Home Β» Oh, the irony! …and a Q&A

Oh, the irony! …and a Q&A

John asked a question last week on my Q&A regarding Arborio rice and it’s nutritional benefits. Or lack thereof. Oops. You know, like a kid told not to touch an open flame, I went and made an Arborio recipe (because 24 1/2 years was too long to go without this treat). But I blame Kerstin for this…her recipes are all too enticing! Behold:

Gruyere Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms adapted from Cake, Batter, and Bowl

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups 1 large bunch asparagus, chopped
2 cups mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter Smart Balance Light
1 yellow onion, 3 small shallots, chopped (I didn’t have an onion! The shallots were awesome!)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Arborio rice, dry
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (approx. 7 ounces)
2 tablespoons 1/4 cup lemon juice (juice from one lemon)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large pan and sauté asparagus and mushrooms until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, melt butter over medium high heat in a large stockpot. Sauté the onion for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender; add garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the rice and stir until well-coated and translucent. Reduce heat to medium and stir in 1 cup of chicken stock. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the stock has been absorbed; add another cup and continue in this way until all the chicken stock has been absorbed, for about 30 minutes. Stir in gruyere cheese, lemon juice, and salt and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Stir in asparagus and mushrooms. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Makes 5 servings.

Nutrition Information (1/5th of recipe): 382 calories, 18 g. fat, 40 mg. cholesterol; 610 mg. sodium; 33 g. carbohydrate; 1.4 g. fiber, 19.2 g. protein per serving

Ok, sure…not the best stats, but this recipe is a W-O-W recipe! You know, the kind you make for a special someone you’re trying to impress…or when your in-laws come to town (my in-laws read my blog AND they’re amazing, so this doesn’t apply to me, of course!). At least it has vegetables!? But yeah, Gruyere doesn’t come in a low-fat version to my knowledge 😉 But MAN, it is GOOD! My husband was so sweet to me tonight. I got a, “Thanks for making dinner, babe! It tastes really Italian.”

::blink blink:: Thumbs upppppppppp!

And on to the brief (but good!) Q&A for the week…

…Or possible known as the once-a-week, really long, exhaustively detailed posts!

Biz of Biggest Diabetic Loser: If I know I am going to have a hard workout, I tend to give myself a bit less insulin at breakfast so my blood sugar doesn’t crash and burn. Take today for instance – I was 180 before working out, and when I got back it was a perfect 102.  I then took the right amount of insulin for my lunch. Do you think having that “temporary” high will hurt me in the long run? My blood sugar numbers on average for 30 days are between 116 and 125.

Prevention RD: For those of you who don’t know Biz, she is a type 1 diabetic and author of the wonderful blog, Biggest Diabetic Loser. I feel comfortable answering this because I know your HbA1c is just below 7.0% — my answer would vary for someone with a higher HbA1c. I think that if this is working for you, you’re fine to continue with this regimen (especially if you’re on an insulin pump, which I’m not sure if you are or not…). The one option you have is to take a ligher dose of insulin with breakfast – bolus for maybe half the carbs you consume with whatever carb:insulin ratio you use and exercise with a G2/water or water/juice mix and drink that throughout your workout. This would have you starting your workout closer to a 120-140 mg/dl reading (I wouldn’t recommend below 120 to start in case you don’t intake enough and risk bottoming out) and fueling your blood glucose as the exercise works to decrease the glucose, hypothetically keeping you right in the 100-130 range throughout the duration of your exercise. If you decide to take this approach, I would certainly have your monitor nearby and come prepared – glucose tabs, honey or whatever agent you use in emergency hypoglycemic instances. I do feel there could be some benefit in your HbA1c if you’re able to prevention missing any insulin doses in light of working out. It may take some trial and error to work out any kinks, but it can be done! The key with type 1 diabetes and exercise is consistency. I say it all the time – diabetics know their bodies better than ANYONE else…even the best of doctors and endocrinologists out there. I hope this makes sense and keep me posted – I want to know what you decide to try out, if anything! Awesome make-Nicole-think question! P.S. I ran this past both our Diabetes Nurse and one of the doctors on staff today, and they agreed! 🙂

Molly: I’ve been meaning to ask this question for quite some time.  I’d say I live a healthy life style; working out regularly and watching what I eat.  I try to eat  as balanced of a diet as I can, getting the right amount of good fats, proteins and carbohydrates.  But one thing that will ALWAYS be hard for me to control is my love for salt.  I definitely love salty over sweet and almost always salt my food (even if it doesn’t need it).  What I try and do to compensate for my love of salt is drink A LOT of water…I mean a lot.  I feel as though this will some how help or “reverse” the effects.  Is it crazy for me to think that or is there actually some logic behind it?

Prevention RD: Hey Molly! Good question! I have to put in my plug on the importance of a low-sodium diet. Salt is a hard habit to kick, so don’t wait until you’re any more set in your ways to change! The majority of the salt we ingest is present in our food through the processing it undergoes, so any additional salt to our diet is likely too much. Excessive salt intake can cause serious electrolyte imbalances, water retention, and hypertension – also known as “the silent killer”. Having high blood pressure puts undue strain on every vessel in our bodies and over time, this can cause serious internal damage and lead to strokes and cardiovascular disease. While I am catastrophizing (not a word…) some, it is a serious matter. Make sure you get your blood pressure checked regularly and exercise is definitely a huge help! How much water are you drinking? Large loads of sodium can off-set the sodium balance of the body and thirst does increase when this balance is off. If your high water intake is habitual that sounds fine, but if your thirst seems excessive, this could indicate a sodium in balance in the body. If this is the case, I would look to decrease your salt usage even more so. Another thing to consider is increasing your intake of potassium; potassium and sodium work together in the body to carry impulses through the body which are vital for proper health. Using less processed foods and cooking from scratch can help lower the salt in your diet without changing the content too much. But as far as water actually flushing out all the sodium, this isn’t really the case. Water can help ease the effects of bloating, but it doesn’t reverse salt intake. Sorry! Great question!!

Anonymous: I’ve read a lot about agave nectar being just as bad as sugar – is this true?

Prevention RD: I’m sure you’ve seen this claim a lot – it’s all over right now! Agave is the natural sweetener that comes from the same Mexican plant used to make tequila! Agave has similar calorie and carbohydrate content to sugar, however agave is three times sweeter and thus requires less to achieve the same sweetness. Agave can be up to 90% fructose – the natural sugar found in fruits which has a lower glycemic index than sugar itself. While agave nectar is a tasty, all-natural sweetener, it is still a high-calorie sweetener that should be used in moderation. Until we find a 100% all-natural, organic, calorie-free, perfectly safe sweetener, we will be able to find a problem with any other sweetener for one reason or another! People hear that something is “good” or “healthy” and they take that to mean more is better, and that’s just not the case. Really great question!

Alison of Waisting Duxie: I am trying to conceive. Can I get too much folic acid? Most supplements are 800 mcg, the supplement that I am taking to lengthen my luteal phase (gotta love pre-menopausal in my mid 30s) has 200 mg and I’m supposed to take it 3 times a day, BUT I often forget.  Is it better to take the 800 one in the morning when I know I won’t forget and then maybe get 400 more over the day? How much does a typical diet high in dark leafy green veggies add and ultimately is this one of those vitamins you can overdo.

Prevention RD: The “tolerable upper limit” for folate is 1000 micrograms a day, though risk for toxicity is low. Because so many foods in the US food supply are fortified and enriched, most Americans meet the 400 mcg recommended daily value. What I am unable to locate is any folic acid recommendations to lengthening of your luteal phase. Best as I can tell and rationalize, you shouldn’t need additional folic acid and 800 mcg’s should be more than sufficient. I would not recommend taking over 1,000 mcg’s a day as this exceeds the upper limit. Check with your doctor regarding the 3 doses a day. Other than better chances of absorption, I don’t know of any other rationale for the frequent dosing, but I’m not a MD! I hope this helps – really interesting question! And congrats to you in starting a family! 😀

Happppppppppy Hump Day! Half way there, folks!

Question #1: What vitamins, minerals, or other supplements do you take?

Question #2: What’s your take on agave nectar? Like? Dislike? Healthy? Not-so-healthy?

Share With Your Friends!


  1. February 24, 2010 / 6:25 am

    Thanks for the great looking recipe. After reading your comments on it, it sounds even better than it looks. I really think my husband would like this one also. I’m book marking it, so I can find this recipe later.

  2. February 24, 2010 / 7:16 am

    Oh this risotto looks freaking amazing and looks very Italian indeed ;). I really miss asparagus (we only have local one in June..).
    Loved your answer to the agave nectar question!

  3. February 24, 2010 / 7:20 am

    I LOVE mushroom risotto! One of my favorite dishes of all time πŸ™‚

    Great Q&A, as usual!

  4. February 24, 2010 / 7:29 am

    The recipe looks and sounds awesome!

    Great Q & A! I used to consume a lot more salt but have been able to cut back a lot. I started by greatly reducing processed foods. Many of the foods I used to eat regularly are now way too salty for me. Your taste buds really can change. I also started using a lot more herbs and spices in my cooking.

    I use some agave nectar but really watch my portions.

  5. February 24, 2010 / 7:54 am

    sooo interesting!! i LOVE salt-i put it on everything, but my doctor told me it was totally okay.
    never tried agave!

  6. February 24, 2010 / 8:03 am

    Great Q&A. I didn’t know that agave and tequila come from the same plant! I loved your rant the other day about the term “clean food.” I absolutely hate that phrase — it is just as bad as “superfood.”

  7. February 24, 2010 / 8:06 am

    Thanks Nicole!!! Awesome answer! I use an insulin pen, but some day hope to have the pump. πŸ˜€ And I just got my A1C number back yesterday . . . 6.4!! But my triglycerides? 400! Eeek!

  8. February 24, 2010 / 8:06 am

    This was such a great Q&A. I loved the answer about agave nectar. I see it all over the place, but it’s still calories and carbs. I do like that you can use less than sugar. But I don’t think it’s magic. That risotto looks awesome. I love risotto.

  9. February 24, 2010 / 8:41 am

    OO this does sound nice–anything Italian tasting count me in!

  10. February 24, 2010 / 9:41 am

    YUM – I’ve never had risotto, but this makes me want it!!

    I take a woman’s multi-v. every day, and calcium citrate. πŸ™‚

    I do love agave, but don’t use it too often. Sometimes I’ll put it in with a marinade for tofu, or if I have plain or vanilla greek yogurt, sometimes I’ll squirt it in. It’s a little $$ for me, so that helps me to use it in moderation!

  11. February 24, 2010 / 9:51 am

    wow, what a delicious risotto!! Thank you for the recipe, I can’t wait to make it!!
    And I love how thoughtful and informative you are with your Q&A. It really shows how much you care about your blog and the effort you put into it! Keep up the excellent work, girl!

    • Nicole
      February 24, 2010 / 7:27 pm

      So sweet of you — thank you πŸ™‚

  12. February 24, 2010 / 9:52 am

    I use agave nectar because it tastes great! Plus, it is lower on the glycemic index than refined sugar, right?

    I take a multivitamin and an omega 3 supplement (because I have a major dry eye problem.) Sometimes I take a calcium and glucosamine supplement as well.

    • Nicole
      February 24, 2010 / 7:27 pm

      Yep, lower glycemic index!

  13. February 24, 2010 / 10:00 am

    hey no shame in the risotto, you’re a dietitian but you’re also human. sometimes we just need to eat things because they taste good, simple as that! and cmon those stats are nothin..many people drink more in a sbux blended bev! it looks delicious. ah, the sodium question. i have to be on a low sodium diet, but i’m sort of glad bc it made me aware of how much sodium is in things! esp frozen things/ready made soup. people think that organic or all natural means it’s healthy, and while that is often the case there is also a TON of sodium in stuff like amy’s kitchen products, etc.

  14. February 24, 2010 / 10:01 am

    That dish would be so good! I’m going to give that one a try. Very healthy and nutritious!

  15. February 24, 2010 / 10:12 am

    I take digestive enzymes and pro-biotics and that is it. I can’t seem to find a vitamin that I can tolerate (can’t have sugar, yeast or gluten) but since I eat mostly plants, I don’t really worry too much.

  16. eaternotarunner
    February 24, 2010 / 10:24 am

    That risotto looks so good!!

    I think of agave as just another sugar we should have in moderation πŸ™‚

  17. February 24, 2010 / 10:32 am

    That looks amazing!

    Thanks for all the info. I agree with your take on the agave controversy.

  18. February 24, 2010 / 10:37 am

    I take a pre-natal vitamin as my daily vitamin – I’m not pregnant or trying to concieve, but it does wonders for my hair and nails!

    As for agave syrup, I’m with you – a high calorie sweetener that should be used in moderation. I don’t think there’s a definitive answer on what the healthiest alternative to sugar is. There are so many ways to be healthy! For some people, it’s really important to limit those extra calories, and I happen to think that some artificial sweetener here and there is not going to kill you, and can certainly help with a weight-loss diet. For some people, keeping it all-natural is a top priority. Personally? I’m somewhere in the middle so I use a variety of sweeteners – Truvia, agave in moderation, a little splenda here and there, and real sugar.

    • Nicole
      February 24, 2010 / 7:28 pm

      No joke — can I quote this in the future? You said it perfectly!

  19. February 24, 2010 / 10:51 am

    Agave nectar is my sweetener of choice, though in the end I 100% recognize it is SUGAR. There’s no getting past that and it’s not a miracle worker. At the same time, I like that it’s so sweet so I can use less and still be satisfied. I also think it has a good flavor and texture, and the fact that it’s 100% vegan and raw is huge for me, too. But, while I prefer it, moderation is always key πŸ™‚

  20. February 24, 2010 / 10:53 am

    Thanks for the info. on agave nectar! There is so much floating around about it, it’s nice to have some clarification! πŸ™‚

  21. February 24, 2010 / 11:04 am

    I like agave nectar personally but I do believe that sugar is sugar so everything in moderation!

  22. February 24, 2010 / 11:08 am

    Delicious risotto…looks really good & healthy

  23. February 24, 2010 / 11:35 am

    I don’t blame you wanting to make the risotto, it looks devine! I enjoy using agave but yes only in moderation like with any other sweetener.

    I don’t regularly take vitamins but do try to take 1/2 a multi-vitamin a day when I remember.

  24. February 24, 2010 / 12:57 pm

    Oooh my goodness!! I want to make that risotto!! I’ve never made risotto, not sure I’ve ever even eaten it but my mouth is watering!

    I’m currently taking Glucosamine to see if my knees get any better. Any idea as to whether or not it actually works?

    • Nicole
      February 24, 2010 / 7:29 pm

      It’s supposed to, yep! πŸ™‚ Hope it gets better soon!!

  25. February 24, 2010 / 1:58 pm

    Thanks for answering, to clarify the folic acid isn’t to help the luteal phase its just in the supplement that I’m taking which includes chasteberry the active fertility enhancer, basically this supplement has everything I need in a multi vitamin PLUS the extra fertility support, which is why it’s 3 times a day.

  26. February 24, 2010 / 5:47 pm

    Your risotto looks amazing and it has my favorite cheese in it – love gruyere!!!!!!!

    Great Q&A’s!! I especially found the last one to be helpful since we’re currently trying for a little homecooked baby!

  27. February 24, 2010 / 6:07 pm

    That recipe looks amazing! I have never made risotto but normally order it when getting Italian. That looks like it turned out great!
    I always enjoy the Q and A.
    Have a great day!

  28. February 24, 2010 / 6:59 pm

    So once in 25 years isn’t bad Nicole. Now you can wait till 2035 for the next rissoto πŸ™‚

    Q1. Bought some Vit D today but other than that notta.
    Q2. Never tried it.

    I thought up 2 or 3 questions for you today so I’ll e-mail them to you. I could google them but you can’t believe everything you read. Oh but then I’ll be reading your answer….hmmmmmmmmmm..oh well. lol

    • Nicole
      February 24, 2010 / 7:30 pm

      Send’em over, John! I promise I’ll try my best : )

      2035 risotto…I’ll get to planning now, because trumping last night’s masterpiece will be a challenge to say the least! : )

  29. February 24, 2010 / 7:20 pm

    I can see how this risotto would have a WOW factor — I’m drooling over the pic! And your hubby’s comment was so sweet! πŸ™‚ I actually don’t use agave nectar all that frequently, but I use honey (and occasionally maple syrup or Stevia) most of the time instead of sugar.

  30. February 24, 2010 / 7:54 pm

    I take Women’s One a Day and have been taking it for about 8 years now. I like agave, but don’t use it that often. I also don’t consider it “healthier” than other sugars.

  31. February 24, 2010 / 8:47 pm

    I don’t take any supplements or vitamins…and until now I still don’t really find the need for them.
    But man oh man does the risotto looks amazing! Kerstin’s recipes are all gorgeous!

  32. February 25, 2010 / 6:27 am

    Fantastic answers to the agave nectar, and the insulin question. Actually, I was curious about Biz’s question myself. I think you are right to condier the Hba1c, good thinking. I don’t work with a lot of diabetics anymore so I start forgetting this stuff! As for the agave, I get so angry when people tell me, “oh , well, I used agave, so it’s ok!”. haha, not so much, sorry!
    Thanks for the award Nicole. I am sorry I didn’t read the post, but I will go back and read it now. I have been trying to read less blogs and sometimes that means missing some important things, but for me it’s worth it because I have spent so much less time on the computer and all together, I’m much happier, I must say. I ENJOY reading blogs now!

  33. February 25, 2010 / 10:27 am

    Nice rice dish. Don’t the really tasty ones always have bad stats, haha, j/k, but I always here that…if it tastes good it must be bad for you. I love your response to Biz who asked a great question. Yes, I enjoyed the other questions too, great work.

  34. February 27, 2010 / 11:12 am

    Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It’s definitely an indulgent treat πŸ™‚

    I also really enjoyed your comments on agave nectar – I’ve actually never tried it, but it’s all over the blogosphere and I’ve been curious about it.

  35. June 29, 2011 / 8:48 am

    Risotto sounds so good right now & it is only 5:45 am πŸ™‚
    It is vegetarian week at Get Grillin’ we would love if you submitted up to any 3 recipes (they don’t have to be grilled) to our link up. This one would be perfect!
    This week we have a ManPans giveaway. http://su.pr/3GCtXU

  36. David M
    October 22, 2012 / 11:54 am

    My daughter turned me on to this website – I’ve used it mostly for easy and tasty recipes, but I like the clinical advice. I spent a couple of years flirting with a marginally high glucose and A1c, but the last couple of lab results (over the past year) have put me well below marginally diabetic (70 gluc). Nonetheless, getting to an age where all this is very important to me, and appreciate the quality of your advice.

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