Meal changes that will improve your nutrition

We're four months into 2010, and by now, many people may have put their New Year's resolutions to lose weight by the wayside, and probably haven't started thinking about losing weight for bathing suit season yet.

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about the long-term incentives of weight loss rather than just seasonal goals. Cheryl Forberg, the dietitian for The Biggest Loser, has a new book, "6 Weeks to a Healthier You," that focuses on the long-term benefits of weight loss.

This comprehensive book includes 6 weeks of meal plans and exercises and shows readers what they can do to prevent and reverse the health problems associated with obesity, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Cheryl's simple, delicious recipes will help you lose weight, get healthy, and start living like a Biggest Loser!

Tips from her new book:

Tip 1: Prevent and reverse diabetes

Include low glycemic foods in your diet, which can help you balance blood sugar and insulin levels.

Suggested foods to eat: Artichokes, eggplant, cherries, green beans, long grain brown rice, mushrooms, onions, plums, and red peppers.

Moroccan Pork Stew with Baby Artichokes and Dried Fruit
Makes 4 (1 1/2 cup) servings

Sweet spices flavor this sumptuous pork stew. You can substitute chicken or turkey breast for the pork, if you prefer. Serve with a tomato salad and steamed bulgur or brown rice for a delicious meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean, boneless pork tenderloin
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1?4" dice
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pitted prunes, cut into slivers
  • 1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and cut in quarters lengthwise (see note)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, without stems
Directions:
  1. Cut the pork into 1" pieces. In a 3-quart nonstick saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.

  2. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring to keep from browning. Stir in the broth, saffron, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.

  3. Add the carrot and celery; simmer, covered, for about 2 minutes. Add the ginger, cinnamon, prunes, and artichoke hearts and simmer until the vegetables and fruits are nearly tender, about 2 minutes.

  4. Add the pork pieces to the stew and stir in the cilantro. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until the pork is just cooked.
Note: You may use a drained 9-ounce jar of water-packed artichoke hearts. Because they are already cooked, add them at the end, after the chicken is cooked.

Per serving: 300 calories, 28 g protein, 39 g carbohydrates (13 g sugars), 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 75 mg cholesterol, 8 g fiber, 375 mg sodium

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Tip 2: Get Heart Smart

Prevent heart disease by trimming saturated fat from your diet. Avocados are a secret ingredient to replace foods with saturated fat. You can use them in so many ways, like as a bread spread or salad dressing, in place of foods with saturated fat. Not only are they creamy and flavorful, but also nutrient dense and have the "good" fats.

Suggested foods to eat: Avocados- slices, guacamole, grilled shrimp salad with avocado aioli (see recipe below).

Grilled Prawn Salad with Tomatoes and Avocado Aioli
Makes 2 servings

Prawns are similar to shrimp but are a bit larger in size. If you can't find prawns at your local grocery store or fish market, you can use fresh or frozen jumbo shrimp. This salad provides plenty potassium, folate, and heart-healthy fats. It makes for a delicious, light lunch, especially in the summer months.

Ingredients:
  • 8 large fresh prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 4 slices (2 ounces) lean turkey bacon
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
  • 4 tablespoons Avocado Aioli (see recipe below)
Directions:
  1. Season the prawns with the olive oil and garlic. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Heat a grill or nonstick pan to medium high. Cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on a paper towel.

  2. Grill or saute the prawns for about 1 minute on each side, until pink.

  3. Drain on a paper towel until cool enough to handle and cut lengthwise in half. Layer the greens with the prawns, bacon, and sliced tomatoes.

  4. Top each salad with a 2-tablespoon dollop of Avocado Aioli.
Per serving: 140 calories, 14 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates (2 g sugars), 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 79 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 200 mg sodium

Avocado Aioli
Makes about 1 cup, or 8 (2-tablespoon) servings

This creamy garlicky spread is delicious on sandwiches or as a dip for fresh veggies.

Ingredients:
  • 1 medium very ripe avocado
  • 1/3 cup plain, fat-free Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until just smooth.

  2. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator.
Per serving: 35 calories, 2 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates (0 g sugars), 4 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 150 mg sodium

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Tip 3: Cut your cancer risk

Strengthen your body's protection against damage from cancer-causing "free radicals" by eating a diet rich in antioxidants.

Suggested foods to eat: Berrylicious Oatmeal (see recipe below).

Berrylicious Oatmeal
Makes 1 serving

You can use any combination of fresh or frozen (and thawed) berries for this delicious, fruit- packed start to your day.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup cooked steel-cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 packet Truvia or other natural sweetener
Directions:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a cereal bowl and stir well.

  2. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes and serve.
Per serving: 220 calories, 7 g protein, 39 g carbohydrates (8 g sugars), 4 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 7 g fiber, 50 mg sodium

>> PRINT A SHOPPING LIST FOR THIS RECIPE

Tip 4: Under Pressure

Cut back on salt and instead use low-sodium seasonings can help reduce high blood pressure.

Suggested foods to eat: Cinnamon, cocoa powder, mint, garlic, sage, oregano, parsley.

Tip 5: "Mind" Your Health

Boost your mood and brainpower with simple yoga poses and foods rich in B vitamins and omega-3 rich.

Suggested foods to eat: Bananas, asparagus, cauliflower, eggs, salmon.

Tip 6: Raise Your Defenses

Take steps to protect yourself from colds and flus by enhancing immunity with foods rich in vitamins A, C, E, Selenium and Zinc.

Suggested foods to eat: Carrots, peaches, strawberries, broccoli, hazelnuts, almonds, cottage cheese, and chickpeas.

>> Buy this book on Amazon: The Biggest Loser: 6 Weeks to a Healthier You: Lose Weight and Get Healthy For Life!

About Cheryl Forberg:

Cheryl, a registered Dietician, is the nutritionist for The Biggest Loser and co-creator of the eating plan.

A James Beard Award-winning chef, she is the author of Positively Ageless (Rodale 2008) and The Biggest Loser: 30-Day Jump Start (2009).

She is on the Advisory Board for Prevention magazine and is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.

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