Nourishing Your Body for Better Health

Topic: Newsletters

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!

I did a segment on WUSA 9 on why I love Farmers’ Markets, too.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Happy G-Free Thanksgiving

Recipes

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

Thanksgiving 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!clip-art-thanksgiving-turkey-free1 I love these tips from Shirley of GFE and from GF Jules.

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 5 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

Gravy

Many regular canned gravy and gravy packets are not gluten-free. Gluten-free gravy is available online, and Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Wegmans, 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 or see this link for recipes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Side dishes

There are lots of good options here. Green bean casserole (sub the french onions–Aldi’s and a GF version last year, or use almonds) 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.

Here are some ideas to get you going:

Sides:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My Cranberry Fresh Fruit Relish

Crockpot Applesauce by Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free

Green Bean Casserole from Ginger Lemon Girl

Simply Tasty Asparagus from Celiac Family

Stuffing:

This is obviously more of a challenge. 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 bread crumbs.

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. Even Pillsbury has a GF pie crust! 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.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Best Pecan Pie (one of my very favorites)

Sweet Potato Pie (vegan), pictured right here—>

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 now 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.low-fodmap-bars

For those of you who are low FODMAP, I just put together a list of new low FODMAP bars, some research and tips.

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 & Alexandria, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, digestive 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 bars, news, tips

low-fodmap-barsAs many of you know, the world of low FODMAPs is ever-evolving. Here are tips for sprouting garlic (which you can do right now in the Northern VA area!), some new low FODMAP bars, and a few interesting studies related to a low FODMAP diet.

Low FODMAP Bars:

Most granola bars or protein bars have inulin, honey, dates, or and a bunch of other no-nos. The easiest to find low FODMAP bar is Nature’s Valley PB bar, or the Almond Crunch. Trader Joe’s has started carrying Go Macro bars…but many of the bars on the shelves contain pea protein, which is not yet tested by Monash. So if you can find one of these with just rice protein, great. Bobo’s Oat Bars has several flavors with FODMAP friendly ingredients, such as the original, coconut, chocolate chip, PB, maple pecan, and others.

But there are some newer bars that you can get online. TrueSelf Foods just launched a line of bars that are tested as low FODMAP, with flavors like blueberry, pumpkin spice, lemon poppy, etc. Rachel Paul Foods also has “Happy Bars”, with fun flavors like Chocolate Orange Ecstasy, Peanut Butter Pleasure and more.   Nicer foods has PB and chocolate chip bars (bonus–you can get them on Amazon, too) and lots of other great low FODMAP options, like barbecue sauce, salsa, etc.

I haven’t yet gotten a chance to try all the bars, but from a nutrition perspective, the Happy Bars and Nicer foods bars are higher in protein, so they’re better suited for holding you over a longer period of time.

Miss garlic?

garlic-4You’re not alone. For many of my clients on a low FODMAP diet, missing garlic is the biggest complaint. Sure, there are scallions and chives, and garlic infused oil, but…there’s nothing like the real thing!

The good news is that you can sprout garlic pretty quickly and use the shoots the same way you might use scallion tops. Monash hasn’t tested garlic sprouts yet, but similar foods, like the green parts of scallions and leeks are usually well-tolerated, so it may be worth giving this a go if you miss your garlic! It’s easy to do now, even if you don’t have a lot of space or light.

I sprouted these in a few weeks in a tiny pot on my shady patio, so if it works there…it’s likely to work in any pot during Autumn, Spring or Summer.

Preparing the plant will only take a few minutes.

Take a large clove of garlic with the peel still on it.

garlic-1

Put it in the soil with the pointy end up, and then cover with just ½ inch of soil

garlic-2

Water…and watch!

garlic-3

This is at 3 weeks.

garlic-4

Let me know how it goes for you. And if you actually want to grow garlic bulbs itself and not just the shoots, you want to plant it deeper if it’s going to make it through the winter.

And a special bonus–sprouted garlic seems to have even more antioxidants than regular garlic.

Low FODMAP diet research

  • Last, but not least, there’s been some interesting research out. A new study suggests that a fecal bacterial test may indicate who will benefit from a low FODMAP diet. The results seem to indicate that people with more normal gut dysbiosis profiles were more likely to have benefit on the diet.It’ll be interesting to see how this testing evolves!
  • Is it the gluten, or something else? A new study is out that suggests that gluten may not be the trigger for gluten sensitivity, but proteins known as ATI, or amylase-trypsin inhibitors may be responsible for much of the inflammatory response that people have attributed to gluten. Bottom line, if wheat bothers you, you may not care whether it’s the gluten, the ATI or the fructans in wheat, but understanding the problem may be instrumental in developing medications in the future.
  • Is it gas, or something else? Another recent article  investigates why the low FODMAP diet causes symptom relief for some, and they suggest that the cause discomfort with IBS may be something known as visceral hypersensitivity. They suggest that they amount of gas production is the same for people who are FODMAP sensitive and those who aren’t, and that people experience more discomfort because they are more sensitive to distension, and so they experience a greater level of discomfort than someone else with the same amount of distension. More to come…

Harris Whole Health offers individual 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, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, promoting great health 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.

 

 

Autumn Healthy Tips

Think outside the candy dishpumpkin-2016

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. We grow pumpkins every year, and this year, the little guys did fantastically. Aren’t they cute?

As much as I love Halloween, I’m also a fan of balance, so more than a dozen years ago, I made the choice to stop giving out Halloween candy. A big part of it was that I really didn’t need or want to be staring at a bowl of candy the month prior and the month after Halloween. I know myself well enough to know if I see it, I’m much more likely to eat it. Instead, we gave away rubber duckies, mini-slinkies, yo-yos, and other small fun toys. My husband was initially not happy with my decision, and I was a little nervous, until my first trick-or-treater ran back to his dad and said, “Cool! A slinky!” One year, a group of girls even told my husband that she looked forward to the “rubber ducky house” every year.  Somehow, I resisted the opportunity to say I told you so.

There are plenty of good options for stickers, toys, rubber duckies, mini games or even temporary tattoos for children you know well. Amazon has a ton of fun toy assortments (glow in the dark fangs, anyone?) Oriental Trading Company has a wide selection. Another easily available non-food option is mini cans of Play-Doh, (g-free peeps, remember that Play Doh has gluten, so if you play, wash your hands very, very, very thoroughly!) Some are more expensive than candy, but it depends on how you halloween treatslook at it. When you average in the bag of candy you bought on sale in September (and ate), the one in mid-October (trust me, that one will disappear as well) and the one you have to run out at the last minute and buy, it evens out in the end.

One of my clients, Stephanie, got really creative and put together goodie bags of her own (above). She found the DIY approach was cheaper than ones she could buy. I predict they’ll be a hit!

Extra bonus–if you decide to go the non-food-treat option, Food Allergy Resource & Education (FARE) 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. The “Teal Pumpkin Project”, a new initiative for people with non-food treats to paint a pumpkin teal and put it on the doorstep, so children and parents know that safe options are available..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This isn’t a rant against candy, because of course I have great memories eating excessive quantities of candy on Halloween as a little kid. I fully trust there will still be more than enough candy to go around, even without my help. However, I’m a fan of treats when I really want them and will enjoy them, not eating treats because they’re sitting right in front of me and then *poof* where’d they go? You can also opt for healthier treats, like mini Larabars and mini Kind Bars, all fruit leathers, mini-packs of pistachio nuts, etc.

Also, if you do have children who are going trick-or-treating, it also may be worthwhile to have a plan for the excess candy. One method can be allowing children to sort their pile and choose a certain amount of candy they really want, and then bring the rest to a local foodbank, like the Capital Area Food Bank, or Food For Others.  to a group collecting candy to send to the troops, etc.

Fall recipes:

One of the things I love most about autumn is the beauty of the leaves. We’re not there yet, so the best is yet to come! 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.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • 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 & 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.

G-Free October Tips

pumpkin-2016It’s hard to believe that Halloween is right around the corner when most of the leaves are green, but here we are. Because it’s been such mild weather thus far, our pumpkins are still alive and growing well!

Halloween can create more obstacles on on a gluten-free diet, so I have tips here on how to handle Halloween with food restrictions. I’m a big advocate for non-food treats for trick-or-treaters. It’s helpful both for your waistline, and it’s also a gift to have safe options for the many children with Celiac, gluten-sensitivity and/or allergies in your neighborhood. There are lots of fun options, like rubber duckies, slinkys, yoyos and other small toys, and you can list your house as a safe option for kids on special diets through the “Teal project”.  Bonus: you can save leftovers for next year. If you do choose the candy route, choose carefully–some candies that are normally gluten-free have wheat in the holiday versions.

“Made in a shared factory/shared equipment statements”
Over the past few years, these statement have been a major source of frustration and confusion for the gluten-free community. Because these are voluntary statements, it’s been difficult to assess the relative risk of these foods, and of course, the absence of a statement doesn’t mean anything, either. Most people see those as warnings of increased risk of gluten contamination, and allergy guidelines recommend removing those products, but according to a recent study, products with those warning statements are not useful for determining which products contain gluten or wheat.

Tricia Thompson of Gluten-Free Watchdog, Trisha Lyon and Amy Jones authored Allergen advisory statements for wheat: do they help US consumers with Celiac disease make safe food choices?  Surprisingly, in that study, foods with the allergen (made in a factory) statement warnings were less likely to contain gluten that packages that said nothing at all. It is a small study, but it’s an important conversation to have.

Most people I see are avoiding the “made in a factory” statements and instead choosing products without those warnings. At the very least, this provides a false sense of security.

So, best practices:wf-almonds

  1. Buy products with a gluten-free certification, such as through the GIG or CSA. This is especially important for flour and grain products.
  2. Buy products specifically marked “gluten-free”.
  3. Ask questions when you can, and email or contact the company. Manufacturers only go to the effort of labeling and testing for gluten if they believe it will influence the bottom line.
  4. Avoid all bulk bins, or situations with known cross contamination risk.
  5. Do monitor your Celiac antibody numbers yearly. They’re not perfect, but if they are positive, they’re an indicator of ongoing gluten consumption.
  6. Help advocate for change. FDA needs to do a better job and actually define those statements–or better yet, require companies to monitor and/or eliminate cross contamination with major allergens. We, collectively, can and should be doing better. So many people’s health is at stake.

Of course, ideally you also choose naturally gluten-free, unprocessed or less processed foods when possible.

Have a beautiful autumn.

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 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.

Breakfast basics

Breakfasts:

For many, this was the first week of back-to-school, and getting back into a new groove. For the rest of us, it’s adjusting to different traffic patterns, and maybe different jobs and roles. As we all know, a nourishing breakfast is a good way of getting the day off right. I’ve got a variety of options below, from classic cereals to other options, too. Gluten-free? No worries, I have a list of gluten-free breakfasts here.

What do I consider a healthy breakfast? Mostly whole foods, less processed, little sugar, and a good source of protein, fiber and health fats. Most of these are pretty easy to find at local stores. Did I miss one of your favorites? Let me know.

Hot cereals/cooked grains:oatmeal

Cold cereals:

Making cereals healthier:

  • Add in some fresh or frozen fruit!
  • Add in ground flax or chia seed to increase fiber content.

Other classic breakfast options:

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  • Greek yogurt with fruit and chia
  • Eggs-Add some spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc.
  • Vitatop muffins--in the freezer section.
  • Garden Lites muffins <–these are pretty easy to find at many grocery stores.
  • Chia pods®--perfect with a dairy allergy/intolerance or for vegans, and you can make them at home, too.
  • Evol breakfasts
  • Omelet
  • Kefir and fruit. Good news for dairy-free peeps–it’s getting easier to find more options at Mom’s and Whole Foods.
  • Yogurt (or coconut or almond yogurt) and chia seeds and/or fruit
  • Breakfast smoothie: handful berries, some kind of protein (yogurt, protein powder) and a handful spinach or kale.

Harris Whole Health offers individual 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, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, promoting great health 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.

Grilling & Hydration

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Two of my favorite summertime themes are grilling and hydration. Here are some tips to keep you healthy:

Grilling:
Start off right and cover half of the grill with veggies. Peppers, onions, asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms…we even grill avocado and peaches from time to time!
Grilling and cooking on high heat causes the production of heterocyclic amine (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can be carcinogenic.  Veggies and fruit don’t form these harmful compounds, only animal products do. The black char on foods may look and taste delicious, but it’s a not a great sign for health. Marinating can reduce HCAs over 95%, which is a sweet deal for something that tastes great.
Marinades can range from super simple to extremely elaborate. Generally, marinades are a combo of
·         some kind of fat
·         something acidic, like lemon or lime, vinegar, etc.
·         something savory or sweet, like soy sauce, OJ, etc.
·         something aromatic: parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, (sing it with me!) basil, oregano, garlic, onions, hot pepper, etc.
Not only do marinades reduce HCAs, but most of the herbs do have a good range of antioxidants that offer other health benefits in addition to taste. Marinades also generally shorten the cooking time, so keep an eye out so nothing burns.
Notice that I didn’t mention grilling hot dogs. That actually isn’t an oversight. Studies found that there was no safe threshold for consumption of processed meats like hot dogs.

Hydration:
It’s so hot today I get dehydrated just looking out the window! Normally, the general rule is if you take your weight and divide that number in half, that’s approximately the number of ounces of fluid you need daily. On a scorcher like today, you’ll need more, and same goes for if you’re doing intense physical activity.
If you’re anything like me, drinking water can be a struggle, and getting in enough is an uphill battle. The good news is that a wide range of fluids count—from sparkling waters to tea to broth to coconut water. Even coffee helps some, but don’t overdo it!

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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!
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Wishing you a delicious and healthy 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, 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.