Holiday Season Survival Tips-Nov 2011

Making healthy eating easier:

It’s now officially the start of eating and shopping season! Some days, it seems like 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, grapefruits 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!

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 dish in a cupboard 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 chocolate cake one day or one big holiday meal won’t make or break a diet, but treats every day will add up.

Savor your favorites:  Bottom line, you’re going to eat some treats this holiday season, so you might as well truly enjoy them.   Target things you enjoy most (i.e. no filling up on chips or every day foods) 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.

Fill your table with fruit and veggie dishes: Have your holiday meals feature seasonal vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, collards or bean or veggie soups.  Make roasted chestnuts as a snack. Have a fruit inspired dessert, like baked apples, poached pears, sautéed 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.

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.



It’s been a busy and fun month for me!  I was quoted in the Washington Post on a gluten free diet and the Northern Virginia Dietetics Association has nominated me as Emerging Dietetics Leader of the Year for the state of VA.


Have a wonderful holiday season, from my family to yours!

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A G-Free Thanksgiving 2011

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!

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. Most gravy packets are a problem, too.  Check out my gluten-free turkey list for 2011

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 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 pre-made bread crumbs.


Almost all canned gravy and gravy packets are not GF.  Trader Joe’s sells some now.   Also, 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 this link for recipes

Stop the presses! SOME Butterball gravy packets are now GF.  Read labels carefully!

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, and they’re healthy and delicious to boot.


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

T Day Recipes:
It’s dangerous when someone asks about food while I’m hungry.  When I was asked for Thanksgiving favorites, of course I started thinking (and drooling) about all the wonderful things that would make for an absolutely amazing gluten-free feast!  Here are a bunch from some of my favorite GF bloggers.

Main Dish/stuffing
Balsamic Roasted Turkey from Elana's Pantry
The WHOLE Gang's recipe for Spatchcocked turkey
Cornbread stuffing with roasted acorn squash from the Gluten-Free Goddess
Tortiere (Vegan faux Meat Pie) from Diet, Dessert and Dogs
Sweet potato cornbread from the Gluten-Free Goddess

Herb Gravy From Elana's Pantry
Gravy using Cornstarch from Simply Recipes

Crockpot Applesauce by Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free
My Cranberry Fresh Fruit Relish
Green Bean Casserole from Ginger Lemon Girl
Simply Tasty Asparagus from Celiac Family
Roasted butternut squash soup from Jules Gluten-Free
My hot mulled cider
The Best Pecan Pie (one of my very favorites)
Easy, Crustless Apple Pie from Gluten Free Easily
Ginger Lemon Girl's Pecan Pumpkin Pie bars

Here are round ups for gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes from around the web.  There are more and more sites with great tips, too.

Looking ahead…it’s almost cookie season!  (I know, I know, maybe not what a nutritionist is supposed to say, but baking can be a beautiful and fun holiday tradition–it’s all about finding balance).  Jules Shepherd is hosting a GF Cookie Swap Contest, and I’m sure that will be a great place for inspiration.

Local Events:
DC Celiacs
Next Meeting Date: Saturday, November 12, 2011, 2:00–4:00 pm
Speaker: Erin Hartigan, DC editor for the Tasting Table
Speaker: Stephen Minton, MD, Principal Investigator and Gigi Guerrero Willis, CCRP, Clinical Research Coordinator, Alexandria Clinical Research, LLC. They are working with Alba Therapeutics which has successfully completed a Phase I clinical trial for celiac disease and Phase II has already begun.

Location: Bethesda Central Library 7400 Arlington Rd, Bethesda, MD 20814

The Enchanted Forest 2011– Westin Tysons Corner November 19 – 20 is the 11th anniversary of Junior League of Northern Virginia’s (JLNV) largest fund-raising event! The Enchanted Forest 2011 will be held November 19 – 20 at the Westin Tysons Corner. There will be GF options. More information regarding JLNV and The Enchanted Forest, including ticket sales, can be found at


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

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and classes in Fairfax and Alexandria, VA 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.

GF Turkey List 2016

Here’s a list of information from many major brands of turkey. This list was last updated on Nov  2016. Please note: NONE of the brands contain gluten in their plain, unstuffed turkeys. Some hams DO contain gluten, and so does holiday Tofurky.Please let me know if there are any broken links!

Thanksgiving tips, tricks and a ton of recipes HERE

General turkey tips:

  • Fresh, plain turkeys that are not stuffed are naturally gluten free
  • All regular stuffed turkeys contain gluten, even if you don’t eat the stuffing.
  • Check the gravy/seasoning packets very carefully. Some are g-free, but some are not.


Aaron’s Best
Shipped Kosher turkey, goose, duck, etc. WITH GF stuffings (buckwheat, quinoa or rice). Pricey, but wow!
Here’s their product list.


(800) 327-8246
“All of our raw products are Gluten free..” via email,

Empire Kosher Poultry

Esskay and Mash Hams
“Esskay and Mash hams gluten free.” Via email, November 2011.

Honeybaked Ham

Per website, Nov 2014 “Please note: You are now free to enjoy any of our signature meats (HoneyBaked Ham, Sliced & Glazed Turkey, Hickory Boneless Ham) without wheat gluten!”

Honeysuckle White

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Honeysuckle White Turkeys are GF, but some of their other products have gluten.  A list of products that DO have gluten here. All other products are GF, according to the manufacturer. Updated Nov 2014

Hormel Foods
Their Gluten-free list includes turkey products and ham, too. (updated Nov 2014)

Listing of all GF products

Manor House (Safeway brand)

“The Safeway Brand Holiday Turkeys, fresh or frozen are Gluten Free.”

Are your products gluten free? “Yes. Many PERDUE® products are free of gluten. Perdue chickens, chicken parts and turkeys are all gluten-free. These are sold fresh, as well as frozen, and some are flavored with seasonings.”

Plainville Farms

“Yes, our turkey is gluten free and casein free. However, our turkey gravy and our homestyle dressing contain wheat.” Nov 2013

Shadybrook Farms
The majority of Shady Brook Farms® products do not contain Gluten. However, the following list of products do contain Gluten:
While some Tofurky products are now certified gluten-free, holiday tofurky products are wheat based. (updated Nov 3 2014)

Wellshire Farms
(856) 769-8933

Wellshire Farms’ website labels each product for the presence of gluten, casein, and a range of allergens. Some hams DO contain gluten.


Trader Joe’s, Mc Cormick and Whole Foods have gluten-free gravies.

* Disclaimer: This information is based on websites, email and telephone correspondence and is intended for informational purposes only and not as medical advice. Harris Whole Health is not responsible for any changes in ingredient lists, and always recommends double checking all labels.*

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and classes in Fairfax and Alexandria, VA 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.