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Is Granola Really Great?

August 19, 2014 3 comments

Studies show that people who regularly eat breakfast are more likely to manage their weight than those who do not.

August is Kids Eat Right Month, the first annual celebration of its kind sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It spotlights healthy nutrition and active lifestyles for children and families. Now that it’s back to school time, what to serve our kids before school is on our minds. Cereal is a great go-to morning meal and granola is one of the many options. But what’s a good choice you and your family can both enjoy that provides a healthy boost for the day? It can be tricky to pick the best granola cereal and if you’re not paying attention you might get more than you bargained for in the way of calories, sugars and fat. Before you grab a box, follow these simple guidelines.

Scale down the portion. Granola can be high in calories for what is listed as a fairly small serving on the box, which is typically 1/3  to 1/2 cup. Most of us eat more than that so if you pour a full cup into your bowl, you are getting multiple servings with as many as 400-600 calories! A solution would be to stretch a single serving by mixing it half and half with a lower calorie cereal like Cheerios®‎ or whole grain puffs. Word of caution: even if you mix cereals, make sure to measure before mindlessly filling your bowl!

Keep the sugars low. Most granola cereals contain added sugars and you can find them in the ingredient list. Watch out for these words as the first few ingredients: honey, agave nectar and corn syrup. Carefully read the label for grams of sugar as well. A good rule of thumb is to pick a cereal with no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

Pay attention to fats. Most cereals are naturally low in fat, however granola may contain nuts, seeds and oils that add to the fat content. While these can be healthy fats they still add sneaky calories and may be high in artery-clogging saturated fat. Your best bet is to look for no more than 6 grams total fat per serving and no more than 1.5 grams saturated fat per serving.

Healthy Granola Picks
Criteria per serving: no more than 200 calories, 6g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 10g sugar and at least 3g fiber

  • Kashi® GOLEAN Crisp | ¾ cup serving= 180 calories; 3.5g fat; 0g sat fat; 8g fiber; 10g sugar
  • KIND® Maple Walnut Clusters with Chia & Quinoa | 1/3 cup serving= 130 calories; 3.5g fat; 0g sat fat; 3g fiber; 6g sugar
  • Trader Joe’s Granola & the 3 Berries | ½ cup serving= 200 calories; 6g fat; 1g sat fat; 3g fiber; 10g sugar
  • Kellogg’s Special K® Low fat Granola Touch of Honey | ½ cup serving= 190 calories; 3g fat; 0.5g sat fat; 5g fiber; 9g sugar

My favorite way to eat granola is to use it as a topping for fat-free Greek yogurt. For a sweet and salty snack, I like to mix 2 tablespoon of granola with about half a cup of low fat popcorn, pretzels or freeze-dried fruit. It’s crunchy, high in fiber and satisfying in every bite.

What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy granola?

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.

Toss This, Try That: A Healthy Game Plan for Super Bowl Sunday

January 31, 2014 Leave a comment

Super Bowl Sunday is quickly approaching. Not surprisingly it’s one of the biggest calorie-fests of the year, second to Thanksgiving, with the average football fan consuming about a day’s worth of calories from the first quarter to the last. The U.S. Calorie Control Council estimates that Americans pack away 11 million pounds of chips and 1.25 billion chicken wings on just this one day alone! If you intercept with some smart eating strategies you don’t have to toss out all your nutrition plans for the New Year on Super Bowl Sunday.

1) Prepare a healthy dish. Whether you’re hosting or attending a party, you can provide some healthy options to accompany all the other “less healthy” dishes. Whip up a calorie-conscious dip by subbing out high fat for low fat ingredients. For example take a recipe for spinach artichoke dip and make it with light mayonnaise, reduced fat cream cheese and part-skim mozzarella. Pair it with baked chips and you have a delicious treat! You can turn the many “traditional” football-watching eats from nutrition disasters to real winners, such as baked veggie fries made with zucchini sticks, oven “fried” chicken breast strips, turkey bean chili made with extra lean ground meat and high fiber beans. Check out our recipes here.

2) Kick off with fiber-rich vegetables. Go straight for the raw veggie platter first. Go easy on dips and dressings, even if they are low fat. Portion out 2-3 tablespoons of dip on your plate. Go back for seconds of low-calorie vegetables instead of the high-calorie foods.

3) Pass on Super Bowl-sized portions. Use a small plate to sample a small amount of the less healthy foods. Pick your most favorite item whether it’s chicken wings, pizza or burgers and plate a half or even a third of what you normally would. Skip the stuff you don’t “love.” Avoid seconds except for the veggies.

4) Don’t hang out by the food table. Take your plate and plant yourself far away from the food. Focus on the game and hanging out with friends instead of standing near the spread. This will make it much easier to be mindful of how much you eat and keep you from continuously filling up your plate.

5) Alternate alcohol with water and other zero-calorie beverages. Drink a bottle of water prior to the festivities and have an intentional plan to drink less alcohol. The more you drink, the lower your resistance is to overeat. Enjoy your favorite drink of choice, whether it’s a cocktail, wine or beer, and do so with more reserve. It’s easier than you think to alternate alcohol with sparkling or bottled water, unsweetened tea or a diet beverage. Try it!

6) Get back on track. So you may have exceeded your daily calorie load on Super Bowl Sunday, but not all is lost. Don’t let that one day get you discouraged. Pull back on your food intake for the next couple of days and get up and move your body.

End the first month of the New Year with resolve to mindfully manage Super Bowl Sunday and it will be a win-win situation for you and your favorite team.

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