Posts Tagged ‘healthy recipes’

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

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

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.

Making Mealtime Successful

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Making Mealtime SuccessfulLet’s bring back family mealtime. Yes, our hectic lives all too often force out this once staple daily activity. But it’s SO important and here’s why. Having a meal together is one of the easiest and most essential activities you can do to encourage healthier eating. And, it’s simpler than you think!

Kids learn by example. As parents, you already know what you say ‘speaks’ to them but what you do ‘screams’ to them. “Do as I say, not as I do,” has no place (setting) at the kitchen table. Mealtimes are key opportunities for kids to learn about foods and preferences. Starting at a very young age, children start to develop lasting impressions about different foods, both positive and negative. We want to encourage the right balance of the what, the when and the where: healthy food choices at regular times in a pleasant setting.

Here are some simple steps to get your family’s nutrition headed in the right direction:

  • Plan it. Review the schedule for the week and pick a day or two when you can eat together as a family. Gradually add another day each week.
  • Pull up a chair. Sit down together at the table to eat. This allows for better conversation with fewer distractions. Try to keep the conversation light and fun. Catch up on the events of the day. Enjoy each other’s company.
  • Turn off the distractions and be more mindful about eating. This can be a challenging step but a rewarding one too. Just turn off the TV, put the cell phones and iPods and any other ‘noise’ out of reach. Focus on enjoying a delicious meal together.
  • Try something new. Each week introduce one new food or recipe. Get your kids involved in the deciding what to try. This will get them pumped up about what they are going to eat. Children are more likely to eat foods if they have a hand in picking them out.
  • Prepare the meal together. It may only take a few minutes. Ask your kids to spin the lettuce, snap the green beans or stir the bowl of pasta. When your kids help make the meal they are more likely to eat what is served.
  • Be creative and make it fun. Kids can make name cards for their seats. They can create a decorative centerpiece for the table or fold the napkins in a creative way (I loved doing that as a kid!).
  • Be a positive role model. You as parents and the older children can help model healthy eating habits. Now that’s rewarding!

Kids who eat with their families are more likely to eat healthier foods. And healthy families are happy families!

For more Health Tips and meal preparation inspiration check out the Cooper Aerobics Pinterest page or Recipes section on our website.

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.

Frozen Fruit is Fantastic

Many of us have a frozen bag or two of fruit in our freezer to use for baking, fruit smoothies or mixed into yogurt. However, freshly frozen fruit is also a great snack or healthy dessert. If you find that the fresh fruit you purchase goes bad before you get around to eating it all, consider freezing some of it. A few of our favorite frozen fruit treats follow.

  • Seedless green and red grapes both freeze beautifully, although the red ones are my favorite.  Delicious unfrozen, the sweetness of the grapes is somehow enhanced by the freezing process.  Wash fresh grapes, remove from the stem, and then place in a freezer bag or plastic container.  For variation and additional sweetness, sprinkle grapes with Splenda before freezing.
  • For the taste sensation of an orange dreamsicle, peel and section an orange.  Put the orange sections onto a plate or cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze for 45 minutes to an hour.  Remove from the freezer and eat.  Note – don’t freeze the orange for longer than an hour as the orange goes from ‘dreamy’ to ‘dreadful’ after that.
  • Frozen ripened figs are also delicious.  To freeze, simply wash the ripened figs and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag or container.  To eat, remove the quantity desired and thaw slightly for a few minutes before serving.
  • Frozen banana chips make a sweet treat.  Peel firm banana, cut into chips and place on a cookie sheet in a single layer to freeze.  Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag or container.  For the grown-up version of a banana pop, dip slices in melted dark chocolate before freezing.

National Cookie Day

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment
Celebrate National Cookie Day!

Celebrate National Cookie Day!

Who doesn’t love a good ol’ cookie? Sometimes you just need a hot cookie straight from the oven or a piece of cookie dough. Unfortunately, those cookies can add up.

But you can enjoy all of your favorite foods in moderation.

Thanks to our registered dietitian superstar, Kathy Duran-Thal, we can celebrate National Cookie Day and bake her famous oatmeal cookies – with reduced fat and calories by using simple substitutions.  Treat your friends and family to some healthier cookies tonight:

The World’s Best Oatmeal Cookies


  • 1/2 cup apple juice concentrate, unsweetened, slightly thawed
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 egg whites, 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup wholewheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together apple juice concentrate, brown sugar, butter and honey. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until well combined. In a medium bowl, sift flours, cinnamon and baking powder. Add flour and oats alternately to liquid ingredients, mixing after each addition until well combined. Mix in raisins.

Place heaping teaspoons of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Cool before storing.

Yield: 5 dozen

Nutrient Analysis (per serving)

Calories: 54 cal
Protein: 1 gm
Total Fat: 1 gm
Saturated Fat: 1 gm
Cholesterol: 4 mg
Fiber: 1 gm
Sodium: 28 mg

A Guilt-Free Thanksgiving

November 12, 2012 Leave a comment

The holidays are upon us! In between the hustle and bustle of holiday festivities and pulling together Christmas lists, it can be easy to forget to control our appetites and calories as delicious foods abound in our homes and at parties.

Thanks to our amazing Cooper Wellness and Cooper Clinic dietitians, there are ways to turn your  traditional Thanksgiving recipes into a healthy feast for all. Sneak in nutrients along with the decadence in these crowd-pleasing recipes:

Don’t forget, a key to fending off holiday weight gain is knowing that the secret of healthy eating is all about moderation, not deprivation.

If you’d like to learn more about the secrets to a healthy Thanksgiving, join Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Cindy Kleckner in her upcoming culinary demonstration, “Tweaking the Turkey Tradition.” Click here to register.

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.