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Bean Basics

January 20, 2015 1 comment

Depending on the variety, a half cup of cooked dry beans has about 120 calories, 7-8 grams protein and about 6 grams fibKnower.

Known as nutritional “powerhouses,” there are so many reasons to celebrate beans! Beans are low in fat and high in fiber and protein and also serve as good sources of folate, calcium and iron. Beans fit under not one but two food groups: vegetables and meat/protein. Nutritionally higher in carbohydrates than non-starchy vegetables, beans also count towards the goal of getting 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Benefits of Beans

Weight:
Beans promote a healthy weight because of their high protein and high fiber content. Fiber creates a feeling of fullness that keeps you satisfied from one meal to the next. Depending on the variety, a half cup of cooked dry beans has about 120 calories, 7-8 grams protein and about 6 grams fiber. Check out the nutrient profiles for several beans in the table listed.

Reduce risk of disease: Research has shown that eating just a half a cup of beans several times a week helps reduce your risk of heart disease. There are also correlations between eating beans and reducing risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

How to Fit Beans into Your Routine

  • Pick a meatless meal (like the popular Meatless Mondays) for the week and use beans for your protein.
  • Buy frozen, dry or canned beans- they are all healthy! Rinse canned beans to reduce sodium by almost 40 percent.
  • Reduce gas-producing side effects with the following tips. If you are cooking dry beans, discard the soaking water and rinse the beans thoroughly before cooking. Take Beano, an over-the-counter gas remedy, prior to eating your first bite.
  • Kidney beans are great for chili and three-bean salad.
  • Pinto beans can be refried for dips or served as side dish. They are also popular in stews. You can buy fat-free refried beans for a healthier option.
  • Navy beans are perfect in soups, stews, or baked beans.
  • Lentils are great in soups and stews.
  • Garbanzo beans can be tossed into salads or used to make hummus dip.

Nutrient Profiles of Various Dried Beans: (Per ½ cup serving)

Baby Lima   Black Beans Black-eyed Peas Baby Lima Beans Pinto Beans Red Kidney Beans
Calories 114 calories 100 calories 115 calories 118 calories 109 calories
Carbohydrates 20g 18g 21g 22g 19g
Protein 8g 7g 7g 7g 8g
Fiber 4g 6g 6g 6g 4g
Fat 0g 0g 0g 0g 0g
Sodium 0g 3mg 3mg 2mg 4g
Iron 2mg 2mg 2mg 2mg 2mg
Folate 128mcg 179mcg 137mcg 147mcg 65mcg

You really can’t go wrong with any type of beans. Try incorporating these little gems into your routine and you will reap all the potential health benefits. Set a goal; aim to eat beans 4 times a week!

For information on Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services call 972.560.2655 or visit cooperclinicnutrition.com.

Saluting Spaghetti Squash: A Power Food

December 30, 2014 2 comments

Ten fruits/vegetables a day will help lower blood pressure (from potassium) and can cut a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer by almost half.

Winter is the perfect time to try out different varieties of fall and winter-type squash. There are many to choose from and some of the popular standouts are acorn, butternut, pumpkin and spaghetti. My personal favorite is spaghetti squash. Like its namesake it can be a perfect swap for noodles in various recipes which call for pasta. It’s a great way to bump up your veggie intake while trimming down on carbs. I love it because it’s delicious and easy to prepare. Spaghetti squash is also referred to as squaghetti, vegetable spaghetti and noodle squash.

What is spaghetti squash?
Spaghetti squash is an oval shaped yellow fruit that contains a stringy flesh and a mild taste. It can also be found in ivory or orange colors; the orange kinds have higher beta-carotene content. The center contains many large, edible seeds.

Nutrition Facts
Spaghetti squash is packed with nutrients including folic acid, potassium, vitamin A and beta carotene. It’s low in calories and fairly low in carbs, especially compared to starchy noodles. In fact, spaghetti has about five times the calories as spaghetti squash

Nutritional Analysis | One cup, cooked
Calories: 42
Fat: <0.5g
Sodium: 28 mg
Carbs: 10 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugar: 4 g
Protein: 1 g

Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven or Microwave

With a very sharp knife, chop off the top or bottom of the squash so it will stand flat and secure on your cutting board. Be very careful as you slice it in half lengthwise. Then use a spoon to scrape out all of the seeds.

To bake in the oven: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush the inside of each half with olive oil and optionally sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place the cut sides down on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork. Cool for about 15 minutes, or until squash is cool enough to handle. With a fork, scrape out the spaghetti-like strands and prepare as desired.

Or to microwave: Place squash cut sides down in a microwavable baking dish. Fill the dish with about one inch of water. Microwave on high for about 12 minutes, or until you can easily pierce with a fork. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the squash. Cool for about 15 minutes, or until the squash is cool enough to handle. With a fork, scrape out the strands and prepare as desired.

Preparation Tips

  • Toss cooked squash in chunky marinara sauce
  • Top with lean protein such as 97% lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
  • Lightly toss strands in olive oil and spices and top with grated parmesan
  • Make a tomato basil spaghetti squash bake
  • Prepare spiced squash pancakes
  • Save the seeds and roast them with olive oil and salt or for a sweet, spicy kick mix in honey, paprika and cayenne pepper

Spaghetti squash is versatile vegetable that is easy to make, delicious to eat and has a high nutrient profile you can’t beat. Try it this season to balance out all the calorie-laden carbs and sweets. You might surprise yourself how good it is and make it a new fall favorite.

Find more recipes from Cooper Clinic Dietitians here.

What’s New About the Proposed New Food Labels?

Earlier this year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made a formal proposal to update the “nutrition facts” labels on food products to more accurately reflect the current health concerns and eating habits of Americans. These changes will update the current labels that have been around for the past 20 years and will be based on the most current and reliable science.

Americans are now increasingly health conscious and more interested in what’s in their food. Research has shown that between 2007 and 2014, there has been an 8% increase in reading food labels in the age group of 29-68 year olds. Revising the current labels to be more easily decipherable will make it easier for consumers to better understand what to look for when making informed food choices.

The future proposed changes are in the following areas.

Serving Size. Many of the serving sizes will be increased to more realistically reflect how much people actually eat. For example, the current label on a carton of ice cream lists a standard serving as half a cup, but most people typically eat more than half a cup. Read tips to control your portions.

Total Calories. Total calories will be listed more prominently and possibly in bold print towards the top of the new label. The number of calories is one of the most important things to note. While Americans’ waist lines are ever expanding, it’s become increasingly important to pay more attention to calories consumed. It will also make calorie counting easier.

Calories from Fat. This line will be removed from the new labels which will focus more attention on the breakdown of fats. Research shows that the type of fat is more important than the calories from fat. Labels will continue to list total fat, saturated and trans fat.

Sugars. The new labels will note how much added sugar is in the product. At this time, you cannot differentiate how much sugar comes from added sugars versus natural sources found in fruit and milk. This will make it easier for Americans to follow the American Heart Association’s guidelines for limiting added sugar. The recommendations state that men should consume no more than 150 calories a day from added sugar and women no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar.

Daily Values. There will also be updates to sodium, dietary fiber, vitamin D, potassium, calcium and iron. These will be based on the current needs that have changed over the 20 year period.

With more than a third of Americans obese, paying more attention to the labels in their new and improved format is great news! Studies show that people who read labels tend to eat more healthfully. Food knowledge can be a powerful tool!

For information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition services, click here or call 972.560.2655.

Popular Salads from Around the World

June 12, 2014 2 comments

Prioritize fruit and veggie servings – five is fine, but nine is divine!

Do you get tired of eating the same boring salad day in and day out? To spice things up, try venturing outside of your basic plate of greens to a world of international salads that will delight your taste buds. All three of these salads are built with healthy ingredients however we made some minor adjustments that will not sacrifice the taste. You may never grow bored of salad again!

Tabouli is a Middle Eastern salad made from bulgur wheat, finely chopped parsley, scallions and tomatoes.  This tangy crunchy salad is dressed with a blend of lemon juice and olive oil. Use less olive oil for a lighter dish. As a variation try wheat berries in place of the traditional bulgur wheat. Both are excellent sources of whole grains and fiber. Use part mint and part parsley for a refreshing twist. Swap out the scallions for a white onion. Tabouli is traditionally served over Romaine lettuce but also goes well with whole grain pita wedges as a light appetizer. It is a low calorie dish with about 80 calories per ½ cup serving.

Greek salads are very popular, found in both Greek and non-Greek restaurants alike. There are variations to this dish but the basic vegetable ingredients include tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, and green bell peppers.  Interestingly, the traditional version does not include lettuce. Seasonings include a sprinkling of dried oregano and minced garlic. Whisk these together with a high quality extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. You may use less oil and more vinegar than the recipe calls for. The vinegar offers extra flavor and virtually no calories, sodium or fat. Top salad with flavorful Feta cheese crumbles or cubes and Greek Kalamata olives.  You may garnish with pickled pepperoncini for a hot kick. The heart healthy fats of olive oil and olives make this salad a real winner. Feta cheese is typically not high in fat but you may use a reduced-fat version to save one gram of artery-clogging saturated fat without sacrificing one bit of taste.

Salad Nicoise is a French tuna and vegetable salad that can be served as a main dish. Its high protein content with tuna and eggs make this salad very satiating. The vinaigrette dressing is so simple, containing four basic ingredients: red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced scallions and olive oil (add salt and pepper to taste). The salad base is plentiful with greens and topped with tomato wedges, bell pepper strips, basil leaves and black olives. Hard boiled eggs and canned tuna garnish the top. Grilled tuna steaks may be used as a variation. Outside of France boiled potatoes and cooked green beans are very popular additions. This is another heart healthy salad rich in omega-3 fats found in tuna and monounsaturated fats in olive oil and olives.

Whether you are looking for a main dish, appetizer or light salad to accompany your meal, try something new with an international twist and make your salad come to life again!

View salad recipes from Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionists on our website and follow our Cooperized Recipes board on Pinterest.