Happy G-Free New Year ’21

Happy New Year…here’s to a happy, healthy 2021.

Let’s start off with the most common question I’ve heard in the last month. VACCINES!

Yes, if you have Celiac, you can get the vaccine– there aren’t reasons for concern. Here’s a statement from SSCD. “There is no evidence to suggest that people with Celiac disease would be more prone to an adverse effect of vaccination.”

FWIW, the same guidance exists for those of you reading this with IBD: get the vaccine! “The bottom line, she said, is that ‘it’s much safer to get a vaccine than it is to take your chances of getting COVID-19.'”

Or, if reading a Tweetorial is more your thing, here’s a good one:

If you’ve got IBS, there’s no specific guidance, but the best bet is the same: get vaccinated!

Worried because you have food allergies? (not allergies to vaccines/vaccine components). That shouldn’t be a problem. Really. “People with common allergies to medications, foods, inhalants, insects, and latex are probably no more likely than the general public to have an allergic reaction to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines”. MCAS may be a different story, though, and there’s inadequate research, so do speak to your doctor.

Oh, and the other question I get. Given that I, personally, have a ton of autoimmune diseases and food intolerances, am I going to get the vaccine?

YES!!! Yes I am. YES! As soon as I can.

I hope you do, too.

As always, do check in with your health care team…

  • For those interested in Crohn’s and UC, there’s a patient education event online on Jan 30th
  • For GI RDs/colleagues–this is a wonderful article on GI disorders an eating disorders. The crossover is huge and significant, and affects the whole range of GI disorders, from Celiac to IBD to IBS and GERD. Eating disorders and disordered eating isn’t only weight loss–sometimes it’s fear of food. If this speaks to you as a patient, give it to your doctor.
  • For my RD colleagues or GIs, fantastic article from Kate Scarlata, MPH, RDN and Emily Haller, MS, RDN on the value of RDs to a GI practice
  • Healthier gluten free habits webinar with the wonderful Melinda Dennis, MS, RD…more info here
  • New year, new healthy habits? I hope so! I recorded a short mindfulness meditation video of awareness of senses. It’s a nice way to pause and take a break.  

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, digestive issues, 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 Holidays ’20

Contamination/news/lots of recipes

Oatmeal with apples

Before we get into seasonal goodness, I’d like to highlight a wonderful video from Gluten-free Watchdog which is well worth your time! If you aren’t already a member, I also  encourage you to join. Below are highlights of the video, but I absolutely recommend you to watch it in full for many of the details around gluten testing:

Of 4% of foods tested are out of compliance—which means 96% are compliant.


The problematic foods are often grain-based foods–

  • 79% problem foods are grains
  • Of the problem foods, 45% are oat products

For oat products, choose only purity protocol oats. These are going to be the safest options.

Careful of lentils—they often have cross contamination. Look for ones that are purity protocol. New brands are out there, such as Avena foods, and keep your eyes open for new ones.

New problem—facial misbranding.

Marshmallows, naturally gluten-free. See below for recipes

Facial misbranding=products marked GF, but aren’t.

This is why we need to always read products carefully.

If there are problems, they must be reported to the FDA!

Again, the full link is here: https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/lessons-learned-from-16-years-of-testing-food-for-gluten/

More news:

Kate Scarlata has a great overview of where oats fit for a GFD

A wonderful upcoming webinar on mental health on a gluten-free diet on Dec 17th (free!)

Crohn’s and Colitis foundation has devoted their whole issue to diet and IBD this month. I’d recommend reading the whole thing, actually, if it’s a topic of interest. But if time is limited, I think the 2nd (Kelly Issokson’s) encapsulates the current understanding particularly well.

Strawberry meringue tart
Strawberry meringue tart

Holidays are here:

On an entirely different note, I always share holiday recipes. Here’s a list of naturally gluten-free recipes, which includes many of our favorites.

A new one I’ll be adding to the list—Strawberry meringue tarts.

And here’s a list of low FODMAP holiday recipes. Remember, they are only low FODMAP if you’re eating the recommended maximum portions.

Strawberry Meringue Tarts

AKA Kitchen therapy

I don’t know about you, but when I am stressed, I retreat to my kitchen. I have had enough of COVID. I am not a fan of cold weather. So I needed a mental health afternoon. Normally I play with strawberries most during June when we have them in the garden, but this is what was calling to me, and I adapted a few of our standard recipes and is what happened.

Strawberry meringue tart

These are adorable, gluten and dairy-free, lactose-free and as a bonus, they are low FODMAP. They do not transport or keep very well—but they should disappear quickly, so that point should be entirely moot.


Makes 6, 4-inch tarts

Tart crust
1 1/4 cups GF all purpose flour (I’ve used Jules GF and also King Arthur measure for measure)

2 TBSP almond flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. very cold water
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Strawberry Meringue Tart inside
Strawberries inside!

Pulse dry ingredients with butter, then add yolk, vanilla and cold water. Chill dough for at least an hour in wax paper, can be done left in the fridge overnight as well.

Roll out on wax paper, press into tart pans. Prick with a fork in several places. Bake at 375

8 min covered, using pie weights (anything metal and sturdy works). Then bake for another 7 minutes. It may need 1-2 minutes more, until it is a *light* golden brown.


  • 4 cups =2 cups pureed strawberries + 2 cups sliced (separated)
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Puree 2 cups strawberries. Whisk water and cornstarch, add in strawberry puree. Heat on medium, whisking well, until boiling. Boil for 1 minute, whisking the whole time. Remove from heat. Allow to cool.

Place the other sliced strawberries in the tart shells, pour the strawberry filling evenly on top.


  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Bring egg whites to room temp. Whip the egg whites and the cream of tartar until soft peaks form, ~5 min on high speed. Add sugar 1 TBSP at a time until you have stiff peaks, ~ 2 min more, then add vanilla. Pipe out in circles onto the tarts.

Bake for 12 minutes at 350 in the middle of the oven, or until the tops are nicely browning.

Enjoy right away. This is the easiest step.

Happy G-Free Holidays

I hope you’re having a cozy December! I’ve collected a list of NATURALLY gluten-free desserts—tried and true recipes that aren’t specialty cooking, but just happen to be marvelously, naturally 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 may 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.

This list has a range of options, from allergy-friendly, grain-free, low sugar to completely decadent options. Your call! 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.

Low FODMAP? I’ve italicized recipes that are FODMAP friendly, and or easy to adapt and I have a longer list of low FODMAP holiday treats here. Remember, portions matter.

Italicized=low fodmap (watch portions) dairy free (DF), egg free (EF) and soy free (SF), NF (nut free) *=check labels

The Washington Post even has a  “Cookie Generator” with a gluten-free option. Of course, you need to make sure the ingredients are 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.

And for my low FODMAP friends, more recipes here: a round-up of low FODMAP holiday desserts. Just watch the portion sizes.

Oh, right, and there’s holiday food, too. I’ve got a G-Free Turkey and Ham list.
And along those lines, I’ve got some of my  favorite tips for a balanced and delicious holiday season here.

More recipes from around the web:

Wishing you a peaceful & joyful season!

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, digestive issues, 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 Thanksgiving 2020

The holidays will be different for most of us this year. Now, this is my 14th year posting on a gluten-free Thanksgiving,  I’m used to things looking different. But this is a different different. And I’m not quite sure how each of us are going to navigate the challenges of a smaller, socially distant or outdoor feast. It’s new for all of us, and I haven’t quite figured out how we plan to mini-size the meal.

There are some tips here in the Washington post (not all gluten-free, of course) and on Livestrong

rollsGF Jules has some info on how to shrink a typical feast and make it gluten-free. We made Jules’ pull apart rolls last year, and they were delicious!

And if you plan to order in, some gluten-free options are here….and Epicured just published a 25% off code EPICUREDBLKFRI for gluten-free and low FODMAP meals (nope, none of these are sponsored, just sharing what might be of interest)

My traditional Thanksgiving ideas are here, if you are looking for ideas and recipes to get you started.

So here’s to you and the ones around you having a safe, happy and healthy holiday, where ever it takes you or wherever it finds you. This current situation may be uncomfortable, but it is temporary—your health and the health of the ones you love is a longer-term proposition.

ps–have some extra time and want to watch a great conference on Celiac? Canadian Celiac Association’s conference was recorded just this weekend and is available here…all 6 hours with lots of experts.

pps–surely you’ve heard about the new GF oreos that will be arriving in January 2021? A handful of Ben and Jerry’s flavors are certified GF, too. Nope, neither are known for their major health benefits, but for many, they are a nostalgic favorites. Re: oreos, many details about ingredients and production are still TBD.

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, currently only virtually! Cheryl works with people to feel their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, IBS, IBD and a range of tummy troubles. 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.


Easy Cheesy Egg Bake: Low Fodmap

We’ve got a lot of basil growing wild right now, and I’m having a Ehlers-Danlos aka joint hypermobility flare. The brief EDS PSA–almost everyone with EDS has GI disorders, and 15% have Celiac and some have Crohn’s so there’s a lot of crossover with the usual crowd on my website. When my ligaments get lax, my prep time in the kitchen needs to get shortened. So this recipe involves only about 5 min prep time, which may be helpful for a range of busy people. Know anyone who falls in that category? 😉

Egg bake photo

Easy Cheesy Egg Bake

(low FODMAP, vegetarian, dairy-free option, SCD option)

Serves 4


  • 6 eggs
  • 1- 12 oz can roasted red peppers, sliced or chopped
  • 1-2.25 can sliced black olives (or canned mushrooms)
  • ½ cup fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 1 TBSP scallion greens, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella or Jack cheese, dairy-free if needed
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8X8 glass pan. Open the can of peppers and black olives and drain in a strainer while prepping the other parts. Whisk the eggs for a minute, stir in the basil, scallions, cheese, drained veggies, spices. Pour into greased pan. Bake at 350 for 40 min or until done.

Low FODMAP note: Cento peppers roasted red peppers are easy to find–they are at Wegman’s or Whole Foods. Or, of course, you can always use fresh or frozen peppers.

SCD legal variation, choose an SCD legal cheese and check cans for starches.

G-Free Vegetarian – Happy Celiac Awareness Day

Quinoa with mint
Quinoa bowl with mint

A gluten-free diet takes a bit of juggling, but what if you are following a plant-based diet?  It’s well established that there are health benefits to reducing the amount of meat in the diets of most Americans, and the lifestyle has appeal for some people based on ethical and/or environmental reasons. And, in the age of Corona virus with people getting sick in meat processing plants…well, there may be additional reasons.  Fortunately, with extra planning, a well-rounded and delicious gluten-free vegetarian diet is possible.

The good news is that many vegetarian staples, like beans, lentils, tofu, dairy, nuts, seeds and eggs are already naturally gluten-free.  And some of the best sources of vegetarian and vegan protein are gluten-free pseudo-grains, such as quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth. Also, grains, such as millet, teff and sorghum are very nutritious.  In addition to protein and fiber, they all have other vital nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium, etc.

It’s vital for everyone with Celiac disease to get enough iron, calcium, Vitamin D, fiber and B vitamin (including B12), because these are often lacking due to damage from the disease process and eating patterns often seen in gluten-free diets.  Pair that with a vegetarian diet, which can be lower in protein, iron, calcium, B12, omega fats, and Vitamin D, and it’s easy to miss out on necessary nutrients.

So what’s a vegetarian to do?

  • Focus on typical vegetarian staples that are gluten-free, like beans, tofu, nuts and seeds, and, of course fruits and veggies and.  If your diet includes dairy, eggs, fish, etc. these are very nutrient rich as well.
  • Eat a good source of protein with each meal.
  • Try quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth etc.
  • Get your vitamin D, iron and B vitamin levels checked.
  • Consider a vegan or vegetarian omega 3 supplement from algae if you don’t eat fish.

Sneaky gluten….

Several vegetarian staples have gluten. Make sure to watch out for these:

  • Seitan: many meat analogs are 100% gluten.
  • Tempeh: It’s made of soybeans, but wheat and other grains may also be ingredients
  • Miso: while miso is often made of soy, barley may be an ingredient, and it may not be clearly marked. It may say “malt” or “malt flavoring”
  • Falafel: These Middle Eastern fried or chickpea balls generally use wheat flour as a binder. Carefully check ingredients
  • Veggie burgers & crumbles: many, though not all veggie burgers have wheat or barley as ingredients.
  • Wheat by any other name: What’s in a name? Spelt, Kamut, orzo, couscous, freekeh, farina, semolina, matzo, tabbouleh and many more are all names for wheat
  • Sprouted or sourdough bread: these are often touted as lower gluten alternatives, and some companies even go as far as to say they are suitable for people who are gluten sensitive. This isn’t a safe option.  The only exception would be breads made with non-gluten containing grains.
  • Anything made or prepared in a shared fryer or an environment where cross-contact, or cross-contamination is likely. This includes many shared bakeries.
  • “Wheat free” is not the same as gluten-free! many products labeled “wheat free” may still legally contain barley or rye.
  • Please note–there have been recent issues with gluten contamination of beans and lentils in processing. This remains an issue. Do check your lentils carefully, and purchase consciously.

Happy eating!

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, currently only virtually! Cheryl works with people to feel and look their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, IBS, IBD and a range of tummy troubles. 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.

April G-Free Newsletter

Low FODMAP, gluten-free bunny meringue cookies
Easter Bunny Meringues!

It’s a strange time right now. I know, the understatement of the century. A month ago, I/we were all out and about and didn’t know how much would have changed, and how fast, and yet here we are. So…

Want to attend a great Celiac conference? For free? (ok, a donation) From home? Of course you do! Canadian Celiac Association is having their annual meeting online.

Easter bunny meringues—Passover friendly, too! Hop on over.

sprouted garlic

Sprouting garlic: Whether you’re low FODMAP and avoiding garlic, or looking for a fun DIY experiment to entertain yourself, or looking for something to entertain your kids, hopefully you can get your hands on garlic and some dirt, because that’s all you’ll need for this little experiment. This is perfect weather for sprouting it outside in Virginia right now.

Stay home, stay safe and wishing everyone the best.

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, currently only virtually! Cheryl works with people to feel and look their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, IBS, and a range of tummy troubles,  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.


A G-Free Thanksgiving ’19

Thanksgiving tips & Recipes

Happy almost Thanksgiving! With the leaves falling now, it’s kinda of crept up on me. Here are some of my favorite tips, tricks and recipes.

AnchorThanksgiving tips:

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

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

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 8 years I’ve been looking, calling and asking around if any of the brands of un-stuffed turkeys have gluten, and I haven’t found a single one in all that time. If you’ve seen one, email me or leave me a comment below. So you do have to look out for stuffed turkeys, and you do want to look out for gravy packets and of course, the preparation of the turkey.

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

As always, there can still be risks in the ingredients used on or in the turkey, and cross-contamination always needs to be on your radar. You’ll need to talk to your host about:

  • Preparation method: Broth used for basting, or even the butter used for basting. This also includes the kind of flour used if a turkey is cooked in a bag.
  • Seasonings
  • Stuffing in the turkey
  • Cross contamination<–and this is the most common problem.


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

Side dishes

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


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

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

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

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


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

or, are you low FODMAP? Dessert recipes here

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

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

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

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, digestive issues, 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. 

September G-Free Roundup

The year is flying by. I’m not ready for the cold weather, and our hummingbirds are still here and I’ll miss them. But what can you do. I’ve updated my GF breakfast list here, and as a bonus, here are some Gluten-free and low FODMAP Peanut Butter Banana Muffins.

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

There have been a lot of new papers relating to Celiac and GI health out in the last month or so. Here’s a quick round up:

There are new European guidelines for the diagnosis and management of Celiac. Now, of course, diagnosis and managing shouldn’t be your job, but, well, sometimes it is. Often doctors prefer information aimed at doctors, so feel free to print it out and bring it along with you to appointments re: initial testing, nutritional testing and follow up needed. A nice summary of them from Beyond Celiac is here.

More gluten, more risk in kids? Looks like it. A new study shows that children under 5 who are at high risk of having Celiac had a higher risk when eating larger amounts of gluten. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but it’s the largest study so far. Dr. Fasano & co have an editorial on this article, too.

Summary: more gluten, more than a slice of bread a day raises risk in children who are genetically susceptible. BUT (and this is significant) CCR suggests that other factors must be at play as well, because countries that eat more gluten don’t have more Celiac disease. So the desire to reduce Celiac needs to be balanced with the things that promote a healthy microbiome—among other things. And, of course, stay tuned!

Think beyond the tummy troubles: undiagnosed Celiac is linked to anxiety and other behavior problems in children

A new paper outlines the factors associated with the development of IBD (Crohn’s, or CD, and Ulcerative Colitis, or UC). Of course, association doesn’t mean that these things CAUSE IBD…but still, a lot to think about, especially for kids/siblings/prevention, because of the genetic link.


“We identified 9 factors that increase risk of IBD: smoking (CD), urban living (CD and IBD), appendectomy (CD), tonsillectomy (CD), antibiotic exposure (IBD), oral contraceptive use (IBD), consumption of soft drinks (UC), vitamin D deficiency (IBD), and non–Helicobacter pylori–like enterohepatic Helicobacter species (IBD). We identified 7 factors that reduce risk of IBD: physical activity (CD), breastfeeding (IBD), bed sharing (CD), tea consumption (UC), high levels of folate (IBD), high levels of vitamin D (CD), and H pylori infection (CD, UC, and IBD).”
The full article is here

And one more: Titanium Dioxide. There’s nothing about that that sounds particularly delicious, but it’s in a lot of foods as a whitening agent, and it’s in a ton of supplements, too. A new rodent study shows that it shifts the microbiome in ways that may increase the risk of IBD (Crohn’s, UC) and even colon cancer.

The Annual DC Gluten-free Expo has moved from the summer to October, and will be October 6th this year. It’s always a wonderful event for an even better cause—Children’s National Medical Celiac Center. It generally sells out, so if you’re interested, take a look.