Cheerios & G-Free Breakfasts

cheerios dsSo…it’s become clear the Cheerios thing isn’t going away on its own, so I finally decided to share my 2 cents.

Quick recap.

Cheerios announced they were going gluten-free. (YAY!)

General Mill’s Cheerios announced they were using regular oats, which studies have found always have some gluten-contamination. Rather than following the “purity protocol” for a dedicated fields and processing, they’ve got their own, special method of sorting the oats to ensure that they are gluten-free. (Okay….right? Don’t we have laws now?)

Cheerios said they were testing for gluten contamination randomly by testing “lots” versus individual boxes, which makes it easier to miss patches of contamination. (Hmmm….starting not to like this too much)

Early tests from Gluten-free Watchdog had some boxes come up above 20ppm, though most are below 20ppm.

Cheerios has declined to publicly or transparently post the testing for each box or lot. G-free advocates have visited and expressed some concerns, and not gotten clear or adequate responses.

A whole mess of reports have come in of people getting sick, and GM has done nothing but keep promoting their “gluten-free” Cheerios and talk about how happy people are with the Cheerios line. “…and the company’s cereal business unit is working on an aggressive marketing campaign to get the word out.” (Okay, now I’m officially nauseous.)

And the Celiac community has been largely quiet, despite a petition up online. Most of what I’ve seen has been along the lines of “Me/Pooky ate the Cheerios and felt fine, so clearly they’re safe.”

So…let’s be clear. Most of the boxes are Cheerios are below 20ppm. Maybe even the overwhelming majority. And it’s still totally inappropriate to put even the smallest segment of people at risk because GM doesn’t want to take the resources to verify that gluten-free means gluten-free, every single time.

Second, I’m completely shocked and appalled that a large corporation can just create their own shiny new protocol that’s not independently verified and everyone’s just cool with that. That’s a dangerous precedent, IMHO.

Gluten-Free Living just shared an article that said that the FDA is investigating the g-free claims, which is wonderful news.


  • From Gluten-free Watchdog: “If you believe you became ill after eating Cheerios, FDA is asking that you contact FDA’s MEDWATCH, the Adverse Event Reporting System. You can do this online or via phone (800) 332-1088. Choose option #4 to speak to a representative.”
  • Save the box, even an empty box–it contains important information such as the lot number, UPC code, etc.
  • Contact Cheerios (1-800-248-7310) and give them with specific information–variety of Cheerios you consumed, lot number, when you ate the product, symptoms, whether you typically tolerate gluten-free oats, etc.
  • Contact the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator They can help you file a formal complaint.

Don’t just decide Cheerios aren’t right for you. Look out for the rest of the g-free community.

So, what to eat instead? Some ideas here for pretty much any variant of a GF diet.


Highest in fiber and protein:

Especially when it gets a little cooler, hot cereals can be a wonderful breakfast. You can cook up a big pot and have it all week, and they freeze well, too.

Cooked grains choices:oatmeal

  • Buckwheat (kasha)
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  • Teff
  • Quinoa flakes
  • Oatmeal (certified gluten free, of course)
  • Bob’s Red Mill®: Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal and Creamy Buckwheat

Making cereals healthier:

  • Add in some fresh or frozen fruit!
  • Add in ground flax or chia seed to increase fiber content.

Other options:

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreek yogurt with fruit and chia
  • Eggs-Add some spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc.
  • Leaner, free-range sausage or turkey bacon
  • Garden Lites muffin
  • Artisan Bistro has several options
  • Chia pods®
  • Omelet
  • Yogurt (or coconut or soy yogurt) and flax and/or fruit
  • Leftovers!
  • Breakfast smoothie: handful berries, some kind of protein (yogurt, protein powder) and a handful spinach

More and more, there are a wider range of cereal options. These are g-free, but they’re lower in protein and fiber than the ones above, so they won’t keep you as full:

  • Grits, marked gluten-free
  • Cream of rice marked gluten-free
  • Puffed rice, corn, millet, etc. marked gluten-free
  • Most Chex® Cereals (not Wheat Chex®)
  • Kashi Indigo Morning
  • Gorilla Munch®
  • Buckwheat Flakes
  • Rice Twice®

Did I miss any of your favorites?

And many thanks to Tricia Thomspon, Debi Smith, Erin Smith, Johnna, Shirley Braden and others who have taken this project on.

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E’s Cake (Chocolate Hazelnut Torte) Redux

e cakeIt’s E’s birthday, so I went back to this Harris family classic and made some tweaks to E’s favorite.  Gotta say that none of the pictures I got are amazing, so *ahem* I just may need to make the cake again!

It’s an elegantly delicious cake or can be a bunch of mini-cakelettes. escake

Since it’s a torte, it’s naturally gluten-free, so it’s naturally perfect.

At a first glance, this may look like Nigella Lawson’s Nutella cake. Look closer–it’s actually substantially different, and we like this a lot better. It’s much lighter and more chocolate-y: win/win! Due to the eggs and dairy, it’s been many years since I’ve eaten this, but I still remember how delicious it is. Enjoy!

E’s cake

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 8 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks
  • 13 oz jar of Nutella
  • Softened stick of butter
  • generous ½ cup hazelnut or almond meal (measure after grinding) ideally freshly ground in the food processor
  • 5.2 oz 70%+ dark chocolate, melted*
  • 1 Tablespoon Frangelico or other gluten-free alcohol (or water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch salt

*A little under one 1 cup of dark chocolate chips should work as well. If there were such a thing as 7/8ths of a cup, that’s what you’d be shooting for.

Preheat your oven to 350-degrees.

Grease and line an 8 inch pan or 4 mini springform pans with parchment or wax paper.

Separate 8 eggs, reserve 2 yolks and do something yummy with the rest. (pudding? Creme brulee? curd?)

Baker’s note: Timing is key–you want the eggs to be at stiff peak form about the time the rest of the batter is ready and waiting so that it doesn’t fall, so make sure the chocolate batter is underway while/before you start whipping the eggs.

In a stand mixer, whisk the eggs whites and salt until they form stiff peaks.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter and Nutella together, then add Frangelico, 2 egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts.

Fold in the melted chocolate, then mix in 1/3 of egg white.Gently folding the rest of them in a third at a time. They won’t incorporate perfectly, no worries.

Pour into the prepared pan and cook for 50 minutes-1 hour or until the cake’s beginning to come away at the sides. Cool on rack.

Yes, it will fall. The other way to look at it is that the cake is creating a great space to hold the frosting/ganache. There, doesn’t that sound better?

Glaze with a simple ganache or a chocolate frosting, chocolate decorations, hazelnuts…go crazy.

I assume a dairy free chocolate hazelnut spread & Earth Balance will work for a dairy free version, but since there are so many reasons I can’t eat this any longer so I’ve never bothered.

Gluten-free or not, this is one seriously elegantly delicious cake.

*A little under one 1 cup of dark chocolate chips should work as well. If there were such a thing as 7/8ths of a cup, that’s what you’d be shooting for.

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Tribute to Zen Master Houdini



We lost our beloved Hou about 2 months ago, and it’s still fresh. I look for him on a regular basis, and it seems impossible that he’s no longer with us.

hou hiding

It feels like he still might be right around the corner.

baby hou

He was sweetness, he was sunshine, he was beauty, he was joy….and I’ve posted on his goodness many times before.

hou loveHe was loved…and loving.



and adored getting snuggles and pets.



Genghis has had a hard time adjusting to the loss of his bro, which is totally understandable. There were attached at the paw much of the time.DSCI0393

and it’s hard for him to lose his best furry friend.

h and c

Houdini’s sweetness inspired me and filled my heart.

goodbye hou

I miss him. I’m eternally grateful for the beauty and joy he brought to my life.

hou shoe

and BTW, June is National adopt a cat month. Best choice we ever made! Just sayin’

Posted in cat pictures, cheryl's musings | 6 Comments


Have you ever looked at a product and said, “gluten….seriously? Why???” I know I sure have seen products I would have assumed were gluten-free, but they’re not. I rarely cross-post from my nutrition practice website, but I feel like this is important enough to share here, too!


Happy Summertime!

There has been a lot in the press about a new study showing that many probiotic supplements contain gluten, even probiotics marked gluten-free on the label. Some contain more than the 20ppm, which is illegal. Obviously there’s a lot of concern, and Columbia University’s Celiac disease program has declined to share a list of the problematic probiotics. I personally think that’s highly regretful, especially given the FDA’s inability to regularly monitor supplements unless there is a specific, reported cause for concern. If this is something important to you, I’d encourage you to support Gluten-Free Watchdog. As many of you know, GFWD tests products for gluten, and they are currently raising funds to test probiotics for gluten, too.

It got me thinking about the sources of gluten that are less obvious. Most gluten-free veterans know all about the usual suspects, like soy sauce, vegetarian “burgers”, communion wafers, etc. If you or a family member need a review of label reading and a roundup of the rules, check out this new article in Simply Gluten-Free Magazine. Here are some products that people sometimes overlook:


Yes, chocolate.  It says on the Lindt chocolate bag that it contains barley malt, but when the truffles are individually wrapped and at the cash register, there’s no label to read. It’s easy to grab one without thinking.

And then there are companies like Godiva, which says directly on their website: “Does your chocolate contain gluten? ALL of our products including solid chocolate pieces may contain gluten. Any person with a gluten allergy should NOT consume ANY of our products.”

Well, fine then. There are a ton of gluten-free chocolate  fish in the sea….


It’s summertime! Who doesn’t remember enjoying a fudgesicle on a hot day? Unfortunately many have malt powder. Since it says “malt powder” and doesn’t say “barley malt”, sometimes people miss it. Gotta say I love these from So Delicious, and I haven’t made the recipe from Elana’s Pantry yet, but plan to soon!

Tea: stomach ease

Because clearly the remedy for tummy troubles is a cup ‘o gluten. Believe it or not, a tea called “stomach ease” has barley malt. Often we assume that tea is just tea. Remember to double check!

Vitamins: These are New Chapter Brand multivitamins, and they’re marked vitamin minigluten-free. But…it says “Contains: Fermented soy and fermented wheat”. Huh? According to the FDA, “FDA is aware that sandwich ELISA methods do not adequately detect gluten in fermented and hydrolyzed foods. Because scientifically valid methods currently are lacking that can do so, we intend to issue a proposed rule on this issue.” Obviously, I don’t know whether or not this contains gluten…but the question is, does anyone? Until equipment can actually determine if there’s gluten in fermented foods, a product containing fermented wheat is a risk, and I recommend against it.

OTC medicationsadvil

Do you read labels when you’ve got a migraine? Most people are lucky if they can see straight, much less read labels. Advil Migraine contains gluten per their website, and it’s a good reminder to read labels for your OTC medications BEFORE you actually need them… is a fantastic resource.

Oats:bear nakednew

According to the research, pure, gluten-free oats are usually tolerated. If the package doesn’t say “gluten-free”, it’s a no-go. Lots more on the oat situation here.

Look alikes…

And then there are all of those lookalike products that have gluten-free and gluten-full products, like Rudi’s, Mi-del, Amy’s, Dr. Praeger, Evol, So Delicious, etc. It’s really easy to grab the wrong one.

This is just a short list, these are absolutely not the only products that trip people up from time to time. What products have you found that are surprising sources of gluten?

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Cheryl works with people to feel and look their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here, email or call 571-271-8742

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An Open Letter to the Columbia University Celiac Disease Center

Dear wonderful Columbia Celiac Center Researchers,

First, thank you so much for studying gluten in probiotics. It’s a big deal, and something all of us were blissfully unaware of until last weekend. It’s gotten a ton of press, and gotten the Celiac community talking and worrying, largely because there is no list of the probiotics tested.

That’s where I’m really disappointed in the email I just got from Columbia Celiac Center which says:

We have not named each probiotic, principally because there is so much batch-to-batch variability based on prior studies of supplements that we would not be comfortable declaring any probiotic safe. We usually do not recommend probiotics in the treatment of gluten related disorders.

It is unfortunate that concerned patients are looking to us to police this issue, and we frankly do not have the resources to take on members of this large industry one by one. We hope that the public will direct this concern to regulatory authorities, who are ultimately the only ones with the ability to solve this problem.

Peter HR Green, MD

Phyllis & Ivan Seidenberg Professor of Medicine

Director, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University

I totally understand not wanting to declare any probiotic safe. But why no heads’ up on supplements that have over 20ppm gluten, ESPECIALLY those labeled gluten-free?

Per the study abstract: “Of the 15 labeled GF probioitics, 8 (53%) contained gluten, including 2 (13%) that contained > 20ppm.

So…you found supplements that are illegally labeled, and the plan is…do nothing and wait for something to change?

Also, let’s get this straight: there are no effective regulatory authorities in the U.S.. The FDA doesn’t have the time, the funding, or the legal mandate to pursue testing every probiotic on the market for gluten. The DSHEA act limits the FDA’s authority to police supplements in an effective way, and that’s been in effect about 20 years, so this isn’t news. The FDA only has a requirement to test specific supplements that are implicated with problems. So, if Columbia released the list of problematic supplements, enough public pressure could force FDA to act and test those supplements. But releasing an abstract with no detail leads to no effective action…and no effective solution.

If this were looking for peanut contamination in a product labeled peanut-free, would there be any doubt that a list of problematic brands would be released?

So again, per your abstract,

“24% of patients with CD take dietary supplements, most commonly probiotics.”

Please, please look out for those people and release a list of illegally labeled supplements. I’m not asking you to police anyone or declare anything safe, just to make your info public, or at least the list of problematic probiotics.

If you release the list, I will personally bake you awesome gluten-free cookies in gratitude on the behalf of the Celiac community.

Oh, and happy Celiac Awareness Month.


Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD

BTW, the email contact for Columbia’s Celiac Disease Center:

Posted in cheryl's musings, news | 3 Comments

DC Gluten-Free Expo June 7th & Coupon Code

A quick shout out for the upcoming 2015 Washington D.C. Gluten-Free Expo (coupon below)

June 7th, 2015 is the annual DC Gluten-free Expo at the Doubletree Bethesda Hotel. The Expo benefits the Children’s National Medical Center Celiac Disease ProCNMCgram in DC. Personally, I think it’s a great program and a wonderful cause, and I really appreciate how much CNMC has done to provide comprehensive, integrative care for children, teens and their families with Celiac disease in the DC Metro Area. Or, of course, you could go to the Expo because you get a ton of yummy food and free samples. Your call!

And I mean, seriously, people leave with huge bags of a ton of g-free samples. It seemed like the biggest problem people have had in the past is carrying it all home.

The official description:

Join Children’s National Health System’s Celiac Disease Program for the 2015 Washington D.C. Gluten-Free Expo on June 7, 2015 at the Doubletree Bethesda Hotel.

The Expo will feature an exhibit hall with more than 70 gluten-free vendors from across the globe! Each vendor will provide samples and/or sell their products. In some cases, the vendors will offer large discounts to purchase products at the event.

To buy tickets go to:

Enter the code GFREEGOODNESS25OFF to receive 25% off your tickets!

To learn more about the Celiac Disease Program, go to:

Cheryl’s note: this is not a sponsored post from CNMC and I have no vested interest, financial or otherwise. I’m just a fan of the Celiac programs at CNMC.

I’m submitting this to Gluten Free Wednesdays, hosted by Linda at Gluten-Free Homemaker, Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures and Cassidy’s Craveable Creations.

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Ode to Almonds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love almonds. I make almond crackers. I add chopped almonds to green beans. An almond piecrust? Done and…and re-done. I put them in cupcakes, bars, cakes, muffins and coat ‘em with praline. They’re a must for the topping of my favorite apple crisp.

Of course, there’s the long list of the almond-based cookie recipes that I adore.

One of my most frequent afternoon snacks are Marcona almonds…and often a little almond squeeze packet if I’m on the go and don’t have a meal handy.

And yes, there were indeed Jordan Almonds at my wedding.

Does this feel like the shrimp speech from Forrest Gump, but just with almonds? contacted me and said they were profiling the health benefits of almonds for Springtime. They’re not sponsoring this post, but thinking about my almond recipes was a nice nudge to pull together a list of my favorites. Obviously there are many metabolic benefits, like weight, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.  but what I’ve learned with clients over the years is that people don’t choose to eat foods for health benefits, they eat them ’cause they’re tasty! So that motivated me to pull together this list of my top 5 favorites of the moment:cookies and milk



Divine Chocolate Chip Cookies




cheryl's pralines


Almond Pralines







Choco Mint Mini Cupcakes



Hazelnut Cookies







Chocolate Banana Mousse Pie




What are your favorite recipes with almonds?

I’m sending this to Gluten-Free Wednesdays, hosted by Linda of GF Homemaker, Lynn of Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures and Cassidy’s Craveable Creations.

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The Gift of Zen Master Houdini

houbear snugglesHoudini cat has throat cancer, and it certainly threw us for a loop. There were several scary weeks where he was struggling to breathe, and the vet kept saying nothing serious was wrong. It didn’t add up. Then came the biopsy and a surgery, the diagnosis, and here we are. Unfortunately, there are few treatments for throat cancer, and they’re really ineffective and seem to offer very poor quality of life, so we’re in kitty hospice stage.

I debated whether to write this post, because I have no doubt things will get harder soon. Right now, though, we’re in a peaceful, beautiful place, even if I know it won’t last long. During the biopsy they removed a big chunk of the mass, so little Hou can breathe easier and he’s closer to his normal, joyful and loving self.

It’s a blessing every day to see him, to hold him, to enjoy him. We generally live on happy houautopilot with the sense that life will last forever. Knowing that he’s likely got a few weeks has made the daily experience of being with him so much more tender and beautiful.

Death is a part of life, but in the past it’s always felt like a scary and traumatic thing. There’s that, of course, but this time there’s a silver lining, too, of treasuring the mini- honeymoon phase  we’re in right now. It was clear this afternoon that he’s just starting to decline again. Still, worrying about tomorrow is only going to take away from our joy today.

So right now, we’re celebrating Houdini, and slowing down to spend extra time together. His last gift for us is to let us enjoy his life more thoroughly while he’s here.

Hug the ones you love extra close.

Posted in cat pictures | 6 Comments

Comfort foods

When the going gets tough, the tough eat chocolate. But there’s a point where most of us *gasp* could use a break from chocolate or, at least, go for different chocolate variations. Here are some of my favorites that taste & feel like a big hug:




Nana Skillet Bread (GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar free and vegan)





Chocolate Banana Mousse Pie (GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar optional and vegan)






Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chip Pie (GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar free, vegan)



sniffle stew



Sniffle Stew(GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar free option and vegan)




curried kale



Kale and Beef in Chestnut Sauce GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar free






Nightshade Skillet Meal (GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar free) Note: I now make this with a ton of fennel and leave out the nightshades, and it’s still one of my faves




Creamy Garbanzo Soup (GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar free and vegan)


Wishing you and yours a beautiful Springtime.

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Review: Living Candida Free

curried carrotA long-time blogging buddy, Ricki Heller, just published a new book, Living Candida-Free, which was co-authored by Andrea Nakayama. It’s gluten-free, and like all of Ricki’s books, it’s vegan. I’m a big fan of Ricki’s and I’ve reviewed many of Ricki’s books, including Naturally Sweet and Gluten-free and I was even a recipe taster for Sweet Freedom (which is mostly gluten-free). I even “adopted” Ricki’s old blog, Diet Dessert & Dogs and did a review 7 (!!!) years ago–her blog is now, but the doggies are still there so it’s all good. Ricki has even stopped by here to offer her wisdom in our last Self-Care Retreat with some great suggestions.

Living Candida-FreeSo…I wanted to get a sample of the recipe options, so I made the Curried Carrot Lentil Soup and the Raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles.

I love the soup. It was simple, easy, and gorgeous. (Picture above) The colors were wonderful, especially since all I had were purple carrots. I’ve re-discovered that I love curried lentils–I should make them so often, they’re so quick! The only change was that I added some fresh cilantro on top in addition to the cilantro cooked in. The leftovers were equally yummy, and there wasn’t enough leftover to freeze. Next time! I will definitely be making this again.

cookie dough trufflesThe Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough truffles are delicious and quick–and they have a secret ingredient. Okay, you twisted my arm, it’s beans. But you’d never guess. I found them really satisfying, and I ended up serving them au naturel rather than dipping them in chocolate because of time. But really, how can you possibly go wrong when chocolate is involved? Next time I’ll have to dip them.

I do have a confession to make. Half of the book is on candida and living well with it; the other half is recipes suitable for people on a diet to restore health after candida. I, of course, hopped right over to the recipes. It’s like any time I get a cookbook—I go RIGHT to dessert, and gradually make my way backward. So, um, it didn’t occur to me that I didn’t read the book-book part until, um, well, just a little while ago. So…yeah. More to come on that front shortly!

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