Keeping those New Year’s resolutions about eating better and exercising more are going to be a little easier for many Galvestonians this year. Transforming Galveston, a new health initiative, supported by the Centers for Disease Control, kicks off this weekend with an array of activities open to everyone who lives or works in Galveston.

“Every community has health challenges, but in Galveston, there are also so many opportunities for healthy, active living,” said Christine Arcari, the UTMB epidemiologist spearheading Transforming Galveston. “You can walk on the seawall, go to the beach or take free classes at the city’s recreation centers. We want people to see that it doesn’t have to cost money to get up off the couch and be active.”

Transforming Galveston gets under way Saturday with a communitywide version of the popular Biggest Loser concept. The Galveston Island Biggest

Loser Challenge is a 13-week weight loss challenge open to individuals and groups, with cash prizes awarded to those achieving the greatest percentage of weight loss.

“What we want to do with the Biggest Loser Challenge is promote healthy weight loss,” Arcari said. “That’s why it’s over a 13-week period. Research shows that the healthiest way to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight is to lose at most one to two pounds per week.”

To aid participants in reaching their goals, Transforming Galveston has organized nutrition education events and a full schedule of exercise options. Zumba, kickboxing and a weekly walk/run are available at no charge to participants who have registered for the Biggest Loser Challenge, and most of the activities are also open to the rest of the community as well.

“People who are not overweight also benefit from being more active,” Arcari said.

The classes are held at the city’s recreation centers, Wright Cuney and McGuire-Dent, at Studio 85 near Schreiber Park and at the Fit Tri Run store.

“As the Challenge progresses, we’ll also have demonstrations and introductory classes at some of the yoga and pilates studios around town,” Arcari said. The Galveston Marathon and Half Marathon is also offering a one-mile run/walk for Biggest Loser participants.

Once the Biggest Loser Challenge is under way, Arcari plans to have cooking demonstrations and supermarket tours.

“We’ll have small groups going through the grocery store with a nutritionist who can suggest what products to buy and what to avoid,” she said.

The Galveston Island Biggest Loser Challenge is open to anyone who lives or works on Galveston Island. Participants must register in person at one of three sites, McGuire-Dent Recreation Center, Wright Cuney Recreation Center or Fit Tri Run, during their normal business hours between today and Wednesday. The registration process involves a confidential weigh-in measuring height, weight and waist and hip circumference.

Arcari encourages everyone interested to register at the official kickoff events, which will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at McGuire-Dent Recreation Center and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Fit Tri Run.

“There will be related activities during the kick-off events,” Arcari said. “We’ll be doing blood pressure and blood glucose screenings at McGuire-Dent, and Fit Tri Run is having short clinics on yoga, stretching, foot health and other topics.”

For information on participating in the Galveston Island’s Biggest Loser Challenge or other Transforming Galveston activities, visit or call Liz Torres, 409-772-2554.

Down Home Pork Chops with Guilt-free Gravy

4 boneless center-cut loin pork chops (about 4 ounces each)

2 cups chopped onions

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup fat-free reduced-sodium beef broth

1 tsp seasoned salt

¼ tsp black or white pepper

2 Tbsp cornstarch

1/3 cup fat-free half and half

1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Coat a large skillet with fat-free cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat until smoking hot.

Add the chops and cook until browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onions and garlic to the skillet. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the broth, seasoned salt and pepper. Return the chops to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low, cover, cook until the chops register 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and the juices run clear, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, dissolve the cornstarch in the half and half. Pour into the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until the gravy thickens, 2 to 3 minutes more. 

Serves 4, with approximately 180 calories, 6 grams of fat and 22 grams of protein per serving. 

Recipe from Patti LaBelle’s Lite Cuisine, by Patti LaBelle and Laura Randolph Lancaster

Poppyseed Chicken

1 Tbsp canola oil

½ cup chopped onion

¼ cup finely chopped celery

1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup chicken stock

½ cup milk or half and half

3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

1½ tsp poppy seeds

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

¼ cup sliced almonds

2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery; cook 6 minutes. Add garlic and flour; cook 2 minutes. Gradually add milk and stock, stirring constantly; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in chicken, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into an 11 X 7 glass or ceramic baking dish.

Combine the breadcrumbs, almonds and butter in a bowl, and toss to combine. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over top of casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Serves 6, with 235 calories, 13 grams of fat and 28 grams of protein per serving. 

Adapted from The Best of Mr. Food, by Art Ginsburg

Curried Lentils and Vegetables

1½ cups baby carrots

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 small onion, minced

2 medium yams, peeled and diced

1 cup dried lentils, sorted and rinsed

2 tsp vegetable oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. curry powder

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground pepper

1 tsp minced ginger

1 (14 oz) can fat-free chicken broth

1 Tbsp grated lemon peel

½ cup frozen peas

½ cup nonfat plain yogurt

2 Tbsp minced green onion, including tops


Combine carrots, celery, onion, yams and lentils in a 3½-quart slow cooker; set aside.

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, curry powder, cumin, salt, pepper and ginger. Stir while cooking for 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth and lemon peel. Pour over vegetables in slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low setting for 6 to 7 hours or until vegetables are tender. Turn slow cooker to high. Place frozen peas in a strainer and run hot water over them to thaw. Add peas to slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes. Top each serving with a spoonful of yogurt and a sprinkle of green onion. Serves 6, with 182 calories, 3 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein per serving.  

Recipe from Healthy Crockery Cookery, by Mable Hoffman


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.