Ellie Krieger on healthful eating

Apr 09, 2015

Krieger is a nutritionist, registered dietitian and author. Krieger’s most recent cookbook is “Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). She blogs and offers a bi-weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com. She also writes weekly Nourish recipes in The Washington Post’s Food section.
Please be advised that the contents of this chat is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice nor an individual nutrition prescription. Always seek the advice of a physician, dietitian or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. You should never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here.

Good afternoon all! Welcome back. Catch up with the latest from Ellie about how to break out of a food rut here.

I was recently put on a low-sodium diet. I understand that cooking and eating at home is my best choice, but I can't -- and don't want to -- avoid dining out entirely. What's the best way to do this? Menus don't say how much sodium is in each dish. Should I call restaurants beforehand and ask for suggestions? Ask waiters? Can I ask them to tell the chef to make my order with less salt?

You certainly have more control over what is in your food when you are cooking it yourself, but there is no need to forgo the pleasure of eating out once in a while too. 

The first thing I would suggest is to ask for sauces and dressings on the side. Those are usually big source of salt, and this way you can control how much goes on. And yes, I would explain to the waiter that you are sensitive to salt and to please ask the chef to use less. It seems like a reasonable request to me. 

Hi Ellie! Love your cookbooks and was a regular viewer of your show. Can you recommend any good resources for eating while pregnant? I'm 8 weeks along and, while I have been able to tolerate eating most of my usual diet (excluding forbidden things like sushi and whatnot), I'm getting a little bored of the rotation. I went to the website of a well known pregnancy franchise (a book that became a movie) and a "sample pregnancy menu" for 1 day was 2800 calories! That's nearly 2x what I eat normally. Help please!

First of all, congrats on your pregnancy! It's great that you have been able to tolerate most foods!

It is tough with "sample days" in general becasue everyone does have different calorie needs.  You could follow the basic outlines of the plan you mentioned, adjusting the portions for your appetite. 

There is a new book out called Full Belly: Good Eats for a Healthy Pregnancy, that I did a review for and loved.  It is a beautiful cookbook with lots of great nutrtional info. I don't think there is a "sample menu" in it per se, but it offers a lot of great recipes and suggestions for getting the nutrients you need now. All the best!

Hello, Ellie. I am absolutely addicted to muffins. I bake them all of the time, but I am starting to wonder about the amount of oils and butter I am using. Is there a sure-fire way to reduce the fat content in muffins without losing their unique and satisfying taste? Just this morning, I was baking my favorite poppyseed muffins when my partner surprised me from behind and I spilled my seed all over the kitchen! Maybe that was a sign I should try a new recipe? Ciao!

Ha! It does seem like a sign doesn't it!?

I often say that they invented the word "muffin" so people didn't have to admit to eating cake for breakfast. For many recipes, the butter and sugar amounts are about the same as cake. 

Happily it is possible to have a great muffin that is also healthy for breakfast. Buy making them at home you immediately are on the right track, because home muffin tins make sensible sized muffins, whereas the ones you get in the store can be the size of a cauliflower-- with more than 500 calories each!

I often use apple sauce, or yogurt in my muffins to sub out some of the fat while keeping them moist. And instead of butter I use a healthy, neutral oil. I also use whole grain pastry flour in my muffins.

There is not one formula I can give you to make the substitutions because it depends on the recipe, but here is a link to an example: Better Blueberry Muffins:  http://www.elliekrieger.com/better-blueberry-muffins#.VSazZ_nF97c

Any recipes or recommendations for bloating?

One thing that is often overlooked when it comes to reducing bloating is the very first step in digestion: chewing.

Try to slow down when you are eating, avoid talking too much during your meal, and chew your food very well. This not only helps breakdown the food physically, your saliva helps breakdown the food chemically, leaving less work for the rest of your digestive system to do. Also, eating slowly could help you eat more modest portions. Sometimes bloating comes from eating too much. 

There are many causes for bloating however, so if it is consistantly a problem you meet with a doc and/or dietitian.

Eating well on vacation is really tough. I usually fall off the bandwagon entirely. How can I stay on without obsessing?

I know the feeling! You should definitly not obessess, but also avoid the "hey what the heck, I'm on vacation"  blow-out mentality.

When I am on vacation I try to eat mostly like I do at home, except I build in 2-3 special treats each day. This way I feel like I can enjoy myself, but stay mindful. It makes me think about what treats I really want and which I can pass on.

I also try to do something active each day, which immerses me even more in the vacation experience. 

I was just in Mexico and I swam, snorkeled, kayacked, and ran on the beach. I would eat a healthy, simple breakfast and lunch, but I always made room for a pina colada and some chips and guac later in the afternoon!


Hi Ellie I love food and Im studing in the nutrition field. But I sometimes get overwhelmed when I see so many people judging others healthy food choices. Some saying paleo is the best, raw, veganism, etc. How do you deal with with negative comments of people when you don't share there same diet?

It is amazing to me how people are now in different "camps" with their dietary beliefs, and how dogmatic people can be. 

The truth is there are many possible great eating patterns. And different ones work for different people. Humans are amazingly adaptable that way.

And, as far as I can tell, judgemental and dogmatic thinking never did anyone much good, and is the opposite of scientific thinking/ truth seeking.

I suggest looking at the common ground. There are certain points that everyone aggrees on, like eating less processed foods and more vegetables. I'd focus on that, and, frankly, not waste time on any judgemental, dogmatic person who is just picking a fight.

I love your Weeknight Wonders cookbook! Can you recommend another source (cookbook, website, etc.) for recipes that include the nutritional information and that are also quick, easy, healthy, and delicious?

Thank you! I am so glad you are enjoying it. I also have several other books you may want to look into. Sounds like you'd like my book So Easy.

Another source I love for healthy recipes is Eating Well magazine. And the Washington Post website has a library of healthy recipes from their Nourish column (the one I am now writing) that all include nutrition info. 

Accidentally forgot to put away a container of mayo last night - lid was closed tight after use but it remained sitting on the counter for about twelve hours. Do I need to completely pitch it? Many thanks for any help you can provide!

My motto when it comes to food safety: "when in doubt, toss it out." It's just not worth the risk.

Congrats! Me too! YMMV, but since your 8 weeks along, have you had any morning sickness symptoms yet? If you have, then that may preclude anything that could get you out of a rut for the next few weeks. There were tons of things I 'wanted' to eat, but my body couldn't handle them. Now that it's finally faded away, my doctor told me to continue eating for one but concentrate on getting folic acid, protein, calcium, and iron from actual food. I believe the internets all say that you should eat approx. 300 extra calories a day. So one open faced peanut butter sandwich for me (which is awesome because I really didn't eat much bread before the pregnancy!). Talk to your doctor, he could also get you a referral for a nutritionist or dietitian?

Thanks for your input, and congrats to you too!

Does canned fish have the same nutritional value as fresh fish?

Canned fish has a comparable nutritional value to fresh cooked fish, and it is very economical and convienient. 

Canned fish is considerably higher in sodium though, so keep that in mind, and when using it in dishes hold back on putting more salt in. Also be sure to consider what the canned fish is packed in. If it is packed in oil you need to account for that too.

In This Chat
Ellie Krieger
Ellie Krieger is the Food section's Nourish columnist. Her most recent cookbook is "Weeknight Wonders: Delicious Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less." She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.
Recent Chats
  • Next: