Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Summer’s Shapeup Starts Now

April 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Summer Shapeup

Every summer many of us have our usual self-talk — that’s when we promise ourselves that “next year” we will be in better shape.  Of course, time goes faster that we think, and summer is always preceded by cold weather that dampens exercise and holidays filled with sweets, treats, and hearty meals. We are grateful for bulky sweaters until it comes time to shed them and those formerly hidden bulges are revealed.

This year, there’s no reason to despair or berate yourself. Instead, start now to firm things up and get back into a healthier, more comfortable shape.  Losing weight doesn’t happen on its own — it takes planning, time, and commitment, so the sooner you start, the better. (However, don’t let an unavoidable delay or setback deter you. Remember that every day is a new opportunity to change.)

healthy nutritionI’ve come up with 10 tips to follow for a healthy spring, a trim summer, and a year-round new you.

  1. As your health (and physician) allows, bump up your exercise to at least 45 to 60 minutes four to five times per week. Vary your workouts by including different types of exercise — changing it up burns more calories and tones up different body parts. Work with light weights for muscle toning and include some sort of stretching. If you have the resources, swim at least a few times a week.
  1. Eliminate fast food restaurants; it is too easy to order fried and salty choices. If you must eat out, learn what goes into your restaurant order — just because something looks or sounds light doesn’t mean there’s not a half-stick of butter per serving. When it comes to salads, many pack in more than 1,000 calories with cheese, nuts, and dressing.
  1. Remove high calorie, processed foods from your house, including foods that make you feel sluggish and clog your arteries (such as saturated fats found in meat and full fat dairy products). What can’t be given away or tossed out should be moved to place out of sight and easy reach.
  1. Prepare fresh homemade foods so you can control what you are actually eating. Spend time planning menus which will keep you satisfied and avoid filling up on foods that are high in calories and fat. When you wait too long to eat, you’re more likely to grab whatever you can find.
  1. Limit calories from fats by cooking with smaller amounts of butter, coconut, walnut, olive, corn, and safflower oils. No matter which you choose, fats usually pack around 150 calories per tablespoon.
  1. Include more lean, lower-calorie proteins in your diet, like chicken, turkey, fish, egg whites, and beans.
  2. Don’t overdo it with starches such as breads, pastas, and rice. Limit your cooked starch portion to no more than one cooked cup per meal.
  3. Increase your consumption of vegetables to at least four cups per day (four is better). They are lower in calories and higher in fiber than other parts of your meals and full of antioxidants. Vary your veggies — mix up colors and varieties.
  1. Choose healthful snacks that don’t pack on many extra calories. Good choices include small fruits, air popped popcorn, and light yogurts. While they have health benefits, the high amounts of fat and calories found in nut butters like peanut butter (it packs 180 calories and 16 grams of fat in two level tablespoons) means they are rare treats. Sugar-filled bars and shakes should be avoided.
  1. Stay well-hydrated. Drink at least 64 ounces of water daily — it’s essential for every body function, including burning calories. Eliminate juices, flavored drinks, and additives to coffee and tea such as creams and sweeteners.

Though you should be creative in applying my tips into your healthier lifestyle, I offer suggestions for meal and snack options:


  • One cup of unsweetened cereal with one-half cup skim milk
  • One packet instant low-sugar oatmeal
  • One cup one percent cottage cheese, with 1 cup of melon
  • One-half cup scrambled Egg Beaters with two slices light whole-grain toast
  • One light vanilla yogurt layered with one cup of berries


  • Two tablespoons hummus in a mini whole grain pita with one cup of shredded lettuce, cabbage and chopped tomato
  • Three ounces of grilled sliced chicken over mixed greens, with cucumber, shredded carrots, beets, and one and one-half tablespoons of light Italian or ranch dressing
  • Two ounces of low sodium turkey or chicken on light multigrain bread with lettuce and tomato
  • One cup of low sodium vegetable soup with a half of above sandwich
  • Three ounces of tuna fish with light mayo on light multigrain bread with chopped onions and carrots


  • Three ounces of grilled salmon with one-half sweet potato and steamed broccoli
  • Four ounces of roasted skinless chicken breast with three mini potatoes and steamed green beans
  • Four ounces of broiled tilapia with garlic, onion, and lemon juice sprinkled with breadcrumbs, with baked asparagus
  • Tofu, onions, tomatoes, and mushroom kabobs with two-thirds of a cup of cooked quinoa
  • One cup of chickpea salad over baby spinach, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers


  • Seven mini rice cakes
  • Small fruit
  • Light yogurt
  • One low-fat string cheese
  • One and one-half cups of air-popped popcorn
  • Small bowl of cereal with non-fat milk
  • Two tablespoons of hummus with vegetable sticks
  • Cup of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • Sugar-free ice pop

Marlisa Brown MS, RD, CDE, CDN, is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, Chef, and author of The Gluten-Free Hassle-Free Cookbook, Gluten-Free, Hassle-Free and Easy, Gluten-Free.  She is also president of Total Wellness Inc., a private nutritional consulting company.  For more information, go to www.glutenfreeeasy.com and www.twellness.net.


Light and healthy recipes

Veggie Frittata                                                                      

Serves 2


1 cup Egg Beaters

cooking spray

1 T I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light

½ cup chopped red onions

1 chopped plum tomato

4 sliced mushrooms

1 cup baby spinach

2 slices low-fat Swiss cheese

1/8 tsp sea salt

dash black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a large skillet (must have a heat-proof handle) with cooking spray, heat on high until hot, lower temperature, and add I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light.

Sauté onions until they start to brown. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach. Cover skillet and cook for about six minutes until all start to soften.

Uncover and cook until liquid is all dissolved. Add salt and pepper.  Set vegetables aside.

Wipe down the pan and spray with cooking spray. Heat and add Egg Beaters, cooking until they start to set.  Top with sautéed veggies and cheese, place in oven and cook until Egg Beaters are cooked through.

Nutritional information:  131 Calories, 18.9 gm protein, 8.4 gm carbohydrate, 2.4 gm fat, 9.9 mg cholesterol, 446 mg sodium.
Tip:  You can substitute three egg whites for every ¼ cup of Egg Beaters if so desired.

Quick and Easy Oatmeal Pancake                                                 

Serves 1


cooking spray

1 packet of flavored instant oatmeal raisin

1 egg white

¼ tsp cinnamon

Spray a skillet with cooking spray. Mix together oatmeal, egg white, and cinnamon. Pour oatmeal mixture onto hot skillet, press into a pancake. Brown on both sides and serve.

Nutritional information: 186 calories, 7.5 gm protein, 35.7 gm carbohydrate, 2.1 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium.

Grilled Chicken Cutlet with Artichoke Hearts and Sliced Tomatoes

Serves 4


3-4 ounces skinless boneless chicken breasts

2 T fat-free salad dressing

1 small jar of marinated artichoke hearts drained

2 T sliced black olives

2 sliced tomatoes

¼ cup shredded skim mozzarella

2 T seasoned breadcrumbs

1 tsp garlic powder

cooking spray

Preheat oven to broil.

Place chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound until thin. Marinate chicken with fat-free dressing for about five minutes. Grill until just seared on both sides.

Slice chicken into strips and put in an oven-safe pan. Top chicken with artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes, and cheese.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and garlic powder and spray with cooking spray. Put under the broiler until just browned and serve hot.

Nutritional information: 151 calories, 21 gm protein, 7.5 gm carbohydrate, 4.5 gm fat, 54 mg cholesterol, 310 mg sodium.

Tip:  Grilled turkey or fresh fish works in this recipe too.

Turkey Cheddar Quesadillas

Serves 4


cooking spray

½ cup onions sliced thin

¼ pound sliced turkey breast

½ cup salsa

4 corn tortillas

½ cup low-fat cheddar cheese

1 cup salsa

½ cup fat-free sour cream

Spray a skillet with cooking spray, heat, and then sauté onions until light brown. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Cut turkey into two-inch pieces and cook until they start to brown. Combine with onions.

Strain salsa into a small strainer. Wipe the skillet clean, spray with cooking spray again, and heat. Cook corn tortillas individually until soft on each side, fill with a quarter of the onions and turkey, top with one quarter of the salsa and two tablespoons of cheddar. Heat until cheese melts and fold in half. Wrap in aluminum foil and keep warm in oven until ready to serve with extra salsa and fat-free sour cream.

Nutritional information: 129 calories, 7 gm protein, 22 gm carbohydrate, 1.8 gm fat, 6.6 mg cholesterol, 593 mg sodium.

Tip:  Using sliced ham or grilled leftover chicken works great in this recipe in place of the turkey.

Chopped Baby Spinach Salad                                                        

Serves 4


9 ounce bag baby spinach

½ cup chopped snap peas

1 cup chopped carrots

1 ear corn (remove kernels)

1 chopped red pepper

½ chopped onion

1 cup bean sprouts

1 peeled chopped cucumber

1 large chopped tomato

Mix together snap peas, carrots, corn, red pepper, onion, bean sprouts, cucumber and chopped tomato. Toss vegetables with spinach and serve with a favorite fat-free dressing.

Nutritional information:  108 calories, 5 gm protein, 22 gm carbohydrate, 1.3 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 54 mg sodium.

Tip:  This simple salad is delicious.  If you have never removed the corn from an ear of corn yourself, it is simple — hold an ear vertically against a cutting board and run a sharp knife down the ear to remove corn.

Tilapia Stuffed with Feta, Onion and Tomato                  

Serves 4


1 pound of tilapia

1 egg, beaten

½ cup Japanese breadcrumbs

2 t garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

cooking spray

2 T chopped garlic

½ onion, sliced thin

1 large chopped tomato

1 T fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)

1 tsp lemon juice

2 ounces feta cheese

Set oven to broil.

Mix together breadcrumbs, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Dredge fish in egg and then in breadcrumb mixture on both sides until coated. Set aside.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place fish on it; spray top of fish lightly with cooking spray and set under the broiler.  Cook about two-three minutes until brown, then turn and repeat on other side.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Spray skillet with cooking spray. Sauté chopped garlic and onion until brown. Add tomato, thyme, and lemon juice, and cook until tomatoes soften.  Add feta and cook for one minute more.

There are several ways to stuff the fish.  I like to place the onion mixture on top and then heat in a 350 degree oven for five minutes until the cheese starts to soften.  A different way to go is to only brown one side then turn the fish and fill on raw side, folding over and baking until it is cooked through.  One more method is to bread only one side of the fish and then stuff and roll the non- breaded side, spraying with cooking spray and cooking under the broiler until the crust is brown.  To finish, turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake fish until it is cooked through.

Nutritional information: 211 calories, 26 gm protein, 11.3 gm Carbohydrate, 6.3 gm fat, 124 mg cholesterol, 649 mg sodium.

Tip:  Instead of tilapia, use flounder, scrod, cat fish, grouper, or snapper — all stuff well.


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