All Entries For holidays
Around the holidays, it seems like the stove and the oven are working overtime. We spend more time in the kitchen, sharing meals or prepping dishes for festive gatherings. Make sure your kitchen is up for the task with these easy and quick kitchen tips. Consider it the wintertime equivalent of spring cleaning.
1. Take and inventory of your spice cabinet. Check dates on spices and leavening ingredients, such as baking soda and baking powder. Most spices don’t go bad but will lose some of their flavoring power. (The exception: Poppy seeds and sesame seeds will go rancid. Open them up and if they smell oily or off, pitch. ) Incorporate any older spices into your menus over the next few weeks to use them up. Leavening agents, however, lose their ability to leaven, or make baked goods rise. If your baking soda has expired, use it to freshen your kitchen sink drain. Pour the rest of the box into drain or disposal, add 1 cup white vinegar and let it do its stuff. Rinse with warm water after 3 minutes.
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Stumped about what to put on your holiday wish list this year? Here are some great gift ideas that will help you along on your healthy living journey—all for under $20!
If you're looking to build a home gym, a stability ball is a great place to start! Check out this video for tips on how to use it.
Contigo 16-Ounce Double Wall Insulated Tumbler
This tumbler has a heavy-duty seal that prevents spills and keeps your hot drinks hot for hours. (I have one and use it nearly every day. Even three hours after pouring, my coffee is still toasty!)
Your knives probably need a little love after all the use they've gotten over the holidays! This knife sharpener is safe, compact, and super effective.Read More ›
Turkey, pumpkin pie, football, family. Thanksgiving might include any of those things, but for many people, a vital part of the holiday weekend is the shopping. And while there are countless bargains to be found, not all promotions may be worthy of an early wake-up call or being jostled by crowds. We put Claudia Lombana, PayPal Shopping Specialist, to the test for her best Black Friday advice. Read More ›
Sacrifice neither your diet nor the traditional Thanksgiving experience with this menu. Each serving of these classic dishes contains less than 500 calories, less than 18 grams of fat and less than 800 mg of sodium.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Makes: 8 servings
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Roast: 30 mins
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The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and many people will take to the sky to visit family and friends. Despite appearances—a plethora of fast foods, snacks and lots of sitting around—flights and airports offer plenty of nutritious food and opportunity for activity, if you know where to look.
- Make sure everyone eats a healthy meal before you arrive. You’ll be less likely to munch on high-calorie snacks just because they’re around or you’re bored.
- If eating in an airport, it’s worth it to spend the time seeking out healthy foods. Look for salads, fresh fruit, vegetable-based soups, and baked or grilled chicken. Read More ›
When people learned of the devastating earthquake in Haiti two years ago, they responded quickly and generously, raising $300 million dollars in just over a week. Whether inspired by a large-scale tragedy or old-fashioned goodwill, we're a nation of altruists, with an estimated 40 million Americans giving to charity each year. And there are plenty of causes to choose from. Since 1995, the number of tax-exempt nonprofits has nearly doubled, to about 1.5 million. Problem is, fraudulent groups are growing at the same rate. In the case of Haiti, for example, several organizations soon came under scrutiny for mishandling funds, and people are still questioning how much aid actually made it to those in need. So before you hand over your hard-earned money, it pays to take a few simple precautions to guarantee your gift will truly make a difference. Read More ›
This time of year can be a mixture of fun and frustration. When it comes to gifts, we all have those hard-to-buy-for people in our lives and the friend or family member who doesn’t give you any ideas. If there is something they want or need, they just buy it themselves. I have a few of those people on my gift list, and I always struggle with what to do for them. I want them to know they are an important part of my life, but I’m not going to buy them something random just so that they have something to open. This year, I’ve decided to make gifts for some of them. Read More ›
As a mother of three kids, my circle of fellow parents, new friends, and my kids' teachers is really growing fast. This year, I'm trying to find simple gifts that will express my appreciation, share my commitment to health and wellness, and yet won't break the bank. I've gathered some of my all-time favorite simple homemade gifts below that will look beautiful, while creating fun memories in the kitchen with your loved ones. Read More ›
The holiday season is in full swing now! Festive lights, the sounds of the season and holiday goodies are surrounding us on an almost daily basis. Just about everywhere you go you are reminded that it’s that time of the year. We are getting the message loud and clear that we should be happy. We’re all happy! Right?
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Depression is a medical condition that affects 1 in 10 Americans, which equates to approximately 31 million, and it doesn’t have a season. The holidays can be particularly difficult for those with depression. The good news is that having an emotionally rough time in your life is not a medical condition in most cases. Consider the following criteria to determine whether your feelings of depression should include a visit to your physician or to a mental health professional. (SparkPeople has a comprehensive condition center with additional information and resources about depression.)
According to Mental Health America, the country’s leading nonprofit dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives, this time of year can be as much about anxiety, depression, and stress as it is about joy:
Many factors can cause the “holiday blues”: stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one’s family and friends. The demands of shopping, parties, family reunions and house guests also contribute to feelings of tension. People may also develop other stress responses such as headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating and difficulty sleeping. Even more people experience post-holiday let down after January 1. This can result from disappointments during the preceding months compounded by the excess fatigue and stress.
What are the symptoms of depression? According to the CDC, they are:
- Little interest or pleasure in doing things
- Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep or sleeping too much
- Feeling tired or having little energy
- Poor appetite or overeating
- Feeling bad about yourself or that you were a failure or let yourself or your family down
- Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television
- Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed, or the opposite: being so fidgety or restless that you were moving around a lot more than usual
Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights. In Hebrew, the word "Hanukkah" means "dedication," and unlike other date-specific holidays, it begins at sunset on a day between late November and late December depending on the Hewbrew calendar.
Hanukkah is a time of joy and family celebration, fun and tradition including many delicious foods. While the festivities can draw you away from your healthy lifestyle, it can also be a time to stay dedicated to them.
We create workout lists to help you keep your workouts fresh and to help you stay motivated as you work toward your goals. Members of our SparkJews SparkTeam offered some suggestions for inspirational songs to keep you moving throughout the holiday.
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Recently, we gave SparkRecipes.com a little facelift. Among the additions were a year's worth of informational, entertaining videos! Every day when you visit the site, you'll see one of my videos, full of seasonal tips and recipes.
Today we're sharing my video about Better Baking for the Holidays. In it, I share my best tips to lighten up your holiday favorites. Finally, you can have your cake, and eat it, too! Read More ›
Have you noticed bags of beautiful red berries in the produce department of your local grocery store? Did you know that those are fresh cranberries, a great food to add to your diet? According to The George Mateljan Foundation for The World's Healthiest Foods, cranberries are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients that provide anit-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. One cup of fresh cranberries has 5 grams of fiber, 90 mg of potassium and 25% of the Daily Value for vitamin C according to the SparkPeople Nutritional Tracker.
Incorporating cranberries into your cooking is easier than you might think. Use a food processor to chop them into small pieces and pop them in the freezer. There is no need to defrost them before you cook. Cranberries add a nice tartness to your favorite salad, side dish, or sweeten a main course with cranberry relish. If you can’t find fresh cranberries, dried cranberries are a great substitute and are available year around. Dried cranberries can be used in place or raisins or nuts in any recipe. Make sure you use dried cranberries in moderation as a single serving has 123 calories and 26g of sugar.
I’ve gathered some of my favorite cranberry recipes from SparkRecipes for your health and enjoyment. Ditch the canned processed cranberry sauce and cut the calories and sugar by using fresh cranberries in your cooking this holiday season. Read More ›
You’re at a party and you see a table filled with some of your favorite foods: potato chips with sour-cream dip; charcuterie heaped high next to pieces of crusty baguette; and a steaming tray of macaroni drunk with melted cheddar cheese. Nearby is the dessert table where you see dense chocolate cake topped with fresh whipped cream; peppermint bark and still warm ginger snaps; a ten-layer coconut cream layer cake. Do you:
a) walk on by clutching the celery sticks you brought from home for dear life
b) grab whatever you can as fast as you can and shove it down at warp speed
c) enjoy a reasonable portion of the food in front of you without a shred of guilt.
I vote for c: a choice informed by moderation and pleasure, not gluttony or denial. It’s totally do-able, but first you need to come to terms with what it means to eat treats.
For many of us, treats are triggers. In other words, if you eat one cookie, you’ll eat a dozen. When I first began my journey to lose weight a few years ago, there were some foods that held me in such thrall, I literally could not go near them. My list included triple cream cheeses, crusty bread of any kind, charcuterie (especially salami), cookies (any kind), cakes (ditto), Doritos, and olives. If two bites were good, twenty were better. I couldn’t eat just a little of these foods so rather than go to town, stuff myself, then feel the inevitable guilt, misery and anger, I cut them out of my life -- for a while anyway. Until I could gain some distance, examine what my relationship was with these foods, and discover what lay underneath my insatiable desire.
I learned a lot.
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