The SparkPeople Blog

 

13 Smart Snacks to Keep at Your Desk

Hunger doesn't always stick to a schedule, especially during the workday. Your lunch break might be scheduled for noon, but your appetite doesn't always get that memo! Hunger can interfere with your ability to focus on important tasks, and it can make you cranky (or worse, hangry!), which can certainly affect your relationships with your co-workers. That means you gotta get that hunger in check even when you can't leave your desk. So keep healthy snacks on hand to stay on track with your diet and on task at the office!  

Here are 13 nutritious and filling (yet low-calorie) foods that travel well. Some can be stored in your desk, while others need to be stored in the fridge or an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack until you're ready to eat.

Posted 4/10/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 7 comments   18,093 views

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Satisfy Any Craving for Less than 100 Calories

When you're trying to manage your weight or eat better, cravings can be your Achilles' heel. They come at the most inopportune times and cripple your will power; you gotta have [insert your biggest temptation] right now, no matter what. It's all you can think about!

Most of us don't crave healthy or low-calorie foods, unfortunately. It's always ice cream, chips, or chocolate--never cucumbers, rice cakes or broccoli. To make matters worse, those cravings usually hit late at night when we don't have many (or any) calories left in our budget for the day.

The good news is that whether you have a sweet or savory, creamy or crunchy craving, you can satisfy it for 100 calories or less without feeling deprived. Here's how:

First, think long and hard about what you're craving. If it's chocolate, chances are a piece of fruit isn't going to satisfy you. You need to eat what you actually crave to feel satisfied.

Posted 3/14/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 39,835 views

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10 Smart Swaps That Save Calories

When it comes to healthy eating, you don't have to sacrifice flavor. You can easily slash fat, calories and even carbs, if you're watching those, from all your favorite dishes without turning them into "diet" recipes. Here are 10 examples of how swapping in one or two simple ingredients can create a delicious dish that's far healthier than the original. With these Smart Swaps, you'll never know we made any changes to affect healthfulness!

Posted 3/1/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 8 comments   26,476 views

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11 Ways to Crush Nighttime Cravings

It's 8 p.m. You should be getting ready for bed or at least winding down your day, but all you can think about is how much you want to sink your teeth into that chocolate-covered peanut-nougat candy bar in the kitchen drawer. Or how good a bag of crunchy potato chips would be right now. Or how it would feel to swirl your spoon through a big bowl of butter pecan ice cream and lick up every last drop.

You know you shouldn't…and yet, the craving is all-consuming! Your mind engages in a tug of war so strong you feel like your will power might just be yanked out from under you.

Posted 2/6/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 16,198 views

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4 Questionable Sources of Probiotics

It’s no secret that probiotics provide digestive health benefits. But some sources can be misleading in their probiotic reliability. When it comes to your digestive health, you can’t spare reliability.

Here's where the good bacteria can be found.

Posted 12/31/2013  6:00:00 AM By:   : 5,929 views

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DVD Review: A Workout for the Everyday Woman

Is it just us, or are workouts getting more and more intense lately? It seems like you can’t turn on the TV or open a magazine without hearing about the latest ''extreme'' workout fad that promises to get you six-pack abs and boundless energy. Although those type of workouts might appeal to some people, they’re definitely not for everyone. What ever happened to sane, safe exercise programs for the average person just trying to stay healthy and fit?

Enter Lisa Whelchel’s Everyday Workout for the Everyday Woman. Lisa Whelchel is a busy mom of three, an author, motivational speaker, and former TV star from The Facts of Life. As an average woman who struggles to fit exercise into her busy days, Lisa’s DVD is a breath of fresh air for any woman trying to start a reasonable and sustainable fitness routine—or for any woman who just wants to mix things up a bit! You can learn more about what to expect from the DVD in the YouTube video below:


Posted 12/4/2013  12:00:00 AM By:   : 8 comments   7,009 views

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Review: A Workout DVD for Every Body Type!

Is your fitness routine feeling a little "blah"? Are you looking for a customized full-body workout that incorporates both cardio and strength training in 20 minutes tops? Look no further than Escape Your Shape: 21-Day Body Makeover. This easy-to-follow DVD comes jam-packed with three different fun and encouraging workouts to try for every body type.

Posted 11/20/2013  12:00:00 AM By:   : 8 comments   8,256 views

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DVD Review: Fit Mommy-to-Be Prenatal Yoga

Pregnancy can bring on all kinds of aches and pains in a woman's body. Exercising throughout pregnancy can help with some of these aches and pains, but sometimes it is hard to find a safe and effective pregnancy workout. Hilaria Baldwin, certified yoga instructor and wife of actor Alec Baldwin, has come out with one of the best prenatal yoga workouts that I have seen, so there is no need to keep looking! With this DVD, Hilaria guides you through a challenging series of yoga poses that provide a great yoga workout while also helping your body and mind feel better. Talk about a win-win situation!

Posted 10/15/2013  7:00:00 AM By:   : 1 comments   6,837 views

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Finding the Best Health & Fitness Apps Just Got Easier

At SparkPeople, we're always on the lookout for useful tools that make it easier to lead a healthy lifestyle. According to the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings, there are more than 40,000 health and wellness apps on the market. These days it seems like there's an app for absolutely everything you need to lead a healthy life, from finding healthy recipes to fitness tracking to getting a quick medical reference. But with so many options and possibilities, it can feel a bit overwhelming to know where to start. What apps are most relevant to your goals and what new apps are worth trying? And once you start on your path to a healthier you with these apps, juggling the various tools can get cumbersome. Until now… 

Posted 8/1/2013  12:00:00 PM By:   : 12 comments   12,246 views

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3 'Pure Protein' Products Worth Trying

Protein is an important part of any healthy diet and has been shown to help you feel full longer. But some of the best sources of protein like eggs, chicken and milk aren't easy to carry with you on the go. And having a healthy, protein-packed snack on hand for emergencies will prevent you from making bad food decisions out of hunger. I know that I've made some less-than-stellar snack choices when I've found myself at the gym a little longer than I planned and I start to feel shaky because it's been too long since my last meal.
 
Now, I always make sure I have a protein bar, nuts or beef jerky with me at all times. I just toss something in my purse every morning before I head out for the day and I never have to worry about getting caught without a great snack. So I was super excited when Pure Protein offered to send us some samples of their bars and powders to try. I've tasted many different types of protein products over the years and I admit that I'm a little picky. But I approached each of the Pure Protein products with an open mind and I'll share my thoughts about each one below.
 
Pure Protein Soft Baked Protein BarDouble Chocolate Vanilla Crunch
This bar has a satisfying crunch when you bite into it and a balanced chocolate and vanilla flavor like cookies and cream. The texture is less chewy than a typical protein bar. This would be a great choice for a first-time protein bar user or someone who thinks they don't like protein bars. I'm planning to add this bar into my regular rotation! With its balanced ratio of protein to carbs, this is a great bar to eat either pre- or post-workout. If you eat it pre-workout, give yourself about an hour to digest the bar before you begin. (Find them on Amazon.com and other fine retailers.)

Nutrition Facts: 190 calories, 17 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbohydrate (5 grams of sugar, 4 grams of sugar alcohol)
 
Pure Protein Protein BarChocolate Peanut Butter
If you're expecting a chocolate peanut butter cup, you'll be out of luck. But the flavor is a light blend of chocolate and peanut butter that most people who are fans of protein bars will really enjoy. The texture is chewy and smooth, which forces you to slow down when noshing this snack (that's a good thing in my book). With it's extra protein content, this bar would be great after a strength-training workout to aid in muscle repair. (Find them on Amazon.com and at Target, Walmart.)

Nutrition Facts: 200 calories, 20 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbohydrate (2 grams of sugar, 6 grams of sugar alcohol)
 
Pure Protein Whey Protein PowderVanilla Cream
The best thing about whey protein powder is how versatile it is. There are tons of great protein powder recipes that use vanilla protein powder to add a nutritional boost to things like pudding, yogurt and oatmeal. You can also mix it with water, milk, almond milk, coconut milk or soy milk to make a tasty protein drink. Add fruit to make a perfect pre-workout snack. Since I usually do a combination of strength training and cardio in my workouts, I prefer to fuel with a protein shake before each workout because it's easy to digest and doesn't upset my stomach, no matter how hard I exercise. (Find them on Amazon.com and at Target, Walmart.)

The ultimate test for protein powder is to mix it with only ice and water. If it's drinkable in that form, then it will work well in just about any recipe. Blended with 8 ounces of water and two ice ice cubes, the Pure Protein Vanilla Cream was totally drinkable, if a little plain. The texture is smooth, not at all chalky.

Blended with two ice cubes and 8 ounces of unsweetened coconut milk, the Pure Protein Vanilla Cream starts to shine. It's much thicker, more like a milkshake but not overly sweet. For a more dessert-like option that really takes it into milkshake territory, blend the powder with two ice cubes and 8 ounces of vanilla almond milk.

For my final test, I tried the powder in my regular pre-workout fruit protein shake. The Pure Protein Vanilla Cream paired nicely with the tart berries. The vanilla flavor gave the whole thing the taste of a fresh berry cupcake.

Nutrition Facts: 150 calories, 25 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbohydrate (2 grams of sugar)
 
Megan's Pre-Workout Berry Protein Shake Recipe

8 ounces of unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup of frozen mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder

Mix in a blender with one or two ice cubes. You'll need a straw for this super-thick shake!
 
Do you have a favorite protein shake recipe? Share it with us.

Posted 6/25/2013  10:00:00 AM By:   : 46 comments   20,994 views

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Get LIVE Canyon Ranch Online Coaching for FREE!

Editor’s note: SparkPeople has partnered with Canyon Ranch to provide this survey. The contests are entirely sponsored by Canyon Ranch.
 
Fill out the survey below for a chance to participate in a free eight-week online healthy weight coaching program from the experts at Canyon Ranch—and win a trip for two to Canyon Ranch Tucson. Of those who complete the survey in its entirety, Canyon Ranch will select 20 people to receive eight weeks of access to the online program. If selected, you will be asked to participate in satisfaction surveys and follow up interviews after the program is completed. In addition, one person who completes the survey in its entirety will be randomly selected to receive a trip for two to Canyon Ranch Tucson. 

 

 
For over three decades, Canyon Ranch has been helping its guests get inspired to learn how to live healthier lives and reach their weight loss goals. Now, the premier health and wellness vacation destination is able to bring this support, motivation and expertise to the SparkPeople community through Canyon Ranch Online: Healthy Weight—a new online live coaching program. And you could get the chance to try it out for two months free of charge!
 
Here’s what you’ll get during the eight-week trial:
  • Weekly, live online fitness, nutrition and motivational coaching from your Canyon Ranch team
  • Personalized fitness and nutrition plans created just for you
  • Access to exclusive Canyon Ranch wellness lectures and videos
 
All you have to do is complete the short survey to take advantage of this amazing opportunity (worth more than $2,000)! Click here to take the survey.
 
And just for filling out the survey in its entirety, you’ll be eligible to win a getaway for two people for two nights at the famous destination resort in Tucson, AZ. (Read more about the trip below.)

 

Posted 6/10/2013  6:00:00 PM By:   : 9 comments   5,382 views

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DVD Review: Dr. Lisa's Yoga Blast

You may know Dr. Lisa Masterson from The Doctors TV show, and now she is coming to DVD with a fun and effective yoga-based workout DVD with her trainer, Elise Joan. This DVD is packed with three separate yoga workouts that are great for both beginner and intermediate exercisers. Both Dr. Lisa and Elise do an excellent job of providing a fun and entertaining way to work out!

Posted 12/4/2012  10:00:00 AM By:   : 17 comments   30,924 views

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CONTEST CLOSED: Win a New Exercise Outfit from Moving Comfort

Contest closed! The winner is:

JMRIDDL

Congratulations!


Here at SparkPeople, we're big fans of workout clothes that are not only comfortable, but look good, too. So when our new sponsor, Moving Comfort, offered to send us some workout clothes to try, we were stoked! We had a blast sorting through the clothes and putting together cute, functional outfits to get sweaty in. We liked the clothes so much that we thought it would be fun to learn which of our outfits you liked best--and then give it away! 

Coach Nicole volunteered to run around in the sun and model the Moving Comfort outfits (tough job, but someone had to do it!). Check out the choices below and then cast your vote at the end of this post for a chance to wear the winning outfit yourself!

Posted 7/16/2012  2:00:00 PM By:   : 862 comments   36,646 views

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Save 40% on Activewear from Moving Comfort!

We're so excited to share a great deal from our sponsor, Moving Comfort! Moving Comfort lives by the motto ''A Fit Woman is a Powerful Woman,'' making sporty-cute activewear for the track, studio, gym, and all those casual stops in between. To make room for their new fall styles, Moving Comfort is marking down their spring workout line. For a limited time, you can save 40% on select tees, tanks, bottoms and sports bras for all your workout needs! As a bonus, get FREE shipping by entering the code SPFREESHIP when you process your order.

Hurry--This deal ends on July 16! Click here to start saving!

Posted 7/9/2012  2:00:00 PM By:   : 4,605 views

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DVD Review: 'Canyon Ranch: Strong & Sculpted'

You may have heard of Canyon Ranch, the popular destination for weight-loss and fitness, but perhaps you havenít been able to book a wellness vacation yet. Thatís OK because Canyon Ranch is now bringing their workouts to you! Canyon Ranch offers a very effective total-body workout with their new "Strong & Sculpted" DVD that wonít disappoint. It includes a variety exercises that arenít difficult for beginners, yet are still challenging for exercisers at an intermediate/advanced level. Learn more about what the DVD is like!

Posted 5/1/2012  6:00:00 AM By:   : 13 comments   30,345 views

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