August 4, 2020

Shopping Gluten-Free by Gretchen Scalpi, R.D.

Shopping Gluten-Free

According to Gluten-Free Foods in the U.S., 5th Edition by Packaged Facts “Over the five-year period ended in 2014, sales of gluten-free products in traditionally grain-based categories posted a compound annual growth rate of 34%.”

There are more gluten-free products in the grocery store than ever but many of those are packaged foods that may not include healthy ingredients.  Other options are gluten-free grains, fruits and vegetables.  It’s all so confusing so how do you choose?  Follow the tips below and you’ll be well on your way to purchasing and eating a healthier gluten-free diet.

*Start by going through your kitchen and your refrigerator.  Read labels and keep what you can and get rid of the rest.

*Carry a list of safe foods and foods to avoid every time you shop.  Plan ahead and create a list of food you do want to purchase.

*Load up on fresh fruit and vegetables.  Buy in season selections to save money and use them in recipes or eat them whole.

*Stay away from processed food and be prepared to do more cooking at home.

*Check the labels on everything before you purchase with the exception of fresh produce.

*Purchase gluten-free grains including quinoa, rice and rice flour, corn, buckwheat, millet and teff.

*Meat and seafood products without marinades are gluten-free such as beef, chicken, turkey, fish and shellfish.

*Dairy products including yogurt, cottage cheese, cream, milk and butter are a safe choice.

*Miscellaneous foods to round out your diet include honey, oils, hummus, seeds and seed butters and nuts and nut butters.

*Purchase drinks like bottled water, hot cocoa, coffee, tea, fruit juices and carbonated drinks after checking the labels to make sure they are gluten-free.

*Canned and plain frozen vegetables and fruit are a good choice. Check the labels on any items with sauces.

*Purchase separate containers of peanut butter, jams and jellies for yourself to avoid cross contamination.

*If you have a smart phone try looking for a phone app that can scan bar codes of packaged foods. This makes it easier to determine if the item you want to purchase is gluten free.

*Try shopping at ethnic markets and health food stores to give yourself some more options and to vary your diet.

*Purchase bulk items such as gluten-free flour, baking mixes and other staples online in order to save money.

To learn the intricacies of the gluten free diet, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian who has experience working with this challenging diet.

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, author and Certified Wellcoach® who has celiac disease and know the challenges of eating right with this condition. Gretchen is pleased to announce her new online program “Gluten-free Bootcamp”, designed to help those who need to follow the gluten-free diet. If you are new to the gluten-free lifestyle for medical or health reasons, you’ll want to attend Gretchen’s new free webinar “Five Things You Should Know Before Going Gluten-free”

Baked Krispy Kale Chips by Helen Agresti R.D.

Baked Krispy Kale Chips

Have a salt tooth?  This is the easiest and most nutrient dense chip recipe.  Kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family.  It’s relatives are broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts.  Kale chips are a healthy alternative to store bought fried corn and potato chips.  They are packed with nutrients like vitamins C, K, and E.  Kale can help lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol and raise your HDL or “good” cholesterol.

•      1 bunch of kale
•      1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
•      2 teaspoons sea salt
•      2 tablespoons balsamic glaze (optional)

1.  Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2.  With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and dry kale with paper towels or salad spinner.
3.  Place kale in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and combine well.
4.  Spread kale leaves out on cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.
5.  Bake until kale is krispy with lightly browned edges (approximately 15 minutes).
6.  Allow to cool on baking sheet.
7.  Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve!
1 cup < 50 calories


Recipe courtesy of Helen Agresti, RD. Helen Agresti is a Registered Dietitian with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC.  She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children.  For more Nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on twitter @HelenAgresti. For more information and recipes, go to

Healthy Baked Potato Soup by Helen Agresti, RD

Healthy Baked Potato Soup

This recipe is easy, healthy, and doesn’t contain any heavy cream.  I enjoy the challenge of taking a calorie dense recipe and making it deliciously skinny!  Potato skins add fiber and plenty of nutrients.  Enjoy the warming and comforting powers of this healthy baked potato soup during the fall and winter months.

Food for thought…Potato skins contain an anti-carcinogenic compound called chlorogenic acid. This particular acid helps the fiber in potatoes absorb carcinogens that are found in grilled foods. Eating potato skins with grilled foods is important when preserving health and fighting off cancer-causing substances. -source

5 lbs russet potatoes, diced not peeled
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 large yellow onion, chopped
64 oz low-sodium chicken broth
8 oz  1/3 less fat cream cheese
3 (6 oz) low-fat plain greek yogurt
3 tablespoons 50% less fat real bacon bits (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheddar

Combine first 4 ingredients in a slow cooker, cook on low for 8hrs or on high for 4hrs.  Add cream cheese, yogurt, bacon bits, salt, and pepper.  Blend well with a handheld blender.  Serve warm, sprinkled with cheese and chives.

This recipe will most likely leave you with plenty leftover.  For future meals, you may want to add chicken or shrimp with vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, or corn.

Recipe courtesy of Helen Agresti, RD. Helen Agresti is a Registered Dietitian with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC.  She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children.  For more Nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on twitter @HelenAgresti. For more information and recipes, go to

Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain is as Easy as 1, 2, 3! By Laura Maydak

Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain is as Easy as 1, 2, 3!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but, unfortunately, busy schedules and holiday festivities can lead to some not-so-merry weight gain.  It may seem challenging to enjoy all that this season has to offer without gaining weight, but it is doable.  Avoiding holiday weight gain can be as simple as remembering, and applying, these three concepts: Be prepared, remain aware, and when in doubt, workout.  Not convinced it’s as simple as it sounds?  Read on, and then see what you think:

Be Prepared
Problem 1: You’re out shopping when your stomach begins to growl.  You planned to be home in time to eat, but the long checkout line, the crowded parking lot, and the bumper-to-bumper traffic between the store and your home are making that impossible.

Solution: Bring a healthy, portable snack with you no matter where you go (even if it’s just a “10 minute errand”).  Try something simple, like a piece of fruit or a few heart-healthy nuts.

Problem 2: There’s a party later this evening, and you decide to skip lunch and your afternoon snack to “save” calories.  Now it’s party time, and you’re starving – but the food there is not what you would consider healthy.

Solution: Keep your regular eating schedule, but choose lighter options for each meal.  Also, eat a high-protein snack before the party to help keep you full while there.  These strategies will reduce the risk of overindulging on unhealthy party foods.

Remain Aware
“Little tastes” of food can quickly add up to more calories than you would expect.  This is true for when you are at home or at a party.

Here are the calorie counts of some common holiday treats:
- Eggnog (1 cup): 112 calories
- Wine (5 fl. oz.): 120 calories
- Cheddar cheese (1 oz): 113 calories
- Sugar cookie (1): 120 calories
- Candy cane (1): 40 calories
- Chocolate chips (1 tbsp): 70 calories
- Mixed nuts (1 oz): 168 calories
- Cinnamon roll with icing (1): 140 calories
- Piglet in blanket (1): 60 calories

When in doubt, WORKOUT:
While the holidays are joyful, they can also be stressful.  Do yourself a favor, and make time each day to engage in physical activity.  You don’t have to go for a run (even though that would be an excellent idea), but you should do your best to move as much as possible.  Even parking farther from the store, or taking the stairs instead of the escalator while shopping, will help.  Exercise is a proven stress-buster, and it will help to balance out any extra calories you may be eating.

Have a happy (& healthy) holiday season!

Laura is currently a graduate student in the University of Pittsburgh’s Coordinated Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics program, one semester away from being eligible to become a registered dietitian.  Connect with Laura on LinkedIn or on twitter (@lmaydak) for motivation and tips to live your healthiest, happiest life – all given with a healthy dose of humor.

Breakfast Muffins by Shirley Plant

Looking for your on-the-go-breakfast solution? Here you are! Make a few variations sure to please every member of the family.

Breakfast Muffins


3 cups Bob’s Red Mill GF rolled oats
2 tbsp ground flaxseed in 6 tbsp boiling water
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup honey
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
⅓ cup hemp seed
pinch sea salt
1 apple, cut into big chunks
handful dried cranberries or raisins
Optional- seeds or chopped nuts


Mix flaxseed and boiling water together in a bowl and let sit. In a food processor blend oats. In a large bowl add in all other ingredients and mix well. Add in flaxseed mixture and oats. Add in apples and spoon mixture into muffin tins. Bake 350F for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe by Shirley Plant- Nutrition Coach and Author of Finally Food I Can Eat. Click here for more information on Shirley’s 21 day challenge,
and check out her website via Follow her on Twitter via @sherrecipes

Blueberrry Biscuits by Shirley Plant

Looking for an energizing snack to fuel your daily activities? Try this easy recipe. Simple to make ahead of time and have on hand for a convenient and healthful treat during your day!


Blueberry Biscuits

3 cups almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
zest of 1 lemon
pinch sea salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp honey
2 eggs
¾ cup blueberries

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk eggs, lemon juice and honey. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in blueberries. Drop large spoonfuls on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake 325F for 15-20 minutes.

Recipe by Shirley Plant- Nutrition Coach and Author of Finally Food I Can Eat. Click here for more information on Shirley’s 21 day challenge,
and check out her website via Follow her on Twitter via @sherrecipes

Are others offering unhealthy foods to your children? By Kristen Yarker, R.D.

What to Do When Your Friends/Family Offer Unhealthy Foods to Your Children

As a child-feeding expert, the parents who choose to interact with me are parents who value nutrition and want their kids to reap the health benefits of healthy food. So it’s no surprise that it irks them when others give their kids unhealthy foods. And, they ask me how to make it stop.

My advice usually surprises them. I recommend not stopping it. Here’s the two reasons why.  

#1: Yes, it’s tempting to want to control what others feed our kids. But for many people, the way that they express their love to children is by giving them sweets. My experience has been that asking people to stop feeding kids treats doesn’t go well because (even very rational) people feel that you’re asking them to stop loving your kids. It seems silly when I write it so plainly, but the feelings run deep; the symbolism is real.

#2: I understand that as a parent, it’s natural to want to control every single thing in your child’s life. But that’s the trick of parenting isn’t it – giving your kids the skills to handle situations on their own.

Because the reality of the world in which we live (at least here in North America) is that we’re surrounded by unhealthy food. There’s fast food restaurants on almost every block. It’s in the checkout of grocery stores, book stores, hardware stores, clothing stores, etc.

So we need to teach kids how to make healthy choices within this world of unhealthy food. And if we make something taboo, it only drives kids towards it.

What do I recommend? Be a role model. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Make it a daily habit in your home to serve healthy foods. And, occasionally enjoy unhealthy ones too.

If you know that a holiday is coming up that’s associated with unhealthy food (Halloween anyone?) or that your child will be visiting a friend/ family member who serves them unhealthy food, then create the balance by serving healthy foods at home.

Child-feeding expert Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD helps Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without being forceful or sneaky). Get scientific evidence-based answers to real questions from real parents (recipes too!) by signing up for her 101 Healthy Snack Ideas at:

How-to ALWAYS have time for breakfast by Lori Rosenthal, R.D.

How to always have time for breakfast:

I have to get to work. I’m just not hungry in the morning. I have to get the kids ready for school. Does this sound familiar?

Contrary to popular belief, skipping breakfast does not promote weight loss, only a slower metabolism, larger portions and poor choices later. Yet many of us skip the most important meal of the day.

Eating breakfast gets our metabolism going and fuels our brain and body for the day to come. A healthy breakfast should include lean protein or low-fat dairy, fiber and vegetables whenever possible.

Eating breakfast doesn’t have to be a time consuming ordeal. Planning breakfast in advance is also a great way to prevent falling victim to the morning rush.

Here are some of my favorite quick, healthy breakfast options:

0-2% Greek, light or low-fat yogurt and fruit
Hard boiled egg or egg salad with light mayo in a whole wheat pita pocket – Tip: hard boil a dozen eggs and store them in the fridge for an easy grab and go meal
Whole wheat English muffin with a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter
An omelet – stick to 1 yolk and load it up with your favorite fresh or frozen veggies
Whole wheat bread and a slice of low-fat or part skim cheese – add tomato, roasted pepper or avocado for an extra nutrient and flavor boost
Oatmeal – prepare it with milk for added protein or add chia seeds, which contain fiber, protein and omega-3

Lori Rosenthal, MS, RD, CDN
Bariatric Dietitian
Twitter: @LoRoRD

How-to fit in a healthy lunch by Lori Rosenthal, R.D.

How-to fit in a healthy lunch:

We’ve all done it.

We start the day with the best, healthiest intentions, but then life happens. Next thing we know it’s 5 o’clock, we are starving and popping the first thing we see into our mouths.

Here are some tips to help eat a healthy lunch even when the whole world is crashing in around you.

Have a Plan: Planning is the key to success in life and it is no different when it comes to eating healthy. Take a look at the upcoming week and see what you have planned – work, appointments, social commitments, etc. Next, choose a lunch for each day (and the rest of your meals while your at it). If you know a specific day will be hectic, pick something quick, easy and portable.

Shop Savvy: If you don’t own it you can’t eat it. This goes for both healthy and unhealthy foods. If we say we are going to have a turkey sandwich for lunch, but don’t own any bread or turkey. Guess what? We aren’t having a turkey sandwich for lunch. Write down every item needed to make the week happen, eat something and go grocery shopping. Don’t forget to read the nutrition labels while making your choices.

Be Prepared: It’s impossible to predict everything life has in store for us. Sick kids, flat tires, emergency meetings, etc. As I said before, life happens. After grocery shopping, take some time to meal prep or even cook dishes in advance. The more we have prepared, the easier it is to stick to our plan.

-Wash and chop fruits and vegetables.
-Make a large pot of sauce or soup
-Cook some brown rice, whole wheat pasta or quinoa for future use
-Grill a couple chicken cutlets
-Throw a few bottles of water in the freezer to use as ice packs

Don’t Forget to Eat: Ever bring lunch to work, but forget to eat it? Set a reminder for yourself. We set alerts and alarms for all sorts of things. Why not set one to remind you to eat. It may sound ridiculous, but it works.

Skipping meals only leads to a slower metabolism and poor choices later. On the other hand, eating a high calorie, high fat lunch will leave you feeling tired and less productive. Set yourself up for success by eating healthy throughout the day.

Lori Rosenthal, MS, RD, CDN
Bariatric Dietitian
Twitter: LoRoRD

Carry healthy snacks with you! By Lori Rosenthal, RD

Feeling hungry, but dinner is hours away? Have a snack.

Snacks keep our blood sugars even, which prevents energy crashes and moodiness. They also help us stay in control. When we get to the point of “starving,” healthy options tend to lose to whatever is most convenient. We also wind up eating way too much, way too fast when we do have our next meal.

I’m not saying to eat a candy bar if you feel hungry between meals (this isn’t a Snickers commercial). A healthy snack should ideally include protein and fiber. Keeping healthy snacks available is a great way to prevent falling victim to the office candy bowl or vending machine.

Healthy snack options include:

1 Tablespoon of peanut butter & a fruit or celery sticks
2 Tablespoons of hummus & vegetables or fiber crackers
1/2 cup of low fat cottage cheese and berries
Low-fat string cheese
1 ounce of unsalted nuts or seeds (mix them with a little high fiber cereal for added fiber and volume)
1/2 cup of edamame
Hard boiled egg
Granola bar (look for those that are low in sugar and high in protein and fiber)
Light popcorn
1 serving of baked potato, kale or beet chips

Bottom line: Snacks are not just for fun. Snacks are meant to hold us over until our next meal, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be nutritious, delicious and satisfying.

Lori Rosenthal, MS, RD, CDN
Bariatric Dietitian
Twitter: LoRoRD