Posts Tagged ‘healthy breakfast’

Create Perfect Parfaits

November 25, 2016 Leave a comment

By Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE and Gillian Gatewood, RDN, LD, CNSC, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services

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.

Nutrition Information:

  • 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.

Nutrition Information:

  • 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.

Nutrition Information:

  • 313 calories
  • 2 grams saturated fat
  •  1 gram fiber
  •  10 grams protein
  •  210 mg calcium

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

Go Oats!

September 13, 2014 2 comments

Breakfast eaters are 30% less likely to develop obesity or insulin resistance compared to breakfast skippers.

Oatmeal is a favorite breakfast staple in my home and as a registered dietitian I recommend it to my patients on a regular basis. Not only does this great grain provide soluble fiber to lower cholesterol, it has also been found to reduce post-meal hunger for up to four hours! That’s great news for those of us who get hungry soon after eating breakfast. One study found that people who ate oatmeal were less hungry later than those who ate cold cereal. Both groups were served the same number of calories, but it’s likely that the oatmeal with soluble fiber and more protein than the other cereal helped stave off the morning munchies.

With so many choices lining the cereal aisles, what do you need to look for when making a healthy choice? Whether you select slow cooked or instant, plain or flavored, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds, nutrition goals and even match one’s morning schedule (some of us would rather not spend 20-30 minutes slow cooking oats on a busy work morning). Check out these things when reading food labels.


First look for the number of calories per serving. Most plain oatmeal with a standard one cup cooked serving size has 150 calories. Flavored oatmeal in packets or single-serve microwavable cups run the gamut for calories ranging from as low as 100 calories to a high 260 calories per serving.


In general oatmeal is not high in sodium unlike dry cereals that can contain upwards of 300 milligrams! In fact old fashioned oats have no sodium, while a packet of instant oats can have between 240-350 milligrams. It’s ideal to get the lowest amount of sodium possible, less than 100 milligrams per serving, especially if your medical needs require that you keep your sodium count low as part of a healthy eating plan. Generally people with high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes need to keep sodium below 1,500 milligrams a day. Speak with your registered dietitian to find out how much daily sodium you need.

Total Carbohydrates

Further down the list of nutrients are total carbs and sugars. If you are trying to be carb-conscious you will notice that whether you prefer plain oats or flavored, there are about 30 grams of carbs per serving. The exception is some of the “new” single serve cups (ex. Quaker® Real Medleys) that contain closer to 50 grams of carbs (and 260 calories). If you have diabetes you may need to watch carbs more closely. A registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator can work with you to match carbs for your personal meal plan to help manage your blood sugars.


  • Dietary Fiber: Aim for at least three grams total dietary fiber per serving. This is fairly standard however some cereals can have as much as six grams of fiber. That’s more fiber bang for your buck and we know that fiber helps with fullness- another great reason to choose oatmeal as a breakfast of champions!
  • Soluble Fiber: If you are trying to lower your LDL “bad” cholesterol by as much as three to seven percent, it takes three grams of soluble fiber to clinically do that. Slow-cooked oats have a clear advantage over the instant kind. You need 1 ½ cups slow- cooked oats (equal to 3/4 cup dry) compared to three packets of instant to reach this soluble fiber goal. That’s a big bowl of oats! The downside to slow-cooked oatmeal is it takes longer to cook and if you’re like me, trying to get out the door in the morning, it’s far more convenient to cook the instant for 1 ½ minutes in the microwave. Tip: if you plan ahead you can cook some the night before in a crock pot so it’s ready to eat when you wake up.


Sugar is an important component on labels of all cereals and oatmeal is no exception. If the sugars exceed eight grams per serving put the box back on the shelf! You will not find more than one gram of sugar in slow-cooked oats. The 100 calorie packets of OatFit by Better Oats® also has zero grams of sugar as well. My personal favorite is Quaker® Weight Control Oatmeal with one gram of sugar. The above mentioned flavored cereals are sweetened with artificial sugars keeping the sugar count low. Quaker® Lower Sugar flavored oatmeal has 4 grams of sugar and Quaker® Higher Fiber Oatmeal has seven grams of sugar. Most packets of flavored oats contain at least nine grams of sugar per packet. That’s one whole teaspoon worth!

Whether you go plain or flavored, there’s no such thing as a “boring” bowl of oats. If you want to “spice” it up here are some ideas for delicious mix-ins:

  • Fresh or frozen mixed berries
  • Chopped walnuts and sliced bananas
  • Raisins or dried cranberries and sunflower seeds
  • Sliced almonds and chopped dried apricots
  • Diced pear and ground cinnamon
  • Chopped dates and pecans

I couldn’t properly end this blog on my favorite breakfast food without sharing what I like to mix in. For crunch and texture I add about a teaspoon of nuts, either chopped pecans or walnuts and for a natural sweet flavor I throw in a handful of mixed berries. That’s what I call a great bowl of oatmeal! It leaves my taste buds buzzing and I’m satiated all morning.

How do you like your oatmeal? Please share your comments.

A Healthier Cup of Coffee, A Better Start To Your Day!

Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Cooper Clinic registered dietitian talks coffee sweeteners on Fox 4 Good Day.

A day doesn’t pass by without my hazelnut K-Cup® coffee. I’m always on the go and need my morning fuel–it’s great to hear I’m reaping benefits from my daily cup of Joe. In my role in Marketing and Communications at Cooper Aerobics I have the opportunity to work with the local media to highlight our experts. Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Registered Dietitian at Cooper Clinic was recently featured on Fox 4 Good Day sharing the wonderful health benefits that coffee offers as well as the best and worst of sweeteners. Meridan explained that the polyphenols in the coffee bean in combination with caffeine provide substantial reduced risk in cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and some forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.

While coffee can be wonderful, it can also propose a challenge when we begin to “doctor” our cup. The biggest offenders are half and half and flavored creamers. These are filled with saturated fat which is a high contributor to heart disease and inflammation.

To obtain the same thick texture, Meridan suggests opting for fat free half and half, which only has a dash of corn syrup. Be sure to measure what you are pouring, ideally one tablespoon is enough. Sometimes we can get carried away and have more than ¼ cup, which adds up quickly. Another option is a soy creamer; Silk® soy creamer has only 15 calories, zero saturated fats and zero trans fats for one tablespoon.

With a variety of flavored creamers on the market like NESTLÉ® Coffee-Mate®‘s Girl Scouts® Thin Mints® to International Delight®‘s Almond Joy®, these options combine cream and sugar into one pour. Meridan said the most inflammatory ingredient in these products is the partially hydrogenated soybean oil or palm oil. If you are choosing a flavored creamer use it sparingly or look at other alternatives. Consider sugar free or fat free–but which is best? Meridan said fat free is the better option with less calories and none of the partially hydrogenated ingredients.

If you don’t drink your coffee black, what is the optimal cream and sugar option? Meridan said fat free milk which provides calcium, vitamin D and protein. If you need a little more flavor to your coffee, you could try original or flavored Silk® Almondmilk. That plus a packet of sugar or sugar subsitute can be an easier way to track your morning calories.

Enjoy your coffee and don’t forget to always eat breakfast! For more health tips from dietitians at Cooper Clinic, visit our website.

Healthy Breakfast: What is the Best Cereal?

March 15, 2013 8 comments

Nearly half of Americans eat cereal for breakfast. There are so many choices available that it can be overwhelming, but finding healthier cereals doesn’t have to be. Cereal is a great way to start the day with wholegrain carbohydrates and fiber. Wholegrains contain protective antioxidants and may reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

When it comes to choosing cereal, don’t judge it by the front of the box, which often boasts catchy and misleading claims. Flip it over for the Nutrition Facts and Ingredient List. Here are some simple guidelines (note that there are exceptions to these guidelines):

Serving Size: This is the amount in one serving. If you eat either more or less than the listed serving, adjust the numbers accordingly.

  • Calories: 200 calories less or per serving
  • Fiber: 5 grams of fiber or more per serving
  • Sugars: 8 grams of sugar or less per serving

Calories: A general rule of thumb for breakfast calories is about of 300-400 for the meal. Your body needs the fuel in the morning to get you going. When you add up cereal with fat-free or low fat milk and ½- 1 cup of fruit, you can meet this block of calories. Beware of denser heavier cereals, like granola, that contain more calories than you think. One cup can have more than 400 calories!

Fiber: Cereals made with wholegrains can be high in fiber which helps fill you up.  The bottom line in narrowing down your cereal choices is honing in on its fiber content. Aim for 5 grams (g) or higher with exception to Whole Grain Cheerios. Though it is lower in fiber, with 3 g per serving, Cheerios are a good source of the soluble type fiber which can help lower cholesterol. Kellogg’s Cinnamon Oat Crunch and Kashi Heart to Heart are even higher in fiber than Cheerios. I usually recommend these for the higher soluble fiber count. The daily recommendation for fiber is between 21-38 g of fiber per day, based on your age and gender.

Sugars: These days people are reading labels for sugar, with less regard for calories. I would like to clarify that sugar is not as important as fiber content and wholegrains listed on the Ingredient List. As a general rule, look for 8 g or less sugar per serving, however some cereals qualify as healthy even when they have even as much as 13 g of sugar per serving. Examples are Kashi Go Lean Crunch and Fiber One Caramel Delight.

Ingredient List:

  • The first or second ingredients should be whole grain, such as “whole wheat flour,” “wholegrain wheat,” “whole grain oats”, or “bran.” If the word “whole” does not appear in front of the grain than it’s probably refined, as in “wheat,” “rice,” or “rice flour.” Processed grains are refined and not whole grains. The recommendation is that your intake of grains should come from wholegrains, but more than half is optimal. Note that even if the front of the box says “made with wholegrains,” the cereal may contain a minimal amount.
  • Fake vs. Real Fruit: the strawberries or raspberries in cereals may be made from powder, gelatin and food dyes and don’t qualify as real fruit. Read the ingredient list to verify that what you’re getting is real, like raisins in Raisin Bran.
  • Yogurt Clusters: don’t be fooled by the little yogurt clusters. They contain a coating of sugar and oil and don’t qualify as a healthy yogurt, as the name implies.

Here’s a list of my favorite cereal picks:

Fiber One Honey ClustersGeneral Mills Fiber One Honey Clusters

Serving Size: 1 cup; Calories: 160; Fiber: 13 g; Sugars: 6 g



Fiber One 80Fiber One 80 Calories

Serving Size: ¾ cup; Calories: 80; Fiber: 10 g; Sugars: 3 g



Kashi Go LeanKashi Go Lean

Serving Size: 1 cup; Calories: 140; Fiber: 10 g; Sugars: 6 g



Kellogg's Fiber PlusKellogg’s Fiber Plus Cinnamon Oat Crunch

Serving Size: ¾ cup; Calories: 110; Fiber: 9 g; Sugars: 8 g



Kashi Heart to HeartKashi Heart to Heart

Serving Size: ¾ cup; Calories: 120 g; Fiber: 5 g; Sugars: 5 g


cereal-caramel-delightFiber One Caramel Delight
Serving Size: 1 cup; Calories: 180; Fiber: 9 g; Sugars: 10 g

Cereal_All Bran BudsGeneral Mills All Bran Buds
Serving Size: 1/3 cup; Calories: 70; Fiber: 13 g; Sugars: 8 g


cereal_multigrain_cheeriosMulti Grain Cheerios
Serving Size: 1 cup; Calories: 110; Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 6 g

cereal_Kashi go lean crsipKashi Go Lean Crisp Toasted Berry Crumble
Serving Size: ¾ cup; Calories: 180; Fiber: 8 g; Sugars: 10 g

Who says cereal is just for breakfast? You can also enjoy it as a great topping for fat-free or low fat yogurt. Top it with some fresh or frozen fruit, such as berries, for a sweet kick. Try out different cereals and pick the one that satisfies your taste buds.