All Entries For spring

Stuff We Love: Coach Nicole's Fit Picks for Spring

Can you believe that spring is finally here? (Officially, anyway.) Here in Cincinnati we've received a few little tastes of spring-like sunshine and temperatures over the past couple of weeks, but it's been enough to get all of us excited about the changing seasons. I can't wait to break out the grill, get my hands dirty with a new vegetable garden, and go for a run without wearing an extra 20 pounds of insulating gear. How about you?
To celebrate spring, I thought I'd share some of my favorite things right now, from new running shoes to my favorite protein powder to new apparel that supports your active, healthy lifestyle.
Posted 3/20/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 30 comments   53,109 views
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The Shamrock Shake: Festive Snack or Meal in a Glass?

St. Patrick's Day is upon us, and restaurants everywhere have officially "gone green" (and I don't mean in the environmental sense). Late last month, dining establishments across the nation began transforming foods and drinks into festive shades of emerald in honor of the March 17th Irish holiday. Every year, McDonald's jumps on this bandwagon (or perhaps leads the bandwagon), with their infamous Shamrock Shake, a minty green treat that's only available through March. The drink looks innocent enough in a small size, but how many calories are packed into that 12-ounce cup: 220, 530, 640, or 810
Posted 3/9/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 103 comments   83,401 views
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Do Detox Diets Work? Are They Safe?

Spring is right around the corner, and as I glance around my home, I see that a thorough cleaning is in order.  Dust bunnies are multiplying under my bed, spider webs are glistening on my chandelier, and a layer of dust has settled on all places too difficult to comfortably reach. 

As I strategically plan my upcoming cleaning project, I start to wonder if my body is also in need of a cleaning, so to speak. 

Like many of you, I tend to go into hibernation mode during the winter months.  With less daylight hours and physical work to do outside, along with an influx of sugary treats and comfort foods, my body has been insulated by an added layer of fat. I'm surely not alone in feeling this way, judging from the number of questions we field on the site about detox diets this time of year.

While the idea of cleaning out harmful toxins in your body or removing body fat quickly may sound tempting and even beneficial, is a detox the answer?
Posted 3/8/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Becky Hand : 43 comments   115,307 views
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What Chef Meg's Cooking! 6 NEW Recipes

What was cooking in Chef Meg's kitchen last month?

After last month's asparagus feast and Derby Day party, our healthy cooking expert started looking ahead to summer. She served up 6 sweet and savory brunch recipes, then fired up the grill for a super-simple side dish for all you potato lovers out there. Chef Meg made scones for weekend guests and devised a way to get us to actually like anchovies!

Keep reading to see photos of her creations--and get the recipes!
Posted 6/1/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 6 comments   20,278 views
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What's New on SparkPeople: May Edition

We've gathered a list of some of the newest content on! Take a look at this month's top headlines.

7 Ways to Create a 25th Hour
No, we haven't discovered a way to extend the hours in a day (yet!). Until that happens, here are some tips to help you gain back 420 precious minutes every week.

What's Really Making Your Back Hurt?
It can be a huge pain to figure out the cause of your back problems. Look no farther: These facts will help you stop the cycle for good.

How to Grocery Shop for 1 or 2
In a world of family-size packaging, it's hard for a small household to avoid throwing away food. Use these strategies to downsize your shopping--and your waste.

5-Ingredient Fruit Desserts
These treats make it easy as pie to meet your daily fruit quota.

5 Smart Beverage Swaps That Save Calories
Could you be sipping a meal's worth of calories at snacktime? Avoid the liquid calorie trap with these simple switches.
Posted 5/23/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Melinda Hershey : 3 comments   7,936 views
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Is Climate Change Causing Our Allergies?

I’m lucky that I’ve never had to deal with seasonal allergies, but I know a lot of people who do.  When springtime hits and there’s a thick layer of pollen on the open windowsills in my house, it’s only a matter of time before some of my family members are affected.  My husband has trouble cutting the grass without fits of sneezing for hours afterward, and my daughter always has a runny nose when she comes in from playing.  This year we experienced a very mild winter in my area and spring seemed to come earlier than usual.  As a result, their symptoms showed up earlier as well.   
Posted 5/8/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 16 comments   7,959 views
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Food Showdown: Cinco de Mayo Madness

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?
Posted 5/5/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 24 comments   28,455 views
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Share Your Memories of Cooking with Mom

CONTEST CLOSED! The winners are:

We'll be shipping the books via Amazon today!

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."
Posted 5/2/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 51 comments   10,987 views
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What's for Dinner? Printable Monthly Menu for May

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.
Posted 4/30/2012  10:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 20 comments   66,690 views
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Free E-Book: Mother's Day Brunch Recipes

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!
Posted 4/30/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 4 comments   13,686 views
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Celebrate Derby Day with This Authentic Recipe

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. 
Posted 4/30/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 8 comments   8,893 views
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Chef Meg's Phyllo-Wrapped Asparagus Recipe

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
Nutritional Info
  • 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
Posted 4/29/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 15 comments   11,162 views
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Try to Lose Inches and Gain Confidence in Just 4 Weeks!

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 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!
Posted 4/27/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 12 comments   17,727 views
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10 Things to Take On a Spring Hike

Last Sunday, I reveled in the first day of spring by going for a hike at a nearby park. It was sunny and 60 degrees—perfect hiking weather! I'm always a little nervous when I hit the trail by myself because you never know what could happen. That's why it's best to come prepared. Here are 10 essentials for any hike, whether you're heading out for a few hours or a few days.
Posted 4/25/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 68 comments   83,189 views
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Burn It Off: How Much Hopping to Undo a Chocolate Bunny?

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?
Posted 4/22/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 64 comments   23,351 views
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