office (860) 247 2137
Dr. Jorge L. Diez, Dr Adarsh Jha
Paula Rocha APRN; Joan Schwartz,APRN
 Offices in Connecticut East Hartford, Enfield, Avon ,South Windsor and Glastonbury

Nutrition Tips

Solving the Mystery of Food Labels

Do you read food labels? You should. These labels include nutrition information as well as ingredient listings. When reading labels there are several important points to remember:

  1. Ingredients are listed in order from greatest to least. The product contains the greatest amount of the first ingredient, the second greatest amount of the second ingredient, and so on.
  2. The two most important aspects of a label are serving size and servings per container. Everything else is based on these two things. The nutrient content listing (i.e. number of fat grams) is per serving---not per container.
  3. Each label has a column with percentages—these percentages are based only on a 2000 calorie diet.

Knowing the meaning of the following terms may be helpful in label reading:

    Fat free—less than 0.5 grams of fat

    Sodium free—less than 5 mg of sodium

    Sugar free—less than 0.5 grams sugar

    Calorie free—less than 5 calories

    Low calorie—less than 40 calories

    Low sodium –less than 35 mg sodium

    Low fat—less than 3 grams fat

    Low cholesterol—20 mg or less of cholesterol and 2 g or less saturated fat

    High fiber—5 g or more fiber

    If a product has "Reduced, Less, Fewer" on the package it contains 25% or less calories than the regular product and 2 grams or less of saturated fat.

    If "Light/Lite" is on the label, the product has 1/3 fewer calories or 50% of the fat of the regular product.

    Remember, just because it says "Light" does not mean it’s a good choice. It may still have a lot of fat and/or calories, so read the label and know what you are reading!

    Sue Hart, MS, RD, LDN




      Crawfish Etouffee


2 pounds peeled crawfish

4 tablespoons dry substitute butter

½ cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onions

¼ cup green onion tops

¼ cup bell pepper

1 ½ cups water

2 teaspoons cornstarch

¼ cup fresh parsley

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon red pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

non-stick cooking spray


Sauté’ onion, pepper, and celery in non-stick cooking spray. Add water, crawfish, butter substitute, and seasonings. Boil over low heat for 30 minutes. Add cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water. Add onion tops and parsley. Cook 10 minutes. Serve over rice.

Yield: 6 servings

Calories: 139

Exchanges: 3 ½ meat, ½ vegetable

Cholesterol: 173 mg

Sat. Fat: <1 gm

Fat: 2 gm

Sodium: 314 mg

Dietary Fiber: 1 gm





Super Bowl Snack Mix


1 ½ cup small unsalted pretzels

1 cup bite-size corn-and-rice cereal

1 cup bite-size shredded wheat cereal

1 cup plain croutons

¾ cup bite-size crispy bran squares

2 Tbsp. Reduced-calorie margarine

1 Tbsp. Low-sodium Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

¼ tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Toss well, and set aside. Combine margarine and next 5 ingredients in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until margarine melts. Pour margarine mixture over cereal mixture. Sprinkle with cheese; toss well. Spread mixture in a 13 x 9-x2 inch baking dish. Bake at 275 degrees for 45 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 10 ½ cup servings

Calories: 103

Protein: 2.7 grams

Fat: 2.7 grams

Carbohydrate: 18 grams

Sodium: 219 mg

Exchanges: 1 starch, ½ fat

Recipe Modification

Simple ways to change a recipe: Try these easy to follow techniques and tips for changing and preparing recipes. By using the suggested substitutes you can significantly lower the cholesterol, fat, and sodium content of standard recipes.

To reduce cholesterol or saturated fats:

Select lean cuts of meat

Serve moderate portions

Replace animal fats with appropriate substitutions

Lower fat ingredient substitutions:

Instead of:             USE

Sour Cream                                 Low fat or nonfat yogurt; make sour cream

                                                    Using 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese with 1

                                                    Tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons

Skim milk.

Cream Cheese                             Fat free cream cheese

Cottage Cheese                           Low fat cottage cheese

Whole Milk Cheeses                    Reduced fat or fat free cheeses

Baking Chocolate                         3 Tablespoons cocoa powder plus 1 t tablespoon canola oil

Ricotta Cheese                             Part-skim ricotta cheese, low fat cottage


Heavy cream             Evaporated skim milk or skim milk

Instead of:     USE

Whole Milk                         Skim milk (1% or lower)

Butter                                 Margarine made with vegetable oil

Shortening (1 cup)             2/3 cup canola oil

                                           Oil Safflower or canola oil (in baking, use applesauce or baby food prunes)

Salad Dressings                  Yogurt mixed with mustard, lemon, herbs

                                            And spices OR Light or Fat Free Dressings


Luncheonmeats                 Turkey and chicken breast, low fat (<3 grams fat/serving) luncheon meat

Tuna packed in oil             Tuna packed in water

Whole buttermilk                 1 cup nonfat buttermilk with 1 tablespoon

                                            Lemon juice OR vinegar added to 1-cup skim milk

Potato or corn chips         salt-free pretzels, air-popped popcorn, WOW chips, or baked chips

Ice cream,                         Ice Milk Sherbet, sugar-free popsicles, fat free frozen yogurt

Commercial gravies          Homemade gravies, skimmed of fat

Sugar :Reduce amount to ½ to ¼; try sweetening with fruit; 1 tablespoon fruit juice concentrate=1 teaspoon sugar

Chocolate Cake                 Angel food cake

1 egg                                 ¼ cup egg substitute or 2 egg whites

Biscuits, muffins,                                                                                                                             croissants Hard rolls            pita pockets, Italian bread, sandwich bread, English muffins, bagels

High-fat crackers (Ritz-type)     Bread sticks, graham crackers, whole grain crackers, Melba toast



To Reduce Calories OR Fats:

Brown meats by broiling or cooking in non-stick pans with little or no oil. Some fat

Can be eliminated by pan-broiling. Use a heavy weight pan, do not put oil or fat with meat, cover the pan and broil over low heat, turning the meat once or twice. After the meat is cooked, turn up the heat to get the browning effect of a broiler. Drain off all fat drippings. Fat can be removed by placing browned meat in a colander and running hot water over the meat—then return to pan. Fish does not pan broil well, but you can poach them over low heat by adding skim milk or water. Season the liquid with a small amount of lemon juice, vinegar or a dry wine. Add herbs and spices to your taste.

Chill soups, stews, sauces and broth. Lift off congealed fat (saves 100 calories per tablespoon of fat removed). To prepare brown gravy from fat free broth, add one-tablespoon flour and one teaspoon low sodium instant bouillon dissolved in 2/3 cup water.

Trim fat from meat. Remove skin from poultry BEFORE cooking.

Use water-packed canned products (canned fish, canned fruits)

In recipes for baked products, the sugar can often be reduced ¼ to 1/3 without harming the final product. Cinnamon and vanilla also give the impression of sweetness.

Use fresh fruit whenever possible. If canned fruit must be used, select water-packed varieties, fruit in own juice or drain heavy syrup from canned fruits. To make fruit without syrup tastier, add lemon juice, clove, or ginger.

For sauces and dressings, use low-calorie bases (vinegar, mustard, tomato juice, fat-free bouillon) instead of high-calorie ones (creams, fats, oils, mayonnaise).

Steam vegetables. Flavor with herbs rather than using margarine or oils.

Instead of two-crust pies, serve single crust (made with oil or margarine) or use low fat cookie crumbs (graham crackers, vanilla wafers, etc.)

Brown mushrooms and onions without fat by using just enough low sodium soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce to wet the items, cook in covered pan over low heat.

Make your own breading with plain breadcrumbs, coat food with crumbs after dipping in skim milk and egg white.

Reduce the amount of fat in recipes by 1/3 to ½ and increase the water.



Sue A. Hart, MS, LDN, RD



2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided

¼ teaspoon each: ground allspice, ground cloves, salt

½ cup reduced-calorie margarine

¼ cup brown sugar, packed to measure

6 packets sugar substitute

2 large egg whites

¼ cup molasses

¾ cup buttermilk

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Into small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and salt.

In large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed, cream margarine, brown sugar and sugar substitute. Beat in egg whites and then molasses until well blended. Gradually stir in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk, stirring just until blended after each addition and ending with buttermilk.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes. Makes 16 servings.

Per Serving: 117 calories, 2 g protein, 3 g fat, 20 g carbohydrate, <1 mg cholesterol, 197 mg sodium

Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch exchange, ½ fat exchange

***Important note: All sugar substitutes are not intended for baking purposes. Make sure you choose one that is appropriate and can be heated.



Low-Calorie Eggnog

Yield is 4 servings Serving size is 1 ¼ cups


2 eggs, separated

4 cups skim milk

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. sugar substitute

½ tsp. brandy or rum flavored extract

Dash nutmeg


Preparation Instructions:

Combine the egg yolks and milk in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture coats a metal spoon. Cool.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add to the milk mixture, then add the vanilla, sugar substitute, and extract. Mix lightly. Cover and chill.

To serve, pour the eggnog into cups and sprinkle with nutmeg.


Per serving: 123 calories, 3 g fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 158 mg sodium, 12 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate

Diabetic exchanges: 1 milk exchange, ½ fat exchange

November's recipe:  Pumpkin Pie!

Nutrition Links

Figuring Out Fiber


What is fiber? Fiber is the non-digestible portion of plant foods. The many benefits of eating a high fiber diet include lowering blood cholesterol and preventing constipation. In diabetic patients, fiber also slows down the rise in your blood sugar when consumed with carbohydrates. At the very least, fiber helps you feel more full and satisfied at mealtime, therefore lowering your total calorie consumption.

Soluble Fiber may help lower cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease. These fibers are found in oats, beans, seeds, barley, apples, and citrus fruits.

Insoluble Fiber has a major effect on your colon and the speed with which you process waste in your body. It helps prevent constipation, diverticulosis, and hemorrhoids. These fibers are found in bran, wheat, corn, whole grains, skins of fruits and vegetables, and leafy greens.

It is recommended that 20-35 grams of fiber be consumed each day. Follow these tips for a more healthy diet that includes fiber:

  • Eat a variety of foods. This will insure that adequate amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber are eaten.

  • Eat the skins of fruits and vegetables. A potato with skin has two times as much fiber as one without.

  • Less processed foods have more dietary fiber. Try whole grain products and unrefined foods, such as brown rice and whole grain cereals, instead of refined foods such as white rice and white bread.

  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. One serving is a 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or 1 medium piece of fruit.

  • Drink six to eight glasses of water each day. This will help prevent constipation from increased fiber intake.

  • Always increase fiber in your diet gradually, large increases in fiber intake can cause gas pain and bloating.

By eating 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-3 servings of fruit and 6-11 servings of bread and cereal per day, you can easily meet the recommended level of fiber.

by: Sue A. Hart, MS, LDN, RD


November Recipe of the Month


Pumpkin Pie

Yield is 9 servings Serving size is 1 1-inch slice


2 cups crushed graham crackers

3 Tbsp. low-calorie margarine

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 cups pumpkin puree

1 12-oz can evaporated skim milk

2 eggs beaten

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. allspice



Preheat over to 425 degrees. Combine the graham crackers, margarine, sugar, and cinnamon and press into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Beat together all remaining ingredients in the order given. Pour into the crust, and bake for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 35 minutes until set. Cool slightly or chill before serving.

Diabetic Exchange List Values:

Starch 2.0 Fat 0.5

Nutritional Values

Calories       181              Sodium 218mg

Total Fat        5gm           Total Carb 28gm

Sat. Fat         1.0gm         Dietary Fiber 2.1gm

Cholesterol     5mg           Sugars 13gm

Protein           7gm