Chocolate Almond Cup

I like beautiful desserts that look elegant but are easy. I’m not going to say I’m lazy, exactly, as much as I value my time and energy, and, well, both tend to be in short supply.

But I like pretty desserts, so here we go.

Chocolate almond cup
Yum! Chocolate almond cup

Mini tart pan—I imagine you could use something else, too!

If desired, line tart pan with wax paper for ease of cleanup.

Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for 90 seconds, or until melted. Pour half into tart pan.

Scoop almond paste into a ball, and then roll out into a disk between two sheets of wax paper. Fit on top of chocolate layer.

Pour chocolate on top.

Decorate as desired.

Allow to harden, then gently press on bottom to release.

If low FODMAP, SPLIT with a friend! Monash allows .85oz almond meal, which is 24 grams—but the almond paste also includes sugar and water within that weight, so this is a best guess.

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Mint Lemonade Spritzer

Lemonade has to be one of E’s favorite things. Especially in the summer. I was trying to link to this recipe and then I realized it wasn’t on my blog. Had to fix that!

Mint Lemonade Spritzer
Mint Lemonade Spritzer

This version is FODMAP friendly. Of course, you can always change the sweetener. I always make this when E is holding martial arts class at our house, which means a 90 min workout during hot weather, so simple carbs are often a nice treat. As always, sweets are a treat…best in moderation. 🙂

  • 5 lemons, preferably organic
  • small handful mint leaves
  • 4 cups water
  • 12 oz plain seltzer
  • 1/3 cup sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup water

Wash the lemons. Juice 4 of the 5 lemons in the 4 cups of water. Slice the other lemon. Put the lemon juice in the water, along with the juiced lemon halves and the mint leaves overnight to infuse.

Make a simple syrup–easiest way is 1 minute in the microwave with 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water. stir with a spoon. When it cools, pour into the pitcher.

Right before serving, add in the seltzer for some bubbles. This recipe makes about 6 servings. A single serving (one cup) is low FODMAP.


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G-Free Meringue Bunnies

Gluten-free, Kosher for Passover, low FODMAP Bunny meringues!

The picture above is last year’s bunnies. This year’s bunnies are cuter…or at least, I think so. I finally posted the recipe and a “how-to” video on my website. Hop on over!

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I spent a year letting go

I didn’t try to improve

Or work harder

Or longer

I didn’t go to many conferences

Or trainings

I didn’t speak

Or write

I just sat


I had migraines bad enough that I couldn’t see very much

And so that’s all I could do.

I worked some, but at a very different pace

I let go of pushing

I’d occasionally see posts about friends, and their big plans

New launches, and conferences, and papers

I felt joy for their new adventures

It’s great to be in the phase of growth

And yet I honor that each season has its cycle

Mine has required stillness and restraint

Sometimes trees grow beautiful flowers

Sometimes they sit in majestic silence

I’ve grown this year, in simply being able to value my non-doing self.

Because, who am I, really, if I’m not producing?

At last, I find the answer.

I am


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Contamination in Lentils :(

I’ll just try to stick to the facts here: I am extremely diligent about following a strict gluten-free diet. I do eat Amy’s products, and have for years.

Earlier this week, I was having a can of Amy’s Lentil soup, and something felt funny in my mouth…and it was a kernel of grain. In speaking to a colleague and looking online, I’m quite certain it is wheat or barley.

I’m extremely frustrated. I feel lousy and grumpy. I’m also upset professionally, as I’ve been recommending Amy’s for years. I also realize that there are many larger issues at play in terms of general contamination of lentils with wheat. It’s been an issue for several other companies, as one of my eagle-eyed clients discovered a few years back. Gluten-free Watchdog addressed this several times…this is unfortunately not a new problem with lentils. But it’s also not yet a resolved issue.

It’s a reminder to me of how much of a toll it can take to be strictly gluten-free. I have absolutely no problem not eating regular bread or asking questions or bringing my own foods, but not to be able to trust that items that are marked gluten-free are actually gluten-free…that’s a big stressor. Usually, soups are my go-to especially when I go on meditation retreats. The last thing I need is to feel like I need to scrutinize every single lump in my bowl.

So…check your beans, especially lentils. Support companies like Gluten-free Watchdog that keep the community safer. And keep writing and advocating as you can.

I’ve contacted Amy’s and will post their follow up here. Thus far, they’ve asked for the lot # and the grain itself. My hope here is to provide a reminder/nudge for awareness; this problem is not limited to Amy’s, and I’m certainly hopeful that this leads to better and safer practices.

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Paleo *le sigh*

I know, there are many things to worry about in the world, and this is low on the list. I do get frustrated when I see RD publications giving the same party line about the risks of a Paleo diet and not mentioning the growing group of studies actually examining the relative pros/cons of the diet. For the record, I know the staff has a commitment to good work and quality writing. I think this story missed the mark in terms of providing a balanced view of the current research.

If there’s a belief that there’s a value in seeing a nutrition professional, because nutrition is about facts, not beliefs, professionals should be talking about the data and not opinions, right? Even and especially when it doesn’t line up with what we learned in school.

I know grains are the bottom of the food guide pyramid, or plate. Citing data on whole grains vs refined actually isn’t relevant to the question of the relative merits of grain-free diet and how that may differ by disease state. It actually fully misses the point.

From my perspective the data is interesting and encouraging, but it also isn’t a slam dunk. I’d rather see bigger studies and ones that are better controlled. I went into some of the weaknesses in the early literature in a prior post.

FWIW, I’m not a Paleo advocate per se. I am a research advocate. 😉  It seems like Paleo advocates say there are mountains of research (nope) while others suggest there’s no study, which isn’t true, either. I have mixed feelings about Paleo and think there are pros and cons–and more importantly, pros and cons giving a given person’s needs, medical history and lifestyle. Generally, I am more interested in what is on someone’s plate than what trendy label is attached to it.

I think the newest study on autoimmune Paleo and IBD is fascinating, and so is the MS research and the rest of the studies below. And it does seem that a Paleo diet has helped people safely lose weight and improve CVD risk factors, which is what counts at the end of the day.

Because I’m short on time, I’m only including research here through 2016, which is the last time I did a thorough lit review. Detailed references are below the charts. I don’t have time right now to update for 2017-18

Frassetto LA, Schloetter M, Mietus-Synder M, Morris RC, Jr., Sebastian A: Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009.

Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Ahrén B, Branell UC, Pålsson G, Hansson A, Söderström M, Lindeberg S. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2009;8:35

Lindeberg S, Jonsson T, Granfeldt Y, Borgstrand E, Soffman J, Sjostrom K, Ahren B: A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia 2007, 50(9):1795-1807.

O’Dea K: Marked improvement in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in diabetic Australian aborigines after temporary reversion to traditional lifestyle. Diabetes 1984, 33(6):596-603.

Osterdahl M, Kocturk T, Koochek A, Wandell PE: Effects of a short-term intervention with a paleolithic diet in healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr 2008, 62(5):682-685.

Boers I, Muskiet FA, Berkelaar E, Schut E. et al. Favourable effects of consuming a Palaeolithic-type diet on characteristics of the metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled pilot-study. Lipids Health Dis. 2014 Oct 11;13:160. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-13-160.

Bisht B. A multimodal intervention for patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: feasibility and effect on fatigue. J Altern Complement Med. 2014 May;20(5):347-55

Pastore RL, Brooks JT, Carbone JW. Paleolithic nutrition improves plasma lipid concentrations of hypercholesterolemic adults to a greater extent than traditional heart-healthy dietary recommendations. Nutr Res. 2015 Jun;35(6):474-9.

Boraxbekk C J, Stomby A, Ryberg M, Lindahl B, Larsson C, Nyberg L, Olsson T, Diet-Induced Weight Loss Alters Functional Brain Responses during an Episodic Memory Task. Obes Facts 2015;8:261-272

Stomby A, Simonyte K, Mellberg C, et al. Diet-induced weight loss has chronic tissue-specific effects on glucocorticoid metabolism in overweight postmenopausal women.Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 May;39(5):814-9.

Manheimer, E.W., van Zuuren, E.J., Fedorowicz, Z., Pijl, H. Paleolithic nutrition for metabolic syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102:922–932.

Otten J, Mellberg C, Ryberg M, et al. Strong and persistent effect on liver fat with a Paleolithic diet during a two-year intervention. Int J Obes (Lond). 2016 Jan 20.

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Maple Spiced Nuts

Fiending for a quick and yummy dessert? I love this recipe, and it’s a staple at our house in the colder months. I first posted a version in 2014, and I’ve got the tweaks and specifics on making it FODMAP friendly below.

It’s delicious, versatile and I can have a dessert or gift made and on its way in 10 minutes. Sweet, huh?

I can’t count how many times I’ve made this recipe over the last few years. Everyone has the taste or texture that they adore. I think I’m in love with sweet and sticky (although my nutritionist brain says, hey, the sugar content isn’t crazy for a dessert!)

Although I prefer making these with walnuts, pecans, almonds, any mixed nuts work too. And on the off chance that you don’t really like sticky, reduce the maple syrup to 1/4 cup and you’re good to go–the coating is thin and crisp, and there’s still enough sweetness to make it work.

I generally use pumpkin pie spice to give these a little kick, and you can ramp up the cayenne as needed for your taste.

Oh, and of course this is naturally gluten-dairy-egg-corn-soy-grain-refined sweeteners-free, Paleo friendly and vegan. Low FODMAP notes are below*

Serving size: 1/4 cup, makes 10 servingslightly glazed

  • 2.5 cups nuts–either all pecans/walnuts, or use a mix of 1.5 cups pecans or walnuts, 1/2 cup hazelnuts, 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp ground vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt

Put the nuts in a skillet over medium high heat. Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper and grab the other ingredients. You’ll start to hear the walnuts sizzle, and add in the maple and spices (not the salt). Allow them to cook and bubble, stirring occasionally until the syrup is almost dry, 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse salt, and scoop the walnuts onto the parchment. Quickly spoon the excess maple goodness onto clumps of nuts.

Allow to cool, enjoy or bag as a gift. Keep in a covered container if they last that long.

*to ensure this is low FODMAP, use nuts and seeds that are low FODMAP. Pecans, walnuts are best because the maple sticks best to them. You can add in macadamia nuts, and pumpkin seeds too. Use smaller proportions of almonds or hazelnuts in your mix since these are higher FODMAP.

Monash lists ~36grams as an acceptable serving of mixed nuts, which is ~18 nuts or about 1/4 cup serving.

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Low FODMAP Holiday Treats

I love to bake. And I love to make candy. Not all the time, of course, because I’m sure it would get old quickly, but I typically make special treats a few times a year. For me, feeding people is my first language, and making desserts is one way of celebrating holidays and special occasions. I enjoy making desserts more than I enjoy eating them, actually, which is one of the first reasons why my husband and I connected. 😉

For most people, the holidays involve celebration and food. As I work with more and more people on a low FODMAP diet, I’m aware how few recipes are out there with holiday options, so I decided to pull together options that are either my own recipes, or ones we’ve made/enjoyed at Chez Harris. PLEASE NOTE THAT FOR ALL SWEETS, IT’S ALL ABOUT SMALL PORTIONS!

Angel Food Cake: Light, airy, delish. Perfect for a celebration.

This is a birthday present yearly for a friend–his absolute favorite!

Several others have shared low FODMAP dessert lists as well. Here are ones from Patsy Catsos, Kate Scarlata, and Delicious as it looks.

So…enjoy treats. Savor, stick with small portions, and remember, you don’t get points back for feeling guilty.

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Fresh Cranberry Relish (low FODMAP)

I wanted to see if I could adapt my favorite cranberry side to make it FODMAP friendly, and indeed, it’s delicious, and only takes a few minutes.

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, picked over
  • 1.5 cups fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1 large orange, divided into pieces, or 4 clementines
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sugar (optional–can increase or decrease based on taste)

Put ingredients in the food processor and pulse until only small chunks remain. You want to retain some texture.

Refrigerate. The tastes mix beautifully and get even better overnight.

If you are FODMAP sensitive or fructose intolerant, portions matter! 1/2 cup or less works for the elimination phase.

Walnuts can be omitted for allergy or preference, but give a nice texture.

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History repeating itself

Like so many people, Charlottesville has left me feeling sick, scared, and very, very sad.

Afraid for this country in a way that I never have before, and deeply discouraged.

I wanted to share my grandmother’s story, because it’s more important than ever.

In the 1930s, Nazi sentiment affected many countries around the world, including Iraq. There weren’t Nazis per se, but “just” people who believed that Jews should die because they were taking the jobs, money, etc. Yes, there were once Jews living peacefully in Iraq—many people have never heard of them because Iraqi Jews no longer exist.  In the 1940s, there was an outbreak of violence, known as the Farhud, and it simply was no longer safe to be a Jew in Iraq.

Savta (Bela) lived outside of Bagdad in a very wealthy Jewish family. She had two babies, and by the early 1950s, the danger was so great that she fled with my grandfather, father, and uncle. They lost all their money and possessions. Someone at the border tore up her wedding photo out of spite.

My family members fled anywhere that would take them: Israel, Canada, Australia, England. Eventually, many did come to the US.

My grandmother never stopped grieving the loss. As she got older and had issues with dementia, she would get in loops of repeating the same thing again and again. And her upset was not at the mobs who hated the Jews, or losing her house nor her comfortable lifestyle.

She never got over the abandonment by her neighbors who were once her friends.

They did nothing to protect her.

They once would celebrate each other’s holidays, and eat together, and they did nothing to help her.

50 years later, she still felt the pain of good people doing nothing.

Yes, white supremacists and Nazis are a problem, but that’s just a piece of it. It’s all of the people who harbor hate, and all those who turn a deaf ear because their (tush) is not on the line.

There’s so much talk, and labeling people alt right, alt left, and a lot of name calling. I can admit that it feels good in the moment, but I also suspect it’s counterproductive.

In terms of promoting a healthy society, the people who will make the most difference are likely those “good people” who voted for 45 and still defend him. It’s the people who want their “history”–their statues and monuments, the people who are saying that our current leader represents jobs and growth. Most people hate admitting they are wrong, and calling them Nazis causes them to double down on their commitment to El Naranja. Alienating those people is going to push our country in a (more) dangerous direction.

Like so many, I do not know what to do, and I do not have any of the answers. I’m grieving that history is repeating itself, and I don’t want to be one of Savta’s neighbors. All I can do is donate money, practice kindness, and see where I can be a tiny voice sending support all of the many people who are vulnerable now.

I am so sorry for all of the suffering around us right now.

With love,


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