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Posts Tagged ‘Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist’

National Healthy Eating Day – How the Experts Make Healthy Eating Happen

November 4, 2015 Leave a comment

Making healthy food choices is one of Dr. Cooper’s 8 steps to Get Cooperized™. It can be tough to integrate enough servings of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and other healthy food into a daily routine, especially if you live with a picky eater or have children who are more interested in snacking on tasty junk food.

The Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services team is made up of people who face similar challenges, and they have developed some simple and effective ways to make sure healthy eating becomes a habit in their households, at school and at the office. Check out their great tips, and try implementing a few of them into your daily routine!

Elana Paddock, RDN:

“I pack lunch for the week on Sundays, including things such as bags of grapes and raw veggies. I grab the pre-made components of my lunch each day and it’s so easy because everything is ready to go!”

Sara McHenry, Diet Technician:

“I try to make dinner at home most nights out of the week and when I do, I make enough for lunch, too. I pack it up that night before so it is ready to go in the morning and I’m not tempted to go out and buy junk food.”

Meridan Zerner, RDN:

“I drag out the crockpot weekly this time of year – and toss in everything but the kitchen sink (especially frozen veggies!).  Also, any time I am in a drive-thru or at a restaurant I get an additional salad “to go” for me or my husband to have as lunch the next day.”

Molly Wangsgaard, RDN:

“I cut raw veggies in advance and make individual bags to take to work for lunch each day, and I roast a big pan of veggies a couple nights of week—one pan gives me veggies for two or three dinners.

Another thing I do is keep individually-wrapped sweets in my office drawer and pantry to help curb my sweet tooth.  Two pieces of dark chocolate or a piece of sugar-free gum usually satisfies the desire to end the meal with something sweet!”

Patty Kirk, RDN:

“At the beginning of the week, I bring enough food to work for healthy snacks and lunches so I don’t have to think about it every day. Examples include tuna, Amy’s Bean Burritos, whole wheat  or sprouted bread, tomatoes, dark green salad greens pre-washed, fresh fruit, light Babybel or 2% cheese, wheat thins and Boom Chicka Pop popcorn.

One other idea that works for me for a quick dinner is picking up Wendy’s chili (a great source of protein and fiber), taking it home and adding a quick dark green leafy salad that has been pre-washed. Dinner is ready in less than 5 minutes, and is great for a cool night!”

Gillian Gatewood, RDN:

“On Sundays I pre-cut veggies for the week, and pre-portion snacks in plastic bags. Examples include bell peppers, carrots, zucchini and nuts with whole grain cereal like Kashi.”

Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN:

“I keep eggs, egg beaters, low fat yogurt, low fat milk, Babybel Light Cheese, and Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grape tomatoes, bananas, orange marmalade, and lemons in my fridge at all times.

I keep Muir Glen Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Marcona almonds, fresh garlic,Triscuits, peanut butter, Seeds of Change Quinoa & Brown Rice, oatmeal and whole wheat pasta in my pantry.

From these ingredients I can make really wonderful meals in minutes!

(I know you are thinking ‘of course you do’ …. But I also go through KFC drive-thru and pick up a grilled chicken breast, corn on the cob and green beans at least once a week.)”

Cynthanne Duryea, RDN:

“My personal strategy is to prepare lean meat about two times per week.  If I want the Crock Pot meal to be low sodium, I add chopped onion, or 1 pound of sliced mushrooms, maybe garlic cloves, or a variety of vegetables like celery, carrots and onions diced. The flavors of the vegetables mingle into the meat, and keep the meat low sodium yet flavorful. A reduced sodium soup can always be used also.

By using the crock pot, the hardest part of the meal (the lean meat) is already complete by the time I get home from work, and my house smells amazing!”

Colleen Loveland, RDN:

“Once a week I pick up a rotisserie chicken from Kroger, throw in a Birdseye steamer or two for a quick healthy dinner before leaving for a practice or a game. I also spend Sundays washing grapes and carrots to put in bowls that are placed on the middle shelf in fridge and I pre-prep a salad that will last a couple of days so I can pull those out when I get home from work. I always pack my lunch for work.”

Do you have a favorite healthy eating tip? Share with us in the comments below!

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 Should I Eat for Diabetes?

November 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Shape up your plate with color. Aim for at least two different colored vegetables to make up half of your plate.

November is National Diabetes Month. Twenty-nine million Americans have diabetes and one in four of those people don’t know they have it. Another 86 million adults have prediabetes, more than one in three Americans and nine out of ten of those people are not aware they have it. Of those with prediabetes, 30-50% will go on to develop diabetes within five years. These numbers are staggering and continue to climb. The big question on many patients’ minds is “what should I eat?”

In 2013 the American Diabetes Association® (ADA) updated their nutrition recommendations, which has changed the way dietitians counsel clients with diabetes. The main message of the new guidelines is there is no one size meal plan for all people with diabetes. Here are the latest recommendations.

Individualize, Individualize, Individualize.
An eating pattern should be based on an individual’s health goals and personal and cultural preferences. There is no one dietary plan that is best- be it Mediterranean, low-carb, or DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).

Early Referral to a Registered Dietitian
Once a patient is diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes they should be referred to a dietitian. Their dietitian will assess what they need to eat based on nutrient imbalances or deficiencies. Since no one diet is appropriate for everyone, each patient can learn how to eat to manage their blood sugars based on their personal preferences and health goals. Research suggests seeing a dietitian produces reductions and better control of blood sugars similar to or better than what is expected with medication for diabetes. In other words, see a dietitian!

Optimal Nutrient Mix
There is no optimal mix of nutrients, so the amount of calories a person with diabetes should ideally get from carbohydrates, protein and fat can vary based on their current eating patterns, preferences, and weight-related goals.

Fiber
People with diabetes benefit from getting at least the amount of fiber and whole grains recommended for the general population, which is between 21-38 grams/day. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Energy and Calorie Needs
People who are overweight will benefit from reducing calories and portions to promote weight loss. The method of weight loss may vary per person; however it is important to consider following a long-term healthy approach that can be sustained to keep the weight off for the long haul.

Avoid Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
This is the first time ever that ADA formally recommended that people with diabetes should not drink any sugar-sweetened beverages. This not only includes drinks that contain sucrose, but also honey, agave syrup, high-fructose corn syrup and other forms of sugar.

Sodium Limits
People with diabetes should limit sodium intake to 2,300 mg/day. People who have high blood pressure may need to limit their sodium intake further. Keep in mind, most of the sodium we get in our diet comes from the food itself, without adding any salt at the table.

Vitamins and Herbal Supplements
ADA’s position on vitamin supplementation remains essentially the same. There is no clear evidence that vitamin and mineral supplementation benefit individuals with diabetes who do not have underlying deficiencies. There continues to be conflicting research on the benefits of vitamin supplementation. Check with your physician to find out which vitamins are right for you.

Bottom Line

  • See a dietitian to obtain an individualized meal plan.
  • Eat the right amount of calories from a variety of nutrients.
  • Lose weight, if overweight.
  • Avoid all sugary beverages.
  • Reduce sodium, if needed.
  • Consume fiber from a variety of unprocessed “whole” foods.
  • Take supplementation based on individual needs.

One last note
Please get screened for diabetes or prediabetes. It is best to find out sooner than later so you can act now to live a long healthy and fulfilling life. Please share your comments.

To meet with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Cooper Clinic, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.

What’s Hot in the Frozen Food Aisle?

October 15, 2014 2 comments

Before your next grocery store outing, plan ahead for you week of meals for easier shopping.

When you walk through the frozen food aisle of the grocery store you will find more and more choices for frozen meals. Back in 1954 Swanson introduced these meals as a convenience and their popularity has certainly grown since. Frozen meals can be a quick go-to and as a registered dietitian, I sometimes eat them too. Most people think all frozen meals are unhealthy, however like most foods, there are better choices. Another common misconception is that they are highly processed and very high in sodium. While all frozen meals are “processed,” it is not always the case that all brands are extremely high in sodium or unhealthy. After reading this blog on how to assess and select better frozen meals, you can be the judge!

Less Sodium
The sodium count in many frozen meals can climb to 800 to 1,200 mg of sodium. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams a day. That said, one meal takes a big chunk of your daily sodium allowance. When a product is marketed as “light” or “lean,” it may still have upwards of 700 milligrams of sodium. Try to look for less than 600 milligrams of sodium per entree. You might be surprised to find that many of the lower sodium dinners do not come up short in the taste department. Food companies use flavorful ingredients to spice them up.

Low Saturated Fat
Excess fat and saturated fat can be a big issue with “traditional” frozen meals, especially those containing cheese such as lasagna, mac and cheese and enchiladas. Luckily there are “lighter” options to choose from. Look for 3 grams or less saturated fat per meal or sandwich.

Veggie Power
Most frozen meals are skimpy when it comes to vegetables. A typical entrée may contain at the most 1/2 cup of cooked veggies which is only one serving of the five to nine fruit and vegetable servings recommended for the day! Here are some things you can do to get more veggie bang for the buck. You can add a salad with greens, nuts and a light salad dressing. Try microwavable steamed vegetables in single serving packages, such as broccoli or green beans. Some of the newer entrees provide protein and salad fixings and all you have to do is add your own lettuce. How easy is that!

Go for Lean Protein
Our protein needs go up as we get older. Many low-fat frozen meals have 10 to 20 grams of protein that usually comes from chicken breast, fish, turkey or lean beef. When you opt for vegetarian meals the beans or low fat cheese are the main protein sources but you may only get 9 grams of protein or less per entrée. Go ahead and supplement the vegetarian meals with a non-fat Greek yogurt to bump up the protein content of the meal (it’s also a delicious dessert!).

Check out healthier frozen meal options below that contain no more than 450 milligrams of sodium and 3 grams of saturated fat per entree. They also contain whole grains.

 So if you’re in the market for a frozen meal you can indeed find healthier choices as long as you know what to look for! What are a few of your favorite frozen meals that meet the criteria for “healthy?” Please share your comments.

Learn how to navigate the grocery store with a Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian to make healthier food choices and achieve your nutrition goals. Download our brochure, call 972.560.2655 or request an appointment online. Book your tour today!

Is Granola Really Great?

August 19, 2014 3 comments

Studies show that people who regularly eat breakfast are more likely to manage their weight than those who do not.

August is Kids Eat Right Month, the first annual celebration of its kind sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It spotlights healthy nutrition and active lifestyles for children and families. Now that it’s back to school time, what to serve our kids before school is on our minds. Cereal is a great go-to morning meal and granola is one of the many options. But what’s a good choice you and your family can both enjoy that provides a healthy boost for the day? It can be tricky to pick the best granola cereal and if you’re not paying attention you might get more than you bargained for in the way of calories, sugars and fat. Before you grab a box, follow these simple guidelines.

Scale down the portion. Granola can be high in calories for what is listed as a fairly small serving on the box, which is typically 1/3  to 1/2 cup. Most of us eat more than that so if you pour a full cup into your bowl, you are getting multiple servings with as many as 400-600 calories! A solution would be to stretch a single serving by mixing it half and half with a lower calorie cereal like Cheerios®‎ or whole grain puffs. Word of caution: even if you mix cereals, make sure to measure before mindlessly filling your bowl!

Keep the sugars low. Most granola cereals contain added sugars and you can find them in the ingredient list. Watch out for these words as the first few ingredients: honey, agave nectar and corn syrup. Carefully read the label for grams of sugar as well. A good rule of thumb is to pick a cereal with no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

Pay attention to fats. Most cereals are naturally low in fat, however granola may contain nuts, seeds and oils that add to the fat content. While these can be healthy fats they still add sneaky calories and may be high in artery-clogging saturated fat. Your best bet is to look for no more than 6 grams total fat per serving and no more than 1.5 grams saturated fat per serving.

Healthy Granola Picks
Criteria per serving: no more than 200 calories, 6g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 10g sugar and at least 3g fiber

  • Kashi® GOLEAN Crisp | ¾ cup serving= 180 calories; 3.5g fat; 0g sat fat; 8g fiber; 10g sugar
  • KIND® Maple Walnut Clusters with Chia & Quinoa | 1/3 cup serving= 130 calories; 3.5g fat; 0g sat fat; 3g fiber; 6g sugar
  • Trader Joe’s Granola & the 3 Berries | ½ cup serving= 200 calories; 6g fat; 1g sat fat; 3g fiber; 10g sugar
  • Kellogg’s Special K® Low fat Granola Touch of Honey | ½ cup serving= 190 calories; 3g fat; 0.5g sat fat; 5g fiber; 9g sugar

My favorite way to eat granola is to use it as a topping for fat-free Greek yogurt. For a sweet and salty snack, I like to mix 2 tablespoon of granola with about half a cup of low fat popcorn, pretzels or freeze-dried fruit. It’s crunchy, high in fiber and satisfying in every bite.

What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy granola?

Look Great and Feel Great This Summer

An easy way to remember the servings of fruits and vegetables you should be eating daily is to think, “five is fine, nine is divine”.

Everyone wants to look great and feel great, especially in the summer months. Cooper Clinic dietitian Elana Zimelman, RDN, LD, CDE, provides simple strategies to wear summer tank tops, shorts and swim suits with confidence.

Hydrate every day. It is recommended that women get 11 cups of fluid per day and men get 15 cups of fluid per day. These do not have to be solely water. Keep a water bottle handy so you have it on your mind and have it with you all of the time. Water prevents over-snacking; we think we are hungry but we are probably thirsty. Not only will hydration help you feel great at the pool, but studies show dehydration can affect energy levels, fitness and even job performance.

Don’t overdo the alcohol. Moderation is essential when it comes to alcohol, because there’s a fine line between a potential benefit of a glass of red wine and doing harm to your body. Alcohol provides extra calories—that add up quickly! It reduces your inhibitions, which leads you to eat unhealthy foods and more of it. To moderate your alcohol intake, alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water, decaffeinated tea or another sugar-free beverage.

Don’t eat a lot of salty foods. To look and feel your best, plan a clean diet with fresh produce, fruits and veggies. This is easy to do in the summer with watermelon, peaches, plums and more, all in season. Elana says fruit is nature’s candy—enjoy it!

With a turkey sandwich for lunch, replace the starchy pretzels, crackers or chips with crunchy carrot sticks or cucumber slices. This will help get rid of processed foods that are high in salt, which makes us retain water.

Receive proper nutrition every day and keep your calories in check.

  1. Eat breakfast every day. Eating breakfast has proven to decrease the chances of overeating during the day and it helps to pack in the nutrients early! Aim to pair fiber and protein to start your day. Prepare a bowl of oatmeal, sweetened with raspberries with a side of egg whites. If you’re not an oatmeal lover, try natural peanut butter on 1-2 slices of whole wheat toast with a sliced banana.
  1. Eat every 3-4 hours. Plan three meals, with 1-2 snacks prepared throughout the day. Measure and pre-package snacks to manage portion control. Ideally each snack should be approximately 150-200 calories. My two favorite snacks that Elana suggested to pack for the office are 1) a small handful of nuts (10-14 almonds) with an apple and 2) a high fiber granola bar like the Kashi® Dark Chocolate Mocha (it goes great with a cup of decaffeinated coffee!) When selecting protein or snack bars, look for lower amounts of sugar and plenty of protein and fiber. View Cooper Clinic healthy snack recipes here.

With these helpful strategies, soak up the sun (don’t forget SPF) and enjoy the beautiful summer weather. For information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition services, click here or call 972.560.2655.

What Nutritionists Eat When They Dine Out

I was sitting in an interview with Meridan Zerner, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, listening to her give tips on how to make a healthy decision at meal time when I thought, “I wonder what she eats when she goes out to dinner?” The writer asked questions about changes anyone could make when they were meal planning and the information Meridan shared was great. There were plenty of tips and tricks I could use while grocery shopping but I spend more time dining out with friends and family than I do cooking at home.  A few weeks later, I finally got around to chatting with Meridan about how she decides what restaurants to dine at and what she orders.

“Whatever happens, always eat consistently throughout the day,” says Meridan. Meals and snacks provide you with the necessary nutrition and energy to have the most productive day. Eating regularly also helps to avoid overeating when you do finally sit down to eat. Consider eating a lighter lunch before a big dinner but definitely don’t skip a meal.

  1. Think lean and green. Always go for salads, fruits and vegetables first. These foods are high in fiber and will fill up your stomach faster. Whether it’s a cup of fruit or vegetable soup, you will be starting off with foods that will keep you from overindulging later in your meal.
  2. Consider sharing an appetizer. Splitting that delicious appetizer will help you manage portion control. Eating two appetizers instead of an entrée is another great way to make sure you’re eating a healthy portion size.
  3. Substitute for something healthier.  If your meal comes with pasta or rice, consider substituting that for double veggies in order to get the healthiest version of the meal possible.  Most restaurants are willing to allow customers to substitute or make changes to the listed menu items as dietary needs continue to change.
  4. Skip the sauce. Depending on what you order, you’re adding an additional 500 calories to your meal. Skipping that extra sauce, oil or butter goes a long way in managing your caloric intake. Meals may start out healthy but be mindful of how little extras add up quickly.

Choose restaurants carefully and always know before you go. Look at menus online before deciding where to plan your next meal. Check out Healthy Dining Finder for restaurant reviews and contact Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services to find out how to plan meals according to your lifestyle.