Ellie Krieger on healthful eating

Jun 04, 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.

Hi and welcome. Thanks for chatting with me today!

When my husband & I grew up, we were told to drink a glass of orange juice every day because it was good for us. This is how we raised our daughters as well. "A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine!" But now our daughter does not give her children juice because it is high in calories and not good for their teeth, or so she tells me. I do realize we didn't eat as much fresh fruit or vegetables then as people do now, but we still drink a glass of juice every morning (light orange juice for him; low sodium V-8 for me).

100% juice is certainly rich in nutrients, but it is also high in calories that are easily consumed quickly. It's better to eat whole fruit because then you get nutrients plus fiber which slows down how quickly you consume it plus tempers the rise in blood sugar from the naturally occurring sugars in the fruit.

That said, it is perfectly fine to have a small glass of juice daily. But I mean small---4 ounces---that is the recommended serving of 100% juice in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. That is also about the size of my Grandma's juice glasses (which I still have today) :) that most people would view as tiny. Most  of us drink far larger portions than that these days. If you grab a juice at a deli chances are it is no less than 10 ounces, for example. 

As for the light juice you are drinking, that is basically watered-down juice with artificial sweeteners and other ingredients added. I would recommend just diluting some regular juice with water if you want a "lighter" juice.

I'm trying to lose weight, which do you recommend over the other?

There is not an appreciable difference between the two with regard to weight loss. Just drink whichever you prefer.

I think I eat pretty healthily, and try to stay away from fads. I'm wondering whether smoothies as a particularly healthy item - rather than a treat with decent stuff in it - is just another fad diet (like gluten free for the non-celiacs in the crowd). Your thoughts?

Smoothies, made right, can be quite healthy and delicious, but I wouldn't say they offer any special nutritional power beyond that. In fact, many store bought smoothies are huge, are made with primarily fruit juice, and have added sweeteners, so it is easy to suck down hundreds of calories without even realizing it. 

I suggest making your own using a ripe banana or some dates for sweetness, and including some protein like milk and/or nut butter.

If you are at a smoothie shop, get the smallest size available, skip the added sweetener and include some protein source.

Also, while I love smoothies myself, I think our fascination with drinking our meals has gone overboard. I recently wrote a Washington Post column on why I think chewing is underrated. There are many pluses to actually sitting down and eating a meal that needs to be chewed.

In last weeks chat you said to avoid these things. Is there any scientific proof to avoid them? I refuse to subscribe to the stupidity and simplicity of the food babe's if you can pronounce it, don't eat it rule. Its fear mongering and little more.

I am with you 100% on your dislike for fear-mongering. It seems to be rampant and it only serves to produce a lot of heat, but no light. 

When it comes to ingredients in our food, there are many that are innocuous or even good for us that are hard to pronounce or decipher, like ascorbic acid, which is Vitamin C, for example.

But, while we don't need to panic or go running in fear,  there are many additives common in food that are of concern. Center for Science in the Public Interest does a good job of helping figure out which are best avoided. Here is a link to a synopsis they put out:  http://www.cspinet.org/templates/article_chem_chart.html

Also worth considering is that most of the foods that are healthiest have no artificial additives at all.

Hi Ellie! I recall reading somewhere how you can use a veggie peeler to make long "ribbons" of asparagus stems. Any suggestions on ways to use these? thanks!

Yes! I love to make asparagus "pasta." You just cut off the tips and set them aside. (Also cut off and discard the woody ends as you normally would) Hold the stem in place on top of a cutting board and use a peeler to peel into long strips. Toss the strips with the tips and you can then saute in a little olive oil with garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice and some Parmesan if you'd like. It just takes 2-3 minutes to cook because it is so thin. Serve as a side dish or toss with pasta ribbons like fettuccine.

Thank you for your point about drinking our meals! I do eat healthfully, but the thought of a "green smoothie" for lunch just doesn't do it for me.

I'm with you! Personally I'd much rather eat a big beautiful green salad!

Your musing as to why Americans don't eat meusli ... ? It's delish and healthy

I know! Muesli is AMAZING! I lived in Switzerland for a spell and learned about it there. Now I make it all the time. For those who don't know, Muesli is a mix of oats, nuts and dried and fresh fruit that is soaked overnight in a yogurt-milk mixture. It becomes almost pudding-like and is a super satisfying make-ahead breakfast or snack. Here  is a link to a Muesli recipe I have on my website: http://www.elliekrieger.com/muesli-parfaits#.VXCNz89Viko

I'm not looking to lose weight, but I've become convinced portion size/empty calories is/are the the single most important factor to weight gain/loss. Exercise is wonderful for many reasons, but not weight loss. When I ride my bike for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 15 mph, I burn an estimated 1,200 calories according to Strava. And all it would take to wipe that out is the 8 minutes it takes to eat a Big Mac, Fries and a Coke.

I think the important take-away here is that fitness and well being isn't a one dimensional issue. You have to take a whole-life approach, considering what you eat and how much, being as active as possible, and also managing other lifestyle issues like stress and getting enough sleep etc...It's a package deal! All of these facets come together to support each other and make a healthy lifestyle work.

Can you recommend some quick, nutritious breakfast recipes that are vegan? Thanks!

Here are some ideas:

Peanut Butter on Whole grain toast with Banana

Oatmeal with nuts, berries, with almond or soy milk

Avocado Toast with black beans and salsa


Thanks for joining me. I hope you will chat with me again in two weeks! In the meantime, happy, healthy eating!

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: