All Entries For summer

Easy Freezer-Friendly Foods for Kids


Now that summer is in full swing, you're probably looking for quick and easy ways to cool down. Although the pool and your air conditioner are the usual suspects, have you ever considered just how much of an asset your kitchen's freezer is?

Your freezer is the little culinary assistant that could—if you know how to maximize it. That doesn't mean that you should stand in front of the open freezer as the chilly air blasts you; in fact, there are ways to get your freezer working for you while you improve its energy efficiency in the process.

You can also use your freezer to make quick, healthy snacks that the kids are sure to love—just a freezer's reach away all summer long. When you have these kid-friendly freezer snacks at the ready, you have even more time to get out and enjoy the pool and do the things you'd rather do, instead of spending all summer slaving in the kitchen.

Here are some freezer-friendly foods that will keep your kids coming back for seconds.
Posted 7/28/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 5 comments   14,419 views
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Cool Summer Workout Gear


As the temperature climbs, don’t let your workout motivation fall.  With the right clothing and gear (as well as some extra precautions), you can enjoy outdoor exercise at any time of the year.  Here are some of our picks for the best workout clothes and accessories to keep you cool and motivated all summer long.  
Posted 7/21/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 7 comments   17,321 views
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5 Cool Indoor Workouts for Hot Days


Summer is a great time of year to get outside for some fresh air and physical activity.  Unlike the dark mornings and evenings of winter, summer provides plenty of daylight hours for a walk, run or swim in the pool.  But as the temperature climbs, there could be days when it's just too hot to safely exercise outside.  Does that give you an excuse to skip your workout?  Not a chance! 
 
There are lots of ways to exercise indoors, which can help you stay safe, cool and comfortable.  Then after the hard work is done, you can relax with a cold drink, feeling proud that you stayed consistent with your workout routine.  Here are some ideas to get you started.
Posted 7/7/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 6 comments   22,163 views
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Fun & Functional Gardening Gear for Spring


Gardening season is almost here. Whether you want to start your first herb garden or expand on the number of veggies you grow this year, now is the time to take stock of your tools and accessories and see what you need. And there's no reason why you have to settle for typical hardware store gear. It's easy these days to find cute gardening tools, hats, stools and more. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Posted 4/3/2014  6:00:00 AM By: Megan Patrick : 19 comments   19,072 views
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The Best and Worst Sips for Your Hips


Made with wholesome fruit, milk and ice, what's not to love about a healthy smoothie on a hot day? Not so fast—although they may sound innocent enough, these summer sippers could actually be massive calorie bombs in disguise. Many common selections at smoothie chains and fast food restaurants pack two times more sugar than a candy bar and more calories than a burger and fries! Before drinking up, read on for the best and worst picks from popular smoothie establishments across the country. 
Posted 8/14/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 47 comments   43,064 views
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The Heat Is On: Stay Cool with These Summer Workout Accessories


The summer heat is enough to keep even the most dedicated exercisers lying indoors with the lights off and the shades drawn.  But if you want to make fitness a lifelong habit, that often means dealing with the changing seasons and temperature extremes without breaking stride.
 
I used to be much more of a "fair weather" exerciser. If it was raining, I'd skip my daily walk with the dog. If it was cold, I wouldn't leave the comfort of the indoors to walk to my car, let alone go out and run for an hour. But I can tell you that if you want to stick with a lifelong fitness plan—especially one that involves the highly accessible and inexpensive forms of exercise we know as running, walking or biking—changes in the weather are a fact you have to deal with. But I promise—no, really, I PROMISE—exercising in the summer heat (or even the dead of winter) is not as bad as you may think.
 
For me, exercising consistently in summer's hottest heat waves is dependent on four factors, all of which I have control over:
Posted 8/7/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 13 comments   18,396 views
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This Summer's Hottest Workout Songs


Oooooh boy it is hot out there!  With temps in the mid-90s and humidity levels above 90% as well here in Cincinnati, it's a wonder I'm exercising at all—let alone doing it outside! Yet somehow, I'm not alone. In my neighborhood, the walkers, runners and cyclists aren't missing a beat.

Speaking of beats, updating my workout playlist with some new songs has made a big difference in my summer workout motivation. Even when you're doing the same old routine, a new set of tunes can help break up the monotony. And when you're lacking motivation, those upbeat songs can make all the difference in getting your sneakers on your feet and your feet out the door.

Here are some of the fun tracks that have been motivating my summer (2013) workouts during the dog days of summer.
Posted 7/17/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 43 comments   96,437 views
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What Did the Founding Fathers Eat?


The Fourth of July is a time for flags, fireworks, food and fun!  It’s also a time to remember that safe and convenient food has not always been readily available in our country.  Today, the average person spends about 50 minutes in the kitchen each day preparing meals—about five minutes for breakfast, 15 minutes for lunch and up to 30 minutes for dinner. In colonial America, cooks would slave away over the stove for hours.  Talk about your American Revolution!
 
However, some of our modern dining habits actually do bear similarities to those of our colonial ancestors.  Beef, chicken, pork, fish, fruits, vegetables and baked products would have been familiar foods in colonial times. Colonial cooks used some of the same cooking methods we still use today, like frying, baking, broiling and boiling.  And while the colonists enjoyed their coffee, tea, and hot chocolate like we do, they didn’t have a Starbucks in every neighborhood!
 
Not much else was the same.  While we may not know exactly what George Washington ate for dinner on July Fourth, we do know several things about the preparation of foods in 1776.  Here are a few highlights:
Posted 7/4/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Becky Hand : 49 comments   25,801 views
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13 Workout Songs to Celebrate Independence Day


July 4th may be synonymous with vacation, family time and cookouts, but one thing you should also squeeze in to your patriotic celebrations is a little exercise. Most of us have the day off from work, so take advantage of that extra time!

Here are some upbeat tunes that will fit into your workout playlist (or backyard party) on the Fourth.
Posted 7/4/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 30 comments   25,823 views
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Take Cucumbers beyond Pickles


Cucumbers should have a permanent slot on your shopping list.  There are endless ways to use them in the kitchen.  Grab a couple because one a week may not be enough.
 
How to harvest or select from the store:
Cucumbers are very easy to grow. The hard part is to getting out into the garden and harvesting every day once the plants start producing.  Whether you are in a garden or in the produce section at your favorite market, choose firm and bright green cucumbers.  Large cucumbers might seem like a bargain when sold at a unit price instead of by pound, but the large varieties tend to have tough skins and large watery seed cavities. 
Choose small cucumbers because they have small seed cavities, thin skins, and tender flesh. If the market only has large ones, you might want to peel them and scoop out the seeds.
 
For peak freshness, choose cucumbers that are dark green, with no yellow spots or bruising on the flesh, which can be a sign that the cucumber may be bitter or bland. 
 
Most cukes at the market are coated with edible wax or oil. You can scrub it away or peel it off, but you do need to remove it before eating.
Posted 7/2/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 34 comments   28,862 views
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Summertime Favorites: Stuffed Burgers


Who doesn't like a game of hide-and-seek? The usual burger-and-fries dinner is hiding loads of fat. Seek out ours instead, which has secrets of its own. Extra lean beef can be dry, so we stuff it with onion and herbs for a juicy, tasty burger.

Compare a typical home-cooked burger meal to our lightened-up version.
Posted 7/1/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 14 comments   22,486 views
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10 New Ways to Eat Tomatoes


Tips for Best Tomato Taste
Choose unblemished ripe tomatoes from a farmers’ market or your family garden. Heirloom varieties come in different flavors and colors—for example, yellow tomatoes are generally milder and less acidic; some types remain green when fully ripe. Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator; they’ll lose flavor and get mealy. To make peeling easier, core the tomato, then scrape the blade of a small paring knife over the skin to loosen it.
 
Oven-Dried Tomatoes
Halve ripe tomatoes lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the sheet in the oven on the lowest temperature (150 to 170 degrees) and let the tomatoes dry for 8 hours, until they’re shrunken but still a little plump. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 6 months. Keep reading for nine more ideas!
Posted 6/27/2013  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 25 comments   45,237 views
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10 Healthy, Low-Calorie Summer Snacks


Summertime is here and the snacking is easy. This is the season when the fruits and vegetables are just rolling into markets so healthy choices are both cost effective and delicious.

The best snacks for summer are simple: watermelon, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, etc. -- just munch on them!

The 10 recipes below are for those of you who want to dress your summer fruits and vegetables up a bit. A few added ingredients, maybe a little heat, and you have healthy food that is tasty.
Posted 6/26/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 30 comments   58,576 views
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4 Effective Exercises for a Beach-Ready Butt


Whether you are curvy, muscular, or slim, chances are you want to have a swimsuit-ready backside, especially in the area where the buttocks meet the upper thigh (called the gluteal fold).  Strengthening this area can help lift, tighten and tone our bottoms.  But despite endless repetitions and time spent on toning this area, many women aren’t getting the results they want.  Why is it so difficult to strengthen and tone this key area? And what are the secrets to getting a strong and sculpted bottom?
 
For better or worse, I have become an expert on getting toned buttocks— mainly because my own backside needs constant toning to stay lifted and firm.  Many fitness experts and trainers seem to be born with airbrushed bodies.  On the other hand, I tell my clients I probably had cellulite when I was in diapers!  Even at my thinnest throughout my teens and 20’s my thighs were riddled with stubborn cellulite no matter how many butt toning exercises I did.  And believe me; I did every single one I could find every day.  It wasn’t until I started working out smarter, not harder that I finally saw the results.  Now I use Pilates and (ballet) barre techniques and each year, I get a little more lifted and toned.  You can’t ask for better than that, right?  I love sharing these tightening and toning techniques with other women—and hearing about your results!
Posted 6/24/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 19 comments   43,675 views
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10 Fun Ways to Burn Calories at the Beach


As a person who incorporates fitness into my everyday life—whether I'm at home or traveling—I sure do plan to staying active even when I'm on a relaxing vacation. After all, with no distractions and nothing but free time, what excuse do I have? The more activity you can build into any vacation, the better your chances of returning with all the good things (think souvenirs and memories) and none of the bad (extra padding around the middle). In fact, most people do want to relax and indulge a little on vacation, and that's fine. But planning for extra activity will definitely help you stay on track with your fitness and weight management goals.

While you may think that's boring, I've got news for you: Vacation exercise isn't about the treadmill. There are tons of fun, active ways you can torch calories and get a workout without even realizing it. Here are some of the many activities I can't wait to try during my own vacation (and a rundown of how many calories* each one burns).
Posted 6/17/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 46 comments   61,549 views
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