Posts Tagged ‘Dietitian’

Healthy Eating Day Tips from the Pros

November 2, 2016 4 comments

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.

Elana PaddockRDN, LD, CDE

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!

Patty KirkRDN, LD

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).

Cynthanne DuryeaRDN, LD

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.

Meridan ZernerMS, RDN, CSSD, LD

  • 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

Kathy Duran-ThalRDN, LD

Some of my favorite meals are as follows:

  1. Luvo frozen entree mixed with Birdseye frozen veggies
  2. Chick-fil-A: Large fruit cup and grilled chicken wrap with ½ package of honey mustard dressing
  3. KFC Grilled chicken breast, corn on the cob and green beans
  4. Store-bought rotisserie chicken breast, small baked potato and asparagus
  5. Sweet potato sprinkled with lime juice and some salt, rotisserie chicken and roasted Brussels sprouts
  6. 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.
  7. California rolls with salad bar, including edamame, etc.
  8. Chick-fil-A seasonal tortilla soup
  9. McDonald’s Egg White Delight and Yogurt Parfait

Colleen LovelandMS, RDN, LD, CDE

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!

For more healthy eating tips, click here. To learn more about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit or call 972.560.2655.

Heart Health Boosting Foods

February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

This month we celebrate heart health. There are many powerful foods that deliver big benefits to reduce your risk of heart disease. Here are a few super-stars that you may want to incorporate into your routine. All of these foods are loaded with heart-protective components that will keep your heart strong and pumping.

This fatty fish ranks high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats may reduce inflammation throughout the body which can cause damage to your blood vessels and lead to heart disease. These healthy fats may also lower cholesterol, blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and risk for heart failure. Try to eat fatty fish, like salmon, two to three times a week.

These berries are bursting with antioxidants, specifically the phytonutrient polyphenol. Anti-oxidants are potent substances that reduce inflammation in the body and reduce the risk of heart disease, along with other chronic diseases. Add blueberries to yogurt or smoothies. Frozen blueberries are just as nutritionally packed as fresh!

Everyone loves avocados! These fruits are packed with mono-unsaturated fat that bumps up your good HDL cholesterol and lowers risk of heart disease. Recent research shows a link between consuming avocados daily and reducing bad LDL cholesterol. Avocados also contain vitamin B 6 and folic acid which are also beneficial to your heart. Enjoy avocados in salads or as a sandwich spread instead of mayo several times a week.

Walnuts contain a wealth of omega-3 fats in the world of nuts. If you’re not a fan of salmon or other fatty fish, this is a great way to fit these fats into your diet. Walnuts also contain vitamin E which is an antioxidant that may protect your heart. Enjoy walnuts on salads or as a crunchy snack. Try to eat nuts at least 3 times a week- 4 or five times is even better!

Oatmeal is good news for your heart. The type of soluble fiber in oats, beta-glucans, forms a gooey mass in your stomach, trapping cholesterol and transporting it out of the body before it can get absorbed into your blood, thus lowering your LDL cholesterol levels. It takes about 1 ½ cups of cooked oatmeal (equal to ¾ cups dry) to get the maximum benefit. Try to eat oatmeal several times a week. Top with blueberries and walnuts- two other star foods on the list!

For information on nutrition consultations at Cooper Clinic visit or call 972.560.2655.

Break the Fast!

September 4, 2013 Leave a comment

What’s your favorite healthy breakfast?

Did your kids eat their breakfast before heading off to school today? Did you? Kids who see their parents eat breakfast are more likely to eat breakfast too.

Think of breakfast as an early morning refueling for the body. It’s a chance to replenish your body’s glucose, also called blood sugar, the main source of energy for the brain. Breakfast eaters have been shown to have higher test scores and better behavior in school than non-breakfast eaters.

Don’t let the morning rush keep your family from getting something fast and nutritious. Some on-the-go and quick-fix ideas include:

  • high fiber cereal mixed with yogurt and apple slices
  • peanut butter and banana on a whole grain toasted waffle
  • high fiber cereal bar and low-fat cheese stick
  • whole grain toast or tortilla with melted low-fat cheese and fruit
  • whole grain cereal and fat-free milk topped with slivered nuts

Rev up the day with good nutrition and your whole family will be off to a great start.

Check out recipes from our dietitians for more breakfast ideas.

For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services or to schedule a nutrition consultation, click here or call 972.560.2655.

The Skinny on Burger Nutrition: Go Lean!

June 5, 2013 2 comments

BurgerCan’t wait for burger season to arrive? Go ahead and treat yourself to a tasty burger, just be sure it won’t bust your overall healthy habits. When you picture eating a big juicy burger, the last thing you might think of is “healthy!” The good news is that doesn’t have to be the case. Here’s the skinny on better, leaner burgers. Compare labels and know what to look for.

Ground Meat Burgers
Beef and buffalo (a.k.a. bison) are labeled with the percentage of lean meat versus fat. If the product is labeled 80/20 that means it’s made with 80 percent lean meat and the remaining 20 percent is fat. That’s as much as 15 grams of fat (6 grams of saturated fat) and 230 calories for a three ounce “small” palm-size portion (in other words, the size of a woman’s palm). Go for the 95/5 to slash the fat and calories by more than a one-third! There are 150 calories, 6 grams of fat and 3 grams of saturated fat in the 95/5. If the percent isn’t listed, go for the leanest types of meat: think “loin is lean.” Go for sirloin as a top pick, then ground round, followed by ground chuck.

Ground Turkey and Chicken Burgers
This is tricky because you would think if it’s chicken or turkey it would have to be low-fat! Don’t be so sure. Look for those made with only skinless white meat (i.e. breast). If you find “85/15” ground turkey and think it’s a healthy choice, you’ll be stuck with part unhealthy dark meat, skin and fat and nearly as many calories and fat grams as your typical ground beef patty! Look for five grams of fat or fewer per serving.

Salmon Burgers
Don’t pass up a chance to have your burger and get omega-3 fats too! You get 20 grams of protein and a day’s worth of omega-3 fatty acids in a three ounce patty. These fats protect you from certain cancers and strengthen your immunity. They also boost brain and heart health.

Veggie or Soy Burgers
Typically 100 to 150 calories, these burgers are a great vegetarian meat option and typically lower in calories and fat while high in fiber (especially the ones made with beans). On the downside, they fall short in protein compared to their animal meat counterparts. Many varieties only have 7 grams of protein or less per serving, while typically a meat burger has more than 20 grams of protein for a three ounce patty. Try to go vegetarian at least once a week, so definitely incorporate veggie burgers as a great summer food with minimal fat and typically fewer calories than meat.

Final note: Portion size matters! If you’re fixing up your own burgers, make a patty that is no bigger than about 4 to 5 ounces raw that cooks down to about 3 to 4 ounces. If you’re buying any kind of burger, even the lower fat ones, you might be biting into more calories than you bargained for. Many pre-made patties are five or six ounces large, with a hefty 200 to 300 plus calorie load. Take note of the information on the nutrition labels, take small bites and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite “lean” burger?

How to Build a Healthy Sandwich


The next time you make a sandwich, think beyond a boring piece of meat between two slices of bread. Get a bit creative and squeeze in most of the food groups for a high fiber, high protein and healthy fat combo meal. Here are some ideas on how to mix and match different ingredients to build a health savvy and satisfying sandwich.

Start with Wholegrains:

There’s a wide array of options beyond sliced bread. Check the food label for 100 percent wholegrain or wholewheat as the first ingredient and aim for 3 grams of fiber or more per slice. Fiber will give you staying power to keep you going through the day. Beyond bread, choose from any of the following wholegrains: wholewheat sandwich thins, pitas, Kaiser rolls, tortillas, bagel thins, English muffins and Flat Out wraps.

Go for Lean Protein:

For a heart healthy sandwich, go for a lean protein filling. On the deli route, pick healthier meats free of additives and nitrates and compare labels to find a lower sodium option. Examples are: turkey breast, chicken breast (deli sliced or fajita style), roast beef, lean ham, reduced fat cheese made with 2 percent milk, tuna, salmon or chicken salad made with low-fat mayonnaise. Get creative with tuna or chicken salad by incorporating some extra crunch and flavor with diced celery, onions, relish, water chestnuts, shredded carrots, chopped pecans or walnuts, raisins or dried cranberries.  Fill your sandwich with about a 3 oz. protein portion. Shop for canned tuna, salmon or chicken packed in water.

Pile on Produce:

Bulk up you sandwich with lots of veggies. The sky’s the limit! If they start falling out, you can enjoy a small salad on the side. Pile on leafy greens, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions rings. If you’re stuffing a pita or rolling a tortilla you can add shredded carrots or broccoli slaw. You might also enjoy thinly sliced apples or pears for a sweet kick with crunch.

Hale to Healthy Fats and Low-Fat Spreads:

Use all fats, including these healthy ones, sparingly because they carry a hefty calorie load. Add a small amount of hummus, avocado/guacamole (I like Wholly Guacamole), chopped olives, light mayonnaise, reduced-fat salad dressing, flavored vinegar or mustard (spicy, wasabi, honey or plain). Don’t forget to mix in chopped up nuts in your tuna or chicken salad.

The Finale:

To add color and crunch to your sandwich, skip the chips in favor of these other options: carrot chips, baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, sweet bell pepper rings, celery sticks, Cherub or yellow sunburst tomatoes, etc. And don’t forget fruit or fat-free yogurt for dessert!

To find more healthy lunch options and recipes from our Cooper Clinic dietitians, click here.

The Joy of Soy: 5 Ways to Enjoy Soy

April 22, 2013 3 comments

92664538_EdamameApril is National Soyfoods Month. It’s a great time to add some soy to your diet several times a week or to try it for the first time. Here’s the scoop on its nutrition and health benefits, as well as simple ways you can sneak some soy into your routine.

Soybeans are part of the legume family and are an excellent source of plant-based protein. Soy is a good source of fiber, B vitamins, iron and calcium. It’s low in fat and cholesterol free.

Research shows that soy can help lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol and may reduce risk of heart disease and stroke. Consuming soy foods may also be associated with reduced risk of osteoporosis and certain types of cancer, notably breast cancer.

Here are five popular ways to enjoy soy:

Edamame (small green soybeans):

  • Usually found in the frozen food aisle, but also ready-to-eat in the produce section.
  • Try shelled or unshelled.
  • Easy to prepare by boiling or steaming.
  • Serve as an appetizer or snack in the pods and then remove the shells before eating.
  • Add to salads.
  • Prepare as a side dish. Toss with corn, tomatoes, red bell peppers, herbs and a little bit of oil.
  • Nutrition facts: ½ cup shelled edamame (Seapoint Farms brand) has 100 calories, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 30 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 8 g protein.

Soy Nuts (also known as dry roasted edamame):

  • Dried and roasted soybeans.
  • Enjoy as a high fiber, high protein snack with less fat than other nuts.
  • Various flavors include slightly salted, wasabi and Goji blend.
  • Nutrition facts: ¼ cup (Seapoint Farms brand, wasabi flavor) has 130 calories, 4.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 130 mg sodium, 7 g fiber, 14 g protein.


  • Plain tofu (firm, soft, lite or silken) can be used in stir fries, tossed into salads, made into vegetarian burgers, used in place of yogurt or sour cream in creamy dips, soups, sauces or desserts. A 4 oz. serving has 100 calories, 4.3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 0.7 g fiber and 10 g protein.
  • Baked tofu is an easy option because it comes pre-cooked and seasoned and in different flavors, such as Thai sesame peanut and Italian herb. Serve warm in pasta, soup or stir-fry or serve cold on sandwiches or salads. A 2 oz. serving (White Wave brand, Sesame Peanut Thai) has 90 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 280 mg sodium, 1 g fiber and 9 g protein.

Soy Milk:

  • A lactose-free vegetarian milk option.
  • Plain or flavored (chocolate and vanilla); regular or lite.
  • Drink it plain.
  • Pour it over hot or cold cereal.
  • Add to coffee as a low fat creamer.
  • Use it to make cream sauces.
  • Create your own protein shakes blending soymilk and fruit.
  • Nutrition facts: 1 cup plain soymilk (Silk brand) has 90 calories, 3.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 100 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 6 g protein.

Soy flour:

  • Use in baked goods to replace up to ¼ of the amount of flour (per 1 cup of flour: combine ¼ cup soy flour with ¾ cup all-purpose flour).
  • Stir it into sauces and gravies to thicken them.

If you’re looking for more convenience, try some of these soy-based products:

  • Energy bars made with soy
  • Soy burger patties and other soy protein meat-alternatives
  • Soy protein powder (added to smoothies or shakes)
  • Soy yogurt and cheese
  • Low fat soy frozen desserts

Happy Soyfoods Month!

Our Favorite Gifts for Under the Tree

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment

This holiday season give the gift of health to your family and friends. Whether they’re fitness junkies or just beginning an exercise routine, we’ve got the top gifts straight from our Cooper experts that you can stash under the tree or hide in their stockings.

Salad Dressing Cruet
“My stocking stuffer for all this year is a salad dressing cruet that you fill with your own recipe and it only distributes two  Tablespoons at a time! Try ”
Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Registered Dietitian at Cooper Clinic
A Heart Rate Monitor
“I like Polar because it’s simple! They have basic variations that just show your heart rate, and then fancier models that store additional personal information, like age and height, and provide calorie consumption. Garmin also makes a very nice and more expensive watch/heart rate monitor that tracks distance, pacing and more. If you’re buying for a runner, this is a great gift.”
Mary Edwards, MS, Director of Personal Training at Cooper Fitness Center

My Zeo

iPhone screen1

“This is a sleep manager that connects to your iPhone and analyzes your sleep patterns, helping you to optimize your sleep.  Most people could use higher quality sleep!”
Riva Rahl, MD, Preventive Medicine Physician at Cooper Clinic

A Resting Metabolic Rate Test

“Since I love to eat, and my eating always threatens to overtake my exercising, I personally would love a resting metabolic rate (RMR) test to figure out the amount of calories I use while I’m awake but not moving/exercising.”
Jill Turner, Vice President of Operations at Cooper Concepts
*Resting Metabolic Rate tests are available at Cooper Clinic. Click here for details.
New Workout Clothes
“It’s great to give someone new workout clothes. In my opinion, you can never have too many and it’s always a little bit of encouragement to wear a new item, getting out the door and exercising! Just think wicking and comfortable – Target has some really nice ladies workout clothes, and I haven’t gone wrong with giving gifts to guys from the new Nike store lately.”
Sarah Carroll, Director of Cooper Spa

It’s Pizza Tonight

October 16, 2012 Leave a comment

My parents are from New York City and Italy, so in our house, we appreciate a good piece of pie. Yet many people think pizza cannot be part of a healthy diet. Think again! Don’t automatically assume that dinner at your favorite pizza joint is out of the question when eating healthy.

Dining Out
It is possible to eat out and eat healthy. Since pizza is made-to-order, simply choose a thin-crust pizza and ask for half or a third the usual amount of cheese. With plenty of flavorful toppings, the reduction in cheese is usually not missed – plus, you’ll enjoy the added benefit of a pizza crust that stays crisp longer.

I am definitely a plain jane when it comes to my pizza, but there are ways to save even more calories when choosing your toppings. Pick vegetable toppings and leaner meats. Canadian bacon and pineapple are delicious, and so is grilled chicken with onions and peppers or a bit of goat cheese.

If portion control is a problem, order the smallest size, and share with a friend. My husband and I always share a salad, too. So the pizza sitting on the table isn’t the only temptation, order the salad to come with your pizza – that way you’ll have a full plate which will contribute to your overall satiety.

Staying In
Pizza can also be a quick and easy meal to make at home. Check out this recipe from one of our registered and licensed dietitians,  Kathy Duran-Thal, RD. You can also use a ready-made, wholewheat pizza dough, which is widely available at most grocery stores. Just be sure to check the label and avoid any that contain trans fats. Also substitute low-fat cheese to lower saturated fat and cholesterol.

Make it pizza night tonight!

This was written by Christine Witzsche former Communications Director at Cooper Aerobics. Christine is no longer with Cooper Aerobics and we wish her all the best with her future endeavors.

Health Starts Here

Have you ever started your health journey for all the right reasons then got so focused on the number on the scale that it all fell apart? That’s what has happened to me recently. When I started blogging about my health journey it was for health, but along the way it became about weight. And about how I wanted to look in my swimsuit for my Hawaii vacation. And that I still couldn’t fit into my thinner clothes. And the number on the scale wasn’t decreasing as fast as I wanted. At some point I lost sight of what really mattered to me in the first place… to feel better. Knowing that if I was patient during the process, in time I’d also look better.

A note and snack left by Meridan to remind me to stay focused on my health goal.

As a result of getting so focused on the exterior and less interested on the interior, I wasn’t succeeding at either. So it was time for an attitude adjustment. I talked to my ever faithful Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Meridan Zerner. It was a relief to share this information with someone who wouldn’t judge or preach, rather support and inspire. Now I’m back in full force with my sights on improving my cardio fitness, increasing my energy, getting better sleep and feeling less pain in my geriatric knees. Sporting my new knee brace, I’ve been taking Zumba and Jam Zone classes at Cooper Fitness Center, riding the stationary bike set to interval training and walked three miles with a colleague yesterday. I do think the nicer weather in Dallas has helped my new-found motivation!

This is a photo of a note Meridan left me the other week. It says, “Health starts here,” with a smiley face, sitting underneath an apple. While the apple was devoured immediately, I still have the message posted in my office. It helps remind me to not just incorporate more fruits and veggies in my diet, but also the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. As I eat my banana and plan my weight routine for after work, I realize I’m eating and exercising for health, not weight. And it feels great!

This was written by Amy George former VP of Marketing and Communications at Cooper Aerobics. Amy is no longer with Cooper Aerobics and we wish her all the best with her future endeavors.

Game Day Menu: Tailgating Tips and Recipes

September 20, 2012 Leave a comment

By Amber Odom, RD, LD, Registered Dietitian, Cooper Clinic

It’s that time of year again…fall, cooler weather and football season! Whether you are tailgating at the football game with a few friends or hosting a football extravaganza, here are some healthy tips for a winning game plan this season.

What’s on the Menu
Before you head to the game, don’t forget to put lots of ice in the cooler for food safety. Here are a few low-calorie ideas to get your party started for appetizers:

  • Fruit and Veggie Tray (made ahead of time or purchased from the grocery store deli)
  • Baked Lays potato chips, pretzels or multi-grain tortilla chips
  • Dips – salsa/picante sauce, hummus, guacamole or spinach dip
  • Laughing Cow Cheese (Light) with raw veggies, Kashi TLC crackers or reduced-fat Triscuit crackers

Go for the Grill
When you think of tailgating, go for the grill! It can be a fun and healthy way to enjoy your favorite pre-game foods. Here are some grilling ideas for the main entrée/protein:

  • Chicken – use breasts for grilled chicken sandwiches or kabobs; or try marinated chicken for fajitas
  • Fish – try wrapping your favorite fish in foil with fresh herbs, garlic & lemon and it will be ready for the grill, or you can try salmon (marinated in a little olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice and basil) grilled on a cedar plank, or shrimp for kabobs
  • Pork – marinated pork tenderloin
  • Burgers – 97% lean ground beef or ground turkey (use 2% milk cheese slices if making cheeseburgers)
  • Hotdogs – try fat-free Ball Park, turkey Oscar Meyer or 97% fat-free Hebrew National (use 2% shredded cheese and 99% fat-free, turkey chili if making chili cheese dogs)

When packing the tailgating mobile, don’t forget to throw in a pot or pan to cook or heat up the veggies/sides:

  • Grilled onions for sandwiches, burgers, hotdogs, or fajitas
  • Chunks of tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers, squash, and zucchini on skewers for kabobs
  • Baked beans
  • Brown rice to serve with kabobs
  • Whole-wheat buns for burgers and/or hotdogs
  • Whole-wheat tortillas for fajitas
  • Fresh fruit tray
  • Pineapple chunks on skewers for kabobs

By following these tips and meal ideas you’re sure to have a great tailgating bash. Remember – it is not about deprivation but moderation. Enjoy the game!


Amber Odom, a registered and licensed dietitian, joined the Cooper Clinic Nutrition Department in 2004 and specializes in preventive and cardiovascular nutrition and weight management. She leads grocery store tours educating attendees on how to navigate the store and select healthier food items and teaches nutrition classes to Cooper teammates as part of the CooperFit wellness program. In 2002, Amber was named “Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year” by the Texas Dietetic Association. She received a Bachelor of Science in food and nutrition from Texas Tech University and completed a combined Bachelor of Science and internship in nutrition at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.