Nutrition Nuggets are courtesy of Lisa B. Long, B.S. Dietetics, M.Ed., Mamas Move Fitness Instructor and mother of two.

What is the deal with “gluten-free” foods?  Is “gluten-free” healthier?gluten 

In general, if you do not have a gluten allergy or intolerance, following a gluten-free diet will not provide any health benefits. 

“Gluten-free” seems to be the latest food fad, much like “fat-free” and “low-carb” foods were a few years ago. If you look at food labels, you will notice that when a food manufacturer makes a product “fat-free” they will often add more sugar than the original “full-fat” version. Likewise, with the low-carb craze, foods can be loaded with fat, but by labeling these foods “low-carb”, manufacturers hope consumers think these foods are healthier, and therefore more likely to purchase them. In recent years, there has been a rise in food allergies and food intolerances, such as celiac disease. Food manufacturers took note, and the number of gluten-free products on the market has sky-rocketed. For people with celiac disease and for mothers of children with gluten intolerance, it can be extremely challenging to maintain a gluten-free diet. The gluten-free products are a welcomed addition to the grocery store shelves for these gluten-free households. But don’t be misled,if you do not suspect you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, following a gluten-free diet will not provide any health benefits. In fact, eating a gluten-free diet may leave you deficient in iron, B vitamins, and vitamin D. This is because gluten-free products are not as widely fortified as regular grain products. In addition, some gluten-free products add extra sugar and fat to make up for the texture and palatability gluten provides.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, malts, and triticale. Gluten is also used as a food additive in the form of flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agents. A gluten-free diet is recommended for individuals with celiac disease.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease that can occur anytime from infancy through adulthood; the exact cause is unknown. When people with celiac disease eat foods that contain gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the intestinal villi (which line the intestine and absorb nutrients). Symptoms of celiac disease may include abdominal bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, lactose intolerance, and over time, could result in hair loss, fatigue, depression, unexplained weight loss, and slower growth in children. These rather general symptoms make celiac disease difficult to distinguish between IBS or other intestinal issues without a specific blood test that looks for the presence of specific antibodies. But some people who test negative for celiac disease have reported improvements to their health and a reduction of the above mentioned symptoms by adhering to a gluten-free diet. There seems to be a spectrum of levels of gluten intolerance and some people who do not test positive for celiac disease may still benefit from a gluten-free diet.


1/15/13 Nutrition Nugget
What is your family’s favorite go-to snack? Ours is definitely the granola bar. But some granola bars can be more like glorified cookies with lots of sugar, refined grains (i.e. not whole grains), and little else.  Other, healthier bars can be pretty pricey. When I realized we were spending $16-$20 a week on granola bars, I decided to make my own.  

Go-to Granola Bars                                Kids love to help make (and eat) these!

Ingredients:                                   January 21st is National Granola Bar Day!

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups rolled (or “old fashioned”) oats
½ cup wheat germ
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
⅓ cup vegetable oil
⅓ cup honey
¼ cup applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*Options for different flavors- 
Banana nut- add 1 mashed ripe banana & ½ cup chopped walnuts.
Coconut chocolate chip- add ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut + ⅓ cup chocolate chips
Peanut butter- add 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter
Pumpkin- add ½ cup pureed pumpkin (or ½ cup pureed squash baby food) + 1 teaspoon nutmeg
Cinnamon Raisin- use 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and add ¾ cup raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of 9×13 baking pan.Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Next add remaining ingredients to mixture. Mix well (may need to use your hands- kids love this part!).Spread mixture evenly into pan using hands or spatula.

    Bake for 17 minutes or until slightly brown at edges (ovens vary, so keep close watch).

    Cool for 5 minutes. Cut into bars (do not allow to cool completely before cutting, bars will be too hard to cut). Place on parchment or wax paper to cool completely. Promptly place in airtight container (placing in container while slightly warm will keep bars chewy).

Nutrition Nuggets are courtesy of Lisa B. Long, B.S. Dietetics, M.Ed., Mamas Move Fitness Instructor and mother of two.

Nugget Archives

Today’s Nutrition Nugget
Citrus fruits like grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes are loaded with vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) and are also great sources of citric acid (which gives citrus fruits that sharp, distinctive zing-…flavor). Vitamin C helps boost the immune system, aids in iron absorption (good for those anemic mamas out there), reduces inflammation, reduces cancer risk*, improves heart health* and there is even evidence vitamin C can help fight wrinkles*- bonus! Citric acid is not a vitamin, or a mineral, and is not required by the diet. However, citric acid has been shown to protect against kidney stones and it is thought to help fight the negative impact of long term fatigue on the body* (Just be sure to brush your teeth after you eat, citric acid erodes tooth enamel.)
*These benefits are linked to the vitamin C intake from fruit and vegetable consumption, rather than supplements. So, just like your mama told you, eat your fruits and vegetables at every meal!

To make “Citrus Snowmen”, slice your favorite citrus fruit into circles. Next, let your child arrange fruit, decorate with raisins, and sprinkle with shredded coconut for “snow”.
Nutrition Nuggets are courtesy of Lisa Long, B.S. Dietetics, M.Ed., Mamas Move Fitness Instructor and mother of two

12/19/12 Nutrition Nugget
For a nutritious alternative to decorating holiday cookies try making these Healthy Edible Ornaments with your child.

You will need: apples, oranges and any red and green fruits and vegetables you like.

  • Slice apples and oranges into circles.
  • Cut the red and green fruits and vegetables into a variety of small shapes. I used green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and carrots (other great choices are strawberries, red and green grapes, Craisins). 
  • Let your child arrange the red and green vegetables to “decorate” the apple slices. * optional: use hummus or peanut butter for “glue”

Eat your creations!  Even if your child doesn’t want to eat them, all was not lost! Exposing to kids to different fruits and vegetables through “play” (think of it more like a craft activity), helps get them familiar with the textures, and smells of fruits and vegetables. We all know how closely related our sense smell and taste are, so exposing the nose to new foods will eventually help children be more open to try them down the road (and it can be a long road, as I’m finding out with my 6 year old- ha!).

Nutrition Nuggets are courtesy of Lisa Long, B.S. Dietetics,  M.Ed., Mamas Move Fitness Instructor and mother of two.

12/ 12/12 Nutrition Nugget
Most kids love mac & cheese, feel better about serving it by making it a healthier. When making boxed mac & cheese add 1/3 C plain yogurt (adding calcium and protein). You can even omit the butter/margarine for a lower fat version!

During cold and flu season load up on a rainbow of different colored fruits and veggies to boost your immune system. Particularly white ones (for example, onions, garlic, and pears) and yellow/orange ones (like butternut squash, peaches, pineapple). You can tell a lot about fruits and veggies simply by their color! Check out more about what f&v can do for you at: