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Mmm, Mmm Good: My Favorite Gluten-Free Soup
by TriciaThompsonMS/RD

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It’s turning a wee bit chillier in the Northeast and my thoughts are starting to turn towards soup to keep me warm. Homemade gluten-free soup is easy to make and a great way to experiment with some of the gluten-free whole grains.

Amaranth is one of my favorite grains to use in soups. Actually, amaranth isn’t really a grain but an herb harvested for its seeds.

Amaranth seed is tannish-brown in color and very small — about the size of a poppy seed. It gives soups a nice thick mouth feel. From a nutritional standpoint, amaranth seed is a tasty way to increase the iron and fiber content of your soups.

Amaranth seed can be found in natural foods stores. It also can be mail ordered, including from Nu-World Amaranth (www.nuworldamaranth.com).

In the Fall and Winter I like to serve soup for dinner. The recipe below is one of my favorites. It is from my book The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide (McGraw-Hill, 2008).

Gluten-free rice chips go great with this soup. I am partial to Lundberg Family Farms brand.

Enjoy!

Tomato Vegetable Soup with Amaranth Seed

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced into ¼” crescents
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 19-ounce can dark red kidney beans
2 cups gluten-free chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup uncooked amaranth seed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Red pepper flakes, optional
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the zucchini, peas, corn and kidney beans. Add the broth, water and tomatoes, stirring to combine. Mix in the amaranth seed. Add the garlic powder, oregano, pepper flakes, salt and black pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat for approximately 1 hour.

Makes 6 to 8 servings


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 www.glutenfreedietitian.com.

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

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

September 20, 2010

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Happy Gluten-Free Halloween!
by TriciaThompsonMS/RD

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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 www.glutenfreedietitian.com.

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

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

October 28, 2008

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The Flexitarian Diet
by JohnMc

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Are you ready to lose weight, be healthier, prevent disease AND add years to your life?

Then you're ready for The Flexitarian Diet (McGraw-Hill).

Registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner didn't cook up the term "flexitarian" -- it'a a cute combo word that means flexible vegetarian -- but she did write the recipe-packed book being rolled out by major publisher McGraw-Hill in early October.

"The scoop is you don’t have to give up your carnivorous cravings," Dawn tells Diet.com. "You simply ingest few extra vegetarian meals here and there.

"The idea is you choose a flexible vegetarian way to live. It's not necessary to go cold turkey on meat; instead you start beefing up vegetarian recipes."

Dawn says there have been hundreds of studies that link vegetarian or semi-vegetarian eating to preventing or lowering your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other ailments.

"One study found you can boost your life by more than three years by eating more fruit and veggies -- and less meat!" Dawn says.

"People who eat plant-based diets weigh naturally 15% less than carnivorous counterparts!

"It's facts like these that ring a bell with a lot of people who are sick and tired of dieting."

During her candid interview with Diet.com, Dawn confessed the issue of flexitarianism is personal.

"I was a closet meat eater -- a vegetarian who’d sneak meat," she says. "I wanted the health benefits of a veggie diet but i didn't want to give up meat. This is hands down the best thing you can do while still participating in 'meaningful meat events' like barbecues, Cubs games and Thanksgiving!"

Yes, the Chicago resident openly digs into a hot dog or two while watching her beloved Cubs play ball.

"I grew up in typical Midwestern home where there was always meat on table," she says.

"Becoming a total vegan was something out of line and out of touch with who I am!"

Instead, Dawn began working more fruit and veggies into her diet -- and she began suggesting that to clients as well. Five years later, Dawn has a hot new book about to hit the bookstores. In it, you'll find a little science and a lot of recipes -- 100 mouthwatering treats to be exact.

"Follow my plan and in 6 to 12 months you'll find yourself lighter, more energetic and way more healthy," she says.

"If you make the needed lifestyle changes you'll see big changes in your blood work. Your cholesterol level will be on the right track because you'll be eating far fewer saturated facts.

"The book is 60-percent recipes for a reason. At the end of day clients want you to tell them what to eat.

"When they have a meal plan to follow and recipes to cook, they do better."

Dawn's favorite meals include:

Lunch: A Southwestern veggie burger with guacamole. It's under 400 calories and very satisfying, she says.

Breakfast: Her patients really her green apple and sun butter toast which is whole grain toast with sunflower seed butter and sliced green apple. It's crunchy and filling.

Her personal favorite is Swiss muesli which is uncooked whole grain oats. You take the old-fashioned rolled oats and soak them in skim milk, soy milk or unsweetened almond milk. You add chopped apple and nuts like almonds. For extra sweetness, drizzle with honey.

Dinner: Cilantro and peanut stir fry. Substitute chicken or beef id you desire.

"I have a very important equation for followers of the Flexitarian Diet: switch out 1/4 cup of beans for every ounce of meat," she notes.

Tips like that allow you to tweak your own food favorites.

Snack: Pizza popcorn. Dawn admits being a big fan of popcorn. It's natural and whole grain. For her recipe, you simply sprinkle the popped corn with oregano and a little bit of Parmesan cheese.

"After reading about the flexitarian diet in 2003 I finally felt like I fit in," she says. "I no longer had to call myself a vegetarian while eating meat in my closet… I am a flexitarian!"

In addition to the health and well-being benefits, you can save money by following this plan.

"Meat is a costly item," Dawn says. "My plan allows you to decrease how much meat you eat. You will definitely save money.

"Also, most ingredients can be found in a traditional grocery store rather than a pricey specialty store."

You'll also be leaving a lighter carbon footprint by choosing more non-meat meals. It's less taxing than meat on the whole ecosystem.

Dawn says Greece, Spain and many Asian cultures follow a flexitarian lifestyle.

A Few Final Words

By being flexibly vegetarian -- adopting more plant foods and new edibles in your diet, while slightly reducing your meat intake and getting to better know your local produce aisle or farmer's market -- you'll be hooked into better health.

Your immune system will get multiple boosts and ward off diseases like cancer and diabetes. You'll stretch out your life expectancy and out-supplement your vitamins.

Then there's the added benefit of weight loss.

Dozens of nutrition studies have scientifically proven that people who eat a vegetarian diet weight on average 15 percent less than non-vegetarians due to a lower intake of fat and calories, and more fiber.

Follow the Flexitarian Diet and you can expect to see a 20-pound average weight loss in six to 12 weeks -- and you'll maintain it for life.

Now that's something we find very easy to swallow!

About the Author: Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian and licensed dietitian and a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. She is the nutrition editor for LifeTime TV's website, MyLifetime.com, hosts the "Healthy Eating" segment on Chicago's "Fox News in the Morning" and teaches cooking classes at The Chopping Block Cooking School.

September 22, 2008

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