All Entries For spring
Mexican dishes often combine both healthy and not-so-healthy ingredients. Although they include a lot of fresh produce (lettuce, tomatoes, and corn) and complex carbohydrates like beans and rice, the meals are also sometimes cooked in lard and topped with lots of melty cheese. Taco salads, for example, are usually chock-full of veggies, but they can also be piled high with cheese, meat, and deep-fried chips. And chicken fajitas are made up of mostly healthy lean protein and veggies, but are often stir-fried and wrapped in an empty calorie tortilla. For a healthier Cinco de Mayo feast, should you dig into a taco salad or a plate of chicken fajitas?
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For years my mother was a police officer and then a police dispatcher. She worked swing shift, doubles, whatever she had to do to provide for her kids.
The Thanksgiving when I was 16, she was scheduled to work until 6 a.m. She planned to come home, sleep for a few hours and start dinner. She had recently separated from her husband and was working extra shifts to make a good life for my sisters, brother and me. My mom came home that morning and told us to make sure she was awake by 10 a.m. so she could start the turkey. There were bags under her eyes, and it was clear that she was exhausted.
My 14-year-old sister and I decided we weren't going to wake her. We enlisted our little brother and sister, then 4 and 6, and the four of us made the entire meal. We'd been helping her for so many years that, though the dishes didn't have mom's magic touch, we knew exactly what to do.
My mom awoke with a start a few hours later. She bounded into the kitchen, apologizing for oversleeping. Then she looked around and saw that we had started--and nearly finished--cooking without her. She cried, we cried, and that was the best Thanksgiving we ever had, just the five of us.
Some of my earliest memories are of being in the kitchen with my mother. Making that and every Thanksgiving dinner together, sorting through dog-eared family recipes, baking dozens of cookies each Christmas, cooking was how we bonded. My mom taught me how to separate eggs, why you should never slam the oven door when baking a soufflé, and how to make the flakiest pie crust you'll ever taste.
As a child, cooking seemed commonplace, never difficult or time-consuming. My mom brought us into the kitchen, let us help her make dinner, and assigned us tasks to occupy us and ease her workload. Before I could reach the counter, I loved grating carrots, stirring cookie dough, and shaking salad dressing.
By the time I was a preteen, Mom was working full time and putting herself through the police academy. I helped with dinner more often, even if that meant grilled cheese and tomato soup.
It wasn't until high school and later college that I realized what a gift she had given me. I had friends in college who didn't know how to boil water for pasta. Do you add the pasta first? How much water? How long does it cook?
When I moved into my first apartment, I started hosting dinner parties, first just lasagna and simple comfort foods, but later roast chicken and risotto with butternut squash, quite a fancy meal for a college student on a budget.
Today, I make a living writing about food (and healthy living). Teaching me to cook was the best gift my mother could give me, just as her mother gave her.
This week, I want you to share your stories about cooking with your own mom. And, as way to say thanks to moms everywhere, we're giving away six copies of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." Read More ›
You asked for it, we answered! In April, we shared a month's worth of healthy meal ideas and our favorite recipes from Chef Meg, the SparkPeople Team and members in meal planner form.
We decided to make that a monthly feature. Per your requests, our recipe ideas come in a handy, downloadable calendar packed full of meal ideas that are healthy and delicious. (It's printable, too!) Whether you use this calendar every day or just use it for ideas is up to you. We hope we've inspired you to get into the kitchen and get cooking!
We even threw in a few probable scenarios that could prevent you from eating right. See these as a chance to apply what you've learned on SparkPeople and get creative while sticking with your healthy eating plan. Read More ›
In late February, we announced the publication of our first e-book "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet." Then I told you that SparkPeople had more e-books on the way. Great news: Our second e-book is also available, and it's FREE!
Take a peek inside "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight," with this FREE e-book, "Light and Easy Mother's Day Brunch Recipes from SparkPeople" written by Chef Meg. Get 3 sweet and 3 savory dishes that are perfect for Mother's Day brunch, plus a brand-new intro from Chef Meg!
These simple, healthy recipes are perfect for any morning meal--no special occasion needed.
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Those who are close to me know that I'm not one to brag. But today, as I look out my kitchen window and prepare for my favorite holiday feast of the year, I am reminded of my days riding the greatest Thoroughbred in history, Man O'War. OK, so I brag sometimes.
For those of you that know horseracing history, I am sure the numbers are working in your heads now. That can't be right. (Or, "she looks great for her age!") Man O'War won 20 of 21 races just after World War I, how could she of possibly ridden that horse?
Well, this is what happens to the truth when we brag, it gets shaded. I rode the statue. I grew up surrounded by horse and grain farms in central Kentucky. Man O'War was born and died near my family's farm. On beautiful spring days after picking wild strawberries and asparagus, we would make our way to the tall statue and saddle up. Man O'War's remains have since moved to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Sadly, you can no longer saddle up and ride Man O'War, but you can take a short drive to Louisville to enjoy the fastest two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby.
Some folks throw Super Bowl parties. We throw a Derby party. Read More ›
Who said finger food is unhealthy? Try this asparagus appetizer at brunch, as a pre-dinner snack, or served from a picnic basket on a warm spring day.
Minutes to Prepare: 15
Minutes to Cook: 10
Number of Servings: 12
- Servings Per Recipe: 12
- Calories: 36.1
- Total Fat: 0.7 g
- Cholesterol: 0.8 mg
- Sodium: 47.5 mg
- Total Carbs: 3.2 g
- Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
- Protein: 3.5 g
Where does the time go? Every day, week and month that goes by, I am always in disbelief at how fast time passes. Now we're already into spring (can you believe it?) and summer is going to be here before we know it. I don’t know about you, but I tend to ramp up my workouts a bit when swimsuit season is coming. It helps me feel more confident at the beach or the pool (and heck, even in shorts) when I know I'm taking good care of my body and feeling strong.
If you'd like to enter the summer season a little more toned and confident, then be sure to join SparkPeople's Spring Into Shape Bootcamp! This 4-week fitness plan features my favorite resistance-band toning moves. In just four weeks, you'll be fitter and stand taller. All you have to do is follow the simple Bootcamp workout plan along with the free diet plan available at SparkPeople.com. It's by far the most fun way to get fit!
The Spring Into Shape Bootcamp Challenge includes an easy-to-follow workout plan, built-in support, and motivational prizes! But don't let the name "Bootcamp" fool you. This motivating challenge isn't geared toward already-fit people or hardcore exercisers. However, it does involve a commitment to daily exercise—often in 10- to 15-minute chunks that fit into your day—so you can build a lasting exercise habit and get real results in just one month.
Here are 5 reasons to join Bootcamp today—and tell your friends! Read More ›
Earlier this week, I was reading about the 10 Easter treats I could enjoy for 100 calories or less. I won't lie: I really, really wanted to eat some (OK, all) of that candy. I've previously shared that I have a major sweet tooth, so anything sugary sweet is always a temptation for me. But I try to eat healthy most of the time and keep my portions of sweets and treats small.
One thing that does keep me from overdoing it on "extras" like Easter candy is to think about how much exercise it would really take to work off those calories. So, going with our Easter theme today, the exercise of choice is hopping (aka jumping). Whether you're jumping rope, performing box jumps or following my Jump Start Cardio workout, hopping around is hard work. It's intense and it burns a lot of calories, but it's far from easy.
So how much bunny hopping (in the form of a jumping jack) would it take to undo a standard milk chocolate bunny? Read More ›
Spring gardens, local farms, and markets offer nature’s gifts year after year, such as greens, berries, asparagus, radishes, and peas. What better choice can you make for your own health, than to dedicate a sizeable space on each plate this season to healthy and delicious salads? Have fun and get creative, trying new combinations of lettuce, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Add lean protein to your salad and enjoy it as a main dish. Salad is a great way to get multiple servings of fruit, move away from the tempting and heavy comfort foods of winter, not to mention that salads are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Here are our favorite springtime salad recipes from SparkRecipes.com.
Pomegranate Chicken Salad
Almond Chicken Salad with Asparagus
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Style expert and best-selling author Charla Krupp shares easy ways to look thinner, taller, and sexier.
Trim Your Top Half
Visually pare arms and chest with these upside tips:
- Live in V-necks -- camis, tees, cardigans, anything and everything. The downward diamond shape elongates you. Just be sure to stop short of major cleavage; it looks tacky at any size.
- Wear a minimizer bra. Seek out styles that dip low in front to go with your V-necks. (If you've never been professionally fitted, do it ASAP at your local department store.)
- To cover less-than-toned arms, pick three-quarter-length sleeves. Check that the body of the shirt or sweater is tapered -- you don't want an allover blousy effect. Read More ›
One of the reasons I have managed to work out consistently for many years is that I always keep my routines fresh and interesting. For me, it's not enough to just change up my strength-training routine or running route (although I do both). I also like to set new goals to give myself something to look forward to with anticipation and excitement.
With winter behind us and the spring in full swing, now is a great time to revisit your fitness goals and try something new—especially if it involves the great outdoors. Here's what I'm doing this spring, plus a few more fitness ideas that are perfect for the season of rebirth. Read More ›
The boys just finished school, and we've been spending weekends at my family farm in central Kentucky, picking strawberries. Last weekend, the boys and their cousins helped me by picking all the bad berries (one bad berry will spoil the bunch!), then having a strawberry fight in the garden. You've never seen something so funny!
I spent the whole next day making strawberry compote, which is like a whole berry jam. (Sorry, no recipe for that one yet!) We've been eating berries morning, noon and night. Are you, too?
Since I've been so busy in the strawberry patch, I really haven't had any time to create new recipes using the harvest. But I have been turning to plenty of old favorites. I thought I'd share some of those with you today. Read More ›
This meal tastes of springtime, and it's light enough that it fits into a heart-healthy diet. You won't believe that it clocks in under 300 calories. This meal was designed to have reduced fat and sodium, with moderate calories, but I didn't skimp on taste!
I coated lean pork tenderloin in a tender mustard sauce, seared the meat to add flavor, and finished cooking it in the oven.
Once it was ready, I served it with a radish and wilted spinach salad, boiled redskin potatoes, and a creamy cucumber sauce. You'll love this meal. It's ready in about 30 minutes, which means it can elevate an ordinary weeknight into a special occasion.
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This time of year, our palates tend to shift from heavy stews and root vegetables of winter to lighter springtime fare. Farmers markets open with spring peas, asparagus, and even herbs. I make use of those fresh herbs in this recipe. Parsley's clean flavor is a perfect match for fresh fish. You can use any white-fleshed fish in this recipe.
We tend to think of herbs as garnishes, but parsley takes a starring role in this fresh pesto. Try it on toasted whole-wheat bread, steamed vegetables, roast lamb or chicken, too. This parsley pesto is called "persillade," from the French word for parsley ("persil"). Usually a mix of chopped parsley and garlic, I bulked mine up with breadcrumbs.
No food processor? Chop the parsley and garlic and stir other ingredients well to combine. Persillade is a traditional accompaniment to another spring favorite: roast lamb.
What I love most about this recipe is the speed of preparation: It takes about 15 minutes to cook. Add whole-wheat couscous and heat up a bag of steam-and-eat frozen vegetables, and you have a restaurant-quality meal ready in less time than it takes to make a frozen pizza.
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