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Posts Tagged ‘low sodium’

What’s Hot in the Frozen Food Aisle?

October 15, 2014 2 comments

Before your next grocery store outing, plan ahead for you week of meals for easier shopping.

When you walk through the frozen food aisle of the grocery store you will find more and more choices for frozen meals. Back in 1954 Swanson introduced these meals as a convenience and their popularity has certainly grown since. Frozen meals can be a quick go-to and as a registered dietitian, I sometimes eat them too. Most people think all frozen meals are unhealthy, however like most foods, there are better choices. Another common misconception is that they are highly processed and very high in sodium. While all frozen meals are “processed,” it is not always the case that all brands are extremely high in sodium or unhealthy. After reading this blog on how to assess and select better frozen meals, you can be the judge!

Less Sodium
The sodium count in many frozen meals can climb to 800 to 1,200 mg of sodium. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams a day. That said, one meal takes a big chunk of your daily sodium allowance. When a product is marketed as “light” or “lean,” it may still have upwards of 700 milligrams of sodium. Try to look for less than 600 milligrams of sodium per entree. You might be surprised to find that many of the lower sodium dinners do not come up short in the taste department. Food companies use flavorful ingredients to spice them up.

Low Saturated Fat
Excess fat and saturated fat can be a big issue with “traditional” frozen meals, especially those containing cheese such as lasagna, mac and cheese and enchiladas. Luckily there are “lighter” options to choose from. Look for 3 grams or less saturated fat per meal or sandwich.

Veggie Power
Most frozen meals are skimpy when it comes to vegetables. A typical entrée may contain at the most 1/2 cup of cooked veggies which is only one serving of the five to nine fruit and vegetable servings recommended for the day! Here are some things you can do to get more veggie bang for the buck. You can add a salad with greens, nuts and a light salad dressing. Try microwavable steamed vegetables in single serving packages, such as broccoli or green beans. Some of the newer entrees provide protein and salad fixings and all you have to do is add your own lettuce. How easy is that!

Go for Lean Protein
Our protein needs go up as we get older. Many low-fat frozen meals have 10 to 20 grams of protein that usually comes from chicken breast, fish, turkey or lean beef. When you opt for vegetarian meals the beans or low fat cheese are the main protein sources but you may only get 9 grams of protein or less per entrée. Go ahead and supplement the vegetarian meals with a non-fat Greek yogurt to bump up the protein content of the meal (it’s also a delicious dessert!).

Check out healthier frozen meal options below that contain no more than 450 milligrams of sodium and 3 grams of saturated fat per entree. They also contain whole grains.

 So if you’re in the market for a frozen meal you can indeed find healthier choices as long as you know what to look for! What are a few of your favorite frozen meals that meet the criteria for “healthy?” Please share your comments.

Learn how to navigate the grocery store with a Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian to make healthier food choices and achieve your nutrition goals. Download our brochure, call 972.560.2655 or request an appointment online. Book your tour today!

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.

Top Ten List of Fruits and Fiber

September 17, 2013 2 comments

It’s no surprise that eating more fruits and vegetables is the foundation of a healthy eating plan. Yet less than 30 percent of Americans are meeting the goal of at least five servings a day. That may sound like a lot to chew off, but you can make some small, simple changes.  Start with even one fruit a day at breakfast or as part of an afternoon snack and go from there. One serving of fruit, which varies in size depending on the specific fruit, has only about 60 calories, zero grams of fat and no sodium. Rich in vitamins, nutrients, fiber, antioxidants and water, ALL types of fruit are healthy carbohydrates that provide our body’s essential fuel. It’s best to go with whole fruits over juices or canned fruit for the fiber benefit.

Why is fiber so important? Here are some great reasons to boost your fiber numbers. Aim for 20-35 grams a day.

Fiber:

-Helps with fullness to manage weight

-Contains cancer-fighting antioxidants

-Aids in digestion

-Lowers blood cholesterol

-Stabilizes blood sugars

Top Ten Fruits and Fiber:

1)      Raspberries, 1 cup- 8 grams

2)      Blackberries, ¾ cup- 6 grams

3)      Boysenberries, ¾ cup- 6 grams

4)      Cranberries, fresh, 1 ¼ cups- 5 grams

5)      Strawberries, 1 ¼ cups- 4 grams

6)      Pear with peel, 1 small or ½ large- 3 grams

7)      Orange, 1 medium- 3 grams

8)      Clementines- 2 pieces- 3 grams

9)      Blueberries, ¾ cup- 3 grams

10)   Apple with peel,  1 small (snack size)- 3 grams

Power Up With High Fiber Fruits:

1)      Feature a new fruit each week. Experiment by taste testing at the grocery store.

2)      Keep it where you see it. Keep a bowl of fruit on your countertop or desk at work. You’re more likely to eat it when it’s right under your nose.

3)      Wake up to fruit. Mix diced apples, berries or mashed bananas into your oatmeal.

4)      Get creative with salad beyond veggies. Top with blueberries, sliced strawberries or Clementine wedges (or go for all three!).

5)      Make your own fruited yogurt. Instead of buying yogurt loaded with sugar, add your own fresh berries to plain fat-free yogurt for fiber and sweetness.

6)      Fresh is not the only route. Buy frozen fruit, particularly off season, and stir in fat-free milk for an icy treat.

7)      Throw a few Clementines in your work bag or in your kid’s lunch box.

8)      Fresh cranberry relish is perfect for a fall side dish, but you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy it! Also you can spread some on you turkey sandwich at lunch.

9)      Avoid hunger pangs when you go out to dinner or to a party. Before you go, munch on an apple or pear to curb your appetite. It can be very filling!

10)   Don’t skip dessert. Make delicious baked pears or apples in the microwave and sprinkle with some cinnamon and nutmeg for a great quick dessert.

What fruit do you enjoy?

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

How to Build a Healthy Sandwich

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.