Despite a reputation for clogging arteries, cheese is still a beloved food. These days, you don’t have to shy away from cheese to keep healthful eating habits. Cheese can fit into a delicious eating plan and transform simple meals and dishes into culinary delights. The key is portion control and cheese selection.
Cheese contains saturated fat. Cooper Clinic recommends limiting saturated fat to less than six percent of total calories. For example, individuals needing 1,400 calories would aim to consume less than 9 grams of saturated fat per day. An individual needing 1,800 calories would aim to keep saturated fat less than 12 grams each day. Take a look at the cheese infographic below to compare some of your favorites and see how they fit into a balanced eating plan.
Babybel light cheese is a nutrition all-star. One piece is only 50 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat. It also has 6 grams of protein and 150 mg of calcium, which makes it an excellent cheese choice. Now take a look at Parmesan cheese. One ounce
(4 tablespoons) is 110 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat. Generally only 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese is plenty, since it has such robust flavor. One tablespoon of Parmesan Reggiano is approximately 27 calories and 1 gram of saturated fat. Try sprinkling roasted vegetables with Parmesan and experience the flavors magnify. This is especially true when roasting vegetables such as Brussels sprouts.
Feta, goat and sharp cheddar are also examples of modestly-flavored cheese. When you’re cooking and you want to maximize the cheese flavor while maintaining a healthy portion, these are the cheeses to use. Big flavor is achieved with small amounts.
These vegetable enchiladas are an example of how to maximize cheese flavor:
- Spread fat-free refried black beans, sautéed spinach and mushrooms on to a corn tortilla
- Roll tortilla and place seam side down in small pan
- Top with green salsa and bake until hot
- Remove from oven and sprinkle a small amount of feta cheese on top before serving
Moderation is the key to enjoying cheese healthfully. For more information about how Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services can help you build a healthy eating plan, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.
Building your own tasty snack from scratch doesn’t have to be difficult. Parfaits can be packed with protein, fiber and other nutrients while having few calories and small amounts of saturated fat. Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services shares four tried-and-true parfait recipes perfect for a healthy breakfast or snack.
Peachy Protein Parfait:
- ½ cup Daisy 2% Cottage Cheese (90 calories, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams fiber, 13 grams protein, 100 mg calcium)
- 4 oz. Dole Diced Peaches, no sugar added (1 single serving container) – (30 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 1 gram fiber, 0 gram protein, 0 mg calcium)
- 2 Tbsp. pistachios (24 nuts) – (80 calories, 0.5 gram saturated fat, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams protein, 20 mg calcium)
Layer cottage cheese and peaches and top with pistachios.
- 200 calories
- 2 g saturated fat
- 3 g fiber
- 17 g protein
- 120 mg calcium
Quark* with Crunch:
- 6 oz. Elli Vanilla Bean Quark (1 single serving container) – (80 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams fiber, 14 grams protein, 150 mg calcium)
- ½ cup Kashi Go Lean Crisp (Cinnamon Crumble) – (120 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 6 grams fiber, 7 grams protein, 40 mg calcium)
- 2 Tbsp. pecans (9 halves, chopped and toasted, if desired) – (98 calories, 1 gram saturated fat, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram protein, 10 mg calcium)
Mix together Kashi Go Lean Crisp with pecans and layer with Quark.
- 298 calories
- 1 g saturated fat
- 7 g fiber
- 22 g protein
- 200 mg calcium
*Quark (or qvark) is a mild and creamy fresh cheese of European origin. It is high in protein and low in fat. Elli Quark is available in a variety of flavors.
Berry Bliss Parfait:
- 3 oz. (1 single serving container) Oikos Triple Zero Greek Vanilla Yogurt (120 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 6 grams fiber, 15 grams protein, 150mg calcium)
- 2 Tbsp. almonds (14 almonds, chopped and toasted if desired) – (80 calories, 1 gram saturated fat, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams protein, 35mg calcium)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen and thawed blackberries (96 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 7 grams fiber, 1 grams protein, 0mg calcium)
Mix Greek Yogurt and berries and top with almonds.
- 296 calories
- 1 grams saturated fat
- 15 grams fiber
- 20 grams protein
- 185 mg calcium
Grandma’s Granola-Walnut Parfait:
- 6 oz. (1 single serving container) Yoplait Original French Vanilla Yogurt (150 calories, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams fiber, 6 grams of protein, 200mg calcium)
- 2 Tbsp. Nature’s Path Love Crunch Apple Crumble granola (70 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams protein, 10mg calcium)
- 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts (7 halves, toasted if desired) – (93 calories, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams fiber, 2 grams protein, 0mg calcium)
Layer yogurt and granola, top with walnuts.
- 313 calories
- 2 grams saturated fat
- 1 gram fiber
- 10 grams protein
- 210 mg calcium
For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.
By Gillian Gatewood, RDN, LD, CNSC, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services
A familiar breakfast darling, oats come in many varieties sure to please a range of taste and texture preferences (find your favorites here). As a standout member of the grain family, oats seldom have their bran or germ removed in processing. Therefore the majority of oats used in our food supply are likely to be whole grains. Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services has long promoted the many health benefits of oats supported by credible research:
- Fiber-rich oats are slow to digest, making you feel fuller longer. This in turn may help control weight.
- Research has shown the soluble fiber found in oats is associated with helping lower LDL cholesterol and controlling blood sugar levels. Inclusion of oats in a balanced diet may therefore help reduce risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Oats are a source of phytochemicals (numerous polyphenols jointly classified as avenanthramides), which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-itching agents to the body when ingested.
- The cosmetic industry has been known to harness the anti-itching properties of oats. The botanical name for oats, “avena,” is where the company Aveeno derived its name.
- Cool temperatures and plentiful rainfall make ideal growing conditions for oats. The world’s top producers of oats are Russia, Canada, the United States, Finland and Poland.
- Rolled oats, a.k.a. “old fashioned oats,” and instant oats differ from their whole and steel cut siblings in that they have been steamed and rolled flat. This process decreases the cooking time but not significantly the nutritional value.
- Oats are a gluten-free whole grain but are often cross-contaminated with gluten during processing. Those with diagnosed celiac disease should opt for certified gluten-free oats after confirmation of disease control by their doctor.
Oats are a tried-and-true breakfast staple. Keep your breakfast game strong and check out this scrumptious oat recipe from Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN, LD, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.
To learn more about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.
By Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services
Many people with diabetes do not exercise despite all of its proven benefits. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, physical activity is more than just a way to lose weight – it can also make it easier to keep your blood glucose (sugar) levels closer to normal.
When you have diabetes, your body’s insulin action is less effective in storing glucose and regulating your blood sugars, but exercise sensitizes insulin. During exercise, stored glucose becomes a source of energy for your muscles and as the stores gets depleted, your blood sugar goes down and can stay down for 24-48 hours.
What types and amounts of physical activity are recommended for diabetes?
- Aerobic exercise includes brisk walking, bicycling, swimming, aerobics, elliptical, dancing, rowing, tennis and stair climbing. Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity weekly, spread over at least three days per week, with no more than two consecutive days without activity.
- Resistance training includes exercises with weight machines, free weights, elastic resistance bands, body weight and group strength training classes. Perform these at least two times a week on non-consecutive days.
- Balance and flexibility training includes yoga and tai chi. Aim for two or three times a week.
- Light-intensity activities daily (read below under “updates”).
To better fit your schedule, you can break up 30 minutes into 10- or 15-minute segments several times a day. Research has shown the health benefits are similar. Recent studies have also shown that a 15-minute walk after meals can help lower your blood sugar.
What are the updates in the latest exercise guidelines?
People with diabetes are advised to incorporate “light” activities throughout the day, particularly when sedentary for prolonged periods of time (working on the computer, sitting in a meeting or watching TV). Take a light activity break for three minutes for every 30 minutes of sitting. Examples include:
- Overhead arm stretches
- Leg extensions
- Torso twists
- Walking in place
- Have a very specific plan. Define what, when, where and for how long you’re going to commit to working out. This will improve your chances of adherence and success.
- What kind of exercises will you do? Make a list of activities and be creative. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick with it!
- When are you going to fit in a workout? Make a schedule of the specific days and times you will exercise. Prioritize them on your calendar as “appointments.”
- Are you going to exercise at a gym, in a group class, at a park or track or at home using a workout DVD or technology app? Decide what might work best for you.
- Do you prefer to exercise solo, with a buddy, in a class or with a personal trainer? Participating in supervised training may provide more health benefits for people with diabetes than non-supervised programs. Plus, the accountability to others can be very motivating.
- How long will you exercise? Be realistic and set achievable goals. If you are brand new to working out, start with 10 minutes and build up to 30 minutes or more.
- Keep a log of your exercise to stay on track. You can use fitness technology resources like a pedometer, fitness band or exercise watch to track steps, calories and heart rate. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for what you do-every step counts!
When you have diabetes, prioritize exercise as part of your lifestyle to better control your blood sugars. Beyond managing your diabetes, exercise can help you feel better about yourself and improve your overall health.
For more information about preventing and managing diabetes and prediabetes, visit the Cooper Aerobics website.
Making healthy food choices most of the time is one of Dr. Cooper’s 8 Steps to Get Cooperized. It can be tough to consistently consume a healthy diet, even for the experts, but a few healthy eating tips can go a long way. Read on for the top tips and insider information from Cooper Clinic’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.
My favorite snack in the morning is an Alyssa’s Healthy Oatmeal Bites cookie paired with a cup of coffee and light vanilla soy milk. I love cookies, especially oatmeal raisin, and this one hits the spot. One cookie has only 45 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 4 grams of fiber and 1 gram of sugar. I love that the first five ingredients are rolled oats, oat bran, ground flax, ground chia and dried fruit. It tastes so good that you wouldn’t think it was packed with such healthy ingredients. I look forward to this “guilt-free” treat!
I love the following meal for a simple dinner at home but great for company, too. Plus it has a bonus of being healthy!
Marinated pork tenderloin cooked on the grill, diced potatoes roasted with garlic and drizzled lightly with olive oil, accompanied by roasted vegetables (mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, onions).
My favorite dinner: I prepare white fish (cod or tilapia) in my electric rice and vegetable steamer according to the easy and clear instructions given in the manual (the steaming assures moist fish every time). While the fish is steaming, I sauté fresh baby spinach and sliced fresh mushrooms in a pan with a little olive oil. In a separate pan, I lightly heat sliced almonds in a pan until golden brown, lending a nice crunchy texture and toasted flavor. I dish out the spinach and mushrooms onto a plate, top with steamed white fish and sprinkle the toasted sliced almonds on top of the fish. For a carbohydrate component, I add either brown rice or a slice of Seeduction Bread from Whole Foods.
My favorite breakfast: I batch cook several servings of McCann’s Steel Cut Oats. In the cooking water, I add chopped apple, pear, raisins, dried cherries, dried apricots or another fruit of choice. Then, each morning, I simply portion out a bowl of the cooked oats that have been cooked with the delicious fruits, and I microwave to heat the single portion. Then I add about 1/8 to ¼ cup of chopped walnuts, pecans or slivered almonds on top. In preparing oats with fruit, a lot of flavor is added as well as nutrients…and there is no need to add sugar. The nuts on top add heart-healthy fat and some additional protein, making it very satisfying.
Batch cooking roasted veggies helps me have a healthy, filling dinner on busy weeknights. On the weekends and one other night during the week, I’ll roast a large pan of veggies and eat them for three meals. I’m able to make half my meal veggies and pair them with an egg sandwich, chicken breast, pork tenderloin or even a frozen meal.
- Breakfast – Two frozen Kashi waffles with almond butter
- Morning Snack – Vanilla Greek yogurt with frozen blueberries
- Lunch – Pita pocket with hummus, nitrate-free turkey, cucumbers, tomatoes and spinach
- Afternoon snack – VitaTops muffin
- Dinner – Trader Joe’s steamed shrimp dumplings, seeds of change quinoa blend, edamame and mandarin oranges
- If the sweet tooth kicks in: Three Dove dark chocolates or a Fudgesicle, cocoa dusted almonds or protein powder pudding
Some of my favorite meals are as follows:
- Luvo frozen entree mixed with Birdseye frozen veggies
- Chick-fil-A: Large fruit cup and grilled chicken wrap with ½ package of honey mustard dressing
- KFC Grilled chicken breast, corn on the cob and green beans
- Store-bought rotisserie chicken breast, small baked potato and asparagus
- Sweet potato sprinkled with lime juice and some salt, rotisserie chicken and roasted Brussels sprouts
- Low sodium V8 juice microwaved until hot in coffee mug, then add a few drops of Tabasco and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Place one slice of whole grain bread in toaster oven topped with a slice of low fat cheese.
- California rolls with salad bar, including edamame, etc.
- Chick-fil-A seasonal tortilla soup
- McDonald’s Egg White Delight and Yogurt Parfait
I love my instant oatmeal in the morning for breakfast with raisins and chopped walnuts added. For a quick dinner, I go for salmon, brown rice steamer and steamed broccoli. I love honeycrisp apples this time of year for snacking!
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.