How to Pick Your Summer Produce

Summer is finally here and grocery store produce aisles are full of fresh and vibrant pineapples, peaches, melons and more. But how do you pick the most quality produce? Use these tips from Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services to ensure you select the best fruit available.

  1. Know what fruit is in season.

Produce picked in season is often the most flavorful. If you are unsure what grows when, check the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

  1. Local fruit may be riper.

Since local produce does not have to travel as far, it can grow for the full season and be picked during its prime.

  1. Buy fruits at multiple levels of ripeness.

This way you will have fresh ripe fruit that remains flavorful and fresh until your next trip to the store.

Read on for specific tips on how to select and enjoy seasonal favorites.

Happy woman buying fruit in grocery


  • A ripe pineapple’s rind is golden yellow throughout the entire fruit. If it is green, it is not ripe yet and if it is orange, it means the pineapple is overripe.
  • The base of the fruit should have a sweet smell. If there is a faint vinegar-like smell, the pineapple may be overripe.
  • To cut a pineapple, cut the top and bottom off first. Next, slice the sides off the fruit with a sharp knife. If little brown pits are left on the sides, use the edge of a peeler to pull them off. For easier, more efficient cutting, look at this unique kitchen gadget that does all the hard work for you.


  • Look for a discolored yellow spot where the melon was resting on the ground; this indicates the melon had plenty of time to fully ripen in the patch. The same is true for all other types of melons.
  • Thump the watermelon. If it sounds deep and hollow, it is good to go. If the thump produces a dull sound, it is not quite ripe.
  • A ripe melon should be dull in appearance (not shiny) and fade lighter towards the stem.
  • If a piece of the stem remains, it could indicate the melon was picked before it was truly ripe.
  • If purchasing watermelon already cut, look for dark red flesh with all black seeds (no white seeds).


  • A ripe cantaloupe has a sweet aroma.
  • Press the stem of the cantaloupe with your thumb – it should give a little under the weight of your finger.
  • Melons should feel heavy, even considering their small size. Remember, the heavier the melon, the juicer it will be.
  • Store ripe cantaloupes in the refrigerator to prevent further ripening.


  • A ripe peach should be vibrant in color. Some areas of the fruit may be discolored, but there should not be any green spots.
  • Press your thumb into the fruit, the more the fruit gives, the riper it is.
  • Store peaches at room temperature with the stem facing down. Stacking peaches on top of each other or with other fruit may cause bruising.
  • Peaches last longer when placed in a sandwich bag and storing them in the refrigerator.
  • To easily remove the skins of peaches, place in boiling water for approximately 20 seconds, then place in ice cold water. Use a knife to remove the skin.


Beat the heat with these fresh and fruity summer recipes:


Article provided by Haley Billings, intern and dietetic student at Oklahoma State University, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.

Categories: Cooper Updates

Preserve Your Summer Glow

The sun is out and summer fun is in full swing. With additional sun exposure summertime brings, it is important to be aware of ways to properly protect and prevent damage to your skin.

While beauty is more than skin deep, we must not neglect our skin—the body’s largest organ. Our skin provides an important barrier and immune protection plus hydration and vitamin-producing functions. Cooper Clinic Preventive and Cosmetic Dermatologist Kejal Shah, MD, FAAD provides her tip to keep your skin glowing long after summer is over.


  1. Seek Shade

When you’re outdoors for extended periods of time, Dr. Shah recommends seeking shade under trees, umbrellas or other shaded structures whenever possible. It’s especially important between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s harmful UVB rays are the strongest. However, even while in the shade you still receive quite a bit of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolent (UV) rays according to The Skin Cancer Foundation.

  1. Avoid Sunburns

Depending on your skin type, it may feel near impossible to avoid getting a sunburn in summertime. Dr. Shah recommends the following practical ways to prevent sunburn.

  • Wear sunscreen all the time. Apply one ounce—or the equivalent to two tablespoons—of broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat.
  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses along with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) clothing to help block UV radiation from penetrating the fabric.

Even the glass in your car or home is incapable of completely blocking the penetration of UV radiation. UVA rays penetrate more through the glass than UVB, increasing the risk of skin cancer as well as premature aging. “Consider adding tinted UV-protective film to windows in your car, house and office,” says Shah.


  1. Refrain From Tanning

UV radiation, whether from the sun or a tanning bed, is a carcinogen. The light used in tanning beds is UVA, which penetrates the skin deeper and causes skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. Using a tanning bed increases your risk of developing:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma by 70 percent
  • Basal cell carcinoma by 30 percent
  • Melanoma by 75 percent (in people who first use a tanning bed before age 35)

Dr. Shah advocates self-tanning products as an ideal alternative if you’re looking to achieve the perfect summer glow. Keep in mind they do not protect your skin from UV rays and should not be a substitute for sunscreen.

  1. Practice Preventive Measures

Using a hand and full-length mirror:

  • Start by examining your face, specifically your nose, lips, mouth and ears.
  • Moving to your scalp, use a blow dryer to expose each section beneath your hair.
  • Check the palms and backs of your hands, not neglecting to check between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Continue up your wrists to examine both the front and back of your forearms.
  • Standing in front of the full-length mirror can assist in checking your upper arms and armpits before you conclude with inspecting your neck, shoulders, back and legs.

Dr. Shah encourages you to see a dermatologist annually for a full-body skin examination to identify potential skin problems before they negatively affect your health. Cooper Clinic’s board-certified dermatologists perform a meticulous screening for cancers, pre-cancers and atypical moles. Our highly trained physicians also discuss past sun exposure, sun protection measures and family history of skin cancer in order to best treat and prevent further damage.

For more information or to schedule a comprehensive skin exam at Cooper Clinic Dermatology, visit or call 972.367.6000.

Categories: Cooper Updates

Keep Calm & Care For You

While stress in day-to-day life looks different for everyone, it can manifest itself in similar ways, taking emotional, mental and physical tolls on our bodies. Cooper Spa General Manager Lisa Boyle delves into her favorite indulgent spa services and products to help relieve and manage stress on all levels. spa massage

Specifically for helping with stress management and relaxation, Boyle recommends an 80-minute Swedish massage with the primary focus to relax the entire body by using long, gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. The Swedish massage technique decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as the hormone which triggers cortisol level spikes, arginine vasopressin.

A multitude of spa services address emotional, mental and physical ways that stress takes its toll on the body. While some treatments are more effective for stress reduction, the overall feeling of being cared for, nurtured and pampered is the key to relaxation, promoting feelings of whole body wellness. “Receiving any type of spa service helps create both mental and physical health benefits,” says Boyle. “Physical contact is necessary to our well-being, one component that all spa treatments offer.” Studies have shown that spa services such as massages, facials and skincare treatments increase sleep quality and help boost the immune system. Additional health benefits these services provide include stimulating the lymphatic system to rid the body of toxins, helping the body to release serotonin, relieving chronic pain, promoting cell regeneration and improving circulation and posture.

Cooper Spa offers a variety of retail products which incorporate aromatherapy and muscle tension relief to help manage stress in the comfort and convenience of home. On days when you can’t seem to fit a trip to the spa into your busy schedule, Boyle recommends the Sonoma Lavender Neck Pillows and Heat Wraps. “These products help to soothe achy muscles with calming scents of lavender and other essential oils. Heating them in the microwave and placing them wherever you are most tense helps relax and revive the muscles.” Another personal favorite product of Boyle’s is the RAD Roller massage tools line, designed to release muscular pain, flush out toxins, relieve trigger points and help mobilize joints.

No matter what kind of stress you find yourself dealing with, self-care is the first step in the right direction to help you manage stress and feel your best.

For more information or to book a service at Cooper Spa, visit or call 972.392.7729.

Catching the Cauliflower Craze

Have you caught the cauliflower craze yet? Starring as the nutrient-packed main ingredient in many recipes today may be reason enough to make cauliflower your next favorite vegetable. GettyImages-915331568.jpg

Cauli-Power Nutrients

Packed with powerful health benefits, cauliflower is a part of the cruciferous vegetable family which is among the top ten brain-healthy foods. Beyond its brain benefits, its unique plant compounds may also reduce risk of heart disease and cancer. Just one cup of cauliflower provides more than 75 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C intake. It is also a good source of vitamin K, B6, potassium and manganese.

One cup of raw cauliflower contains:

  • 25 calories
  • 0 g fat
  • 5 g carbohydrates
  • 5 g fiber

It’s easy to prepare, inexpensive and extremely convenient. Traditional ways to eat cauliflower include:

  • Steamed
  • Roasted
  • Sautéed
  • Raw
  • Added to stir-fries, soups, casseroles and salads


A “Sneaky” Starch Swap

Helping reduce calories and carbohydrates (not to mention expand your veggie palate), cauliflower can replace starches in many recipes as a weight loss friendly food.

One cup of cooked rice:

  • 240 calories
  • 45 g carbohydrates

One cup cooked cauliflower:

  • 30 calories
  • 5 g carbohydrates


By making this substitution, you save eight times the amount of calories and carbohydrates!

This amazing veggie contains three times the amount of fiber than white rice, which promotes fullness, an important aid in weight control. Cauliflower also contains 92 percent water content by weight, which, like other water-packed, low-calorie foods such as fruits and veggies, can also help with weight loss.


Local grocery stores now offer a wide range of cauliflower-based products, so you don’t have to go out of your way to find an array of conveniently fresh and frozen items.

Mix up your menus by adding these items to your grocery list:

  • Cauliflower rice, grated cauliflower that can replace white or brown rice.
  • Cauliflower mash, pureed cauliflower and used instead of mashed potatoes (see recipe below).
  • Cauliflower pizza crust and tortillas are made from pulsed cauliflower for a low-carb version of pizza, wraps, tacos or burritos.
  • Cauliflower hummus uses cauliflower to replace chickpeas in recipes.
  • Cauliflower mac and cheese, risotto or couscous utilizes cooked cauliflower that is mashed and used as a guilt-free way to replace these carbohydrate-rich foods. Try preparing these with lower fat milk and cheese, along with your favorite spices.


You can purchase many of these items pre-made such as seasoned cauliflower rice, mash and even pizza crust, but beware of added sodium and fat that can creep in. It is ideal to buy a bag of fresh or frozen riced cauliflower, which can be added into delicious homemade recipes with a few easy steps.


Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Makes 4 servings


1 large cauliflower, cut into small pieces (about 1 pound)

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 (14 oz.) cans low-sodium chicken (or beef) broth

2 Tbsp. chives, chopped (or green onions)

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped



  1. Combine cauliflower, garlic and broth in a large saucepan. If the broth does not cover the cauliflower, add water to cover.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until cauliflower is fork tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Drain cauliflower and garlic, reserving 2 Tbsp. broth.
  4. Hand mash or transfer to a food processor and pulse until smooth, adding broth if necessary to moisten mixture.
  5. Season with salt and pepper; add chives (or green onions) and parsley and stir. Serve hot.


Nutritional analysis:

88.7 calories

1.8 g fat

124 mg sodium

13.8 g carbohydrates

4.3 g fiber

8.2 g protein


For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit or call 972.560.2655.

Blog provided by Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.

Categories: Cooper Updates

Get Cracking with the Benefits of Pistachios

February 26, 2019 Leave a comment

Did you know that pistachios are one of the world’s oldest nuts, tracing back to biblical times?

Pistachios have a long history as amazing sources of healthy fats, protein, fiber and antioxidants. Pistachio lovers have many reasons to crack open these little green gems.


Three Reasons to Love Pistachios

Heart Health

  • Research suggests that eating 1.5 oz. per day of most nuts, including pistachios, may lower risk of heart disease.
  • Pistachios are low in saturated fat (2 g per 1 oz. serving) and a vegetarian source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Pistachios contain antioxidants that fight inflammation and may help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.


Weight Management

  • With 3 g of fiber and 6 g of protein, pistachios can help manage weight by reducing overall caloric intake.
  • Serving sizes of pistachios are larger than any other nut with one serving size containing 49 kernels (1 nut = 4 calories).
  • Pistachios are often portioned in convenient 1.5 oz. single-serving bags which promote smarter portion control.


Blood Sugar Management

  • Pistachios and other tree nuts have been shown to lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Research has shown that consuming about 2 oz. of pistachios a day as a replacement for carbohydrate foods may reduce HbA1c, a long term marker of blood sugar control.
  • Adding nuts to a carbohydrate-rich meal can reduce blood sugar spikes 1-2 hours after eating.


Nut-rition Breakdown of Pistachios

(1 oz. serving or 49 nuts)

  • 160 calories
  • 13 g total fat
  • 2 g saturated fat
  • 8 g carbs
  • 3 g fiber
  • 6 g protein

Get Cracking with Pistachios

  • Grab an individual bag or portion out 49 nuts as a mindful snack.
  • Make your own trail mix with pistachios, pumpkin seeds, chopped dried apricots and dried cranberries.
  • Toast raw pistachios and other mixed nuts with an array of spices.
  • Top salads, yogurt and oatmeal with a handful of pistachios.
  • Toss a few pistachios into a cold pasta dish.
  • Prepare a pistachio-crusted fish, such as salmon.
  • Add crushed pistachios to homemade guacamole.
  • Mix a serving or two of pistachios into baked goods like granola bars, high fiber muffins and wholesome cookies.

For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit or call 972.560.2655.

Blog provided by Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE.

Categories: Cooper Updates, Nutrition

Never Skip a Beat in Your Workouts

February 12, 2019 Leave a comment

February is nationally recognized as heart health month. The value of knowing the benefits of heart rate tracking is vital. Today heart rate trackers have proven to be more than a fitness trend or mere fashion statement.

Fitness Director and Professional Fitness Trainer at Cooper Fitness Center, Mary Edwards, MS, vouches that tracking your heart rate is the most accurate way to gauge performance improvement. It is useful in determining the appropriate calorie expenditure for an individual, or the amount of calories someone needs to consume based on how many calories are burned from breathing, food digestion and physical activity.

Though various apps and calculators are available online to measure your calorie expenditure, the most accurate estimate is based off one’s personal heart rate. Edwards also affirms that heart rate tracking is effective in identifying symptoms of overtraining or illness, such as if your heart rate spikes immediately upon exercise and remains elevated despite the intensity of the activity.


Having knowledge of the spectrum of your personal cardiovascular capacity helps you capitalize on the purpose and role low-intensity and high-intensity exercise play in your workout . Two simple ways to calculate your appropriate heart rate range are based on your age. The first way, which is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), is to use the formula 208 – (0.7 x age). Myzone® recommends and uses an alternate formula of 211 – (0.64 x age), which is namely accurate for Myzone® users.

Heart rate tracking clarifies what impact physical activity has on your metabolism and gives a better idea of how the activity intensity should be altered in order to achieve greater results.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that moderate intensity exercised be performed at 50-70 percent of your max heart for best results. AHA also suggests that interval training is best performed at 75-90-100 percent. ACSM recommends five days of moderate intensity or three days of interval training as part of your weekly fitness routine.

Heart rate trackers come in an assortment of styles including smart watches, rings, wristbands and chest straps. Edwards specifically recommends the Myzone® chest strap tracker because of its precision. So no matter what activity gets you moving, there is importance in knowing your numbers and using a heart rate tracker.

For more information on heart rate tracking or to schedule a session with a Professional Fitness Trainer, visit or call 972.233.4832.

Categories: Cooper Updates, Fitness

2018 Cooper Fitness Center Member Awards

February 7, 2019 Leave a comment

Each year, Cooper Fitness Center recognizes members who exemplify the Get Cooperized model and represent Cooper Fitness Center in the best ways possible. We had an amazing pool of nominees representing Cooper as ambassadors, which made it difficult to select just a few. Congratulations to all of the 2018 recipients!


Mr. & Mrs. Aerobics: Finley & Lauren Ledbetter, Members Since 2013

Fitness is truly a family affair for Finley and Lauren Ledbetter. Finley began coming to CFC with his parents as a teen to play basketball and lift weights. In 2013 Finley and Lauren joined and they’ve been active together ever since. They enjoy lifting weights in their couples training sessions with Professional Fitness Trainer Tonya Gutch, MS. EP8A3562Always up to trying something new, Finley and Lauren participate in group exercise classes, Finley trains with Boxing Pro Derrick James and in a weekly private session with Tonya, Lauren is perfecting her aerial yoga skills on the Queenax™ AntiGravity® equipment.

Nothing gets in their way of working out at CFC. In the last two years, Finley has lost 50 pounds through a consistent diet, exercise—lots of basketball—and encouragement from members and staff.

“Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate.” That’s just what Finley and Lauren are doing for their daughter, Presley. At only 2 years old she already knows her way around the Fitness Center. She’s a regular in Cooperized Kidz childcare, takes swim lessons and even shoots baskets with Finley from time to time.

Female of the Year: Jan Woerner, Member Since 2016

As Jan Woerner describes it, exercise and good nutrition are just part of who she is—“they’re in [her] DNA.” She’s always treated her body as a machine or car and made EP8A3596sure to properly fuel it. So in May 2015 when her body went into septic shock, many doctors attribute her survival to her good health. Her recovery included three months in the hospital, kidney dialysis and eventually a kidney transplant in August 2017. Exercising at Cooper during the recovery kept Jan going physically and mentally. Through her perseverance with assistance from Professional Fitness Trainer Shannon Edwards, MS, Jan has regained her life and is a testament to the healing power of healthy living.

 Male of the Year: Bruce Graham, Member Since 2004

Regardless of where his work travel takes him, Bruce Graham always “packs” his CooperEP8A3653 workouts. Through his training sessions with Professional Fitness Trainer Shannon Edwards, MS, Bruce has learned a broad range of functional fitness exercises he can complete almost anywhere. He works out 4-5 times per week and attributes his recovery from back and rotator cuff surgery to Shannon’s guidance and expertise. Bruce is a role model professionally—encouraging his employees to adopt a healthy lifestyle—and personally to his three daughters. He serves on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Board of Trustees and is Board of Directors Chairman for Both Ends Believing.

Classic of the Year: J. Walter Coughlin, Member Since 1973

EP8A3634A member for more than half of his life, Walt Coughlin is a fixture at CFC. While working as a Secret Service agent, he was transferred to Dallas in 1973 and joined Cooper his first day here. At the age of 84, the former marathon runner and collegiate football player exercises five days a week, walking 12-15 miles each week. Coming to the Fitness Center is no longer a habit for him, it’s a necessity. He enjoys every moment he’s here being active with his friends and sharing the experience with his daughter and CFC member, Kelly Bennett. Walt epitomizes Dr. Cooper’s quote, “Age fast or age slow, it’s up to you,” as he continues to exercise daily to enjoy life!

Youth of the Year: Weston Schaded, CFC Client Since 2014

Growing up at Cooper—from crawling and walking at Cooperized Kidz to running drills EP8A3611 with Basketball Pro Coleman Crawford and building his strength with Professional Fitness Trainer Shannon Edwards, MS—Weston Schaded, age 11, has experienced the benefits of fitness firsthand. Endurance, agility, self-discipline and persistence are a few of the physical and mental benefits he’s developed. He shares his fitness knowledge with his basketball teammates and encourages them to never give up. Weston practices what he preaches—with a smile on his face regardless of the challenge—and is an inspiration to family, friends and all who see his commitment to exercise. 

Most Improved: Michael Shriro, Member Since 1994

EP8A3683In the last 18 months, Michael Shriro has lost 100 pounds through exercise and healthy eating. With encouragement from his sister, in 2017 Michael embarked on a more focused approach to weight loss and good health and he’s found success. He’s added years to his life according to his doctor. Not to mention he feels better, is wider awake and even enjoys food more. He works out daily and even sometimes comes to Cooper twice a day. The support of fellow members motivates him to keep going and continue achieving his goals.

Cooper Quest Champion: Julie Wardner, Member Since 2008

Knowing your numbers is key to maintaining good health. Through the Cooper Quest EP8A3708wellness program Julie Wardner is using knowledge to transform her health. Based on her quarterly Cooper Quest assessments results—especially focused on her blood work and cardiovascular fitness test—she adjusts her workout regimen and diet to meet her goals. Julie also uses Myzone® heart rate tracking to guide her exercise intensity. She’s improved her cardiovascular fitness from fair to excellent. Julie is a shining example of how to utilize Cooper Quest to improve the quality and quantity of life.

For more information on membership at Cooper Fitness Center, visit or call 972.233.4832.

Categories: Cooper Updates