All Entries For sparkmoms
Have you noticed that cupcakerys are the new hot trend in restaurants? Even in my non-metropolitan home town, our local bakery competed in the 2011 and 2012 Food Network Cupcake Wars and won "Best of the Best" on Cupcake Champions in 2012.
In our home, the month of February is an unofficial cupcake month, with Valentine's Day and nine separate family birthday celebrations to prepare for. However, if I stuck with the standard recipe, my husband and I would surely gain a few pounds and my kids would gain an eternal sugar high. That said, there are some simple modifications that add nutritional value, reduce the processed sugar, fat, and calories too. Substitute whole-grain flours for all purpose flour. Use fruits and vegetables as a natural sweetener and add color and texture; applesauce can be used in place of oil; flaxseed meal or chia seeds mixed with water can be used in place of eggs; and Greek yogurt can be used in place of flour. I also find that when I use natural ingredients, I crave the processed sugar less-and-less. Another health benefit and convenience with cupcakes is that a serving is as simple as one cupcake. Leftovers can go right into the freezer instead of a late night snack. Celebrate something special with these healthier cupcake recipes. Read More ›
Spray, swipe and sponge your way to a spotless house in no time with these helpful strategies.
Oven:Tackle those charred drips and baked-on blobs.
Racks: Lay them down on newspaper or, even better, place racks inside a large plastic garbage bag and spray with a nontoxic oven cleaner. Let sit, then scrub with a scouring pad, rinse well and dry.
Interior: Zap splatters by running your oven's self-cleaning cycle. If you don't have the feature, Debra Johnson, training manager at Merry Maids, suggests applying a fume-free oven cleaner (like Easy-Off). Give the solution about two hours to do its job, then wipe away the greasy debris with rags or paper towels. Follow with a scouring pad, if needed, and a once-over with a microfiber cloth. Read More ›
You don't have to splurge on a gym membership to get ready for swimsuit season. Three simple moves can flatten your tummy while toning the muscles that support your back makes it easier to sit up straight. Click through for three good-for-you workouts (demonstrated by health editor Abby Cuffey), and do them daily for best results.
1. Wall Push-Ups
Stand about 3 feet away from a wall and lean forward, placing your hands shoulder-width apart against the wall. Bend your elbows and bring your chest toward the wall (your heels may come off the floor), then push away until your arms are straight again. Repeat 10 times. Read More ›
Find yourself raising the white flag all too often when it comes to having your way? Whether you need more attention from your doctor or require approval from your boss to work from home, claiming victory could be easier than you think, says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., author of A Happy You (Morgan James Publishing). "The trick is not confusing assertiveness, which is expressing yourself in a kind manner, with aggressiveness, which is expressing yourself but not respecting others," she explains. Get it right, and you'll receive your heart's desire. Get it wrong, and you not only hit a roadblock, but the tension can cause everything from depression and lack of productivity to weight gain, colds and fatigue. We asked doctors, 800-number managers and even restaurant pros to find out how you can become a satisfied customer in the game of life. As the motto goes, it's not what you say but how you say it. Read More ›
Fall and winter squash varieties, including acorn, butternut and spaghetti, are now showing up in farmers’ markets. You’ll be delighted by how delicious, easy to prepare and versatile spaghetti squash can be.
Spaghetti squash is named for its uncanny resemblance to pasta once cooked. The squash is tasty yet neutral enough to pair with anything you would normally eat atop pasta.
And, if you're watching your carb intake, spaghetti squash should go in your cart. Take a look at how it measures up against standard noodles: Read More ›
I've noticed a popular trend this year among friends who have children. A common New Year's Resolution I heard other moms talking about was to feeding their families fewer processed foods. This has been one of my goals for quite some time, but I know from experience that it's not very easy. One reason it can be difficult to feed your kids healthier foods is that you get different recommendations about the "right" and "wrong" things to eat depending on where you look. Your doctor says one thing. The doctor on TV says another. SparkPeople's dietitians recommend certain strategies. And those tips might conflict with what your best friend has tried successfully.
According to a new national survey, moms will be making changes to their food-buying decisions over the next year, and looking to more non-traditional sources for advice. When it comes to food and nutrition, "Moms place higher priority on the opinions of bloggers and peers than that of experts like doctors and dietitians," according to the survey results. This stood out to me; it seems we trust one another more than the people we've been told to trust as "experts" all these years. So who do you trust more? Read More ›
Are you looking for new ways to eliminate unhealthy ingredients and add more healthy ingredients to your recipes? Stuffed Bell Peppers are a fun way just to do that. A large size bell pepper has about 50 calories and is loaded with folate, magnesium, copper, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and potassium. Use peppers in place of high calorie wraps that have very little nutritional value. For an added bonus, stuff your peppers nutritional storehouses like beans, lentils, whole grains, finely chopped veggies and lean meats. Top it off with a puréed vegetable sauce for added flavor. Keep yourself healthy with these 10 super stuffed pepper recipes. Read More ›
Are you caught up on the latest juicing craze? Regardless making homemade juices are a great choice for those wanting to take control of their health. Homemade juices are healthier than store bought as you can control what ingredients are being used and nothing unnecessary is added. It’s a great way to use those fruits and vegetables are ripe and ready to use. I’ve come up with some of the best combinations by throwing in everything on the container that needs to be eaten today into the juicer. It also a great way to eat fruits and vegetables you may not enjoy on their own. All of these recipes require a blender or juicer. Stay hydrated and filled up on nutrition with these delicious juice recipes. Read More ›
Do you remember elementary school recess? Can you conjure up vivid images of your play time?
I think I jump-roped around the globe over the course of my elementary school recess hours. The traditional, two-people-hold-one-jump rope game was my forte. I can even hear the song in my head: "Strawberry shortcake, cream on top, tell me the name of your sweetheart..." The group then sang out a letter of the alphabet with each jump. Hopefully, if the boy you "liked" started with an S or T or W, you would be able to jump long enough to land on the right letter.
As children, we looked forward to running free during that period of time during the day. No hall pass. No permissions needed. Little teacher interference. Fresh air. Pure and simple play. That was the 1970s and 1980s for me. Over the course of the past two decades, however, fewer children have been able to experience the freedoms of recess.
Perhaps the biggest contributor to the decrease in recess for children has been increased academic expectations. In a nutshell, in came academic standards and out went recess. It made sense to many: If there are higher demands academically and more accountability of schools, teachers, and children, then recess (the perceived "perk") must go.
The problem: Children need recess! Read More ›
When you think of cabbage, do you think of a garnish used to add color or fill in the white space on a plate? Or worse, do you remember watery, mushy, or chewy boiled cabbage that a relative over-boiled with cured meat? If so, then you share my shock and surprise that, at least until recently, I've been missing out on the vitamins and nutrients packed into this water-rich super food. Cabbage has more vitamin C than an orange is a great source of vitamins A, K and also is high in folate and fiber too. I like the flavor that it adds to soups and salads. My favorite recipe in the "The SparkPeople Cookbook" is Chef Meg’s Minestrone Soup and much of the flavor and nutrition comes from the two cups and chopped cabbage in this recipe. Use these cabbage recipes to add extra vegetables to your nutritional intake. Read More ›
Start your day right with these delicious 300-calorie breakfast ideas.
Breakfast burrito: 3 scrambled egg whites + 1/2 cup diced tomato* + 1/4 diced yellow bell pepper + 1 Tbsp chopped sweet onion + 1/4 cup no-salt-added canned black beans + 1 Tbsp salsa, wrapped in an 8" whole-wheat tortilla
Peanut butter—pear toast: 1 slice whole-wheat bread + 2 Tbsp unsalted peanut butter + 1/2 sliced pear*
Orange-apricot quinoa: 1/4 cup quinoa* cooked in 1/4 cup calcium-fortified orange juice + 1/4 cup water; stir in 4 chopped dried apricot halves + 1 Tbsp sliced almonds
Read More ›
One of my biggest priorities as a mom is providing my kids with a healthy diet. Sometimes I'm met with success (they love vegetables), but other times it's a little more difficult ("Eww! What is this?!?"). I try to expose them to a wide variety of healthy foods, so that eating this way becomes a normal part of the rest of their lives. My kids are 6, 4 and 1, and even though I control most of what they eat at this age, I still shake my head at some of the food that's served when I'm not around. My kindergartner can't go to a Girl Scout meeting, sporting event or even morning snack at school without adults serving her junk food. So when I'm given the opportunity to bring something, I see it as a chance to show kids that healthy food can taste good.
Sometimes I get flak from other parents (including my own) because I don't let my kids order whatever they want at a restaurant or limit the foods I bring into our home. I don't think I'm denying my children the joys of childhood by not serving them many common "kid foods." If substituting vegetables for French fries or telling them they can't have the corndog on the menu is the worst thing I do as a mom, I think I'm on the right track.
At the same time, I realize that putting some foods off-limits often makes them the "forbidden fruit," and they can become the food my kids want most. Just like adults, completely denying yourself the foods you enjoy makes you more likely to binge on them later. I don't want my child to go crazy at a friend's house because their mom serves chocolate milk and I only serve plain. My kids get treats and snacks they like, but there are certain foods they will just never get from me. Recently, I read an article about the top foods nutrition experts won't feed their kids, which inspired me to write this blog. Wondering what foods are on the "off limits" list for this personal trainer's kids? Read More ›
There's no more perfect time of year than right now to start cooking with blueberries. This Native American gem is flavorful and loaded with outstanding nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. A recent study from a Harvard School of Public Health found that eating three or more servings per week can reduce a woman’s risk of heart attack by as much as 33%. Research is also finding that eating blueberries helps with mental wellness and can improve your memory too. Even when they're not in season, I keep them in my freezer and pop them into my hot cereal or right into the Vitamix blender for smoothies. The next time you are at the market, grab a basket of blueberries and enjoy how these recipes will help you become a healthier and happier you. Read More ›
Due to the popularity of Slow Cooker Chicken, I'd like to follow up now with pork, which is another slow cooker favorite. Pork is a staple in our house, especially when we're having a large group of dinner guests. It's a budget-friendly choice that becomes tender and juicy when cooked slowly. Whether you're tired of everything tasting like chicken, or you just need a change of pace, add these slow cooker pork recipes to your meal plan today. Read More ›
If I could choose what to take with me to the proverbial desert island, sweet treats would be right up there on my list. One of the reasons I exercise so consistently is so that I have the option to enjoy them with family, when eating out, or for spontaneous celebrations. At the same time, I refuse to cook large quantities of desserts, mainly because I end up throwing them out to avoid temptation. One strategy I find useful is to prepare single serving desserts that satisfy the urge, but without circumventing my nutrition plan. Enjoy these fun and tasty single serving treats. Read More ›