Ask a Dietitian

I am looking for a non-sugar, non-dairy cookie mix – does this exist?

What a great question, and yes, no sugar/no dairy cookies do exist!  Below is a simple 2 ingredient recipe for a naturally sweet cookie.

It can be easy to change a recipe when you make it yourself. You can swap out ingredients that are healthier or change ingredients for another ingredient! Think walnuts for chocolate chips or even dried cranberries for raisins!  Cooking from scratch allows you to save money, make healthier choices and lets you be creative in the kitchen!  

Grapefruit seltzer water (La Croix) is a popular drink in my house, but what are the "natural flavors" listed in the ingredients? Do they have any impact on health?

That's an interesting question! Infused water, sparkling water, or just plain water are great alternatives to sugary beverages, such as juice and soda. The "natural flavors" in La Croix seltzer water and many other sparkling waters come directly from a plant or animal source according to the FDA. These "natural flavors" are safe to consume.  

I participate in a "vegan on a budget" Facebook page. Someone posted a question asking whether any vegan items are a complete protein. Are there any?

Great question! These are vegan foods that are complete proteins:

  • Quinoa
  • Soy beans
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Buckwheat
  • Hempseed
  • Chia seeds

You can also combine legumes and grains to get all of amino acids required for a complete protein. For example, eating rice and beans together, or peanut butter on a slice of whole grain bread.

I hope this is helpful!

Ashley: Is there an alternative diet for fatigue and seizure control aside from the ketogenic diet? Thank you, Christina

Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, I can't answer questions about medical conditions over the internet. I recommend that you talk to your healthcare provider about this. You can also ask for a referral to a registered dietitian who will have access to your medical records and can help you develop a plan for your diet.

I wish you the best!

I am renting a room in a person's home, and don't have complete access to the kitchen except for the fridge and a microwave. How can I cook healthy meals with these restrictions?

Great question! We have recipes on specifically for those who don't have access to a full kitchen. You can narrow down your search results on the recipe page by using the "Limited Kitchen" filter under Cooking Environment. These include no-cook recipes and recipes that can be made with an appliance, like a microwave, blender, slow cooker, or rice cooker. There are over 200 recipes on in that category!

I am a vegetarian and looking for a good substitute for the shrimp in the "Shrimp & Grits" recipe. Do you have any ideas?

You can try substituting spicy vegetarian sausages (1 sausage per serving) for the shrimp since that will go well with the flavors in the Shrimp and Grits recipe. Firm tofu may also work as a substitute.

Leave a comment on the recipe once you've made the dish to let us know how it goes!

I am looking for recipes that can provide more iron and protein. What would you recommend? I am looking for something plant-based.

For plant-based recipes, beans are always a great option for protein and iron! Dark green leafy vegetables, like spanich, are great sources of iron. Quinoa is also a great choice for protein. Quinoa is eaten like a grain but it is a plant that is a complete protein! Swap rice with quinoa for an extra protein boost.

Try some of these recipes:

Hello, I was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes where i am at a 5.7 H which is how bad I am. What would you recommend for how much carbs I need to look at?

Thanks for your question! Unfortunately, I can't answer medical questions over the internet. It's best to talk to your healthcare provider about your specific dietary needs based on your medical history. You can ask your doctor for a referral to meet with a registered dietitian (RD) to come up with a plan together.

You might find it helpful to read these pages on preventing diabetes and eating a healthy diet:

I have too much phosphorus in my body, but need to keep my calcium at the low end of the range. Can you tell me how to lower my phosphorus intake without compromising my calcium level? I have parathyroid issues.

Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, I cannot answer medical questions about exisiting conditions over the internet. I recommend that you talk to your healthcare provider. You can ask for a referral to a registered dietitian (RD) who can help you come up with a plan for your diet based on your medical history and any medications you may be taking.

I wish you the best!

Would you please explain about arsenic in brown rice, and how to cook the rice to reduce arsenic levels? Thank you, Jennifer

Hi Jennifer,

Arsenic is naturally found in the earth's crust, so it's in our soil and water. It has also be introduced into the environemtn through the use of pesticides and poultry fertilizer. Rice tends to absorb arsenic more than many other plants that we eat.

Arsenic levels are higher in brown rice than in white rice because arsenic accumulates in the grain's outer layers. Those layers are removed to make white rice. However, brown rice has more nutrients so it's still the best choice for a healthy diet.

What does "gluten-free" mean?

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye and barley. "Gluten-free" means the food product has no gluten in it. Many foods are naturally gluten free; such as beans, fruit, vegetable, rice, quinoa, meat, eggs and most dairy. A gluten free diet is primarily used to treat Celiac Disease, a very serious condition where the ingestion of gluten severely damages the small intestines. Without a diagnosis of Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, there is no clinical reason to follow a gluten free diet.