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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

H-E-B Slim Down Showdown

Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN, LD, has been the Director of Nutrition for Cooper Wellness for more than 25 years and all who interact with her praise her extensive knowledge, ability to relate and fun personality. In January, Kathy helped kick off the H-E-B Slim Down Showdown, a 12-week health and fitness program for H-E-B grocery store partners (employees) and customers. She spent a week teaching 30 program participants nutrition the Cooper way.

In the weeks since then, participants have had individual phone coaching with Kathy, logged their food, exercised and shared their journey in personal blogs. Kathy recently traveled to San Antonio for the H-E-B Slim Down Showdown finale.

Elizabeth Sandoval, a quality assurance technician at H-E-B’s bakery in Corpus Christi, and Richard Arrington, an H-E-B shopper from Aransas Pass, Texas, were two of the participants Kathy coached. Each of them won a $5,000 “Healthy Hero” prize for their involvement and dedication to the program. Richard, who originally weighed in at 385 pounds, improved his cholesterol by 75 percent, decreased his body fat by 36 percent and lost a total of 66.6 pounds. And Elizabeth improved her cholesterol by 28 percent, decreased her body fat by 36 percent and dropped 46.8 pounds. Read the news release and watch the video below to celebrate their success in their journey to live longer, healthier lives.

To learn about Cooper Wellness, click here or call 972.386.4777.

10 Ways to Eat More Veggies

Eat more fruits and veggiesMany of us seem to do really well getting vegetables or fruits in our daily eating, but not necessarily both. One-half cup of cooked vegetables, or one cup of fresh vegetables or greens counts as one serving towards our goal of “five a day”. Registered dietitian at Cooper Clinic Kathy Duran-Thal shares ten helpful ways to work more veggies into your daily diet.

1. Eat twice the servings of vegetables as starches per meal. In other words, 2 cups vegetables for 1 cup of rice, pasta or potato.

2. Strive to have one colorful, veggie-packed salad each day. Suggestions: dark leafy greens (spinach, kale), mixed leaf lettuce, shredded red cabbage, broccoli slaw, carrots, bell peppers, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and red onion.

3. Eat two or more meatless, vegetable-rich meals a week.

4. Keep fresh veggies handy for quick and easy snacks. Sugar snap peas, carrots, bell pepper slices and celery sticks are easy on-the-go snacks. Also carrots and celery sticks will stay fresh for several days in a container of water in the refrigerator.

5. Add fresh veggies to tuna or chicken salad. Popular ingredients include onion, celery, water chestnuts, etc. We’re talking veggies today, but apple slices or Ocean Spray Craisins (cranraisins) are also delicious.

6. Add vegetables to sandwiches. Opt for onions, bell peppers, bean sprouts, cucumber, tomato and lettuce. Build your sandwich like a local sub—shop and pile your veggies a mile high. Remember, vegetables not only add nutrients, color, flavor and volume, but they fill us up!

7. Add vegetables to your pot of beans—canned or fresh tomatoes, onion, carrots and celery.

8. Make your homemade soups and stocks chock full of your favorite vegetables. Cabbage, bok choy, spinach, carrots, onion, celery and tomatoes are great in a slow cooker.

9. Prepare a “stir-fry” and try experimenting with some new and exciting vegetables to tempt your palate while broadening your cooking horizons. We like bok choy, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, carrots, scallions, celery, kale, water chestnuts, and various colorful peppers, including jalapenos.

10. Add some flavor pizzazz to your vegetables by sprinkling on a zesty seasoning blend or melting an ounce of grated cheese over the top. Try spritzing lemon on broccoli, glazed carrots, or baked asparagus, topping cauliflower with Gruyere cheese (1 ounce grated cheese will flavor an entire head of cauliflower), and sprinkling tarragon on squash and zucchini and thyme on baked sweet onions.

For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services or to schedule a nutrition consultation, click here or call 972.560.2655.

Motivation Monday

It’s the start of a new year. For some it’s a time to look back and assess the previous year. For others it’s a time to set goals and resolutions. However you approach the new year, we want to help you make healthier choices and Get Cooperized in 2013.

With the launch of our new Pinterest channel, we are sharing a daily inspirational quote in January. Below are a few quotes to inspire you to make healthy choices this week.

Run Health Heart_Quote

Aerobics Exercise_Quote_USED

Healthy Aging_Quote_USED Healthy Foods_Quote_USED

Healthy_Living_Quote

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions
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.

Nutrition Nuggets

Our amazing team of registered dietitians!

Saturday was the 2012 Nutrition Seminar presented by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services. For many of our attendees, their interest is often piqued when a friend tells them about their “great new diet” and the quick results that they’ve experienced. At Cooper we share lots of nutrition-related articles, hoping to help others learn healthy ways to improve their diet. With so many contradictory messages, it’s important to know the facts.

Our amazing team of registered dietitians cleared up the confusion this weekend. They dissected the latest diet trends and offered practical health tips that attendees could walk away with and incorporate into their daily life.

Here are a few takeaways from our rockstar dietitians:

  • Some of the most popular foods of 2012 include: salmon, greek yogurt, almonds, green leafy vegetables like kale and berries.
  • Gluten free diets are popular right now, but only three million Americans have actually been diagnosed with celiac disease. You should get tested by a dietitian and diagnosed with celiac disease before you make any adjustments to your diet.
  • Drink more green tea –Two cups a day can boost your metabolism and reduce caloric intake.
  • Is sugar toxic? Likely no, but in excess… problematic and unhealthy!
  • Combine a protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat at most meals to sustain energy and curb hunger.
  • Eating your favorite foods is part of healthy and sustainable weight loss. (This means you can eat frozen yogurt… in moderation, of course!)
  • And one of our personal favorites… a little bit of chocolate never hurts anyone.

Did you also know that you can meet with our dietitians to analyze your diet and develop a personalized plan of action to improve your nutrition? You can click here or call 972.560.2655 for more information.

What’s your favorite healthy food?

Cooper Clinic Dietitians “Clear Up the Confusion”

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

If you’ve attempted to live healthily, then you know it’s difficult to navigate the myriad of diets and nutrition claims on the market. How do you distinguish what’s  fact and what’s fiction? Are you really on the right track to live a healthy life?

Cooper Clinic is hosting its 2012 Nutrition Seminar on Saturday, October 6 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. here at Cooper Aerobics Center. Our leading registered and licensed dietitians will clear up your confusion about nutrition, weight loss and health with practical tips and strategies to achieve real results.

The seminar will cover hot topics like:

  • The truth about the latest fad diets including Paleo, Dukan and more.
  • What’s new in fitness and health.
  • “Wheataphobia” vs. needing a gluten-free diet.
  • New strategies to begin a well-rounded healthy lifestyle.

The seminar is $40 and will include a live cooking demonstration by a Cooper Clinic culinary expert Kathy Duran-Thal, RD, LD, and a healthy breakfast.

Click here to register.

We can’t wait to see you there!

Kitchen Products from Cooper Wellness

By Kathy Duran-Thal, RD, Director of Nutrition, Cooper Wellness

Below is a list of some of my favorite Dexas kitchen products that I use in the Cookery during the Cooper Wellness Program. We receive these items complimentary.


The Collapsible 8’ Pop Strainer expands to the capacity of a full quart, and then collapses down to 1 inch taking up to 80% less space. It is cool because the handle is long enough to span ½ of the kitchen sink and will not be in contact with the bottom of the sink where contaminates may be.


4 Pack Heavy Duty Grippmat® Set – I like these because it helps prevent cross contamination when preparing foods. Red is for beef, green is for veggies, blue is for cheese and yellow is for poultry. They are non slip, dishwasher and counter safe. The grippmat is very flexible so you can lift it off the counter and add the food you have diced to your soup pot or salsa recipe.



4-in-1 Trivet with Raised Nibs
– Multi-purpose trivet can be used as a pot holder, jar opener and spoon rest. I like that is comes in 3 colors. I have several that I keep on the counter.
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Spoonula – Stir, scrape, mix or use it as a spoon. It does it all. A silicon tool with a stainless steel handle. It is perfect tool for your kitchen.

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Silicon Basting Brush– Flexible, silicon rubber bristles, this brush is a must have when basting, brushing and coating. Super easy to clean and heat resistant. This brush is really useful when I am cooking in my cast iron wok.

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Watermelon Cutting and Serving Board
– Prepare and serve watermelon on this artistic, non slip cutting board with a raised lip to prevent juices from spilling over. I use this to display all types of fresh fruit, cheese and crackers.