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Ask Our Dietician

Alcohol in Extracts

I read somewhere that extracts, such as vanilla extract, can contain alcohol. I am taking medications that should not be taken with alcohol. Can you tell me if it is safe to use extracts?…

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Applesauce to Reduce Fat

I know that replacing vegetable oil with applesauce is one way to reduce the fat in a recipe, but I'm not sure by how much. I'd like to be able to figure how many calories and grams of fat I'd…

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Broth Substitute

My husband is allergic to shellfish, dry beans and chicken, so he has to be very careful about what he eats. Because so many recipes call for chicken broth, I'm wondering if you can suggest a…

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Browning Sauce

What is browning sauce? And where can I find it at the store? —J.K., Selma, North Carolina

Browning sauce is a blend of caramel color, vegetable concentrates and seasonings. Available…

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Canned Fruit

When I eat canned fruits, I always drain the fruit from the syrup. How many calories am I saving? —P.M., Grantsburg, Wisconsin

That's a great question! The answer depends primarily on…

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Chicken Bouillon Substitute

What can I substitute for the chicken bouillon granules called for in many recipes? If there is a salt-free product, I have not found it. —S.D., Houston, Texas

There are a few…

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Cholesterol Question

I am trying to watch my cholesterol and find the whole subject a little confusing. Some seafood recipes are high in cholesterol, for example, but I've heard that kind of cholesterol is okay. Is…

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Cooking Oil

Which cooking oil is best for you? —A.H., Flint, Michigan

We use olive and canola oils. We've found these give the best flavor in testing recipes. Plus, they contain high levels of…

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Daily Calcium

How much calcium does a person need per day? —E.W., Central Falls, Rhode Island

Everyone needs calcium, but just how much depends on your age. Your body stores 99% of its calcium in…

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Daily Water Intake

I’m wondering if I need to adjust the recommendation for daily water intake according to my body size. I am 42 years old, 5-foot-2 and weigh 108 pounds, and I cannot seem to drink all the water…

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Dairy Substitute

I have a hard time digesting dairy products. Is there anything I can substitute for milk in recipes without changing the flavor of the dish I'm making? —P.S., Las Vegas,…

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Dairy-Free Diet

I'm lactose-intolerant and can't find many dairy-free recipes. Is non-dairy creamer a good substitute for milk? —E.B., Stillwater, Minnesota

Powdered non-dairy creamer could be used as…

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Diabetic Diet

I have been put on a 1,400-calorie diabetic diet. Most of your recipes call for sugar or brown sugar. I like the recipes, but I'm wondering if there is any way I can use artificial sweetener in…

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Diabetic Exchanges

I am a new diabetic and am not sure I understand Diabetic Exchanges. —P.L., Casselberry, Florida

Reading those numbers can be a bit tricky! Diabetic Exchanges are included to help you…

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Diabetic Free Food

I've noticed that occasionally a "free food" is listed with the Diabetic Exchanges on a recipe. What does that mean? —K.P., Coos Bay, Oregon

A free food for a diabetic is any food or…

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Diabetic Substitutes

I am diabetic and also supposed to be watching my salt intake. In recipes that call for sugar and salt, what can I substitute? I've tried sugar substitutes for cooked pudding but without much…

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Eliminating Salt

I am sodium sensitive, so when I make dishes, I either eliminate all of the salt or cut it way back. Since cakes, muffins and cookies have baking powder or baking soda in them, is it okay to leave…

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Fast Food Alternatives

I've been eating fast food all my life. Now I have high blood pressure and have been told to lay off it. Are there better choices to make when eating take-out or fast foods? —E.L.,…

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Fat-Free Dairy Products

I've heard that adding cornstarch to fat-free dairy products will help stabilize them during cooking. Is that true? And how much should I add? —J.O., Newbury, Vermont

Fat-free dairy…

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Fat-Free Milk

When recipes call for fat-free milk, can I substitute evaporated fat-free milk? If so, how much evaporated milk would equal 1 cup of fat-free milk? —D.M., Flanders, New York

In a…

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Fat-Free Products

I try to buy products that contain little or no fat. But I've noticed that many reduced-fat or fat-free foods, such as salad dressing, chips and pepperoni, seem to have a lot more sodium. Are the…

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Featherweight Baking Powder

I've had good luck with Featherweight Baking Powder manufactured by a company called Hain. It contains no sodium and can be substituted one for one with regular baking powder. Are you familiar…

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Fiber Facts

What is fiber? How much do I need and how do I get it? —J.P., San Francisco, California

Fiber refers to the complex carbohydrates that cannot be absorbed by the body, but which provide…

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Fiber in Bread

I recently got a bread machine, and I'm looking for ways to add more fiber to my bread recipes. I'm wondering what ingredients have a lot of fiber…and how much of them I should add to get…

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Fish Facts

Everyone advises us to eat more fish for a healthier diet, but I don't know that much about the different kinds available. Which kind doesn't taste so "fishy" and which ones have few if any bones?…

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Freezing Cilantro

When I buy cilantro, it comes in a much bigger bunch than I can use at one time. Is it okay to freeze or dry what I don't use? —J.Y., Glendale, Arizona

I'm with you! It's a shame to…

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Good Fat vs. Bad Fat

I’m confused! What’s the difference between good and bad fat? How can fat be good for you at all? —L.D., Sioux Falls, South Dakota

You’re not the only one who’s confused! The “skinny”…

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Ground Meat

What is the difference in fat content between 1 pound of ground turkey, ground beef and ground chicken? Is one better for you than the other? —S.C., Vanderhoof, British Columbia


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Ground Venison

I use ground venison in just about any dish that calls for ground beef. I know venison is leaner than ground beef, but how does it compare? —P.D., Burlington, North Carolina


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Healthy Beverage

I am looking for something to drink that is healthy, yet low in calories or calorie-free. I realize plain drinking water is best, but I get tired of it. Do you have any suggestions? —C.K.,…

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Heavy Cream Substitute

I often try to tweak my old favorite recipes to make them healthier. But I have not been able to find a substitute for heavy cream. Occasionally, I've substituted nondairy whipped topping if the…

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High Blood Pressure Remedy

My blood pressure is sometimes elevated. My family says I put too much salt on my food. Do I really need to cut back? —J.K., Plymouth, Michigan

In the past, there has been debate as to…

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High-Fiber Diet

At a doctor’s recommendation, we are trying to adopt a high-fiber diet in our home these days. But we’re confused. In terms of grams, what is considered to be high fiber? —R.F., Tucker,…

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Homemade Spreadable Butter

We’re trying to decrease our fat intake. I have come up with my own “recipe” for spreadable butter. In a blender, I combine 8 ounces of a good-quality olive oil and 8 ounces of butter. I blend…

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Imitation Crab

I'm wondering what kind of fish is in imitation crab and if it is healthy for you to eat like other seafood. —P.H., Edmonds, Washington

Imitation crab or surimi (its Japanese name)…

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Importance of Iron

Please discuss the need for iron in people's diets as it relates to anemia. I have read that a woman needs 18 milligrams of iron daily and men need 10 milligrams. Is it possible to get enough iron…

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Low-Carb Diabetic Diet

My husband is a diabetic and has more trouble with carbohydrates than with sugars. I've noticed that most of the articles that deal with diabetes stress "low sugar" and not "low carbs". It seems…

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Low-Carb Diet

I read a book recently that focused on a low-carbohydrate diet and the "right" way to eat sugar. Included was a recipe for homemade whole wheat pasta—but not how to cook it! Should fresh…

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Low-Cholesterol Diet

My husband has high cholesterol, and we are trying to cook lighter. We are at a loss as to what should really be included in a low-cholesterol diet. We know we should eat more fruits and…

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Low-Sodium Diet

I am on a very restricted sodium diet—500 milligrams per day. Do you have any suggestions where I can find tasty recipes? Most "low" or "no fat" recipes seem to call for more sodium to…

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Marinade Tips

How much marinade is absorbed by different meats? And which are the best marinades to use? —C.B. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The amount of marinade absorbed depends on many…

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Microwave Cooking

I have read several articles indicating that cooking food in a microwave depletes its nutritional value. Does that include warming up leftovers? Could you clarify this for me? I use my microwave…

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Microwave Safety

I reheat many foods in the microwave. Is there any harm in eating microwaved foods every day? —E.S., Bayou Cane, Louisiana

Current research suggests that cooking food in the microwave…

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Nutritional Analysis

Please explain the Nutritional Analysis listed at the bottom of each recipe. How much of each item mentioned is on or below the recommended level? —M.H., Phelpston, Ontario


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Nutritional Value of Onions

I cook with a lot of onions. What kind of nutritional value do they have? —M.F., Peterstown, West Virginia

Onions are low in calories but high in taste—they’re an excellent way…

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Nutritional Values

To calculate nutritional values, I'd like to know how much salt is retained in potatoes and pasta after draining the cooking water. —B.R., Simi Valley, California

Although the amount…

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Olive Oil

Many recipes include olive oil. Is extra virgin the kind that should always be used? —L.K., Brentwood, Tennessee

From a cooking standpoint, while any olive oil will do, how the oil is…

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Pondering Protein

Vegetarian friends have mentioned complete and incomplete proteins. What do those terms mean? If I have lentil soup, for instance, do I need bread to go with it to make a complete protein?…

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Preparing Brown Rice

I don’t care for the taste and texture of instant rice (or the price, either!). My family is willing to eat brown rice, but it does take longer to prepare. Is it all right to make a big batch…

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Quick Breads

I need help! I love quick breads, waffles, pancakes, etc. However, after I had a heart attack, my doctor put me on a low-sodium diet. The above foods all include salt, baking powder and/or…

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Rice vs. Orzo

My husband and I don't care for rice and have been substituting orzo, a rice-shaped pasta. What is the difference between rice and orzo in terms of fat, sugar and carbohydrates? —C.M.,…

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Ricotta and Cottage Cheese

Can you tell me the difference between ricotta cheese and cottage cheese? And can they be used interchangeably? —L.C., Beaubier, Saskatchewan

When a cheese maker separates milk or…

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Rinsing Browned Ground Beef

I drain and rinse ground beef after cooking to eliminate some fat and calories, but I'm not sure how much is rinsed away. Is 80% lean beef (drained and rinsed) as lean as 95% lean beef?…

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Salt Solution

What is the difference between plain and iodized salt, kosher and sea salt? And which is better to use when you are watching your salt intake? —M.C., Brookings, Oregon

Salt is an…

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Smoked Turkey

I've heard that smoked turkey contains a lot of sodium. I am supposed to be watching my sodium intake. I smoke several turkeys every year, using mesquite chips. If I don’t add any additional salt,…

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Sources of Protein

My doctor says I need to add more protein to my diet. What are the best sources for protein that are low in calories and fat? —M.W., Springfield, Missouri

Excellent sources of lean…

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Soy Flour

I have started replacing all-purpose flour with soy flour when coating chicken. I would like to try adding some soy flour when baking. Do I need to add more leavening? Is there anything else I…

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Soy Products

I'd like some basic information on soy products and how to include them in my diet. —E.F., Hobbs, New Mexico

Soybeans are made into many food products, and soybean products can be good…

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Stir-Fry Substitute

My daughter loves Chinese food but is allergic to corn. Every stir-fry recipe I see calls for cornstarch as a thickener. Is it okay to substitute arrowroot for the cornstarch, and if so, in what…

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Sugar Substitutes

I'd like to know if Sweet 'N Low or other sugar substitutes can be used in recipes instead of sugar. —E.K., Claxton, Georgia

Not only does sugar impart sweet flavor to foods, but it…

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Toasted Nuts

Why do recipes call for toasted nuts? And how do I toast them? —M.R., Oak Forest, Illinois

Nuts are naturally high in fat. Toasting them intensifies the flavor so much that you can…

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Toasted Oats

What is the process for toasting oats? —M.W., Berlin, Maryland

Toasting oats (either the old-fashioned or quick-cooking variety) gives them a pretty brown color and crispy texture and…

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Unsalted Butter

I have recently seen more and more recipes that call for unsalted butter. If I don't happen to have any on hand, is that going to make a difference in the taste or consistency of the dish?…

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Unsweetened Apple Juice

Some recipes call for unsweetened apple juice. But at my grocery store, I cannot find a product with a label that says that. Can I just use regular apple juice? —R.L., Minooka,…

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Using Egg Substitute

Please tell me when egg substitute can be used instead of eggs in recipes. —M.C., McAllen, Texas

People who are watching their cholesterol often prefer to use egg substitute instead of…

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Vitamin C

I always thought that vitamin C blocked calcium absorption, yet I see calcium-fortified orange juice at my grocery store regularly. Is it okay to take calcium with orange juice? —J.L,…

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Wheat Flour

Can whole wheat flour be successfully substituted for white flour in recipes—especially in recipes for pizza crust, biscuits, pancakes or waffles? Most recipes I've seen call for whole wheat…

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Whipped Topping

Why is it that whipped topping in a tub can be labeled "fat free" when it contains hydrogenated palm oil? Is this topping worse for your health than whipped cream or the kind that comes in an…

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Wonton Wrappers

One of my favorite recipes calls for stuffing wonton wrappers with a crab mixture and frying them in oil. Are there any alternatives to making these wonderful treats without having to deep-fat fry…

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