Ellie Krieger on healthful eating

Roasted teriyaki pork tenderloin with grapes.
Dec 05, 2014

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.

Hi everyone, welcome to our chat this afternoon. If you want to read Ellie's most recent story on what causes a 'food coma' you'll find it here.

Lets get started.

Hi Ellie, I am a big fan of microwaves for certain uses and wanted to share a few of mine. As a pastry chef, it is a quick and easy way to temper a small amount of chocolate, to melt butter, and to warm cream. When making cookies or cakes that use the creaming method, a 20 second zap in the microwave turns rock-hard butter brings it back to room temp and then allows it to cream properly with sugar with out having to wait for an hour for the process to occur naturally. Also, I make dehydrated lemon and lime zests into powders by placing the zests on a plate and microwaving them until they are dried out. Thanks for posting your article. I am a big fan of embracing technology and using it properly as you described. Alex Levin, Pastry Chef, Osteria Morini

Hi Alex,

Thanks for sharing your techniques! The one I have not tried is the dehydrated zest. I will certainly be trying it!



Have you read the Cornucopia Yogurt Report? Most of the yogurts on the report that got the highest ratings are low in protein and high in fat, whereas some of the yogurts with lower ratings have high protein and low fat. What is your opinion on that and the report in general?

Thank you for bringing this report to my attention. I had not heard of it, but I was able to glance through it briefly since you posted. I agree with many points in the report. My take-away is that it is best to buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit and flavorings, which is something I have always advocated. I think avoiding the flavor additives in many of the brands is more important and helpful than worrying about grams of fat or protein.

Hi Ellie, I am a huge fan. Thank you for all that you do. My question is what is your take on sugar substitutes? My husband had a scare with pre-diabetes numbers about a year ago and we cut our as much sugar as we could in our diet and he is doing great, we have also lost almost 100 lbs combined. We use those in our tea, lemonade, etc.. as well as recipes we have that use sugar. The doctor says everything in moderation, but I would love your take on this subject. Thank you in advance. Cathy Bradford, Elberton, GA

Thanks for the compliment, and for your question. I have been getting many questions about artificial sweeteners. It can be a confusing area. I agree with your doctor that moderation is fine when it comes to sugar, and sugar substitutes. However, I personally try to avoid artificial ingredients in my food, so I am biased toward going for a little of the real thing and skipping the fake stuff. Also some artificial sweeteners are safer than others. From what I have read, Splenda has the cleanest safety record of all of the artificial sweeteners. Other have been linked with cancer and/or are not as well studied as they could be. Center for Science in the Public Interest (www.cspinet.org) put out an excellent comprehensive report on sweeteners recently.  

Any thoughts on a healthy, but somewhat special holiday breakfast I can make for two? We hope to go for a nice long walk at Great Falls rather than enter a gift un-wrapping frenzy followed by a food coma, so I want something that will help to fuel us. Thanks for all you do!

A nice long walk after a special holiday breakfast sounds delightful ---right up my alley!

I have a number of recipes on my website (www.elliekrieger.com) that come to mind. One is the Eggs in a Basket with Smoked Turkey and Asparagus, and other, which you can make ahead and will last in the refrigerator for a few days, is the Mushroom Quiche with Oat Crust, and third, Whole Grain Pancakes with Nutty Topping. You can make the whole batch of batter, cook the amount you'd like that morning and keep the rest in the refrigerator for a day or two. Enjoy!

I always have eaten low fat yogurt high in protein, since I do not eat beef or pork for protein and rarely eat chicken. Are the higher rated yogurts in the Cornucopia report based more on the benefits of the good bacteria counts rather than the protein and low fat? I have been eating Fage or Chobani Low Fat...and never with added flavors or sugars. I always added just a bit of honey or pure maple syrup and my own fruit. In your opinion, is this a bad way to go with my yogurt consumption?

I think the low-fat Fage or Chobani plain yogurts are excellent choices.

I have a little one who will soon be ready to start drinking cow milk. I've read that skim milk has slightly more sugar, but also more protein, than 2% or whole milk, but everything I've read says "whole milk only" for children. Is this still the case? If so, why? Also, can you explain hormone-free/organic/regular plain ole milk differences? Thanks much!

Yes, that is still the case, children 2 and under need the fat and calories that whole milk provides. After the age of 2  they can start to have reduced and low-fat milk. 

Organic milk is produced without giving cows hormones or antibiotics, the cows receive organic feed and have a certain amount of access to pasture. I opt for organic milk because I believe it is better for the cows and better for the environment. But I think milk, in general, is a nutrient rich, healthful food whether it is produced organically or conventionally.

Do you have any advice for staying healthy while doing holiday shopping? I try to get everything done over a few long days, and I always end up hungry/cranky/dehydrated and faced with not-so-great options at the food court (or worse, a drive-thru).

Since your holiday shopping is a sprint, it is important that, like an athlete, you pace yourself and stay well fueled and hydrated. 

Make sure you have a good breakfast before you head out in the morning, including some protein, whole grain and fruit.

Bring snacks! This way you won't be stuck with a cinnamon bun the size of your head from the food court that will surely make you crash. I suggest little baggies of nuts and dried fruit, and an apple or clementine, which are easy to tote along.

Plan a lunch break. Make sure you work a little break in the middle of the day to sit and eat and recharge. What you lose in time, you will make up in focus later on. Plan the break at a specific restaurant you know has healthy choices, or pack lunch.

Bring a bottle of water with you and sip throughout the day. If you get dehydrated it will make your shopping fatigue come on faster.

Please help settle a family dispute. I know neither choice is the best option but if a child is to have a (one) soda would it be better to allow the diet soda or the regular? I'm not a fan of artificial sugars but I know regular soda has a lot of sugar. Looking forward to a response.

Real sugar or artificial sweeteners once in a while are fine, but my philosophy is to avoid artificial ingredients in favor of the real thing. So I vote for the occasional regular soda instead of the artificial one. 

When my daughter was little we set a specific daily candy maximum for her (She was allowed to have 3 small candies/sweets a day which added up to no more than 150 cals worth of sugar). It really empowered her to make decisions about how she used that allotment. We counted a can of soda as 3 candies and she'd often want one but skip it understanding it used up her sugar limit for the day.

Ellie, Can you provide any resources for eating while pregnant? I've searched, but the information is pretty vague (eat 300 calories more a day... but 300 more than WHAT?). I think I'm really looking for meal plan ideas, and where I should be as far as like carbs vs. fats vs. protein, etc. Any recommended sources?

One book I really like is written by a friend and colleague (a fellow RD), Frances Largeman-Roth. It is called Feed The Belly. (Congrats and best wishes to you!)

For those who believe dairy milk is only nutritious if you are a calf, what do you consider to be the best non-dairy milk options?

I love nut milk and enjoy making my own almond milk--it is so simple really. Just soak almonds in water for a few hours in the fridge, drain. Then place in blender with fresh water, and puree, then strain. 

When purchasing nut, soy, rice milk etc... my main suggestion is to get the unsweetened varieties. Many products contain quite a bit of added sugar.

Ellie, since restaurant food is so often laden with fat, starch, sugar and sodium (even in dishes that sound healthy), I've decided to cook at home more. The problem: I can't cook that many dishes and chicken breasts on the George Foreman grill get old. Do you know of any cheap cooking classes or schools, bonus for those that teach healthy cooking?

Take advantage of all the instructional cooking videos on-line for a free way to learn some new tricks. There are some great cooking videos on WashingtonPost.com, and I have a whole series of videos on the Food Network website. Happy healthy cooking!

Thanks for joining us, all. See you in Dec. 18th.

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.
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