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What We're Reading This Month


Are You Tired and Wired? Your Proven 30-Day Program for Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue and Feeling Fantastic Again by Marcelle Pick MSN OB/GYN NP

Co-founder of Women to Women—one of the first clinics in the country devoted to providing health care for women by women—and the author of The Core Balance Diet, Pick focuses on the root cause of these symptoms: adrenal dysfunction. (Psst... we're giving away five copies of this book on Friday evening.)

Posted 4/28/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 19 comments   8,066 views
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Jell-O Recipes That Won't Make You Jiggle


Looking for some low calorie snacks/desserts? We've rounded up a variety of Jell-O recipes that are low calorie, easy to make, and tasty!

Yogurt Jello

Grandma Luetta's Strawberry Jello Salad

Strawberry Crunch Jello Salad

Posted 4/27/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 26 comments   29,783 views
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Healthy Super Bowl Party Recipes


Wondering what to serve at your Super Bowl party? Look no further! We've rounded up a variety of healthy Super Bowl party recipes that everyone will enjoy!

Honey-Mustard Chicken Wings

Super Healthy Hummus


Pineapple, Onion and Bacon Pizza

SP_Stepf's Skinny Cheese Fondue

Posted 2/1/2011  2:36:12 PM By: Denise Tausig : 15 comments   14,515 views
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Going Nuts for Flavored Nut Butters


Every day in elementary school, my mom packed my sister and me the same lunch: PBJ (always with natural peanut butter and Gramma's homemade jams on wheat bread), a pouch of real juice, a piece of fruit or some carrot sticks, and a granola bar or a fruit roll-up. I never tired of it, but around age 7, I did decide that I needed to be independent. I wanted whatever my sister didn't have. I announced to my mother, as she handed me my lunch, that I no longer ate grape jelly. I would henceforth require only strawberry jam on my sandwiches, please and thank you, mother. My sister could keep the grape jam, and strawberry would be mine and mine alone, (I embellish the dialogue only slightly. Ever the precocious child, I was a cross between Eloise and Fancy Nancy. I almost flunked gym class in first grade because I refused to wear sneakers, and I took pride in telling people I never wore pants the entire year of kindergarten. I digress…)

Suddenly, my boring old sandwich was new again. Strawberry jam was so much better than icky grape, and 22 years later, I don't think I've eaten grape jelly since then.

In junior high, my beloved PBJ fell out of favor when I decided that skipping lunch was the cool thing to do. (All those raging teenage hormones, plus low blood sugar, equaled one cranky Stepfanie. Not my smartest move.)

Then came college and my first apartment. I was strapped for cash and time. A PBJ was a quick dinner, so I thought. Later that night, I was sick, bent over with horrible stomach pains. I blamed stress. Eventually, a doctor diagnosed me with a peanut intolerance (so thankfully no life-threatening symptoms), and, separately, a cashew allergy.

In addition to losing my PBJs, I could no longer eat mixed nuts, pad Thai, several kinds of curries, and the world's best flavor combination: chocolate and peanut butter. (Now if only we could get airplanes to stop serving peanuts. I always end up with a migraine after flights when they serve peanuts.)

Then along came a nut (a drupe, really) that made me forget peanut butter ever existed. The almond.

Why am I sharing this story with you today? I'm sharing this story because almond butter is expensive, and fancy nut butters are all the rage. And I have the recipes to prove it.
Posted 10/19/2010  6:06:10 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 61 comments   18,086 views
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The Extreme 'Baby Carrots' Ads: Will They Work?


Last week, Coach Nicole sent me a link to this video. That morning, I had driven past a large orange billboard near our office. "So what if our name doesn't end in 'itos'?" it read. As I drove past, I also caught a glimpse of the words "baby carrots."

After a bit of research online, I learned that Bugs' favorite treat is getting an extreme makeover. "An alliance of 50 carrot farmers is investing an initial $25 million" to market the crunchy snacks. A big-name advertising company is creating splashy billboards, TV, social media/online ads, and new packaging that will make carrots look like junk food. Plus, they plan carrot vending machines in schools. The push to make carrots the No. 1 snack in America isn't only about our waistlines. It's also about the bottom line: The farmers hope to double the $1 billion carrot market in the next couple of years or so, according to the Associated Press.

The carrots have a Facebook account, Twitter feed and a homepage, upon which they say:

"A BUNCH OF CARROT FARMERS™ is made up of, well, a bunch of carrot farmers. Our mission: To get folks to eat more carrots. Then get their friends to eat more carrots. Then get their friends' friends to eat more carrots. And so on and so forth, until carrots are the official favorite food of everyone, everywhere.

"Powerfully crunchy. Subtly sweet. Gloriously versatile. Mischievously addictive. Perfectly orange. What more could you possibly want in a food? Nothing...the answer is nothing.

"If you fancy yourself a loud and proud Carrot Farmer — whether your harvest yields one pound or one million — join the crusade to make carrots the most demanded and universally loved food on earth."

That leads me to some questions…
Posted 9/14/2010  12:01:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 134 comments   15,479 views
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12 Healthy Game Day Recipes


Now that football season is here, are you looking for some game day recipes? We've rounded up a variety of healthy game day appetizer and snack recipes that everyone will enjoy!

Chef Meg's (Leftover) Chicken Nachos

Spinach Brownies

Authentic Guacamole

15 Minute Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Posted 9/7/2010  12:00:39 PM By: Denise Tausig : 19 comments   30,140 views
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Habits of Healthy Eaters: Pack Snacks When You Travel


By the time you read this, I'll be somewhere between Cincinnati and Istanbul, reuniting with a dear friend and starting an adventure two years in the making.

I love to travel. What I don't love is airplane food. If you're "lucky" enough to be served a meal, it's usually not very healthy or tasty.*

I always travel on a pretty tight budget, so shelling out $10 for a watery salad or fast food in the airport isn't something I like to do. The "snacks" that airlines sell now are not any better: potato chips, candy, and other junk food is the norm. Yuck.

Flying already leaves me feeling dehydrated and tired, without adding excess sugar and salt to my body.

How do I avoid paying high prices and eat right until I land--and beyond? I pack snacks.

Posted 6/28/2010  2:25:16 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 105 comments   21,739 views
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Poll: Do You Snack?


A dozen years ago, when I was visiting my grandmother at her home in Michigan, my aunt forewarned me. An avid quilter, my grandmother lost track of time when she was at the sewing machine. "You'll be in her sewing room for hours without realizing it," my aunt said.

Surely she took breaks during the day, I thought. Nope. She just kept sewing. I was too timid to say anything, and I didn't want to complain. By 3 p.m. one day, I realized we had been quilting for six hours straight. My stomach was not happy.

"Gramma," I said meekly."I'm hungry. May I have a snack?" She looked at the clock.

"Oh, my gosh," she said. "We forgot to eat lunch."

We rushed down to the kitchen and had a snack, then made an early dinner soon after. That night I called my mom and told her about my day.

"Gramma and I didn't eat lunch," I said.

My mom laughed. That story is now famous in my family--the time Gramma held Stepfanie hostage in her sewing room/sweatshop (It was summertime!) and didn't feed her all day long. Of course, the story has been embellished a bit as it weaved its way through the family grapevine, but it's always recounted with love.

That same Gramma is the one who lost 35 pounds a couple of years ago. Diagnosed with hypoglycemia, she now relies on small meals and snacks to keep her blood sugar regulated. Though she was raised in the "three square meals and no eating between them" generation, Gramma Willie now is a reformed--and healthy--snacker. Our family jokes that she won't be starving any of the younger grandkids these days. She stashes healthy snacks in the sewing room for herself and any grandkids who might be visiting and making a quilt alongside her.

That story, and my own eating habits made me wonder if other people also changed their minds about snacking.

Posted 6/2/2010  10:44:30 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 112 comments   10,524 views
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Food on the Run: Best Vending Machine Choices


The first United States vending machines were installed on New York City elevated platforms in 1888 to sell Tutti-Frutti gum. Shortly thereafter coin-operated gumball machines became popular as well. Sodas began being dispensed into cups via vending machines in the early 1920's with chilled bottled soda machines emerging in the 1930's. Vending machine millionaires were created during the 1960's with the expansion of vending machine meal and beverage service. The focus of their success surrounded the development of coffee vending machines and the canned soft drink vending machine invented in 1965. After that, food, snack and drink vending machines of all types boomed across the country.

Coffee machines have been popular in offices for decades to eliminate the need for someone to be in charge of making coffee. Providing a complete cafeteria is costly for small business employers and so are long break and lunch times to allow employees to go home. Over time, as management sought to tighten their bottom line, placing vending machines in the workplace became an easy and cost effective way to provide a quick break and lunch option onsite to keep workers as productive as possible.

The automated vending industry has come a long way from the days of Tutti-Frutti gum machines. Today vending is a $30 billion-a-year industry with an estimated 13,500 companies that employ nearly 700,000 people across the nation. Estimates suggest 100 million people use 7 million vending machines each day with the majority (30 percent) in manufacturing establishments and slightly over 16 percent located on school and college campuses.

Here are some nutrition basics from Eat This, Not That to help you make wise choices next time you visit a vending machine.

Posted 5/10/2010  6:16:51 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 102 comments   22,556 views
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Make Your Own Yogurt--It's Easy


When I was younger, my favorite author was Laura Ingalls Wilder, and of her books, Farmer Boy, was the one I reread most often.

Recounting the childhood of her husband, Almanzo Wilder, on an upstate New York farm, Farmer Boy is full of details about cooking from scratch and feeding a family. Together with the Little House cookbook, this book fueled my daydreams of cooking from scratch and being a pioneer girl. Fast forward 20 years, and some of those daydreams are a reality. I cook almost everything we eat from scratch, from spaghetti sauce and soup to granola and yogurt.

Yes, yogurt. While Almanzo and Laura milked cows, I buy mine from the supermarket--a local brand that makes milk the old-fashioned way.

A few months back, I started thinking about ways to cut out even more processed foods and saving money on our food bills. We're keen on granola, berries and Greek yogurt as a snack or breakfast. I already make my own granola, and I picked berries last summer and froze them. The only place to scrimp was the yogurt. We eat Greek yogurt, but it's really pricey--sometimes up to $5 or $6 a quart for the organic brand I like. I knew I had to find a cheaper alternative. When my boyfriend's mom gave us her slow cooker, I found my answer.
Posted 2/19/2010  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 234 comments   39,421 views
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What We're Eating: New on Store Shelves, Plus a Giveaway


Metromint Waters
Our friends at Metromint sent us some of their mint-flavored waters to try. You know we like to drink water, but we do try to be environmentally friendly whenever possible. Still, we like to shake up our usual H2O sometimes, so we were happy to sip on these. The Spearmint variety was reminiscent of mouthwash, but the Chocolatemint variety was crisp and clean. This would be a refreshing beverage to try after a long workout. ($1.39-1.69 per 16.9 ounce bottle)

Posted 2/10/2010  6:19:01 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 103 comments   15,024 views
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Guilt-Free Game Day Snacks: 7-Layer Fiesta Dip and Chips


Football and snacks go hand in hand, but so can game-day noshing and healthy eating.

Nachos, pizza, even wings can be a part of your healthy Super Bowl party menu.

I've revamped a few of your favorites and rounded up some members' makeovers, too.

I started with one of my favorites: layered Mexican dip. I always make a beeline for this dish at game-day parties. With layers of beans, cheese, black olives, sour cream, guacamole, and onions, the dip is made with healthy, whole ingredients.

Then I checked out the nutrition on the dish.

Even with baked chips, a cup of this dip has a whopping 562 calories, 42 g fat and 824 mg of sodium!

Do you know how much I probably have consumed of this dish at parties? So much that I decided to make it over before this year's big game.

My Skinny Fiesta Dip with Baked Lime Chips has all the flavor of the original, but it's much easier on the waistline.

Original dip (1 cup):
562 calories
42 g fat
19 g saturated fat
824 mg sodium

New dip(1 cup):
211 calories (fewer than half!)
9 g fat (about 1/5 the fat)
4 g saturated fat
405 mg sodium (less than half!)
Posted 2/2/2010  2:10:36 PM By: Meg Galvin : 90 comments   30,619 views
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Kid Snacking: How Much Is Too Much?


I have a feeling that one day very soon, I’m going to become the complaining parent at my 3-year old's preschool. I've always been conscientious about her diet (I prefer that term over "strict" or "crazy") so I knew that I'd have a hard time sending her to school where she gets a snack that's not approved by me. I've tried to relax a little, looking at the bigger picture and telling myself that she's got to learn to make her own healthy choices at some point. She's only 3, so she's not really making those choices yet. But its good practice for the future, right?

Posted 2/2/2010  10:00:55 AM By: Jen Mueller : 206 comments   14,805 views
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How Sweet and Innocent are Those Girl Scout Cookies?


My mom resurrected the Girl Scout program at my elementary school when I was a Daisy.

We moved and she was the co-leader of my Brownie troop.

I was a Junior, a Cadette and a Senior.

Though I wasn't the most active Girl Scout in later years, I proudly wore my sash and uniform for 13 years.

My mom was involved in Girl Scouts for 25 years, and my grandmother for about 20.

Needless to say, I like Girl Scout Cookies. We always had several boxes in the pantry and plenty more in the freezer. Because those cookies were always around, it wasn't a big deal when cookie time came around. Sure, I was excited to sell them. (And by sell, I mean call my family members and send the forms to work with my parents. I wasn't the most aggressive saleswoman.) But my appetite for them didn't grow.

Fast forward to college, and a life without Thin Mints, Samoas and Tagalongs.

When I came home for a weekend and found the familiar green box of my favorite cookies. I ate an entire sleeve of them in two days!

I will admit that wasn't the last time I ate an entire sleeve of Girl Scout cookies, but it's an event that hasn't happened lately. I can exercise self control around my beloved Thin Mints, and I keep them in the freezer for slower eating.

Wonder what kind of caloric damage those little cookies can do?

Posted 1/28/2010  5:50:34 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 432 comments   17,956 views
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I Get By with A Little Help from My Snacks


by SparkPeople member Kristina, aka KARVY09

Since the beginning of 2009, I've lost 52 pounds, 45 of those on SparkPeople in the last 5 months. I credit many people in my life for helping me get this far, including my awesome husband and friends, and my incredible friends on SparkPeople. (Man, does this sound like an acceptance speech or what?)

I also got a lot of help from some awesome snack foods along the way...

Yes, snack food.

There are some foods that I do not think I would have gotten this far without, and for that reason, I just have to pay tribute to my Top Five in blog form to give them the recognition that they deserve. So here they are, in no particular order.
Posted 11/11/2009  5:25:21 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 188 comments   19,526 views
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