Nourishing Your Body for Better Health

Gluten-Free Grab & Go 2016

Happy Celiac Disease Awareness Month!

I’m a huge fan of naturally gluten-free food. It’s usually healthier, usually cheaper, and IMHO, often tastier, too. That’s especially this this time of year, when we can start to get locally grown veggies and fruit. I’ve got a list of local NoVA/DC/MD Farmers’ markets here.

And yet…there are so many reasons packaged foods do absolutely come in handy from time to time, whether it’s because of job demands, travel, or you just need to have something shelf-stable and portable in the car in case of emergency.

I’ve put together a updated list of some of my favorite healthier options among packaged products, with an eye out towards ones that are lower in sugar, higher in fiber and protein, and on the less processed end of the spectrum. I’ve noted which are GF certified, Kosher certified or vegan, according to the manufacturer’s claims, and I always encourage you to double-check, because ingredients and processing protocols change.

Bars:

What do I consider a healthier gluten-free bar? In a nutshell, mostly ingredients your grandmother would recognize, enough protein and fiber to keep you fueled, and of course, gluten-free. These also avoid artificial sweeteners and soy protein isolate.

Snacks:nut butters

Quick meal options

Soups!

Frozen:

  • Amy’s Organic® has frozen entrees, with vegan and vegetarian options
  • Beetnick frozen foods–certified GF, lots of options
  • Dr. Praeger-veggie burgers, veggie patties, fish sticks & more.
  • Garden lites® soufflés and muffins, vegan and vegetarian options.
  • Glutenfreeda® has a wide variety of options. Nutritionally speaking, the burritos are healthier than the ice cream sandwiches, of course

Veggie (vegetarian/vegan) Burgers:

Shelf-stable options:

  • CookSimple® has a variety of boxed meals (some gluten-free, some not)oatmeal
  • GoPicnic® has pre-packed meals that are shelf-stable. (some vegan options)
  • St. Dafour® has tinned meals (some gluten-free, some not)

Cereals: (other great breakfast options here)

Breads:

Ah, the task of finding a g-free bread with enough fiber. Try these:wonderbread

Companies that offer sample boxes

 All products are gluten-free per the manufacturer’s claim. Always double check labels, because products do change. Some do contain other allergens.
Did I leave out one of your favorites? Leave me a note in the comments.
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 Local in Season

brockale2016

Locally grown resources, Farmers’ Markets, Farms & CSAs and note to BCBS clients

I’m a huge fan of growing some of my own veggies and herbs when possible, because it’s so much fun to see them grow. We’ve lived in several different spots in Virginia, and my gardens have ranged from small gardens in containers to much larger spaces.  Of course, the deer have sometimes used the garden as a buffet, and space can be an issue in this area, too. I’m lucky enough to have a garden bed this year, but also have a few things in Earth boxes, which are wonderful in places with more limited space. The picture above is kale and broccoli starts I planted a few weeks ago, and they’re huge already. There are also local community garden plots, and this link has listings in the DC Metro area.

Gardens are a great way to get sunshine, exercise, and some yummy food, if you’re lucky. It’s also great for kids to get them interested in fresh foods.grilled aspar

If growing simply isn’t possible, or if you’re looking to supplement your garden, May is when most of the Farmers’ Markets start to open. While most of the fruits and veggies won’t be around until June or July, we got to enjoy the 1st asparagus of the season.

Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ Markets and Local Produce

Farms:

Farms, CSAs, etc.

Cox farms:

Nearby in Centreville. Some fresh fruits and veggies from the farm and nearby farms in the summer and fall, and furry animals!

http://www.coxfarms.com/

Mount Vernon Farms

http://www.mountvernonfarm.net/

Through buyers clubs or go out to the farm!.  In Sperryville, VA.  Pastured beef, lamb and chicken.gardensept09

Nall’s Produce:

http://www.nallsproduce.com/

Local produce, with location in Alexandria

Polyface Farms

http://www.polyfacefarms.com/

Farm in the Shenandoah Valley with pastured meats and eggs that are delivered locally or bought in bulk

South Mountain Veggies

Delivered, locally grown produce from Frederick County, MD

http://www.southmountainveggies.com

CSAs

www.localharvest.org Community Supported Agriculture (or CSAs) allow people to buy a ‘share’ in a farm and pick up a bag of fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods weekly.  Pick up points are located throughout D.C. and suburbs.  Foods vary week to week and usually come with recipes.

Organic Grocery Delivery Services

Both offer boxes of local, seasonal veggies and fruit

  • Relay Foods– Delivers a range of farm-fresh foods, including organic fruits and veggies and free-range meat and poultry to DC, VA and MD Here’s a code for $30 off relayfoods.com/friend/x6kym5

Did I miss any of your favorites? Leave me a comment!

Note to BCBS clients:
As of June 2016, I’m formally ending my contract for BCBS. While I’ll still be seeing clients, including BCBS clients, I’ll be  an out-of-network provider. It’s been a difficult decision for me. In brief, after many months and many requests, BCBS claims from December and January (6 months ago) are still unpaid. I love my job; I also expect to be compensated for work without ongoing battles. Longer version here, and if you have questions, do feel free to contact me directly.

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.

Gluten-Free News: April 2016

There has been so much research and new articles related to living gluten-free lately. Here’s an overview of some of the highlights!

Gut bugs & Celiac/autoimmune disease
Dr. Fasano and Dr. Leonard have a fascinating article on the potential for using the microbiome (our gut bacteria) to possibly prevent Celiac disease. No shockers here—as of yet, there are no answers, but a lot of great questions.
A bit more user friendly: There’s also a podcast with Dr. Fasano that covers using nutrition to shape the gut microbiome and how that (possibly) impacts autoimmunity
bread
Sourdough bread—still a “no”
There’s been a recent burst of interest in using sourdough bread on a gluten-free diet because of widely-circulated comments from author Michael Pollan. Unfortunately, it’s not based in science. I did a review of the studies a few years back, and the same conclusions hold. There’s promise in theory, but in practice, it’s not safe. Testing from Gluten Free Watchdog on “Sourdough for Celiacs” shows that one kind of “safe” bread tested at 104,000 ppm of gluten. (gluten-free is under 20ppm, so it’s not even in the ballpark)
Moral of the story—if you need or love your sourdough, make it or buy it with gluten-free grains and you’re good to go.

Gluten-free oats
Those of you who have been gluten-free for a long time remember that way back in the day, oats were not allowed on a gluten-free diet. Then ~7-8 years ago, special gluten-free oats came on the scene. They were grown on special fields, with special equipment, they were specially tested…you get the idea. In the last year or so, however, more and more oats are grown on regular fields, and then a new technique called optical sorting is used to remove the gluten. That’s the process used for Cheerios, and as I’ve mentioned before, the concern is that “your mileage may vary” as to the accuracy.
Earlier this year, a purity protocol farmer announced that they were delaying their planting. There’s a real logic there. If the market for purity protocol, certified GF oats disappears, and there’s additional cost involved, why should they bother? So if you value having gluten-free oats that you can be sure are 100% gluten-free, buy from companies that are taking extra steps to ensure safety.
GFE has a nice summary of the oats situation.

Passovercharoset
And as some of you know, Passover is just around the corner, starting on April 22nd. Obviously there are some people who celebrate the holiday, while others celebrate the larger range of gluten-free foods available. I’ve got details on Passover here.

Paleo benefits?
Many in the gluten-free community follow a Paleo diet. There’s much speculation, lots of strong feelings on the topic, but few studies available. However,  new data was just presented showing that after 2 years, people on a Paleo diet lost the same amount of weight as people on a low fat diet, but insulin (blood sugar) levels were better for the Paleo group. Interesting, for sure, and to be continued…

Note to BCBS clients:
As of June 2016, I’ll be an out-of-network provider for BCBS. In brief, after many months and many requests, BCBS claims from months ago are still unpaid. It’s been a difficult decision for me. I love my job, but I cannot afford the time, energy and money for an ongoing battle with BCBS. Longer version here.

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 for IBS, News & More

Over the past few years, the low FODMAP diet is getting some good press. 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 major help for many people who experience ongoing gastrointestinal distress.garlic-X

But what’s a FODMAP, anyhow? FODMAP is acronym abbreviation for Fermentable Oligosaccarides, Disaccarides, Monosaccarides and Polyols. Unless you’re a food scientist, that likely means very little. In a nutshell, FODMAPs are carbs that certain people have trouble digesting, so they ferment in the gut and can cause all sorts of obnoxious symptoms, like gas, bloating, diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and even constipation. Many different kinds of foods are high in FODMAPs, such as wheat, beans, garlic and onions, and many kinds of fruits and veggies.

Wait, wait, what? So now fruit, garlic and beans are bad for you? Thankfully, no. Foods with FODMAPs are not “bad” or unhealthy foods, just foods that can provoke symptoms in some people. For people without digestive distress, FODMAPs may feed good bacteria and support overall health. A low FODMAP diet is an elimination diet designed for GI symptom management, rather than something that’s globally healthier for everyone. Once people start feeling better, it’s all about adding foods back and making the diet as wide and varied as possible.

When I first started teaching the low FODMAP diet years ago, I was dubious, because it is a lot of work. The good news is I’ve been amazed and delighted at how much a low FODMAP diet helps reduce symptoms in clients I’ve worked with. Interestingly, studies have suggested that some people with stomach issues that have learned over time that they are gluten sensitive actually respond more fully to a low FODMAP diet than just a gluten-free diet. There’s speculation that for some, the key problematic component in wheat isn’t really gluten, but a fermentable carb called fructans. And of course, the research is still underway.

How it works: we do an elimination diet where the main sources of FODMAPs are eliminated, and that means eating “allowed” foods in allowed amounts for a few weeks. Most people notice significant improvement, even in the first week or two. Then we begin a structured reintroduction to see which classes or kinds of FODMAPs are actually triggering a reaction. The goal at the end of the day, of course, is to minimize symptoms while keeping as many foods on the table as possible.

One word of caution–between the complexity foods allowed and disallowed, the quantity and spacing and the many incomplete lists on the Internet, I often find people have spent a lot of time and energy trying to follow the diet and either miss something important or overly restrict. I’d definitely recommend getting support from someone who works extensively with the low FODMAP diet.

There are a couple of great books & resources to get you started:

News:

Nutrition professionals: I’ll be teaching Gluten-Free and Healthy on March 10th, 2016 from 2-4pm EST. It’s always a fun and interactive class.

We’ll be hitting key topics, like nutrients often missing on a GFD, and also touching on the latest research and controversies on a gluten-free diet, such as arsenic, how a GFD affects athletes, the impact on weight, cardiovascular health, and much more! For more info and to sign up, see Dietitian Central.

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.

A G-Free Valentine

tux 2016

 

First things first–Valentine’s day candy list here from CDF. tuxedo strawberriers

Valentine’s day was one of my favorite holidays growing up, and not much has changed. An annual tradition is Tuxedoed Strawberries, and there’s still time to make these for your favorite someone (this includes yourself of course!)

Another annual favorite: Hazelnut Buttercups

Gluten-Free Hazelnut Buttercups Gluten Free Goodness

A bunch of my other favorite recipes are here, and there are great V-day GF roundups from

Looking for somewhere to go with your Valentine? Wildfire in Tyson’s is doing a special GF Valentine’s dinner

Interesting news:

Also, I’ll be teaching “Gluten-Free and Healthy”, a 2 hour CE course for Nutritionists & Registered Dietitians on March 10th 2-4 EST. We’ll be covering all the nutritional deficiencies and excesses typically seen, preparation of gluten-free grains,  touching on arsenic, using a GFD for sports performance and much more. To register, see Dietitian Central.

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 Good Habits, Unsafe Products & More

bowl of basil

It’s that time of year where when resolutions start falling off. We want 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, and unless there’s a very strong motivation, it’s difficult to keep those changes. As a nutritionist and coach, 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” or “I know I really should” or “It would make XXX happy” 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 the old fashioned way with 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?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Take a look at those two pictures. Which has more food? Actually, it’s the very same food, photographed on a 11 inch plate on the left and a 9 inch plate on the right. Research shows we eat about 30% on the bigger plate. Amazing how much of a difference small choices in our environment can make! 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.   How mindful are you?

Most of us live pretty distracted lives–and places like buffets and restaurants make it worse. Seinfeld actually had a funny monologue on it last week!

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.   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. Likewise, it’s easier to eat well with support than constantly seeing tempting foods that are off-limits. It’s critical to build in support in person or online for a sense of accountability.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6. How are you managing work/life balance and stress?

The Washington Post did featured some of my eating tips in an article on reducing stress for the holidays. The tips do apply for any and every season, though, and most of us need some fine-tuning with the juggling.

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Warning: Aldi’s not very”gluten-free” bars

Aldi’s has some gluten-free bars available, which should, in theory, be a good thing. I mean, having more availability of gluten-free products is certainly a plus. The problem is, they contain malt (barley malt) and so the bars are not actually gluten-free and are incorrectly labeled.

More details are here from Gluten-Free Watchdog, and many thanks to GFW for investigating this.

It is sad how often this happens…and even sadder that this product actually had one of the gluten-free seals through GFCP on it, and it STILL isn’t a safe product. Given how poorly GFCP is vetting manufacturers and is doing so little to address this, I’d encourage people to look for products certified through GIG and CSA instead.

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New Live Webinar on Jan 21st, 2016 2pm-4pm EST

Join me for a 2 hour webinar on “Celiac Disease: What Every RD Should Know” through Dietitian Central.

Upon successful completion of this 2 hour course, the participant should be able to:

  • Understand the biology behind Celiac disease
  • Recognize our changing understanding of the symptoms of Celiac, prevalence, etc.
  • Describe which testing methods are scientifically valid
  • Understand what gluten is and where it is found
  • Find gluten on labels in live examples with labels
  • Discuss the regulations that changed in 2014 and how they affect gluten-free client
  • Describe current 2016 controversies around fermented foods, oats, alcohol and more
  • List foods at high risk of cross-contamination
  • Identify the best resources for RDs and clients

This course is designed for nutritionists, but will apply to any health professionals…and I’ve had clients get a lot out of previous versions, too. To register, see Dietitian Central’s site.

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.

To subscribe or unsubscribe, see www.harriswholehealth.com

G-Free Holiday Fun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWow, December has really flown by, and 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.

Thanksgiving Tips

November through December is probably the hardest time of year for balance around food. The Halloween candy is still lurking around, Thanksgiving is *right* around the corner, and the Christmas candy is all over the store. It’s easy to feellike our 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.

Move the special occasion treats out of view:  One of the biggest challenges of the season is a see-food diet, otherwise known as “if I see it, I eat it”.  So “de-convenience” the foods you’d rather not be eating on a daily basis. Studies show that we eat what we see, and 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 get in the essentials at other meals.  Add in more vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, etc. and move more, too!  A piece of chocolate cake one day or one big holiday meal won’t make or break you, 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 Sarah’s apple pie? Then plan to have some. Scope out your options before you dig in, and target 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.   Not only does it 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 and yours a delicious holiday season,

Cheryl

…and if you’re gluten-free, I’ve got more suggestions here for making the holidays work with ease.

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 Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving tipssweet potatoes 2014

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 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 4 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:
* Broth used for basting, or even the butter used for basting
* 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

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 (BTW, Aldi has gluten-free French fried onions) 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.

I’m submitting this to the Gluten Free Recipe Fix: Thanksgiving edition hosted by Shirley of Gluten Free Easily & All Gluten-Free Desserts Lynn and Linda of Gluten-Free Homemaker.

 

 

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

A fun and healthier Halloween, Fall recipes

c n pumpkinThink outside the candy dish…

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. We grow pumpkins every year, like the one I’m holding in the picture, and the cute little pumpkins below.

…but I’m also a fan of balance, so about 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. Instead, we did rubber duckies, mini-slinkies, yo-yos, and other small fun toys. My husband was definitely 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.

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.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.