Tag Archives: snacks

Falling for Apples


Fresh and cooked apples, apple butter and apple pie are favorites this time of year. The good news: apples are as healthy for you as they are delicious.

An apple a day does keep the doctor away. In fact, this everyday fruit is packed full of key nutrients, including fiber, potassium, folic acid, Vitamin C, flavonoids and disease-fighting antioxidants. Research shows that the phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like cancer1, hypertension2, diabetes3 and heart disease4. An apple peel ingredient slows down cancer cell growth while quercetin reduces blood pressure, increases blood flow and reduces inflammation and heart disease. As an added bonus, the quercetin in apples also has antihistamine properties that may help reduce allergy symptoms4. The slow-digesting pectin fiber in apples also helps with blood sugar control and the high boron content supports strong bones and a healthy brain5.

Apples are also a good source of vitamin C. In a medium-size apple you will find about 10 percent of the daily-recommended intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital to our health. It helps repair collagen and tissue, maintains bone health and provides antioxidants to lower your risk of acquiring chronic diseases.

 With less than 100 calories and 4 grams of fiber in a medium-size apple, apples make a low-calorie, healthy, crunchy and portable snack. Apples can be incorporated into many recipes and used as a healthy baking substitute, too. This fall, here are some delicious ways to enjoy apples and eat an apple a day:

  • Add sliced apples to your oatmeal at breakfast time.
  • Use chopped apples to add color and crunch to salads, coleslaw, and tuna salad.
  • When baking desserts or holiday treats, swap in applesauce as a healthier baking alternative to oils, butter and eggs. If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter or oil, swap in 1/2 cup of applesauce. For eggs, swap in 1/4 cup of applesauce per egg.
  • Enjoy honey-crisp apple slices topped with peanut butter.
  • Try replacing jam or jelly on a peanut butter sandwich with apple slices dipped in orange or lemon juice to prevent browning.
  • Pair cheese with apples for a healthy snack.
  • Cook apples in a little sugar or stevia and cinnamon for a sweet treat, side dish or oatmeal topping.
  • Use apple butter in place of jam on toast as it contains no butter, just cooked apples that soften and thicken like butter.
  • Zap an apple in the microwave with cinnamon and stevia in the cored out center, as a sweet dessert.
  • Have applesauce as a snack.
  • Add apple chunks to stews, roasts, chicken or turkey dishes, spaghetti or tomato sauces, to add flavor and a natural sweetener.
  • Puree a cooked apple and add to a soup to thicken it (e.g. butternut squash soup).

You can even let apples help you with weight control. To avoid overeating, try eating an apple before a large meal. It is filling, curbs your appetite and satisfies a sweet tooth. Crunching and chewing an apple even reduces your day’s stress level.

Enjoy an apple today, sweet or tart, and add to your health!

For more ideas on how to feel satisfied and not overeat, as well as how to enjoy a healthy diet and succeed with weight loss, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable 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.

 1 Nutrition and Cancer. http://bit.ly/1uXsRr6

2 The Journal of Nutrition. http://bit.ly/1uUGAya

3 British Medical Journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f5001

4 British Medical Journal. http://bit.ly/1gFBONG

5 Journal of Investigational Allergology. http://1.usa.gov/1swOyaO

6 Environmental Health Perspectives. http://1.usa.gov/1tzLbPF


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.

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.