Tag Archives: nutrition

6 Tips for Enjoying a Healthy Holiday Happy Hour

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As holiday gatherings ensue, many of us begin celebrating with festive, seasonally inspired drinks. Many of these beverages, however, are loaded with sugar and high in fat and don’t do your waistline any favors.

While most of the focus this season is how to keep from overeating, those Christmas sips sure add up, too. This holiday season, give your holiday cocktail hour a healthy makeover by following these simple tips.

The skinny on the nog – Eggnog is certainly a holiday favorite but chock-full of calories and fat. Eggs, whole milk or heavy cream, sugar, brandy and rum are the main ingredients, which gives one six ounce cup of eggnog nearly 300-400 calories and over 15-20 grams in fat. Limit this caloric holiday treat or trim the fat by blending 3 parts 2% or skim milk to 1 part eggnog. Consider also trading eggnog calories for a holiday “must” food.

Go bubbly! Ring in the holiday season with a traditional sipper – champagne. At approximately 100 calories per flute, this low-calorie sipper becomes a true a calorie-treat. Add 100% orange juice to turn it into a mimosa and get a jolt of vitamin C.

Nix the alcohol – At your next holiday happy hour, choose a festive, virgin alternative to your go-to cocktail. Or consider club soda with a splash of 100% fruit juice. Cranberry and pomegranate juice are festive options and loaded with healthful antioxidants.

Mix it up – Though alcohol is typically the main culprit for packing on the pounds, cocktail mixers are a big source of unwanted calories, fat and sugar. Choose soda water, diet soda or other zero-calorie options when possible and beware of high-calorie sweet liqueurs.

Alter serving size – Choose smaller glassware to house your holiday drinks. Using a champagne flute instead of a regular glass will cut down the portion size and make you feel like you are still enjoying a full glass. For higher-calorie beverages, serve them up in shot glasses to keep serving sizes in check.

Don’t deprive yourself –There’s no reason to completely miss out on a holiday cocktail. Drink one high-calorie beverage per party and lots of water;  stick to healthy eating most days, and up your exercise routine in December to balance out those cocktail days.

For more ideas on holiday and heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

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Celebrate Your Red, White and Blue!

Wave your flag and celebrate your All-American spirit by adding a little red, white, and blue to your menu. For a festive and nutritious patriotic celebration, check out the following food inspirations:

  • Top your breakfast cereal, yogurt, ice cream or salads with fresh blueberries, strawberries and white slivered almonds.
  • Add dried cherries or cranberries to salad or coleslaw. Enjoy cherries and watermelon and red, purple and Concord grapes as snacks or dessert.
  • Make two red and blue jello layers filled with cherries and blueberries, and add a thin spread of soft, lower-fat cream cheese mixed with light sour cream between layers.
  • Make a big pizza cookie out of prepared vanilla cookie dough topped with a spread of light cream cheese and powdered sugar blended together as “icing.” Sprinkle red and blueberries on top and consider adding pineapple, peach and mandarin orange slices, too.
  • Make fruit kabobs with several fresh fruit slices. Try red and blue berries and red plums.
  • Make vegetable kabobs with several veggies, including red bell peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower and onions.
  • Make a fruit salad with 5-6 different types of fruit, such as melon, grapes, pineapple, apples, berries and cherries.
  • Add black beans, red beans and white navy beans to your baked bean dish.
  • Make a smoothie with ½ cup Concord grape juice, 1/2 banana, ½ cup non-fat vanilla or Greek yogurt, ½ cup berries or peach slices and 5-6 ice cubes for a refreshing blue smoothie.

Not only are these foods a fun way to honor your American pride, they add great nutrition to your day. Red foods carry Vitamins A and C, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that promote good health, lower cholesterol, and prevent heart disease and clogged arteries. Blueberries contain more valuable antioxidants than most foods, boosting overall health. (ORAC values which measure antioxidant ability, score blueberries at 2400, cherries at 670 and pink grapefruit at 485). Blueberries and grape juice have recently been shown to boost cognition and memory, keep arteries elastic, and promote immunity. White foods, like garlic, onion, potatoes and cauliflower, offer Vitamin C, healthy antioxidants and many other significant nutrients, including Vitamin B, minerals and phyto-nutrients that help fight heart disease and cancer, and promote your overall well-being. Almonds, like other nuts, have been linked to a reduced risk of heart attacks, if consumed in 1 oz. (about 3 Tbsp) servings five or more times a week.

Celebrate your patriotism with a menu that’s both healthy and crowd-pleasing. Good food decisions mixed with physical activity will ensure this holiday is a memorable one.

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

Eat Local to Enjoy Summer’s Freshest Foods

Today’s grocery shoppers have no shortage of options. You can buy produce that was once just available for a few weeks each year on any given day. Fresh blueberries in February or corn on the cob in November, Americans have the luxury of choice, no matter what the time of year may be.

Eating locally grown, seasonal foods, however, has a wealth of benefits. It’s not only better for the environment, but also your health. In fact, locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables are usually purchased just after harvest time. Because nutritional value can decline dramatically as time passes after harvest, eating locally grown produce ensures you are eating foods at their peak quality of freshness and nutrition.

This summer follow these tips to give your pantry a seasonal makeover and ensure your food picks offer the optimal nutritional value.

Find out what’s in season. Stay in the know on what’s in season and consider making a seasonal buying guide. This summer, be on the lookout for cucumber, eggplant, peppers and summer squash and fruits like apricots, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries and watermelon. When summer closes, consider altering your shopping list for in-season foods locally grown, instead of shipped in from thousands of miles away.

Hit up farmer’s markets. Did you know there are over 3,100 farmers markets in the U.S.? Most farmers’ markets have formed relationships with local farmers and feature locally grown products at their food stands. Enjoy the bounty of fresh, beautiful produce in season like melons, tomatoes, peaches, plums, sweet corn and asparagus. To find what markets are in your area, go here.  Be sure to ask vendors where their foods are grown.

Read labels. Look for signs at grocery stores that tell you where your meat, seafood and produce come from. Opt for foods grown closer to home. Shop at grocery stores that indicate the geographic origin of foods. More and more mainstream grocery stores are catching on to this trend.

Get digging. There are many foods that are easy to grow in your very own backyard and you often don’t need a full-fledged garden. Consider planting a simple herb garden. If you don’t have a lot of space, use a window box or flowerpot. Lots of food can grow and be ready to eat in just a month’s time, including lettuce, arugula and radishes, and herbs such as basil, dill, mint and cilantro.

Dine out, mindfully. Choose restaurants in your area that purchase foods from local and regional farms. Ask around at restaurants about their ingredients and find out where they come from. You can also ask folks at the farmer’s market what restaurants typically purchase food from them.

You are likely to find eating locally grown food can be a big transition but the benefits are plentiful. Consider making the change gradually and your choices will add up over time. And be sure to keep in mind the big picture – the closer the food is grown to home, the better the food is likely to be for your taste buds and health.

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

Healthy Grilling Tips

With the first long weekend of the season under our belt, summertime is here and grilling season is in full swing. Follow these tips to pump up the flavor and enjoy a backyard feast that is healthy and tasty.

  • Go lean. Put the focus of your cookout on lean meat. Toss omega-3 rich fish, like salmon and tuna steaks, on the grill and add a squeeze of lemon and fresh dill for extra flavor. For red meat lovers, cuts that include the words “loin” or “round” will be your best bet. Be sure to trim excess fats before grilling.
  • Rub it in. Choose dry rubs over marinades, which often contain unhealthy syrups and oil. For an extra punch, consider rubbing your meat with a favorite spice like cumin, rosemary, chili or garlic.
  • Control portions. With buffet style eating at backyard BBQs, it’s easy to help yourself to excessive amounts. Keep in mind that a serving of meat should be about the size of the palm of your hand.  To avoid over-eating, try cutting meats, veggies and fruits in small pieces and put them on a skewer. Enjoy the variety of textures and flavors along with healthy sides.
  • Mix it up. Add fresh foods, like veggies and fruits, to your grill. Some great grilled veggie options include asparagus, broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, sliced sweet potatoes, squash or zucchini. For fruit, pineapple and peaches are great options as their natural sugars caramelize and enhance the flavor.
  • Top it off. Forgo high-calorie toppings, like mayo and full-fat cheese. Instead, serve up chopped cilantro leaves and shredded cabbage with a squeeze of lime. Spice it up with some jalapenos and fresh salsa. Add avocado slices for some healthy fat with that similar, creamy consistency of mayo or cheese.  Or try a little low-fat sharp cheese like Cabot Reduced-Fat Jalapeno Jack  – a little goes a long way for flavor.
  • Think outside the bun. Choose wholegrain breads to house your grill favorites. Pita bread and tortillas also make great options. Be sure to choose the wholegrain variety.
  • Eat seasonal. Pick the perfect produce and offer up healthy side dishes incorporating your favorite foods that are in season. This summer, look for berries, watermelon, tomatoes and corn. Use leftovers to add crunch and flavor to salads the next day.

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit:http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

What’s in Your Easter Basket?

The Easter holiday is upon us! To enjoy holiday treats without gaining a pound, here are my top picks:

  • Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Eggs  – The ones in  Russell Stover’s 12-egg carton  are just 85 calories each (170 calories for 2 eggs).  The individually-wrapped larger ( 2” long) ones are  just 110 calories each.
  • Chocolate-Covered Coconut or Maple Crème-Filled Eggs – Russell Stover’s individually-wrapped  eggs ( 2” long) come in at just 110-120 calories each.
  • Lindt’s Little Gold-Wrapped  Bunnies - 55 calories each with 5 per package.
  • Hollow Chocolate Bunnies and Eggs - These treates are 150 calories per ounce. Enjoy an ounce a day!  Check out Russell Stover’s 160-calorie 4″  tall hollow bunny. This compares to the solid chocolate bunny for 230 calories.
  • Lindt’s Chocolate Mini-Eggs - 30 calories each and Cadbury’s mini-eggs are just 15 calories.
  • Nestle’s Crunch Chocolate Eggs – About 35-45 calories each (5 pieces of 4 mixed types total 180-210 calories).
  • Chocolate-Covered Peppermint Patties - Check out the ones in spring- colored wrappings. They are just 50 calories each.
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses – 22 calories each. Enjoy a handful of 5 for just 110 calories.

And don’t forget colorful jelly beans. These little sweet treats are just 3 calories each.

Of course your own colored Easter eggs are a true nutritional gem – just 75 calories, packed with super nutrition, and fun to crack and eat.  Eat these first…they will help manage your sweet-tooth!

Try to keep chocolate treats at 100-200 calories a day over the holiday weekend.

For more chocolate ideas year-long, check out my list of 75 best choices in The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. See www.georgiakostas.com

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

Get in Shape with the Plate!

Take a part in helping America observe March National Nutrition Month today, tomorrow, this month and all year long. Look at the plate shown on the right. It can help you eat better and even lose weight! Portions and colors are the key to healthy eating and weight control. Just look at your plate to simplify both. Divide your plate by fourths, proportion 4 different foods with different colors in each section, and you automatically control calories and maximize nutrient variety.  This means more plant foods, less (and ample) protein, for most folks. And you feel fuller, longer.

Here’s a simple example – from the cover of my book:

The 4 oz. lean beef filet, 1/2 cup steamed red new potatoes, 1/2 cup sugar-snap green beans, and 1/2 cup steamed fresh carrots, for a total of only 350 calories. Spritzed with butter-flavored spray, calories may become 360-370. Add 1 teaspoon of healthy cooking oil (40 calories) to sauté beef,  and 3 teaspoons of reduced-fat spread (50 calories) to flavor veggies and the whole meal is still under 450 calories.

The plate concept makes it is easy to plan healthy meals, lose weight, and keep it off. 

Can you really lose weight and expect to keep it off?  The National Weight Control Registry tracks 3,000 successful weight loss participants whom have kept at least 30 pounds of weight off for at least 10 years. According to the latest research for the Registry, this group has kept off an average 51 pounds of 69 lost. Those stats are very encouraging.

The participant’s maintenance tips include:  

  • Eat breakfast regularly.
  • Walk about an hour a day.
  • Track food intake, calories and fat grams.
  • Limit eating out.  
  • Seldom splurge.
  • Watch TV less than 10 hours a week.
  • Weigh weekly
  • Average about 1,800 calories a day, less than 30% from fat.

Give it a try! Use the plate – when you shape up your eating and exercise, youcan shape up your health for a lifetime!

Looking for more meal ideas, eating tips, or recommendations for organizing your plate?  Check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009), or email me at Georgia@GeorgiaKostas.com to schedule a nutrition consult in person, over the phone or online.  You can follow me on Twitter/GeorgiaKostas, Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or visit my website www.GeorgiaKostas.com.

Share the Importance of Food Day 2011

Food Day 2011 is less than a week away! On Monday, October 24, join the likes of Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher; Celebrity Chef, Author, and Registered Dietitian Ellie Krieger; and thousands of parents, teachers, students, health professionals, community organizers, local officials, school lunch providers, neighbors and friends across America—to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.  
 

The overall goal for Food Day is to transform the American diet. I personally see this as a wonderful opportunity and challenge for all of us across America to build our meals around REAL foods. We should enjoy the great flavors and reap the powerful nutrient-rich benefits of consuming vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meat, and low-or-no fat dairy foods each day. Adversely, overly processed foods are usually high in added solid fats, sugar, and salt are often high in calories, low in nutrients per calorie, and are  packaged in non-biodegradable  plastic , making them increase our waistline, heighten chronic disease risk , harm our health and  the environment.

Need help getting started to improve your eating? Download one of the delicious, healthful, easy-to-prepare recipes from some of the country’s most prominent chefs and cookbook writers in the Food Day cookbook.

You can also try a favorite recipe of mine from my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step up to the Plate(2009). This recipe is full of delicious, fresh ingredients that you can find in season now at your local farmer’s market or in the produce section of your grocery store.

Ranch Pasta and Vegetable Salad

6 ounces corkscrew pasta, uncooked

¼ pound fresh snow peas, trimmed (about 1 ½ cups)

1 ½ cups fresh broccoli flowerets

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1 cup fresh cherry tomato halves

2 medium fresh yellow squash, trimmed and cut into 2” x ¼” strips

¾ cup nonfat buttermilk

½ cup 1% lowfat cottage cheese

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, chopped

¼ teaspoon salt

1 green onion, chopped (about 1/3 cup)

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (about 2 Tablespoons)

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain; rinse under cold water, and drain again.  Place in a large bowl.
  2. Blanch snow peas, broccoli and squash in boiling water 30 seconds; drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking process. Drain well; add to pasta.
  3. Process buttermilk and next 4 ingredients in an electric blender until smooth; add green Onion, jalapeno and cilantro; process until minced.  Pour over pasta mixture, and toss.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Yield: 8 cups (8 servings) 

Per Serving: 125 Calories, 1 g Fat, 3 g fiber, 7 g protein

For more resources and nutrition and healthy eating tips, visit www.georgiakostas.com/Products.aspx . Follow me on Twitter / @georgiakostas, Facebook / Georgia Kostas Nutrition, and LinkedIn / Georgia Kostas.

Cool Treats to Beat the Heat

What would summer be without ice cream, shakes, lemonade, iced tea, watermelon, and sweet fresh fruit?! 

Cold or frozen treats are part of summer! But who wants to run 12 miles a week or do 2 spin classes just to work off 2 cups of rich, premium ice cream or one shake or an ice cream sundae?  Two cups of ice cream (1 pint) translates to 4 scoops (1/2 cup each) weekly- the amount most Americans average all year long. If it’s rich, premium ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s, Haagen Dazs, Baskins Robbins ), that’s 270 calories per ½ cup scoop. BlueBell and Cold Stone  are closer to 250 calories per scoop. Less rich ice creams (10% fat) and milk-based gelatos average 150 calories per scoop. Frozen treats can add up quickly and so can the pounds!   Especially if you enjoy 2-3 cups per dish! 

Fortunately, we have delicious, lower-fat options to enjoy without adding pounds! That’s double enjoyment!  Apply these calories per ½ cup to your typical serving! 

Lighter Options (½ cup or 1 bar)

  • Dreyers’/Edy’s Slow Churned Light/ Breyer’s Double Churn Light (100 calories; 0-3 g fat)              
  • Blue Bunny frozen yogurt or fat-free, no-sugar-added ice cream (100 calories; 0-3 g fat)
  • Blue Bell light/ low-fat / reduced fat/ fat-free and no-sugar ice cream (100 calories; 0-3 g fat)      
  • TCBY nonfat frozen yogurt (100 calories; 0-3 g fat)           
  • Sorbet, sherbet, fruit Ice, Italian ice, water-based gelato (about 100 calories; 0-2 g fat)
  • Skinny Cow Fudge bar, Truffle Bar, or Dipper/ Fudgesicle / Popsicle/ Juice bar (about 100 calories; 0-2 g fat)
  • Sugar-free Fudgesicle / Popsicle (15-40 calories; 0 g fat)
  • Watermelon, cantaloupe or strawberries  ( 2 cups of any) or 1 frozen banana (100 calories; 0 g fat)                                                              

Don’t forget about summer’s fresh, sweet, juicy fruit – nutrient-rich and delicious!

Homemade Options:

Smoothie (150 calories, no fat)       

  • Blend:  ½ cup fresh or frozen berries or fruit of choice ,  ½ banana,   5-6 ice cubes , and ½ cup orange juice or favorite juice (or ¼ cup juice + ¼ cup nonfat  yogurt )     

Popsicles (25 calorie, 0 fat)

  • Freeze ¼ cup 100% juice in individual ice cube or popsicle containers.

For more resources and tips, visit http://www.georgiakostas.com. Follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my professional Facebook page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.  Check out my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate!, where you’ll find balanced no-fuss meals, quick recipes, snack ideas and more.

Celebrating National Nutrition Month (Part 3 of 3)

Count Your Portions before they Count You

The key to losing weight and keeping it off is portions! Many people eat nutritiously, but without portion control, too much of even the right food can make you gain weight.

Try these portion control ideas from my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution (2009):

1. Use the plate rule. Reserve ¼th of the plate for the protein or entrée, and ¾th of the plate for plant foods (vegetables, grains, fruit).

2. Measure easy-to-overdo foods. Cheese, 1 oz.; meat, 3 oz.; starches, ½ to 1 c.; nuts, 1-2 Tbsp.; juice, 4-6 oz. (½ to ¾ c.); salad dressing, mayonnaise, margarine, peanut butter, 1 Tbsp.

3. Measure your glass sizes at home. Is your juice glass 4 oz., 6 oz., or 8 oz.?

4. Make it easy. Have deli cheeses and lunch meats cut in 1 oz. slices (8 slices = 8 oz.)

5. Use your fist or a tennis ball as a measure of 1 c. of pasta, rice, vegetables, fruit, etc.

6. Eat baby-bites. Cut food into smaller pieces and eat one bite at a time. You chew more and the meal lasts longer.

7. Split an entrée when eating out. Most are 6-8 oz., and you need only 3-4 oz.

8. Leave some behind. Break away from the “clean plate syndrome,” the compulsion to eat everything on the plate. Save half for tomorrow’s lunch.

9. Use smaller dinner plates or bowls. Satisfy your psychological need to see a full plate. Spread food to cover the plate. Use a small dish for cereal.

10. Avoid seconds. Relax and think. Let 20 minutes pass before going for the second helping. Chances are you won’t want seconds!

Remember, portion control is weight control. Enjoy and savor the results. Thank you for reading my three-part series in honor of National Nutrition Month. Here’s to healthy eating all year long!

For more healthy portion control ideas, or to order a copy of my book, visit www.georgiakostas.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my Facebook Fan Page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.

Celebrating National Nutrition Month (Part 2 of 3)

Color Your Plate like an Artist’s Palette

It’s March and color is on your mind! You may be relishing in tabloid analysis of what color of dresses celebrities wore on the red carpet for the Oscars last week. You may be starting to think about what colors of flowers or produce you want to plant in your garden this spring. Or, if you are like me, you’re celebrating National Nutrition Month by discovering the different array of foods you can use to color your plate.

Here are a few examples of foods you can use to color your plate like an artist’s palette this month and all year long:

Color: Green
Foods: Spinach, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprout
Health benefits: Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease, macular eye degeneration, cataracts, inflammation, colon cancer, heart disease, bone loss

Color: Red
Foods: Berry, tomato, tomato sauce, apple, watermelon, radish, pomegranate
Health Benefit: Helps prevent cell damage, breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure

Color: Orange
Foods: Sweet potato, carrot, apricot, cantaloupe, orange
Health Benefits: Helps prevent heart disease, stroke, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis

Color: Yellow
Foods: Butternut squash, crookneck squash, corn, pineapple, lemon
Health Benefits: Helps prevent heart disease, stroke, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis

Color: White
Foods: Garlic, onion, pear, black-eyed pea, cauliflower, chick pea, mushroom
Health Benefit: Helps prevent high blood pressure

Color: Purple
Foods: Grape, fig, blueberry, black currant, red cabbage, eggplant, black bean, plum
Health Benefits: Helps prevent memory loss, cancer, heart disease

Help me add to my list. What foods do you enjoy that add color to your plate? Please enter your examples in the comments below.

Don’t forget to check out Part 3 of my National Nutrition Month blog series: Count Your Portions before they Count You

For more healthy plate ideas, or to order a copy of my book, visit www.georgiakostas.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my Facebook Fan Page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.