Lean Plate Club

Sally Squires
Washington Post Health and Nutrition Writer
Tuesday, July 15, 2008; 1:00 PM

Confused about nutrition? Wondering how to fit in more physical activity? Welcome to the Lean Plate Club. Ask Sally Squires, nationally syndicated Lean Plate Club columnist for the Washington Post, about eating smart and moving more every Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. Sally draws upon her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University to preside over the lively Lean Plate Club Web chat. Whether you're trying to reach a healthier weight or simply maintain it, you'll find plenty of tips and strategies.

Share your own food finds, creative workouts and secrets for healthy, great tasting meals. We'll cheer your successes and help with your setbacks. (None of this, of course, is a substitute for medical advice.) E-mail Sally, author of the newly published Secrets of the Lean Plate Club (St. Martin's Press) at leanplateclub@washpost.com.

Or just sign up for the free Lean Plate Club e-mail newsletter. The Lean Plate Club column appears Tuesdays in the Washington Post Health section and is nationally syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. Find other Lean Plate Club members at www.leanplateclub.com/group.

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Discussion Transcripts


Sally Squires: Welcome to the Lean Plate Club Web chat. The LPC e-mail newsletters should be in your electronic in-boxes now. Today we're talking about a wide range of topics from Community Supported Agriculture to well, whatever is on your mind regarding nutrition and physical activity.

I've just returned from a nice, long constitutional with our canine companion. It's hot here in DC, but not that humid, so it was a good walk. How about you?

And in today's LPC e-mail newsletter, please find some great food finds that I discovered this week. How about you?

Now on to the chat!


Buffalo, N.Y.: Regarding my experience with CSA's: About 20 years ago, I participated in one for about four years. I stopped at that time because it was just too difficult and time-consuming to deal with all the produce at one time and so much of it went to waste. Also, often the varieties of items planted were not to my liking and even things that I really enjoyed getting at first became just an annoying nuisance when week after week the bag would be filled with the same thing because that's what grew well that year. I joined a different CSA last summer, splitting a share with a friend. I thought that way, handling the produce every week would be less of a burden and more of a pleasure. But the old problems arose -- too much of one thing, too few of another (exactly what does one do with five string beans?). Also, the farmer reported problems which were identical to the problems from 20 years ago! Back then, after a couple of seasons, that farmer had figured out some ways to plant and rotation methods that kept certain pests down. It seemed that the current farmer wasn't getting information from the Association about lessons learned over decades of plantings, and had to rediscover the wheel, so to speak. It was a disappointment, so I did not renew my membership this year.

Sally Squires: Very interesting update, Buffalo. A former reporter here, Ward Sinclair, went into farming after he was no longer a journalist and used to supply the newsroom with produce in a CSA fashion. I, too subscribed, and mostly enjoyed it very much. But there were some weeks, when I had to do a lot of thinking for certain produce.

Anybody else have that experience?


Capitol Hill: Although I found some success with Weight Watchers, my weight loss plateaued until I gave up. Now I've put on a little weight and I want to try something new. I am using SparkPeople and I've learned more about using my basal metabolic rate in determining how much I should eat. I want to know if other LPC readers started eating more in light of their exercise habits and BMR AND have lost weight. Thanks.

Sally Squires: Through the years, a number of LPCers have enjoyed SparkPeople a lot. As for the BMR -- that's basal metabolic rate -- there used to be a company called Healthetech which produced handheld devices to help measure BMR for about $100 at health clubs, fitness centers, doctor's offices, etc.

They also produced Balancelog, an online program to track calories and physical activity, which I still have on my computer.

When I interviewed weight loss experts about taking into account BMR, most thought it was okay if you wanted to (then) ante up $100, but also felt that it wasn't necessary. A quick way to figure your calorie needs is to take your weight and multiply it in pounds by 12 to get a rough estimate of how many calories you need to stay even.

But if measuring your BMR is helping you, by all means keep doing it. How about others? Anybody else out there try the BMR approach to calculating calories? Feel free to weigh in.


Lansing, Mich.: I liked your comments about community supported agriculture. I try my best to be a locavore, especially in the summer, and go to several farmers' markets in my area. I find the food to be fresher and better tasting (especially the lettuces) and like supporting local farmers who don't have to travel miles and miles to get to me. In addition, the food comes to me already ripe, not picked unripe to ripen along the way.

Sally Squires: And having spent some of my formative years in Michigan, I know what great produce you have up there. Thanks Lansing.


Sacramento, Calif.: After many years of thinking about subscribing to a CSA, we did so last summer. The farmer insisted on us taking a tour of the farm and then sent us home with the first week's box for free. Great idea. What we didn't foresee was how unused vegetables start to accumulate quickly, nor how many of each week's selections we found difficult to incorporate into our meals/life. We are a household of three adults (one is ninety and not an adventuresome eater) and we eat out at least once a week. I also shop weekly at a local farmers market. After two quarters we became CSA dropouts. We failed in our CSA adventure, but ended up with fabulous compost and a summer's worth of conversational mileage.

Sally Squires: I find even when I'm not a member of CSA, that it can be easy to overbuy in the produce department particularly in the summer when everything looks so delicious. It gives me new appreciation for chefs and restauranteurs and how they must really have to managed well to keep things fresh and customers satisfied.

Are there other experiences with CSAs that you'd like to share? We're all ears.


Medina, Minn: We have been part of a CSA for two years now. We get fresh veggies, and also coffee and cheese. We love it! It's always fun to see what will be in the bag this week, and a challenge to come up with uses for new things. This year we got a lot of ramps in the spring. Another year it was broccoli rabe. We also celebrate and suffer with the farmer. Last year a flood destroyed all the late-season melons. This year's rains have caused a delay and replanting of peppers and tomatoes. I would definitely recommend supporting local agriculture through CSAs.

Sally Squires: Thanks Medina. Sounds like it's been a very worthwhile experience. But here's my question for you: what are ramps?


Maple Shade: Hi Sally and everyone, There was a recent article about Tilapia having low levels of good omega-3 and high levels of (bad) omega-6. This is of interest to those with heart disease or those who want to prevent it. The study is available http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-07/wfub-wfr070708.php.

I would very much appreciate comments on the study. What about other fish high in omega? How does one tell what type of omega they contain? I like Gorton's frozen filets, white fish, salmon, and no salt canned tuna from TJ are my favorites. All are advertised as high in omega and low sodium. Also I take fish oil capsules when I don't eat fish and notice they have omega-3. Many thanks!

Sally Squires: That study was quite interesting, wasn't it? Fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids includes salmon, tuna, halibut, haddock, sardines and anchovies.

Omega-3 content in frozen fish sticks and in fried fish sandwiches at fast food restaurants tends to be quite low. And yes, those fish oil capsules are filled with omega-3s. So if you don't like fish -- or can't eat it for any reason -- that's one option.


Favorite Piece of Workout Equipment: I am a new fan of the Fitness Slider. Recently on vacation to visit my sister and family in Madison, Wisconsin, I went to the gym for a class with my sister. They used the bosu ball, which was new to me, and the fitness slider. Wow! I love that piece of equipment. It's a flat piece of polyethylene about 6 feet long and 2 feet wide. Each end has a "bumper" that you slide into to keep you from sliding off the plastic mat, and to give you a point to push off to slide to the other side. You wear slider socks, and either slide like a cross country skier, or slide side-to-side like a race skater. It was such fun I wanted to get one for home. I thought it would be great to put in front of the TV and get in a little workout, and I am sure my daughter would love it as well. You don't feel like you are working out, but your inner/outer thighs definitely feel it! Unfortunately, when I looked for this product online, I could only find one company that sells them, and they charged $700. I've never seen this apparatus in any other gym either. Thanks, Susan Reichard -- Lusby, Md.

Sally Squires: For those of you who have not yet read today's Lean Plate Club e-mail newsletter, I included a new survey from the IDEA Health and Fitness Association about the most popular gym equipment and asked about your favorites.

I also found a link to a site that sells Bosu balls for about $100 to $150. So for those who are interested in learning more watch this space.


washingtonpost.com: Bosu Ball

Sally Squires: As promised...thanks to Courtney, our producer today.


Dallas: I'm a fan of ellipticals. I feel like I'm actually working out more than just my legs, and the time seems to fly by. I know people look kind of odd on them, but they're great!

Sally Squires: Chalk one up for ellipticals. One of our sons recently got one and says he loves it. How about others?


Kansas City, Mo.: The treadmill and the stability ball are my favorites at the gym!

Sally Squires: As I recall, in the survey, the stability ball ranked higher in use than the treadmill, which I found interesting and a bit surprising. Thanks for weighing in.


Boothbay, Maine: My favorite equipment pieces are the elliptical trainer and the weight machines. Thanks for asking! Jane

Sally Squires: Make that two for the elliptical!


Northern Illinois: We bought a Precor elliptical at the very end of 2007 at an excellent sale price. We have a year to pay it off, no interest, which makes it affordable. It was great in the winter, especially since there was so much snow and ice in the Midwest this year, and is also good on days it is too hot to get out. You can really work up a sweat by changing the program, the elevation, and the resistance level, but it is easy on your joints (we are in our sixties).

Sally Squires: And this makes it three for that elliptical. That's an excellent point about being easy on the joints. Thanks for weighing in.


Newton, Kan.: The Roman Chair is my favorite exercise equipment.

Sally Squires: Wow. I wouldn't call this my favorite piece of equipment, but boy does it work, don't you think? You must have fantastic abs.


Midlothian, Va.: My favorite piece of exercise equipment is the Precor elliptical. No, they didn't pay me to tout that -- but it's because my knees never go over my toes when I'm using it, and as I have no cartilage left in my knees (am trying to avoid surgery), that's important. I tried other brands before settling on Precor, but they were harder on my knees.

Sally Squires: Okay, I think this means that the elliptical is a clear favorite in this chat.


England: Hi Sally -- This is in regards to the poster who was dissatisfied with the sameness of their CSA box. My boyfriend and I joined something similar in order to eat more local produce and reduce our 'food miles'. Although I admit some weeks I just can't take another cucumber it has been great eating seasonal food grown locally. It has encouraged us to cook more creatively and try ingredients we would never normally buy. The day before our fresh box is delivered is always the hardest. We seem to always have half a cucumber, a red cabbage, a soggy carrot and one pear left over. Try making dinner out of that! But on the flip side, we have learned to cook local staples such as potatoes, carrots and leeks in many new and interesting ways.

Sally Squires: That's a really good point, England. We also found that the CSA approach widened our culinary horizons -- which is a good thing. Thanks for weighing in.


Washington, D.C.: Hello Sally. I enjoyed reading your recent article concerning teens and peer pressure controlling their weight-loss habits. I can attest to this, as a personal trainer I have had a rise in parents contracting me to work with their teen or pre-teen daughters. They indicate that their children are being pressured and feel that their weight is making them anti-social.

Most of these children I train have a BMI over 30 and I think they need more than a trainer to work them out. I suggested that one parent have their children checked for diabetes and it came back they did not have it, yet. Is it just a matter of time before they do contract juvenile diabetes and what is a better approach for parents with obese teens? Kimberly

Sally Squires: Actually, these kids won't get juvenile diabetes -- that's a genetic disease that is different than type 2 diabetes, which is very much weight related. Type 2 used to be called adult onset diabetes, but because so many children and teens now get it, the name was changed a number of years ago. So I understand your point. (And we'll post some links in a minute for those who'd like to know more about both diseases.)

Parents can also help a lot by setting a good example themselves. I know this can be difficult when people are busy, tired, commuting, worried about their jobs, etc. But having family meals together -- and it can cost less to eat at home than to eat out -- and just taking a walk together, or shooting some hoops, can really go a long way towards helping instill healthy habits in kids.


washingtonpost.com: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Sally Squires: As promised....


washingtonpost.com: American Diabetes Association

Sally Squires: As promised...


washingtonpost.com: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International

Sally Squires: As promised...and let me add that whenever we do stories about diabetes, we often get letters from parents of children with juvenile diabetes. They correctly point out that their kids have a different condition--although both affect blood sugar levels.


Silver Spring, Md.: I think that people who join a CSA need to be willing to adapt their meals to what comes in, rather than expecting the CSA offerings to fit neatly into their existing lifestyle. For me, that's actually most of the motivation -- I know that I'm going to get a huge bag of vegetables and I have to eat the darn stuff (I'm not really a veggie fan)or feel guilty about it. So...I check out new recipes and start chowing down. It's kind of intellectually challenging to see how I can use up the offerings (I love to cook, and this makes me stretch in new directions), and I definitely eat healthier in the summer than the other seasons.

Sally Squires: That's a great way of looking at it. Thanks for chiming in.


San Francisco: I've got a box of banana bread mix from Trader Joe's and I'd like to sub apple sauce (or black beans?) for the oil. Do you know how to determine how much apple sauce to use when replacing fat/shortening this way? Thank you, Sally!

Sally Squires: Hmm. Try substituting the same amount of applesauce as the oil.

It would be quite daring to try the black beans with the banana bread, which I think go much better in the brownies. Although I have to tell you that the only person I ever met who really didn't like the black bean brownies was our executive editor Len Downie. He didn't even finish eating his and he loves brownies--so there are some people who won't like this substitution.

Two other thoughts: pumpkin puree might also go well with the banana bread. Or you could try white beans in place of the oil. I'd try pureeing the beans and adding about the same amount as the oil recommended on the box.

Just an aside: the black bean brownies used the beans in place of oil, eggs and water. So you may need to adjust accordingly. Hope you'll let us know how it goes.


Elliptical: It's really easy to cheat on the elliptical, so make sure you research the proper form. You will definitely notice the difference.

Sally Squires: Ah, that's a very good point. I've only tried the elliptical once--we have a Stairmaster, rowing machine and ancient stationary bike at home--so you may inspire me to try this elliptical at a hotel gym the next time I travel. Thanks.


Overland Park, Kan.: My kids and I "Iron Chef" our bag of goodies every week. We have had some great meals with them!

Sally Squires: That's another great way of looking at those CSA bags of produce. What have you and your kids liked best so far?


Charlotte, N.C.: I wanted to tell everyone who is currently a member or thinking of being a member of a local fruit/veggie delivery system. I was always hesitant to join because my husband is picky and I can only eat so much on my own. However -- a friend of mine found a local organic farm that seems to have solved this problem. Each week they will email a list of everything that they will be delivering to their members. Each member than has the option to say what they do not want -- and what to substitute in it's place. If you don't want kale but want extra apples, fine. Extra tomatoes but no squash? That's OK. They also will keep track of anything that you or your family is allergic to so they will not deliver that to you. They also do membership by the month -- so you can schedule around your family's needs and vacations. Additionally, they have different size boxes of food you can get and will always leave the produce in a cardboard box (you just leave the empty one for them to pick up and reuse each week) along with an ice pack to keep things cool. It's a great system -- great idea. The flexibility allows someone to try them for just a week or so, depending on if they want weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly deliveries as well as the size of each box. If more CSA's did this, perhaps more people who be willing to support their local farms! Can't hurt to at least ask, right?

Sally Squires: What a great idea! Sounds like this farm is really ahead of the curve in what they grow and how they communicate with consumers. Thanks for telling us about it. Anybody else know of some creative CSA's that allow you to experiment?


Re: Elliptical Machines: I have had an elliptical machine for about eight years now, but I don't use it very much and it's really become part of the wall. We generally use it to hang towels after we come out of the swimming pool.

Sally Squires: Sadly, that is the fate of many home exercise machines...but the pool sounds like it's well used!


Roanoke, Va.: My current favorite in workout equipment is Barbells (for Body Pump classes). I started in January and I know my metabolism has raised and it is easier to lose those long-stubborn pounds. Keeps me toned and flexible. I know I wouldn't stick with it by myself, though.

Sally Squires: That's what I love about the Firm tapes. You use weights and other equipment to tone, which really makes a big difference. You're all going to inspire me to go upstairs and pop one into the CD after this chat.


Washington, D.C.: My vote for the most popular gym equipment is resistance tubing.

Sally Squires: That's exactly what the survey found is the most used equipment in gyms these days. I was surprised. What's great is that this is the kind of equipment that can also be used at home or tossed inside your suitcase for a trip. It's quite portable and not pricey -- a real win-win. Thanks!


Washington, D.C.: I have wanted to join a CSA since my early teens when I accidentally wandered into a meeting at a local library on the topic. My problem is that since I moved to D.C. as an adult, I haven't had a car. This is great for incidental exercise, but it makes picking up a week's veggies in one trip a bit difficult. The CSAs that deliver to your house are not even close enough to make it viable for a non-driver to sell-out so quickly! Any recommendations?

Sally Squires: In today's e-mail newsletter, I included some sites where you can search for CSA's near you. You might try that. Also, depending on your location, you might check to see of the farmer's markets at Eastern Market, at the USDA or at Dupont Circle would offer you CSA opportunities. Hope that helps.


Munster, Ind.: My favorite workout is the Strive Circuit training at my gym. There are 13 weight machines, each with a red wheel bearing the numbers one to three. Each number emphasizes a different part of the same muscle, taking the place of three different machines. The machines are placed in order which, if followed, reduces the risk of over-training and provides a complete workout in a much shorter time. For cardio, I race-walk and jog a mile on a cushioned track before I hit the machines. I just celebrated my 73rd birthday, take Boniva and my doctors are thrilled with my progress against ostopenia. I do this three times a week and also have a series of lunges and stretches I do in the early morning to work out any kinks.

Sally Squires: Congratulations Munster! What an inspiring story. For those aren't familiar with osteopenia, it's a condition precedes osteoporosis and describes thinning of bones. To be able to reverse it is fantastic.


Eating Disorders in Teens: As a pilates instructor and hypnotherapist, the best way I know to work with people is to help them connect to their bodies. The healing happens from within and each person is in control of that, but not until they're "aware" of their own power.

Teens and preteens need extra quiet time (ideally) in the security of their home, so that outside influences become open discussions. It's that kind of communication and time for reflection that will help them feel secure enough not to harm their bodies. Liz

Sally Squires: Thanks for weighing in.


Northern Illinois: Not sure what is meant about cheating on the elliptical, but if I ever feel it is getting too easy, I just up the resistance. Most of the programs move the ramp up and down for variety and for variation in exertion. Mine shows you your heart rate and target range so you can tell if you are getting the aerobic exercise you need. Plus, did I mention it is weight-bearing exercise which is good after menopause?

Sally Squires: It sure is good both before and after menopause. The stronger your bones, the better!


Burke, Va.: Hi Sally! I've never been able to do the elliptical without discomfort in my hips. I think that's because the gait is unnatural for me. At any rate, if I have to work out inside (I prefer to swim, bike, run or train for some sprint triathlons), I'll do treadmill and stability ball, then plop down on the yoga mat for some dreaded planks. And I just bought a trainer for my bike, so that will be my indoor activity on rainy days.

Sally Squires: Does the trainer for your bike allow you to race against others? Or do spinning type exercises? Those are pretty cool. I've thought about them for our bike, but we'd have to fix the pedals because the straps are broken.


Non-Driver: If you have a license, you can rent a zip car -- gather up some friends and it's cheaper.

Sally Squires: Or a Flex car. Same idea and that's a great suggestion! Thanks.


New Bern, N.C.: Regarding snacking on "healthy" bars -- We bought some delicious Fiber One bars touting 35 percent of daily need for fiber but were shocked to read the ingredients which included shellac! Gee, what is our minimum daily requirement for shellac?

Sally Squires: That's confectioners shellac, which is a glaze that is also found on candy. It's not the same as the shellac used for wood, etc. Hope that assuages your concern.


washingtonpost.com: Fiber One Bars

Sally Squires: Here's the ingredients list....


Alexandria, Va.: I'm surprised the tubes are so popular! Personally I can't stand them. I like to workout in a sleeveless top so that I can watch myself in the mirror to check my form. T-shirts can really get in the way of that. However, I find the exercise tubes just slip all over the place without a T-shirt covering my arms. Am I missing something?

Sally Squires: No. Everybody has different preferences. I'm not a fan of the rubberized odor of these tubes, but that's just me.


Gaithersburg, Md.: Sally, back in 2004 I had my resting metabolic rate measured by one of HealtheTech's machines (the BodyGEM), at a local health club. It was interesting -- my RMR measured out significantly higher than what I'd get from doing the standard calculation. I was measured at nearly 1700 calories/day, vs. the calculation at about 1350. Big difference -- and the way I eat, and how much I can eat, has borne out the difference. On average, year-round I eat about 2300 calories a day to maintain my current weight (130-134 range). (And I am a 55-year-old female, which makes the result even more interesting.)

If you think you're an 'outlier,' the test might be worthwhile. Note that RMR is baseline for what you'd burn if you sat in a chair for 24 hours. Your daily caloric burn will be higher even if you don't exercise, just from moving about in your daily activities ... and even higher if you work out.

Sally Squires: Thanks for that feedback. And if you do think you're an outlier, then it's probably a good idea to have the measurement done.


Cherry Dessert Ideas Needed: I have never made any cherry desserts, but would like to as I have a nice bag of red cherries. I prefer not to have to bake, as it is just too hot. Any ideas?

Sally Squires: I love those cherries plain. But they're also great with a little cheese. And if you don't mind pitting them, you could take a sponge cake shell, fill with vanilla or lemon low fat yogurt or vanilla pudding and then put the cherries and other fruit on top with some sliced nuts or granola. That's just one thought...


Bad for bones: My mother-in-law, who loves honey as much as I do, recently told me that it is actually bad for the bones. She is from India and I find they are much more connected to their bodies and the affects of the foods and spices that they eat. But I was wondering if you had heard of this?

Sally Squires: I've never heard of honey being bad for the bones. But I'll run a PubMed search after the chat to see if there's any research on that. Honey SHOULD NOT be given to kids aged one or younger, because it can contain botulism spores that can be quite deadline for them.


Bethesda, Md.: I wanted to purchase an elliptical for home use, but I have limited space in my home for a piece of exercise equipment. I went to an exercise store and settled on an exercise bike that I have been quite happy with and use it to supplement my workouts. My college-aged son also enjoys it and told me he goes up to level 40! I didn't even know it went that high. I think it is important to purchase a quality piece of equipment with a warranty. My exercise bike needed adjustment and the store promptly sent one out.

Sally Squires: That all sounds great. And I, too, have seen my college age son take our exercise equipment to new heights. Who knew? :-)


Richmond: I've been thinking of getting an elliptical. Any info on quality/good bargains? I'd want a modest price, but one that lasts a long time. For example, my Schwinn stationary bike is lasting forever and rides very smooth. In contrast, a earlier bike, the ProForm, broke in a few months and Sears gave me a full refund. I'm not gonna pay a lot of money for my elliptical!

Sally Squires: There are a number of places that will sell re-conditioned ellipticals. Be sure to get a warranty on them. You might also try Craig's List, although those won't come with a warranty.


Fairfax, Va.: Love the chats! I have begun recording my food to better count calories. I've joined SparkPeople and found it really helpful. My biggest problem is when I have to record meals that I have created myself -- I don't know how to separate out the ingredients when I bring leftovers for work. Currently I'm eating whole wheat, gluten free pasta (I can't have gluten), with sauteed veggies and a sauce I created using fat free dry ranch dressing mix and cornstarch and skim milk to thicken. When I bring the leftovers, how should I input the nutritional information into SparkPeople?

Thanks so much for all the tips. They are really inspiring me to get into healthier habits!

Sally Squires: You made my day, Fairfax. It's a bit challenging to calculate calories in home-made food. Nutritiondata.com will allow you to set up your own "pantry" that can then produce a nutrition label. You can also do much the same thing by listing individual ingredients and their measurements in Sparkpeople or any other database. It's a bit of a pain, but once you've done it, you've got it for good.

Hope that helps.


Calgary, Alberta: I know this doesn't make sense, but here goes. I struggle to lose weight -- I can take 2 months to lose 5 pounds (I need to lose about 40 pounds). However, when I go on vacation, and I ignore what I "should" be eating and just eat what looks good, I always lose. I just got back from Europe and lost 4 pounds in 2 weeks on wine, full fat yogurt, great cheeses and breads. The only thing I can think of is that I eat more starches, as in breads and pastas when I'm away and tend to skimp on them at home. Is it possible my body loses better with more carbs and not less? Any other ideas?

Sally Squires: I'm betting that you walk more, eat regular meals and probably don't snack throughout the day. And I'll bet you get more sleep. But you're not the first person to tell me of this vacation phenomenon.


Reston, Va.: Where is the eating diary form located on this site? Lynn

Sally Squires: Sadly, due to technical difficulties, it was never posted. My apologies. You might try the www.mypyramidtracker.gov.


Lean turkey burgers: Any ideas on lean turkey burgers? I see a lot of recipes that call for adding cheese (I presume to keep them moist?). I'd like something lean and tasty. I'd appreciate any ideas. Thanks.

Sally Squires: I'd add beans, veggies and herbs to keep these burger lean. Also consider marinating them before you cook them and then basting and flipping while on the grill or in the broiler.


Washington, D.C.: I'd love to be a part of a CSA, but I live alone and eat alone, so I'd end up with far more produce than I could possibly eat. One CSA program, geared towards students delivers partial shares, but only to dorms, so I can't do that. I'd love if there was a way to buy in with a small share that could be delivered to my home, or a metro accessible place.

Sally Squires: We'll hope that someone who runs a CSA sees your fine suggestion and figures out a way to do this. Thanks!


Socks problems: I have been using my spouse's socks to exercise for years. No problem with my feet. I decided to buy some new women socks (bulk package) and they hurt my toes!! My toes feel chafed. What gives? I walk about 3+ miles a couple of times a week. Do I need to toss them and go to the men's section for comfortable sports socks!

Sally Squires: Sounds like you may need to do just that. But they also now make really comfortable and padded socks for women too. You might go to a good sporting goods store and ask for some guidance.


Re: Fiber One Bars: They're delicious, but, um, be careful. I found the effects of that much fiber to be...noticeable.

Sally Squires: Duly noted...


Pregnancy diet: Hi Sally, I just found out that I'm pregnant -- hooray! Can you recommend any government (or other) websites to refer to for nutrition information? I got a list of what not to eat from my doctor, but I'd like something that gives me more detailed information on what to eat. Thanks!

Sally Squires: Congratulations! I sure can: The Mypyramid.gov site has a section just for you and other expectant moms, plus those who are nursing. It will help you figure out what to eat, how many calories you need and how many pounds to gain.


Lake Ridge, Va.: I'm trying to find a substitute for cottage cheese. I just can't stomach the stuff. Someone told me the closest alternative they found was greek yogurt. Any suggestions?

Sally Squires: I love Greek yogurt. Depending on what you plan to use this for you could try that or nonfat sour cream.


Silver Spring, Md.: Thanks for your great column! I wanted to share a healthy eating tip that works well for me. I get bored with sandwiches for lunch, so I make my own "sushi rolls" to take to work but without the roll part. I just layer the ingredients in a Tupperware container instead of rolling it in Norri. I use brown rice (cook a large batch at the beginning of the week); mix in some tasty rice seasoning and rice wine vinegar for flavor; then layer in avocado, cucumber, shredded carrots, onion or scallions and raw, cooked, or smoked fish or shrimp (obviously optional). And you can play around with more exotic ingredients or change it up as you wish. Add an apple or a piece of fruit and voila, a yummy brown bag lunch! It's nutritionally complete, doesn't take much time at all, and is much cheaper than going out to lunch!

Sally Squires: What a great idea! Thanks Silver Spring.


Alexandria, Va.: Trial CSAs: Washington's Green Grocer is a local supplier. They sound exactly like what the poster, England, mentioned. So far I've tried them for one week. I got the small mixed box (mixed being part organic, part not). Wasn't bad, however they claim that if you get something you don't want and have stated it, they will make up for it -- but I'm still waiting for a response for the zucchini I didn't want. There are only so may ways I can try to sneak veggies in that my husband won't even try!

But I like that you can tailor the week's list to your preferences and are not committed to a season, just a week at a time.

Sally Squires: Fantastic! Thanks very much.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Sally, I have a question about Sparkplug. Maybe the chatters can help. I recently switched over from Weight Watchers online because I am trying to live within my budget. WW gave me the option to eat a little more if I worked out. Sparkplug doesn't seem to do that. Yesterday I walked 40 minutes to and from work and did an hour of Body Pump. On those days I need a little snack. Am I missing something?

Sally Squires: Rely on your common sense and experience. Try having a snack and if that doesn't work with your goals, adjust accordingly. You are the best judge of what works well for you. Use all these programs as guidance, but tailor to your needs. Nothing is written in stone. Hope that helps.


Vacation weight: Me too! I spent a summer in Italy and ate gelato everyday, sometimes twice, and all my clothes were big when I got home. Three things came to mind: I walked everywhere; gelato portions are miniscule compared to ice cream at places like B and R; and finally, less snacking. Even on cruise ships with unlimited access to food I've found I come home thinner. It's a wonderful accident!

Sally Squires: It is indeed! Thanks.


Sally Squires: Thanks to all for a great chat! See you next week!


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