kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

Here are some questions to test your basic nutrition IQ. Admittedly, some of the answers surprised me!

Alfalfa sprouts are a health food.

False! Salmonella contamination is a big problem with alfalfa sprouts and they contain toxins such as canavanine, which can cause cancer. The FDA says people most at risk from foodborne illness  –  children, the elderly, pregnant women and anyone with a weakened immune system –  should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind, including alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean sprouts. to eat them safely, rinse sprouts thoroughly under running water before use. If you decide to cook sprouts, it can help reduce the risk of food poisoning. Toss them into soups, stews or stir fries near the end of the cooking process or oven roast until crisp and browned.

A daily serving of which food is MOST likely to lead to weight gain? (Each has about 100 calories.)

  • White bread
  • Dairy-free whole fat yogurt
  • Banana
  • Orange juice

Orange juice doesn’t curb your appetite. In fact, one cup of orange juice has on average 27 grams of sugar. That’s about as good nutritionally as a bag of M&Ms or a glass of soda. When researchers at the University of Glasgow polled more than 2,000 adults, people underestimated the sugar content in juice by 48 percent.

Potatoes contain complex carbs which are better for you than simple carbs like sugar.

Technically, all vegetables are considered carbohydrates. The guide here should be to pick ones that do not cause a spike in your blood sugar. Most potatoes are not much better than white bread. Some carbs are simple, and they are quickly broken down into sugars that enter the bloodstream. Other carbs are more complex and release sugars more slowly, which makes it easier to avoid big changes in glucose levels. Complex carbs are the opposite of simple carbs. They are low on the glycemic index, which means they are absorbed and released into the bloodstream more slowly. Complex carbohydrates include brown rice, most green vegetables, oatmeal, whole grain pasta, sweet potatoes, and beans.

What is MOST likely to reverse type 2 diabetes?

  • Losing excess weight
  • Hi-intensity exercise
  • Chromium supplements
  • Cinnamon supplements

Although there’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, studies show it’s possible for some people to reverse it. Through diet changes and weight loss, you may be able to reach and hold normal blood sugar levels without medication. This doesn’t mean you’re completely cured. Type 2 diabetes is an ongoing disease.  But, type-2 diabetes is harmless as long as you can control it. It becomes dangerous when you lose control of it. More episodes of high blood sugar you experience, the greater chance for its complications to occur.

Which food interferes with many medicines?

  • Oat milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Grape juice

Grapefruit juice interferes with an enzyme that metabolizes about half of all medications.  Examples of common medications that interact with grapefruit juice include statin cholesterol drugs such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin, simvastatin (Zocor), felodipine (Plendil) and other calcium channel blockers, clarithromycin (Biaxin), and loratadine (Claritin). Some immunosuppressants have been reported to cause kidney damage, and certain pain medications when mixed with grapefruit juice may be linked with depressed breathing. If you want to eat grapefruit and are on any of these medications, ask your doctor because the effects of certain medications can last over 24 hours (there might not be a window of opportunity for you to consume grapefruit).

You should eat at least two to three servings of grains each day.

False! You do not need grains at all. You can get the nutrients they contain from other less problematic foods. If you chose to, look for gluten-free. Dr. Alessio Fasano of Harvard, the world’s says that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a real ailment and that anyone who eats gluten is doing small amounts of damage to their intestinal lining, creating leaky gut and inflammation. Even if you are not celiac, gluten isn’t something you should eat regularly. Grains do have good fiber but so do other plant-based foods.

Which will NOT help you consume fewer microplastics?

  • Buying fewer items wrapped in plastic
  • Drinking bottle water
  • Avoiding plastic tea bags
  • Storing food in glass containers

Avoiding water sold in plastic is the BEST way to consume fewer microplastics. Microplastics are very small particles of plastic that come from a variety of sources. Only a few of them are made to serve a purpose (Such as the ones used in exfoliant creams or toothpaste, which are called microbeads. These very small pieces of polyethylene are used in the cosmetic industry. They are added to body creams and other beauty products to make exfoliants. Terrible for the environment!!) The rest of the microplastics found in the environment come from larger items. Experts estimate that almost 75% of microplastics originate from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic, such as plastic bags, bottles, food containers, synthetic clothing, and so on. Yes! to buying fewer items in plastic wrap and avoiding plastic tea bags and start storing your food in glass containers.

The benefits of organic vegetables are overstated because studies show they are no healthier.

The only way to avoid having lethal chemicals in your body is to go organic! Check sources: one study showing no difference between organic and conventional was funded by the food and agriculture industry. Many other studies have linked organic vegetables to a decrease in negative effects from pesticides and have found that organic vegetables contain more nutrients and phytochemical than conventional ones.

Which plant milk has roughly as much protein as dairy milk?

  • Almond
  • Coconut
  • Oat
  • Pea
  • Rice

Silk Protein has 10 grams per cup and Ripple has 8 grams and they both come from peas. Soy milk usually has 6 to 8 grams. (Baby calf food has 8 grams).

Antibiotics can treat which of these infections?

  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Covid-19
  • Urinary Tract infections
  • E.coli 0157:H7

Antibiotics don’t kill viruses (colds, covid, flu). But, they do kill the bacteria that causes UTIs. E. coli 0157:H7 is also a bacteria but antibiotics might increase the risk of life-threatening complications. E. coli O157 lives in the intestines of healthy cattle and other animals. E. coli O157 can be found in water, food, soil, or on surfaces that have been contaminated with animal or human feces. Family members and playmates of children infected with E. coli O157 are at high risk of becoming infected. Rest and plenty of fluids is the best treatment plan for the infection. Don’t take anti-diarrheal meds as you don’t want to slow down your body getting rid of this toxin.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is a healthy alternative to cow’s milk. It comes from the white flesh of mature brown coconuts, which are the fruit of the coconut tree. Coconut milk is an opaque, white liquid extracted from the meat of a mature coconut.

The traditional method for making coconut milk involves grating coconut meat, mixing it with hot water, and pressing the liquid through a cheesecloth. This process produces a rich, fatty liquid known as coconut cream. Coconut cream can be further processed into coconut oil or pressed again to make coconut milk. Commercially processed coconut milk, the kind you’ll find in cans at the grocery store, is grated and pressed mechanically, and often stabilized with the addition of guar gum.

Thai and other Southeast Asian cuisines commonly include this milk. It’s also popular in Hawaii, India and certain South American and Caribbean countries.

Coconut milk should not be confused with coconut water, which is found naturally in immature green coconuts.

Unlike coconut water, the milk does not occur naturally. Instead, solid coconut flesh is mixed with water to make coconut milk, which is about 50% water. Coconut water is about 94% water. It contains much less fat and far fewer nutrients than coconut milk.

About 93% of its calories come from fat, including saturated fats known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). The milk is also a good source of several vitamins and minerals. One cup contains:

  • Calories: 552
  • Fat: 57 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Carbs: 13 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Vitamin C: 11% of the RDI
  • Folate: 10% of the RDI
  • Iron: 22% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 22% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 18% of the RDI
  • Copper: 32% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 110% of the RDI
  • Selenium: 21% of the RDI

Coconut milk is classified as either thick or thin based on consistency and how much it’s processed.

  • Thick: Solid coconut flesh is finely grated and either boiled or simmered in water. The mixture is then strained through cheesecloth to produce thick coconut milk.
  • Thin: After making thick coconut milk, the grated coconut remaining in the cheesecloth is simmered in water. The straining process is then repeated to produce thin milk.

In traditional cuisines, thick coconut milk is used in desserts and thick sauces. Thin milk is used in soups and thin sauces.

Most canned coconut milk contains a combination of thin and thick milk. It’s also very easy to make your own coconut milk at home.

There’s some evidence that the MCT fats in coconut milk may benefit weight loss, body composition and metabolism. Lauric acid makes up about 50% of coconut oil. It can be classified as both a long-chain fatty acid or a medium-chain, as its chain length and metabolic effects are intermediate between the two. Coconut oil also contains 12% true medium-chain fatty acids, capric acid and caprylic acid.

Unlike longer-chain fats, MCTs go from the digestive tract directly to your liver, where they’re used for energy or ketone production. They are less likely to be stored as fat.

Research also suggests that MCTs may help reduce appetite and decrease calorie intake compared to other fats. MCTs can boost calorie expenditure and fat burning, at least temporarily.

Coconut milk may also:

  • Reduce inflammation: Animal studies found that coconut extract and coconut oil reduced inflammation and swelling in injured rats and mice.
  • Decrease stomach ulcer size: In one study, coconut milk reduced stomach ulcer size in rats by 54%,  a result comparable to the effect of an anti-ulcer drug.
  • Fight viruses and bacteria: Test-tube studies suggest that lauric acid may reduce the levels of viruses and bacteria that cause infections. This includes those that reside in your mouth.

Unless you’re allergic to coconuts, the milk is unlikely to have adverse effects. Compared to tree nut and peanut allergies, coconut allergies are relatively rare.

Many canned varieties also contain bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that can leach from can linings into food. BPA has been linked to reproductive problems and cancer in animal and human studies.

How to Buy

  • Read the label: Whenever possible, choose a product that contains only coconut and water.
  • Choose BPA-free cans: Purchase coconut milk from companies that use BPA-free cans, such as Native Forest and Natural Value.
  • Use cartons: Unsweetened coconut milk in cartons usually contains less fat and fewer calories than canned options.
  • Make your own: For the freshest, healthiest coconut milk, make your own by blending 1.5–2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut with 4 cups of hot water, then strain through a cheesecloth.

How to Store

Unopened, sealed containers of coconut milk can last several months, but opened coconut milk cans and cartons do go bad. Fresh, homemade coconut milk lasts up to five days in the refrigerator when properly stored in an airtight container. Glass jars work well. You will know that your coconut milk is bad if it smells foul, tastes sour, appears grey, or if you see the presence of mold or curdles

  1. At room temperature: An unopened can of coconut milk can be stored at room temperature for several months. For the best results, store canned coconut milk in a cool, dark place, such as a cupboard or pantry. Some cartons of coconut milk are also shelf-stable and can be stored in a cool, dark place for several months or until the expiration date on the carton.
  2. In the refrigerator: If you purchase a carton of coconut milk from the refrigerated section of a grocery store, it is likely not shelf-stable. Store your carton in the fridge until the posted expiration date and use coconut milk within seven to ten days of opening it. Store leftover canned coconut milk in a glass jar or airtight container in the fridge and use it within five days.
  3. In the freezer: Coconut milk can be frozen for long-term storage. Keep in mind that frozen coconut milk will take on a grainy texture and lose some of its flavor when defrosted. To freeze coconut milk, measure out recipe-sized portions of coconut milk and add them to individual plastic freezer bags. Lay the bags flat in the freezer until completely frozen. To thaw, place a bag of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. Alternatively, coconut milk can be frozen in ice cube trays. Defrost frozen cubes of coconut milk directly in soups, stews, or Thai curries, or add frozen cubes directly to smoothies.


How to Cook

  • Include a couple of tablespoons in your coffee.
  • Add half a cup to a smoothie or protein shake.
  • Pour a small amount over berries or sliced papaya.
  • Add a few tablespoons  to oatmeal or other cooked cereal.

Curried Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Soup

Yotam Ottolenghi /Photo by Alex Lau

4 Servings


  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (2 1/2″) piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon medium curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus leaves with tender stems for serving
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk, shaken well
  • Lime wedges (for serving)


  • Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium.
  • Cook onion, stirring often, until softened and golden brown, 8–10 minutes.
  • Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Add lentils and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  • Add tomatoes, ½ cup cilantro, a generous pinch of salt, and 2½ cups water; season with pepper.
  • Set aside ¼ cup coconut milk for serving and add remaining coconut milk to saucepan.
  • Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft but not mushy, 20–25 minutes.
  • Season soup with more salt and pepper if needed.

To serve, divide soup among bowls. Drizzle with reserved coconut milk and top with more cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.



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