Tag Archives: healthy weight

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.

Heart Smart Foods for February Heart Month

Healthy heart, healthy body. 

How can you prevent artery and heart disease that a majority of Americans develop over a lifetime? Take action now. Focus on heart smart foods that keep your artery walls strong, elastic, and free of plaque (from cholesterol deposits and oxidation), inflammation and clots. Heart-Smart foods fight for your life every day, by protecting your arteries from:

Cholesterol build-up:  Eat plant foods (fruit, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, oils), foods with soluble fiber such as oats, beans and psyllium seeds; fish, poultry without skin, lean beef and pork and lamb cuts; skim milk, low-fat cheese, and spreads and special foods with stanols or sterols (i.e Smart Balance Heart Right spreads and milk). Avoid saturated, hydrogenated and tran fats in lard and fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb, hot dogs, sausage; burgers, hardened margarine sticks, commercially prepared desserts, snack foods, icing, fried foods.

Cholesterol oxidation:  Eat anti-oxidant-rich fruit and vegetables of all types, particularly deep red/blue/purple foods such as red grapes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grape juice, red wine, dark chocolate, tea, eggplant, raisins, tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Artery stiffness:  Eat olive oil, canola oil, seafood (omega 3’s), nuts, and fresh produce that contain anti-oxidants, phyto-nutrients and potassium.  Skip the salt shaker, packaged and canned foods, and salty foods that stiffen arteries.

Artery inflammation:  Select anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant-rich foods such as fresh produce, whole grains, beans, seafood, omega 3-rich foods. Eat regular meals with reasonable portions        (large meals or large portions inflame artery walls by elevating blood sugar, fats and salt). Avoid excessive sugar, salt, saturated, trans and hydrogenated fats; excess body fat, particularly middle fat; and sitting long hours. Get up and move. Treat and control elevated blood pressure and diabetes. The bottom line: reasonable portions, reasonably sized meals and regular exercise prevent inflammation.

Clot formation:  Eat nature’s natural blood thinners to prevent clots, such as seafood, olive and canola oils, red foods with polyphenols (red grapes, red onions, tea, wine, red apples, garlic, grape juice) and red/orange foods such as tomatoes, red bell pepper, berries, cherries, carrots, oranges, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cantaloupe- all are good for your arteries and blood flow. Omega 3s are found in oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, bass, trout; walnuts;  canola and olive oil, as well as omega 3- fortified spreads, milk, orange juice, low-fat cheese.

In essence, enjoy 2-3 fruit and 2-3 cups of fresh vegetables daily…especially colorful ones, and a variety, to reap the greatest heart-health benefits. Eat beans 4 times a week; nuts 4 times a week -one shot glass of nuts is a serving; seafood at least twice a week; 3 whole grains daily; healthy oils; non-fat or low-fat dairy and lean protein foods.

Limit alcohol, which raises blood pressure and weight, and can interfere with medications. The American Heart Association guideline: “Limit alcohol to no more than one can of beer, five ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of 80 proof alcohol per day,” for women; two for men. Exceed these amounts, and the benefits of alcohol are countered by increased heart risk.

Remember to get up and move for at least 30 minutes daily. Schedule a little exercise each day for fun, relaxation, stress release, and recreation. You heart and arteries will sing. Plaque and inflammation and clots lessen, artery elasticity and strength increase, LDL (bad) cholesterol lowers, healthy HDL cholesterol rises, blood sugar, fats, and pressure normalize. A little goes a long way to improving your overall health, heart health and sense of well-being.

Seemingly little decisions daily as to what to eat and how much, when to exercise and how much, make a HUGE impact on your heart, and your life.

Discover more heart healthy tips by visiting my website, www.georgiakostas.com. Order my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009), for recipes, teaching tips, menu planning and more. You can also follow me on Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or twitter @georgiakostas.

Renew Your Health in the New Year!

If you are committing to “eat better” in 2012, and want to reap the greatest benefit with the least amount of change, where will you begin? Most health experts agree:  “eat more fruit and vegetables”!  Here are four good reasons why:

  • their unique nutrients help reduce chronic disease – heart, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity
  • their low-calorie, high fiber, and water content will help you lose weight faster, while feeling “full”  
  • their potassium, magnesium, and fiber content counters common nutrient shortfalls
  • their nutrition impact trumps genetics in reducing genetic-related heart disease

Not convinced?  The Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which followed the diets and health of 110,000 men and women for 14 years, found that eating more fruit and vegetables helped people lose weight faster and more easily, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke by 30%. Those averaging 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables daily had the greatest reduction in cardiovascular risk.  Although all fruits and vegetables likely contributed to this benefit, the greatest impact seemed to come from green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens; cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale; and citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit (and their juices).

Beyond the cholesterol-lowering benefits of fresh produce, their anti-oxidant content improves artery health. A Swedish study released in December 2010 quantified the antioxidant value of diets in over 35,000 older women. Those who ate the most fruit, vegetables, and whole grains had the greatest anti-oxidant intake and greatest reduction in stroke risk.

Anti-oxidants have many beneficial qualities, including: 1) block cholesterol-plaque build-up and hardening in our arteries, keeping artery walls (muscle) pliable and healthy for better blood flow, and 2) lessen plaque-related inflammation in artery walls, leading to blood clots. Stiff, plaque-narrowed arteries and clots lead to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. Supplemental anti-oxidants have proven unhelpful, and in some cases, even dangerous.  Nature provides the right form and balance of anti-oxidants in foods, conferring health benefits, as well as the right mix of vitamins, minerals, fiber, phyto-nutrients, and phytosterols, which most likely are at the heart of the benefits.

Another interesting study reported in 2011 found that adding fresh produce and other heart-protective foods to one’s diet reduced the risk of heart attacks more powerfully than merely subtracting the “bad” stuff – saturated fat, sugar, trans fats, salt.

I love this finding because I have long been an advocate of adding quality foods rather than merely subtracting foods when helping my clients to eat better, lose weight, or lower cholesterol or blood pressure.  My clients tell me they prefer this positive approach and are more successful with their health and weight results.

So, if you make one change this year, begin by adding more fruits and vegetables to your meals daily! You may start with just one extra fruit and one vegetable today. Or, follow the recommendations of the 2011 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans:   fill “half your plate with fruit and vegetables and lunch and dinner”.

Need more ideas?  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 http://georgiakostas.com. Let the New Year begin with renewed health and zest!

Happy, Healthy Holiday Tips

“Tis the season to be jolly! A season filled with festivities, friends, family, fellowship…and yes, food!

How can you enjoy the season and not give yourself the typical 2- 8 lbs at Christmas that may linger all year? Here are a few top survival tips:

  1.  Focus on the people and conversation everywhere you go — let food be a secondary joy.
  2. Arrive at events satisfied, not starving. 
  3. Drink 2 glasses of water before walking in the door, and drink 2 glasses of water for every higher calorie beverage.
  4. Fill up first on veggie and fruit options (easy on the dips, dressings, sauces).
  5. Go lean with protein, such as turkey, meatballs, ham, roasted chicken, beef tenderloin slices.
  6. Pay attention to liquid calories, such as holiday punch, soda, beer, wine, eggnog, which pack hundreds of extra calories…and pounds. 
  7. Use small plates, which lends to smaller portions. Imagine each bite providing 50 calories…100 bites = 5000 calories (= 1.5 lbs of weight gain per party!)
  8. Think small and special, so skip “usual” foods like chips and dips, and head to seasonal favorites.
  9. Cut portions into smaller bites than usual.  More bites = more chews = more filling.
  10. Offer to bring a dish, such as a fruit trays, vegetable tray, coleslaw, pico de gallo, Heavenly Seven-Layer Dip (recipe below), turkey slices, vegetable wraps, popcorn, chex mix with added popped cereals (rice, oats, wheat, etc).
  11. Keep moving –walk the mall or walk your neighborhood! Every step helps.
  12. Remember that eating scheduled meals and exercising at scheduled times will help you survive the stress of the season, so you can enjoy the holidays even more.

For easy tips, meal plans, recipes and more, check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009). Or, send me an email at Georgia@GeorgiaKostas.com, for a nutrition consult in person, over the phone or online.  I want you to be at your healthiest and happiest this holiday season, and carry that well into the New Year!

Follow me on Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or Twitter @georgiakostas.

Healthy Seven-Layer Dip

Guacamole (buy at grocery store or make homemade below). Set aside.

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
2 teaspoons lime juice, fresh or bottled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons salsa or fresh chopped tomato
Garlic powder or garlic salt to taste (optional)
Black pepper to taste

Dip layers   Prepare and set aside each item below.

8 ounces fat-free or light sour cream
1-ounce packet taco seasoning mix
15-ounce can fat-free or vegetarian refried beans
1 cup diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
2 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican-style cheese blend (i.e. Jack and cheddar)
2 1/4-ounce can sliced black olives (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In small bowl, blend sour cream with taco seasoning.
  2. Spread the refried beans in the bottom of a deep-dish pie plate or glass pan (you can warm the beans up in the microwave briefly to make them more spreadable.)
  3. Top the beans with the sour cream mixture; then top each layer as follows: guacamole, tomatoes, green onions, shredded cheese, black olives.

Serve with reduced-fat tortilla chips or reduced-fat crackers or baby carrots, jicama sticks, red bell pepper slices, broccoli or cauliflower pieces,

Makes 16 appetizer servings.

Per serving (dip only): 85 calories, 5.2 grams protein, 6.4 grams carbohydrate, 4.4 grams fat (1.9 grams saturated fat, 1.9 grams monounsaturated, .3 grams polyunsaturated fat), 7 milligrams cholesterol, .7 grams fiber, 258 milligrams sodium. Calories from fat: 46%.

Healthy Dish, Healthy Thanksgiving

Berries, spinach, nuts, oranges, red bell pepper are considered “super-foods” because they contain  exceptional amounts of nutrients that promote specific health benefits.  What if you could consume all these great foods in one simple dish? Try the recipe below – it is one of my favorites and perfect for Thanksgiving Day or any occasion. It is beautiful, delicious, easy to make, and wows your guests.

Specific health benefits?  Enjoy these huge health-boosters along with the great flavors! Berries provide anti-oxidants that block cholesterol -hardening plaque (atherosclerosis) in arteries and provide anti-inflammatory agents that prevent plaque from breaking off, forming blood clots. Further, berries contain components that block platelet stickiness (clots). Besides these heart and artery benefits, berries provide  lots of fiber, Vitamins A and C, and potassium, among other healthy nutrients. Cranberries help prevent urinary tract and bladder infections, as well.  All berries are all-star fruits. 

Spinach, like all green leafy vegetables, provide a wealth of health- Vitamins A, C, K, almost all B’s, magnesium,  potassium, zinc, calcium, manganese, copper, iron, fiber  – all of which conduct primary metabolic functions in the body crucial for heart, bone, muscle and overall health.  Greens help prevent cancer, heart disease, hypertension, cataracts, vision loss and cognition loss with age, and they block inflammation and unhealthy  free-radical created during metabolic processes.

Nuts lower LDL cholesterol, when consumed as part of a low saturated fat diet; and reduce diabetes risk, due in part to their high-magnesium content and fiber. Nuts contain a great mix of quality nutrients. 

Oranges and red bell pepper, both loaded with vitamins A and C, are key anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents for the body, fighting heart disease, cancer, and infection, and boosting immunity. So, enjoy this holiday favorite – and appreciate it being a recipe for health!

Spinach Cranberry Salad

8 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and torn

One red bell pepper, diced

One fresh orange, segmented and sliced

1/3 cup green onion, minced

¼ cup walnuts or almonds or pistachios or your favorite nut

Dressing:

¼ cup whole-berry cranberry sauce (homemade or canned)

 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

1. Combine first 4 ingreidnets in salad bowl.

2. Combine and whisk dressing ingredients.  Add to salad and toss.

Serves 6.       

Nutrient analysis per serving:   125 Calories, 9 gm fat, 150 mg sodium, 4 gm fiber. Standouts: meets 51% of your day’s needs for Vitamins A & C; 40% of folic acid needs; 15-20% of iron, Vitamin E, magnesium needs; 15% of Potassium needs .

Source:  The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution by Georgia Kostas, available at Amazon or http://www.georgiakostas.com          

Heathy eating can transform your health, energy and weight. 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.

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.

National Cholesterol Education Month is Now!

Do you have a happy heart? This is a perfect time to get your cholesterol checked; then be pro-active to achieve and maintain a low (healthy) cholesterol level (below 200) and low LDL cholesterol (below 130).  LDL is the cholesterol that sticks to arteries, hardens, and creates plaque.  It eventually builds up and narrows and stiffens arteries, blocking blood flow and causing clots.  The result?  Heart attacks and strokes.  You can lower LDL and total cholesterol the same way.  My top ten tips:

  1. Eat more fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.  Their natural anti-oxidants block LDL from oxidizing (hardening) in arteries, causing plaque.  They also prevent LDL-inflamed arteries, which spin off clots. Red foods in particular are natural clot-busters.  Eat red apples, berries, tea, red grapes, and red onions, tomatoes …particularly rich in the artery-protective polyphenols and flavanoids.
  2. Eat seafood 2-4 times a week…particularly omega-3 rich salmon, tuna, bass, sardine, swordfish, and cod.  And take a fish oil supplement with 1000 mg EPA/DHA omega-3’s from marine sources only.  Fish oils protect arteries from inflammation and clots, and keep the heart beat in rhythm.
  3. Eat lean protein – fish, poultry, lean beef and ham, nonfat dairy; 3-7 eggs a week.  Keep fish/poultry/lean meat at 6 -8 oz daily to not exceed safe amounts of hidden cholesterol and saturated fat.
  4. Keep fiber intake high as possible, particularly insoluble fiber sources – as in oatmeal, Kasha, beans, oat cereals (like Cheerios and oat squares), and psyllium.  You may also add one tsp of sugar-free Metamucil (psyllium) to a glass of water at 2-3 meals daily to lower cholesterol.  Three whole grain foods daily will also lower cholesterol.  Example: oatmeal, 100% whole grained bread, popcorn or corn.
  5. Use healthy oils – olive and canola, nuts, nut butters, avocado, olives – to lower LDL.
  6. Add special sterol-fortified foods (like Smart Balance Heart Right spread or milk). Two servings daily will lower cholesterol in 6-8 wks.  Many more are on at your grocery store. Ask a dietitian.
  7. Lose 5-10 lbs – cholesterol will drop 15-25 points.
  8. Do not smoke.
  9. Limit alcohol – 1 drink a day for women; 2 for men.
  10. Keep moving!  Aerobic activity 150 min a week and weight training (30 min twice a week) will do the trick!  You will lower cholesterol and build healthy HDL cholesterol, which transports LDL out of your arteries.  You will decrease your blood pressure, blood sugar and unwanted pounds.

Lowering cholesterol with food, exercise, weight, and lifestyle is the key.  Check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009) for more ideas of menus, snacks, cereals, cheeses, beef cuts, vegetable ideas to make all this easier for you . Or call me for a phone consult at 214.587.4241.  I want to help you be healthy and have a happy heart!

Follow me on Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or Twitter @georgiakostas.

Image: “Mixed Vegetables Healthy Lifestyle” by Grant Cochrane