Despite a reputation for clogging arteries, cheese is still a beloved food. These days, you don’t have to shy away from cheese to keep healthful eating habits. Cheese can fit into a delicious eating plan and transform simple meals and dishes into culinary delights. The key is portion control and cheese selection.
Cheese contains saturated fat. Cooper Clinic recommends limiting saturated fat to less than six percent of total calories. For example, individuals needing 1,400 calories would aim to consume less than 9 grams of saturated fat per day. An individual needing 1,800 calories would aim to keep saturated fat less than 12 grams each day. Take a look at the cheese infographic below to compare some of your favorites and see how they fit into a balanced eating plan.
Babybel light cheese is a nutrition all-star. One piece is only 50 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat. It also has 6 grams of protein and 150 mg of calcium, which makes it an excellent cheese choice. Now take a look at Parmesan cheese. One ounce
(4 tablespoons) is 110 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat. Generally only 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese is plenty, since it has such robust flavor. One tablespoon of Parmesan Reggiano is approximately 27 calories and 1 gram of saturated fat. Try sprinkling roasted vegetables with Parmesan and experience the flavors magnify. This is especially true when roasting vegetables such as Brussels sprouts.
Feta, goat and sharp cheddar are also examples of modestly-flavored cheese. When you’re cooking and you want to maximize the cheese flavor while maintaining a healthy portion, these are the cheeses to use. Big flavor is achieved with small amounts.
These vegetable enchiladas are an example of how to maximize cheese flavor:
- Spread fat-free refried black beans, sautéed spinach and mushrooms on to a corn tortilla
- Roll tortilla and place seam side down in small pan
- Top with green salsa and bake until hot
- Remove from oven and sprinkle a small amount of feta cheese on top before serving
Moderation is the key to enjoying cheese healthfully. For more information about how Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services can help you build a healthy eating plan, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.
Making healthy food choices most of the time is one of Dr. Cooper’s 8 Steps to Get Cooperized. It can be tough to consistently consume a healthy diet, even for the experts, but a few healthy eating tips can go a long way. Read on for the top tips and insider information from Cooper Clinic’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.
My favorite snack in the morning is an Alyssa’s Healthy Oatmeal Bites cookie paired with a cup of coffee and light vanilla soy milk. I love cookies, especially oatmeal raisin, and this one hits the spot. One cookie has only 45 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 4 grams of fiber and 1 gram of sugar. I love that the first five ingredients are rolled oats, oat bran, ground flax, ground chia and dried fruit. It tastes so good that you wouldn’t think it was packed with such healthy ingredients. I look forward to this “guilt-free” treat!
I love the following meal for a simple dinner at home but great for company, too. Plus it has a bonus of being healthy!
Marinated pork tenderloin cooked on the grill, diced potatoes roasted with garlic and drizzled lightly with olive oil, accompanied by roasted vegetables (mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, onions).
My favorite dinner: I prepare white fish (cod or tilapia) in my electric rice and vegetable steamer according to the easy and clear instructions given in the manual (the steaming assures moist fish every time). While the fish is steaming, I sauté fresh baby spinach and sliced fresh mushrooms in a pan with a little olive oil. In a separate pan, I lightly heat sliced almonds in a pan until golden brown, lending a nice crunchy texture and toasted flavor. I dish out the spinach and mushrooms onto a plate, top with steamed white fish and sprinkle the toasted sliced almonds on top of the fish. For a carbohydrate component, I add either brown rice or a slice of Seeduction Bread from Whole Foods.
My favorite breakfast: I batch cook several servings of McCann’s Steel Cut Oats. In the cooking water, I add chopped apple, pear, raisins, dried cherries, dried apricots or another fruit of choice. Then, each morning, I simply portion out a bowl of the cooked oats that have been cooked with the delicious fruits, and I microwave to heat the single portion. Then I add about 1/8 to ¼ cup of chopped walnuts, pecans or slivered almonds on top. In preparing oats with fruit, a lot of flavor is added as well as nutrients…and there is no need to add sugar. The nuts on top add heart-healthy fat and some additional protein, making it very satisfying.
Batch cooking roasted veggies helps me have a healthy, filling dinner on busy weeknights. On the weekends and one other night during the week, I’ll roast a large pan of veggies and eat them for three meals. I’m able to make half my meal veggies and pair them with an egg sandwich, chicken breast, pork tenderloin or even a frozen meal.
- Breakfast – Two frozen Kashi waffles with almond butter
- Morning Snack – Vanilla Greek yogurt with frozen blueberries
- Lunch – Pita pocket with hummus, nitrate-free turkey, cucumbers, tomatoes and spinach
- Afternoon snack – VitaTops muffin
- Dinner – Trader Joe’s steamed shrimp dumplings, seeds of change quinoa blend, edamame and mandarin oranges
- If the sweet tooth kicks in: Three Dove dark chocolates or a Fudgesicle, cocoa dusted almonds or protein powder pudding
Some of my favorite meals are as follows:
- Luvo frozen entree mixed with Birdseye frozen veggies
- Chick-fil-A: Large fruit cup and grilled chicken wrap with ½ package of honey mustard dressing
- KFC Grilled chicken breast, corn on the cob and green beans
- Store-bought rotisserie chicken breast, small baked potato and asparagus
- Sweet potato sprinkled with lime juice and some salt, rotisserie chicken and roasted Brussels sprouts
- Low sodium V8 juice microwaved until hot in coffee mug, then add a few drops of Tabasco and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Place one slice of whole grain bread in toaster oven topped with a slice of low fat cheese.
- California rolls with salad bar, including edamame, etc.
- Chick-fil-A seasonal tortilla soup
- McDonald’s Egg White Delight and Yogurt Parfait
I love my instant oatmeal in the morning for breakfast with raisins and chopped walnuts added. For a quick dinner, I go for salmon, brown rice steamer and steamed broccoli. I love honeycrisp apples this time of year for snacking!
Pumpkin is a key ingredient in many holiday recipes. Did you know pumpkins are really a fruit, and the flowers are edible? They are 90 percent water and a good source of fiber. The bright orange color of pumpkin is a clear sign that it is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene, which is eventually converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta- carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and may protect against heart disease. Pumpkin is also a terrific source of potassium.
When it comes to pumpkin production, Illinois smashes the competition. About 90-95 percent of the processed pumpkins in the United States come from Illinois. Morton, Ill. is known as the pumpkin capital of the world. Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the U.S. is available in October. When it comes to the pumpkin market, Libby’s takes the cake…or in this case, the pie or parfait. Approximately 5,000 acres are planted each year exclusively for Libby’s. Pumpkins can be boiled, steamed, baked, roasted and microwaved.
There is a difference between pumpkins you eat and ornamental pumpkins. Ornamental pumpkins possess decorative appeal. Bright orange, smooth flesh pumpkins are perfect for carving. A few varieties offer uniquely colored flesh or warty texture in an array of colors. Look for pumpkins labeled as “pie pumpkins” when purchasing pumpkins for consumption.
Pumpkin Nutrition Facts: 1 cup cooked
- Calories: 49
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbohydrate: 12 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Potassium: 564 mg
- Vitamin A: 2650 IU
This Pumpkin Parfait recipe is delicious! It is thick, creamy and light, and a perfect addition to your holiday and winter dessert menu.
Article provided by Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN, LD, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.
By Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services
Is there really such thing as healthier pasta? Absolutely! From a nutrition standpoint, many types of pasta have a lot to offer as long as you know about smarter options and correct portion sizes. So, pasta lovers, before you pull out your cooking pot, learn what to put in your grocery cart.
Health Benefits of Pasta
Energy: Carbohydrates found in pasta convert to glucose, which is your body’s prime energy source. Selecting complex carbohydrates such as those found in whole grain pasta offers a slower release of sugar, which keeps you fuller longer. Look for higher fiber varieties.
Vitamins: White pasta products are stripped of their whole grain component and then enriched (nutrients are added back in) with folic acid, iron and several B vitamins. Whole grain pasta is superior to white and is naturally higher in fiber.
Heart Healthy: Naturally low in sodium and fat, pasta can be a heart healthy choice. Too much sodium and fat can cause higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels which contribute to inflammation, heart disease and other health problems.
Protein: This is a bonus feature found in some of the “newer” pasta varieties containing legumes, chickpeas and edamame. These offer a noteworthy amount of protein–in some cases, as much as what is found in 2-4 ounces of cooked chicken or fish.
Different Pasta Options
Think outside the pasta box by trying different varieties. Look for higher fiber and protein numbers. A standard serving is 2 oz. (dry) which makes 1 cup cooked, averaging 200 calories. If you’re calorie conscious, try not to consume more than this amount.
Nutritional Guide for Pasta Types (per 1 cup cooked):
|Fiber (g)||Protein (g)|
|Whole wheat pasta||6||7|
|White wheat pasta||6||6|
Below are the specifics with brands and their comparison to white pasta:
Veggie Pasta (i.e. Ronzoni) – Don’t be fooled by the “veggies.” The spinach and zucchini puree don’t add anything to the fiber value, matching the 2 grams of fiber found in white pasta. Note there is one extra gram of protein.
Quinoa Pasta (i.e. Ancient Harvest) – Made from a blend of corn and the “ancient” grain quinoa, this pasta is gluten-free for those who are sensitive to gluten. Since it’s a blend of these grains, it is not as high in protein as quinoa itself, but it does have a more desirable texture. The same amount of quinoa has 8 grams of protein per serving as compared to 4 grams in this product.
Whole-Wheat Pasta (i.e. Barilla) – Made from 100 percent whole wheat, one cup cooked has about the same protein as white pasta but has three times as much fiber.
White-Wheat Pasta (i.e. Barilla White Fiber) – White wheat is actually a whole grain with the same fiber count as whole wheat. It’s lighter in color and milder in flavor, much like white pasta, which makes it an appealing choice.
Protein Pasta (i.e. Barilla) – This pasta is made from a blend of wheat (but not whole wheat), oats and legumes. The legumes drive up the protein to 10 grams per cup and the fiber is double that of white pasta.
Chickpea Pasta (i.e. Banza Chickpea Shells) – This clever take on pasta is high in fiber and protein thanks to chickpeas and pea protein. One serving has an impressive 8 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein (as much as in 2 oz. of cooked chicken).
Edamame Pasta (i.e. Seapoint Farms) – Power-packed with protein and fiber and made exclusively from soybeans, edamame pasta is loaded with more protein (27 grams) than any other on this list.
Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionists agree that one of the best tomato sauces is made by Cucina Antica. Hard to beat in both taste and nutrition, it is widely available in stores and online. Use this breakdown for the Cucina Antica Tomato Basil Sauce to compare against other sauces. The main components to look for are fewer calories and less sodium, but it’s also helpful to look at smaller amounts of sugar.
Cucina Antica Tomato Basil Sauce: Classico Tomato & Basil Red Sauce:
½ cup serving ½ cup serving
40 calories 45 calories
1.5 grams fat 0.5 grams fat
240 mg sodium 400 mg sodium
6 grams carbohydrate 8 grams carbohydrate
1 gram sugar 5 grams sugar
Partner Pasta with Healthy Options
- To save calories and add nutritional value, swap out half of the pasta called for in a recipe for double the vegetables. So instead of 2 cups of cooked pasta, use 1 cup of pasta and 2 cups of vegetables such as zucchini, carrots or broccoli. This adds volume and lots of filling fiber to your plate and reduces the overall calorie count.
- Add a lean protein such as diced chicken or extra lean ground turkey breast. You can also go vegetarian with edamame or dried beans to pump up the protein in the dish. Serve with a large salad for extra quantity and color.
- As an alternative to sauce, lightly drizzle with heart healthy olive oil, toss in fresh or dried herbs and garlic and sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese. This makes for a delicious lower sodium dish.
According to a study from JAMA Oncology, half of all cancer deaths are preventable. This is great news, but currently in the United States one person per minute loses their life to cancer. We must empower ourselves through cancer prevention, education and making lifestyle changes to lead healthier lives.
American Cancer Society (ACS) serves as one of many resources for Stand Up To Cancer and provides “Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity” to prevent overall cancer risk. The four cornerstones are:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life. However, for those who are overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight has benefits and is a good place to start.
- Be physically active. Specifically, ACS recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per week, ideally spread throughout the week. Sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, television watching and other forms of screen-based sedentary entertainment should be limited.
- Eat a healthy diet, with emphasis on plant food. Further advice in this area includes:
- Choose foods and drinks in amounts that help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Limit the amount of processed meat (such as lunch meats and cold cuts) and red meat in your diet.
- Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits daily, amounting to 5-9 servings.
- Choose whole grains over refined grain products.
- If you drink alcohol, limit your intake. ACS recommends no more than one drink per day for women or two per day for men.
Some of these recommendations may seem familiar, as they overlap some of the guidelines for healthy blood pressure, optimal heart health and diabetes prevention. So, following them not only reduces your overall cancer risk, but can prevent other chronic diseases. The key is how to implement these guidelines.
My Story and Experiences
As a registered dietitian nutritionist who is a breast cancer survivor, I now view nutrition and fitness quite differently than I did prior to my diagnosis. Don’t get me wrong….I ate purposefully for the most part, aiming to eat a variety of nutritious foods and only eating more indulgent foods on the weekends. I have also always enjoyed being physically active, but my diagnosis changed the way I think about food and activity.
Although I have maintained a healthy weight most of my adult life, I am at an age where this is more of a challenge than ever before. As much as I enjoy sweets, my intake has been markedly decreased. Savoring a special sweet treat on a weekend is much more rewarding than grabbing some ordinary boxed cookie from my pantry regularly…and results in not consuming extra calories routinely.
Exercise, as mentioned earlier, was something I always did for stress relief, bone density improvement and to preserve muscle mass. But now I view exercise as a soldier that will help me fight off cancer risks, and vast research proves the power of exercise in the war against cancers. So, rain or shine, tired or energetic, I diligently plow through workouts, visualizing the strength I gain from exercise to beat cancer and win.
I also pay a bit more for minimally-processed meats with no added nitrites to use in sandwiches. Ideally, when time allows, I slice up freshly-prepared meats for sandwiches instead of packaged lunch meats.
Colorful fruits and vegetables are my plant “superheroes.” They contain nutrients and antioxidants that can decrease cancer cell formation and actually inhibit the growth of microscopic cancers. Now I hyper-focus on fruits and vegetables, recognizing they are part of my “armor” in the battle of avoiding reoccurrence.
My grain choices have primarily been whole grain for years, but now I aim to have all my grain products be 100 percent whole-grain products. I also enjoy experimenting with various grains in the kitchen.
Cynthanne’s Personal Strategies and Favorite Food Products to Fight Cancer
For minimally-processed sandwich meats:
- Applegate Natural and Organic Meats
- Use freshly sliced prepared meats/poultry as a Deli meat replacement.
To ensure a minimum of 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits (but the more the better!):
- Create “meal patterns” such as one fruit serving at breakfast; one vegetable serving at lunch; one fruit serving as part of afternoon snack; and one fruit and two cups of cooked or raw vegetables with dinner. Added bonus–when ordering an entrée salad out, ask for spinach as your lettuce greens to boost the nutrient content.
- Favorite food products:
- Any unsweetened frozen berries/fruits to add to smoothies
- Reduced sodium canned beans
- Trader Joe’s Healthy 8 (a colorful blend of eight fresh vegetables finely chopped; sold in the refrigerated produce section; makes a fantastic Asian slaw with added edamame and slivered almonds).
To increase whole grains:
- Uncle Sam’s Cereal and Post Shredded Wheat are both low sugar cereals and are 100 percent whole-wheat products. Topped with berries, they are satiating powerhouses.
- Ezekiel Breads. My personal favorite is toasted Ezekiel Cinnamon and Raisin bread topped with almond butter and sliced banana.
- Ronzoni Healthy Harvest 100% whole-grain pasta. Top it with a bottled marinara sauce of your choice for ease, but add fresh mushrooms, diced bell pepper, canned tomatoes and sliced olives to add more nutrients.
- McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal with Bob’s Red Mill Oat Bran cooked together with diced apples, pears and assorted dried fruits added to the cooking water. Topped with nuts, this makes a most satisfying breakfast!
These are just a few practical ideas I hope help you implement the American Cancer Society Guidelines and lessen your cancer risk as well as other disease risk. Bon appetite!
For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.
It’s 100 degrees outside, you are at the grocery store and you can’t resist the ice cream on a stick covered with a thick coating of chocolate…so in the basket it goes! Of course, there are many other tasty temptations such as nacho cheese chips, double-stuffed cookies and donuts in the bakery you can’t help but include, too.
These foods all fall into the “junk food” category. Use of the term “junk food” implies that a particular food has little nutritional value and contains excessive fat, sugar, salt and calories. Junk food can include candy, chips, cookies, ice cream, soda, donuts, most sweet desserts and French fries. Too much junk food in your diet can be associated with an increase in obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and other diseases.
Some tips to consider the next time you crave your favorite junk food indulgence:
- Moderation is the key. Don’t make junk food its own food group within your diet.
- American Heart Association recommends women enjoy sugar in moderation by budgeting 100 calories per day; men 150 calories per day.
- Read labels to determine portion size. Typically, a serving of ice cream is ½ cup, not 1 cup or more, which could double or triple the calories. Not knowing portion size could turn 160 calories into almost 500 very quickly!
- Plate your serving or put in a bowl instead of eating out of a bag. This is mindful eating.
- Ask yourself…are you eating this food because you are hungry, or is it because you are bored, angry or filling an emotional need? If it is one of the latter reasons, choose another activity such as taking a walk or calling a friend.
- If the first bite isn’t good the second bite won’t be any better. Don’t waste your calories on something you don’t love.
For more healthy eating tips and tricks, check out Nutrition Bites on our website. To learn more about services offered by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.
Blog post provided by Patty Kirk, RD, RDN, LD, Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services is all about celebrating Independence Day with a healthy twist. These recipes provide a sweet treat without added calories, and can help you cool off from the summer sun.
BLUEBERRY PROTEIN SMOOTHIE
- 8 oz. 1% milk
- 1 scoop Designer Whey Protein (French Vanilla Flavor)
- 1 cup unsweetened frozen blueberries.
- Pour milk into blender.
- Add Whey protein powder. Blend until mixed well.
- Add 1 cup frozen blueberries and blend until thoroughly mixed.
(This makes a great post-workout smoothie as it has a nice carbohydrate-to-protein ratio!)
Makes one smoothie serving.
- Calories: 282
- Fat: 5g
- Saturated fat: 3g
- Cholesterol: 72 mg
- Sodium: 189 mg
- Carbohydrates: 37g
- Fiber: 7g
- Sugar: 27g
- Protein: 27g
PATRIOTIC POPS: GREEK YOGURT FROZEN FRUIT POPS
- 3 cups vanilla Greek yogurt (divided use)
- 1 cup unsweetened frozen strawberries
- 1 cup unsweetened frozen blueberries
- Blend 1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt in blender with 1 cup of frozen strawberries until blended well and is uniform in consistency and color throughout.
- Divide this evenly and pour into 6 Popsicle molds, to form a red layer.
- Next, pour 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt into the 6 Popsicle molds to make a second “white layer.”
- Finally, blend the remaining 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt with 1 cup frozen blueberries, until blended well and is uniform in consistency and color.
- Divide this evenly and pour into 6 Popsicle molds, to form a blue layer.
- Insert wooden Popsicle sticks and freeze Popsicles overnight or for about six hours.
Tips: Rinse blender between usages so the red and blue colors from the berries are more defined. The white layer will be a thinner layer compared to the red and blue layers.
Makes 6 Popsicles.
- Calories: 113
- Fat: 0g
- Saturated fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 72 mg
- Sodium: 46 mg
- Carbohydrates: 18g
- Fiber: 2g
- Sugar: 13g
- Protein: 10g
Recipes provided by Cynthanne Duryea, RDN, LD, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.