Monthly Archives: July 2012

Tips for Eating Healthy on the Road

Sticking to healthy eating while traveling is no easy task. Away from a regular cooking and exercise routine, temptation often sets in, putting a real dent in your diet. Rationalizing food choices, eating in excess and throwing moderation out the window, vacations are a quick way to pile on the pounds.

This summer vacation, don’t let your travel plans sabotage your health! Follow these tips to make the most of your summer vacation and ensure you stay healthy and energized all summer long.

Get packin’. Packing up for vacation isn’t just about picking out the right swimsuit and flip-flops. It’s the time to plan ahead for healthy food choices. Pack a small cooler with nutrient-rich snacks for the road. Choose ones that are easy transportable like bagged low-fat popcorn, sliced apples, fresh grapes and cherries, raisins and vegetable sticks with hummus. Keeping these healthy grab-n-go foods on hand will keep you satisfied while on the road.

Plan ahead. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you have to avoid sticking to any type of routine. Plan out a day ahead of time where and when you will eat your meals. This will ensure you aren’t skipping meals, which often increases the likelihood of overeating later in the day and choosing less nutritious foods.

Sip smartly. Vacation time often means extended coffee and cocktail hours, however, caffeine and alcohol are sure ways to leave you dehydrated and running on empty. Take along a refillable, aluminum bottle on road trips and be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after a flight. When it comes to eating out, make water your primary beverage. Sweetened soft drinks and sodas have added sugar, adding extra calories with no additional nutritional value. Water does a body good!

Stay in control. Traveling allows for less control over what and when you eat. Packing your hotel fridge or vacation home with nutritious foods, however, will increase your chances of eating healthy and prevent unplanned, unhealthy snacking. Make a trip to the grocery store on your first day of vacation and stock your pantry and fridge full of fresh produce and real foods. Stick to your typical eating habits as much as possible.

Go local. Forgo rest stop vending machines full of empty calorie snacks and opt for independent restaurants and cafes on the road. For a look at food stops with nutritious offerings, check out Healthy Highways: The Traveler’s Guide to Healthy Eating, which lists health food stores and vegetarian restaurants across the country. If fast food is your only option, check posted calories and opt for salads, grilled sandwiches, small burgers, yogurt and fresh fruit which are now showing up on menus at most of the fast food restaurants across the country. You may also choose Subway Fresh Fit meals, which feature a variety of 6-inch subs served with apple slices and water. These meals meet the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Meal certification for nutritional criteria for levels of sodium, calories, cholesterol, saturated fat and trans-fats.

Stay active. Use vacation as a positive excuse to expand your exercise horizons. Get active in ways you never have before. Grab a bike and hit up a mountain trail or test your skills on a paddleboard or kayak. Consider taking a new class at a local gym or yoga studio. After introducing yourselves to new exercises, you may decide to bring these activities home and make them part of your weekly routine.

No matter what your destination may be, remember to not use a vacation as an excuse to be lazy and indulgent, but as an opportunity to try new activities and have fun. Make fit resolutions before hitting the road and enjoy a healthy and fun-filled vacation!

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.

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.

The Summer Dozen – 12 Healthy Summer Snacks

Image courtesy of Eudocia.

Those carefree days of summer seem long gone with many of our summer days jammed packed with activities. From festivals to barbecues to weekend getaways, that healthy routine we finally had down now seems to have fallen by the wayside.

How to get back on-track?

If your busy schedule is making it hard for you to cut out time to make healthy meals, try balancing your hectic schedule with these summer snacks that help balance your nutrition throughout the day. With little to no preparation, these on-the-go eats will keep you satisfied and fueled all day long.

  • Make your own trail mix by mixing up your favorite healthy wholegrain cereal with dried fruit and nuts in a sandwich bag. Pack up in your purse or briefcase for the next day.
  • Freeze a bunch of grapes and berries. The icy treats are full of antioxidants and will keep you cool on the go.
  • Edamame is high in fiber, protein and makes for an ideal snack. Try the dry roasted edamame. It’s ready to go, so no need to peel.
  • Try making snack kabobs. Cut up cubes of low-fat cheese and grapes and stick them on pretzel sticks.
  • Peel a banana and dip it in yogurt. Roll it in crushed, wholegrain cereal packed with fiber and freeze for a delicious snack the next day.
  • Choose a rice cake as the foundation of your snack. Quaker Rice Cakes are light and crispy and low in calories. For an added flavor boost, drizzle on a little honey or a teaspoon of low-fat peanut butter. Cheese-flavored rice cakes need no topping.
  • Slice up a cucumber and top it off with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
  • Spread mustard on a wholegrain flour tortilla. Top it off with a slice of turkey and low-fat cheese, veggies and lettuce. Roll it up and it’s ready to go.
  • With only about 75 calories, an egg makes for a protein-rich and low-calorie snack. Boil a few at the beginning of the week and eat for a nutritious snack.
  • Enjoy carrots dipped in fiber-rich hummus.
  • Cut an apple up and mix it with chopped walnuts and a teaspoon of all-natural honey or maple syrup.
  • Try a gourmet PB&J. Spread one tablespoon of cashew butter on wholegrain crackers. Drizzle with a half tablespoon of honey and top with sliced strawberries.
  • Satisfy your sweet craving with a homemade parfait. Layer low-fat vanilla or Greek yogurt, mandarin oranges or blueberries in a tall glass. On top, Sprinkle low-fat granola or Kashi® GOLEAN Crunch.

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.