‘Biggest Loser’: Make simple swaps, see results

Take a cue from the competitors on the hit weight-loss show and get healthy! Cheryl Forberg shares low-calorie recipes as well as easy changes to start living a healthier lifestyle without using all your money or time in "The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps." An excerpt.

Introduction
When I opened my newspaper on a recent morning, I read something that shocked me: Over the past year, our obesity rates did not decrease in any state in America. It’s hard for me

to believe, because as the nutritionist for “The Biggest Loser,” I see and hear so many weight-loss success stories every day — and not just from contestants, but from viewers as well.

I first meet the contestants at the start of each new season of the show, when they sit down with me for a comprehensive nutrition consultation. During these meetings, I have the opportunity to learn about each individual’s unique history and struggles, including their typical eating habits and their past attempts to lose weight. What’s interesting is that no matter how different each person’s story is, almost all of them share many of the same issues. By now, I can almost predict some of the answers I’ll receive to the questions I ask.

After eight wonderful seasons with the show, I’ve learned a lot about the common difficulties and obstacles many Americans face when it comes to their eating habits and attempts at weight management.

Among these issues, I’ve identified 10 key factors that I believe play a vital role in weight gain and poor overall health. I’ve found that most of our contestants:

  1. Had absolutely no idea how many calories their bodies really needed (or how many they consumed each day).
  2. Frequently skipped breakfast and other meals.
  3. Didn’t eat enough fruits or vegetables.
  4. Didn’t eat enough lean protein.
  5. Didn’t eat enough whole grains.
  6. Ate too much “white stuff,” such as white flour, white pasta, white sugar, white rice, and simple carbohydrates.
  7. Didn’t plan their meals in advance and often found themselves grabbing something on the go which they ate standing up, in the car, or at their desks.
  8. Drank too many of their calories (some people consumed their daily calorie budgets in sugary drinks alone!) but didn’t drink enough water or milk.
  9. Didn’t get enough exercise (if any).
  10. Prioritized other things — such as their families, friends, and jobs — over their own health and wellbeing.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably all too familiar with many of these challenges. This book provides the tools you need to get started on your own transformation. A lot of people are afraid that creating a healthier lifestyle will be too hard or too expensive or that it will require too much time and effort. The idea behind “Simple Swaps” is to make getting healthy a less daunting challenge. Living a healthier life doesn’t mean you have to change everything at once — it begins with small, manageable steps. A good place to start is to swap some of your daily habits and choices for healthier versions. For example, you might swap your daily glass of fruit juice for a piece of whole fruit, or swap your sweet afternoon treat from the coffee shop for a satisfying snack that combines protein and carbohydrates to give you a boost of energy.

I created 100 “Simple Swaps” and more than 30 mouthwatering recipes for this book based on my experience and success with “The Biggest Loser” contestants and the common struggles most people face when it comes to weight loss. Many of these recommendations are the same ones I give the contestants when they come to see me on that first day at “The Biggest Loser” ranch. Throughout the book, you’ll find not only my recommendations and advice, but tips from the contestants themselves, who know firsthand how tough it can be to fit lifestyle changes into a busy schedule, and who have incorporated these swaps into their weight-loss efforts.

Whether you’re looking to shed just a few pounds, lose a significant amount of weight, or simply maintain a healthy weight, these “Simple Swaps” will not only help you keep fit, but also ensure that you’re getting the nutrients you need for optimal health and wellness. Swapping one unhealthy food, habit, or lifestyle choice for another, better one is where it all begins.

Excerpted from “The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps” by Cheryl Forberg, RD, and The Biggest Loser experts and cast with Melissa Roberson. Copyright (c) 2009 by Universal City Studio Productions LLLp. Reprinted with permission from Rodale Books.

Greek-style pasta with fire-roasted tomato sauce and crumbled feta cheese
Servings:

Makes 8 (about 1-cup) side dish servings or 4 main course servings

Ingredients

    • 6 ounces whole grain penne or fusilli (I use Healthy Harvest brand)
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
    • 3 cups (about 28 ounces) fire-roasted tomatoes
    • 1 (8-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and halved lengthwise
    • 1⁄4 cup crumbled low-fat feta cheese
    • 8 kalamata or other black olives, sliced
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon peel
    • Fresh Italian parsley or oregano (optional)

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Prepare the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and set aside.In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until soft and just starting to brown. Add the garlic and simmer for 1 minute longer, but do not allow the garlic to brown. Add the bell pepper and cook just until softened.Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 4 minutes. Gently add the artichokes and cook for 1 minute longer, or until just heated through.Pour the sauce into a large mixing bowl and add the cooked pasta. Toss lightly and transfer to a serving bowl. Top with the cheese, olives, and lemon peel.Divide between serving bowls and garnish with parsley or oregano if desired. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Tips:

Per serving: 140 calories, 7 g protein, 27 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat (less than 1 g saturated), 5 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 410 mg sodium

Portobello "pizzas"
Servings:

Yield: 4 small pizzas

Ingredients

    • 4 whole Portobello mushroom caps (about 5” each), stemmed removed
    • 1/2 cup low fat marinara sauce
    • 1/2 cup lean turkey Italian sausage, cooked, drained and crumbled
    • 4 tablespoons shredded fat free or low fat mozzarella cheese
    • 2 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.Wipe the mushrooms clean Place them on a baking sheet, gill side up.Spoon sauce over each cap, then sprinkle on sausage and cheeses. Place in the oven and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve immediately.

Tips:

Mushroom factoid: One portabella mushroom has as much potassium as a banana. Nutrient analysis (per pizza): 97 calories, 10 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 1 g fat (saturated), 22 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 305 mg sodium

Rosemary-roasted root vegetables
Servings:

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

    • 16 ounces any combination of parsnips, rutabagas, or turnips, peeled and cut in 1" pieces
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground mustard
    • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
    • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips on a 15" × 10" baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the rosemary, thyme, mustard, and salt. Toss well and distribute evenly over the pan. Roast, stirring or shaking the vegetables every 15 minutes, until they’re tender and evenly browned, or about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with black pepper; taste and adjust the seasonings.Serve hot or at room temperature.

Tips:

Per serving: 70 calories, 1 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 180 mg sodium

Jerry and Estella's cherry crunch
Servings:

Makes 2 (3⁄4-cup) servings

Ingredients

    • 1 cup frozen or fresh sweet cherries, pitted
    • 3⁄4 cup fat-free Greek-style yogurt
    • 2 teaspoons (2 packets) Truvia Natural Sweetener or other natural sweetener
    • 1⁄2 cup Kashi GoLean Crunch cereal

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Heat the frozen cherries in the microwave in a microwave-safe container for about 30 seconds. Combine the yogurt and sweetener. In a parfait glass, layer the yogurt and cherries and top with the cereal. Serve immediately.

Tips:

Per serving: 130 calories, 11 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 80 mg sodium

Excerpted from “The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps” by Cheryl Forberg, RD, and The Biggest Loser experts and cast with Melissa Roberson. Copyright (c) 2009 by Universal City Studio Productions LLLp. Reprinted with permission from Rodale Books.

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