Flax: GF Newsletter April 08

Flax: Sprinkle you way to a healthier day!

Flax seeds have gotten a lot of good press lately because they contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and important for good health. But they’re particularly good for gluten free folks because they add much needed fiber to our diets, and also add a nutty flavor and moistness to gluten free baked goods.

Health benefits:
These little seeds are multipurpose wonders. We benefit from the fatty acids, the lignans they contain, and the fiber, too.

Flax seeds and flax oil are great sources of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) which is an omega 3 fatty acid. Studies have linked ALA and its benefits for high blood pressure, heart disease, for bone health, etc. Studies have been very positive about flaxseed’s role in reducing cholesterol levels and even managing blood sugars in diabetics. Also, our bodies can convert ALA it into eicosapentoaenoic acid (EPA), which is the form of omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil.

Flax seeds also contain lignans, and studies have suggested they may be protective in both breast and prostate cancers.

Don’t forget about the fiber! One of the most common complaints I hear is that when people go gluten free, they’re just not regular anymore. Flax seeds are also a great source of fiber, which helps with constipation.

How to use flax seeds and flax oil
You’ve got your pick of brown or golden flax seeds, which have the same nutritional value. Flax seeds are sold whole and ground. Whole seeds will most definitely keep you regular (maybe more than you want them to) but you’ll miss out on all of the fatty acids and lignins, so it’s much more beneficial eat them milled or ground. They can be purchased pre-ground, or you can do it yourself in a coffee or spice grinder. Once the flax seeds are ground, they must be kept refrigerated, frozen or used quickly, or they will go rancid.

You can add flax seeds to many baked goods. Many GF recipes include flax seeds for their nutty moistness. A flax seed goop (a technical term) can be made from boiling flax seeds and water and used as an egg replacer. Flax seeds work well sprinkled on salads, in smoothies, or on cereal.

Flax seed oil is great when you’re not using heat. So it’s perfect for making a salad dressing, or tossing veggies that are not going to be heated. But when it’s heated, not only are the helpful parts lost, harmful compounds are formed.

Everything in moderation

Some is good, so more is better, right? Like most foods, flax should be added into the diet in moderation. Like all fiber sources, it’s best to gradually increase the amount of flax seed. There is also some suggestions in animal studies that high doses of flax (more than 4 tablespoons a day) may be harmful, so if you are pregnant and eat a lot of flax, have a chat with your doctor.

So I bet you’re interesting in recipes using flax seeds, right? Well, many of the entries for the GF Healthy Recipe Contest include flax seed, such as the Applesauce Teff Cake , Pumpkin Spice Muffins, Fluffy Puffy Pancakes and many others. Speaking of the recipe contest…

Winners of the Healthy (or healthier) Recipe Contest!

Thanks so much to everyone who submitted and voted for recipes. Thanks also to the people who generously donated the prizes, and to my husband for his patience in teaching me how to post the recipes. We had 52 submissions, including a wide range of cooking and baking styles. The winners are (drumroll please!)

Baked goods: a big reusable tote bag of goodies from Bob’s Red Mill

WINNER: Chocolate Coconut Amaranth Bread(GF, DF, EF, SF) By Christel King

Dessert: 2 great new cookbooks (signed!) from Susan O’Brien: Gluten Free, Sugar Free Cooking and Gluten free Vegan Cookbook

WINNER: Chocolate Cake Brownie (GF, DF) By: Mireille Cote

Main meal: goodies from Heartland’s Finest

WINNER:Chicken With Garlic, Pasta and Chard (GF,DF, EF, SF) By:Karen Eidson

Kid friendly: $50 gift certificate from Allergy Grocer

WINNER:GFCFEFSF Whipped Cream(GF, DF, EF, SF) By Christel King

Allergy friendly: a big box of products from Enjoy Life and Perky’s

WINNER: Applesauce Teff Cake (GF, DF, EF, SF, nuts optional) By Robin Reed

I’m leaving the recipes up so that people can keep tasting, rating and commenting.

Upcoming classes:

GF and Healthy
Whole grains, fiber, healthy fats and more
Saturday, May 31st

We will be making summer rolls!

For more info or to register click here.

Springtime Special:

Get 10% off an initial nutrition session when you mention this deal!

I spy:

Gluten free Rice Chex? Could it be? Yes, General Mills has opted to change the formula from barley malt to other sweeteners. This is the first switch for a big corporation to accommodate our GF world and the thought is that if sales go up, others will follow suit. I’ve seen them at the Giant in Hayfield, it says GF right on the box! However, old ones may still be on the shelf, so double check the labels as always to be sure.

GF Passover foods: for a detailed description, check out last month’s newsletter. And I’ll see you next to the gluten, dairy and soy free chocolate chips…

Happy Spring,


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

GF Foods to Celebrate: March 08

Passover foods: Great options for everyone who is GF
GF Health Recipe Contest update

The Passover aisle can be a great source of GF foods, no matter holiday you celebrate.

Passover isn’t here until mid-April, but many of the products are already starting to appear in 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, “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, and there are always a variety of dairy free foods, too.

In a nutshell, the basic rule of foods for Passover is no leavened foods, which eliminates normal breads, cakes etc. Matzo, (an unleavened bread usually made from wheat) is eaten, but aside from Matzo and matzo meal, (also potentially listed as cake meal or farfel) products are gluten free. Or, if you find products labeled “non-gebrok or gebroktz or grebrochts” (or another spelling variation) they’re non-grain containing and therefore safe. Often Kosher for Passover products and cakes are made of potato flour or nut meals rather than wheat.

  • As always in the GF world, read labels carefully. Kosher and Kosher for Passover are two different things entirely. Kosher for Passover foods will be labeled “May be used for Passover” or have a symbol that says OUP. I have often seen “regular” Kosher foods in the Passover section at grocery stores, so please do check the labels for gluten containing ingredients.
  • Keep in mind that some of the foods are imported from other countries, and therefore not under US labeling laws. So a label must still say matzo, but may not say wheat explicitly or have the disclaimer stating that it contains wheat.
  • From a gluten free perspective, possibly the best part of Passover is AFTER Passover, when all of the great GF goodies are on sale! Passover ends April 29th, so mark your calendars, because the word has gotten out in GF circles.

Here’s a link to the GF products from Manishewitz:

For people who DO celebrate the actual holiday of Passover, not just the GF food, one of the best resources around is GF by the Bay blog, which is often a wealth of information.
Here are a few other good sites: Recipezaar
I am Gluten Free Blog
GFCF Recipe List and click on holidays. There are quite a few Jewish holiday recipes, and they are all gluten and dairy free.
Jewish Celiacs has a variety of recipes and other sources of info.

You can also buy GF oat matzoh. The brand only brand I’ve seen is Shmura Oat Matzah
Back when you really couldn’t get GF prepared foods in the regular grocery store, this was a much bigger deal. But it’s still nice to have an expanded selection, and nicest of all is AFTER Passover, when all of the products are on sale.

Upcoming Classes in Alexandria, VA:

Baking and Cooking with Gluten Free Grains

Saturday, March 29th, 2008, 11:00-1:00

*Different grains how to use them
* Tips and strategies for tasty baked goods
* Avoiding common mistakes
* GF whole grains and how to use them in main meals
This class is 2 hours and will include a demo and tasting for a GF grain dish. The cost is $25 per person or two for $40

The Art of Living GF

Saturday, April 26, 11-12:30

*All you ever wanted to know about label reading
*Foods to enjoy and where to find them
*Foods to avoid, cross contamination and hidden gluten
*Survival tips for the first few weeks.
*Where to get support-local and online groups, websites, books

Workshops taught by Cheryl Harris, Nutritionist & Registered Dietitian. There will be tasty goodies and samples! PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Register here or contact Cheryl at Cheryl@harriswholehealth.com or 571-271-8742 with questions.

It’s voting time…GF Healthy Recipe Contest:

I received 52 healthy (or healthier) GF recipes, and they’re all posted on my website. There’s a huge variety, from breakfasts, to sides, to main meals, to desserts. All are GF, but there are also options for people who are juggling multiple allergies, on a diabetic diet, GFCF or vegan, too. The ones I’ve made so far have been delicious! Check them out and vote for your favorites. http://www.harriswholehealth.com/recipe-contest

Winners will be announced in April.


Local events:
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness is hosting its annual Cooking Spree
Friday April 11, 2008
Hyatt Regency Bethesda
7400 Wisconsin Avenue

DC Metro Area ROCK SPRING EGG HUNT & Gluten Free Pot Luck Lunch
April 5th, Owen Brown Community Center, Columbia MD 21045
For more info, please see the event flyer
Pre-registration required. Contact Linda Hickman or via phone 410-290-5224

Maryland Cel-Kids & the Baltimore Area Celiac Support Group present:
Eating Gluten-Free at School and at College
Sunday, April 13, 2008
2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Event details

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

Spread GF Sunshine: Feb 08

Spread a little sunshine this winter…All about Vitamin D

In the winter months, most of us aren’t getting much sunlight. It’s still dark when we leave our houses and often dark by the time we get home. When we go outside, we’re usually bundled up from head to toe. Not only does this tend to affect mood, but we also depend on sunlight as a source of Vitamin D. Even if someone were to go out dancing in the snow in a bathing suit in the winter months, in many areas it’s still impossible to get all of the vitamin D needed for good health. Skin pigmentation, age, sunscreen, and geographic location all play a role in determining how much vitamin D the body produces from sunlight.

When people think of vitamin D deficiency, they tend to think of rickets, or the bowed legs seen in children. Actually, the problem is much more widespread and affects most systems in the body. Researchers are increasingly learning that most people have Vitamin D levels are below the ideal, and this seems even more common in people avoiding gluten for various reasons. Recent studies are reinforcing the importance of vitamin D, showing that deficiency can cause joint pain and bone weakness, and lower vitamin D levels are linked to higher rates of cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, increased fall rates, lowered immune function, depression and more.

Vitamin D is especially important to people with Celiac disease, gluten intolerance and people following a gluten free/casein free (GFCF diet). Celiac disease often causes great damage to the small intestine, and the small intestine is where our bodies absorb vitamin D. Osteoporosis and osteopenia are frequently seen in Celiac patients, and Vitamin D is an essential component to both calcium absorption and the formation of healthy bones. Additionally, untreated Celiac disease also may lead to fat malabsorbtion, and vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin.

Fortified milk and milk products are one of the few commonly eaten food sources of vitamin D. However, many gluten free folks are lactose intolerant, or avoid dairy products due to following a gluten free, casein free (GFCF) diet. The NIH just released a statement about a study showing that autistic boys tend to have thinner bones.So regardless of why you are GF, it is important to speak to your doctor and have your vitamin D levels tested.

There are several ways to get vitamin D in the winter months:

  • Eat vitamin D rich foods: fortified dairy, cod liver oil or other fatty fish, are good sources. For vegetarians or vegans, there are small amounts found in eggs, or some in mushrooms exposed to UV light.
  • Take vitamin D supplements: Many doctors recommend high doses of vitamin D initially to normalize levels in people who are deficient, but since Vitamin D is fat soluble and stored in the body, too much can be dangerous. It’s important to have a doctor monitor your levels.
  • Take a vacation to somewhere warm and sunny: totally self explanatory, and my personal favorite way of getting vitamin D. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to sunbathe all day. Experts say that15-20 minutes of sun in most warm areas 3-4 times a week is usually all that is needed. However, this does differ by season and latitude.

Healthy (or healthier) GF recipe contest:

We’ve had a lot of great entries, and you can still submit your recipe until Feb 20th! Click here for more details. There are fabulous prizes.

Even if you aren’t into creating your own recipes, try some of the recipes submitted, rate them and leave comments to let us all learn from your experimentation.


The Art of Living Gluten Free

Saturday, February 9th, 11:00-12:30

Food and mood: Eat better, feel better!

Saturday, March 8th, 11:00-12:30

Baking and Cooking Gluten Free

Saturday, March 29nd, 11:00-1:00

Each class is taught by Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD and is held in Alexandria, VA. For more information or to register, see the classes page.

Healthy GF fare on the web:

January has been a great month for GF and healthy blogging. Here are a few that caught my eye:
Ginger Lemon Girl has been exploring GF, sugar free and healthier living.

Brenda at Book of Yum has a gorgeous looking Buckwheat Gallette and other great recipes.

Gluten free by the Bay always has great recipes. Check out the Spicy Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens recipe!

Gluten Free Mommy has a wonderful primer on GF flours for people who
like to color outside the lines and mix it up a little.

A little love for Valentine’s Day:

Here are some suggestions from AllergyMoms.com for a safe Valentine’s Day party for children. The same advice works well for children who are gluten free.

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

Off to a Great GF New Year–January 08

Healthy Eating
Recipe Contest

Start the New Year Off Right!

Many of us see the New Year as a great time to make changes and improve our health. It’s a good time to look at your diet and lifestyle, and see what you can do to feel better and be healthier, too.

Going gluten free can be a big turning point to eating healthier. Many people are amazed to realize the impact that diet has on how they feel! 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. No matter what your reason, let this be the year you improve your diet.

Are you getting the nutrients you need?

Nutrition is important for everyone, but particularly for people who have food restrictions. Years ago, the Food and Drug Administration realized that many people weren’t getting enough vitamins like folate and several other B vitamins, and iron. So they added a variety of nutrients to the foods supply in every day 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 have very few nutrients. 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. Not only that, but many people with Celiac may be deficient in many vitamins because they have not been absorbing foods well for years, and may need more than the average person while they are healing.

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 by. 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! The good news is that that many healthy foods are naturally gluten free, like fruits, veggies, beans, many whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plain fish and poultry.

Here are some suggestions to make your diet healthier:

  • Get whole grains in your diet. Try a whole grain hot cereal, brown rice bread, wild rice with dinner, or even quinoa pasta.
  • Try a new grain, or two or three! Amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff are getting easier to find locally and online.
  • Have fruit or vegetable with every meal-5-9 a day. That can be as easy as an orange with breakfast, a salad with lunch, dried fruit for snack and 2 servings of veggies along with dinner.
  • Drink your water! 6-8 glasses a day are important to stay hydrated.
  • Find a way to reduce stress: acupuncture, meditation, deep breathing, talking to a friend, dancing, walking the dog, whatever works for you. I consider this part of good nutrition because most people don’t reach for Brussels sprouts when they get stressed.


Gluten Free and Healthy!
Thursday, January 17th, 2008
6:30-8:00 pm

The Art of Living Gluten Free
Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Food and mood: Eat better, feel better!
Saturday, March 8th, 2008
Click for class details and registration.

Healthy recipe contest:

So many people want to eat healthier, but need recipes to get started. So during the month of January, email me your favorite healthy recipes, and people will rate them during February. The recipe with the highest average rating in each category will win prizes donated from places such as Allergy Grocer, Enjoy Life, Heartland’s Finest and the new GF cookbooks from Susan O’Brien. They do need to be your recipes, or a recipe that you’ve changed to make gluten free, allergen friendly or healthier. Here are all the details.

There are different guidelines for what counts as healthy, and some disagreement among experts. But there is a lot of agreement, too, and so for the contest, we’ll define a healthy recipe as:

  • Featuring fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts
  • Containing mostly whole grain flours (Amaranth, brown rice, millet, quinoa, sorghum, teff, wild rice) and limiting tapioca starch, potato starch and corn starch
  • Avoiding trans and animal fats (butter, cream, etc)
  • Containing limited amounts sugar (if any)
  • When possible, adding in great sources of fiber, like flax seeds, bran, mesquite, etc.
  • Favoring whole, unprocessed foods.

So let’s get cooking!

Here are some websites with many GF recipes featuring whole grains and fruits and veggies.

  • Bob’s Red Mill Features many gluten free and whole grain recipes. Search under “gluten free”
  • Dr. Weil has great healthy recipes listed. Most (not all) are GF
  • Eating Vegan: All recipes are GF, dairy free and egg free. Most are plant based and most are pretty healthy, too.
  • Health-e-Recipes from AICR (American Institute for Cancer Research). You can sign up for newsletters on their site, and you get weekly recipes in your inbox. Many (not all) are gluten free and dairy free. Many are quick and simple, use seasonal ingredients, and feature a lot of veggies.
  • Vegan, (almost entirely) gluten free cookbooks from Vitalita by Mark Foy. There are two free downloadable books. Even if you’re not vegan, it’s yummy! Vegan cookbooks are a great resource if you can’t eat dairy or eggs. http://vitalita.com/cookbooks.html
  • World’s Healthiest Foods: Good, basic healthy recipes. Most are gluten free, but you can check off the foods you want to avoid for a recipe search. http://whfoods.com/
  • 101 Recipes: Some are GF, some aren’t. There are many great soup and vegetarian recipes, and many feature veggies and whole grains.

I have other recipe sites and many let you search for lighter and healthier recipes. Do you have a favorite healthy recipe site that isn’t listed? Let me know!


Chocolate Banana “Pudding”

Looking for a way to add more fruit into your diet? This treat is quick and child friendly snack. I had reservations about mixing avocado and chocolate, but I got over it after one bite. I don’t remember where I first got the idea, but this is our version:

1 large (or 2 small) very ripe banana
2 small ripe avocados
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3-4 Tablespoons honey
1T vanilla extract (optional)
Chopped nuts, chocolate chips, cacao nibs or unsweetened coconut (optional)

Blend avocado, bananas and honey until smooth. Add in cocoa powder and vanilla extract and stir very well. Adjust the amount of cocoa or honey to your tastes. Sprinkle with nuts or other topping if desired. Enjoy immediately, or chill for an hour. It’s best when eaten soon after preparing.

On the prowl for recipes:

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad: If you’re new to quinoa or looking for a change, check out this recipe from Allrecipes .

Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Cookies: These whole grain teff beauties are from Leslie Cerier’s cookbook, Going Wild in the Kitchen. I highly recommend the hazelnut variation. They’re gluten, dairy, egg, and soy free, so even I can eat them!

Wishing you and your family another year of peace, joy, health and happiness,
Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD.

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Whether you are dealing with Celiac Disease, food allergies, picky eaters, children on the Autistic spectrum, chronic illness, or if you just want to feel and look better, Cheryl can help you achieve your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please see www.harriswholehealth.com or call 571-271-8742.

Holiday hints: Dec ’07

December seems to be filled with fabulous food and opportunities to eat at every turn. With a little time and planning, you can enjoy all sorts of great food, even with food restrictions.

We’re lucky that there are more and more recipes out there that taste just like the real thing. But for most people, it s easier to make some treats that happen to be gluten free, rather than gluten free adaptations of “normal” foods. Foods that are naturally gluten free avoid the expense of specialty flours. Also, it can take a few tries to find a GF flour mix that you and your family likes. I know I’ve had my share of “learning experiences” along the way. (My chief guinea pig, aka my husband, used to call them my incredible inedibles.) It also avoids the complaints of friends or family who aren’t willing to try GF foods just because they’ve decided they won’t like it. There are a lot of treats which just happen to be GF, or mostly GF. You can find recipes in normal cookbooks, or maybe you have family recipes and didn’t realize they were safe! Here’s a list of treats from which I put together with the help of many folks at my classes. I’ve marked the desserts that are dairy free (DF), egg free (EF) and soy free (SF), because many people are dealing with several issues. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the number of things you can still have! Remember, these foods are only GF if you use GF ingredients.

Got GF children?

R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids) is a wonderful resource. It’s a free and there are groups all over the country. If there’s not one near you, you can start one! R.O.C.K.’s purpose is to create a safe and fun environment for children on a gluten free diet. In the NOVA/DC/MD area, our fearless and fabulous leader is Linda Hickman.

Come to the R.O.C.K. GF Cookie Exchange on Saturday, December 15th from 2:00-5:00PM in Alexandria, VA. We’ll even have a holiday Piñata! You need to email me a recipe for your cookie or treat, and bring a detailed list of ingredients, because different people have different allergies, sensitivities and such. I’ll post the recipes after the party, too, so we can all enjoy. Here are the details. If you’re new to the GF diet and have questions, please contact me and I’d be glad to help you plan something safe to bring.

Holiday meals:

The good news is that many holiday meals are roasts, which are often naturally GF. I’ve updated my turkey list to include some updated information and some hams and other typical holiday main meals. You may also want to see the Thanksgiving tips from last month for additional suggestions.

Holiday baking: If you or your family members are used to sneaking a taste of the batter, be careful! Many GF flours contain beans. Not only do the bean flours taste awful when they are raw, but they can cause a lot of stomach distress. And, of course, you never want to have raw eggs anyway because of the risk of salmonella.

On the lighter side:

The month of December tends to be one of overindulgence. Some days, it seems like our main form of exercise is usually moving the fork from the plate to our mouths. Here are some tips for a healthier holiday season:

Balance: if you’re going to a holiday party in the evening, make sure to eat well a few days before! An extra piece of chocolate cake a day doesn’t make or break a diet. A piece of cake every day for a week…well, that’s a different story.

Move the goodies out of sight: Remember when people talked about being on a see-food diet (as in, I see it, I eat it?) That’s not far from the truth. Studies show that if we keep food out of sight, we’re less likely to eat it. Put the candy dish in a cupboard and move the cookies where you can’t see them. Put the fruits on the counter where they are easy to grab. Fruits available in the winter include Clementines, oranges, pineapples, grapefruits, grapes, pomegranate, persimmons, mangos, and more!

Fill your table with fruit and veggie dishes: Have your holiday meals feature sweet potatoes, collards or other greens, soups, roasted veggies, sauteed green beans, and much more. Make roasted chestnuts as a snack. Have a fruit inspired dessert. There are several suggestions below.

Soups: as long as they’re not cream based, most soups are a healthy snack or part of a filling meal. Chicken and turkey soup with brown or wild rice are always great. Lentil and other bean soups are a tasty source of fiber, too. Check out this recipe for Collard Greens and White Bean soup from Fat Free Vegan for a seasonal soup. I know collards are pretty much the only thing that’s still growing in my garden! Or, for variety, scroll down for a recipe for butternut squash soup.

Also, next month, we’ll be having a healthy recipe contest, so you can start your imaginations now.


I have two classes coming up in January and February.

Gluten Free and Healthy!
Thursday, January 17th, 2008
6:30-8:00 pm

The Art of Living Gluten Free
Saturday, February 9th, 2008

For more info or to register, click here.

On the prowl for recipes…

As a nutritionist, I try to find desserts that at least have some redeeming nutritional quality. So even though they’re not “diet foods”, they’ve got something healthy in them, like fiber, fruit, etc. So I was delighted when I came across these gems!

  • Oh my, Santa came early. David Lebovitz has a great blog with his recipes. Many are GF, and most are over-the-top decadent. I was  delighted to find his Friendship bars, that are GF, dairy free AND reasonably healthy, too! Just remember to use dates that are not dusted with oat flour, and use any gf flour instead of wheat flour (rice, sorghum, cornstarch, whatever you have around).
  • I saw this recipe for a Clementine cake months ago, and I couldn’t wait until they were in season. The smell is heavenly! It’s naturally gluten and dairy free. I usually use less sugar and a touch of honey. For variety, you can add splash of vanilla or rosewater, too. I haven’t tried it yet using hazelnut flour, but I bet that would work, too.
  • Gluten Free Bay recently posted a drool-worthy recipe for Ginger and Cardamom poached pears. Now there’s a new post for Hanukkah gelt (aka chocolate covered apricots) which will make a great change from those chocolate coins.
  • Roasted chestnuts are a great snack. Just don’t cut yourself!
  • Calling all foodies! Food and Wine Magazine has a slide show on healthy desserts. While some are healthier than others, there’s quite a variety and many feature fresh fruit. They have 32 recipes, and 24 of them happen to be GF.

My “Recpies” page also has a collection of GF and allergen friendly recipes. Simply Recipes has a nice collection of vegetable and sides recipes, many of which are on the healthier side.


Chocolate bark (GF, DF*, SF*, EF):
Simple, yummy, and totally adaptable to almost any food restrictions. If you can’t have nuts, just add more fruit. It’s quick and easy, and is good for gift giving. You can let the children help, too. They can use plastic knives to cut up the dried fruit.

18 oz chocolate: dark, semi sweet, milk, or a mix (this is about 3 cups of chips)
1/2 cup chopped dried fruits, like apricots, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, etc.
3/4 cup chopped nuts: almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, cashews, etc.
optional: 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger or espresso beans

Cookie sheet covered with parchment paper

Chop the dried fruit and nuts into small pieces.

Melt chocolate the chocolate. Put in a microwave safe bowl and heat, stirring every 30 seconds until melted, or you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler if you prefer. Add in chopped fruits and nuts, stir well and spread out over the prepared cookie sheet.

Break into pieces, and do your best to share.

*Dairy and soy free if you use dairy and soy free chocolate)

Butternut Squash Bisque: GF, DF*, SF, EF

If you’ve never had butternut squash soup, you’re in for a treat. It’s got a natural sweetness, and is perfect for a chilly day. It’s easier to make than ever, since so many stores sell pre-cut butternut squash. Or, if you’d prefer, just pierce a whole squash and bake at 375° for about an hour, remove the seeds and scoop out the insides.

2 Tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, iced
1 pinch of salt
2 large carrots, diced
1 large tart apple, peeled and diced (Granny Smith is great)
4 cups of butternut squash, cubed
3 cups chicken or veggie stock
Pinch of nutmeg
Cayenne pepper, to taste (I use about 1/8 teaspoon)
Splash of orange juice (optional)
Plain yogurt, coconut milk, almond or cashew cream, or half and half (optional)

Sauté the onion in the oil over medium heat, add salt. Cook until the onion is soft, about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots, apple, and squash and sauté another minute. Add broth and seasonings, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until veggies are soft, about 20 minutes. (If using pre-cooked squash, add 5 minutes before the end) Add orange juice, purée in batches and return to the pot. Adjust spices to your taste.

Serve, topped with a spoonful of plain yogurt, coconut milk, almond or cashew cream, or half and half. Enjoy!

One final thought:

Most people spend time with family and friends during the holidays. Keep in mind that Celiac Disease is linked to our genes. First degree relatives (parents, children, siblings) have a 1 in 22 chance of developing Celiac, and 2nd degree relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) have a chance 1 in 39 chance. This is a great time to remind the people you love to get tested.

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

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 www.allergygrocer.com and Enjoy Life Foods www.enjoylifenb.com 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 www.harriswholehealth.com, 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 www.orientaltrading.com 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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