Blog Posts by SparkPeople.com

  • 10 Skinny Pizza Recipes

    By Samantha Donohue, for SparkPeople

    Pull a pizza out of the oven and watch the room fill with smiling faces. Even though pizza can be a calorie buster, there are a some simple techniques to turn that morning-after frown upside down. First, substitute high carbohydrate pizza crust with thin, whole wheat or alternative crust options like tortillas or pita breads that also have higher levels of protein and fiber. Second, try making your own sauce to avoid preservatives and hidden ingredients. Third, let your creative side take over, using healthy ingredients, spices or produce from other cultures and cuisines, such as Thai peanut sauce or Mexican spices and vegetarian refried beans. Fourth, pile it high with fresh and colorful vegetables, favoring greens over cheese, and giving preference to lean meats like chicken breast, ground turkey, or turkey sausage. Finally, try the grill instead of the oven. Brush on some olive oil and place it over direct heat. Brush the exposed side with olive

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  • 7 Hidden Ways to Get Better Sleep

    By Christine Seymour, for BabyFit

    As a college student, I had my fair share of sleepless nights. But as I matured (and learned from the adverse affects I suffered because of those late nights), I began to realize that at the core of a healthy, long life is good sleep. Surprisingly, what we hear about health usually revolves around exercise and nutrition; the truth about sleep-one of the most important factors to attaining vitality-is often left out of the mix.

    Losing sleep is certainly not something to be taken lightly. An occasional night of tossing and turning is normal, but continued patterns of this behavior can cause real problems in your ability to function normally. Research shows that inadequate sleep can have disastrous effects on your weight loss efforts, impair your concentration, and even mimic the symptoms of impaired glucose tolerance (which can lead to diabetes and hypertension).

    Your mood also suffers when you don't get enough shut-eye, causing you to become

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  • How to Stay Active as a Busy Mom

    By Rebecca Platt, for BabyFit

    I'm not a real mom, but I did play one once.

    Some friends of mine, planning an overseas trip, asked me to stay with their boys while they were gone. Honored to be chosen-- especially after I heard that the boys, ages 12, 14, and 16, had approved my appointment-- I took a deep breath and plunged in.

    Boy, was it an education! When I wasn't planning menus, budgeting, shopping, cooking, and cleaning up, I was on the run: chauffeuring, doing laundry, playing homework cop, high-tailing forgotten permission slips over to school, and herding kids to bed. Following the daily schedule left by my friend (a blow-by-blow timeline in 15-minute increments, punctuated with humorous asides like "It's now 8:20 and you're late for choir practice-again!"), I kept trying to find a slot for the gym. Used to long lovely stretches of time, I now had it in snatches. Five minutes here. Ten minutes there. I finally realized that if I was going to get in any exercise, I'd have to

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  • 5 Tips to Stay on Track when Life Gets Tough

    By Nancy Howard, for SparkPeople

    It's tough when you are being pulled in a million different directions. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to make some tough decisions in life that don't always align with your schedule, like caring for a sick loved one. Here are some tips to keep you on board with your healthy lifestyle in hard times.

    1. Ask for help

    You do not have to go through life alone. It's OK to ask family and friends to help you out. You do not score any brownie points by trying to do it all. In fact you may find yourself so overwhelmed that staying committed to your healthy lifestyle is much harder than when you have others to help you along the way.

    2. Keep exercising

    This can be tough when you feel as though you are being pulled in a thousand different directions, but I remember my former running coach telling me years ago, "No run, no matter how short, is ever wasted." As many of us are well aware, exercise is a big stress reliever. Even if you can't keep up with your

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  • Food Showdown: It's a Wrap!

    By Melinda Hershey, for SparkPeople

    Over the past few years, the bread aisle has steadily become flooded with different varieties of tortillas. Whole wheat, low-carb, and veggie-infused, bread's flatter cousin has certainly brought more options to the lunch menu. Spinach tortillas have become especially popular, boasting a green hue and a virtuous aura of health. But how do they stack up next to multi-grain tortillas? Who wins in this war of the sandwich wraps?

    The Winner: Multi-grain Tortilla!

    A typical 10-inch multi-grain tortilla contains 210 calories, 6 grams of fat, 33 grams of carbs, and 7 grams of fiber. A spinach tortilla of the same size has similar stats (210 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 35 grams of carbs), but just 1 gram of fiber! The fiber-rich multi-grain tortilla will keep you fuller longer, control blood sugar and promote heart health. As for the spinach tortilla? It's really no better than a plain old white-flour tortilla with some green coloring! For a smarter wrap

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  • The Secret to Healthier Cream Sauce

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

    Sauces can make or break a dish, both in taste and in nutrition. Take the classic cream sauce, for example. Delicious, yes. Healthy, no way! The ingredients are usually white flour, butter, and heavy cream, with some whole milk added for good measure.

    Thankfully, we can improve on the classics to make them a welcome addition to the healthy kitchen.

    Let's edit the name ever so slightly. Rather than a cream sauce, we're creating a creamy sauce.

    Rather than heavy cream, start with flavorful liquids that have little to no salt, such as homemade stock.

    I often make a quick stock by pouring boiling water over dried mushrooms, which serves two purposes: the steeping liquid becomes the stock, and the mushrooms add texture to the sauce. When combined with a roux, that flour-and-fat combo that is cooked to create a thickener, the thin stock yields a velvety sauce the plenty of "mouth feel"--no cream needed.

    Thankfully, you can

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  • 7 Perfectly Healthy Pancake Recipes

    By Denise Tausig, for SparkPeople

    Do you love pancakes, but want a healthier pancake recipe? We've rounded up a variety of healthy and delicious pancake recipes for you to try.

    100-Calorie Cinnamon Pancakes

    Peanut Butter and Banana Pancakes

    Whole Wheat Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes

    Runner's Oatmeal Blueberry Pancakes

    Banana Applesauce Pancakes

    Carrot & Zucchini "Pancakes"

    Carrot Cake Pancakes


    Which of these recipes will you be trying? What is your favorite pancake recipe?

    Related links:
    Does a Big Breakfast Hurt or Help Weight Loss?
    How Much Jumping to Undo a Bagel with Cream Cheese?
    Crepes: Pancakes' Skinnier, Fancier Cousins


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


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  • Know Your Oats

    By Bryn Mooth, for SparkPeople

    Want to maximize the benefits of that morning meal? Then think oatmeal. Here's the deal: Oats have plenty of fiber (about 4 grams in each 1/2 cup uncooked serving) plus about 6 grams of protein. Not only will oatmeal help you feel fuller longer, but it has heart-healthy benefits as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, 3 grams of soluble fiber per day, the amount found in one bowl of oatmeal, can reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream. There are several varieties of oatmeal out there to choose from. Do you know the difference between them?

    Know Your Oats
    There are four different kinds of oatmeal, which each undergoes different levels of processing:
    Instant oatmeal is typically packaged in envelopes with sweeteners, flavorings and other additives. It takes almost no cook time, just the addition of hot water. This is the most processed oatmeal and tends to have more calories (due to added sugars) per serving than unprocessed oatmeal. It

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  • Portable Snacking During Pregnancy

    By Laura Bofinger, for BabyFit

    Eating is no longer an activity that stands alone. Quick, how many times this past week have you eaten on the run? No place is safe either--the car, your desk, maybe even the shower! Our time is strapped, our bodies are tired, and we need food that's easy to grab 'n' go. And during this mad-chaos of finding food on our way out the door, one detail is easy to forget--eating healthy. If you fail to get enough nutrients throughout the day, you'll be doing you and your growing baby a disservice.

    Unfortunately it's mostly the bad stuff that falls into the "fast" and "easy" categories - chips, candy bars, sodas, etc. Well, what if we took some time and ingenuity to make our own healthy snacks portable and easy for on-the-go eating? Snacking is a great way for pregnant women to fight off nausea throughout the day, but only if the right things are eaten.

    I'm talking about things that can fit into our top drawer at work (not jelly beans or Kisses!) or snacks

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  • 7 Life Lessons My Kids Have Taught Me

    By Hillary Copsey, for SparkPeople

    I just sat down on a Matchbox car. My lunch today included peanut butter and jelly. The last movie I saw in the theater was something by Pixar.

    My children have changed me in many ways. My life isn't always glamorous, but it certainly is better for having my boys in it. Here are the lessons I've learned and good habits I've picked up since having kids.

    Always try at least one bite of a new food.
    I'm not going to lie and say my kids do this willingly. But enforcing the rule for them means I am forced to follow it, too. Reading ''Green Eggs and Ham'' a few thousand times is also a good reminder.

    Wash your hands often.
    I've never been a germaphobe, but if you've ever had a nasty virus sweep through your entire family, you quickly realize that it pays to take those hand-washing reminders seriously during flu season.

    Eat when you're hungry; stop when you're full.
    Granted, my kids--like most kids--are unlikely to turn down a cookie. But even so, kids

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