Blog Posts by SparkPeople.com

  • 3 Fall Harvest Recipes

    By Samantha Donohue, for SparkPeople

    Each year, my local Junior College opens its 365 acre farm, vineyard, and agricultural center for an open house, during which the public can learn, taste and pick fresh produce for $1.50 per pound. Fall harvest is my personal favorite: my family had a blast filling our reusable canvas shopping bags with apples, sugar pumpkins, eggplants, squash, peppers, and basil. Here are three recipes that I've been using in my own kitchen to enjoy the Fall produce. I look forward to hearing which are your favorites, too.


    Roasted Squash Soup












    Roasted Root Vegetables












    Easy Eggplant Napoleon











    What are some of your favorite recipes for Fall?



    Related links:

    Lighter Three-Cheese Macaroni

    Pumpkin Pie Dip

    What to Eat This Fall

    SparkPeople is the country's largest health and fitness website. Learn more--and get a free fitness and diet plan.


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  • How to Help Your Overweight Child

    By Nicole Nichols, for BabyFit


    According to the American Heart Association (AHA), adults aren't the only ones at risk for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases-kids are too. More and more children of all ages are overweight than ever before. As a result, weight-related health problems that are typically found in adults are becoming more common in our kids. Overweight children are at risk for diseases that will affect them in childhood, such as Type 2 (formerly called "adult-onset") diabetes, and for health issues that they'll face as adults if they don't lose weight. By reducing your overweight child's weight gain now, or helping him lose weight by eating healthy foods and becoming active, you can lower his risk of developing several serious conditions, including:

    • Diseases that can occur in childhood, including asthma, breathing problems, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, depression, liver and gallbladder diseases, sleep apnea
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  • Kid-Friendly Nutty Baked Apples

    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com


    What a sweet warm treat for a cold afternoon! This dish is like having a piece of apple pie but without the large amount of fat and carbs from the dough. The oats inside will trick your mind into thinking that you did just eat pie! This recipe is kid-friendly, too. Have your little ones help you stuff the apples after you core them.

    Minutes to Prepare: 5
    Minutes to Cook: 30
    Number of Servings: 4

    Ingredients

    4 small tart apples, such as Granny Smith, washed and cored


    Filling:
    1 tablespoon Smart Balance butter blend, softened
    1 tablespoon pecans, toasted and chopped
    2 tablespoons raisins
    1 tablespoon old-fashioned oats
    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the apples in a baking dish.

    Combine raisins in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of warm water and allow to rest for 10 minutes. (This is an important step! If you skip this step, the raisins
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  • 3 Exercises for Pregnancy Back Pain

    By Holly Little, for BabyFit

    Pregnancy can be harsh on ligaments and joints because of the added weight your body supports. Your back may be one of the major areas where you'll notice the ache. Regular stretching and exercise help offset these effects by improving flexibility, strength, muscle tone, and reducing the incidence of lower back pain. Try the following exercises and gentle stretches to alleviate back pain.


    Full Back Stretch
    This stretch is great throughout your entire pregnancy. You can do it anytime you feel lower back discomfort and all you need is something stable to hold on to. This stretch targets your deltoids, rhomboids, lats and erector spinae (an elongated muscle mass that extends from your neck to the small of your back), while lengthening your back muscles and easing lower back tension.


    Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and hold your knees relaxed. Holding on to a door, bed frame, or other stationary object for support, bend your knees and

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  • Which Apple Treat is a Rotten Choice for Your Waistline?

    By Melinda Hershey, for SparkPeople

    This time of year, everyone has apples on the brain. These crisp and juicy gems taste especially sweet right now, whether raw, baked, slathered in peanut butter… or even drenched in caramel. Caramel apples are as ubiquitous to fall as the changing leaves, and companies have capitalized on their popularity by injecting that sweet-tart flavor into everything from candy to hot drinks. Take Starbucks' Caramel Apple Spice drink, which is made with fresh apple juice, cinnamon syrup, and a caramel drizzle. It certainly sounds as delicious as a real caramel apple, but how do these two treats compare nutritionally? Which is the slimmer autumn pick: A grande Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice drink (with no whipped cream), or a classic caramel apple with nuts?


    The Winner: Caramel Apple with Nuts!
    One gooey caramel apple with nuts will set you back 280 calories, 13 grams of fat (mostly from the nuts), and 24 grams of sugar. A grande Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice

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  • 5 Reasons Why Your Workout Isn't Working

    By Jennipher Walters, for SparkPeople

    We all know how fantastic working out is for your health. But what happens when your workouts aren't delivering the results you want? Or you're not getting the results you think you should be getting? While any kind of physical activity is good, some workout plans are better than others and-as you might suspect-a lot of other factors come into play when trying to lose weight and tone up. So if your workout isn't working for you, one of the following five reasons could be to blame. Find out how to turn that around and get the results you deserve!

    1. You're not working hard enough.
    If you have been exercising consistently for several weeks, months or years, it's definitely time to increase the intensity and start pushing yourself. As you work out more and more, your body adapts and becomes more efficient at doing that certain activity. This means that over time, the 30-minute workout that was challenging for you three months ago doesn't provide the

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  • The Magical Cooking Technique that Will Get You to Eat Your Veggies

    By Stepfanie Romine, co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight"

    You think you hate vegetables? This foolproof and rather quick cooking technique will have you gobbling up those loathed vegetables and begging for seconds.

    So what's the secret?

    Roasting!

    Roasting concentrates the natural sugars in vegetables and caramelizes the outside, giving those humble vegetables a sweet, rich flavor, a crispy coating and a soft interior.

    The technique is simple.

    1. Empty out your crisper.

    One recent night, I roasted:
    2 handfuls of radishes
    2 carrots
    1 large turnip
    1 large potato
    1 zucchini
    1/2 an onion


    Those first three vegetables are on my boyfriend's will-not-eat list, and radishes and turnips aren't high on my list of favorite vegetables, either.

    2. Chop all the vegetables into small pieces. (I like to make them bite size, but you can leave them larger.)

    3. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet.

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  • Speedy Suppers: Comforting and Light Chicken Casserole

    By Stepfanie Romine, for SparkPeople

    Today, we're making over one of those dump-and-bake comfort recipes we all remember from childhood. This healthy meal has far less sodium and fat than a traditional creamy chicken casserole, and it's packed with vegetables, too.

    Chef Meg uses a standard--but lighter--white sauce instead of canned, condensed soup, and she uses whole-wheat pasta for a burst of fiber. Bell peppers add another layer of flavor.

    Even better--this homemade meal will be on the table in under 30 minutes, and it serves 6. That means you've got lunch ready for the next day!

    Servings Per Recipe: 6
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories: 316.9
    Total Fat: 8.8 g
    Cholesterol: 51.4 mg
    Sodium: 174.1 mg
    Total Carbs: 35.8 g
    Dietary Fiber: 8.8 g
    Protein: 27.7 g

    Ingredients

    12 oz chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, poached, and cubed into 1/2 inch squares
    2 T all purpose flour
    2 T butter, unsalted
    10 oz skim milk
    1 pinch white pepper
    1 t Italian seasoning
    1 T parmesan cheese, grated

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  • Is Your Child's School Commute Safe?

    By Hillary Copsey, for SparkPeople

    Walking to school can be a great way for kids to get some exercise and socialize with friends out in the fresh air. It helps get their heads straight for the school day and allows them to decompress on the way home after long hours behind a desk.

    But for parents, it's hard to know when a child is old enough to walk alone safely.

    The school district in which I live only offers busing for students who live more than two miles from school. My soon-to-be kindergartener is very active--he plays tee ball and has run kids' races--but I'm not sure he'd be able to walk four miles daily. I'm also fairly certain I'm not willing to ask him to, considering the lack of sidewalks in our neighborhood and on the couple of larger roads he would have to cross to get to school. For us, age 5 is too young. But growing up in a very small town, I had friends who lived on the same street as our elementary school who, even as kindergarteners, made the short walk home alone

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  • Making a Healthier (Family-Friendly) Pizza

    By Nicole Nichols, for SparkPeople

    Pizza can be a healthy choice, filled with complex carbohydrates, B-vitamins, calcium, protein, vitamin A, and vitamin C. However it often ends up being an indulgent, high fat, calorie-packed nightmare. When you're starting from scratch (or ordering by phone) these pointers will help keep your meal healthy, while still pleasing your family's taste buds.

    Consider the Crust
    Crust is the foundation of your pizza, so be creative and open your mind to new crust possibilities, such as lower calorie versions. Keep in mind that whole-grain breads or crusts add fiber and additional nutrients to your pizza as well. Try homemade or store-bought crusts, plain bagels, pita pockets, English muffins, French bread, or whole-wheat tortillas.

    Spread It On
    The tomatoes in pizza sauce are loaded with lycopene, an antioxidant carotenoid thought to protect against several cancers, heart disease, and possibly bone loss. Many tasty, low-sodium jarred versions of pizza

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