Our nutritionist/guest blogger Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN, is always looking out for us. With Thanksgiving just a few days away, Vicki shares what we need to know about going gluten-free, and whether it’s the right choice for us. Try her delicious roasted veggie recipe to dress up your Thanksgiving table AND keep your guests healthy. Vicki is a registered dietitian and author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods (Alpha Books/Penguin, 2011).
By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN
Gluten-free is a hot diet trend right now with annual sales of gluten-free products expected to reach approximately $2.6 billion in 2012. It’s enticing to jump on the bandwagon during the holidays with tempting food and drinks everywhere. If you are among the 1 percent of the U.S. population who has been diagnosed with celiac disease or you have diagnosed gluten intolerance, then banishing gluten is the way to go.
Gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and related cereals like spelt, khorasan (aka Kamut®), farro, bulgur and possibly oats, can damage the intestinal tract causing poor absorption of nutrients and eventual nutrient deficiencies. If left untreated, celiac disease may lead to gastrointestinal cancers, thus a gluten-free diet is a must.
On the flip side – gluten has health benefits that far surpass the rationale to eliminate it – if it’s not medically necessary. A recent article in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (September, 2012) highlighted gluten’s health benefits. There’s no real scientific proof that going gluten-free leads to weight loss; many gluten-free products often contain more calories and additives that gluten-containing ones. Plus, gluten-free products are devoid of whole grains and fiber, two nutritional players that can fill you up more quickly and for longer on fewer calories, which may keep your waistline in check.
In addition, gluten-containing grains like wheat contain a specific type of starch that resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine, which helps fill the gut with healthy bacteria or probiotics. These friendly microorganisms help defend against some cancers, inflammatory conditions and even cardiovascular disease by improving blood lipid levels – all good reasons not to banish gluten-containing grains, if you don’t have to. Just monitor your portions – a half-cup of cooked whole grains equals one serving.
However, if you have to avoid gluten, here are some tasty gluten-free sides for Turkey Day:
• Cornbread stuffing with walnuts and cranberries
• Quinoa-stuffed peppers
• Sweet potatoes and/or mashed potatoes
• Wild rice casserole
• Roasted Brussels sprouts
• Green beans with slivered almonds
• Cranberry sauce with cloves and orange zest
• Petite peas and carrots
• Roasted roots and other veggies
Try this delicious roasted veggie recipe:
Asparagus, Onions, and Mushroom Roast
This is tasty vegetable medley that will make a great side dish on your Thanksgiving table. Feel free to throw in your favorite veggies.
Each serving has:
7 g total fat
1 g saturated fat
0 g trans fat
0 mg cholesterol
28 mg sodium
5 g carbohydrates
2 g fiber
2 g sugars
2 g protein
7 percent iron
1 1/2 cups asparagus spears
1 small yellow onion, quartered
2 cups baby bella mushrooms, chopped
2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small handful of fresh basil leaves
Salt and ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put asparagus, onions, and mushrooms in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle basil over veggies and season with salt and ground pepper. Stir to coat with oil.
2. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, stir, and put back into the oven for 10 more minutes, or until veggies are golden brown and tender. Serve immediately.
This recipe is courtesy of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods by Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN.