Ellie Krieger ‘s cauliflower "rice" dish. (Jason Aldag/Post TV)

Dietitian and healthful-eating columnist Ellie Krieger answered nutrition questions from readers in a recent online chat. Here is an edited excerpt of her advice.

A healthful, balanced smoothie: For the record, smoothies are a better option than juices because with smoothies you retain the fiber in the food. I suggest being sure to add some kind of protein to your smoothie, so it keeps you satisfied longer and is more nutritionally balanced. Milk and yogurt are protein-rich and make delicious smoothie bases. Nuts and nut butters are also a great way to add protein.

Naturally occurring sugars vs. added sugars: Added sugars are sugars added to foods to make them sweeter. White sugar, turbinado, honey, maple syrup, agave, brown sugar, evaporated cane juice and concentrated grape juice are all natural, but they are added sweeteners that are made up nearly entirely of sugars. Some of the less-refined options such as honey and maple syrup offer some minerals and antioxidants, but they are still added sugars and should be used sparingly. Aim for less than 10 teaspoons a day of added sugars.

Naturally occurring sugars are those that are inherent in foods such as fruit and dairy products. Because these whole foods offer a total package including fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, they are healthful foods that may be enjoyed regularly, and liberally, but in balance with other foods in your healthful diet.

The bottom line is keep added sugars to a minimum but don’t worry about the sugar in whole fruit and dairy.

Cutting back on grains: If you find yourself overdoing rice, one way to keep the dish filling while reducing calories is adding vegetables. One I especially love is to grate cauliflower florets on a box grater or by using the grater attachment of the food processor. This will cut the florets into little grain-like pieces that can be eaten raw as in a salad, or cooked in a pan to soften and then eaten on its own or stirred into a cooked grain. Check out this video of how to make cauliflower “rice.”

Cheese with low saturated fat: Soft cheeses like goat’s cheese (chevre) and feta are naturally lower in total fat, saturated fat and calories than hard cheeses like cheddar. Regardless, eat cheese sparingly if you have high cholesterol.

Krieger is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author. She blogs and offers a biweekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com. She also writes weekly Nourish recipes in The Washington Post’s Food section.

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