All Entries For summer

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 : 35 comments   38,067 views
Read More ›

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   29,477 views
Read More ›

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 : 26 comments   76,896 views
Read More ›

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 : 32 comments   86,055 views
Read More ›

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 : 20 comments   75,905 views
Read More ›

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 : 49 comments   93,189 views
Read More ›

Beat the Heat During Your Summer Workouts

Summer is almost here, which means the temperature will continue to rise. Some of you may have already experienced some early summer-type heat and are already starting to get acclimated to it. As we change over to summer weather, we need to remember to take precautions when exercising in the heat.

Our bodies do a great job at cooling off in general, but it does take time for them to get acclimated to the heat as the season changes. Depending on your age, current health condition and your activity level, your body can take 2 or more weeks to acclimate to the heat. This is something to keep in mind, especially if you are feeling like your workouts are getting harder during this time of year and/or you have humidity to deal with on top of the heat.
Posted 6/14/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 21 comments   26,350 views
Read More ›

Food Showdown: How Do Sorbet and Sherbet Compare?

If you thought that sorbet and sherbet were the same things, think again! Here's the quick lowdown: Sorbet is made of pureed iced fruits, along with other ingredients (like sugar), but doesn't contain milk. Sherbet is made of fruit juice and sugar, plus some milk, egg white, or gelatin (or all of the above). These two iced treats are both low-calorie and often fat-free alternatives to ice cream and are sold at most ice cream shops. Which cold and fruity treat is lower in fat: Cold Stone's Sinless Raspberry Sorbet or Baskin Robbins' Strawberry Lemonade Punch Sherbet?
Posted 6/13/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 34 comments   42,760 views
Read More ›

7 Good Reasons to Try a Trail Workout

One thing I love about spring weather is the opportunity to spend more time outdoors. While I run and walk my dog outside in rain, snow and even ice, it sure is a lot more pleasant when the temperature is moderate, the sun is shining, the flowers and trees are blooming, and other people (not just the equally crazy runner you occasionally see at 6 a.m. in the winter) are out and about, too.

Perhaps one of the best ways to enjoy the spring weather and scenery is to hit the trails and take a hike. My dog loves heading to our nearby park with an elaborate trail system. She gets a chance of scenery, meets many other four-legged friends (cautiously and only when on-leash, I'll add!), and gives her nose a workout, too. I love the trails because they get me away from the traffic and pavement I normally exercise on, but also provide a great workout.

If you haven't taken up hiking (or trail running, another of my favorites) yet, here are seven good reasons to put on your trail shoes and get closer to nature this weekend.

Posted 6/11/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 71 comments   33,566 views
Read More ›

10 Warm-Weather Activities for People with Limited Mobility

This summer, take some time to rev up your workout.  Make a new playlist and clean up your exercise equipment.  Renew that gym membership.  Take time to find fitness opportunities, because there are a lot of them!  Here are ten fun suggestions, some for the mobile and some for the less mobile. 
  1. Take some wild pictures of yourself doing active things for your Spark Page. Snap a few photos of yourself acting silly and running through the sprinkler with the kids, playing tag or walking the long treks of a zoo or amusement park. Get the souvenir photo where everyone is screaming on their way down on the ride!
  1. Aqua-cise. Yes, water is the perfect place to go for a low impact ouch-less workout and it's fun, too. Check with your local YMCA for lower-fee classes or even with your doctor to see if some classes are covered by insurance for a particular physical issue you may be having.  Often times they will be covered under water physical therapy.  Still, even without a class, water is a blast to play and work out in. I love going to water parks. The swimming and the balancing combined with the walking make it a great workout.
    Posted 6/7/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 20 comments   21,195 views
    Read More ›

10 New Uses for Zucchini

Got zucchini? Make the most of this prolific veggie, with easy and healthy main dishes, sides and yes, even dessert.
Posted 4/30/2013  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 78 comments   1,667,020 views
Read More ›

10 Tips to Stay Safe and Comfortable in a Hot Yoga Class

Last month I subbed a couple of hot yoga classes. Confession: I am not a fan of hot yoga, as a teacher or a student. In addition to being hard on the environment (think of how much energy we use to artificially heat a room--thanks to one of my favorite teachers, Wendy Green, for instilling that in me!), hot yoga can be downright dangerous if you're not prepared. Some studios crank the heat above 100 degrees--and increase the humidity, too. (You want hot yoga, just come to Cincinnati!)

At the studio where I practice, the temperature frequently tops 85 degrees in summertime--that's with minimal air conditioning. If you pack a room full of people who are moving, sweating, and breathing, you'll create heat.

By the end of a practice, the windows are foggy, we're all soaked through, and our mats are dripping with sweat. That's my kind of hot yoga!

Hot yoga is a hot trend in the practice these days. Almost every studio offers a hot class of some variety, from Bikram to Moksha, vinyasa to yin. (One of the studio owners I work for confessed to me that she doesn't like or believe in hot yoga, but it's what students have requested.) And in summertime, almost every yoga practice can feel like a hot one.

Why hot yoga? Advocates say hot yoga facilitates stretching, increases range of motion, removes toxins, and promotes weight loss. It's true that it is easier to stretch warm muscles (and you should never stretch "cold" muscles), but whether hot yoga will lead to greater weight loss depends on the type of yoga you're practicing.

According to the American Council on Exercise, Hatha yoga (in the West, this has come to refer to slower-paced classes) burns about 150 calories an hour (and does not raise your heart rate enough to be considered a form of cardio), while vinyasa (faster-paced, flowing yoga) burns about twice that much. If you're losing pounds after each hot yoga class, it's likely water weight. (More on that later.)

Whether you practice naturally hot yoga as I do or practice at a studio that cranks up the heat, you'll want to be safe. (You might also want to read: "I Tried Hot Yoga" before you take a class.) Here are some tips to help:  

Posted 4/24/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 59 comments   234,495 views
Read More ›

6 New Uses for Roasted Peppers

Roasted peppers are perfect for rounding out a dish, enjoying as a snack, or even using as a food wrapper!
Whom should we thank for such a versatile vegetable that adds so much smoky sweet flavor to an endless amount of dishes?  Some would say Mother Nature and others a cook... I'm going with both.  The earth provides us with the vegetable, but it's the roasting technique that gives it that subtle smoky flavor.
First, let's learn how to make them, and then we can talk about the many ways to use them.
While red peppers are the most common, you can roast orange or yellow ones, too. The roasting mellows their flavor and adds a smoky sweetness.
Posted 8/13/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 13 comments   17,785 views
Read More ›

Pets and the Summer Heat: How to Keep Them Safe and Cool

It’s no secret that there has been a lot of extreme heat in many of the states this summer and it doesn’t seem to want to let up. Where I live, it has been extremely hot and humid, which has put a big damper on some of my daily walks with my 9 month old puppy, Zoe. Neither of us has been enjoying the heat, but she loves being outside and going for walks. However, when she is panting quite a bit by the time we get to the top of the driveway, I know there is no way to get her to go for a walk and not have her be overheated.

Dogs and cats don’t sweat like humans do, so they have a harder time trying to cool themselves off. Some signs that your pet may be overheated may include excessive panting, increased heart rate, and in extreme cases – vomiting and diarrhea.

Coach Tanya recently shared some tips for helping us stay cool and healthy during extreme heat, but what’s a dog or cat to do in this type of extreme weather? Well, there isn’t much they can say or do about it, but there are plenty of things we, as responsible pet owners, can do to help them stay cool and healthy.
Posted 8/12/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 39 comments   26,485 views
Read More ›

Best Iced-Coffee Drinks for Your Waistline

Does the hot and humid weather this summer have you reaching for iced coffee instead of your favorite hot brewed variety? If so, are they having a positive or negative impact on your weight goals? Although an iced coffee can be as simple as brewed coffee over ice (usually around 15 calories as with Starbucks Grande Iced Caffe' Americano), there tend to be many choices and varying degrees of nutritional value when you order them on the run. If you are enjoying frequent iced coffee drinks and having difficulty reaching your weight goals, there could be a connection. 
Typical recommendations when ordering iced coffee drinks and trying to limit calories is to select the smallest size, request skim milk, and hold the whipped or chocolate topping. Sometimes it can be very difficult to remember to keep everything straight when you are trying to order in a hurry. Here is a quick list of nine 16-ounce choices that can help keep you cool while helping to maintain your waistline.
Posted 8/6/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 72 comments   137,522 views
Read More ›

‹ Back | Read More Entries ›