How To Create Healthier Fajitas

From beef to chicken to veggie and shrimp, fajitas are not only delicious, but are a healthier way to enjoy Mexican food.

How can you ensure the fajita you order is the healthiest it can be? Consider the advice below from Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.

How Can Fajitas Be Healthy?

  • Protein boost from lean meats such as chicken and shrimp helps your body repair cells, make new ones and keeps you full.
  • Vegetables provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants to help keep the body healthy and functioning properly. Did you know that one cup of chopped red bell pepper contains almost three times more vitamin C than an orange?
  • Healthy monounsaturated fat from avocados in guacamole helps promote heart health.
  • Fiber from whole grains in corn tortillas helps keep your digestive tract healthy and can add to satiety.

How to Build Your Own

You will need:

  • Tortillas – corn or whole wheat
  • Protein – beef (skirt and flank steak are both lean cuts), chicken, shrimp or beans
  • Veggies – onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and jalapeños (if you like a kick!)
  • Toppings – reduced-fat shredded cheese, light sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce and chopped tomato
  • Sides – beans (black or pinto), sautéed veggies, brown rice or Spanish-style rice

How to Order Healthier Fajitas When Dining Out

  • Order leaner proteins such as chicken and shrimp; request light oil or no oil or butter when prepared
  • Load up on the veggies; request light oil or no oil when prepared
  • Skip the cheese and sour cream in favor of sliced avocado or guacamole
  • Request corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas
  • Opt for black or pinto beans instead of refried bean

Whether enjoyed at home or in a restaurant, nutrient-rich fajitas can be a healthier Mexican food option. Have fun mixing and matching different ingredients and vegetables to make your own tasty creation.

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

Article provided by: Cara Curtis, Texas Women’s University Dietetic Student and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services. 

Categories: Cooper Updates

Making the “B”asketball Team

Whether your child is looking to play on the school team or a recreational team, it’s important to make sure he or she is equipped with the skills necessary to make the team.

“The game of basketball today is becoming more competitive,” says Coleman Crawford, Cooper Fitness Center Basketball Pro. “There’s a great emphasis on skill development such as passing, shooting and dribbling.”

How can you make sure your child is ready in time for tryouts? With 40 years of coaching experience, including time at four NCAA schools, Coleman offers his advice on how you can make sure your child is prepared for the game both mentally and physically.

Start Early

Practice makes perfect. Coleman says exposing your child to the game early on and continuing that training will help them develop their technique.

“The key is to understand that skills are developed over time,” says Coleman. “If your child is going to try out for the team, have them start practicing the season before.”

Coleman says that includes working on skills such as passing and dribbling, as well as footwork. He also encourages scrimmaging with friends.

“Working on skills is not enough by itself,” says Coleman. “They have to be able to incorporate those skills in game situations. If they’ve never played in games before, they’ll quickly see it’s a totally different experience from practice.”

Looking for something more than a neighborhood scrimmage game? Try registering for a more structured approach, such as Cooper Fitness Center’s Basketball Academies. With a maximum of 10 players per session, it allows your student to receive the individualized training they need.

Mental Preparation

Once your child has the fundamentals down, Coleman says it’s important to start preparing mentally. That includes understanding the game and what it takes to play with a team.

“Being able to play with other people and interact with teammates is important,” says Coleman. “Your child can be skilled, but if they can’t play with others, that limits their ability.” After all, it takes an entire team to win a game.

Coleman says during practice, your child is not experiencing the same pressure he or she might face during a game. Being mentally prepared for that will teach your child to manage their emotions during a high-pressure situation. It will also allow them to still enjoy the game even if they are under pressure.

 Attitude Matters

Above all else, Coleman says if your child’s attitude goes south, so will their progress.

“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Your attitude determines your altitude,’” says Coleman. “It means that how they look at things determines their growth. Approaching the game with a positive attitude will give them the opportunity to reach heights they didn’t think they could reach.”

On the other hand, Coleman explains, having a poor attitude can limit your child’s ability to soar.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again

If your child doesn’t make the team, it’s important to continue to encourage his or her growth.

“If your child doesn’t make the team the first time, two things can happen,” says Coleman. “They can give up or they can continue to improve their skills to become better than they were the year before.”

Don’t believe him? Just look at Michael Jordan.

“Michael Jordan was cut from his junior varsity team,” says Coleman. “That fueled him to be better. He used that experience and became more determined and is now considered one of the best players of all time. Remember, he failed in his first attempt. Kids can’t let one situation determine whether they’ll ever play the game again.”

Coleman says it’s important to remember the real reason your child started playing in the first place.

“Basketball is fun,” he says. “Have a great time and make sure they give it their best effort. When they do that, they’ll be successful.”

Interested in registering for basketball lessons with Coleman? Visit or call 972.233.4832.


Categories: Cooper Updates

Avocado Tips and Tricks

Are you seeking out a superfood that tastes great and boosts the quality of your diet? Look no further than the avocado. Its rich, creamy taste is mild enough to bake with, yet flavorful enough to be used as a dip or an accent to a salad or sandwich.

Avocado Nutrition Facts and Figures

Though technically a fruit (the seed makes it so), avocados are classified as a fat, and a healthy fat at that! They are rich in calories (one medium Hass avocado has 320 calories and 29 grams of total fat), but the fat composition is primarily monounsaturated, which can be linked to a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. A whole avocado provides 11 percent of the daily value of fiber and almost 20 vitamins and minerals, including folate and potassium.

Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services recommends cutting the avocado into quarters and either sharing the rest or saving some for later. One-fourth of an avocado has a more reasonable 80 calories, 1 gram of saturated fat, 4 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber and zero grams of sugar.

How to Pick Out the Perfect Avocado

If you’re buying avocados and using them right away, they should be firm but lightly soft. If you buy unripe avocados that are hard to the touch, it can take 4-5 days to ripen on the counter. To speed up the ripening time, place avocados in a brown paper bag. Once ripe and cut, refrigerate and eat within a day. Sprinkle lemon or lime juice on the cut part of the avocado to prevent browning and place in an air-tight container or tightly covered clear plastic wrap to keep for a day.

How to Spread Avocado Goodness Into Your Meal Plan

  • Add slices to your salad or toast.
  • Spread smashed avocado on sandwiches to replace high-saturated fat mayonnaise and cheese
  • Make a guacamole dip for snacking or a as a “side kick” to Mexican meals
  • “Sneak” mashed avocados into baked recipes to replace some of the fat; this can work in such foods as cookies, brownies and chocolate cake

Fast and Ready-to-eat

You can take a few shortcuts and purchase ready-made, single-serving cups or pouches of guacamole. Look for the brands Wholly Guacamole® and GOODFOODS™. Some products are mixtures of avocado and salsa, which can help reduce the calories from 100 to between 50-80 calories per serving.

Buy in Season

The next time you go shopping, add some avocados to your cart. Peak season is late-spring through summer. Try to buy what you plan to eat that week to avoid waste. Find easy ways to incorporate avocado into your meals and, most importantly, enjoy!

Blog: written by Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE

Categories: Cooper Updates

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