Choosing Healthy Drive-Thru Meals

NB_Fast-Food-(1)Whether you’re running behind in the morning or staying late at the office in the evening, sometimes heading to a restaurant drive-thru often seems like the easiest or maybe even our only meal option.

In these situations, it’s important to know drive-thru eating doesn’t have to be unhealthy. In fact, it’s something even our Cooper Clinic registered dietitian nutritionists do from time-to-time. Fast food restaurants are becoming more health-conscious and are adding lower-calorie food options to their menus. Below, our nutrition team shares the healthy options they order when running short on time.

Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN, LD: “My personal favorite is Chick-fil-A. The menu features products such as grilled chicken nuggets. My other favorite is Kentucky Fried Chicken. I order grilled chicken breast, corn and green beans. I get this at least once a week and get a double order so I can have it for the lunch the next day.”

Meridan Zerner, MS, RDN, CSSP, LD: “I go for the chicken fresco soft taco at Taco Bell because it’s totally reasonable in calories! I’ll also choose the Egg White Delight McMuffin (minus the cheese) from the all-day breakfast menu at McDonald’s.”

Patty Kirk, RDN, LD: “When I need a quick dinner, I pick up Wendy’s chili. It’s a great source of protein and fiber. I’ll take it home and add a quick dark green leafy salad that has been pre-washed. Dinner is ready in less than five minutes!”

Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE: “I love the Grilled Market Salad at Chick-fil-A. It’s packed with fruit from berries to sliced apples and you get protein from the grilled chicken and mixed nuts. It pairs well with their light balsamic dressing. It’s also under 500 calories, contains, 4 g of saturated fat and 7 g of fiber. It’s a very filling fast food option!”

Gillian Gatewood, RDN, LD, CNSC: “I always get the Grilled Market Salad at Chick-fil-A as well!”

Molly Wangsgaard, MS, RDN, LD, NSCA-CPT: “On family road trips, there is always usually a McDonald’s stop. I go for the Egg White Delight McMuffin no matter the time of day. I then pair it with raw veggies from home.”

Colleen Loveland, MS, RDN, LD, CDE:  “I go to Chick-fil-A and order the Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich with a side of fruit. I always feel good when I practice what I preach, even at the drive- thru. This option provides the protein, carbohydrates (including fiber) and color balance to keep me going.”

Searching for even more healthy fast food options? Check out the nutritional breakdown of  fast food breakfast options and dinner options, compiled by our registered dietitian nutritionists at Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.

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

Categories: Cooper Updates

The Importance of Staying Hydrated While Playing Tennis

The best aerobic workouts don’t always happen in the gym. Many sports, such as tennis, are most often played outside, no matter how hot and humid the climate might be.

How can you play at your best and not let the heat get to you? Hydration is key. Cooper Fitness Center Tennis Pro Corey Noel offers his advice on how to stay hydrated while playing tennis, especially in the summer heat.

How important is proper hydration while playing tennis?

“It’s extremely important to stay hydrated, especially in warmer climates,” says Noel. “Not only should you be drinking plenty of water during tennis practices and matches, but you want to make sure you start hydrating 18-24 hours prior to playing as well.”

Noel says his pre-match routine is to start drinking a combination of water and a sports drink, like Gatorade, about 12-18 hours before he plays.

Do you find yourself reaching for water frequently while playing?

“Yes,” says Noel. “One of the great things about tennis is you’re provided with plenty of Pro-Zone-CoreyNoelbreaks to drink water.”

Noel says he always urges his clients to take advantage of the water break. Skipping out on hydration could impact your game later on, something he’s noticed personally.

“If I don’t stay hydrated, I notice fatigue sets in much earlier,” says Noel. “I also move much slower and my overall game isn’t as strong.”

Do you prefer to drink water or a sports drink during a match?

“Most competitive players I know drink both,” says Noel. “Water is great for hydration, but sports drinks can help replenish lost electrolytes and other nutrients.”

Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Meridan Zerner recommends adding a sports drink to the mix if you exercise longer than 90 minutes, especially outside. Certain snacks, such as pretzels and oranges, can also help replenish lost electrolytes after your workout.

Noel’s final piece of advice doesn’t have to do with what you’re putting in your body, but rather, on it.

“Don’t forget sunscreen,” adds Noel. “It’s not only important to apply, but reapply. Most people forget that.”

For more information about tennis programs at Cooper Fitness Center or to register for tennis lessons, visit


Categories: Cooper Updates

How far would you walk for french fries?

French fries are a popular option at restaurants around the world. While delicious, the crispy pieces of potato can pack a hefty amount of calories and carbohydrates.

FrenchFriesDid you know a small order of french fries could set you back about 230 calories? That number might be enough for you to give up french fries forever. However, that’s likely not the case.

Cooper Clinic advocates the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of the time you should eat clean and healthy. The other 20 percent of the time, give yourself freedom to enjoy some of your favorite comfort foods or treats.

If you like to indulge from time to time, you’ll want to read the chart below. Our Cooper Clinic registered dietitian nutritionists have calculated the calories, carbs, fat and protein in small, medium and large orders of french fries.From there, they’ve broken down how many minutes you would have to walk in order to burn off the calories. The answers may surprise you.

Size of Fries Calories Carbs






Minutes walking for women Minutes walking for men
Small 230 29 11 3 51 39
Medium 340 44 16 4 75 58
Large 510 66 24 7 113 86


The walking calculations are based on a 4 mph/pace, which is a very brisk walk.

The calorie expenditure for women in the chart is based on:

  • Age: 40
  • Height: 5’5″
  • Weight: 130 lbs.

The calorie expenditure for men in the chart is based on:

  • Age: 40
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 170 lbs.

Below, you’ll also discover the nutritional difference between fries you can find in the freezer section at the grocery store, sweet potato fries and homemade fries.



Categories: Cooper Updates

Bean Bonanza: The Scoop on Bean Benefits

Beans are one member of the legume family that also consists of peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans and peanuts. Calorie for calorie, beans offer a whole host of health benefits with a large array of nutrient profiles, tastes, textures and uses.

Weight Loss:

  • Beans pack fiber and protein, two of the most critical nutrients to promote weight loss as they improve feelings of fullness.
  • One study found a high fiber diet containing beans not only reduced feelings of hunger, but subjects also lost an average of 3 pounds in 4 weeks.
  • Another study found an association with bean consumption and lower body weight, less belly fat and overall improved nutrition.

Heart Health:

  • Consuming beans and other legumes regularly may reduce risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death worldwide.
  • A 26 study review concluded that a diet rich in legumes can significantly reduce risk factors for heart disease such as inflammation, LDL “bad” cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as increase HDL “good” cholesterol.

Fight Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Fiber facilitates slower digestion and more stable blood sugar levels, which is important for diabetes management.
  • Numerous controlled trials found that blood sugars, insulin and triglyceride levels decreased significantly in diabetics who substituted beans for red meat.

To receive these benefits from beans, try out this white bean soup recipe provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services Registered Dietitian Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN, LD.


White Bean Soup

Serves: 8; Serving Size: 1 generous Cup176597342 white beans



  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Cup salsa verde (Arriba green salsa is excellent)
  • 1-14.5 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 1-14 oz. can no sodium chicken broth (just about 2 cups)
  • 2- 15.5 oz. cans cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 3 Tbsp. scallions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 Cup cilantro, chopped (as garnish) or use even more and stir into soup just before serving.



  1. Add oil to a large soup pot. Sauté onion and garlic until transparent.
  2. Add remaining six ingredients. Stir and simmer for 20 minutes. Add scallions and cook another 10 minutes. Just before serving, stir in lime juice and garnish with cilantro.


Nutritional Analysis

Calories: 120

Sodium: 379 mg

Fat: 1 g

Fiber: 6 g

Saturated Fat: 0 g

Carbohydrates: 24 g

Protein: 7 g

Cholesterol: 0m g


Dietitian Tip:  Sauté 1 pound diced boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a non-stick pan.  Add cooked chicken to above ingredients and simmer. (You may want to purchase cooked chicken from the grocery store such as a rotisserie chicken, to save time. Remove skin and visible fat .The white meat (breast and wing) is lower in calories and fat than dark meat (thigh and leg).)

Additionally you can include diced red and yellow bell peppers to increase the yield and add more positive nutrients while cutting calories.


Article provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Registered Dietitian, Gillian Gatewood, RDN, LD, CNSC.



Categories: Cooper Updates

Five Hydration Hacks and Facts

The average human body is 60 percent water. Your body uses water to perform a multitude of functions, including; regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, protecting organs, flushing out waste, carrying nutrients and oxygen to the cells and dissolving minerals and nutrients. Water is so important that even a slight drop in hydration can impact performance and energy. Below are five hacks and facts you need to know when it comes to hydration.

1) 8 x 8 is out of date!

  • The traditional recommendation of drinking eight, 8 ounce glasses of water daily may be undershooting needs.
  • Half of your weight is a good baseline for fluid needs. 180 pounds ÷ 2 = 90 ounces of fluid daily.
  • Therefore, a 180 pound person needs 11-12, 8 ounce cups of fluid daily to meet baseline needs. Ex. 90 ounces ÷ 8 ounces = 11.25, 8 ounce cups

2) 80/20 Rule

  • Studies show that 80 percent of our fluid needs are met through the beverages we consume and 20 percent is derived from the foods we eat.
  • Pack in your fruits and vegetables as they are composed of at least 85 percent water.

3) Proper hydration can help prevent gout and kidney stones

  • Drink enough fluids to help dilute and flush out naturally occurring substances within the body.
  • NB_Final-(1)Your lungs, liver and kidneys are largely responsible for filtering and flushing out minerals and other byproducts of digestion; however, you need adequate fluid to facilitate this process.
  • Consume enough fluids to prevent formation of painful kidney stones or uric acid crystals associated with gout.

4) Hydration may aid weight loss

  • Fluids improve satiety and may boost your metabolic rate.
  • While more research is needed, two studies found that drinking ½ liter (17 ounces) of water increased metabolic rate by 24-30 percent for up to 1.5 hours.

5) Hydrate to help maximize brain potential

  • Even mild dehydration, loss of 1-3 percent body weight or 1.5-4.5 pounds (fluid loss), can impair brain function.
  • One study found that women who had lost 1.3 percent water weight during exercise showed impairments in both mood and concentration.
  • Another study in men showed that fluid loss of 1.59 percent body weight (fluid loss) had a negative impact on working memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue.
Categories: Cooper Updates

Cooper Fitness Center Pro Zone

June 22, 2017 1 comment

Welcome to the Cooper Fitness Center Pro Zone! This monthly blog post will be the place to learn all about our Cooper Fitness Center sports professionals, the programs they offer and how sports training can benefit you. From tennis, swimming and basketball to boxing and martial arts, we have a pro for you!

Whether you’re looking to add a new level to your workout routine, participate in a group exercise program or enhance existing athletic skills, you’ll accomplish your goals with our pros. Get to know Mike, Corey, Derrick, Marni, Andre and Coleman below:

Mike Proctor, Martial Arts Pro: 45+ years of Pro-Zone-Mike-Proctorexperience

Q: How did you begin practicing martial arts?

A: I began practicing the martial ways as a child growing up in a U.S. military household. In 1962, I began to take lessons in various styles of the arts.

Q: For those setting health and fitness resolutions, what is your number one tip for success?

A: Each New Year brings reflections of the past and visions of the future, along with a body that is a year older. It is never too late to challenge yourself with new activities and a healthier lifestyle.

Q: What is one thing you wish everybody knew about martial arts?

A: Martial arts demand focus and dependability. These are two aspects of character essential to meet any challenge, whether set by oneself or by life. To quote Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.” It worked for Great Britain in 1940, and it will work for you in 2016!

Corey Noel, Tennis Pro: 10+ years of experience Pro-Zone-CoreyNoel

Q: Why do you enjoy teaching tennis?

A: I love teaching tennis because it’s a lifelong sport. It’s my biggest passion and I love seeing the enjoyment on players’ faces when they learn a new skill or see improvement in their game.

Q: For those setting health and fitness resolutions, what is your number one tip for success?

A: Set achievable, concrete goals. Ideas such as “lose weight” or “eat healthier” are positive goals, but are difficult to achieve and measure. Setting specific week-to-week or even day-to-day goals are easier to achieve and keep you in line with what you’re aiming for overall.

Q: How do you define good sportsmanship?

A: I define good sportsmanship as playing the game with integrity and common courtesy, much the same way we should all try to live our lives. It means giving your opponent the benefit of the doubt, recognizing that fun should be the primary goal of any sport and playing each game or match to the best of your abilities and with maximum effort.

Derrick James, Boxing Pro: 35+ years of experience Pro-Zone-Derrick-James

Q: Why do you enjoy teaching boxing?

A: I enjoy the interaction I have with my clients and members – they are always eager to learn and to work hard.

Q: Who was the primary influence when you were introduced to boxing, and who is your greatest role model?

A: My mother and my boxing coach are my biggest influences, and also my role models. They always had high standards and I didn’t ever want to disappoint them.

Q: How do you define good sportsmanship?

A: A good sport is someone who is able to take a loss with the same grace as they embrace and enjoy a victory.

Marni Kerner, Swim Pro: 15+ years of experience Pro-Zone-Marni-Kerner

Q: What is your favorite thing about Cooper?

A: There are so many things I love about Cooper! Perhaps at the top of my list is knowing I am part of a community that is surrounded by the most amazing resources for health and fitness knowledge, opportunities and experience.

Q: Why do you enjoy teaching swimming?

A: I love teaching confidence in the water. I believe it carries over into other aspects of life. Swimming can be very technical and challenging, so I often see a growing sense of pride alongside skill improvement, which leads to the health benefits swimming can provide. I am also happy to know I am teaching a lifelong sport and perhaps lifesaving skills.

Q: Who is your favorite role model, and why is he or she important to you?

A: My father is an amazing role model. At almost 80 years of age, he portrays a Cooperized lifestyle. He stays fit with daily exercise, including swimming!

Andre Vahdat, Assistant Tennis Pro: 10+ years of experience


Q: What is one thing you wish everyone knew about tennis?

A: Tennis is incredibly beneficial for the health of your body. It is a full body workout that you can do from your young years all the way to your senior years. It’s a great aerobic exercise that keeps your heart healthy.

Q: When did you begin playing tennis?

A: I began playing tennis at the age of 8. I  would play with my parents just for fun.

Q: Are you right or left handed?

A: Right

Q: Who would you like to play tennis against most?

A: My son. When the time comes, he can challenge me!

Coleman Crawford, Basketball Pro: 40 years of experience Pro-Zone-Coleman-Crawford

Q: For those setting health and fitness resolutions, what is your number one tip for success?

A: I would suggest people set attainable goals, be consistent with efforts to achieve those goals and listen to your body throughout the entire process. Always pay close attention to your health.

Q: What are some of your favorite basketball memories?

A: Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) basketball games…and meeting Michael Jordan!

Q: If you could train in another sport under another sports pro, what would it be?

A: Boxing with CFC Boxing Pro Derrick James.

Tune in for more information and news about Cooper Fitness Center Sports Pros at


10 Easy Ways to Add Vegetables to Your Meals

Did you know that only 9 percent of Americans eat enough vegetables every day? That’s less than one in every 10 people.

148074457_veggies in storeHow many veggies should we be consuming daily? Dr. Kenneth Cooper always refer to the adage, “Five is fine, but nine is divine.” That’s talking about servings (one serving is half a cup) of fruits and veggies we should consume every day. If you’re not getting enough, start with five servings a day and work your way to nine.

Some may believe that getting the recommended amount of vegetables every day is difficult. However, there are many ways you can add vegetables into your eating plan. The following is a list of quick and easy solutions:

1. Prepare “zoodles” by using a spiralizer or buy spiralized zucchini to replace traditional pasta noodles. You can also use squash, asparagus or cucumbers.

2. Purchase premade cauliflower pizza crust and top with extra vegetables including tomatoes, green and orange bell peppers, onions and broccoli.

3. Prepare or purchase riced cauliflower. You can buy it fresh or frozen or make it by grinding up whole cauliflower. Use it in any recipe in place of traditional rice.

4. Try adding carrot puree, grated zucchini, finely chopped broccoli, pureed spinach or chopped mushrooms to ground beef recipes such as meat loaf.

5. Add greens to smoothies by blending:
8 oz. of 1% or fat-free milk
One frozen banana
2-3 handfuls of spinach
1 tbsp. nut butter

6. Add vegetables like spinach, tomatoes, peas and broccoli to macaroni and cheese.                      Tip: Use boiled and blended butternut squash as a substitute for cheese.

7. Turn vegetables into fries or chips:
Slice up zucchini, carrots, green beans or kale
Toss in a small amount of olive oil
Bake in 425 degree oven until crispy

8. Add carrot, sweet potato or butternut squash puree to any chili or stew. Add pureed tomatoes, squash or potatoes to chicken soup.

9. Make or purchase veggie tater tots. They can be made from broccoli, cauliflower or sweet potatoes.

10. Grate zucchini or carrots and add them to your favorite muffin recipe.

Provided by: Steffany Bixby, Oklahoma State University Dietetic Student

Categories: Cooper Updates