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:

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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.  

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!
.
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.

Celiac & Depression, DC GF Expo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s been a busy month for me, between an intensive mindfulness practicum, teaching Mindful eating & Nourishment to grad students at Maryland University of Integrative Health,  and ongoing work on a training program through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to educate nutritional professions across the US on Celiac disease & gluten-related disorders. I’m excited to have the honor to teach, and it will hopefully roll out in late 2016 or early 2017.

So this newsletter is short, but on a topic near and dear to my heart—Celiac disease and depression. At Digestive Disorders Week 2016 held at the end of May 2016, researchers presented new evidence that the majority teens with Celiac met criteria for major depressive disorder. Again, not just that some teens with Celiac have depression, but MOST. And major depressive disorder isn’t just your garden-variety of typical teen moodiness. Generally, it’s defined by symptoms that have a big impact on quality of life.

This certainly isn’t the first study that links mood issues with Celiac, but the first to show that they’re extremely common. That’s shocking, and should be a real call to action on screening for depression…especially for teens with Celiac.

Although this research is specific to Celiac and not gluten sensitivity more broadly, both Celiac and gluten sensitivity have been linked to both depression and range of other mood disorders in other studies, and this is a good overview.

DC Gluten-Free Expochildren's logo

Coincidentally, it’s also that time of year for the annual DC Gluten-Free expo, which is June 12th, 2016. There are tons of gluten-free vendors, food, and a range of activities, Best of all, the funds support the Children’s National Celiac Center in DC. It usually sells out, so if you’re thinking of going, you might want to hop over and look for tickets ASAP. One of the unique aspects of the Celiac Disease Center at Children’s is their emphasis on the psychological needs of children and teens with Celiac, and they do have trained professionals on staff to provide this support. My understanding is that they are the first program in the country to have a pediatric Celiac center with a specific focus on mental and emotional health, which is pretty awesome.

I have no involvement in the programs at Children’s, but I’m a huge fan of their mission, and I believe we’re lucky to have a Celiac center in the DC metro area.

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 Grab & Go

Last updated May 2021

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 bars also avoid artificial sweeteners and soy protein isolate.

Snacks:nut butters

Quick meal options

Soups & etc.

Frozen: In the NoVA area, you can generally find these at MOM’s, Wegman’s, Whole Foods and Earth Fare

  • Amy’s Organic® Kosher has frozen entrees, with vegan and vegetarian options
  • Beetnick frozen foods–certified GF, lots of options
  • Dr. Praeger-(choose GF check mark)veggie burgers, veggie patties, fish sticks & more.
  • Garden lites® Kosher 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
  • Primal Kitchen–they’ve now got frozen bowls and skillet meals

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

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 VA and currently, remotely.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, all sorts of GI issues and more.  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

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.

Organic Grocery Delivery Services

Both offer boxes of local, seasonal veggies and fruit

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.