Countdown to Turkey Time: November ’07 Newsletter

Plan ahead for the cold and flu season now!

It’s very hard to do a good job of label reading when you are running a fever of 103. At 2 in the morning when your child has a sore throat, fishing the noodles out of the can of chicken noodle soup starts to sound like a good idea (though we all know it is NOT!!!). Especially if this is your first year with food restrictions, make sure you’re prepared with a few cans of soup, crackers, and over-the-counter medicines that are safe for you and your child. Nothing beats a few containers of homemade soup in the freezer, but Amy’s Kitchen has some good gluten free soups as a back up. On all new food packages from the US, the top 8 allergens (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat) need to be clearly labeled. We’re used to that helping us out, but over-the-counter medicines have different rules than food. If the label says “starch,” it can mean wheat, corn or potato starch, so you need to call the manufacturer. There is a good list of many OTC medications at Gluten Free Drugs.

Keep in mind that if you need prescription medicines, it’s important to talk to the doctor and pharmacist about food restrictions. Some medications contain gluten as filler, and others have soy in gel capsules. You are always your own best advocate, so ask questions.


Gluten Free for the Holidays

Tis the season for potlucks, holiday parties, traveling to see family and eating out. Learn how to navigate the holidays on a gluten free diet so you can keep yourself healthy and enjoy yourself, too!

  • Saturday, November 10th, 11:00-12:30

Classes are in Alexandria, VA. They are a great opportunity to ask questions and learn in a small group setting. Pre-registration is required!

Register for classes

Turkey time:

It takes a little planning ahead to guarantee a great Thanksgiving. In many ways, it’s easier if you’re hosting, because you know what you can and can’t have. 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! Here’s a run down of the usual foods, and what you need to plan for:


Though it’s always good to check, the good news is that all plain fresh turkey is naturally gluten free. However, self-basting turkeys usually contain gluten, dairy, soy or other potential problems. Most gravy packets are a problem, too. Here’s my “Great Turkey List” with information on many brands of turkey, plus other common Thanksgiving main meals.

If you’re not hosting Thanksgiving at your house, talk to your host as soon as you can. If they haven’t already bought a turkey, they may be open to buying a different brand. In addition to the brand of turkey, you’ll need to talk about:

  • Broth/butter/oil used for basting
  • Seasonings
  • Stuffing in the turkey
  • Cross contamination


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 GF cornbread or premade bread crumbs. For inspiration, you can check out last years’ recipe round-up from Gluten-Free Bay.


Most canned gravy and gravy packets are not GF. However, it’s pretty easy to make a simple gravy with GF broth and cornstarch instead of wheat (and if corn is a problem for you, arrowroot can be substituted 1:1 instead). See above link for recipe, or see this recipe using xanthan gum as a thickener from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

Side dishes

There are lots of good options here. Green bean casserole, 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.


For many people (myself included), dessert is the highlight of Thanksgiving. Here are two of my family’s favorites:

Apple Crisp

I love crisps. They’re yummy, healthy, and totally adaptable to most food restrictions. They naturally have no gluten, soy, dairy or eggs. What if you can’t eat nuts? No problem! Substitute gluten free oats or quinoa flakes. If you want to be creative, you can do half apples, half pears, or add in some plums or quince for variety.

1 ¼ cup sorghum flour (or any GF all purpose mix should do)
½ cup chopped nuts (or substitute with quinoa or GF oats)
1/2 tsp ground sea salt
2 Tablespoons rapadura, demerara sugar or brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon stevia powder (or another 2 tablespoons of sugar)
¼ cup oil (almond, canola, or walnut oil work well)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract
dash of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg

4 large baking apples (MacIntosh, Empire, Granny Smith or Jonathan are all good)
1 cup cranberries
½ cup raisins, dried apricots or dried pineapple
1/3-2/3 cup sugar, depending on taste (you can use a sugar substitute if you wish)
zest of an orange or lemon (optional)
1 ½ tablespoons tapioca starch
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350?F. Grease 8X8 pan with oil.
Peel and chop apples. Mix all filling ingredients together and add to pan. In another bowl, combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the fruit. Bake, covering loosely with aluminum foil after 20 minutes (GF flours brown/burn at different speeds. Slight browning=good. More than that=bitter. Err on the side of caution). Continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes until the juices start bubbling up.

Sweet potato pie with a toasted coconut crust:

I tend to be a free spirited cook, and in the end, I often don’t know quite what or how much I put in. But I decided to make it again and measure everything, just for you! (or at least, that’s a good excuse, right?) There’s no gluten, dairy OR eggs, so it’s great for people with multiple allergies. It’s also a very good make-ahead pie.

2 ½ cups shredded, unsweetened coconut (or use sweetened and eliminate sugar below)
3T melted coconut oil, butter, or other oil, like canola
¼ t stevia or ¼ c sugar

Thoroughly mix coconut, sweetener and oil. Press firmly into a 9 inch pie plate. Bake 325? for 10-15 min or until coconut starts to brown.

Pie Filling:

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 c. water
2/3 c. coconut milk
2 c. sweet potato (about 2 large)
½ cup pure maple syrup
up to ¼ cup added sweetener (sugar, maple syrup, xylitol, etc) (optional)
2 T molasses
1 t. cinnamon
¼ t cloves
¼ t allspice
½ t. salt
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Let gelatin sit in water for a few minutes (it will start to gel) before dissolving it on low heat. Mix other ingredients, add in gelatin and mix well, pour into crust. Garnish with pecans or toasted coconut. Refrigerate for a couple hours.

For a lower fat (not lowfat) pie: use “lite” coconut milk, and use a regular, pre-baked GF pie crust.

One last thought: we sometimes get so busy during the holiday season that it’s easy to forget that the point of Thanksgiving is to give thanks for friends, family, and the many gifts in our lives. Happy and healthy Thanksgiving, from my family to yours!

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Whether you are dealing with Celiac Disease, food allergies, picky eaters, chronic illness, or if you just want to improve your diet, Cheryl can help you achieve your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, click here or call 571-271-8742.

Healthy Bites: Halloween ’07

Greetings! Welcome to Healthy Bites, the newsletter for Harris Whole Health. Newsletters have seasonal tips, recipes, and information on upcoming classes. Please feel free to forward this email in its entirety.

To Health,
Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, LD

Tips for Enjoying Halloween with Food Restrictions

  • Talk to teachers and friends about focusing parties around activities (like pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, costume contest) rather than just trick or treating.
  • Get prepared! Figure out what candies are safe for your child (a list comes out each year through the R.O.C.K. group for GF foods). There are also many products through the Allergy Grocer and Enjoy Life Foods that cater to a variety of allergies and intolerances.
  • Pre-stock your Halloween bag with foods that are ‘legal’ for your child (and/or you) so that you can safely snack along the way.
  • Stash safe bags of candy at friend’s houses for your child.
  • Have a trade in. Your child can trade the “problem” candies and treats for “safe” treats, or games, prizes, special outings, etc. You can either stash the “problem” candy somewhere out of reach, or donate it to the foodbank.
  • Read labels carefully! Some treats that are normally GF or allergen free have different ingredients when the shape is changed. Always double check.

Upcoming Classes:

  • Gluten Free Living: The Basics
    October 11th, 6:30-8:00
  • Eating to Reduce Inflammation
    October 17th, 6:30-8:00
  • Gluten Free For the Holidays
    November 7th, 6:30-8:00

Classes at 3345 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA.
Pre-registration is required; for more details, see, then click on “Classes”.

Think outside the candy dish….

When I first told my husband we weren’t giving out candy for Halloween, he looked at me like I had lost my mind. I certainly didn’t want our house to be one of those places that children complain about, but I figured a few yo-yos or puzzles might be a nice change from 101 Tootsie rolls. I was a little nervous about my decision, until my first trick or treater ran back to his dad and said, “Cool! A slinky!”

Oriental Trading Company sells inexpensive toys, stickers, and even temporary tattoos (for children you know well). Another option is mini cans of Play-Doh (though remember, Play Doh has gluten, so if you play, wash your hands thoroughly!) Some are more expensive than candy, but it depends on how you look at it. When you average in the bag of candy you bought on sale in September (and ate), the one in mid-October (which vanished as well) and the one you had to run out at the last minute and buy, it evens out in the end.

Recipe: Warm Mulled Apple Drink

Serves: 8-10 people. Recipe may be halved or quartered.

It’s perfect for a crisp, cool day. We make this for a party every year and the kitchen fills when the autumn smell fills the house…

1-64 oz bottle apple juice
3 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves

Heat apple juice in a large pot over medium heat until barely simmering. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy. If there are leftovers, remove whole spices or it will become VERY spicy!

Recipe: Pumpkin seeds, several ways:

Take an old classic, and get a little creative!

Remove as much of the pumpkin “goop” (a very technical term) as possible from seeds. Wash seeds well, and rub between your hands to remove the fibers. Dry seeds on a paper towel.

For 2 cups of seeds, add:
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil (canola, olive, etc.)
½ -1 teaspoon of coarse salt, depending on taste
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
¼ teaspoon cinnamon AND 2 Tablespoons sugar*
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder AND 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is GF in the US)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice and 1 Tablespoon sugar*
Try lemon pepper, seasoned salt, chili powder, garlic salt or curry powder. There are endless variations!

Toss seeds, oil, salt and additional seasonings, if desired.

Preheat oven to 300?. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy clean up. Roast for about 45 minutes, turning every 15-20 minutes.

*you may use a sugar substitute (xylitol, date sugar, etc.) instead of sugar. Just toss seeds with substitute AFTER baking.

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Whether you are dealing with Celiac Disease, food allergies, picky eaters, chronic illness, or if you just want to improve your diet, Cheryl can help you achieve your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, click here or call 571-271-8742.

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