Denise Tausig (SP_COACH_DENISE)
SparkPeople Community Coordinator
Denise's first introduction to SparkPeople was January 1, 2004, as a member. It took her eight months to lose 40 pounds and reach her goal weight, which she's maintained for many years thanks to regular walking, yoga, and fitness videos. Losing weight and exercising inspired Denise to change her life. She went back to school and earned a bachelor's degree in wellness at Lincoln University in Missouri and become an ACE-certified personal trainer. Now a SparkPeople employee, she helps others achieve their health and fitness goals, including the 13- to 17-year-old members of our sister site, SparkTeens.com, where Denise works as the Community Leader. At SparkPeople, you'll find her throughout the Community, answering questions, leading SparkTeams and challenges and providing support to members.
Read More of Denise's Blogs:
Updated by Melissa Rudy, 1/24/16
Sticking to a healthy diet is already challenging enough, but when you factor in climbing prices and shrinking grocery budgets, it can sometimes seem downright impossible. Don't throw in the towel and fall into the takeout trap just yet—with some smart strategies, you can eat higher-quality foods while still saving money. Some of our members offer their real-world tips for cutting costs and calories.
- "Consider adding cooked lentils to replace some meat when making chili or tacos. Most of the time you don't even notice." – ZELDA13
- "Instead of starting with what I want to eat, I start with what's on sale. A good rule of thumb for me has been to look for produce less than $1 per pound. I always look for the dented cans, quick-sale meat that is turning (cook that day or freeze) and manager's special (read: overripe or bruised) fruits and veggies. From there, I look through Pinterest for inspiration on dishes." – KOTWBB
- "Meat is more expensive (money and calories) than fruits and veggies. I dice a zucchini up to cook with taco meat to stretch it. I can have two huge taco salads with just four ounces of raw ground meat." – KOTWBB
- "I can routinely get a whole chicken on sale for 99 cents per pound. Pull up YouTube and learn to carve up a bird! I freeze pieces on cutting boards, then transfer to freezer bags. Make stock from the bones, too. If cutting up a raw bird isn't your thing, I started by roasting the whole chicken and carving it afterwards." – KOTWBB
- "Protein foods and fresh foods tend to be the most expensive. Luckily we don't have to only eat steak and avocados. Oatmeal, potatoes, milk, butter and oils, eggs, fatty meats and canned fish can make up a big part of the calories in a healthy diet." – GRATISHORE
- "If you have a yard, patio or sunny window, plant two or three pots of herbs. I believe that my small patio herb garden saves me hundreds of dollars a year. Even if you only have a sunny window, a little rosemary, thyme, parsley or cilantro can turn simple beans and rice into something sublime. A little oil with garlic and rosemary or thyme rubbed on chicken or pork (or whatever is on sale this week) makes a world of difference when it comes to flavor." – CLARISSABOND
- "We bake much of our own bread, but it is healthier and cheaper than most store bread, as we don't add any preservatives—just a little honey and oil sometimes—and use 100 percent whole wheat." – VIENNA61
- "Take advantage of reduced for quick sale veggies and meats. If you freeze the meats and cook the vegetables in a day or two, you're good to go." – CLARISSABOND
- "I buy peppers, celery, carrots, onions and eggplant on the sale rack, then wash, dice and freeze them in baggies. When I need a quick meal, I cook dry lentils with a tin of diced tomatoes and a handful of each veggie I have frozen with spices." – KAMELIA71
- "I like to make salads interesting by putting some fruit and nuts on them, or including fresh herbs you don't usually have like mint, watercress and/or flat leaf parsley. I also like a mixture of balsamic vinegar and soy sauce as a dressing, without oil or with just a tiny bit." – SQUEEDLE
- "For fish, canned salmon is a pretty good deal and very healthy (lots of canned salmon recipes!) and I try to serve it a couple of times a week. Tofu or canned salmon can be used instead of ground beef in a surprising number of recipes." – VIENNA61
- "Make your own stock by using trimmings from meats, chicken bones, etc. You can make great veggie stock if you save all your peelings and trims for a week or so. Put them in a large pot with enough water to cover and simmer about 20 to 30 minutes. Strain and freeze in saved plastic containers." – SHARONPENNING
- "I often plan homemade soup as the main course with homemade bread to go with it, or a nice Italian bread if it is on sale. You could also pair it with a salad or a bowl of applesauce. You could use leftovers for the meat, as soup doesn't need as much meat as a regular meal, so a little goes a long way." – RACEWIFE
- "The saying 'fresh is best' may not always be true. Most frozen and canned items are picked and processed at their peak. You just have to read the label to find out what is or is not in the package. Do a little research to ensure that you're making the best nutritional choices." – LONGLIFE
- "Farmers markets late in the day, community gardens and your own backyard garden can help a lot. I grow tomatoes and green peppers mostly for a high yield from a small space. Also, herbs and strawberries." – SHARONPENNING
- "If you have the storage room and have any staple dry foods, such as oats, rice or beans, get some prices from local markets that have bulk food sections to see if they'll order a full 25-pound bag for you. Most places give a discount for doing this." – STUZZICADENTI
- "Carrots are one of the cheaper vegetables. Cook them (they sweeten anything), scrape them and eat raw or dip into hummus, guacamole or even cottage cheese." – PATHFINDER52
- "A sleeve of barley is under $1.50—it tastes good with carrots, mushrooms and onions, and you can cook it in a slow cooker." – SUNSHINE6442
- "Eggs are a great buy, and two hardboiled eggs with a salad can easily make lunch." – PATHFINDER52
- "As long as you are cooking from scratch, you are probably already leaning toward healthy and low cost. Stay away from convenience foods—anything that's ready to open and eat or just needs a microwave to be a meal." – KOTWBB
Are you able to eat healthy on a budget? How do you save money on groceries?
Posted 1/27/2017 2:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 19 comments 65,909 views
Winter might have been a little late to show up in many places this season, but it appears to be back in action as of late. The cold weather has set in, which can only mean one thing: It's chili time. In addition to its belly-warming super powers, chili is a great way to get your veggies and protein all in one complete meal. Chili dishes can be as diverse as any meal, with many meatless options, spicy recipes, hearty dishes packed with meat and mild chicken creations available.
Posted 2/24/2016 12:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 5 comments 32,138 views
Holiday music is playing just about everywhere you go and the lights are shining bright—there’s no doubt that the holidays are here. For many, that means feeling stressed as they prepare for all the shopping, parties and gift wrapping that goes hand in hand with the holiday season. Lucky for you, finding a healthy appetizer doesn't have to be the source of worry or panic. If you are hosting a holiday party or have been asked to bring an appetizer to a party, make one of these many delicious, yet simple to make, holiday appetizers that are sure to please any crowd!
Posted 12/18/2015 12:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 1 comments 12,647 views
The popularity of Meatless Mondays proves it: Vegetarian meals aren’t reserved for people who never eat meat. Many meat-free recipes are full of flavor, high in protein and offer a healthy alternative to your typical ‘’meat and potato’’ dish. In addition to being delicious, going vegetarian regularly can also reduce your risk of chronic conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. Jump on the meatless bandwagon a few times a week with some of these veggie-filled recipes.
Posted 10/23/2015 12:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 6 comments 58,258 views
The kids might be back in school and store shelves are filling with fall merchandise, but we’re not ready to let go of summer just yet. With the weather still warm and Labor Day right around the corner, now is the perfect time to take advantage of one of summer’s favorite foods: the kabob! Popping meats, veggies, fruits and even whole sandwiches on a stick is a great way to add fun and variety to your meals and parties, no matter the time of year. Plus, presenting a meal on a stick will certainly grab the attention of little picky eaters.
Reflect on a summer of sun and fun by assembling and cooking up a few of these crowd-pleasing healthy kabobs.
Posted 9/4/2015 12:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 2 comments 13,295 views
Back to school and pumpkin beers at the grocery say summer is coming to a close, yet no one seems to have told the sun as temperatures remain hot in most of the country. Salads are a cool and refreshing way to beat the heat and change things up at the dinner table after a summer filled with grilled meats. Plus, with minimal prep time and simple ingredients, you'll spend less time with a hot stove and more time enjoying the sunshine. The many fresh fruits and other foods available during the summer months (farmers market, anyone?) allow you to add flavor and variety to your salads--no boring meals here! Hold on tight to the last bit of summer by enjoying a few of these summer-friendly salads in the coming weeks.
Summer Salad with Peaches and Goat Cheese Sweet summer peaches and tangy goat cheese top the season’s freshest vegetables in this crowd-pleasing salad.
Summer Salad with Chicken and Berries With berries reaching their peak sweetness levels, now is the perfect time to incorporate them into a salad. Let a range of fresh berries shine in this filling lunch dish.
Coach Nicole's Favorite Summer Salad Add your favorite dressing—balsamic vinaigrette works great—to this filling and effortlessly delicious salad.
Spinach-Berry Salad Fresh and juicy strawberries mingle with tender spinach, goat cheese and crunchy almonds in this salad that even kids will devour.
Cool Cucumber Salad Cucumber, red onion and a simple dressing are all you need to create this fantastic dish, which happens to pair well with grilled meats.
Caprese Salad Simple flavors combine in this timeless salad that is sure to win fans at your next backyard BBQ.
Easy Watermelon and Feta Salad Watermelon is a favorite summer dessert, but it makes a lovely addition to a dinner salad, too. Here, creamy citrus dressing and crunchy celery pairs with the sweet melon.
Peach-Tomato Salad with Basil and Feta Sweet, juicy peaches, tangy tomatoes, fresh basil and feta come together in a salad that is sure to make your taste buds do the happy dance.
Israeli Salad When the ingredients are fresh, salads can be simple, yet impressive. This traditional Israeli salad is perfect as a side, lunch salad or as a filling for your pita.
Spinach and Pear Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette Up your salad game with this spinach and pear salad topped with a homemade Dijon vinaigrette.
Waldorf Salad The classic Waldorf salad gets a healthy makeover thanks to the addition of low-fat yogurt.
End of Summer Salad A hot summer afternoon is the perfect time to enjoy this sweet and savory watermelon salad.
Do you eat more salads during the summer months? Which of these recipes will you try first?
Click here for even more summer salad recipes.
Posted 8/21/2015 12:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 3 comments 21,798 views
With summer in full swing, we imagine many of you have been putting the grill to work. We recently shared some easy grilling recipes and hope that you have been enjoying at least some of them! Of course, no grill-out is complete without a side dish or two, right? Lucky for you, we've rounded up a variety of healthy salads, slaws, veggies and more, all of which are amazing complements to grilled meats. Be forewarned: these delicious, healthy side dishes might just take the main stage!
Garden Potato Salad
Low-fat, protein-powerhouse cottage cheese sneaks its way into the dressing of this simple summer side. 100 Calories, 0g Fat, 22g Carbs, 4g Protein
Macaroni Salad with Bacon, Peas and Dijon Dressing
Tangy dressing contrasts well with the smoky bacon, sweet bell pepper and red onion. 189 Calories, 6g Fat, 26g Carbs, 7g Protein
Rainbow Fruit Salad
This fruit salad showcases the best flavors of summer--mango, blueberries, bananas and kiwi, just to name a few. Try it as a side with grilled chicken or even for dessert. 98 Calories, 1g Fat, 25g Carbs, 1g Protein
Light and Creamy Coleslaw
This creamy and delicious coleslaw is hiding a secret--it's very low in fat! 52 Calories, 2g Fat, 8g Carbs, 2g Protein
Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans
Make this picnic staple right in your slow cooker. 170 Calories, 1g Fat, 37g Carbs, 7g Protein
This crunchy coleslaw is a healthier version of that summer favorite: Ramen noodle salad. Two servings of vegetables in every portion! 70 Calories, 6g Fat, 6g Carbs, 1g Protein
Cauliflower or Mock Potato Salad
Cauliflower takes center stage in this ''mock'' potato salad. You won't even miss the heavy potato version. 126 Calories, 7g Fat, 14g Carbs, 5g Protein
Garlic-Herb Potato Packs
Whether you make these on the grill or in the oven, these quick-fix potato packs are mom's best friend. No mess, no clean-up and just five minutes to prepare. 165 Calories, 2g Fat, 34g Carbs, 4g Protein
Grilled Avocado Boats
If you've never grilled an avocado, you're truly missing out. Top a creamy, grilled avocado with spicy salsa and Mexican cheese for a unique summer treat. 181 Calories, 16g Fat, 9g Carbs, 3g Protein
Greek Penne Pasta Salad
The classic cookout side dish gets a healthy Greek makeover. Veggie lovers will adore the edamame, tomato and onion. 190 Calories, 8g Fat, 28g Carbs, 7g Protein
Grilled Vegetables with Pineapple
Add a bit of sweetness to your vegetable kabobs with chunks of summer pineapple. 137 Calories, 7g Fat, 17g Carbs, 2g Protein
Grilled Corn with Lime Butter
Take your grilled corn to the next level by adding a hint of lime. 98 Calories, 3g Fat, 17g Carbs, 3g Protein
What is your favorite grill-out side dish? Which of these recipes are you most excited to try?
Posted 7/31/2015 12:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 6 comments 34,759 views
Summer brings to mind a number of scents—sunscreen, salty sea air, chlorine—but for our money, the smell of a hot grill cooking up a meal is the best of them all. Whether you’re making lunch or dinner for you and the family or you’re entertaining guests, grilling is a great option for making quick, flavorful and healthy meals. From chicken to pizza and everything in between, there is an easy grilling recipe for you to love! Fire up the grill and try one of these new recipes this summer.
Tropical Grilled Chicken This sweet and savory chicken is delicious as is with a side of grilled veggies, but can also be shredded for tacos.
265 Calories, 3g Fat, 34g Carbs, 28g Protein
Grilled Garlic Citrus Flank Steak Pair this flank steak with Chef Meg's Garlic-Citrus Parsley Sauce, plus a green salad and some whole-grain bread--warmed on the grill, of course!--for a completely delicious meal.
231 Calories, 12g Fat, 4g Carbs, 24g Protein
Simple Grilled Salmon If you’ve never considered grilling salmon, this recipe will change your mind. Fresh dill and lemon shine through in this light, quick and easy dinner.
210 Calories, 10g Fat, 0.5g Carbs, 29g Protein
Southwestern Grilled Pork Tenderloin The "other white meat" is perfect for grilling! The simple four-ingredient rub helps create a very flavorful dish.
170 Calories, 5g Fat, 1g Carbs, 28g Protein
Honey Grilled Chicken Breasts Ginger and garlic are the stars of the sauce in this easy chicken dish. Just marinate overnight and throw it on the grill the next day.
189 Calories, 3g Fat, 12g Carbs, 27g Protein
Balsamic Grilled Chicken Breast The marinade in this grilled chicken recipe can be easily altered to suit your taste. The final product pairs nicely with roasted potatoes, a green side salad and fresh fruit.
210 Calories, 10g Fat, 3g Carbs, 26g Protein
Lime-Grilled Chicken with Cuban Salsa Looking for a lot of flavor? This lime-grilled chicken is bursting with fresh, tropical ingredients that are sure to please your taste buds.
373 Calories, 7g Fat, 30g Carbs, 48g Protein
Grilled BBQ Chicken Flatbreads A fun take on pizza that is also lighter on calories! Pile on extra veggies to make it even more nutritious.
233 Calories, 5g Fat, 21g Carbs, 26g Protein
Grilled Pesto & Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breasts This delicious chicken recipe requires just four ingredients and takes no more than 25 minutes to make.
382 Calories, 15g Fat, 2g Carbs, 55g Protein
5-Ingredient Grilled Rosemary Chicken Breast Grilling doesn’t get much easier than this chicken, which cooks up in just 15 minutes. Serve with a green salad, summer fruit and whole-grain bread to round out the meal.
170 Calories, 7g Fat, 1g Carbs, 26g Protein
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms on the Grill These cheesy stuffed mushrooms are the versatile food every grill master needs. Serve them as an appetizer, a light vegetarian meal or a hearty side dish.
94 Calories, 4g Fat, 10g Carbs, 7g Protein
Grilled Perch with Citrus Salsa Citrus and cilantro really complement this grilled fish. The light perch goes well with brown rice or whole-grain tortillas warmed on the grill, along with a salad or steamed vegetables.
241 Calories, 8g Fat, 13g Carbs, 29g Protein
What is your favorite grill-out recipe? Which of these recipes will be on your grill this summer?
Click here for more grill out recipes and resources.
Posted 6/23/2015 12:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 0 comments 36,018 views
Looking for some new ways to spice up your slow cooker recipes? We've rounded up a variety of chicken recipes for the slow cooker that are quick, easy, and full of flavor!
Slow Cooker Apricot Chicken
Slow Cooker Chicken & Hominy Chili
Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken
Chef Meg's Slow Cooker Provencal Chicken and Beans
Posted 10/12/2013 12:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 41 comments 373,555 views
Updated August 2016 by Melissa Rudy
Hot sun is great during a day at the pool, but it can become a stifling challenge when you're exercising outside. Whether you live in a year-round tropical climate or one with four distinct seasons, you'll eventually face the prospect of working out in the heat. Our bodies are designed to cool themselves, but it does take time for them to get acclimated to rising temperatures.
"Be patient with yourself and realize you can't expect to begin exercising in the heat at the same intensity and duration as you were doing prior to heat exposure," says exercise physiologist Rachel Straub. Depending on your age, current health condition and activity level, it could take up to two weeks for your body to adapt. But the payoff is worth it: Studies have shown that the process of heat acclimatization could actually improve your exercise performance.
We asked a few expert trainers for their favorite tips on staying safe and comfortable while exercising in the heat.
- Stay hydrated. Ellen Yin, exercise specialist at Ledbetter Inc., recommends drinking 4 to 8 ounces of water for every 20 minutes of physical activity in the sun, and then after your workout session, drinking three cups of water per pound of body weight lost. Hydration is important not only during hot workouts, but also throughout the day after exercise. Either plan your route where there are water fountains, or invest in a hydration belt to hold a water bottle, says Carol Frazey from The Fit School.
- Drink sports drinks, but in moderation. "Sports drinks and Pedialyte help to replace lost electrolytes, but they tend to be very high in sugar, which can lead to a spike in energy levels that can cause early fatigue, especially on hot days," says Lisa Corsello, founder of Burn. "Try to keep your energy level in check by mixing two parts of water for every one part of the sports drink." Orange wedges work well, too.
- Time your workouts strategically. Try to exercise early in the morning or after dinner, when temperatures are cooler and the sun's rays aren't so harsh.
- Don't skip the sunscreen. Always apply a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF that shields your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
- Get plenty of sleep. Corsello warns that you'll likely fatigue much quicker on hot days. Be sure to get a good night's sleep before your planned exercise activity, and allow at least one day of rest and recovery before your next workout.
- Rest frequently. Yin recommends taking a 15-minute rest break for every hour of hot exercise. You may also need to adjust the intensity or duration of your workouts. "Hot weather can lead to low energy levels," says Corsello. "Modify your workout by decreasing the heaviness of your weights and/or decreasing reps and taking breaks when you need them."
- Take a dip. Cool off in a pool, lake or ocean before and/or after a hot workout, or consider swapping your regular routine for swimming laps. If that's not an option, throw some water on your head, neck or entire body to stay cool. Trainer Cheryl Russo shares this stay-cool tip that's a favorite among sports teams: "Bring a small cooler with frozen washcloths to use against pressure points to bring down body temperature."
- Consider cooling products. There are many fitness products designed to help keep you cool during hot workouts. Frazey likes this versatile Mission Cooling Wrap, which is made from a high-performance fabric that cools the skin when wet.
- Exercise with a buddy. "Even if you plan ahead, you can run into trouble during your workout," says trainer Catherine Basu with Fit Armadillo. "Exercising with a buddy ensures that you're safe even after you've done all you can to prepare."
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion. If you start to experience headaches, dizziness, blurred vision and nausea, stop exercising, rest and hydrate.
Do you find it more challenging to exercise outdoors in the heat? Do you have any tips for acclimating to rising temperatures?
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Posted 6/14/2013 6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 25 comments 38,846 views
Many people want to have flat abs, but have trouble getting them. Attaining visible abdominal definition depends on a low body fat percentage that isn't realistic for many and your genetics plays a part of it as well, but that doesn't mean you can't work towards a goal of having a slimmer tummy. While you can't spot train or target where you lose fat, you can work on those muscles to help you achieve flatter abs and a strong core overall.
Posted 5/20/2013 6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 40 comments 121,650 views
It's no secret that there are many people who don't like to exercise for one reason or another, but at the same time, there are many others that really enjoy it. Why is there such a love it or hate it attitude towards exercise? There are numerous answers to that question and some might say that they had a really bad past experience, they find it boring and haven't found something that is enjoyable, or they may not see the instant gratification (weight loss) that they are looking for when it comes to exercise. As many of you know, what motivates one person to do something may not work for the next person.
Posted 5/10/2013 12:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 305 comments 41,232 views
Do you ever feel like you don't have enough time to get a good workout in during the day? No need to fret because you can still get an effective cardio workout in just 10 minutes. I gave up the all-or-nothing thinking years ago and have done my best to commit to at least 10 minutes of exercise each day. It all really DOES add up! Even if you did just 10 minutes of exercise a day, that is 70 minutes of exercise for the week, which is better than not doing anything at all and you can still see the benefits from doing that.
Posted 5/3/2013 6:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 39 comments 193,392 views
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