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Pumpkin: A Healthy Seasonal Option

October 26, 2016 Leave a comment

Pumpkin is a key ingredient in many holiday recipes. Did you know pumpkins are really a fruit, and the flowers are edible? They are 90 percent water and a good source of fiber. The bright orange color of pumpkin is a clear sign that it is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene, which is eventually converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta- carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and may protect against heart disease. Pumpkin is also a terrific source of potassium.

When it comes to pumpkin production, Illinois smashes the competition. About 90-95 percent of the processed pumpkins in the United States come from Illinois. Morton, Ill. is known as the pumpkin capital of the world. Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the U.S. is available in October. When it comes to the pumpkin market, Libby’s takes the cake…or in this case, the pie or parfait.  Approximately 5,000 acres are planted each year exclusively for Libby’s. Pumpkins can be boiled, steamed, baked, roasted and microwaved.

There is a difference between pumpkins you eat and ornamental pumpkins. Ornamental pumpkins possess decorative appeal. Bright orange, smooth flesh pumpkins are perfect for carving. A few varieties offer uniquely colored flesh or warty texture in an array of colors. Look for pumpkins labeled as “pie pumpkins” when purchasing pumpkins for consumption.

Pumpkin Nutrition Facts: 1 cup cooked

  • Calories: 49
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrate: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Potassium: 564 mg
  • Vitamin A: 2650 IU

This Pumpkin Parfait recipe is delicious! It is thick, creamy and light, and a perfect addition to your holiday and winter dessert menu.

Article provided by Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN, LD, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.

Healthier Pasta Options

October 17, 2016 Leave a comment

By Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services

Is there really such thing as healthier pasta? Absolutely! From a nutrition standpoint, many types of pasta have a lot to offer as long as you know about smarter options and correct portion sizes. So, pasta lovers, before you pull out your cooking pot, learn what to put in your grocery cart.

Health Benefits of Pasta

Energy: Carbohydrates found in pasta convert to glucose, which is your body’s prime energy source. Selecting complex carbohydrates such as those found in whole grain pasta offers a slower release of sugar, which keeps you fuller longer. Look for higher fiber varieties.

Vitamins: White pasta products are stripped of their whole grain component and then enriched (nutrients are added back in) with folic acid, iron and several B vitamins. Whole grain pasta is superior to white and is naturally higher in fiber.

Heart Healthy: Naturally low in sodium and fat, pasta can be a heart healthy choice. Too much sodium and fat can cause higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels which contribute to inflammation, heart disease and other health problems.

Protein: This is a bonus feature found in some of the “newer” pasta varieties containing legumes, chickpeas and edamame. These offer a noteworthy amount of protein–in some cases, as much as what is found in 2-4 ounces of cooked chicken or fish.

Different Pasta Options

Think outside the pasta box by trying different varieties. Look for higher fiber and protein numbers. A standard serving is 2 oz. (dry) which makes 1 cup cooked, averaging 200 calories. If you’re calorie conscious, try not to consume more than this amount.

Nutritional Guide for Pasta Types (per 1 cup cooked):

  Fiber (g) Protein (g)
White pasta 2 7
Veggie pasta 2 8
Quinoa pasta 4 4
Whole wheat pasta 6 7
White wheat pasta 6 6
Protein pasta 4 10
Chickpea pasta 8 14
Edamame pasta 12 27

Below are the specifics with brands and their comparison to white pasta:

Veggie Pasta (i.e. Ronzoni) – Don’t be fooled by the “veggies.” The spinach and zucchini puree don’t add anything to the fiber value, matching the 2 grams of fiber found in white pasta. Note there is one extra gram of protein.

Quinoa Pasta (i.e. Ancient Harvest) – Made from a blend of corn and the “ancient” grain quinoa, this pasta is gluten-free for those who are sensitive to gluten. Since it’s a blend of these grains, it is not as high in protein as quinoa itself, but it does have a more desirable texture. The same amount of quinoa has 8 grams of protein per serving as compared to 4 grams in this product.

Whole-Wheat Pasta (i.e. Barilla) – Made from 100 percent whole wheat, one cup cooked has about the same protein as white pasta but has three times as much fiber.

White-Wheat Pasta (i.e. Barilla White Fiber) – White wheat is actually a whole grain with the same fiber count as whole wheat. It’s lighter in color and milder in flavor, much like white pasta, which makes it an appealing choice.

Protein Pasta (i.e. Barilla) – This pasta is made from a blend of wheat (but not whole wheat), oats and legumes. The legumes drive up the protein to 10 grams per cup and the fiber is double that of white pasta.

Chickpea Pasta (i.e. Banza Chickpea Shells) – This clever take on pasta is high in fiber and protein thanks to chickpeas and pea protein. One serving has an impressive 8 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein (as much as in 2 oz. of cooked chicken).

Edamame Pasta (i.e. Seapoint Farms) – Power-packed with protein and fiber and made exclusively from soybeans, edamame pasta is loaded with more protein (27 grams) than any other on this list.

Sauce Recommendations

Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionists agree that one of the best tomato sauces is made by Cucina Antica. Hard to beat in both taste and nutrition, it is widely available in stores and online. Use this breakdown for the Cucina Antica Tomato Basil Sauce to compare against other sauces. The main components to look for are fewer calories and less sodium, but it’s also helpful to look at smaller amounts of sugar.

Cucina Antica Tomato Basil Sauce:                  Classico Tomato & Basil Red Sauce:

½ cup serving                                                            ½ cup serving

40 calories                                                                   45 calories

1.5 grams fat                                                               0.5 grams fat

240 mg sodium                                                         400 mg sodium

6 grams carbohydrate                                             8 grams carbohydrate

1 gram sugar                                                               5 grams sugar

Partner Pasta with Healthy Options

  • To save calories and add nutritional value, swap out half of the pasta called for in a recipe for double the vegetables. So instead of 2 cups of cooked pasta, use 1 cup of pasta and 2 cups of vegetables such as zucchini, carrots or broccoli. This adds volume and lots of filling fiber to your plate and reduces the overall calorie count.
  • Add a lean protein such as diced chicken or extra lean ground turkey breast. You can also go vegetarian with edamame or dried beans to pump up the protein in the dish. Serve with a large salad for extra quantity and color.
  • As an alternative to sauce, lightly drizzle with heart healthy olive oil, toss in fresh or dried herbs and garlic and sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese. This makes for a delicious lower sodium dish.

 

Stand Up to Cancer Through Prevention

September 9, 2016 3 comments

By: Cynthanne Duryea, RDN, LD

According to a study from JAMA Oncology, half of all cancer deaths are preventable. This is great news, but currently in the United States one person per minute loses their life to cancer. We must empower ourselves through cancer prevention, education and making lifestyle changes to lead healthier lives.

American Cancer Society (ACS) serves as one of many resources for Stand Up To Cancer and provides “Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity” to prevent overall cancer risk. The four cornerstones are:

  1. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life. However, for those who are overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight has benefits and is a good place to start.
  2. Be physically active. Specifically, ACS recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per week, ideally spread throughout the week. Sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, television watching and other forms of screen-based sedentary entertainment should be limited.
  3. Eat a healthy diet, with emphasis on plant food. Further advice in this area includes:
    • Choose foods and drinks in amounts that help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
    • Limit the amount of processed meat (such as lunch meats and cold cuts) and red meat in your diet.
    • Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits daily, amounting to 5-9 servings.
    • Choose whole grains over refined grain products.
  1. If you drink alcohol, limit your intake. ACS recommends no more than one drink per day for women or two per day for men.

Some of these recommendations may seem familiar, as they overlap some of the guidelines for healthy blood pressure, optimal heart health and diabetes prevention. So, following them not only reduces your overall cancer risk, but can prevent other chronic diseases. The key is how to implement these guidelines.

My Story and Experiences

As a registered dietitian nutritionist who is a breast cancer survivor, I now view nutrition and fitness quite differently than I did prior to my diagnosis. Don’t get me wrong….I ate purposefully for the most part, aiming to eat a variety of nutritious foods and only eating more indulgent foods on the weekends. I have also always enjoyed being physically active, but my diagnosis changed the way I think about food and activity.

Although I have maintained a healthy weight most of my adult life, I am at an age where this is more of a challenge than ever before. As much as I enjoy sweets, my intake has been markedly decreased. Savoring a special sweet treat on a weekend is much more rewarding than grabbing some ordinary boxed cookie from my pantry regularly…and results in not consuming extra calories routinely.

Exercise, as mentioned earlier, was something I always did for stress relief, bone density improvement and to preserve muscle mass. But now I view exercise as a soldier that will help me fight off cancer risks, and vast research proves the power of exercise in the war against cancers. So, rain or shine, tired or energetic, I diligently plow through workouts, visualizing the strength I gain from exercise to beat cancer and win.

I also pay a bit more for minimally-processed meats with no added nitrites to use in sandwiches. Ideally, when time allows, I slice up freshly-prepared meats for sandwiches instead of packaged lunch meats.

Colorful fruits and vegetables are my plant “superheroes.” They contain nutrients and antioxidants that can decrease cancer cell formation and actually inhibit the growth of microscopic cancers. Now I hyper-focus on fruits and vegetables, recognizing they are part of my “armor” in the battle of avoiding reoccurrence.

My grain choices have primarily been whole grain for years, but now I aim to have all my grain products be 100 percent whole-grain products. I also enjoy experimenting with various grains in the kitchen.

Cynthanne’s Personal Strategies and Favorite Food Products to Fight Cancer

For minimally-processed sandwich meats:

  • Applegate Natural and Organic Meats
  • Use freshly sliced prepared meats/poultry as a Deli meat replacement.

To ensure a minimum of 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits (but the more the better!):

  • Create “meal patterns” such as one fruit serving at breakfast; one vegetable serving at lunch; one fruit serving as part of afternoon snack; and one fruit and two cups of cooked or raw vegetables with dinner. Added bonus–when ordering an entrée salad out, ask for spinach as your lettuce greens to boost the nutrient content.
  • Favorite food products:
    • Any unsweetened frozen berries/fruits to add to smoothies
    • Reduced sodium canned beans
    • Trader Joe’s Healthy 8 (a colorful blend of eight fresh vegetables finely chopped; sold in the refrigerated produce section; makes a fantastic Asian slaw with added edamame and slivered almonds).

To increase whole grains:

  • Uncle Sam’s Cereal and Post Shredded Wheat are both low sugar cereals and are 100 percent whole-wheat products. Topped with berries, they are satiating powerhouses.
  • Ezekiel Breads. My personal favorite is toasted Ezekiel Cinnamon and Raisin bread topped with almond butter and sliced banana.
  • Ronzoni Healthy Harvest 100% whole-grain pasta. Top it with a bottled marinara sauce of your choice for ease, but add fresh mushrooms, diced bell pepper, canned tomatoes and sliced olives to add more nutrients.
  • McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal with Bob’s Red Mill Oat Bran cooked together with diced apples, pears and assorted dried fruits added to the cooking water. Topped with nuts, this makes a most satisfying breakfast!

These are just a few practical ideas I hope help you implement the American Cancer Society Guidelines and lessen your cancer risk as well as other disease risk. Bon appetite!

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

Junk Food…Yea or Nay?

July 21, 2016 1 comment

It’s 100 degrees outside, you are at the grocery store and you can’t resist the ice cream on a stick covered with a thick coating of chocolate…so in the basket it goes! Of course, there are many other tasty temptations such as nacho cheese chips, double-stuffed cookies and donuts in the bakery you can’t help but include, too.

These foods all fall into the “junk food” category. Use of the term “junk food” implies that a particular food has little nutritional value and contains excessive fat, sugar, salt and calories. Junk food can include candy, chips, cookies, ice cream, soda, donuts, most sweet desserts and French fries. Too much junk food in your diet can be associated with an increase in obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and other diseases.

Some tips to consider the next time you crave your favorite junk food indulgence:

  • Moderation is the key. Don’t make junk food its own food group within your diet.
  • American Heart Association recommends women enjoy sugar in moderation by budgeting 100 calories per day; men 150 calories per day.
  • Read labels to determine portion size. Typically, a serving of ice cream is ½ cup, not 1 cup or more, which could double or triple the calories. Not knowing portion size could turn 160 calories into almost 500 very quickly!
  • Plate your serving or put in a bowl instead of eating out of a bag. This is mindful eating.
  • Ask yourself…are you eating this food because you are hungry, or is it because you are bored, angry or filling an emotional need? If it is one of the latter reasons, choose another activity such as taking a walk or calling a friend.
  • If the first bite isn’t good the second bite won’t be any better. Don’t waste your calories on something you don’t love.

For more healthy eating tips and tricks, check out Nutrition Bites on our website. To learn more about services offered by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.

Blog post provided by Patty Kirk, RD, RDN, LD, Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

Red, White and Blue Healthy Treats to Beat the Heat

Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services is all about celebrating Independence Day with a healthy twist. These recipes provide a sweet treat without added calories, and can help you cool off from the summer sun.

BLUEBERRY PROTEIN SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. 1% milk
  • 1 scoop Designer Whey Protein  (French Vanilla Flavor)
  • 1 cup unsweetened frozen blueberries.

Instructions:

  1. Pour milk into blender.
  2. Add Whey protein powder. Blend until mixed well.
  3. Add 1 cup frozen blueberries and blend until thoroughly mixed.

(This makes a great post-workout smoothie as it has a nice carbohydrate-to-protein ratio!)

Makes one smoothie serving.

Nutrition Information:

  • Calories: 282
  • Fat: 5g
  • Saturated fat: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 72 mg
  • Sodium: 189 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 37g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Sugar: 27g
  • Protein: 27g

PATRIOTIC POPS: GREEK YOGURT FROZEN FRUIT POPS

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups vanilla Greek yogurt (divided use)
  • 1 cup unsweetened frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup unsweetened frozen blueberries

Instructions:

  1. Blend 1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt in blender with 1 cup of frozen strawberries until blended well and is uniform in consistency and color throughout.
  2. Divide this evenly and pour into 6 Popsicle molds, to form a red layer.
  3. Next, pour 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt into the 6 Popsicle molds to make a second “white layer.”
  4. Finally, blend the remaining 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt with 1 cup frozen blueberries, until blended well and is uniform in consistency and color.
  5. Divide this evenly and pour into 6 Popsicle molds, to form a blue layer.
  6. Insert wooden Popsicle sticks and freeze Popsicles overnight or for about six hours.

Tips: Rinse blender between usages so the red and blue colors from the berries are more defined. The white layer will be a thinner layer compared to the red and blue layers.

Makes 6 Popsicles.

Nutrition information:

  • Calories: 113
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 72 mg
  • Sodium: 46 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 18g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 13g
  • Protein: 10g

Recipes provided by Cynthanne Duryea, RDN, LD, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.

Breaking Down Your Breakfast: Donuts vs. Eggs

By Cynthanne Duryea, RDN, LD, Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

donut vs egg

Today is National Egg Day and National Donut Day – what a coincidence to have two common breakfast foods be celebrated on the same day! Let’s take a look at their nutritional values and how each might be included into a healthy eating plan.

Donut Do’s and Don’ts

“How can a donut be part of a healthy eating plan?” Here at Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, we like to have an “all foods fit” mindset. Would any registered dietitian nutritionist design healthy breakfast ideas and purposefully choose a donut as an optimal fuel option to begin a busy day? Definitely not. However, let’s look at two common donuts objectively and simply:

Donut Type

Calories Saturated Fat Carbohydrates and sugar

Time in walking (15 minute per mile pace) to burn off donut calories

Glazed Donut

260

6 31 (12 g sugar)

58 minutes

Old Fashioned Cake Donut 320 10 33 (9 g sugar)

71 minutes

Data from dunkindonuts.com

One might think the glazed donut would be higher in calories due to the sugary glazing on top. But, because the cake donut is much denser, it actually has the higher calorie content. Both donuts have significant saturated fat content. American Heart Association recommends less than six percent of daily calorie need comes from saturated fat. Based on an average 2000 calorie per day need, that would be a saturated fat recommendation of less than 13 grams per day. If you enjoy one cake donut, you have gone through 75 percent of the suggested saturated fat limit for the day.

Each donut has similar carbohydrate content, which is approximately the same amount that would be in two sandwich slices of bread. Because of the glazing, the glazed donut has a bit more sugar than the cake donut.

If you don’t really love donuts, you may decide the calorie price tag is too high for you to enjoy or justify, especially when you consider the time required to burn off the calorie content. Most donut stores will sell donut holes per piece… a great practice for damage control. Each glazed donut hole has 50-70 calories, so enjoying three would be a calorie savings compared to one whole. Remember to enjoy them as an occasional food, knowing that the nutritional value is fairly void.

Egg-cellent Healthy Options

The nutritional value of eggs is top notch. In each large egg, there are six grams of quality protein (all nine essential amino acids are found in whole eggs) which can sustain energy levels throughout the day. Breakfast for many is carbohydrate-rich and protein poor, including cereal, toast, large muffins or jumbo bagels. The egg is a perfect addition to breakfast because its protein is packed into just 70 calories. Eggs are a terrific source of many nutrients, including vitamins D and B12.

For at least 40 years, eggs have gotten a bad rap due to the cholesterol content of their yolks. But after many years of research, it has been concluded that the cholesterol in egg yolks is not a culprit in increasing heart disease risk or raising levels of bad cholesterol. In fact, the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans has excluded the recommendation to limit dietary cholesterol.

However, each yolk contains two grams of saturated fat, so a three-egg omelet contains six grams of saturated fat.  An egg-straordinary idea is to combine two egg whites per one whole egg to decrease saturated fat, as the white has no fat content.

To add an egg to a meal or a quick snack, try boiling it. The shell is nature’s packaging, making it portable and convenient to carry to work or on the road.  As easy as boiled eggs are to prepare, peeling the egg can be challenging. To make the perfect boiled egg that is easy to peel, we offer these tips from www.incredibleegg.org:

  1. PLACE eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer. ADD cold water to cover eggs by one inch. HEAT over high heat just to boiling. REMOVE from burner. COVER pan.
  2. LET EGGS STAND in hot water about 12 minutes for large eggs (nine minutes for medium eggs; 15 minutes for extra large).
  3. DRAIN immediately and serve warm. OR, cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water, then REFRIGERATE.

For easier peeling, use eggs that are 7 to 10 days old.

For more food and nutrition tips from Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit our Nutrition Bites page. To learn more about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2667.

Healthier Gingerbread Cookies

December 11, 2015 1 comment

Gingerbread cookiesMake a “Cooperized” gingerbread man this holiday season with this delicious healthy cookie recipe from Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services! What’s your favorite way to decorate your gingerbread creations?

Ingredients:

Cookies

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 3 Tbsp. molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • Cooking spray

Icing

  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. water

Directions:

  1. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into measuring cups; level with a knife
  2. Combine flour, ginger and spices in a bowl; stir with a whisk
  3. Combine brown sugar, butter and molasses in a large bowl; beat with  a mixer at medium speed for two minutes
  4. Add eggs; beat well
  5. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed until well blended
  6. Divide dough in half (dough will be sticky)
  7. Gently press dough into a 4-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap;  cover with additional plastic wrap
  8. Chill 1 ½ hours
  9. Preheat oven to 350
  10. Roll each portion of dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a floured work surface
  11. Cut with gingerbread man cookie cutter to form 48 cookies
  12. Place cookies one inch apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray
  13. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes or until lightly browned
  14. Remove cookies from baking sheet; cool completely on a wire rack
  15. To prepare the icing, combine sifted powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp. water.
  16. Spoon the mixture into a zip-top plastic bag; snip a small hole off the corner of the bag
  17. Pipe icing onto the cookies as desired