  • Pumpkin Seeds: several variations on this classic snack.
  • Roasted Green Beans: So easy to get green beans this time of year. Yum yum yum!

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

 

Summer fun–Aug ’17

Summertime recipe, hydration & office change.

Summer rolls:
One of my long-term goals is getting my husband to eat more veggies. When we met as teens, he remarked that the only green food he liked was mint chocolate chip ice cream, so I’ve had lots of practice converting a non-veggievore. He’s come a long way, and happily eats roasted broccoli, grilled peppers, even roasted cauliflower and a few others. But like so many picky kids and spouses, left to his own devices, veggies would rarely happen.

Summer rolls are often an easy way of getting in more veggies, and they’re a lot easier than they look. There’s something about the rice paper that serves as a veggie cloaking device…I don’t understand it, but somehow I’ve consistently seen carnivores chow down on my summer rolls.

Ingredients:
12 lettuce leaves, halved
1 cup shredded carrots
about 1/3 napa cabbage, sliced very thinly
1/2 yellow, red or orange pepper, sliced thinly
1 cup bean sprouts (optional)
1/3 cup mint leaves, cilantro or basil
15 rice paper wraps (a few extra in case of mistakes)

So here’s the general idea:
Have a large dish of warm water and all of your veggies arranged. Put the rice paper in warm water for ~15-20 seconds. It should be firm, but not mushy.

Fish out your rice paper and arrange it on the plate.

Put down the lettuce leaf and add a little cabbage, carrots, pepper and herb of choice.

If you overfill, it won’t close. Less is more.

Roll up! If the paper rips, you can double wrap.

That’s it! Chopping the napa cabbage is the most time consuming part, and start to finish, this recipe is just 30 min.

Gluten-free, vegan, FODMAP friendly. Good stuff. I serve it with peanut sauce or another dipping sauce.

Is hydration a challenge for you during the summer? In addition to adding fruits or mint leaves into your water, consider adding in more hydrating fruit and veggies. A few good ones:

Many veggies and fruit can be a great source of hydration, including

  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Zucchini
  • Radishes
  • Celery
  • Tomato
  • Cabbage
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe

and my personal favorite for today, peaches!

As we’re talking about veggies and fruit, here’s an article on buying organic on a budget.

Change in the air…
As of Sept 1st, 2017, I’ll be only seeing clients in my Fairfax office, 9675 A Main Street.

I’ve enjoyed working in Alexandria for the past 10 years, both on Duke Street and in Kingstowne. When my husband and I moved further west, having two offices seemed like a good temporary solution, and the plan was to stay a year or two. Six years later (how does time fly so quickly?), it’s finally time to move to Fairfax full-time. After juggling two leases, managing requirements for two tax localities, sending out two different sets of directions and still having some clients end at the wrong place, and making sure the right folders in the right spot, I’m looking forward to the simplicity of this change.

The Fairfax office is right on Main Street, across from Woodson High School, and about 3 miles from 495. I’ve got an overflowing lending library, and I love the spot.  It’s a great place for nutrition sessions.

So…I will be in the Alexandria office through 8/31/17. if you’re hoping to get a time slot in at the Alexandria office, please drop me a line ASAP. And I look forward to seeing many of you in Fairfax.

Last but not least, Summertime always flies by for me, and I hope you get a chance to get away and savor whatever most delights your heart.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax  VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, veg/vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

G-Free News

Often the summer is a slow time for news and research, but not this year! A rundown on communion wafers,

possible changes in Celiac diagnosis guidelines, FDA GF labelingnot-so-gluten-free pizza, the Specific Carb Diet & IBD and and office change.

Communion wafers:
The Vatican caused a stir when they released a statement that gluten-free communion wafers are not permitted, and the statement itself was a bit confusing. But this actually isn’t new. Church requirements have always stated that at least small amounts of wheat must be present in communion wafers, so truly 100% gluten-free wafers don’t meet that standard. Since 2004, the church has allowed low gluten hosts, which contain trace amounts of gluten that are high enough to meet church requirements, but low enough to get approval from Dr. Fasano and many Celiac organizations. For people who react to even the smallest amounts, having wine only is an option—but only from a separate glass.

The end of biopsies? Not so fast…
A new study showed that a biopsy may not be needed to confirm a Celiac diagnosis in children, and this debate has been happening for the last few years. But make sure you’ve read the fine print. The study showed that people with a tTG (antibody) level more than 10 times above the normal level, and a positive EMA (other Celiac antibody) were normally accurately diagnosed, even without a biopsy. Guidelines for children in the U.S. still recommend a biopsy, and there hasn’t yet been exploration for adults.

My take—Celiac is a lifelong disease, so getting a firm diagnosis is a really important thing, especially for a child. I frequently see clients who are preemptively diagnosed with Celiac based on labs…but when we look at their labs, they don’t meet either criteria–and of course, we don’t know for sure this applies to adults. Working with a knowledgeable gastroenterologist is a big plus, and should always happen.

Move over, Domino’s—there are other not-so-gluten-free crusts
Papa John’s just debuted a gluten-free crust…sort of. According to the company, “it is possible that a pizza with gluten-free crust could be exposed to gluten during the in-store, pizza-making process. Therefore, the brand does not recommend its Gluten-Free Crust made with Ancient Grains for customers with Celiac Disease or serious gluten intolerances.”
My take? I really appreciate companies offering gluten-free products, because I’ve seen people have a much easier time with the diet over the last decade or so. But if they’re going to do it, do it right.

FDA and gluten-free labeling
As many of you know, it was hard enough to get the gluten-free labeling rules passed. Now there has been ongoing difficulty getting the FDA to actually enforce the gluten-free labeling regulations—and of course, if the rules aren’t enforced, they don’t do much to protect the gluten-free community.  Here’s a video letter to the FDA from Gluten-free Watchdog, and if you’re so inclined, feel free to tweet to @US_FDA, tag the FDA on Facebook and/or write letters to the FDA in support of meaningful gluten-free labeling.

Heard of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?
The SCD has been around for ages…close to a century, actually. The author of the diet, Sidney Haas, MD was quite a pioneer. The SCD was initially intended for the treatment of Celiac disease before doctors even understood what caused Celiac, or could test for it. In recent years, it’s been used for people with IBD (Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis). Clients have always asked me about it, but there’s never been good studies on it until very recently. Here’s a rundown on what the research shows. Putting this together was a labor of love for me. I find it fascinating and have been delighted to see clients feel better.  I’d encourage you to share with anyone with IBD.

Change in the air…
As of Sept 1st, 2017, I’ll be only seeing clients in my Fairfax office, 9675 A Main Street.

I’ve enjoyed working in Alexandria for the past 10 years, both on Duke Street and in Kingstowne. When my husband and I moved further west, having two offices seemed like a good temporary solution, and the plan was to stay a year or two. Six years later (how does time fly so quickly?), it’s finally time to move to Fairfax full-time. After juggling two leases, managing requirements for two tax localities, sending out two different sets of directions and still having some clients end at the wrong place, and making sure the right folders in the right spot, I’m looking forward to the simplicity of this change.

The Fairfax office is right on Main Street, across from Woodson High School, and about 3 miles from 495. I’ve got an overflowing lending library, and I love the spot.  It’s a great place for nutrition sessions.

So…I will be in the Alexandria office through 8/31/17. if you’re hoping to get a time slot in at the Alexandria office, please drop me a line ASAP. And I look forward to seeing many of you in Fairfax.
Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax  VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, veg/ vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

Veggies galore!

For many people, getting in more veggies is a big plus for good health. If it’s been a struggle, you may want to dress up your options, and/or head to a local farmers’ market for inspiration. It can also be fun to stop at a local community garden. I know I’ve got a bunch of beautiful things growing in my garden!

Here are some easy, quick, veggie-rich trades for traditional carby sides:

 

Cauliflower rice: You can buy bags of pre-chopped little pieces of cauliflower that are the consistency of rice, but with a ton more nutrients. It has a pretty neutral flavor, and takes on the taste of the rest of the dish. Bonus–it only takes 15 minutes to cook on the stovetop.

Zoodles (AKA zucchini noodles)—or similar carrot, sweet potato or beet noodles. You can buy them at many stores, or make them yourself with a spiralizer. These make a great swap for pasta noodles, and can be fun to make, too. Dress them up the “noodles” with herbs & you’re good to go.

 

Collard (or Swiss chard) wraps–upgrade your wrap; consider using a collard leaf.

 

Spaghetti squash:

Quick, simple, delicious. Cut it in half, rub with olive oil, roast. Done. Then you can scrape up the “noodles” and enjoy as a side to your favorite dish.

 

Jicama: ever had jicama? More on how to peel and cut them here. This crisp root veggie has all sorts of health prebiotics, and more nutrients than a bowl of tortilla chips. It’s a great swap for dipping your salsa or guac.

 

 

Or portabella pizzas:

Take a portabella mushroom, top with sauce & cheese & you’ve got a mini pizza right there!

 

Cauliflower pizza crust:

I’ve only heard good things about this new crust from Trader Joe’s–and you can easily top with your favorites to suit you taste.

 

For those of you with tummy troubles who are getting indigestion just looking at these veggie recipes, spaghetti squash and carrot noodles are good options. Also, I just posted an updated list of low FODMAP shopping guide.

I’m sure I’m missing some of your favorites. Feel free to leave me a comment on this post.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

 

 

Low FODMAP tips & more

Heard about low FODMAP and wondering if it makes sense for you? A low FODMAP diet is a specific elimination diet designed to help with tummy troubles–gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea and constipation. There’s a growing amount of research supporting it for people with tummy troubles of all sorts, especially IBS or IBD (Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis) and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). Reducing these FODMAPs help about 75% of people with IBS problems. Obviously, this is a big deal for many people who experience ongoing gastrointestinal distress.

What is a FODMAP, anyhow? FODMAP is an acronym for classes of carbohydrates that are poorly digested, which is why they can cause obnoxious symptoms. But for most people, the problem isn’t ALL classes of FODMAPs, just some.

So if you do suspect you may have a FODMAP problem, the general protocol is first an elimination diet, which is generally 2-4 weeks, then followed by a structured re-introduction to ID the problematic foods. I’d strongly suggest finding a nutrition professional to pair with. It makes the process a lot easier and simpler, because most of the info online gets outdated quickly as newer testing info is available. For example, Monash just retested bananas and found that ripe (browning) ones are much higher in FODMAPs than the yellow ones.

The goal isn’t to just eliminate FODMAPs and then go forth and be low FODMAP. The goal is to reintroduce as many foods as possible to eat as varied and as balanced (and yummy) diet as possible without discomfort.

I just put together a BIG list of low FODMAP friendly foods packaged foods that are suitable for the elimination phase. It’s not every food out there, of course, but the most common products that clients ask about.

However, low FODMAP isn’t a healthier diet, or an ideal diet for long-term health, it’s a diet for management of digestive symptoms. I have posted on it a few times for my gluten-free newsletter because so many people with Celiac and gluten sensitivity do have ongoing digestive distress–and low FODMAP was initially designed at Monash University for people with Celiac who were gluten-free and didn’t feel better. But to be clear, if you don’t have digestive problems, this diet isn’t a good choice for you—it excludes a lot of tasty foods that provide great nutrients!

Cookbook review:
While we’re on the topic of FODMAPs, I wanted to give a big thumb’s up to Patsy Catsos‘ new book, The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook. It has the most up-to-date lists of low FODMAP foods, and a great explanation of both the elimination and reintroduction. Of course, there are wonderful recipes, too. In fact, I’m so tempted to make the Raspberry Lime Ice Pops tonight, which look perfect for the warmer weather.

Kitchen tip:
If you’ve learned that garlic and onions are not friendly to your tummy, this is your time of year! It’s pretty easy to find garlic scapes at the Farmers’ Market (as you can see above), and also spring onions with the greens on them. The green shoots seem to be FODMAP friendly, the same way that chives and scallion greens are. You can get a bunch, puree the greens (not the white part!) and freeze them in an ice cube tray. Then, when you need a little of that flavor, pop a cube in whatever you’re making.

News:

Have a great summer!
Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, digestive distress, food allergies, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

G-Free News

Happy Celiac Disease Awareness month! There’s been a lot of research in the gluten-free world lately, and so here’s an update.

Did you see the headlines on heart disease and a gluten-free diet? This May 2017 study followed a large sample of health professionals, and estimated the amount of gluten they ate and tracked their risk of cardiovascular disease. What they found was no significant relationship, although there was a trend towards more heart disease in people eating less gluten. The authors guessed this trend was due to the lack of whole grains.However, there are a few big caveats about this study. It didn’t look at people with Celiac disease, nor did it even look at people following a gluten-free diet per se—it just compared people eating the most and least gluten. I’d also be curious if there were other differences in the diets of these people that might have been the cause.

  • Main take home—don’t follow a gluten-free diet primarily to improve heart health.

This article was more concerning. It looked at people around the U.S. following a gluten-free diet, and compared blood and urine samples. People following a gluten-free diet had much higher levels of  mercury, and almost double the amount of arsenic. Yikes.

I’ve written about arsenic risk here and in Simply Gluten-Free Magazine. Essentially, the problem is that rice fields were sprayed with pesticides containing arsenic years ago, and people on a gluten-free diet tend to eat much more rice than average.

  • The simplest answer is to vary starches rather than overdoing rice. That could be sweet potatoes, potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat, beans or lentils, and the range of gluten-free grains, like GF oatmeal, wild rice, corn, millet, teff, sorghum, amaranth, etc. There’s always zoodles, cauliflower rice and other starch alternatives, too.
  • Consider checking in with a nutrition pro to make sure your diet is balanced.

Why did I get Celiac? And why now? While 30% of the population has the genes for Celiac, only 1% of the population has it, and there’s tremendous speculation on why and how we go from the potential to have Celiac to actually having it. We may be one baby step closer to an answer. A new study found a link between a common virus and the development of a Celiac-like condition in mice. Surely much more to come!

Another recent study found that the risk of anorexia is higher in women with Celiac disease. Women with Celiac disease were twice as likely to be later diagnosed with anorexia—and women diagnosed with anorexia were more likely to later be diagnosed with Celiac, too. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that Celiac causes anorexia, but it’s just one more reason to emphasize good emotional health for people with Celiac disease.

Speaking of a center that does a great job with addressing the emotional health side of Celiac, Children’s Celiac Disease program is having their annual Washington DC Gluten-Free Expo on June 11th, 2017 in Bethesda. It’s always a lot of fun and a lot of good food, and supports a wonderful cause—gluten-free children! I really appreciate the great work CNMC does.   Register at http://www.dcglutenfreeexpo.com/ and there’s a 10% discount code, HarrisHealth.

Last but not least–it’s Farmers’ Market season! Find one near you.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

Something Yummy in Season

The Farmers’ Market season has begun! Some, like Burke, opened this weekend, and I got asparagus, apples, sweet potatoes and a bunch of plants.

I love gardening, and also buying from local farmers when possible. It was a rude awakening, moving from sunny California for grad school to Northern Virginia fourteen years ago….there were farm stands everywhere, and I was totally accustomed to easy access to fresh, beautiful food. So I’ve been gardening since to fill some of the blanks.

Since we’ve moved to a more wooded area a few years ago, my garden has largely been a buffet for the deer and groundhogs. Sometimes I get a nice harvest; other times, I’m feeding the wildlife. So far, I’ve got broccoli, garlic, onions, herbs, strawberries, carrots, and green beans and I just put in fennel, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, Thai peppers, basil and stevia.  The kale plants are late… I have starts growing in my Aerogarden  at my Fairfax office, and  I’ll put them in soon anyway and hope for the best.We also have a blackberry and blueberry plant. The blackberry has a ton of flowers this year (right), which hopefully means there’s lots of fruit coming my way!

Even if the critters get my veggies, there are a bunch of Farmers’ Markets and locally grown resources to give more options, and the number of markets has only grown for the last decade. We’ve got a bunch of markets nearby, and they’re about to open or just opened.

Why go to a Farmer’s Market?

  • They’re terrific for encouraging people to branch out and try new foods. There are generally a lot of samples, and everything looks so good. Works well for kids, too!
  • Fresh produce and meat. Most fruits and vegetables are picked that day. Seasonal food is generally going to be more nutritionally  dense than something shipped around the globe.
  • Support for local farmers and the local economy.
  • Few or fewer pesticides on fruits and vegetables. A plum shipped from Chile need a lot of pesticides to keep it lovely even after traveling thousands of miles.
  • Greater variety. While Whole Foods or Wegmans may have 5 kinds of apples, it’s common to have a choice of 10+ varieties and discover new flavors that you enjoy.
  • Better taste! There’s nothing that compares to the taste of a freshly picked tomato, peach, or apple.
  • The “manufacturer” is usually right in front of you, so if you have questions about how something is made or grown, just ask!

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I’d be willing to bet there’s a market near you.

Here’s a listing of Farmer’s Markets

Also, another great option are CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). If that’s more your scene, there’s a nice list here.

Whether you have a nice big garden or even just an available window, it’s a great time to get growing. Even a sunny window should work for herbs like basil.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA. She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great! Email or call 571-271-8742.

Spring cleaning

Foods to avoid

Mindful eating class

Low FODMAP products

It’s almost Spring, which is a great time to clean out the old…and bring in the new.

A few things to purge:

Anything (everything) with trans fats. This includes Girl Scout cookies, like Thin mints and Tagalongs. Due to evidence of effect on mood, heart health and even memory, trans fats will be restricted as of 2018, but they’re still on the shelves now. Yes, the label says 0 grams of trans fats, but that’s because it contains less than .5 grams, and they’re rounding down to zero. So if anything you see says “partially hydrogenated xyz”, just put it down.  Normally, I advocate for moderation, but not here. Even small amounts can have a physical impact. So if you want to support Girl scouts, just donate.

Other products with trans fats: a range of crackers, cookies, and snack foods.

Artificial sweeteners: Diet coke drinkers, I’m looking at you. For years, diet drinks were pushed as a way to have your cake and eat it, too. But there are a range of concerns. Studies indicate that artificial sweeteners may affect gut health because they may alter the kind of bacteria in the gut. They’re linked to thyroid dysfunction—including Splenda, BTW. Additionally some studies have linked diet sodas with increased cardiovascular health risk.

Need an extra reason? The strangest study I think I’ve ever read was one where rats were given the option of saccharine or cocaine. They chose the saccharine. Ever heard someone say diet drinks feel like an addiction? It raises some questions, for sure.

BPA, and the replacements: BPA (short for Bisphenol A) is everywhere, and if you’re not going out of your way to avoid it, it’s most likely in your diet.  It’s found in can liners, which includes canned vegetable, soup, or soda and more. It is in many plastic or polyurethane containers, water bottles and even on cash register tape. (Whole foods and Mom’s use BPA free receipts). The hypothesis is that the chemical mimics estrogen, and can affect hormonal systems in the body.

There’s growing evidence that BPA is problematic.  A study came out from JAMA showing that BPA seems to be linked to obesity in children. Moms with more BPA in their urine during pregnancy seem to have children with more emotional issues at the age of 3. Certainly there is considerable speculation that it may be linked to cancer, too. Also, for reasons that are not clear, women with PCOS (a common endocrine disorder) seem to be more sensitive to BPA and have higher levels, and there is some speculation that BPA may even cause PCOS.

But are the replacements actually better? There’s growing concern that the BPA free bottles may be just as bad, or even worse.

My vote? Get a stainless steel or glass water bottle instead. We know those are  non-reactive, and the stainless steel ones are light weight and sturdy. Ball jars like the ones pictured are a great replacement for Tupperware. You can buy them easily locally, especially during the summer, and crafts stores and Wegmans’ generally carry them. If that’s not logistically possible, you can store your food in plastic, and reheat on paper or glass.

Mindful eating workshop: Looking for new good habits? Join me for a workshop on Mindful eating this Saturday, March 25th at Empower Fitness in Fairfax, which is just across the parking lot from my Fairfax office. As some of you know, I’ve been practicing and teaching on mindfulness for over a dozen years. We’ll be talking about practical tips to incorporate mindful eating into your life. Sign up here: http://www.harriswholehealth.com/classes

Also, for those of you on a low FODMAP diet. As some of you know entirely too well, FODMAPs may cause digestive upset in people with IBS and IBD. Good news! FODY foods just launched a line at some DMV Wegman’s stores. This is garlic and onion-free salsas, BBQ sauces, bars, and more. However, my store list includes Alexandria, Woodbridge, Leesburg, and others in MD, PA and NY, but no Fairfax.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA. She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great! Email or call 571-271-8742.

Happy & Healthy Holidays

We are just about to hit the holiday eating season! Some days, it seems like the main form of exercise is usually moving the fork from the plate to our mouths. Here are some ways to enjoy the spirit of the season and favorite holiday foods, while staying healthy, too.

Enjoy seasonal healthy foods.  Clementines, pomegranates, pineapples, mangoes, oranges, localfoodsgrapefruits and apples are wonderful this time of year.  Keep them on the counter or in the front of the fridge where you can see them! Some Farmer’s Markets are still open, and apples are amazing this time of year. And, if you’re an apple fiend like I am, one of my favorite local farms has bi-weekly apple deliveries in the NoVA/DC area. Their Goldrush apples are amazing.

Move the goodies out of sight:  One of the biggest challenges of the season is a see-food diet, otherwise known as “if I see it, I eat it”. Studies show that when people keep food out of sight, they eat smaller amounts. Put the candy out of reach and move the cookies where you won’t have constant temptation.

Balance: if you are going to a holiday party in the evening, make an extra effort to eat well on other days.  Add in more vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, etc. and move more, too!  A piece of pie or one big holiday meal won’t make or break a diet, but daily treats do add up.

Choose what you’ll most enjoy: It’s a given that you’re going to have some special foods this holiday season. Can’t live without Aunt Margaret’s apple pie? Then plan to have some. Scope out your options before you dig in, and CHOOSE things you enjoy most. Skip on the foods you can get any day.

Savor your favorites:  When you eat, really eat!   When we are really tasting our food (rather than inhaling something while talking and multitasking) food tastes much better, we’re more satisfied and full quicker.baked bananas

Fill your table with fruit and veggie dishes: Have your holiday meals feature seasonal vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, collards, green beans, or even sauteed celery in chestnut sauce! How about Fresh Cranberry relish vs the stuff in the can? Add in bean or veggie soups.  Make roasted chestnuts as a snack. Have a fruit inspired dessert, like baked apples, poached pears, sautéed or baked bananas, etc.

Skip the alcohol, or limit it to a drink or two. You can have wine or cocktails any day.  Not only does alcohol have a lot of calories, but once you’ve had a few, it’s easier to indulge on other foods.

It’s not all about the food… Honest! How else can you treat yourself? A massage? A hot bath? 15 minutes of quiet time with a good book? Having tea with an old friend? Plan in a variety of ways to relax

Get moving! Exercise is a great way to improve mood, reduce stress levels, and burn calories, too.  Head out at lunchtime for a short walk, check out the holiday lights in the evening, start a new family tradition and do something active at family events, dance at party functions, or make a habit of hitting the gym.  You don’t have to wait until January for healthy resolutions.

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Cheryl works with people to feel and look their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, digestive disorders, food allergies, , vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here, email or call 571-271-8742.