Posts Tagged ‘holiday health’

Host a Stress-Free Holiday Party

December 12, 2014 Leave a comment

With the holiday season comes the joy of entertaining and the stress of planning the perfect holiday party. The Cooper Hotel Event Team offers useful advice on how to throw a stress-free party this year.

Be of good cheer. Avoid financial woes and stress  by developing a budget. Set a specific dollar amount for how much you are going to spend throughout the holiday season. Remember, your financial situation may be different than your peers, so plan accordingly on how much you can spend on everything from food to your party outfit.

Make your guest list and check it twice. Before you begin to plan the party elements, sit down and take time to make your guest list. As you are deciding on a specific number of people to invite, consider the following questions:

  • How will the number of guests impact my budget?
  • Will my party space fit this many people?
  • Will I need to order additional seating, food or favors?
  • Are children invited to attend?

Once you answer these questions, you should have a better understanding on how many guests to invite.

Deck the hall with boughs of holly. You can create a pleasant ambience by hosting a themed-party or by using holiday décor throughout your house. Follow these trustworthy event planning tips at your next party:

  • Lighting and music are essential elements to set the mood at your party. For a more formal look, you can use lights and candles to light the room. You can also play holiday music to help set the tone.
  • Set up tables in separate rooms of your house. This will allow for your guests to move around and have more space in each area.
  • If you are looking to create your own holiday decorations, try placing the head of your favorite holiday flower in a bowl of water. You can also use websites like Pinterest to find fun, cost-effective decor ideas.

From casual wear to black-tie, give your guests an idea of the appropriate attire for the event. As a courtesy, you should include this information on your party invitation.

Don’t be dashing through your home! While you are planning all of the party festivities, it’s easy to forget the little things  you need at the party. As you begin to plan, write down all of the items and to-dos on one list, so you can confirm you have everything you need ahead of the party.

If children are attending the party, make sure you “kid-proof” your house to avoid any accidents. Remove breakable items that people can easily knock over or run into. You can also purchase a kid-friendly movie or game to keep the kids occupied. This can help make the party more enjoyable for your other guests.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That includes for tasty, holiday food! As you invite your guests, it’s important to note if any of your guests have food allergies. From gluten intolerance to nut allergies, make sure you plan your menu accordingly, so everyone can enjoy the party and the food.

  • If your party is informal and you are preparing the food, ask guests to bring their favorite holiday dishes to alleviate the burden of cooking all of the dishes by yourself. Give your guests ideas on what they can bring upfront so there are a variety of dishes at the party.
  • In the event of leftovers, you can box up festive to-go boxes for your guests. This is a nice gesture and also saves you the temptation of eating extra calories after the party.

Follow these tips to help ensure you have a successful, stress-free party.  Enjoy those around you and remember the true meaning of the season.

Do you have out-of-town guests who need a place to stay?  Call 972.386.0306 today to book their stay at Cooper Hotel!

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.

Pass the Chocolate Please

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and conveniently February is also National Chocolate Month. Chocolate is a decadent and delicious treat in all of its many forms and flavors. It’s hard to pass up the simple pleasures found in that little heart-shaped box, and now you don’t have to! If you’re a “chocoholic,” there’s sweet news for you! Mounting evidence links some types of chocolate with health benefits. Consider these morsels derived from consuming just a little bit of chocolate in your diet.

Chocolate may:

  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Help prevent certain cancers
  • Elevate mood

The Natural Wonders of Chocolate

Chocolate is chock full of antioxidants! One cup of hot cocoa has up to three times the antioxidants found in a cup of green tea and about twice the amount in a glass of red wine. But remember, not all forms of chocolate reap equal health benefits. Dark chocolate and cocoa (cocoa content of at least 70 percent) are the heavy hitters in the chocolate line-up because of their high concentration of flavonols which have been shown to help ward off certain diseases.

Dark chocolate contains less sugar and is also far less processed than milk and white chocolate. But all chocolate is high in calories and fat so enjoy it in bite-size portions. Beyond chocolate, check out these other sources of disease-fighting flavonols:

  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Tea and coffee and moderate amounts of red wine

Chocolate Nutrition at a Glance

One ounce of dark chocolate with 70-85 percent cocoa contains:

  • 160 calories
  • 11 grams fat (7 grams saturated fat)
  • 14 grams carbohydrates (3.5 grams fiber)
  • 3 grams protein

Chocolate Myths and Facts

  • Chocolate is not high in caffeine. An ounce of dark chocolate has 28 mg of caffeine compared with 95-140 mg in a cup of coffee.
  • Chocolate is not linked to tooth decay, in fact the tannins in dark chocolate may actually reduce this dental problem.
  • Chocolate cannot cause addiction. If you or someone you know is a “chocoholic” that just means you have a strong preference for the taste, texture and aroma.

Bottom Line: A Little Bit of Chocolate Goes a Long Way

Just ¼ ounce or 30 calories a day of dark chocolate has been linked to lowering blood pressure. One quarter of an ounce looks like two squares broken off a regular size Hershey’s Chocolate Bar. Currently there is no recommended serving size of chocolate to reap the heart healthy benefits. If you want the benefits without the calories try adding cocoa powder to your diet.

Delicious Ways to Get Your Chocolate Fix

There are numerous ways to enjoy dark chocolate as an occasional treat:

  • Bite-sized piece of dark chocolate
  • One packet of low-fat hot cocoa mix
  • Chocolate covered strawberries: One ounce dark chocolate melted over whole strawberries (try with grapes, dried apricots and banana slices)
  • Fat free dark chocolate pudding
  • Add cocoa powder to a smoothie made with banana, yogurt, frozen berries and a touch of honey

Chocolate recipe substitution: 

  • When a recipe calls for chocolate, use dark chocolate or better yet, cocoa powder.
  • To substitute one ounce of unsweetened chocolate, use three Tablespoons of dry cocoa plus two Tablespoons sugar plus one Tablespoon of vegetable oil.

Happy Valentine’s Day and here’s to chocolate!

For more information on Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit our website or call 972.560.2655.

Going from “N” to “D”

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment

We tend to live our lives in “Neutral.” What does that mean? Well, we may have the best thoughts for our lives and health, but nothing ever changes. You may want to workout more consistently or eat more healthfully. You may want to start running or become a healthier parent. All great desires right?

Why don’t they happen ? Why are changes never made? Why are the desires forgotten in a week or two? Because we are living in Neutral when we need to shift our lives into Drive. It is not enough just to want to change or want to be healthier.

First you must believe that change really is possible. That you can accomplish what you set out to do. Second, a decision to change must happen. You have to decide to take the necessary steps or educate yourself, no matter how difficult, to implement change. Third, you must take the small steps over and over againfor a period of time until the change isn’t what you want or what you hope for, it is who you are naturally. This is also referred to as disciplining yourself.

Change is not easy. And in the instant gratification world that we live in, that can be a hard pill to swallow. But if you keep taking tiny steps over time in the direction you want to go, eventually you get to the place of accomplishing what you set out to do. A car will only coast if in Neutral. It’s not until you put it in Drive that you can accelerate and navigate and get where you want to go.

As 2012 approaches, don’t just make some resolution to change. You’ll end up disappointed. Take the necessary steps to actually become the person you want to be. It may take months or years, but the payoff of actual change will be well worth the cost.

Touchdown with Nutrition

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment

The Super Bowl is right around the corner, and so are the parties. Use the game plan below to score yourself a touchdown when it comes to nutrition. Keep in mind – it’s not about deprivation, but liberation through moderation!

Follow these Super Bowl party tips:

    • Don’t arrive hungry. Have a small snack ahead of time to curb your appetite (fruit, light nonfat yogurt, or 1/4 cup nuts).
    • Alternate non-caloric with caloric beverages. Calories add up quickly with alcohol and regular soda.
    • For appetizers, go for the vegetable tray or boiled shrimp. Limit the cheese, crackers, chips, and heavy dips.
    • Go stingy on the starches such as potatoes, rice, pasta, and rolls (1/4 of plate).
    • Be modest with meat portions (1/4 of plate).
    • Choose volumes of vegetables (1/2 of plate).
    • Drizzle sauces and dressings instead of pouring.
    • Limit yourself to one small piece of dessert.
    • Fill your plate once instead of grazing all afternoon or evening.
    • Set a time to stop eating. For example, stop after the third quarter.
  • Don’t forget to work in exercise ahead of, or after, the game.

Tips for the host:

    • Avoid making excessive amounts of food.
    • Send everyone home with a “doggy bag” so you have no leftovers.
  • Offer healthy options.

Armed with this advice, you should have no problems keeping a healthy routine during the party. Once the game begins, follow the next four quarters for our game plan to keep a nutritious regimen.

First Quarter
Aim to only consume beverages. Choose iced tea or flavored iced tea, diet sodas, Crystal Light drinks, or water. If you decide to drink alcoholic beverages, choose wine or a light beer. Don’t forget, it’s always acceptable to bring your own drink to the party. It can be your addition to the food and beverage buffet.

Second Quarter
Keep on target with the appetizers. When it comes to choosing your appetizer, pick the vegetables over cheese and limit the chips and dip. Bring along a few Laughing Cow Cheese wedges for a snack or some salsa to try with chips. Another great appetizer option is light popcorn. It’s easy to make and everyone enjoys the snack.

Halftime Show
It’s time to enjoy the main event and squeeze in a healthy entrée. If possible, choose grilled, skinless and boneless chicken breasts or purchase a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and remove the skin for the party. Another healthy option is boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce or deli sandwiches. Offer to bring a healthy entree to the party.

Third Quarter
Get busy selecting healthy sides to finish off your entrée. Fruit and vegetables are always a delicious option. Feel free to add a low-fat fruit dip or dressing for some extra flavor. A tossed salad with fresh tomatoes and vegetables is usually loved by everyone. Also try a low-fat version of your favorite coleslaw or potato salad recipe.

Fourth Quarter
Whether or not your team ends up winning the game, you can know you did your best to score high for a healthy meal. It’s always OK to finish a great meal with sweets. As long as it’s in moderation, there’s no need for deprivation! Take a look here for great low-calorie and low-fat recipes from Cooper Clinic nutrition.

By following this game plan, you won’t have to steer off your healthy course just for one party. It’s always possible to enjoy great parties with nutritious foods. For more information on Cooper Clinic nutrition services, please visit or call 972.560.2655. Have a great Super Bowl weekend!

Jumping Over Holiday Hurdles

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s fair to say that next week will be full of family, friends, relaxation, and last but not least, food. The overeating side of us will be out in full force ready to savor each lasting bite of Thanksgiving dinner.

This Thanksgiving, let’s start a new tradition: not overeating. And how on earth do you do this? It’s easy, and you are not eliminating any of your favorite holiday foods.

Patty Kirk, RD, LD, Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian offers these tips on how to avoid holiday hurdles:

Party Control:

  1. Don’t arrive too hungry. Make a healthy snack before you go to holiday parties.
  2. Bring produce. If you are tasked with bringing an appetizer or side dish, provide something healthy such as grilled vegetables.
  3. Mix and mingle. Chat with family and friends for at least 15 minutes before heading to the buffet. It’s not a race to eat, so put it off.
  4. Scope out the buffet. Make sure you know what you want and don’t want on your plate before you fill it up.
  5. Steer clear of the food. Before or after your meal, mingle with others away from the buffet. This way you won’t be tempted to grab snacks every few minutes.
  6. Eat only what you love. In Patty’s words, “Trust me, if you don’t love the food, the second bite won’t taste any better than the first.”
  7. Fill a smaller plate. Don’t feel obligated to stack food onto a large dinner plate.
  8. Eat slow. Savor each bite as well as time with family. Again, it’s not a race.
  9. Beware of the bar. Cutting out the special holiday drinks will eliminate loads of extra calories.
  10. Don’t waste calories. With foods you can eat all year round, don’t waste the calories. For example, skip the roll this year.

Now that the holiday is over, it’s time to start back into your healthy routine.

Damage Control:

  1. Track what you eat weekly. It’s always a good idea to know what you are consuming.
  2. Bounce back. Start your normal routine as soon as possible.
  3. Lose the leftovers. Send them home with family and friends. Remember, it’s not the one Thanksgiving meal that is nutritionally harmful, it’s making the meal last for days and weeks.
  4. Keep it at three. Only eat three meals a day, no more and no less.
  5. Exercise. That’s a no-brainer.
  6. Cut back on the portions. Don’t think you have to eat every meal like it’s a holiday. Eat what you love, just less of it.

Now that you are ready to combat the holiday temptations, come prepared with healthier choices. Kathy Duran-Thal, R.D., Director of Nutrition for Cooper Wellness has delicious and healthy meals perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Bacon Wrapped Apricots with Jalapeno

Kathy’s Tapanade

Cran-Appleberry Sauce

Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Lighter Libby’s Pumpkin Pie

Hot cinnamon Mulling Spiced Beverage

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

Halloween Healthy

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

As parents, we are always looking for ways to keep our children healthy, and unfortunately this time of year can be a struggle. Children bring home an average of 250 pieces of candy after trick-or-treating, which can become overwhelming for most parents. Here are some tricks from Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services to avoid the temptations of treats:

Tricks and Suggestions to Decrease Treat Temptations:

  • Wait to purchase treats until the last possible moment. Don’t keep Halloween treats in the house days in advance.
  • Purchase your least favorite candies. You’ll be less likely to sneak treats if you don’t enjoy eating them.
  • Be realistic about the amount of candy you’ll need. Buy what you think might be too little and if you run out of candy, have healthy treats or non-food treats on hand.
  • Go ahead and trash the leftovers immediately following the holiday. Again, if those little goodies are not in the house to tempt you, you’re less likely to eat them!
  • When your children bring home their treats, divide them into daily portions and package them in baggies. Give your child one baggie of treats every day until there are no more.
  • Instead of trick-or-treating, throw a Halloween party at your house and serve your own delicious and nutritious home-made snacks.

With these tips to combat the sweet temptations from home, now it’s your turn to delight your trick-or-treaters with healthy options. Below are ways to contribute to your trick-or-treating guests with nutrition in mind:

  • Apple Bites (above) (apple slices with almonds for teeth)
  • Mini bags of microwave popcorn
  • Mini granola bars
  • Mini boxes of raisins
  • Small packages of assorted nuts
  • Snack-size graham crackers, animal crackers, pretzels or Pepperidge Farm Goldfish (100 calorie packs)
  • Pre-packaged apple slices or baby carrots

With these healthy snacks in your trick-or-treater bowl, you are sure give each child a bright smile, without the extra sugar! Have a safe, happy, and healthy Halloween!

For more information on Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services or to schedule your consultation, call 972.560.2655 or visit our website.

Diabetics: Make Simple Changes

February 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Today 24 million Americans are living with diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. We also know the disease is afflicting more people at younger ages and at rates that are multiplying. This is a direct result of our widening waistlines and our less active lifestyles; however this is a highly preventable disease. As a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, I have had first-hand experience with patients who have been successful in turning things around.

Here are some quick tips to prevent the onset of diabetes:

1. Attain a healthy weight. Weight loss is one of the most meaningful things you can do to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. According to a large study, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a 5-10 percent reduction (even 5, 10, or 15 pounds) of your current weight can make a big difference. The key is to set realistic, small goals and seek a social support network to help you reach them. In general, it is recommended that we become more active and eat smaller portions, here are a few more specific helpful hints regarding your weight:

Change your mindset. Make time to focus on yourself and your needs.

Keep records. Write down what and when you eat and drink for several days and use them to set a few nutrition goals. Ask yourself some questions:
-Are your portions too large?
-Do you eat or drink too many “extras” like sweets or alcohol?
-Do you snack too often?
-Could you choose better snack choices?

Make small tweaks to your existing habits, such as selecting a higher fiber cereal. Even small changes can bring about big rewards.

Forget fad diets. They often lack important nutrients and don’t stand the test of time.

2. Prioritize exercise. Slash your diabetes risk with regular exercise. The DPP showed that moderate exercise equals 30 to 60 minutes a day at least 5 days a week. An added bonus is that it helps with reaching or maintaining a healthy weight. Embark on a plan that includes physical activity you enjoy so you can stick with it daily. Find a time of day that is going to fit and make exercise a part of your lifestyle.

3. Plan to eat more fiber rich plant foods. You can add fiber by eating plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. Including high fiber foods in your diet not only improves your overall health but also helps you gain control of your blood sugars. Fiber boosts fullness which keeps you satisfied longer while eating fewer calories. Choose a variety of plant foods prepared in various ways. The average person needs 20-35 grams of fiber daily.

4. Select healthy fats. A diet rich in healthy fats/oils (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) and low in unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats) is known to lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Olive oil, peanut butter, nuts, seeds and avocados are all great choices. Don’t forget the omega-3 fats such as canola oil, ground flaxseed, walnuts, and fatty fish such as salmon. You may also benefit from daily inclusion of a cholesterol-lowering spread such as Promise Activ light which contains plant sterols clinically proven to lower cholesterol. Choose these healthy fats in moderation because they are high in calories which can add up quickly.

5. Reduce your intake of simple sugars. White rice, white bread, white pasta and white potatoes rapidly convert to sugar in your body causing a sharp rise in your blood sugar. Other culprits include sugary soft drinks and fruit juices. Over time, consuming a lot of these refined carbohydrates and sugar may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Also, they contribute “empty” calories and make it more difficult to manage your weight.

So think prevention. Achieve a healthy weight and stay physically active. When it comes to reducing your risk of developing diabetes the tools are in your hands.

For more information on Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services click here or call 972.560.2655.