Ellie Krieger on healthful eating

Jul 30, 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! I hope everyone is staying nice and cool today. Thanks for joining!

How can I substitute dairy in baking. Would silky Tofu work? I use lactose free products already!

For most recipes you can substitute soy, almond or coconut milk for dairy milk with good results. The taste will be slightly different, however. Do make sure to buy unsweetened varieties. 

Silken tofu can be a good substitute for heavy cream, sour cream or yogurt in some recipes, but it won't give you the same acidic, tangy taste and function as sour cream and yogurt.

Healthy Snack or Not? I use a small 2 oz bag as a snack when I have the munchies instead of Chips or crackers.

Yes! dried fruit and nuts are a very healthy snack---packed with protein fiber, and healthy fats that will keep you satisfied for much longer than a bag of chips or crackers will. (And a few chocolate pieces never hurt :)) Plus, the trail mix contains loads of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. 

It is smart, however, to stick to the small 2 ounce bag size, which has around 260 calories. If you eat out of a larger bag and just munch mindlessly, it is easy to get way more calories than you need. 

Hi. I'm stuck in a cereal rut for breakfast during the work week. Do you have any ideas for something quick to make and eat before leaving for work? Please do not recommend eggs as I do not care for them. Thank you!

Oh, there are so many options! Where do I begin?

My favorite is a three ingredient smoothie with frozen ripe banana, low-fat milk and a scoop of peanut butter. Also, how about a yogurt, fruit and granola parfait you can make the night before and grab and go? And a third idea is an English muffin pizza made with whole grain English muffin, tomato sauce, part-skim mozzarella and maybe a slice of ham, if you'd like. 

What is your recommendation for the choices of fruits for diabetics?

The most important things to keep in mind is to choose whole fruit as opposed to fruit juice, and to account for the carbohydrate that each serving of fruit provides. 

With that in mind, enjoy whichever fruit you like best. But interestingly, a recent study showed that grapes, blueberries and apples were significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, so put those high on your list!

My Safeway has unsweetened coconut milk yogurt. Very tasty! (They also sell fruit varieties that are sweet.)

Good to know! Thanks.

Hi Ellie, I love mussels but have never tried cooking them at home. Any tips or tricks to buying and cooking them?

I love mussels too, and they are one of the most healthy, affordable and sustainable seafood choices you can make. 

If you have never made them before they can seem intimidating to cook, but they could not be easier. Just scrub them well and remove any bits of "beard" on them with a paring knife. Then saute some onion or shallots in a big pot, add about 3/4 cup liquid---wine, or beer are nice---add the mussels (2 pounds for 2 people), cover and steam for about 5 minutes. 

Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon, discarding any that are unopened. You can season the sauce further if you'd like, with herbs and spices, before pouring  it over the mussels in a bowl, but it will be tasty just like that.

I second Elli's idea of the smoothie, and will sometimes sub chocolate soy milk for the lowfat milk to make it extra indulgent (chocolate, PB, banana-YUM!). Another option is oatmeal/muesli-. You can either add fruits, nuts, etc. as desired, then soak overnight (in milk or yogurt) and eat in the morning as is, or soak just the oats overnight, heat in the morning and add desired mix ins.

I have heard (my mother is diabetic and knows many others) that people react very differently to different types of fruit. You can't just rely on the glycemic index in general. So I would recommend that the person with diabetes do some personal experiments. Use up a few extra testing strips and find out how you react to different types of fruit. Remember that not all apples are created equal. If you find a fruit that gives you a moderate boost without spiking your blood sugar too much, you have found your go to fruit. Then go and find some others. My mother can't eat watermelon at all. She might as well be eating out of the sugar bowl. Green grapes are fine for her. But your mileage may vary.

Good advice. Thank you for sharing!

I have some strategies for finding and eating healthy while traveling. In fact, it's kind of a game: when going into a convenience store, I try to find the healthiest things I can. Do you know of an app or website that will help you find restaurants that serve organic and/or locally sourced food?

I play the same kind of convenience store game! It is remarkable what you can find when you really look.

As for on-line resources, YELP has a search function where you can type in "organic" "local" "vegan" etc... and the city, and it will come up with the restaurants in that category in the area.

 Also the USDA has a national Farmer's Market search tool: search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/ so you can find a market wherever you are.

I am not familiar with any apps that help with this. Does anyone else on the chat have any suggestions?


After years of burning up my esophagus with acid reflux I am now eating an acid restricted diet. For the most part I have to figure things out on my own (mashed avocado mixed with a little honey makes a great salad dressing!). In general it means eating the healthier things I should have been all along, but diet staples like onion, tomatoes, citrus and even berries are limited or eliminated. Are there any websites or cookbooks you know of that are specifically focused on recipes that are acid restricted?

 These doctors teamed up with a chef to put a cookbook together called "Dropping Acid" (great name!). I have not seen the book myself, but it looks like it has all the right ingredients, so to speak. http://www.refluxcookbook.com/authors

Is Monk fruit in the raw sweetener a good substitute for sugar in recipes?

It depends. In simple desserts, dressings and so on it could be a fine substitute, and it does not breakdown with heat as many non-caloric sweeteners do, so theoretically it can be cooked with. But in many baked goods, sugar does more than just sweeten, it also provides bulk and texture and helps with browning. If you want to give it a try in baked goods, start by replacing just half the sugar and see how it turns out. 

Thanks for joining today! I really appreciate your questions and contributions! My next chat is August 13th at 1PM/ET. Talk with you then!

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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