Archive for the ‘Ask BeFreeForMe’ Category

Ask Shelley Case: How to Get More Fiber In Your Diet!

Monday, June 8th, 2009

How can I get more fiber in my diet? I was used to eating high fiber cereals/breads/crackers etc. before being diagnosed with celiac disease. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables but I know I am not getting 20-30 grams of fiber a day.

Dietary fiber is the part of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils), nuts and seeds that cannot be broken down by the human digestive system.  Although fiber is not readily digested, it plays an important role in the body, particularly through its effects on the digestive system.  Fiber helps to maintain regular bowel movements.  A high fiber diet can also play a role in the prevention of certain chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, colon cancer and diverticular disease.

Consuming adequate amounts of fiber is especially important for people with celiac disease.  Many newly diagnosed individuals may have symptoms of diarrhea due to malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the absorptive surface of the small intestine.  However, once a gluten-free diet is initiated, the intestinal tract begins to heal and the malabsorption and diarrhea eventually resolve.  Some may then have problems with constipation. It should also be noted that many individuals with celiac disease actually present with constipation prior to their diagnosis which may get worse on the gluten-free diet. 

As many gluten-free foods are made with starches and/or refined flours which are lower in fiber, it can be a challenge getting enough fiber in the diet. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for fiber varies for different age groups and sex. The DRI for females and males ages 19-50 is 25 and 38 grams per day respectively. For ages 51-70 it is 21grams (females) and 30 grams (males).

Here are some tips to increase your fiber intake…

* Gradually increase fiber in the diet (start with a small amount) along with an increased fluid intake, especially water

* Choose a variety of high-fiber gluten-free foods on a regular basis

* Mix it up.  Add ground flax, mesquite flour, rice bran or rice polish to pancakes, hot cereals or baked products. Extend hamburger patties or meat loaf with ground flax, cooked brown rice or oatmeal (pure, uncontaminated gluten-free). Add cooked amaranth, quinoa or teff to puddings. Use quinoa or brown rice flakes, oatmeal (pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free) or gluten-free granola as a topping for fruit crisp

* Toss it up. Use brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, teff or wild rice in salads

* Use your bean. Add chickpeas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans and other bean varieties to salads, casseroles and soups

* Soups on. Make soups with lentils or split peas

* Pilaf Ideas. Add cooked buckwheat, oat groats or steel cut oats (pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free)quinoa, sorghum or wild rice to a rice pilaf recipe

* Use high-fiber gluten-free mixes (homemade or from gluten-free companies) containing amaranth flour, bean flours, brown rice flour, ground flax,  mesquite flour, Montina™, oat flour   (pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free), quinoa flour, sorghum flour, teff flour or a combination of some of  these flours in baked products

* Try hot cereals for breakfast such as Altiplano Gold Instant Hot Quinoa Cereal, Ancient Harvest Organic Quinoa Flakes, Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty GF Hot Cereal, The Birkett Mill Pocono Cream of Buckwheat Hot Cereal, Cream Hill Estates Lara’s Rolled Oats, Holly’s Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cereal Porridge with Cranberries, Gluten-Free Oats® Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

* Flax it up. Sprinkle ground flax on yogurt or add to fruit smoothies

* Snack right. Consume high-fiber snacks such as dried fruits, nuts, seeds and popcorn. Choose high-fiber snack bars with dried fruits, nuts and/or seeds (e.g., Bumble Bar,  Larabar, Mrs. May’s Naturals, Perfect 10)

* Eat, rather than drink. Eat whole fruits and vegetables rather than drinking juice

Choose right.  Choose breads with at least 2 grams of fiber per serving such as Ener G Seattle Brown, Kinnikinnick Brown Sandwich or Schar Multigrain. Choose higher fiber pastas such as brown rice, lentil, quinoa, soy or wild rice instead of white rice. Try high-fiber crackers such as Mary’s Gone Crackers or Crunchmaster Baked Multigrain Crackers


* NOTE ABOUT OATS: Must be pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free oats. Some available resources are from Bobs’ Red Mill, Cream Hill Estates, FarmPure Foods, Gluten-Free Oats, Gifts of Nature. For more information about the safety of oats in the gluten-free diet see:

Here are a few examples comparing the fiber content of seeds and grains:

Seeds & Grains (1 cup raw)

Fiber ( grams)

Flax seed




Sesame seeds (kernels, dried decorticated)




Buckwheat Groats (roasted, dry)


Oat Groats (pure uncontaminated, GF)


Sunflower Seeds (hulled kernels, dry roasted)






Wild Rice


Brown Rice (long grain)


White Rice (long grain, parboiled, enriched)



A comprehensive list of foods and their fiber content can be found in The Gluten-Free Diet

Note: Ask Shelley Case is a feature of It is published the second Tuesday of each month. Shelley Case is a Registered Dietitian, Consulting Dietitian, Speaker and Author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide.

Ask Shelley Case: Quick & Healthy Breakfast Ideas!

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Question: I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but I’m always in a hurry and need some quick and healthy gluten-free / allergen-free ideas. Help!

Eating on the run in the morning is a challenge for many of us. It’s tempting to skip breakfast and just grab a coffee but you need to fuel your body with healthier choices to stay energized and alert. Here are a few ideas…

• GF toasted bagel, bread or English muffin with nut butter (almond, cashew or peanut) with sliced banana and glass of milk or 100% fruit juice

• Smoothie made with fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt or milk*, spoonful of ground flax, crushed ice and sweetener (honey, sugar, agave or sugar substitute) and a gluten-free muffin or energy bar (see recipe below)

• Frozen GF waffles (e.g., Van’s or Nature’s Path) with cottage cheese, peaches and sprinkled with cinnamon and a dash of syrup

• GF cereal or granola with yogurt or milk* and fresh fruit

• GF hot cereal (e.g., Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty GF Hot Cereal or GF oats** and a spoonful of ground flax) made with water or milk* prepared in the microwave and served with fresh or dried fruit (e.g., raisins, apricots, mangoes)

• Leftover GF pizza warmed in the microwave or eaten cold and a glass of 100% fruit juice


* GF Milk substitutes (almond, potato, rice or soy beverages) can replace milk for those with
   lactose intolerance.

** GF oats available from Bob’s Red Mill, Cream Hill Estates, FarmPure Foods, Gifts of Nature, Gluten-Free Oats). For more information about GF oats see


There are a number of granola, muffin and portable fruit bar recipes that can be pre-made. Here is one of my favorite healthy energy bar recipe detailed below. These energy bars can be stored for a week in an air tight container and can also be individually wrapped and frozen for up to one month.  You can also find more recipes, tips and substitutions along with the nutrition content of the recipes in the Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide.


Carrot Apple Energy Bars

1 ¼ cups sorghum flour
½ cup amaranth flour
1/3 cup rice bran
¼ cup ground flaxseed
½ cup non-fat (skim) milk powder
1½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon gluten-free baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ cups grated carrots
¾ cup dried fruit mix
½ cup chopped walnuts
Line 13 X 9 inch baking pan with foil and grease lightly.

In a large bowl or plastic bag. Combine sorghum flour, amaranth flour, rice bran, ground flaxseed, milk powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Mix well and set a side.

In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs, applesauce and brown sugar until combined.

Add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Stir in carrots, dried fruit and nuts.  Spoon the batter into the prepared pan; spread to edges with a moist rubber spatula and allow to stand for 30 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 325° F oven for 30—35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack and cut into bars.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or individually wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.

Yield 18 bars

From Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide and reprinted with permission from: The Best Gluten-Free Family Cookbook by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt, Robert Rose Inc., Publisher, 2005;

Note: Ask Shelley Case is a feature of It is published the first Tuesday of each month. Shelley Case is a Registered Dietitian, Consulting Dietitian, Speaker and Author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide.

New Featured Column on BeFreeForMe: ASK SHELLEY CASE!

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

I am so excited to announce that and Shelley Case, a registered dietician and leading international expert on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet, are teaming up to offer BeFreeForMe members a monthly column, “Ask Shelley Case”.

The segment will feature candid and everyday questions, asked by BeFreeForMe members that will be answered by Shelley. Shelley has tons of experience with the gluten-free lifestyle and community, and I am thrilled that BeFreeForMe is partnering with her on this column!

Shelley is a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Celiac Disease Foundation and Gluten Intolerance Group in the United States and the Professional Advisory Board of the Canadian Celiac Association. As well as partnering with, Shelley is a frequent guest on TV and radio, including the NBC Today Show!

Shelley is also the author of the National Best Seller, “Gluten-free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide” , which has recently come out in a revised and expanded edition! It is jammed packed with resources, info and ideas; and is a “must read and revisit” for everyone following a gluten-free diet.

I am so thrilled that we have Shelley on-board so we can pick her brain and ask her questions about our special dietary needs. If you have any questions, please ask her through this email link:

The “Ask Shelley Case” featured column (and email) will be showcased / sent the second Tuesday of every month. The first column will run this Tuesday, May 12. Keep your eye out for it!

Welcome, Shelley!

Be Free!

Kathleen Reale

Founder /

Good Gravy

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Making rich, flavorful and lump-free gravy can be a horrific task for anyone, let alone those who are cooking a gluten free or allergen free Thanksgiving meal.

When I was little I remember my Mom on Thanksgiving Day orchestrating the turkey getting carved, the potatoes being mashed, the veggies coming off the stove and the pies getting warmed in the oven. Then came the most stressful and hectic part of the Thanksgiving Day meal preparation: the gravy.

Back in the gluten-day, my Mom made gravy the old-fashioned way. All I remember is a lot of frantic stirring, a lot of flour, and if there wasn’t enough stirring – a lot of lumps.

The key to making perfect gravy is to use a whisk, rather than a spoon when mixing the ingredients. Also, mixing the cornstarch with a bit of broth to make a thin paste, instead of adding the thickening agent directly into the gravy mixture makes certain a lump-free end result.

The following gravy recipe is guaranteed to be lump free, stress free – as well as gluten, dairy, fish and nut free… (for a soy free version use soy free chicken broth).

Good Gravy.



This is a basic recipe using turkey or chicken drippings. You can vary the flavor with your favorite herbs ands spices.

1 ¾ cups GF chicken broth, such as Swanson’s Natural Goodness, divided
½ cup strained drippings from turkey or chicken
¼ cup white wine (optional)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground sage
¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning

1. Combine strained drippings, broth, and wine in heavy saucepan, reserving ½ cup of the broth. (To lower the fat content, skim the fat off the top or freeze it for 15 minutes so fat congeals and can be removed—or use a specially designed measuring cup that allows you to pour the drippings from the bottom, leaving the fat in the cup.)

2. Place pan over medium-high heat, adding seasonings. Stir cornstarch into ½ cup reserved broth, making a thin paste. Gently whisk thickening mixture into pan, continuing to whisk until mixture thickens and boils. Adjust consistency by adding more thickener or chicken broth. Remove from heat. Strain, if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Makes 2 ¼ cups. Serves 8 (about ¼ cup gravy each).

Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free 101 by Carol Fenster (Savory Palate, Inc.)

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