Posts Tagged ‘Healthy snacks’

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.

Toss This, Try That: A Healthy Game Plan for Super Bowl Sunday

January 31, 2014 Leave a comment

Super Bowl Sunday is quickly approaching. Not surprisingly it’s one of the biggest calorie-fests of the year, second to Thanksgiving, with the average football fan consuming about a day’s worth of calories from the first quarter to the last. The U.S. Calorie Control Council estimates that Americans pack away 11 million pounds of chips and 1.25 billion chicken wings on just this one day alone! If you intercept with some smart eating strategies you don’t have to toss out all your nutrition plans for the New Year on Super Bowl Sunday.

1) Prepare a healthy dish. Whether you’re hosting or attending a party, you can provide some healthy options to accompany all the other “less healthy” dishes. Whip up a calorie-conscious dip by subbing out high fat for low fat ingredients. For example take a recipe for spinach artichoke dip and make it with light mayonnaise, reduced fat cream cheese and part-skim mozzarella. Pair it with baked chips and you have a delicious treat! You can turn the many “traditional” football-watching eats from nutrition disasters to real winners, such as baked veggie fries made with zucchini sticks, oven “fried” chicken breast strips, turkey bean chili made with extra lean ground meat and high fiber beans. Check out our recipes here.

2) Kick off with fiber-rich vegetables. Go straight for the raw veggie platter first. Go easy on dips and dressings, even if they are low fat. Portion out 2-3 tablespoons of dip on your plate. Go back for seconds of low-calorie vegetables instead of the high-calorie foods.

3) Pass on Super Bowl-sized portions. Use a small plate to sample a small amount of the less healthy foods. Pick your most favorite item whether it’s chicken wings, pizza or burgers and plate a half or even a third of what you normally would. Skip the stuff you don’t “love.” Avoid seconds except for the veggies.

4) Don’t hang out by the food table. Take your plate and plant yourself far away from the food. Focus on the game and hanging out with friends instead of standing near the spread. This will make it much easier to be mindful of how much you eat and keep you from continuously filling up your plate.

5) Alternate alcohol with water and other zero-calorie beverages. Drink a bottle of water prior to the festivities and have an intentional plan to drink less alcohol. The more you drink, the lower your resistance is to overeat. Enjoy your favorite drink of choice, whether it’s a cocktail, wine or beer, and do so with more reserve. It’s easier than you think to alternate alcohol with sparkling or bottled water, unsweetened tea or a diet beverage. Try it!

6) Get back on track. So you may have exceeded your daily calorie load on Super Bowl Sunday, but not all is lost. Don’t let that one day get you discouraged. Pull back on your food intake for the next couple of days and get up and move your body.

End the first month of the New Year with resolve to mindfully manage Super Bowl Sunday and it will be a win-win situation for you and your favorite team.

For more Health Tips connect with Cooper Aerobics on Pinterest and Twitter.

Healthy, Portable, New!

December 6, 2013 Leave a comment

We’re well into the holiday season—that time of year when we’re all on the move. Whether we’re on planes, taking a road trip or in the mall there’s little time to think about healthy eating on the go. Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Meridan Zerner understands this dilemma well and has scoured the grocery stores for the newest, nutritious, portable snacks. She found snacks that are easy to pack and carry around, not messy, and delicious, of course. From bars to crackers and nuts, these snacks pack a punch of nutrition to keep you going.

Bars: Bars are a great grab-n-go snack because they combine whole grains, proteins and carbohydrates in one bar. Here are a few tasty options:

Chips: These chips are a crunchy option for those who like a saltier snack:

Crackers/Granola: Crackers and granola can also add variety to your snack options:

Nut Butters: These nut butters provide added nutrition to a cracker, a piece of fruit or even a vegetable like celery.

Gourmet Nuts and Seeds

Visit our website for more health tips and snack recipes. For more information on Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services download our brochure, call 972.560.2655 or request an appointment online.

Savor Healthy Eating This Summer

Summer is a time for bare feet, swimming at the beach, backyard barbecues and vacation adventures! Kids are out of school and home from college and the leisure days can get you out of your normal routine. Cindy Kleckner, RD, LD, a registered and licensed dietitian at Cooper Fitness Center shares how to brighten up your family’s eating habits and make good nutrition a part of your summer.

Explore the local farmers markets. Take your family on a field trip and enjoy the open air markets. Everyone can pick a new food to try, which gets kids involved in the process and makes them more likely to eat fruits and veggies! When local produce is at its peak, getting your nine servings in a day effortless. You’ll also support your local economy and community.

Enjoy the wide variety of summer fruits and veggies. It’s easy to sink into a vegetable rut. Summer includes a colorful variety that gives your body a nutrient kick! Find seasonal recipes, purchasing tips, and much more from Fruits & Veggies More Matters.

Use the backyard grill to say yes to simple suppers. Cook the whole meal on the grill: meat, seafood and veggies. Combine a few simple ingredients for exceptional flavor. You’ll enjoy easy prep time and real cost savings using a variety of grill baskets or Reynolds Wrap® foil packets.

Downsize your dinnerware by switching from a 12-inch dinner plate to a 10-inch plate can help reduce calorie consumption by 20-22 percent. That can equate to nearly two pounds of weight loss per month, without changing any other aspect of your diet.

Get inspiration for a new recipe from cookbooks but pay more attention to flavors than instructions. Experiment with different herbs and spices. Let your palate embrace a spirit of discovery with bold and unique flavors. Science continues to reveal the promise of many health benefits from the antioxidants in these treasures.

Hydrate often. The Texas summer heat makes you more susceptible to dehydration. Start your day by drinking two glasses of water and keep drinking at each meal, as well as before, during and after workouts. Carry a reusable bottle as a reminder to drink up! For some added flavor squeeze a slice of lemon, lime or orange. For workouts lasting longer than 45 minutes, grab a sport drink to help maintain energy and increase endurance.

Eat healthy on the go. While at the beach or pool steer clear of the concessions by planning ahead. Pack a cooler with ice, bottled water, sandwiches on wholegrain bread, pita chips, hummus, yogurt, nuts, and lots of fruit. As summer months heat up, remember to put your health in center stage and you’ll reap the benefits year round!

For more healthy eating tips from Cindy Kleckner, grab the family for a culinary class with emphasis on healthy cooking at Cooper Fitness Center at Craig Ranch.

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.

Snack Time: Try Kale Chips

KalechipsA few months ago I worked with Amber Odom, RD, LD, one of our Cooper Clinic dietitians, to get a few green recipes for a Dallas Morning News story around St. Patrick’s Day. One of the recipes Amber shared was for kale chips. She listed kale as the number one way to Go Green Healthfully because it is high in vitamins A, C and K and is also an excellent source of fiber, folic acid and potassium.

Amber mentioned that kale chips are super easy to make, and even her kids love them. Since the story ran, I have been wanting to test out this recipe. I finally got the chance to make it last night, and it lived up to the hype. It was delicious! This will definitely be a go-to snack at my house. Here is Amber’s recipe:

Kale Chips
Serves 6


  • 6 cups fresh kale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon Morton Kosher salt (I added a little black pepper, too)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking sheet with olive oil.
  2. Wash and cut kale into 2-3 inch pieces.
  3. Spread kale out on baking sheet in single layer.
  4. Mist the kale with olive oil spray and lightly sprinkle with salt.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges are crisp and begin to turn brown. Be careful not to burn.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories: 53.39
Fat: 2.72 g (0.37 g sat)
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 185.66 mg
Fiber: 1.34 g
Carbohydrates: 6.71 g
Protein: 2.21 g

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.

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.

Better Protein Bars

September 7, 2012 3 comments

Not all protein bars are created equally. If you’re on the hunt for the “perfect” bar, here are a few things to consider.

  1. Check out the calories. Generally, keep them under 200 if you’re going for a snack. If you’re in search for a quickie meal, pair the bar with a piece of fresh fruit. Check out the unhealthy saturated fat counts and shoot for 3 grams or less.
  2. Next, look at the carbohydrates, fiber and sugars. Your best bars will have at least 15 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber and under 15 grams of sugar.
  3. Finally, we want some protein power, right? Find the bars with at least 6-8 grams of protein. Protein combined with adequate carbohydrates will satisfy your hunger and keep you full longer.

Try out different bars and pick the one that passes your taste bud test. After all, you want to enjoy what you eat!

My favorite protein bar picks:

Kashi Chewy Granola Bar, Trail Mix
140 calories
5 g fat
.5 g saturated fat
20 g carbohydrates
4 g fiber
6 g sugar
6 g protein

South Beach Diet Protein Fit Cereal Bar, Cinnamon Raisin

130 calories
4 g fat
2 g saturated fat
18 g carbohydrates
3 g fiber
8 g sugar
9 g protein


Kind Fruit & Nut Delight
180 calories
11 g fat (yes, this is high, but the saturated fat passes the test!)
1.5 g saturated fat
20 g carbohydrates
4 g fiber
11 g sugar
5 g protein


Cliff Luna Bar, Lemon Zest
180 calories
5 g fat
2.5 g saturated fat
27 g carbohydrates
3 g fiber
13 g sugar
9 g protein

What are some of your favorites?

Start the School Year Off Right

By Meredith Rosson, Youth Programs Director, Cooper Fitness Center Dallas

The back-to-school season is just around the corner! I know that making the transition from long summer days to the school year can be a crazy time for your family. With summer camps at Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas wrapping up, we’re busy getting ready for our fall youth programs. After talking with our summer campers, I wanted to share these tips to help you start the school year right – and stay organized all year long.

Two Weeks before School Starts:

  • Schedule doctor visits. Most schools require immunization records, so it’s important to schedule your child’s dentist and doctor appointments to allow enough time for any follow up visits before school starts. This will also let you know if there are any underlying issues that need to be addressed with your child’s school and teacher. Watch this video from our Cooper Clinic physician Dr. Emily Hebert with additional reminders for doctor’s visits.
  • Re-establish daily routines. During the summer, your child’s routine become a little off course. It’s important to re-establish their daily routines such as mealtimes and bedtime, in order to ensure that they are ready to conquer each school day with bountiful energy and a good attitude.
  • Fuel their body. Provide your child with nutritious meals to give their body lasting energy and to boost their brainpower. It’s also vital that they are getting at least eight hours of sleep each night. You can re-establish a normal “school night” bedtime, by moving up their bedtime by 20 minutes every 2-3 days to help their bodies adjust.
  • Turn off the TV. When your child is out of school for the summer, it’s easy to let them spend too much time with electronics like the TV and computer. Stimulate your child’s brain and help them learn to focus by encouraging activities such as books, word puzzles, arts and crafts, and musical instruments.
  • Establish a positive attitude. When done properly and consistently, your words are the most influential tool in shaping your child’s attitude and feelings towards school. Share your favorite school memories to instill a sense of excitement in your child.

One Week before School Starts:

  • Visit the school. Whether your child is heading to a new school, new grade or will start rotating from class to class, it’s always a good idea to show them where they will be spending the next nine months of their life. This is a great way to alleviate anxiety and help make the first day of school seem more familiar.
  • Provide a sense of responsibility. Your child’s bedtime routine can be a great opportunity to teach them responsibility. Allowing them to pick out their daily outfit, set their own alarm and pack their backpack, will empower your child to grow into the self-sufficient adult that you want them to be someday! Don’t forget, it’s always a good idea to supervise these types of activities.
  • Prepare meals ahead of time. The first week of school can be a little chaotic, so prepping simple meals ahead of time will take the stress and time out of the kitchen, allowing you more time to connect with your child on their daily experiences at school.

First Week of School:

  • Meet the teacher. It’s important to build relationships with your child’s teacher to set a positive foundation for the upcoming year. This will allow you to express your sincere interest in their feedback about your child’s behavior and classwork, and to show your support for the goals that they set for your child. Meet-n-greet opportunities also give you the chance to learn the best way to communicate with the teacher.

All Year Long:

  • Playtime before homework. The school day is long and your child often needs to be physically active and release pent-up energy. Believe it or not, studies show that having time to play outside before a big test helps children with their concentration and results in better grades. The same theory can apply to your home life. Designate a specific amount of home recess time before your child comes in to start on their homework. Here’s a few play date ideas to try!
  • After school snacks. With my job, I’ve come to understand how easily kids can become hungry! Be sure to offer them a healthy snack to hold off their hunger pains until dinnertime. As a rule of thumb, the snack should not be more than 200 calories. To find delicious snacks ideas that your child is sure to love, click here.
  • Teachable moments. Whether your child forgets their homework or doesn’t remember to complete last night’s assignment, these types of moments can teach your child responsibility and accountability. It’s key to teach your child that their actions have natural consequences. As a result, your child will learn to check their backpacks and establish a routine to help them become a successful individual throughout their life.

I hope these tips will help you and your child to experience a wonderful school year!

What tips do you have to ease your child back into the school routine?

Slimming, Satisfying Snacks

Why snack? Snacking throughout the day can help keep your energy levels up, curb your appetite to tame overeating later in the day and may even help you lose weight (if you snack smart!). Snacks are also a great way to fill in any nutrition gaps. Aim to build a nutrition powerhouse combo of fiber-dense carbohydrates paired with hunger-sustaining lean protein or filling healthy fat. A good rule of thumb is to keep snacks around 200 calories or less. Here are some of my healthy favorites that can satisfy your craving for something a little bit sweet or salty.

  1. Oatmeal is not just for breakfast. Cook up a packet of lower sugar flavored oatmeal and top with 1 Tbsp. slivered almonds. The oatmeal packs in about 3 grams of fiber and only 4 grams of sugar. The almonds provide crunch with 3 grams of healthy fat. You may choose the plain oatmeal for zero grams of sugar.
  2. You can’t go wrong with crunchy raw veggies. If you missed your share at lunch, do not despair. Dip a cup of baby carrots in about 2 Tbsp. hummus spread. Try the 100-calorie snack packs and use twice for a smaller portion each time. Hummus has 3 ½ grams of fat and zero saturated fat. The carrots have 4 grams of filling fiber.
  3. Yes, chips can be a healthy snack too, especially when they are lower fat and paired with avocados! Munch on 15 baked tortilla chip scoops filled with about 2 Tbsp. guacamole. For convenience, you can buy the 100-calorie individual packs of guacamole. There are 2 grams of fiber in the low fat chips and about 5 grams of heart healthy fat in the guacamole. Plus, the scoops are fun to eat!
  4. A “skinny” apple…Slice up an apple of your choice and add a side of raw walnuts – 1Tbsp. Tip: slice the apple into very skinny slivers and enjoy multiple slices.
  5. Go Greek with a single serving container of plain nonfat Greek yogurt and top with a crumbled up graham cracker square. Optional: add 1Tbsp. dark chocolate flavored almonds, a real treat indeed!

What are some of your favorite hunger satisfying snacks?