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  • My Must-Have Accessory for Winter Workouts

    By Nicole Nichols, Managing Editor and Fitness Expert at SparkPeople

    I neve r learned to ski or snowboard. I've never been tubing or snowmobiling. And not once have I donned snowshoes, ice skates (as an adult anyway) or cross-country skis. Why? Because I have always hated winter. I'm cold when it's 75 degrees out, so just imagine how I feel when it's in the teens! "I don't want to be outdoors in the winter unless I have to be," I'd think. As a result, I've missed out on a lot of the events above…but at least I could always feel my toes.

    When I became serious about running over the last year and a half, I knew that running outdoors in the winter would be a must. And happily, it has become something that I look forward to! I actually enjoy the winter and tolerate the cold so much more now that I am a runner; sloshing through all kinds of elements and pushing through dropping temperatures for mile after mile puts the walk from the car to the office into perspective. Running in the Read More »from My Must-Have Accessory for Winter Workouts
  • Holiday Tip: Move Before Your Meal

    By Nicole Nichols, Managing Editor and Fitness Expert at SparkPeople

    This time of year, food is on everyone's minds, whether you're looking forward to your traditional holiday favorites, feeling nervous about all the calories, or a combination of both. Unfortunately, we are so consumed with consuming food during the holidays that we often forget about fitness. We skip the gym to go to the office potluck, and tell ourselves we'll run "tomorrow" while we enjoy our neighbor's holiday party food tonight. Fast forward a few weeks, and we wonder why our pants don't fit when we were "so good" about eating in moderation.

    But as you know, it's not just what you do-or don't-eat that affects your weight. The calories you burn through physical activity and exercise also play an important factor. Athletes may eat several thousand calories every day (not just on a holiday), but they won't gain weight because they are extremely active. Now, I am not advocating a Michael Phelps diet and exerciseRead More »from Holiday Tip: Move Before Your Meal
  • Cranberry-Almond Oatmeal Cookies

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

    What's the secret to lowering the fat in this festive recipe?

    Canned pumpkin! It keeps these cookies moist without adding many calories. Plus, the pumpkin adds another layer of flavor.


    • 1 cup canned pumpkin
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3 cups oatmeal
    • 1 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/2 cup almonds

    • Heat oven to 350 degrees.

    • Beat together pumpkin and sugar.

    • Add eggs and vanilla, beat well.

    • Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon salt ; mix.

    • Stir in oats, craisins and almonds.

    • Drop rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

    • Bake 10-12 minutes.

    • Let cool one minute.

    • Enjoy.

    Yields 4 dozen cookies.

    What's your favorite cookie to make duringRead More »from Cranberry-Almond Oatmeal Cookies
  • Pomegranates: Winter's Hottest Superfood

    By Tanya Jolliffe, for SparkPeople

    The pomegranate used to be nothing more than a seasonal novelty--even though it is a fruit that has been around for centuries, as referenced in Persephone, Homer's Odyssey and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Over the last few years, however, there have been more and more products containing pomegranate popping up on store shelves. You can find pomegranate flavor or scent in everything from hand soap and body wash to ice cream and lollipops. So what is a pomegranate?

    The pomegranate-- known as la granada in Spanish and la grenade in French--is a round fruit typically about the size of an orange or grapefruit with a distinctive crown-shaped calyx at its base. The outer skin is rather tough and leathery in texture. The skin color can range from pale pink to a rich ruby red. Inside, the pomegranate fruit contains chambers of ruby-red seeds separated by white pulp like membranes.

    This fruit grows on small treelike shrubs and is a native plant from areas

    Read More »from Pomegranates: Winter's Hottest Superfood
  • Roasted Winter Vegetables

    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at

    By roasting these hearty winter vegetables, we soften their strong tastes and bring out their natural sweetness.

    Minutes to Prepare
    : 15
    Minutes to Cook: 30
    Number of Servings: 8

    Nutritional Info

    • Servings Per Recipe: 8
    • Total Fat: 3.7 g
    • Calories: 74.7
    • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
    • Sodium: 48.5 mg
    • Total Carbs: 9.6 g
    • Dietary Fiber: 4.3 g
    • Protein: 3.2 g
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
    2 small fennel bulbs, sliced (white parts only)
    2 cups Brussels sprouts, about 10 ounces, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed, and cut into quarters
    2 cloves garlic, sliced
    1 tablespoon dried thyme
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1 lemon, zested and juiced

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
    Heat the oil in a large oven-safe saute pan. Saute the cauliflower over high heat, stirring constantly, for five minutes.
    Add the fennel and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the Brussels Read More »from Roasted Winter Vegetables
  • Tips for a Calmer Holiday Season

    By Cathy Cram, for SparkPeople

    We're in the thick of the holiday season, and for many women it can be a time when the mainstays of our healthy habits take a back seat to preparations for seasonal celebrations. For those who struggle with weight issues, the holidays can be a minefield of cookies, festive meals and lots and lots of favorite treats. In addition, stressful pace of this season can derail the most faithful of exercisers, and add snow, ice and cold to the mix and you have even more fitness dropouts.

    So what's a gal to do? The first and most important step is to start now with a contingency plan for keeping your diet healthy and your fitness routine alive by proactively having positive alternatives to the usual things that sideline your good habits this time of year.

    Most people have several holiday parties that provide a tempting array of fatty appetizers and desserts. You can take part in those events, enjoy the food and not overindulge if you just think ahead and make a

    Read More »from Tips for a Calmer Holiday Season
  • 5 Ways to Melt Mega Calories in Winter Weather

    By Nicole Nichols, Managing Editor and Fitness Expert at SparkPeople

    I dread winter weather just as much as the next guy, but this year, I made a commitment to myself that I would stick with my outdoor runs all winter (as long as it's not so cold that it's unsafe for outdoor exercise). Luckily, temperatures in Cincinnati haven't dropped below the upper teens yet, so I'm happy to report that I'm still on track with my goals so far. It's not always easy, but when you're properly dressed and prepared, outdoor exercise doesn't feel cold or uncomfortable at all.

    Running this winter has helped me develop a greater appreciation of my most loathed season. These cold, dreary months used to lull me into inactivity and seasonal depression, but this year, winter is becoming fun and enjoyable for me--something I attribute to my winter runs. Now, I no longer dread the temperatures or the snow. In fact, being outside more often seems to have made me more tolerant to the dropping mercury.

    I wrote

    Read More »from 5 Ways to Melt Mega Calories in Winter Weather
  • 6 Party Foods to Avoid This Holiday Season

    By Tanya Jolliffe, for SparkPeople

    Which foods should you watch out for and limit at your party events this season?

    According to, here are 6 of the worst holiday foods to watch for this party season.

    Swedish meatballs - These savory and creamy balls of ground beef show up in many heating trays or crock pots this time of year. Many see them as a good choice to control portion sizes. However, the creamy sauce should be a give away to the nutrition conscious that they are probably something that is best to limit to a serving size of one. If you want a more nutrition conscious portion controlled meat selection, look for the shrimp cocktail instead.

    • Eggnog - This rich, smooth, creamy drink is very calorie rich although delicious. With ingredients such as sugar, eggs, whipping cream and bourbon, there is very little nutrition for the calories and fat you are consuming. There certainly are ways to trim some of those fat and calories with lower calorie recipe options,
    Read More »from 6 Party Foods to Avoid This Holiday Season
  • Quick Tip: Freeze Those Thanksgiving Leftovers!

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

    I love Thanksgiving leftovers! The trouble is that if I leave them in the fridge for long, I'll eat them. All of them. I don't want to be tempted by all that rich, delicious food lying around, but I don't want to waste any of it either.

    So how do I compromise? By freezing my Thanksgiving leftovers.

    Here's a quick guide to storing and freezing your leftovers:

    • Place leftover food in shallow, air-tight, appropriately-sized containers.
    • Label all containers with the contents and date.
    • Don't freeze a variety of foods together. Divide foods into single portions, if desired, but thawing and reheating is easier if you don't have turkey, dressing and potatoes in the same container.

      How long will it last?

      Turkey meat: (bones removed) up to 6 months

      Stuffing: up to 3 months

      Soups and broth: up to 3 months (freeze in muffin tins or ice cube trays first, then place in
    Read More »from Quick Tip: Freeze Those Thanksgiving Leftovers!
  • Sweet Potato Fries: Are They Really Any Better for You?

    By Melinda Hershey, for SparkPeople

    Do you have sweet potato on the brain like we do? I've been eating them in every way possible this fall: Cut into wedges and roasted with spices; baked in foil and smothered with cinnamon and pecans; even blended up into smoothies! One my favorite treats is a piping hot batch of sweet potato fries. You've heard time and time again that sweet potatoes are full of good-for-you nutrients, but does that hold true when they're sliced up and fried? What do you think: Is there really that big of a difference between regular French fries and sweet potato fries? We're putting Ore Ida's Sweet Potato Fries and Golden Fries (regular French fries) head to head to find out the answer! :

    The Winner: It's a Tie!

    First, let's check out the nutrition information from the Ore Ida website

    Golden Fries

    Serving Size: 84g
    Servings Per Container: About 11
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 130 Calories from Fat 30
    Read More »from Sweet Potato Fries: Are They Really Any Better for You?


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