Nourishing Your Body for Better Health

G-Free Winter Tips

I recognize it’s been a mild winter, and boy am I grateful, especially when I think back to last year! I realized I haven’t done a newsletter on winter weather/emergency preparedness in 5 years, so it’s about time.

It’s always a good idea to make sure you have week’s supply of gluten-free food for emergencies. The time to get ready isn’t the few days before when everyone and their mother is at the grocery store and the stores are a zoo. And, of course, in the case of a natural disaster or weather issue, it will likely be difficult to find gluten-free options at shelters or from food banks, like we saw with Hurricane Sandy years back.

Do you have a 3-5 day day food supply as FEMA recommends? And what if you had to make it 2 weeks? I’d have enough food for 5 days because I have latent squirrel genes, but 2 weeks would be pushing it.

So here are some ideas. Some require hot water or a manual can opener.

Ready to go meals: (all are available online and locally, too)

These require heating:

Gluten-free meal-ish replacements:

  • Canned beans Eden Foods Beans
    Eden is tested for gluten and BPA free, too)
  • Canned chicken
  • Canned salmon (bonus for ones with a pull top lid! Trader Joe’s has easy open ones, too)
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned soups and stews (a few brands that label as gluten-free are options from Progresso labeled g-free, Amy’s Soup labeled g-free, Pacific foods, Dinty Moore Beef Stew or
    select Dinty Moore microwavable cups etc.)
  • Dr. Mc Dougall’s has some “just add water” gf soups
  • Canned veggies: canned tomatoes, corn, green beans.
  • Jarred veggies: roasted red peppers, pickled veggies including pickles
  • Condiments, ideally in little packages of mustard, mayo, etc.
  • Jerky bars like Epic (complete disclosure–I really enjoy the turkey bars, but some of the other flavors…not so much)
  • UHT (shelf stable) milk
    or milk alternatives
  • Nut Butters or squeeze packs

Starches:

  • Cold cereal—So many to choose from!
  • Just hot add water G-free oatmeal packs
  • Ready to eat rice, wild rice and quinoa packets, such as Trader Joe’s, etc. Caution on Uncle Ben’s—some contain wheat.

Snacks: I’ve got a gluten-free snack list with bars here, with other “snacky stuff”

Sanity savers:

DOUBLE CHECK THAT EVERYTHING IS GLUTEN-FREE!

It’s also worthwhile to think about

  • water
  • medications
  • food for your furry, feathered or finned friends
  • other necessities.

A camp stove, matches, a sterno, generator, etc. will come in handy, too. For other, more general preparedness resources please see the FEMA website.

I also keep an “emergency pack” of Larabars, Epic bars and nut butters in the trunk of my car for when I’ve forgotten or dropped my lunch. It’s rarely needed, but comes in handy for sure!

News & Recipes:

Did I miss one of your favorites? Email me. I love how many more options we’ve got now.

Wishing you a safe and warm Wintertime!

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 New Year ’17

It’s that time of year where we resolve to start exercising, eating right, drinking more water and using more recycled bags to the store. I’m sure many of you have set resolutions or even goals. But it’s also the time of year where we start to realize making changes is easier than finding a way to make those changes stick. As a nutritionist and coach, I’ve seen such a range of experiences in my clients, and here are a few things I’d encourage you to consider.

1. Why is this super-wonderful new habit really important to you now?

Knowing your motivation is a powerful thing, and can help you build in structure to stay focused on what you value most. When I see clients, one my first questions is what they’re hoping to accomplish. When the answer is “Because Dr. So and so says so” it’s a big red flag and we have to dig deeper and develop personally meaningful goals.

2. What is your baseline?

Often we don’t have a good sense of our current habits. Many people report eating veggies every day or only occasionally going on a Starbucks run, but when they record their food for a few weeks, it becomes clear that the reality is quite a bit different. I definitely recommend keeping track of food, exercise or other habits, either on pen and paper, on a website like www.sparkpeople.com or www.nutritiondata.com or on an app like My Fitness Pal or Lose it. In fact, tracking your food is one of the top recommendations from the National Weight Control registry.

3. How much are you eating?

We live in a super-sized culture, and almost all of us fall prey to the ginormous sizes we see all around us. Studies show that everything from portion sizes to plates to colors or even names of food dramatically change our intake, and often small tweaks can significantly change our behaviors. If you haven’t read Brian Wansink’s Mindless Eating, it’s a fantastic read with a nice mix of research and easy tools to incorporate in your daily routine

4. Are you paying attention when you eat?

I know it may sound silly, but most of us live pretty distracted lives. If we’re not paying attention to our life, we’re missing out on the fun! It’s easy to eat while checking email, watching TV, or even driving, and that cuts down on our awareness of portion and on our enjoyment of food. When we’re eating mindfully, we’re much more aware of hunger and fullness, and it’s much easier to stop eating because we’re full than because we’re only allowed a certain amount. Additionally, mindfulness has a huge range of health benefits, from improving depression, to blood pressure, to immunity to diabetes and much more. I’ve got a lot of the research on the benefits of mindful eating here.

5. How’s your stress level?

It’s rare I find that people start craving cauliflower under stress. Yes, some people lose weight when they’re stressed, both most people gain. More importantly most of us have a harder time keeping healthy habits together when stressed. Maybe that’s not getting enough sleep, eating too much sugar, too much alcohol, working too hard…the list goes on. Make sure to plan in enough movement, adequate sleep, hydration, stress management, connection, sunshine (even if that’s just through a light box) , sources of fun and joy into your life. Fortunately, I have a furry friend who reminds me when I’m working too hard.

6. Do you have support? Generally, healthy habits take a village. It’s easier to get up on those cold, dark mornings when you’re meeting a friend or you’ve got a four-legged friend who wants to go for a run. It’s critical to build support for yourself, either in person or online for a sense of accountability.

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year,

Cheryl

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, 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. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here, email or call 571-271-8742.

G-free Holiday Favorites

Wow, December is flying by at warp speed. It’s so easy to get swept away sometimes in the holiday swirl.

For many people, the holiday season is one of the most challenging times to be gluten-free. Food is everywhere, and there’s lots of temptation. And, of course, it’s necessary to reinvent lots of old family traditions.I’ve highlighted some of my favorite tips for staying SANE and gluten-free here from Simply Gluten-Free Magazine. 

So…onto the food, right? Some of us aren’t all about mixing 5 different gluten-free flours and whipping out the xantham gum. I’ve collected a list of NATURALLY gluten-free desserts over the years—tried and true recipes that aren’t specialty cooking, but just happen to be marvelously gluten-free.

Remember, these foods are only GF if you use GF ingredients. And as always, check labels to avoid surprises. A surprising number of chocolates contain traces of gluten, including Lindt, Ghiradelli, Godiva and many of the Trader Joe’s options. I’ve got lists of chocolates listed gluten-free here and here.

There’s a range of allergy-friendly, grain-free, low sugar and completely decadent options, but there are enough options to choose from that you can surely find something that works for your lifestyle/food restrictions that you and your family can enjoy together.

dairy free (DF), egg free (EF) and soy free (SF), NF (nut free) *=check labels

Not that these are healthy by any stretch of the imagination, BUT Martha Stewart has a slideshow and recipes of 40 holiday candies, all of which (at a quick glance) are GF. Of course, you need tocheryl's pralines make sure the chocolate is GF, be mindful of cross contamination, etc. but this is an easy way to keep traditions without venturing into specialty flours and unfamiliar territory.

My personal favorites? My Bittersweet Chestnut Fudge and my Vegan Pralines.

Oh, right, and there’s holiday food, too. I’ve got a G-Free Turkey and Ham list.

More recipes from around the web:

Wishing you a peaceful 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, 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. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here, 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.

G-Free Breakfasts & Back to School

When I look through my archive of gluten-free breakfast posts, I’m always surprised at how short this list was years ago. Now there’s a range of packaged options in addition to the naturally gluten-free options.

oatmealWhether or not you’re back in school, it’s a nice time to re-evaluate breakfast options. We’ve all heard it—breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and gets us off to a good start.  We need energy to study, work, and play.  Many studies have shown improvements in concentration and learning for children who eat breakfast, and starting the day with a healthy breakfast helps adults, too.  As a nutritionist, I look for breakfasts that are a good source of fiber and protein, and little or no added sugar.

And as a gentle reminder, there are no rules of breakfasts. If you like having leftovers or soup for breakfast, so be it. You have my official approval. BTW, curious what people eat around the world for breakfast? I loved this video from WaPo.

Cereals:

Highest in fiber and protein:

Especially when it gets a little cooler, hot cereals can be a wonderful breakfast. You can cook up a big pot and have it all week, and they freeze well, too.

Cooked grains choices:

Making cereals healthier:

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

Other naturally gluten-free healthier options:

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  • Greek yogurt with fruit and chia
  • Eggs-Add some spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc.
  • Leaner, free-range sausage or turkey bacon
  • Garden Lites muffins <–these are pretty easy to find at many grocery stores.
  • Chia pods®
  • Evol has scramble cups  Some are certified GF, but check ingredients/products carefully–some products do have gluten, so make sure you’re grabbing the right box.
  • 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.

Love granola with your cereal? Kind has a whole grain granola. My grain-free friends–Paleo Krunch is delicious and great to sprinkle on yogurt, but it’s pricey. I have a MYO version here.

Two Mom’s in the Raw also have a certified GF granola option, and so does Go Raw. I’ve heard good things from clients but haven’t tried them out myself yet.

More and more, there are a wider range of cereal options, such as grits (marked GF), Chex, puffed rice, etc. There are also donut and muffin options in the freezer section as well. Obviously these aren’t as nutritionally dense.

Did I miss any of your favorites?

I don’t have Cheerios on the list intentionally, and as many of you know, there have been issues with Cheerios since they first launched, and the problems haven’t yet resolved.  General Mill’s has declared that Cheerios is a gluten-free cereal; however, they are not following the “purity protocol” for growing gluten-free oats. Instead, they’re sorting oats at the end. While some batches seem to test below 20ppm, some have been higher. They also are testing “lots” versus individual boxes, which makes it easier to miss patches of contamination.

The Canadian Celiac Association has a good explanation of why they recommend that people with Celiac avoid Cheerios until manufacturing practices improve.

And as always–do check labels every time. Ingredients and manufacturing practices change.

Back to school?

Sad news:

Last but not least, as many of you know, Dr. John Snyder, who was the head of the Celiac Center at Children’s National Medical Center in DC died unexpectedly this summer after a biking accident in France. I had the pleasure to work with him years ago on Celiac videos in 2008 (they’re a bit dated now). He was a truly lovely person, and a huge advocate for the Celiac community.

He was a great doctor with a big heart. His shoes will be very hard to fill.

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.