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Reap the benefits of a plant-based diet without being a strict vegan!

Sharon palmer pic

Sharon Palmer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist known as The Plant-Powered Dietitian™ and I discussed the wide spectrum of vegetarian diets. You don’t have to be a strict vegan or vegetarian to reap the health benefits of a plant-based diet. In this blog transcript of our 2nd of 4 YouTube videos, we talked about the different types of vegetarian diets and how flexible you can be with what fits your needs best. Continue reading

Why I don’t like steel cut oats

Steel cut oats

Neily’s Easy Steel Cut Oats (recipe below)

Okay that title is a bit harsh and perhaps misleading. Let me explain.

A number of years ago a client told me she didn’t eat oatmeal because of not having time to make steel cut oats. She had heard—by an ill-informed friend—that if she couldn’t eat steel cut oats not to bother. Reason number one I ‘don’t like’ steel cut oats—someone not eating a nutrient-rich food like oatmeal because she was told if she couldn’t eat steel cut not to bother. Continue reading

Eat your calories. Don’t drink your calories.

The holidays. Gotta love them. On the roads yesterday people were especially, hmmm, aggressive? Cutting people off, not allowing for merging, running ‘pink’ lights, etc. What happened to the holiday spirit? Where are people going that they can’t chill for just a few minutes? I had to laugh when a friend at the fitness center said, “I’m especially glad I’m Jewish this time of year—don’t have to be amongst all that shopping and craziness.” No kidding.

But I digress. This post isn’t about shopping or traffic or my pet peeves. It’s about another nutrition quick tip—pertinent not just over the holidays, but all year round. Continue reading

BEST source of omega 3 for a vegetarian/vegan


algas (Photo credit: como_un_pez_en_el_agua)

Omega 3s and vegetarians: What plant source is as good as fish?

Dietetic intern Charlotte Collins and I spent time talking about omega 3s in a series of three videos.

This first video was about what to look for in a supplement, this video speaks to the vegans and vegetarians on what options to pursue. And lastly we’ll discuss krill oil. Is it worth it? To view the video or click here. Continue reading

“The Best Things You Can Eat” – interview with “guyatitian” Dave Grotto

The Best things you can eat pic of book

“The Best Things You Can Eat” interview with Dave Grotto – part 1

I’m a longtime fan of David Grotto, RD, LDN, author of several books. His new one just came out this month.

We had the chance to catch up in Philadelphia at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference in October, 2012. Here was part one of our conversation. (scroll to bottom to see the fun interview with Dave on YouTube or click here.)

Neily:               I’m here with Dave Grotto, aka the “Guyatitian”. One of my favorite

dietitians! He is a registered dietitian in Chicago—my hometown!

Dave: I knew there was something I liked about you 🙂
Neily: (laugh) Dave’s got a number of books, 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life, and 101 Optimal Life Foods. This one is…
Dave: The Best Things You Can Eat: For Everything from Aches to Zzzz, the Definitive Guide to the Nutrition-Packed Foods that Energize, Heal, and Help You Look Great.  I am really excited about it because I wrote this with registered dietitians in mind.
Neily: So what are the best foods that we can eat?
Dave: Well, there are about a 150 of them. I know we don’t have the time to go through all of them.But the way I discovered this is that I had this patient of mine who was on a potassium wasting diuretic. Dietitians always turn to the USDA reference 24 for the best foods. I knew there was something goofy because the very first food I came across highest in potassium was one cup of tomato paste!
Neily: Oh
Dave: When was the last time you sucked up a cup of tomato paste?
Neily: Oh gosh, it’s been a while!
Dave: It’s been a while… right. Second food highest in potassium—three cups of frozen orange juice concentrate. So, I thought—not an even playing field. Totally useless for the RD and the consumers.
Neily: I think it (the USDA database) is based upon a 100 gram (3.5oz) portion..
Dave: That’s right. Exactly. I thought what will be more useful is if we did most   consumed versions of food… real food, no fortification and in the ‘My plate’ serving size guidelines. So I did it for 33 nutrients. The top 7 foods that you can eat that are best for those nutrients.
Neily: And…
Dave: And… and 27 lists for what are the best foods for pre and post work outs, controlling diabetes, lowering cholesterol, fighting heart disease—7 best foods for fighting cancer. It’s a great book. I am really excited about it. And my buddy, Lisa Lillian aka ‘Hungry Girl’ wrote the foreword to it.
Neily: Wonderful! And we will talk about the foods in just a moment (read part two of our interview)
Dave: That sounds great!

6 simple tips to eat healthier now

Eating better may not be as hard as you think. An overhaul of the diet isn’t necessary – just start doing one thing at a time. (Prefer to watch versus read? Look below for video.)

Here are 6 simple tips for healthy eating – one tip at a time and you’ll be eating healthier before you know it!

  1. Double the number of vegetables on your plate and downsize the starchy carbs. Save 75% if not more of your caloric intake.
  2. Buy fruits & veggies on sale or at least when in season; they will be much less expensive. You can always buy frozen and have them year around – fruits and vegetables. They’re often just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts.
  3. Go meatless on Monday or at least one day of the week. You will save the saturated fats in your diet, increase fiber AND you will be helping the environment. Check out
  4. Drain and rinse canned beans first and cut sodium content by about 40%.
  5. If you eat rice, make sure you eat brown rice or wild rice which are both whole grains. And you will be getting more vitamins and minerals as well as more fiber than its white counterpart.
  6. If you do dairy, make sure you are drinking nonfat or skimmed milk or soy milk. And if you drink whole milk (which btw is 3.25%), then you may want to switch to 2% first before ultimately going to nonfat or skimmed milk. Nutritionally, they are all the same except for the saturated fat and the calories in them. And if you don’t like that ‘blue water’ then you may want to switch to lactose-free milk or organic milk, which have a much richer consistency than regular nonfat milk. I think you will enjoy it more!

Why the Paleo Diet amuses me


This is what really cracks me up about the Paleo diet. Jan D came for a visit – wanted to know my thoughts about it. I can’t argue with many of the components – more protein, fewer carbs, and of course, no processed foods. But then Jan pulled out a “Paleo” turkey jerky bar, “what do you think about this?” I chuckled and we laughed together when I asked how in the world can a Paleo product exist in a package. Seriously? I googled Paleo diet, clicked on a page (developed by one popular fitness chain) and it had an impressive list of what you can and can’t eat. No potatoes. Okay then why was there a recipe right next to the article that included sweet potatoes? And maple syrup. That’s a sugar. Why is that allowed and not “sugar” sugar. I find it amazing to see how many recipes there are for Paleo bread, Paleo pancakes,

Alcohol? Depends on which Paleo version you look at. Diet soda is even allowed on one. Hmmm, wonder where our ancestors made that stuff.

Are you “hypoglycemic” or do you just need to have a snack?!

Fruit and Nut Granola Bars - nutrition babes

Mid-afternoon snacks—Interview with The Nutrition Babes

The Nutrition Babes ( and I had the opportunity to meet in Philadelphia at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference in October, 2012.

Kathy Siegel, RD, CDN and Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RD are registered dietitians passionate about better health through balanced nutrition, exercise, and cleaner living.

They had a lot to say when I asked them about what to do when people get that mid-afternoon slump. (To see the video interview, scroll to bottom or click here.)

Neily: Over the years I’ve had patients and clients tell me how fatigued they are, light-headed­—they claim they’re “hypoglycemic”.  It often happens mid-afternoon. I tell them I think you just need to eat.
Kathy: Absolutely…
Neily: Tell me about some ideas of what to eat.
Kathy:   This is a big problem. This is when everyone is headed towards the candy bowl—I am just going to grab something little now…But we have to plan and prepare a little bit before we get to that point.You are having more of an early lunch and yes around 3 o’ clock that’s when you really start hitting it. You have to incorporate a snack because there is no way you are going to be able to go from lunch to dinner. And if you don’t incorporate that snack you are going to end up driving home, getting home and that’s it. You’re heading towards the cabinet or refrigerator and grabbing the first thing there.You want to have a healthy dinner and want to be able to prepare it when you get home.  You need to incorporate that snack when you are not so hungry in the evening. We have some great ideas for high fiber, high protein snacks. Lauren, maybe you want to discuss that.
Lauren: Definitely. We have so many snacks.  Again protein and fiber so easy… a little preparedness and just bring it with you.In a little cooler you can have some whole wheat crackers with a little bit of low-fat cheese or some edamame (boiled soybeans) —its a high protein and high fiber snack all by itself.Something like cottage cheese with some berries or Greek yogurt with berries. Or even Greek yogurt by itself is going to have enough protein. The berries are going to have the fiber. Or a little high fiber cereal you can sprinkle in.We have a lot of recipes on our website that are great little snacks. We have make-your-own granola bars—you can play with the ingredients however you want. But we have got fruits, nuts and oats and it makes a great little package when you play with the amount of sugar you want in it. You can really control it (what you eat) instead of purchasing something in the store.

There are great little mini-muffin recipes. We sub out Greek yogurt for a lot of oil or applesauce for oil. We always use whole wheat flour and fruits and sometimes nuts. Again, you get the protein, the fiber and they are really yummy. With a little preparation, you can come up with some great snacks. You just have to think ahead.

Kathy: That is the key: the planning. So either, if you have some time on the weekend, you want to do the shopping then and you want to think about the week. Keep things at your desk: packets of oatmeal, great fiber. A lot of offices will provide basics­ like milk or you can run down to the cafeteria and get some skim (nonfat) milk, sliced cheese, hard-boiled egg, something else to have that protein and then you have the fiber from the oatmeal.Some whole-wheat crackers, pretzels, things like that—that are shelf-stable and you can keep on hand, at your desk. There are a lot of great options.You have to remember to just go for the right things: the protein and the fiber in the afternoon.Eat your snack on the drive home, if it is convenient—a cheese stick or some milk in a cooler or thermos. Just don’t go home too hungry. You will sabotage it.
Neily:    You walk in that door and…
Kathy:   That’s it. We have all done it. But just with a little planning…
Neily:    Planning, fiber and protein. Great ideas. Their website is You can get all those ideas, recipes and much more!


Don’t eat after 7pm—Diet myth #1 with Shelley Rael, MS, RD, LD

Photo courtesy of Antonio B. Rael Photography

Photo courtesy of Antonio B. Rael Photography

Don’t eat after 7pm—diet myth #1

Shelley Rael, private practice dietitian in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I were in Philadelphia at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Annual Food and Nutrition Conference talking about diet myths—myths about eating. (To watch the video, scroll to the bottom or click here.)


Neily: Shelley, tell me—what is our myth #1 going to be?
Shelley: The first one I hear most often is not eating after 7 o’clock at night. Or 8 o’clock or 5 o’clock. Or whatever the latest celebrity said they stopped eating…But this belief that you have to stop eating after a certain time of day may be based on whatever (popular) book or website (you’ve read).
Neily: Exactly
Shelley: What I tell people about that is….and the common example I use is 2000 calories (for the average individual to maintain). So let’s say we need 2000 calories a day and we have eaten 1800 by 7 o’clock at night. Even if you have another 100 or 200 calories after that we are not going to gain weight because that is the amount of calories we need (if that is your need).However, if we eat 3000 calories by 4 o’clock in the afternoon, you’re going to gain weight no matter what happens after that.It’s not to do with what time of day it is. Your body generally has a sense of night and day but it doesn’t know you might have traveled three time zones. It’s not freaking out because our bodies cannot tell time when it comes to that.
Neily: Right.
Shelley: I often say what happens too is if we’re not eating regularly throughout the day. Or a lot of people skip breakfast or whatever—they eat most of their calories in the evening and they are so hungry they tend to overeat.Where if we spread it out throughout the day…and I give a general guideline of 4 hours but that’s not a hard and fast rule…just something I like to pick, so I’m not overeating later. We walk through the door and I often talk about the two dinners – the one you have when you still have your coat on and the mail in your hand and the other one we make for the rest of our family or ourselves….
Neily: And then you sit down in front of the TV and eat…
Shelley: Yeah yeah. So the calories add up in the evening but it has nothing to do with what the clock says.
Neily: Alrighty. So, it’s okay to eat in the evening so long as it is within your calorie budget.Thanks Shelley! This is Neily on Nutrition and we’ll see you in the next video.

Diagnosed with prediabetes? What can you do? Interview with diabetes expert Hope Warshaw

Hope's books

Prediabetes. What can you do? Part 2 with diabetes expert Hope Warshaw

An estimated 80 million Americans have prediabetes but only about 10% know it. Hope Warshaw is a registered dietitian and diabetes educator. This is our 2nd of 3 interviews about diabetes and prediabetes. Hope is the author of many diabetes books available on her website— (To watch video scroll to bottom or click here.)

Neily: We are talking about prediabetes. In the previous video we talked about the statistics and how prevalent it is. So somebody has prediabetes. What can they do?
Hope: My message is: take action as soon as you possibly can. Because this is a progressive disease. I know that sounds so negative but I try to turn that around in counseling people and talk about that being a positive thing because, now you know. You can start to take action. What we know from all the research—all of the diabetes prevention studies—is that taking action as soon as possible is your greatest help to prevent progression. That’s what we know.
Neily: And we are not talking about going on a diet.
Hope: No. We are not talking about going on a diet.
Neily: Which is often the first thing people think of.
Hope: It is. And it is also not about eating low carb.
Neily: Right.
Hope: So, it is about healthy eating. What I say to people, look at what you are currently eating. And even more important, what you are drinking. Because that is such a great place to start. I mean, if people are downing a couple of regular sodas a day, that’s 300 calories right there. Drink water, drink iced tea, diet soda and you have already made a significant change that can really help. So, we are not talking about big, difficult-to-do changes. Let’s say you are doing a lot of restaurant eating, look at what you are ordering.

  • Can you split an order of fries with your family if out to dinner?
  • Can you brown bag lunch a couple of days a week?
  • Portions—oh my goodness—there is so much work to do around portion control.
  • Cook less (meaning don’t make huge volumes of food). Put leftovers away before you dig in.
  • Don’t put serving bowls on the table.
  • Think about the plate method and fill your plate half with vegetables and a quarter with starch and a quarter with meat.
  • Take in what is being said about healthy eating—eat more fruits and vegetables, eat more fiber, eat more whole grains.
  • Go lighter on the meat. Make sure your meat is lean, go meatless! Meatless on Mondays!

And then there is the exercise piece. Go walk. Think about your day and how can you fit in more steps.

Neily: Yes. Steps. I tell people just move. Because just starting that, they will feel better and know it’s not insurmountable.
Hope: Now, you and I both know it’s not as easy said and done because we live in a culture that is 24 x 7 x 365 food and it is hard to do this.
Neily: True. Going back to what you said that’s important. Something else. I call it liquid sugar. People often substitute juice and think it is better. And even though it may be a better option, it is still 100% sugar. It’s one of those things that should be limited or eliminated as well because liquid calories, just does not have the satisfying, the satiating factors that whole food does.
Hope: That’s right. We both would rather that people chew.
Neily: Absolutely. Get that sensation of chewing.
Hope: And it takes more time.
Neily: Yes it does. More fiber too. So, cutting back on the sugary drinks, eating a healthy diet, consulting with a registered dietitian or just getting a few tips off the website.
Hope: Also, I just want to make sure that people know that an element of the Affordable Care Act ‘Obamacare’—has the start of something called the ‘National Diabetes Prevention Program’ managed under the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). People can search under the National Diabetes Prevention Plan and find some excellent resources. There may be programs in their neck of the woods. All kinds of things happening because our government knows we have got to get a handle on this.
Neily: Great. Good information. Thanks Hope! (Hope’s books can be found at and Amazon.) Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition.

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