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Trying to lose weight? Let’s talk salad dressing.

November 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Spare 100 calories per day to lose 10 pounds in a year…some of those small choices like “dressing on the side” matter!

Quick! Raise your hand if you know someone whose strategy for losing weight is to eat a salad for lunch every day. If you’re like me, you probably know multiple people who have decided to conquer their ever tightening pants by eating an entrée-sized salad each day for lunch. Sadly, for a lot of those folks, this strategy doesn’t work.

Here’s the deal: lettuce, spinach and other salad greens are all incredibly low-calorie and so are all the fresh fruits and vegetables that top salads—carrots, celery, tomato, cucumber and peppers, along with pear, apple, orange and berries. Then we add the extras—chopped nuts, dried fruit, cheese, bacon, olives and croutons with a big ladle or two of dressing. All of a sudden, that healthy salad isn’t healthy and the number on the scale doesn’t budge.

For example, a Dallas chain of Tex-Mex restaurants offers a popular salad that is a large plate of crisp romaine lettuce, topped with two or three baby cherry tomatoes, aged cheddar cheese, fried tortilla strips, a handful of bacon and about 3.5 ounces of sliced Fajita chicken or beef. The house dressing is a spicy blue cheese. The lettuce and cherry tomatoes are terrific salad options and the sliced grilled chicken breast is a great source of lean protein. However, the rest of the salad is full of extra fat and calories! Even with “dressing on the side,” this type of salad isn’t going to help you fit in those snug pants. Sadly, if we pull the salad back to the lettuce, tomato and chicken (with dressing on the side), we are going to be ravenous, which leads us to devour the accompanying basket of chips.

Chicken Caesar Salad is probably one of the most popular salads and is available at most restaurants, from fast food to upscale gourmet. Again, the salad starts with a large plate of crisp romaine lettuce and is topped with grilled chicken, Parmesan cheese and croutons (which are chunks of bread tossed in butter or oil, salt and spices and toasted). If you’ve ordered the dressing on the side, the serving is likely about 1/2 cup. This salad, which many dieters describe as “another (boring) day of chicken and romaine lettuce” can easily have 800 to 900 calories and an amazing amount of heart-clogging saturated fat from the cheese, croutons and dressing.

At Cooper Healthy Living, our goal is to make healthy eating simple and that includes a conversation about the nutrition of salads. A salad that’s a healthy salad is going to start with a plate of greens and then be topped (hopefully) with vegetables and/or fruit every color of the rainbow. This type of salad is a wonder in the world of healthy eating—full of flavor, fiber and the healthy benefits that at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day provide. Our rules for salad dressing follow:

  1. Order salad dressing on the side, as this gives you full control over the amount of dressing that goes onto your plate. This rule includes vinaigrettes, which we tend to think of as healthier. While vinaigrettes typically contain healthy plant-based oil, oil has 120 calories per tablespoon and a normal vinaigrette recipe is typically three parts of oil to one part vinegar—so that serving of vinaigrette likely has around 400 calories in it.
  1. Ask for balsamic, red or white wine vinegar on the side. Several squirts of vinegar adds freshness and zest to a salad, which can then be augmented with a drizzle of oil, or whatever other salad dressing you have ordered.
  1. At Tex-Mex restaurants, boost salad dressings with salsa. A lot of salsa, which is low-calorie, plus a small bit of your favorite dressing tastes delicious and has far fewer calories than straight dressing. (Tip: with a thicker dressing, either dip your fork tines into the dressing first and then spear the vegetables, or use your fork to deposit a bit of the dressing strategically on your salad.)
  1. Bottled low-calorie dressings are generally pretty dismal, so at home, consider making salad dressings—they take mere minutes, cut calories and are wonderful! Our favorite all time dressing is this Rice Wine Vinaigrette, where we start with a package of Good Season’s Dry Italian Dressing Mix and then substitute water and dried parsley (for thickening) in place of some of the oil. This same recipe is also great switching out rice wine vinegar for balsamic! And this Caesar Salad Dressing, a semi-homemade combination of the low calorie bottled ranch dressing that’s not too tasty, full-fat bottled Caesar dressing, Worcestershire and Tabasco, to quick to make and is really delicious. In addition to using on your salad, the dressing is also terrific smeared on a sandwich or wrap.

This is Cooper Healthy Living, a series of baby tweaks and adjustments that help us live better and longer (and in pants that fit and fulfill our best vision of who we are)!

Taco Soup, Our All-Time Favorite Recipe

October 4, 2014 Leave a comment

So have you heard that October 4 is National Taco Day? According to the National Taco Day people, last year we ate more than 4.5 billion tacos. While taco is essentially the synonym for a sandwich in a tortilla, I want to take this one step further and talk about a sandwich in a bowl, what we call Taco Soup.

If you’re like me, a soup named “Taco Soup” sounds a little spooky—it connotes Tex-Mex flavors, but then I have images of previously crisp taco shells mixed with lettuce, tomato and cheese floating around! However, this poorly named soup is actually the number one, hands down favorite “go-to” recipe for legions of people who have attended our week long Cooper Healthy Living program over the years. It’s a workhouse of a dish exactly like all the various kinds of soft tacos. We incorporate leftover bits of protein with fresh crisp vegetables and salsa! But I digress.

Nutrition is a huge interest for most people, and in the Cooper Healthy Living program we spend about a third of our time either talking about food, or eating! In addition to workshops on optimal nutrition, stocking your pantry and refrigerator and dining out, each session includes two cooking schools and numerous healthy eating cooking demonstrations. This soup often turns up sometime throughout the week and so far, everyone loves this soup!

The recipe makes serious cooks scoff—definitely a semi-homemade recipe, if ever there was one! And yet it tastes delicious, healthy and somehow unhealthy all at once. You know what I’m talking about when I say it tastes “unhealthy”—it’s so delicious it’s hard to believe it’s really a terrific option when you’re trying to eat well and maybe even lose a few pounds!

When we talk with all the folks who have come to Cooper to live a healthier life, a concern for most is that they just don’t have time, or are simply too overwhelmed to figure out how to get a great, good-for-you meal on the table every night. Enter Taco Soup, dinner in a bowl.

Director of Nutrition for Cooper Healthy LivingKathy Duran-Thal, RDN, LD, was thinking about the harried home cook when she concocted this soup. This recipe is quick and easy and it’s adaptable, exactly like building individual tacos. Do you like things hot and spicy? Add a can of green chilies or a can of Ro*Tel®. Hate bell pepper? No problem, just leave it out! Does your kid think they really only like corn? Add an extra can! Want to expand the recipe as you’re having more people for dinner than expected? Again, not a problem!—Add a couple more cans of beans, corn and/or hominy.

All of us on the Cooper Healthy Living team make this recipe and we all make it a bit differently. At my house, I always use two cans of fire roasted tomatoes, a big can of green chilies and three cans of beans (usually one each of pinto, red kidney and black). I sometimes add a second can of hominy (and yes, the yellow and white taste the same). All of us like to make as big a pot of soup as possible as, sans the garnishes, it freezes beautifully.

On nights when we get home late, or are just too tired or busy to think about dinner, I pull out a dinner-for-two sized container from the freezer and pop it into the microwave. As the soup heats, I set out bowls and dig through my pantry and refrigerator for garnishes. While fresh lime, chopped cilantro and a dollop of sour cream are my favorites, fresh diced raw onion (any type) and pickled jalapenos are also wonderful.

In Cooper Healthy Living we teach the science of nutrition, but within the framework that healthy food should taste good and be easy and attainable. And this soup fills that bill. With a little bit of lean protein, beans for fiber, corn and tomatoes as vegetables, and a little bit of fat, this magic combination makes for an entree that will keep you full for the next 5 or 6 hours. It’s truly a perfect example of healthy eating.

If you need help in making sense out of your health and incorporating some healthier habits into your routine, think about coming to spend the week with us. Until then, enjoy a delicious bowl of Taco Soup. Share in the comments how you and your household adjust this recipe to make it your favorite soup, too!

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, diced (we like red)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean (97/3) ground beef or turkey
  • 15 oz. can low sodium pinto beans, undrained
  • 15 oz. can low sodium corn, undrained
  • 15 oz. can yellow hominy, drained
  • 15 oz. can Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 package reduced sodium taco seasoning mix
  • 1 package (dry) Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix
  • Fresh lime (optional as garnish)
  • Chopped Cilantro (optional as garnish)
  • Light Sour Cream (optional as garnish)

Directions

  1. Saute yellow onion and bell pepper in olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Cook ground beef and drain.
  3. Combine vegetables and meat into a medium soup pot. Add beans, corn, hominy, tomatoes, and chicken broth (optional).
  4. Stir in taco seasoning and Hidden Valley Ranch mix. Cook until warm and combined, about 10 minutes.
  5. To serve, fill bowl and garnish with fresh lime, chopped cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.

Nutritional Analysis
One Serving | One Cup

Calories: 134
Protein: 6 g
Fat: 1 g
Sodium: 650 mg
Carbs: 28 g

Podcast: Jorn Dyerberg, MD, the Father of the Omega-3 Movement, Interviewed

March 14, 2013 2 comments
Jorn Dyerberg, MDFather of the Omega-3 Momvement

Jorn Dyerberg, MD
Father of the Omega-3 Momvement

Todd Whitthorne interviews Jorn Dyerberg, MD, the father of the omega-3 movement. Dr. Dyerberg was studying the Eskimos, who ate a high fat diet, and had very low rates of heart disease, and discovered the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in marine sources. Dr. Dyerberg talks about advances in the science of omega-3 fatty acids from 1970 to present day, and a bit about the 25,000 studies that have been conducted during this time period. Once studied primarily for cardiovascular health, researchers have also studied the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on inflammatory disorders, brain health, eye health, etc. Dr. Dyerberg discusses the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids, and how much of the nutrients we need for optimal health.

Dr. Dyerberg is also the co-author (with Richard Passwater and Cheryl Hirsch) of  the book The Missing Wellness Factors: EPA and DHA: The Most Important Nutrients Since Vitamins?

Click here to listen to the interview.

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
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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

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My Zeo

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“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

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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.
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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