Diana Cullum-Dugan, RDN, LDN

Diana Cullum-Dugan, registered dietitian, nutrition therapist and yoga teacher in private practice since 2007, emphasizes a partnership with clients and supports them through exploration of triggers and unconscious behaviors to identify deep-seated patterns that do not align with their internal and conscious goals. Diana recognizes strengths, goals, frustrations, and needs of her clients. Through this, she guides clients to discover their own innate ability to create balance and harmony at every level of their being and to establish realistic expectations and goals based on their own understanding of their needs. In that effort, the change they seek begins to happen. Visit Diana's website →

More posts by Diana Cullum-Dugan, RDN, LDN

Summertime is Bean Time

Pinto bean saladBeans can make up a good part of a vegetarian’s diet yet now that it’s summer, we often forget about them. Typically we allocate beans as the protein in soups, chili and creamy, hardy dips, and lose sight of how delicious they are chilled in hot weather dishes.

Take into account the fiber-filled bean salad. Beans offer protein (repair damaged tissue, transport nutrients through your blood stream, and build strong muscles), market-fresh vegetables add vitamins and antioxidants (that improve immune function and assist in high quality absorption of beneficial nutrients), and a delicious olive oil dressing for much needed dietary fat (to carry the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K to muscle cells and for insulation).

And, summertime bean salads are fast and easy.  You’ll have a filling and flavorful meal the whole family will enjoy in no time!

Summertime Bean Salad

Serves 4

This fresh summer salad is filling yet leaves you light on your feet. Add more or reduce ingredients according to personal choice. If a hardier meal is desired, add in a cup of cooked farro.

Bean Salad

  • Arugula, mesclun or spring mix greens of choice
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups frozen corn, thawed (or equivalent of 2 fresh cobs of corn)
  • 1 can pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ small purple onion, finely diced
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 5-inch piece English cucumber, diced
  • ½ fresh mango, diced
  • Grape tomatoes, cut in half, as garnish

Chili Lime Vinaigrette

  •  2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  •  1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  •  1/2 teaspoon cumin
  •  1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1/3 cup olive oil


  1. Place a handful or two of arugula on 4 medium-sized salad plates or bowls.
  2. Mix together the remaining salad ingredients from corn to mango in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl or pulse in a small blender or food processor until well combined.
  4. Stir vinaigrette into the bean salad mixture and place a few spoonfuls on top of the arugula.
  5. Top salad with grape tomatoes and additional cilantro if desired.

Nutritional analysis (per serving using pinto beans): 297 calories, 33 g carbs, 7.4 g protein, 18 g fat

Exchanges: 2 starches/grains, 1 oz protein, 3 fat servings

Meatless Monday begins on Sunday

Giving up meat even for one day is hard for carnivores but the benefits so outweigh the extra effort.  Lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and even weight are some side benefits of going meatless – even for a day.

Set your menu for the work, then get grocery shopping done on Sunday and you can whip out this tasty high protein soup filled with tasty spices and nutrient-dense veggies on Monday. Add a slab of hot, crusty bread with a vegetable buttery spread and your meal is complete.

Quinoa and Veggie Soup


Makes about 5 servings

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloved garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 c. frozen green peas
  • 1 c. frozen corn
  • 32 oz reduced sodium veggie broth
  • 1/2 c. red quinoa
  • 1/2 T. basil
  • 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper


  • Heat olive oil in large pot on medium high heat. Saute onion until just translucent. Add garlic and stir 15 seconds.
  • Add carrots, celery, and red bell pepper and stir occasionally for 5-10 minutes.
  • Stir in frozen peas and corn, veggie broth, quinoa and seasonings.
  • When pot reaches a boil reduce heat to medium low heat, cover, and dimmer 15-20 minutes or until quinoa is cooked and veggies are soft.

Adapted from What Tasty Food blog.

Time for tofu

If you haven’t explored tofu in a while, now’s the time. Given the quality of taking on flavors, you can have exotic or local taste experiences depending on the spices of the marinade.

Tofu is a first generation soy product meaning it’s pretty darn near its original state. It is a low calorie, high protein way to reduce cholesterol, increase fullness to keep hunger at bay, and yield long-lasting energy (especially if paired with carb-rich veggies and whole grains).

Spice up your plate – tell me what your tofu experience was like after you add this dish to your table.

Spicy Grilled Tofu

1 lb extra-firm tofu
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 t. chile paste
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t. ground black pepper


Drain tofu and slice it lengthwise into 8 slices.  Place tofu slices on a plate covered with a thin kitchen towel and cover with another thin towel. Put a heavy object, like a plate with a heavy weight on top of the tofu and let stand 20 minutes.  Drain excess water that did not soak into the towels.

Arrange tofu in single layer in 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish. Whisk together lime juice, syrup, tamari, chile paste, garlic and pepper in small bowl. Pour over tofu so both sides are covered. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill 4 hours, or overnight, turning tofu once in the marinade.

Spray a grill rack or pan with nonstick cooking spray. Heat large non-stick skillet to medium heat. Remove tofu slices from baking dish, reserving marinade. Grill tofu slices 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until browned and crisp on the outside. Plate the tofu and heat reserved marinade in the skillet until warmed. Pour over tofu and serve immediately.  This is nice with a whole grain like quinoa and stir-fry vegetables.  Also, tofu serves as a sandwich filler topped with sprouts, lettuce and tomato.

Nutritional Information

Per SERVING (serves 4): Calories: 197, Protein: 12g, Total fat: 7g, Saturated fat: g, Carbs: 25g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 581mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 17g

Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times

Avocado – a Fruit to Enjoy!

AvocadoThere’s been a new discovery. If you eat a whole avocado with orange-colored tomato sauce or raw carrots, the absorption of carotenoids, plant pigments that convert to vitamin A, is enhanced. Well, this isn’t really news.

Nutrition scientists and experts have known for years that fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K need fat for your body to use them.  Fat soluble vitamins actually dissolve into the fat we eat and then are absorbed into the circulatory system so they can do their jobs —

  • Vitamin A is key to great vision
  • Vitamin D supports bone health
  • Vitamin E is a free radical fighting antioxidant
  • Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting.

Avocados contain fat and two-thirds of that fat is monounsaturated fat, which is considered a heart healthy fat. Avocados also have a delicious and creamy mouth feel and provide a good source of fiber.

Due to the high fat content, avocados contain lot of calories. One avocado is about  320 calories. While this study suggests eating an entire avocado with orange colored-foods, it only takes a couple of bites of fat to get vitamins A, D, E and K absorbed during digestion.

So next time you create a salad add a few slices of an avocado to maximize the amount of fat soluble vitamins that are available to your body.

Healthy vegetarian travels

Dialing up our weekly call, Suzy client laments, “I’m on a plane so much this week, how am I supposed to feel good about my body?”  Having more frequent flyer miles than a pilot, she knows full well the effects of flying:  bloating, water weight gain, stiffness and lethargy.

And it makes her incredibly anxious to feel a victim to fall prey to high fat, high sodium and sugar options.  What to do?

Having a plan is key. Suzy and I talked about deciding beforehand what is the best flying fare so she can figure out where to get those foods – from home, a pre-packed breakfast or lunch is a take-on to be grateful for when you’re doing an OJ Simpson through the terminal headed for a long flight.

After designing a breakfast at home that included fruit and peanut or almond butter on a toasted whole wheat English muffin, we logged onto the website of her airport.  Suzy gleefully shouted out when she saw the list of restaurants in her terminal. And she beat me to their menu – there, she made a sound choice for lunch on board.

For example, UFood is popping up in many airports and sports a fresh and filling veggie burger.  Wholesome Tofusion, a blend of brown rice, veggies and sauteed tofu carries on well as do their multiple salads and hi-protein shakes.  Even Starbucks’ oatmeal, dried fruit and nuts can be carried on – boarding time is enough for the dried fruit to soften.

If you have time for a sit-down meal, check out chain restaurants, they often sound like huts dishing out mongo portions of salt, carbs and fat, but if you look closely, they have sides of steamed veggies, multiple salads (with dressing on the side and fat-filled salty toppings like croutons and cheese left off), and a spicy black bean burger (no grilled butter on the bun please).  Ask for grilled options without high fat sauces – and be prepared to be surprised by a Yes, we can do that!

Choose a low-fat, low-sugar protein bar, add soy yogurt or almond milk and fresh fruit for morning meals. Pack your favorite cold cereal in a quart-sized freezer bag and buy soymilk at the airport. When ready to eat, simply pour your milk alternate into the baggie, and when finished, the plastic spoon tucks into the bag and is zipped to the trash.  Carry shelled nuts always ready to eat and keep you full.

Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, and watch out for salty snacks like chips, pretzels and crackers.  Avoid sugary high-fat treats like brownies and cookies and opt for something you bring on board. Sit back now and enjoy the flight.

Beans by any other name are cancer fighters

vegetarian ironInteresting synergy of the Universe – I’m eating a healthy serving of pinto beans doused with substantial spoonfuls of salsa and open my mail.  Lo and behold, the Dry Bean Quarterly.  Now, you think I kid you, but you never know what finds home in a dietitian’s mailbox.

With many of us either eating to prevent or recover from disease, I was curious to read that eating beans reduces cancer risk.  In the Nurses’ Health Study II, eating common beans (as opposed to soybeans, which are oily) and lentils was associated with a significant reduction in breast cancer risk.  Significant in research is powerful – it might be a small change in a large population but the change rates high on the board.

Dr. Henry Thompson, the author of the Dry Bean Quarterly, did a pre-clinical trial of his own – just to see if the change in risk was real.  It’s keen that a food staple like beans that offers a rich source of protein, resistant starch (not as readily taken up in the bloodstream, thereby keeping blood sugar more constant), and soluble fiber can also keep our breasts cancer-free!  The results of his study showed that cancer cells were inhibited by eating beans.  Hence, he now recommends at least one-half cup of beans or lentils daily, and as much as 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans a day if you’re adventurous.  For more info, log onto www.beaninstitute.com.

Beans, beans, good for your body, the you more you eat, the more you rest — with satisfaction that you’ve done a lot in preventing this disease.

Happiness Begins with Veggies!

saladIf there was an eating style that made you happy, would you do it?

What if that same eating style helped keep your weight in the healthy range?  And reduced your risk of breast, bladder, and other cancers?  Would you then?

I’m even charged thinking that my risk of other diseases, like heart disease and diabetes that runs in my family, is lower with this eating style.

What if this eating style was really quite simple to follow, with no deprivation aspect, and fills you to satisfaction every single meal?  And is environmentally friendly?  Would you then?

So what is it?

Vegetarians have been studied extensively and recently, studies reveal that a vegetarian lifestyle is healthier overall.  In Nutrition Journal, vegetarians had less depression, anxiety and stress and overall, better moods than meat-eaters in the U.S.  The reason?  Vegetarians eat less animal-based essential fatty acids and more omega-3 from plants.  Sign me up!

People with diabetes have a higher incidence of colon, liver, pancreatic, and endometrial cancers.  The American Diabetes Association and American Cancer Society suggest more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and less red and processed meats which reduces the risk.

In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers say postmenopausal women can lower their risk of breast cancer with a diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and flax and sesame seeds (great sources for lignans).

And, red meat and processed meat, because of their processing with nitrates and nitrites, and grilled meats because of the high temperature required in grilling, increase bladder cancer between nearly 20-30% (Cancer).

And another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, meat consumption contributed ONE POUND per year weight gain.  That doesn’t sound like a lot but multiply that times 10 years and you’ve got the beginnings of a chunky monkey.

Want to go vegan and have an iPhone?  The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine just launched a free iPhone app to their 21-Day Vegan Kickstart online program.