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Trying to lose weight? Let’s talk salad dressing.

November 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Spare 100 calories per day to lose 10 pounds in a year…some of those small choices like “dressing on the side” matter!

Quick! Raise your hand if you know someone whose strategy for losing weight is to eat a salad for lunch every day. If you’re like me, you probably know multiple people who have decided to conquer their ever tightening pants by eating an entrée-sized salad each day for lunch. Sadly, for a lot of those folks, this strategy doesn’t work.

Here’s the deal: lettuce, spinach and other salad greens are all incredibly low-calorie and so are all the fresh fruits and vegetables that top salads—carrots, celery, tomato, cucumber and peppers, along with pear, apple, orange and berries. Then we add the extras—chopped nuts, dried fruit, cheese, bacon, olives and croutons with a big ladle or two of dressing. All of a sudden, that healthy salad isn’t healthy and the number on the scale doesn’t budge.

For example, a Dallas chain of Tex-Mex restaurants offers a popular salad that is a large plate of crisp romaine lettuce, topped with two or three baby cherry tomatoes, aged cheddar cheese, fried tortilla strips, a handful of bacon and about 3.5 ounces of sliced Fajita chicken or beef. The house dressing is a spicy blue cheese. The lettuce and cherry tomatoes are terrific salad options and the sliced grilled chicken breast is a great source of lean protein. However, the rest of the salad is full of extra fat and calories! Even with “dressing on the side,” this type of salad isn’t going to help you fit in those snug pants. Sadly, if we pull the salad back to the lettuce, tomato and chicken (with dressing on the side), we are going to be ravenous, which leads us to devour the accompanying basket of chips.

Chicken Caesar Salad is probably one of the most popular salads and is available at most restaurants, from fast food to upscale gourmet. Again, the salad starts with a large plate of crisp romaine lettuce and is topped with grilled chicken, Parmesan cheese and croutons (which are chunks of bread tossed in butter or oil, salt and spices and toasted). If you’ve ordered the dressing on the side, the serving is likely about 1/2 cup. This salad, which many dieters describe as “another (boring) day of chicken and romaine lettuce” can easily have 800 to 900 calories and an amazing amount of heart-clogging saturated fat from the cheese, croutons and dressing.

At Cooper Healthy Living, our goal is to make healthy eating simple and that includes a conversation about the nutrition of salads. A salad that’s a healthy salad is going to start with a plate of greens and then be topped (hopefully) with vegetables and/or fruit every color of the rainbow. This type of salad is a wonder in the world of healthy eating—full of flavor, fiber and the healthy benefits that at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day provide. Our rules for salad dressing follow:

  1. Order salad dressing on the side, as this gives you full control over the amount of dressing that goes onto your plate. This rule includes vinaigrettes, which we tend to think of as healthier. While vinaigrettes typically contain healthy plant-based oil, oil has 120 calories per tablespoon and a normal vinaigrette recipe is typically three parts of oil to one part vinegar—so that serving of vinaigrette likely has around 400 calories in it.
  1. Ask for balsamic, red or white wine vinegar on the side. Several squirts of vinegar adds freshness and zest to a salad, which can then be augmented with a drizzle of oil, or whatever other salad dressing you have ordered.
  1. At Tex-Mex restaurants, boost salad dressings with salsa. A lot of salsa, which is low-calorie, plus a small bit of your favorite dressing tastes delicious and has far fewer calories than straight dressing. (Tip: with a thicker dressing, either dip your fork tines into the dressing first and then spear the vegetables, or use your fork to deposit a bit of the dressing strategically on your salad.)
  1. Bottled low-calorie dressings are generally pretty dismal, so at home, consider making salad dressings—they take mere minutes, cut calories and are wonderful! Our favorite all time dressing is this Rice Wine Vinaigrette, where we start with a package of Good Season’s Dry Italian Dressing Mix and then substitute water and dried parsley (for thickening) in place of some of the oil. This same recipe is also great switching out rice wine vinegar for balsamic! And this Caesar Salad Dressing, a semi-homemade combination of the low calorie bottled ranch dressing that’s not too tasty, full-fat bottled Caesar dressing, Worcestershire and Tabasco, to quick to make and is really delicious. In addition to using on your salad, the dressing is also terrific smeared on a sandwich or wrap.

This is Cooper Healthy Living, a series of baby tweaks and adjustments that help us live better and longer (and in pants that fit and fulfill our best vision of who we are)!

NEW Vitamin D-3 Drops and Vitamin D-3 Softgels

October 22, 2014 Leave a comment
Cooper Complete Vitamin D-3 Softgels

Cooper Complete Vitamin D-3 Softgels

This Fall Cooper Complete® Nutritional Supplements has given our Vitamin D consumers an extra dose of attention. Cooper Complete Vitamin D-3, our vitamin supplement, has changed forms from an orange colored tablet to a softgel. If you’ve been taking Vitamin D-3 in tablet form, the item number (and SKU) remain the same.

Why the change? The softgel allows us to provide the same 1,000 IU Vitamin D-3 in a form that has fewer “other ingredients” which provides a more pure supplement.

We’ve also added a new product, Cooper Complete Vitamin D-3 Drops. Why another Vitamin D from Cooper Complete? The team of physicians at Cooper Clinic made this recommendation. If you’ve been to Cooper Clinic any time since 2008, you know that vitamin D testing is part of the laboratory analysis. Because food forms of vitamin D are pretty limited and prescribing prolonged sun exposure can be problematic for most folks, individuals with vitamin D levels that are less than optimal (anything less than 30 ng/mL) get supplements.

Unlike a prescription Z-Pak (Zithromax) where one-size-fits-all, this is not the case for Vitamin D—the amount I need compared to what you need may be wildly different. For some, the 2,000 IU Vitamin D that’s in each of the Cooper Complete Multivitamin is plenty, for others, an extra 1,000 IU Vitamin D does the trick. And then there are the rest of us—who may need an additional, 2,000-5,000 or more per day! So, enter Vitamin D-3 Drops, a multi-size solution.

Cooper Complete Vitamin D-3 Drops

Cooper Complete Vitamin D-3 Drops

The Vitamin D-3 Drops bottle looks like an over-sized bottle of dry eye moisturizer. Unlike dye eye “tears” that are very runny, the D-3 Drops are a thick emulsion and it requires a bit of pressure and squeeze of the bottle to get a single drop dispensed. Each drop is 1,000 IU of Vitamin D-3, so depending upon how much vitamin D-3 your doctor has prescribed; you simply squeeze out the required number of drops. The bottle contains a whopping 750 droplets.

Vitamin D-3 Drops are perfect for:

  • Those who dislike or have difficulty swallowing pills
  • Those who need significant levels of vitamin D

This product is not ideal for:

  • Those who have manual dexterity or weak motor skills
  • Those who like to have their prescriptions and supplements organized in pill containers (as there is nowhere to put the bottle)

The official dosing instructions for Cooper Complete Vitamin D-3 Drops are to squeeze as many drops as needed directly onto the tongue. The drops are not completely flavorless, but the flavor is honestly not off-putting. Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, for optimal absorption, you should take this (and all multivitamin and mineral supplements) with a meal that contains some fat. If squeezing drops onto the tongue is difficult or off-putting, we offer these alternatives:

  • Dispense on top of a cracker or Saltine.
  • Dispense on top of a spoonful of yogurt, applesauce, or other cool or room temperature food
  • Do not add to water—vitamin D is fat-soluble and will sink to the bottom of the cup where it will stay.
  • Do not add to coffee or other hot beverages—vitamin D will dissolve and will also be lost in the process.

The shelf life of Vitamin D-3 Drops is one year and our existing supply is good through July, 2015.

Whether you choose to take Vitamin D-3 Softgels or Vitamin D-3 Drops, both forms are equally absorbed in the body. Visit coopercomplete.com to purchase or call 888.393.2221 today.

Taco Soup, Our All-Time Favorite Recipe

October 4, 2014 Leave a comment

So have you heard that October 4 is National Taco Day? According to the National Taco Day people, last year we ate more than 4.5 billion tacos. While taco is essentially the synonym for a sandwich in a tortilla, I want to take this one step further and talk about a sandwich in a bowl, what we call Taco Soup.

If you’re like me, a soup named “Taco Soup” sounds a little spooky—it connotes Tex-Mex flavors, but then I have images of previously crisp taco shells mixed with lettuce, tomato and cheese floating around! However, this poorly named soup is actually the number one, hands down favorite “go-to” recipe for legions of people who have attended our week long Cooper Healthy Living program over the years. It’s a workhouse of a dish exactly like all the various kinds of soft tacos. We incorporate leftover bits of protein with fresh crisp vegetables and salsa! But I digress.

Nutrition is a huge interest for most people, and in the Cooper Healthy Living program we spend about a third of our time either talking about food, or eating! In addition to workshops on optimal nutrition, stocking your pantry and refrigerator and dining out, each session includes two cooking schools and numerous healthy eating cooking demonstrations. This soup often turns up sometime throughout the week and so far, everyone loves this soup!

The recipe makes serious cooks scoff—definitely a semi-homemade recipe, if ever there was one! And yet it tastes delicious, healthy and somehow unhealthy all at once. You know what I’m talking about when I say it tastes “unhealthy”—it’s so delicious it’s hard to believe it’s really a terrific option when you’re trying to eat well and maybe even lose a few pounds!

When we talk with all the folks who have come to Cooper to live a healthier life, a concern for most is that they just don’t have time, or are simply too overwhelmed to figure out how to get a great, good-for-you meal on the table every night. Enter Taco Soup, dinner in a bowl.

Director of Nutrition for Cooper Healthy LivingKathy Duran-Thal, RDN, LD, was thinking about the harried home cook when she concocted this soup. This recipe is quick and easy and it’s adaptable, exactly like building individual tacos. Do you like things hot and spicy? Add a can of green chilies or a can of Ro*Tel®. Hate bell pepper? No problem, just leave it out! Does your kid think they really only like corn? Add an extra can! Want to expand the recipe as you’re having more people for dinner than expected? Again, not a problem!—Add a couple more cans of beans, corn and/or hominy.

All of us on the Cooper Healthy Living team make this recipe and we all make it a bit differently. At my house, I always use two cans of fire roasted tomatoes, a big can of green chilies and three cans of beans (usually one each of pinto, red kidney and black). I sometimes add a second can of hominy (and yes, the yellow and white taste the same). All of us like to make as big a pot of soup as possible as, sans the garnishes, it freezes beautifully.

On nights when we get home late, or are just too tired or busy to think about dinner, I pull out a dinner-for-two sized container from the freezer and pop it into the microwave. As the soup heats, I set out bowls and dig through my pantry and refrigerator for garnishes. While fresh lime, chopped cilantro and a dollop of sour cream are my favorites, fresh diced raw onion (any type) and pickled jalapenos are also wonderful.

In Cooper Healthy Living we teach the science of nutrition, but within the framework that healthy food should taste good and be easy and attainable. And this soup fills that bill. With a little bit of lean protein, beans for fiber, corn and tomatoes as vegetables, and a little bit of fat, this magic combination makes for an entree that will keep you full for the next 5 or 6 hours. It’s truly a perfect example of healthy eating.

If you need help in making sense out of your health and incorporating some healthier habits into your routine, think about coming to spend the week with us. Until then, enjoy a delicious bowl of Taco Soup. Share in the comments how you and your household adjust this recipe to make it your favorite soup, too!

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, diced (we like red)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean (97/3) ground beef or turkey
  • 15 oz. can low sodium pinto beans, undrained
  • 15 oz. can low sodium corn, undrained
  • 15 oz. can yellow hominy, drained
  • 15 oz. can Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 package reduced sodium taco seasoning mix
  • 1 package (dry) Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix
  • Fresh lime (optional as garnish)
  • Chopped Cilantro (optional as garnish)
  • Light Sour Cream (optional as garnish)

Directions

  1. Saute yellow onion and bell pepper in olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Cook ground beef and drain.
  3. Combine vegetables and meat into a medium soup pot. Add beans, corn, hominy, tomatoes, and chicken broth (optional).
  4. Stir in taco seasoning and Hidden Valley Ranch mix. Cook until warm and combined, about 10 minutes.
  5. To serve, fill bowl and garnish with fresh lime, chopped cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.

Nutritional Analysis
One Serving | One Cup

Calories: 134
Protein: 6 g
Fat: 1 g
Sodium: 650 mg
Carbs: 28 g

Fitness Trends

September 23, 2014 Leave a comment
Mary Edwards, MS, Fitness Director at Cooper Fitness Center

Mary Edwards, MS, Fitness Director at Cooper Fitness Center

One of the things I enjoy most about working at Cooper is the opportunity to keep learning! To that end, I try to attend as many lectures and presentations as possible, with the idea that it broadens my base of health and wellness information, and stretches my mind to learn and think about new and different ideas. (For all of us worried about dementia and Alzheimer’s, there seems to be some research that our brain, just like our other muscles is one that we need to “use or lose”!) This month, Mary Edwards, MS, fitness director and professional trainer at Cooper Fitness Center, presented the continuing education session held for the Cooper Clinic physician team.

Patients who come to Cooper Clinic are typically more physically active than the general population, so it’s not unusual for the physicians to be asked specific questions about fitness and exercise. So Mary’s presentation goal was to educate the physicians on some of the top fitness trends for 2014. As a basis for her talk, Mary referenced the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) survey completed by 3,815 health and fitness professionals worldwide. Here are some of the highlights:

High Intensity Interval Training (HITT)is the number one trend of the year. In a HITT workout, there are short bursts of high intensity work, followed by a period of recovery. The heart rate is typically at 80 to 95 percent of maximum, and the goal is to drive the heart rate quickly up, and then back down. There are all kinds of HITT programs in the marketplace – P90X (the 90-day home workout plan); Circuit Training with 10- or 15 stations that also includes cardio; CrossFit; and outdoor boot camps, are all examples that incorporate HITT.

Twenty minutes of HITT is enough time for a workout, so Mary says this exercise is great for busy people! There’s also the bonus that science shows this type of exercise helps reduce abdominal fat, an issue for many of us. The downside of HITT is that it is potentially dangerous for non-conditioned people – taking an ill-conditioned heart rapidly up and down is a recipe for disaster, so you should discuss your interest in this type of exercise program with your doctor before diving in.

Number two on the list is Body Weight Training. Exactly like it sounds, body weight training requires little (if any) equipment and is strength training that can be done anywhere. In addition to squats, lunges, push-ups, and the like, modern day body weight training typically includes core conditioning – where there’s a focus on strengthening the “core” or trunk of our body. Total Resistance Exercise (TRX) classes, which use a suspension system for exercise, are an example of a popular body weight training program. Mary provided the factoid that TRX classes were started by a U.S. Navy SEAL who wanted to stay fit in a small, confined space, so he sewed together pieces of parachute material and made straps (which he suspended) for exercise. The exerciser uses their body weight and the suspended straps for an all-over body workout. Initially called “suspension training”, the former Navy SEAL came home and built the TRX business on this initial concept.

Cooper Fitness Center members posed for a fun group shot after a ViPR workout.

Mary reported that many outdoor boot camps focus on body weight training, with potentially the addition of terrain, and/or a few pieces of equipment. Boot camp classes cover the gamut – everything from “Mommy & Me” classes to military-style classes where participants use sandbags, truck tires and logs as their exercise equipment!Another general trend is Strength Training. Mary reports that strength training has been popular since the first ACSM survey in 2007, and that this exercise is appropriate for all ages and athletic and/or conditioned ability. In traditional strength training, exercisers use their body weight plus all kinds of toys – dumbbells, kettle bells, TRX, Sandbells and ViPR equipment. Sandbells are neoprene discs filled with sand that can be used as one would typically use a free weight, but they can also be thrown, caught, slammed and gripped. ViPR, which stands for Vitality, Performance and Reconditioning, is a weighted rubber tube with built-in handholds that looks much like an oversized “pool noodle,” and is used to perform task-oriented movement patterning – for example, scooping the ViPR across and up and over the body, or potentially holding the ViPR to do a squat and then overhead raise. Watch video demonstrations from our trainers with the Sandbells and ViPR equipment. Mary also told us about how kettle bells, a weighted metal device that looks like a small purse (with handle) to me, were created in Russia back in the 1700s!

With the numbers of aging baby boomers it’s no surprise that Fitness Programs for Older Adults is another trend. In addition to balance, yoga, Pilates and resistance training (AKA strength training), fitness programs for older adults also purposefully include “brain fitness” exercises, that focus on coordinated movements. So, for example, I might hold the ViPR in front of me and do a Romanian deadlift (RDL) combined with an overhead raise and a leg raise when I do the overhead raise. If my description sounds complicated, I think that’s the point – the idea is that the exerciser really has to focus and think about what they’re doing!

Good fitness programs for older adults also incorporate lots of functional exercises, designed specifically to help us prevent from turning a “trip” into a “fall”, or building muscle strength so if we’re down on the ground we can get back up. So, it’s not a surprise that Functional Fitness was another big trend. Mary shared how the trainers at Cooper Fitness Center have been focusing on functional fitness for years – the whole focus of conditioning in the gym is to support a great life outside the gym!

Yoga class in Cooper Fitness Center’s Mind/Body Studio. Hard work happens in this calm and serene environment. The accordion doors open for fresh air and cool breeze during seasonal weather.

The economy is likely influencing the trend towards  Group Personal Training. Like it sounds, two to four people share a trainer and work out together in group personal training. Larger than one-on-one personal training, but much smaller than a traditional group exercise class, group personal training allows the exercisers to have interaction and glean support from one another, but also reduces the cost of personal training. Here at Cooper, we launched Small Group Training in February, 2014. Professional Fitness Trainers conduct the classes, and are adept at customizing exercises based on specific injuries, limitations or disability. Mary reports that Small Group Training is perfect for those who are cost-conscious as well as anyone seeking the camaraderie and support of a group. Small Group Training allows for more personalized service than in a larger traditional group exercise and many of the sessions are targeted to specific exercise goals, be it weight loss, or being lean and toned for skinny jeans!

Mary mentioned that Yoga, another trend for 2014, is part of a 7 billion dollar mind/body business segment! Some classes are technically difficult, while others focus more on the breathing and relaxing, meditative aspects of the practice. The most popular type of yoga in the United States is Iyengar, where individual poses are held.

Mary talked too, about how the fitness industry continues to evolve, with more and more focus being put on certifications and credentials. At Cooper Fitness Center, Professional Fitness Trainers hold a college degree in an exercise related field and have a minimum of two years’ work experience in addition to industry certifications. (Many of the trainers also have graduate degrees.) When the gym adds a new member, the on-boarding process includes a physician supervised exercise Treadmill Stress Test at Cooper Clinic. From there, a Professional Fitness Trainer conducts a functional movement screening developed by Gray Cook of seven tests to assess movement of the body. The seven tests are squatting, stepping, lunging, reaching, leg raising, push-up and rotary stability. Each movement is scored between zero and three points. A zero is assessed if the movement causes pain, and a three is assessed if the person performs the movement perfectly. Anyone with pain gets immediately referred out to a medical specialist for treatment before continuing any exercise. The research shows that a score under 14 is a prediction of injury if the person just jumps into exercise, without undergoing corrective work first. Gray Cook, the founder, says “first move better, then move often.”

The old advice “don’t start an exercise program without first seeing your physician” is still good advice, and all the more important if you’re committed to re-engaging aggressively with physical activity.

H-E-B Slim Down Showdown

Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN, LD, has been the Director of Nutrition for Cooper Wellness for more than 25 years and all who interact with her praise her extensive knowledge, ability to relate and fun personality. In January, Kathy helped kick off the H-E-B Slim Down Showdown, a 12-week health and fitness program for H-E-B grocery store partners (employees) and customers. She spent a week teaching 30 program participants nutrition the Cooper way.

In the weeks since then, participants have had individual phone coaching with Kathy, logged their food, exercised and shared their journey in personal blogs. Kathy recently traveled to San Antonio for the H-E-B Slim Down Showdown finale.

Elizabeth Sandoval, a quality assurance technician at H-E-B’s bakery in Corpus Christi, and Richard Arrington, an H-E-B shopper from Aransas Pass, Texas, were two of the participants Kathy coached. Each of them won a $5,000 “Healthy Hero” prize for their involvement and dedication to the program. Richard, who originally weighed in at 385 pounds, improved his cholesterol by 75 percent, decreased his body fat by 36 percent and lost a total of 66.6 pounds. And Elizabeth improved her cholesterol by 28 percent, decreased her body fat by 36 percent and dropped 46.8 pounds. Read the news release and watch the video below to celebrate their success in their journey to live longer, healthier lives.

To learn about Cooper Wellness, click here or call 972.386.4777.

Prevent Fractures From Falls With Vitamin D Supplementation

October 23, 2013 1 comment

Sunshine vitamin DNews reports have picked up the story about a recent meta-analysis on vitamin D, and headlines have read: “Vitamin D doesn’t aid the prevention of Osteoporosis.” A meta-analysis (Effects of vitamin D supplements on bone mineral density: a systematic review and meta-analysis) conducted by researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and published in The Lancet earlier this month looked at 23 vitamin D studies. The studies totaled 4,082 generally healthy people (92 percent female) with an average age of 59 years. Bone mineral/density was studied at one to five sites in each study, with the sites being lumbar spine, femoral neck, total hip, femur, total body or forearm. Participants took 500-800 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D per day. Results of the meta-analysis showed a small benefit at the femoral neck in bone density, but no other areas. The lead author of the study, Dr. Ian R. Reid, said “for healthy people focused on osteoporosis prevention, vitamin D does not make a positive contribution.”

While this meta-analysis didn’t find vitamin D to be helpful in managing osteoporosis, the study doesn’t review vitamin D levels and the potential for falls. In May, 2012, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended exercise or physical therapy and vitamin D supplementation to prevent falls in community dwelling adults 65 years or older who are at increased risk for falls.

Falls are the leading cause of injury in community dwelling adults 65 years or older, and 30-40 percent of adults 65 years or older fall at least once per year! Fractured bones are the result of approximately 5 percent of these falls, and two meta-analyses have found that vitamin D prevents fractures. Low vitamin D levels increases fracture risk. It has been estimated that as many as half of the older adults with hip fractures could have vitamin D levels below 30 ng/mL. (Optimal vitamin D is 30-100 ng/mL; suboptimal is 20-29 ng/mL and lower than 20 ng/mL is insufficient. Dr. Cooper likes to see levels 40-60 ng/mL in patients.)

Adult Cooper Complete multivitamins contain 2,000 IU vitamin D, and a standalone 1,000 IU Vitamin D tablet for individuals who need higher supplementation to get to an appropriate level.

Since falling is such a risk for older adults, it makes sense to stay aware of vitamin D levels through an annual blood test and to supplement as appropriate to get levels where they need to be. In addition, as Dr. Cooper has long advocated, it makes sense to commit, at every stage of life, to move and exercise like your life depends on it.

For our latest recommendations subscribe to our free e-newsletter The Cooperized here.

Podcast: Does Calcium Consumption Make Sense? Dr. Nina Radford Weighs In

Dr. Nina Radford, Cooper Clinic

Dr. Nina Radford, Cooper Clinic

Nina Radford, MD, Director of Clinical Research and a cardiologist at Cooper Clinic, talks with Vitamin Expert Todd Whitthorne, about research reported in February 2013 by BMJ that calcium supplements are linked to significantly increased heart attack risk. Dr. Radford, board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease, gives her opinions about calcium consumption (in both food and supplements) for women who are concerned about both bone health and heart health.

Click here to listen to the interview.