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6 Tips for Enjoying a Healthy Holiday Happy Hour


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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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.