Digestive News

Digestion—New Celiac Research, FODMAPs & more!

Hope you’re having a happy and healthy summer. It’s one of my favorites because I love the fresh yummy stuff!  Before we talk about digestion, here are tips on g-free eating at summer events and some easy grab and go options good for travel.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find everything related to digestion fascinating! At the end of the day, we aren’t what we eat, we’re what we absorb. So how well the gut functions is key to every aspect of our health.
Here’s a quick snippet of new digestive studies and tips:

  • A new drug might help keep people with Celiac safe from cross-contamination with gluten. Exciting stuff, but also not yet available.
  • Poop! Everyone poops, most people don’t love talking about it. So many clients ask about fecal microbial transplants and what they’re used for. Currently, they’re used for c. diff infections, but there’s curiosity if it can help with autoimmune diseases, too! Digestive Disease Week 2018 was a few weeks ago and they gave a great explanation of FMT, and they cover keeping a healthy microbiome more broadly.
  • All you ever wanted to know about gluten and oats from Gluten Free Watchdog.
  • The gut and the brain—what’s the connection? This article gives a great overview, and specific therapies that may be helpful to ease tummy troubles.
  • What’s the problem, is it the gluten, or is it something else? For Celiac disease, it’s definitely the gluten. But for people without Celiac, the jury is still out as to the component of wheat that’s most irritating. Of course, bottom line, for many wheat is an irritant even if it’s not the gluten for some.
  • A review from Medscape of the top 5 digestive research topics in the last year. It includes studies on Celiac, PPIs and more.
  • Reader’s digest did a post on favorite supplements—and my pick was one that I often use with digestive clients. Any guesses?
  • Low FODMAP friends—it’s garlic scape season! Garlic scapes are the green shoots that grow out of the ground when you plant garlic. The good news is that they’re perfectly FODMAP friendly and give garlic flavor.  If you’ve learned that garlic and onions are not friendly to your tummy, this is your time of year! It’s pretty easy to find garlic scapes at the Farmers’ Market (as you can see above), and also spring onions with the greens on them. You can get a bunch, puree the greens (not the white part!) and freeze them in an ice cube tray. Then, when you need a little of that flavor, pop a cube in whatever you’re making.
  • What is a FODMAP, anyhow? FODMAP is an acronym for classes of carbohydrates that are poorly digested, which is why they can cause obnoxious symptoms. 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 big deal for many people who experience ongoing gastrointestinal distress.

If you are on a low FODMAP diet, I try to keep updating my list of FODMAP friendly products.

  • Also, I had an hour-long radio chat with host Eli Marcus on the Motivation show on a range of topics, including gluten, digestive disorders, supplements, meditation, self compassion and more. Take a listen!

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, 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 Awareness Month

Happy Celiac disease Awareness Month! To celebrate, let’s talk about how to eat gluten-free and healthy. Skip down for info on the 2018 GF Expo.

Gluten-free and Healthy

Going gluten-free can be a big turning point to greater awareness and eating healthier.  All of a sudden, people need to start reading labels, and many begin to wonder why there are all of these ingredients they can’t pronounce and why high fructose corn syrup seems to be in everything.  Or maybe after years of eating anything and staying slim, the pounds have started creeping upward, or blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol numbers are moving in the wrong direction.

Are you getting the nutrients you need?

Nutrition is important for everyone, but particularly for people who have food restrictions.  While a gluten-free diet is absolutely necessary for everyone with Celiac Disease, there’s an abundance of highly processed, sugary foods out in the gluten-free aisle—often even more than conventional foods.

Years ago, the Food and Drug Administration realized that many people weren’t getting enough vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, folate and iron.  So they added a variety of nutrients to the foods supply in everyday foods like flour, bread, pasta, cereal, etc.  However, gluten-free breads and cereals are considered specialty products, and very few are enriched with these vitamins.  Not only that, but many gluten-free breads are filled with things like tapioca, potato and cornstarch to give a light texture, and these foods often are high in carbohydrates, but lower protein, vitamins and minerals.  So when people switch from eating regular packaged foods to eating gluten-free processed foods, they don’t realize that they’re actually eating a lot fewer vitamins, minerals and fiber and usually more calories, too.

This is not inevitable! The good news is that that many healthy foods are naturally gluten-free, like fruits, vegetables, beans, many whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plain fish and poultry.

Also, for many people, untreated Celiac disease leads to nutrient deficiencies.  Absorption of many nutrients happens through the villi in the small intestine.  When these villi are damaged and flattened, fewer nutrients are absorbed.  Because of this, people recently diagnosed with Celiac may even need more nutrients to make up for this.  Iron, B vitamins, Vitamin D, calcium and magnesium are particularly important.

It’s awesome that there are now gluten-free brownies, donuts and beer. But just because they are gluten-free does not automatically mean good for you!  Often in the beginning, people want to try anything that’s gluten-free, and are just focusing on getting through the day.  The focus is on finding replacements for old favorites and learning all of the new rules.  That is definitely a great short-term strategy but it’s only the first step!

Here are some suggestions to make your diet healthier:

  • Go for healthy fats. Increase the amount you eat of fatty fish, like salmon, trout, flounder, sole, rockfish and more.
  • Calcium is key! This can be from Greek yogurt, cheese, or milk, or if you avoid dairy, choose sardines, collards or turnip greens, beans, nuts, etc.
  • Switch to a GF baking blend using sorghum, garbanzo beans, almond or coconut, brown rice or other whole grains.
  • Have fruit or vegetable with every meal—5-9 servings a day.  That can be as easy as an orange with breakfast, a veggie soup and a salad with lunch, dried fruit for snack and 2 servings of veggies along with dinner.
  • Include legumes (i.e., dried beans and peas) with your meals regularly; increase your intake of these foods gradually to limit gas.
  • Drink your water!  8 glasses a day are important to stay hydrated, especially when you increase the amount of fiber you eat.
  • Include nuts and seeds several times a week, which also contain monounsaturated fats and can help control blood cholesterol levels.
  • Find a way to reduce stress: acupuncture, meditation, deep breathing, talking to a friend, dancing, walking the dog, or whatever works for you. This under the umbrella of nutrition, because most people don’t reach for Brussels sprouts when they get stressed.
  • Use healthy oils, like olive, avocado, etc. and eliminate trans fats.
  • Limit sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
  • Take care of yourself. This includes sleeping well, reducing stress, and doing things you enjoy.  You’re worth it.


And, it’s about that time of year! Don’t miss the 2018 Washington DC Gluten-Free Expo and Education day, which is on June 10th! Learn more and register today at www.dcglutenfreeexpo.com

The expo sells out every year and it’s to benefit a wonderful cause–the Children’s National Medical Celiac Disease Center.


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, 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.

Healthy Bones

Healthy life, strong bones

Strong bones are a key ingredient for lifelong health, activity and independence.  In addition to supporting our movement, our bones provide structure and protection for our organs. Women are particularly vulnerable to osteoporosis and osteopenia, conditions where bones are fragile and there are increased risks of fractures. People with Celiac disease, hyperthyroidism, or who are on steroids to manage medical difficulties, such as people with Ulcerative Colits and Crohn’s disease are at increased risk.

Over half of the U.S. population over 50 has either osteoporosis or low bone mass, costing $19 billion annually. Eating a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle habits are a big part of promoting healthy bones for life.


Calcium is a necessary ingredient for stron g bones and teeth, and it’s vital for the rest of our bodies, too.  Nerves, muscles and even our heart depend on calcium to function. While it is easiest to build bone mass during teen years, our bodies constantly need calcium throughout our lives.  It is normal to lose some bone mass with age, and bone loss tends to be greatest after menopause.

It’s not just in milk…

Dairy is one of the primary sources of calcium in the American diet, but yogurt and cheese are good sources too.  There are plenty of non-dairy foods with calcium, such as tofu, salmon, kale, broccoli, most cereals, almonds, spinach, sesame seeds, etc.  There are also a variety of calcium-fortified foods available, such as orange juice, dairy alternatives, etc. Or, if none of those options are possible, supplementation with calcium may be useful.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, or the “sunshine vitamin” is vital for bone growth and strength and for overall health and well-being, too.  Vitamin D deficiency is common, so if you spend little time in the sun you may want to consider asking your doctor about getting your level checked. Foods also provide vitamin Milk, cereal and some juices are fortified with vitamin D, and some kinds of fish have vitamin D.  There are also vitamin D supplements available.

Weight bearing exercise:

These bones are made for walkin’!  Regular exercise can be a great way to keep your bones healthy and have fun, too.  Yoga, tai chi, walking, golf, strength training, dancing and more can do wonders for your bones.

Prebiotic foods:

A happy and healthy microbiome at work builds strong bones. Studies show prebiotic foods and supplements tend to lead toward stronger bones. These foods are often FODMAPs, though, so if you have digestive distress, this can take a little juggling.

Moral of the story: For healthy bones, make sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D, get regular weight bearing exercise, add in prebiotic foods and of course, choose your parents wisely.

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, 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.

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G-Free Springtime

Gluten-Free Springtime…almost

Spring is here. Really. Sooner or later, even if it doesn’t seem like it this week! Although the snow can be a great reminder about emergency preparedness. Do you have 3-5 days of non-perishable gluten-free foods if you need it? Because you never know…

Passover isn’t here until March 30th but many of the products are already appearing in a wide range of grocery stores. Not all Passover foods are gluten-free, but many are, and there’s a much wider selection than usual at the grocery store. This can be a good time to stock up on GF cakes and mixes, cookies, macaroons, “bread” crumbs and supplies like potato starch. As an added bonus for people with multiple restrictions, most Kosher for Passover products contain no corn or soy products, either. More here

From a gluten-free perspective, possibly the best part of Passover is AFTER Passover, when all of the great gluten-free goodies are on sale! Passover ends April 7th, so mark your calendars, because the word has gotten out in gluten-free circles and the mad rush is on.

BTW, there’s always a mad rush to find the “matzo style crackers” that are GF. I saw them today at Whole Foods in Springfield…

Passover recipes are here, and thanks to Moment Magazine for sharing some of my thoughts on a gluten-free Passover, and some great recipes, too.

News & gut health roundup:

  • A new article came out this month, suggesting that accidental gluten contamination may be more common than many people with Celiac realize. The study analyzes stool and urine peptides from a little under 200 adults and children with Celiac to estimate gluten consumption. Basically, what the study found is that on average, people who reported eating a gluten-free diet were eating potentially unsafe levels of gluten. That doesn’t even include people who intentionally or knowingly go off the diet. The researchers conclude that this accidental gluten may be linked to symptoms and/or intestinal damage. Unfortunately, the article does not go into the likely sources of accidental gluten. If you’re curious to read more, the abstract is here.
  • The Canadian Celiac Association weighed in on the NIMA sensor. In a nutshell, their concern is that it might give people a false sense of security, and they recommend against it.
  • Know someone with nerve pain related to gluten sensitivity? A new study showed that people following a strict gluten-free diet were almost 90% less likely to have nerve pain. It’s fascinating because some people assume gluten only affects the gut.
  • Take a purple pill? Some studies show PPIs for reflux aren’t risk free. Everyone is going to need different treatment plans, but looking at diet and lifestyle is often a sensible starting spot.
  • A new study shows that Splenda may affect gut bacteria, and this might cause increase risk for people who have relatives with IBD, or increased genetic risk.
  • People taking VSL #3 for Ulcerative colitis, VSL has changed formulation in the past year, and the new strains aren’t physiologically the same as the ones that were studied for UC.
  • Low FODMAP? I’ve updated my products list lately.
  • Gluten-free & More Magazine covered a happy, healthy gluten-free pregnancy and shared some of my tips.
  • Traveling around the world? Gluten-Free Globetrotter shared a great list of apps.

I’m teaching a workshop on living gluten-free at City of Fairfax Regional Library on 4/22/18 from 1:30-2:30pm. It should be fun, and I hope to see some friendly faces!

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, 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 Feb News

Happy February! There’s been so much interesting news in the gluten-free world that this month’s newsletter is devoted to new research and developments of interest to the Celiac and gluten-free community.

Finally! The FDA has issued draft guidance on gluten in medications, and the comment period is open now. In short, currently there are no specific rules for labeling gluten in medications, and gluten (or wheat, more specifically) may be used as a filler or excipient without being clearly labeled. “We encourage drug manufacturers to have accurate information about their products’ gluten content available so they can respond to questions from consumers and health care professionals. Manufacturers should pay attention to possible sources of gluten in their products, consider specifications when appropriate, and consider the impact of changes in ingredient sources or formulations on gluten content.” Full statement here

Note: the FDA is proposing suggestions or recommendations for manufacturers, which means it’s not enforceable. But it is still a start! I’m glad to see it because this has been a long time coming—I presented to the FDA in 2011 and it was definitely not of interest then.

Want to comment on this draft guidance? https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2017-D-6352-0002

Speaking of comment periods, the FDA petition on enforcing current gluten labeling regulations is only open until Feb 19th. More here.

A new study suggests that cardiovascular diseases and complications are more common in people with Celiac, and recommends more aggressive screening.

The debate rages on the ideal time to introduce gluten to infants. A new study shows that later introduction may raise the risk of type 1 diabetes. In a nutshell, the TEDDY study follows children at high risk of type 1 diabetes. There’s a lot of overlap here with genes for Celiac. For these infants, introduction of gluten before 4 months led to less autoimmunity than intro 4-9 months, or after 9 months. The study was prospective, which is generally a plus, but they also didn’t look at the quantity of gluten introduced, which may be relevant. Previous studies have shown the opposite of this effect, and all current guidelines recommend introducing all foods after 4 months. Hopefully further research will give us a clearer direction.

…and a podcast on children from a few weeks ago, and factors that affect risk of developing Celiac

For those of you who are low FODMAP, or just craving a sweet and delicious treat, try these Maple Spiced Nuts. They’re a long-time favorite of mine.

And a few of my favorite gluten-free Valentine’s day treats.

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, food allergies, 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 Holiday ’17

Now that we’ve had snow, it finally feels like December. I can’t believe how quickly the year is flying by.

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. I’ve shared some of my favorite tips for a balanced and delicious holiday season.

For most of us, it’s important to keep the spirit of the season and enjoy our favorites…just with a new twist.

By now, there are recipes for just about every holiday staple imaginable. But…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, 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 FODMAP, 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, or easy to adapt and I’ve also put a bunch of low FODMAP recipes together here. Remember, portions matter.

Italicized=low fodmap or easy to adapt, dairy free (DF), egg free (EF) and soy free (SF), NF (nut free) *=check labels

The Washington Post even has a 2017 “Cookie Generator” with a gluten-free option. Of course, you need tocheryl's pralines 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, here’s 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.

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, food allergies, 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. 

Healthy Holiday Tips

‘Tis the season of excess. Here are my favorite tips for keeping it balanced:

We’ve just made it through T-day recipes and Christmas candy is all over at work and play. It’s easy to feel 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, 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 (low FODMAP version here) 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? This might be a massage, a hot bath, meditation time,  15 minutes of quiet time with a good book, or even taking time to reconnect with an old friend. There are so many ways to take good care of yourself.

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.

“No” is actually a complete sentence. For reals. If you love something, sure, that’s one thing. But what about when someone wants you to eat something and you either don’t want it or don’t like it? Prevention shared some of my favorite tips for politely dealing with food pushers.

Wishing you and yours a delicious holiday season,


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

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, food allergies, 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 Thanksgiving ’17

Thanksgiving tips & Recipes

Happy almost Thanksgiving! I’m sure this is already on your radar if you’re gluten-free.

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 6 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).

Herb Gravy From Elana’s Pantry

My favorite gravy (paleo/starch free)

Gravy using Cornstarch from Simply Recipes

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.

The Best Pecan Pie (one of my very favorites)

Sweet Potato Pie (vegan)

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 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

  • Wanting to make sure you’re not overdoing it through the holiday season? Here are my tips for keeping food balanced.
  • For those of you up in Maryland or who are up for a drive, Dr. Fasano of the Center for Celiac Research is speaking in Baltimore November 18th at In Good Health Holiday Expo. He’s always an informative and engaging speaker.

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, food allergies, 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. 

GF Halloween & News

Happy almost Halloween!
First things first: if you’re getting Halloween candy, make sure you’re checking the gluten-free status. Many brands that are typically gluten-free have special versions of holiday candy with different ingredients, which can include gluten, or other allergens.Celiac Disease Foundation has a great list with gluten and other allergen info listed.
Simply Gluten-free has a list of candy out, too.

But…maybe it’s time to go the non-candy treat route instead? I’m a fan, and I’ve been doing it for years. We give away slinkies, rubber duckies, and other fun toy assortments. Less temptation, of course, but great for kids (or parents) with Celiac or food allergies, too. If you decide to go the non-food-treat option, Food Allergy Resource & Education (FARE) launched the Teal Pumpkin Project. It 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 so children and parents know that safe options are available.


  • Some of you know I’ve long been concerned about the reports of contamination issues in Cheerios. The Canadian Celiac Association just announced a decision by the  Canadian Food Inspection Agency that by Jan 2018, the words “gluten-free” must be removed from boxes of Cheerios sold in Canada. Per the release: “Based on the advice of the members of our Professional Advisory Board, the experts of the Gluten-Free Certification Program, and other professionals working in the field, we believe that there is not adequate evidence to support the claim. When added to many reports from consumers with Celiac disease reacting to eating the cereal, we believe this is the safe recommendation for Canadians.”

My take: there is no indication that the FDA will take a similar step. However, I am hopeful this will push General Mills to take additional steps for safety and monitoring to ensure that their cereals are labeled accurately and appropriately.

  • A new study suggests that there’s a test on the horizon sensitive enough to detect Celiac accurately, even if gluten was consumed one time. This should make diagnosis much easier, and reduce the need for a long gluten challenge when this test is available.

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.
  • 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 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 FDA petition & Breakfasts

As some of you remember really well, it was a huge undertaking to get gluten-free labeling regulations passed by the FDA. Although they were due out in 2008, they didn’t see the light of day until public pressure and a big cake happened in 2014.

There are more than a few problems with the regulations, but a big one is that they’re simply not adequately enforced. So, Tricia Thompson of Gluten-free Watchdog and local g-free superstar, Kaki Schmidt put together a formal petition to the FDA to have the existing rules enforced.

WRITE TO THE FDA AND LET THEM KNOW THIS IS AN ISSUE YOU CARE ABOUT! The bigger the response, the more likely that the gluten-free community will get the changes we’re asking for.

The link to comment is here. Although the comment period is open until 2018, the sooner people write in, the better the chance of a result.

Please keep your comments focused on the request of the petition, which is facial misbranding of gluten-free products. Facial misbranding is when an item is marked gluten-free, but contains an ingredient not permitted under FDA’s gluten-free ruling, such as barley malt or barley malt extract, or wheat that isn’t specifically marked as specially treated wheat starch, etc.

Our request is that the FDA provide a mechanism for easy, online reporting of these problems, and warning letters to the manufacturer within 30 days.

Please don’t comment more broadly on larger issues that affect the gluten-free community, like labeling of oats, restaurants, etc. because those aren’t the subject of the petition, and ideally we tackle one problem at a time.

Quick takes:

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.