Happy Gluten-Free Thanksgiving!

Don’t despair at the thought of having to re-invent your yearly feast. You do not have to throw everything out the door either. We are talking about quality protein; check. Non-starchy vegetables; check, check, check. A small bit of stuffing that’s gluten-free; check. Minimal sugar- yes, it can happen.

A free-range turkey
A free-range turkey

Let’s look to see how our plates can look still brimming with Designed for Health goodness.

Turkey hunter

Protein: Turkey for me! There are many approaches here. If you have deep pockets, free range turkeys would be the optimal choice. If you don’t have deep pockets, maybe you know a hunter who could supply you with a real prize bird! I am left with the local grocery store, so I aim for a bird that is minimally processed and minimally “enhanced” with very salty broth. Honestly, eating turkey should NOT cause us to have nearly unquenchable thirst after dinner!

If turkey is not your forte, then ham. Certainly, ham will be a big hit on salt, but if you can cut down on adding a lot of salt to the rest of the meal, go for it. Just check the labels on the ham. I have seen hams at Sam’s that are labeled gluten-free. ApTN Connections Winter 2008/p. 9parently somewhere in the processing of hams there is gluten involved; maybe as wheat starch. So if you are especially sensitive to gluten, better read the labels carefully. If you are one to use the glaze packets that come with many hams, beware of the long list of ingredients which can contain the unpronounceable Franken-chemicals we do not need to be eating. Try stirring up some organic marmalade with a bit of Dijon mustard for a healthier glaze.


Non-starchy vegetables are a cinch at Thanksgiving! Collards; Mmmmmm! Asparagus. Carrots. Kale. Spinach. Green beans. The list goes on. The problem, if there is to be one, is what we add to these wholesome foods that renders them unfriendly to our happy, non-inflamed, functioning belly. Adding a can of condensed soup is going to add, not only gluten, but also a long list of unfamiliar ingredients, and an excess of salt. Try just cooking with good fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil) and season with herbs.

Olive oil

Many clean-eating, SANE-eating, Paleo-eating folks really enjoy their sweet potatoes and yams. Bravo to you all; wish I could join you but those healthy tubers just are not in love with my belly. Again, enjoy your tubers, but pouring on brown sugar and marshmallows is a recipe for skyrocketing blood sugars! Be careful. Roasting a pan full of all kinds of root vegetables, tubers, broccoli, onions, and garlic that all have been coated in olive oil and seasoned with herbs is a feast in itself and will not destroy inner balance- even for one day!

Mashed cauliflower

Okay. Mashed potatoes….. Many people have switched out mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower! I have done that, but I have not been happy with the leftovers. Since there are only two in our house and one of those two declines cauliflower in any form, then it’s sort of hard to fix just a small amount. For me, there will probably be a very modest portion of garlic mashed spuds.

Turkey gravy is great! I hope you are using all of the giblets finely minced in your gravy! Organ meats are infinitely good for us to eat. I save the liver for a pate to help tide us over until dinner is ready; great on gluten-free crackers. Thickening the gravy can easily be done not with flour or corn starch, but with arrowroot flour. Just stir the arrowroot into a half cup of water and stir into the gravy pot as you would have done with cornstarch. Just another way to love your belly!


Stuffing or dressing? Which do you say? I think I switch back and forth! Anyway, since going gluten-free, I have relied on Bob’s Gluten-free Cornbread Mix as a basis for the dressing, augmented by a few slices of gluten-free bread. Sauté a bunch of onion and celery in “happy” butter (Kerrygold brand) with a generous addition of poultry seasoning. Maybe add some chicken broth. Stir in dried and chopped up cornbread and sliced bread, maybe some nuts and dried cranberries, bake, and voila- stuffing! Pass the gravy!

Cranberry sauce is a family favorite, not only as a tasty additive to

Cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce

our meats, but especially because of the tradition that goes with its preparation. Cleaning and sorting cranberries was my first job in the kitchen as a young child. Such pride and joy in actually helping cook! So much fun to play with the bright red berries floating in the rinse bowl of water! It’s a tradition lovingly passed down to both our children and our grandchildren. We will have to wait until Christmas time to once again to watch our grandchildren being tutored by our daughter, their auntie, in the fine art of cleaning, sorting, seasoning, adding other fruits, and stirring the mystic pot-full of glorious red!We have come to learn that just a half-cup of sugar is enough for one bag of berries when you add the flesh of a sweet orange, a minced Gala or Fugi apple, and a minced pear. I have also added some raspberries for a subtle added flavor. With fresh clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon, it is a family favorite.

Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie, anyone? Oh, yes! Where we will be eating this year, I’ll just not eat the crust because of the gluten, but sometime soon, I’ll be preparing a pie of our own using a gluten-free crust. I have used the mix by Glutino which gives a good result, but do not expect to roll it out as with standard pie dough. It’s better to just press the dough into the dish; I have never succeeded rolling out that dough and have always ended up pressing it into the pie pan. There are certainly many gluten-free recipes out there for pie crust; I just haven’t personally settled on one as a favorite. Pie crusts merit a separate blog on another day. If you are really benefiting from going absolutely gluten-free and fixing any kind of crust is too much bother then there is really no hard and fast rule that there has to be pie crust at all! Grease a dish with coconut oil, fill with pie filling, and bake!


Best wishes to one and all for a truly heart-felt day of thanks– hopefully with the loving companionship of friends and family. It’s a time of sharing our plenty and giving our thanks. I am so grateful to my co-creator, Sheree Alderman, who fleshes out my ramblings with creative titles and extra pictures when needed. Many thanks to my Designed for Health class participants for their enthusiasm and encouragement; keep up the good work and thanks for sharing your progress with me!

In the coming months, my goal is to give my subscribers a free download ebooklette! It’s still under wraps, but is definitely coming your way! Please share this site with your friends so we can journey together toward the health we were designed to have. As always, your personal information is never shared when you subscribe; you will just get an email notice and link when a new post is made.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!



“And the Beet Goes On…. “

We all were reluctant to bring our Designed Health Series to an end. After setting the ground work for a new way of thinking about our entire approach to what is the best for us to eat and why, we were smack in the middle of reconstructing our menu content and sharing recipes when time ran out! But our link remains here until we meet again for follow-up sessions.

Nope - The other moose

Have you made any “Magic Mousse” yet? There is nothing to it! It really is: just melt the chocolate while stirring in the water and dash of salt, then beat the melted mixture in a bowl placed in an ice bath for several minutes with a whisk attachment to your mixer and “Voila!” mousse appears! Check the Halloween post for details. You can do it! Use regular whipped cream if you have to, but the Coconut Cream is so yummy and dairy free!

Our early sessions had to do with our mind-set. Everything starts with that ole’ central computer! All of what we do, really, is a habit, so we deconstructed what habits were and how they worked in order to understand how to “tweak” them in a more favorable direction for improFood-Talk-4-u-Joggingved health. Understanding that a habit “trigger” could be just walking out to get the newspaper each morning, which could easily be switched to jogging out and back to the mail box. Not a big deal but a little something in the right direction. With this cooler fall weather, it’s a cinch to jog out and back to the mailbox. Then, maybe, once the daily quick jog is second nature, longer walks or jogs could be added; maybe just around the house before returning inside to read the paper. Most of us are using the initial swish of water first thing each morning to be our trigger to drink 1-2 glasses of water. It’s a habit now, with no real thinking involved.

Something I am working on is finding the motivation to start a load laundry-ladyof laundry. True confession: I tend to let things pile up in that regard until I am faced with marathon loads. So, I am starting a load of laundry now as I make my path to the kitchen to start the coffee. No decision making. No conversation with myself on if I want to start a load. Just, “what am I washing today?” So far, this has been very successful for me to incorporate into my daily pattern. We agreed that the goal is not the “Goal” but the process of minute gradual improvements that are consistent.

We began following Jonathan Bailor’s explanation of the Calorie Myth concept wherein counting calories is pretty pointless if that process is in exchange for looking at the quality and content of our food. Clearly, 300 calories of candy bar will have a different effect on the body than 300 calories of leafy green veggies or 300 calories of protein. He cited studies and individual cases where simply reducing the number of calories consumed each day—and possibly exercising more—was actually a recipe for failure at long-term weight loss and control. Disaster, really.

We studied what major nutrients are derived from food and how they interact with our body. Starchy carbohydrates and sugary foods not only cause great swings in blood sugar, but can actually feed the craving for more starches and sugars through the stimulation of the opiate receptors in our brains. Thus, starchy and sugary foods are not satisfying in the long term.eaT

What is satisfying? What can we eat to “hold” us for hours? Proteins, whole food fats from avocado, coconut, olives, nuts/seeds, and non-starchy vegetables. Class participants shared how a veggie-filled omelet held them past their usual lunch hour! No toast, no bagel—just protein and veggies cooked in a pan with “good” fat—“happy butter” from grass fed cows, coconut oil, or olive oil.

We looked at what constitutes an anti-inflammatory diet. With virtually all diseases having roots in the inflammatory process, not contributing to inflammation through our food choices seems natural, basic, and what we were designed to do. Sugar is inflammatory. Grains are inflammatory. Grains—that includes wheat, barley, and rye to eliminate the gluten, and the other grains as well such as corn, soy, rice, and the legumes to eliminate the phytates which block absorption of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and others.

While not everyone has the natural response to gluten which should be a total “no-go,” some of us have evolved to tolerate some level of the “poison” in our bodies. Which are you? How do you know for sure? There certainly are blood tests which are delineated on the Celiac.org website, but try going totally gluten-free for 30-60 days. Not only will you lose weight because of not eating starches at every meal, but you will likely discover a more pain-free body. Those achy joints won’t be crying out for more pain meds. You belly will be happier. Less bloating; less gas. Then, at the end of 30-60 days, see how going back to gluten works for you………….

One of my sweetest moments recently was when a Designed for Health class participant pulled me aside to show off her remarkably slimmer body; her decidedly slimmer face; and best of all, her ability to once again wear a ring! Getting off gluten and onto an anti-inflammatory diet clearly took away the inflammation in her previously swollen finger joints. She was joyous to don that precious family heirloom on her finger as a testament to how much better she was feeling!

One night in class, we changed the old IN-SANE food pyramid to create a SANE plateful of food: Food-Talk-4-U-Chart-R

We then started sharing how we were doing this. Recipes started flying around the room! Norman has much success grilling not only his meats but his vegetables—all coated with olive oil—even beets! Ellen described her carrot/beet/parsnip fritters. Someone else offered her recipe for chocolate pudding: ¼ cup cocoa, 1 avocado, 3 Medjool dates, ¼ cup coconut/almond milk all whipped up in a blender or food processor.

Raw ingredients

Speaking of beets….with much fear and trepidation, I bought my first EVER fresh, raw beets to use in fixing Ellen’s fritters. My childhood exposure to canned, diced beets used to stretch left-over stew into something called “Red Flannel Hash” had left me permanently traumatized! It would be hard to appreciate what it took for me to “man up” right there in the green goods isle at Harris Teeter to look at, touch, and put three fresh beets with long stems and admittedly beautiful leaves into my basket! But with Ellen and Norman’s words ringing in my ears, I did it!

We were leaving the class the last night and Ellen was trying to remember all of the ingredients to her fritters, and I added some onion as well, so here’s our recipe”:

Carrot, Beet, Parsnip Fritters

Put ingredients in mixing bowl
Put ingredients in mixing bowl

2 carrots- peeled and grated

1 parsnip- peeled and grated

1 beet- peeled and grated

¼ of a large onion- grated

1-2 eggs

1-2 large cooking/serving spoons of coconut flour

Salt and Pepper to taste


Place all of the grated vegetables into a bowl.

Toss/mix veggies

Mixing up veggies
Mixing up veggies

Add first egg and first large spoonful of coconut flour along with salt and pepper. Combine to incorporate all ingredients. If your mixture looks and feels like it needs more “glue” to stick together into patties, then add the additional egg and coconut flour. I did because the beet and parsnip seemed to be large.

Adding in the egg and flour

Here’s the tricky part. I formed the patties by hand, squeezing a little extra as Ellen advised, but they still seemed a bit loose. Next time, I will be tempted to use a hamburger press. Just be aware that there will be beautiful red juice dripping out when squeezing and forming these patties, so have a juice catcher handy or squeeze over the sink. Amazing though. As beautiful and rosy red as the beet juice is, it never stained my counter tops! I’ve had strawberries stain my counter and I was prepared to have quite a time cleaning up, but there were no problems! Beets! My new friends!


Anyway, form the patties and place in a hot skillet with olive oil and fry a few minutes on each side.

In the meantime, slice up the beet tops and sauté in olive oil and season with a bit of crushed red pepper and sea salt.

Beet tops cooking
Beet tops cooking

When everything is done, you will have a beautiful serving plate full of color and nutrition! I was absolutely amazed at the mild yet wonderful flavor of the beet tops! And the fritters were such a treat.

This recipe ended up making a lot of fritters! I enjoyed them as-is as leftovers, but one thing I really loved was adding some of the fritters (or the crumbly parts that didn’t want to stick together enough) to my chicken soup. Turns out I was working on gradually eating a fresh “vat” of rich chicken bone broth soup that I have posted on before. By adding the beet fritters, not only did I add even more nutrition to my soup, but I instantly turned it into Borscht (Russian for beet soup)! What color! What flavor!

Finished product!
Finished product!

Beets are not just red. They are more like a deep raspberry red. What a great color! Now I have a new, powerhouse vegetable to love!

Until next time when I’ll share a great resource for kid-friendly recipes that are “Designed for Health” and two versions of gluten-free waffles. Just in time for a chilly morning!