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Happy Gluten-Free Halloween!
by TriciaThompsonMS/RD

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   (63 votes)

Halloween is just a few days away and the excitement certainly is growing in my house. But if you have a child who can’t eat gluten you probably are less than thrilled with this holiday.

How do you let them eat candy and make sure it is gluten free, especially when the little mini versions available at Halloween generally do not contain ingredient lists?

You could always forgo trick-or-treating altogether and have a Halloween party instead. If this is considered a “no fun” option in your house than hopefully the following tips will help.

If you haven’t done so already, plan to spend some time at the store parked in front of the Halloween candy display reading ingredient lists. Write down the names of those candies that do not contain any gluten ingredients.

Many candy manufacturers include allergen information on their packaging. However, some allergen information is more helpful than others.

Smarties candy, manufactured by the Ce De Candy Company, states the following on their label, “Smarties contain none of the following common allergens: gluten (from wheat, barley, oats, and rye), milk, egg, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, or soybeans.” Now that is what I call helpful allergen labeling!! I will buy this candy just for this statement alone.

If the bags of candy you pick up do not contain all of this helpful information and you are concerned about allergens and cross contact, go online to manufacturer websites to see if they have any information available on allergens and gluten. You can also call manufacturers to discuss their quality control procedures.

There are lists of candy made without gluten-containing ingredients available on line. Google gluten-free Halloween candy and several sites will come up. You will have to judge for yourself how reliable you think the information is.

Make sure your child is aware of what candy you decide is gluten free and safe for them to eat. That way when presented with a choice and allowed to choose their own piece of candy, they will choose a gluten-free variety.

If you are friends with some of the families in the areas where you will be trick-or-treating, give them a list of gluten-free candy or provide them with candy yourself. This way your child is guaranteed a gluten-free option from at least some of the houses they visit.

In fact, this is a strategy followed by the Roberts family, a family of five with celiac disease and multiple food allergies.

Mom Jane says, “In the past I have prepared for trick-or-treating by planning ahead. I made 10 Ziploc bags of candies for each of my kids and delivered them to my neighbors with a note asking them to give these to our children on Halloween night. That way, I knew for sure the kids would get at least some candy they could eat.

"Afterward, the children of some of those parents were willing to do a "candy trade" for the candies that weren't safe that my kids received at other houses. It worked out great! I was amazed how willing people were to help out the next year and actually asked what kind of candy was safe for my children. What a treat!”

This may seem like a no-brainer but, just in case, make sure the candy you buy to give out Halloween night is gluten free. Buy extra so that your child can “trade” the gluten-containing candy they receive for the gluten-free candy you are handing out. Kids (at least mine and it looks like Jane’s too) love to trade candy.

Let your child exchange their gluten-containing candy for a toy. We have been exchanging candy for a toy in my house for years simply because I didn’t want my son eating too much candy!

Hopefully some of these tips are useful and will help make Halloween a little less stressful for you!

Tricia Thompson, M.S., RD is a nutrition consultant, author and speaker specializing in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. She is the author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide (McGraw-Hill) and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Eating (Penguin Group). For more information, visit

GLUTEN-FREE IS A GOOD START! But to get a weight loss plan perfectly catered to your personal needs, click here and becomes a Premium Member!

For a copy of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide click here.

October 28, 2008


Easter Basket Makeover
by ShaunaS

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   (15 votes)

What's in Your Easter Basket?

An egg here, a handful there, a little candy at the office – you know how it goes! Just look at how a little Easter candy can add up!

Keeping candy out of sight and out of mind will help you avoid the temptation. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid all candy -you can still enjoy Easter candy in moderation. Try having a designated candy spot in your house and plan a piece or two into you day. Just as you manage your kid’s candy intake – set the same rules for yourself.

Before you fill the Easter basekts, arm yourself with the info to help you avoid mindless candy munching. Below are some Easter candy facts and don’t forget about tools designed to help you, such as tracking the candy you eat in your tracker and checking the back of packages before you do away with them.

Easter Candy Facts:

• Hershey Easter Kisses: 8 pieces = 210 calories and 12 g fat
• Brach’s Candy Chicks and Rabbits: 6 pieces = 150 calories and 2 g fat
• Brach’s Easter Candy Corns: 26 pieces = 140 calories and 0 g fat
• Cadbury Mini Eggs: 12 pieces = 200 calories and 9 g fat
• Hershey Candy Coated Eggs: 9 pieces = 200 calories and 9 g fat
• Peep’s Marshmallow Chicks: 5 pieces = 160 calories and 2 g fat
• Nestle Milk Chocolate Eggs: 6 pieces = 230 calories, 13 g fat
• Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs: 1 piece = 180 calories and 10 g fat
• Russell Stover Chocolate Bunny: 1 piece = 240 calories and 15 g fat
• Starburst Jelly Beans: 1.5 ounce = 150 calories and 2 g fat
• Sweetarts Eggs: 12 pieces = 60 calories and 2 g fat
• Whoppers Robin Eggs: 8 pieces = 170 calories and 5 g fat

Healthy Easter Basket Ideas:

Instead of reaching for a variety of candy to stuff Easter baskets with, try the following items instead:

• Colorful pencils
• Stickers
• Sugar-free gum
• Tangerines
• Plastic eggs filled with fun trinkets
• Water color paints and coloring sheets
• Candles
• Gift certificates or cards
• Picture frames filled with memorable photos
• Lotions

Don't forget about organizing an Easter egg hunt to get everyone moving!


March 19, 2008


Easter Makeover: The Pie That Ate My Diet!
by ShaunaS

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   (5 votes)

Yep, another holiday is on its way and here comes the Easter Bunny! Which bunny is visiting your house – the healthy-minded bunny or the bunny bearing plenty of high-calorie goodies to tempt you? Your Easter celebration doesn’t have to be filled with high-calorie pies, quiches and candy. It’s possible to keep the tradition but modify your favorite dishes so that they are lower in fat and calories.

Take the following Italian Easter Pie as a classic example. The nutrition stats on this loaded pie are likely to scare the tail right off the bunny, but that doesn’t mean this pie is doomed.

Hoppy Days Are Here Again!

You’ll be amazed at how a few little tweaks here and there can cut the calories in half (check out our revisions after the original recipe). Serve a slice of the new and improved pie with a fresh green salad and smile knowing your meal didn’t eat your diet.

If pie isn’t your thing, check out the recipe section for healthy and delicious recipes and start planning your Easter brunch or dinner. And, stay tuned for more Easter tips such as Easter candy facts and Easter basket ideas.

Magic in the Pie

Before: 936 calories and 51g fat
After: 517 calories and 17g fat

Easter Pie - The Meal That Ate Your Diet!

This pie is layered with just about every high-fat meat, cheese and fat known to the food industry. Don’t load yourself down when you can easily modify it!

4 1/2 to 5 cups flour, more if needed
1/2 cup whole milk, scalded
1/2 cup water, lukewarm
1 tsp honey
2 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
5 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp butter flavored Crisco
3 Tbsp lard
3 Tbsp buttermilk or sour cream
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
5 eggs (for dough)
1 egg, boiled
1 egg, mixed with 1 Tbsp water for glaze

1/2 lb mortadella, sliced and chopped
1/2 lb provolone, thinly sliced
1/2 lb capicola (hot ham), very thinly sliced
1/4 lb prosciutto, very thinly sliced
2-3 slices each pepperoni or salami, chopped
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1 entire basket Easter cheese (fromaggio fresca)
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons romano cheese, freshly grated
3/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, cracked

Servings: 8 slices
Nutrition Info: 936 calories, 49 g protein, 67 g carbohydrates, 51 g fat, 22 g saturated fat, 4390 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.

Easter Pie – New and Improved

Anything can be made over! Cutting the amount of fat, substituting lower-fat products and using leaner meats and less of them can make a world of difference without sacrificing taste. To save time, buy a prepared whole wheat crust and to boost nutrition/fiber, add your favorite veggies such as spinach, squash, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes.

2 1/2 cup all purpose flour, more if needed
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup 1% or evaporated skim milk, scalded
1/2 cup water, lukewarm
1 tsp honey
2 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
5 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp trans fat-free Crisco
3 Tbsp fat-free sour cream
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 eggs (for dough) and 3/4 cup egg substitute
1 egg white, mixed with 1 Tbsp water for glaze

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 4 1/2 cups flour. Using the dough hook attachment, work 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon trans fat-free Crisco into dough, as though you were making a pie crust.
In a small bowl, dissolve 1 tablespoon honey in 1/2 cup lukewarm water, stirring well until dissolved. Bring water temperature to about 105 degrees (or warm to the touch). Stir in 1/3 cup flour to "feed" yeast. The yeast mixture should begin to bubble and foam up. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Tip:It's a good idea to keep more than one type or brand of yeast on hand if you bake your own bread. When you measure out your yeast, you can use half from one jar, and half from the other brand of yeast at the same time. This is good insurance in case the yeast isn't as active as you'd like it to be; if only half the yeast is good, your bread will still rise. It will just take longer.

In a small heavy bottomed saucepan, scald 1/2 cup milk. Watch milk carefully during the scalding process and remove from heat when the milk begins to foam slightly. Set aside and allow to sit undisturbed. A skin will form around edges and on top of milk as it cools. Remove the coagulated milk from the edges and skim the top skin off using a spoon. Pour the cooled (85 degrees) milk into the yeast mixture.

Using the same saucepan the milk was heated in, melt 2 tablespoons butter. When butter has nearly melted, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and remove from heat. Allow to cool to nearly 85 degrees.

Break 2 eggs and egg substitute into flour mixture. Mix on medium setting 2 minutes. Add butter mixture and 3 tablespoons fat free sour cream. Pour yeast mixture into flour mixture and combine. Add 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (do not substitute).

Knead at medium speed of electric mixer for 8-10 minutes. If dough is too stiff for easy mixing, add a few tablespoons water.

Turn out onto lightly floured board and using your hands, which you've rubbed with olive oil (remove jewelry!), knead gently for 5 minutes. Dough should be light and airy, and somewhat sticky. As you knead, you should hear little "pops" as air bubbles break and new air pockets are formed.

Place into a bowl coated with cooking spray, turn once to coat, cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm, draft free place to rise until doubled in bulk.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Divide in 1/2 and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Grease a deep dish pan with cooking spray. Line the pan bottom and sides with the rolled out dough, easing dough into pan without stretching. Puncture bottom and sides with fork; coat with egg white glaze.

1/4 lb smoked turkey breast, sliced and chopped
2 ounces reduced-fat provolone, shredded
1/4 lb extra lean ham, very thinly sliced
2 ounces prosciutto, very thinly sliced
2 slices turkey salami, chopped
2 cups fat free ricotta
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 Tbsp romano cheese, freshly grated
3/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, cracked

Tip: At your deli, have the cold cuts sliced thinly, with the proscuitto being shaved thinly enough to see through it.

Measure out a half cup of the ricotta. Add parmesan and romano cheese to this, then stir in the cracked whole peppercorns. Note: To crack peppercorns, measure out quantity of whole peppercorns into a plastic bag and then use a rolling pin to crush them as you would bread crumbs.

Begin by lining the bottom of the crust with a thin layer of proscuitto, torn into strips. Next, add a layer of ricotta, parmesan, romano, cracked pepper mixture. Place a layer of sliced ham to cover the layer. Next, place a thin layer of provolone cheese. Cover this layer with 1/2 cup ricotta.
Place a layer of thin strips of smoked turkey, and next a layer of the remaining ricotta. Press down slightly if the filling is getting too high. Next, a layer of ham, then a final layer of prosciutto.

In a cup, beat one egg white with 1 tablespoon cold water. Use this as the egg glaze for brushing over crust just before baking.

Brush the pie edges with egg glaze so that the top crust will make a better seal with the bottom crust.

Roll out and drape top crust over pie; trim away excess using a kitchen scissors, leaving a 1/2 inch margin.

Press together and crimp edges well, then flute in a decorative fashion.

Insert 3 aluminum foil funnels or pie birds through pie crust top in order to allow steam to escape. Let rise 15 minutes, brush crust with egg glaze before baking in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Check at 35 minutes; if browning too rapidly, place aluminum foil tent over top (be sure close oven door quickly or you'll drop the temperature!)

Cover and refrigerate overnight. Cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch slices and allow individual slices to sit at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Servings: 8
Nutrition Information: 517 calories, 30 g protein, 63 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 3062 mg sodium, 6 g fiber.

Happy Easter everyone!

March 17, 2008


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