If you want to dabble in dehydrating without committing to the heavy artillery, try it out in your oven. You can achieve the same results and enjoy fresh dried fruit — minus the preservatives. Not only is this more cost-efficient compared to store-bought options, but also, you end up with healthier results. Plus, keeping your oven on a low temp in the Winter can help warm you up and ring in the holiday cheer. Click through the photos to see how easy these apple snacks are.
We all make mistakes when it comes to keeping fit, but just how much are these choices affecting progress? Some everyday habits may seem minuscule, but see which of these might be holding you back.
- Cutting workouts short: When you leave a class before the stretch, you aren't getting the full benefit your body deserves after all of the exertion you put forth. It's important to cool down and give muscles time to relax and stretch while they're warmed up to help avoid soreness or injury.
- Too many social obligations: It's far too easy to replace a workout with a spontaneous social engagement. Happy hour is one of those tempting times and can be a highly caloric one at that. Not only are you missing out on your intended workout, but you're also now adding more to your plate and glass. If you absolutely have to bail at the last minute, try to do something good for yourself like taking a walk with a friend or even getting a group together for something physical like going to a trampoline gym, roller skating, or a healthy dinner party.
- Rewarding yourself: Try not to make a habit out of rewarding yourself with food. Weight control is a simple equation of calories in and calories out. The calories in tend to get tricky though. Right after a workout, you can overestimate the calories you've burned and eat the wrong kind of food, like burgers, cookies, or pizza. By planning your post-workout meal ahead of time, you won't feel the need to go so over the top and can make a smart decision before you feel famished.
See how else you're sabotaging your workout after the break!
In many ballet-inspired classes, the barre is used in most exercises, including ones that work the abs. The flat-back exercise, one of our favorite moves because it targets the deep abs (the transversus abdominis), usually requires a barre, but this prop-free version from Kara Kokorelis, owner of the newest Pure Barre location in San Francisco, means you can now work your low, deep abs and build a stronger core at home. This variation without a barre is more difficult than the original but all the reason more to try it! "The key is to engage your abs and pull them back and in," says Kokorelis. "You are using your abs and entire core to lift your legs while using a forceful exhale with every movement. Core work is a huge element of Pure Barre."
- You can try this exercise either against a wall for more support or in the center of a room for added challenge. Think about sitting tall against a wall so that your lower back is straight. Then, hinge your shoulders forward for more leverage. Do try to keep a flat back with the exception of your shoulder blades, which are at a slight angle forward.
- Open your legs into a diamond shape so that your toes touch and your knees open apart. By pressing your toes together will engage your inner thighs a bit as well. Keep your heels lifted for the duration of the exercise.
- Open your fingers away from each other and press your fingertips into the floor, making a cupping position with your palms.
- Try to keep the weight evenly distributed between all fingers for balance. Engage your abs by pulling them in toward your spine to prepare for the exercise.
See the exercise after the break!
Brewing your own tea blend can make for a more interesting concoction than store-bought brands; and with the right herbs and spices in your cupboard, you can adapt a recipe depending on your needs that day. See what herbs and spices are best for digestion, relaxation, or whatever ailment needs love at the moment.
Common herbs and spices
You can choose to buy these herbs or grow them, or use what you already have in the spice cabinet. Naturopaths and even some practitioners of Western medicine believe many herbs can have healing properties. Here are the most common herbs and the remedies herbalists believe they can assist in.
- Basil: Anti-inflammatory
- Cardamom: Reduce heartburn
- Chamomile: Relaxation
- Cinnamon: Balance blood sugar and boost metabolism
- Ginger: Alleviate nausea
- Lemongrass: Ease menstrual cramps
- Mint: Digestive aid
- Peppermint: Debloat and soothe upset stomach
- Rosemary: Improve circulation
- Sage: Improve brain function
- Thyme: Antioxidant, antimicrobial
Although there may not be scientific evidence for each treatment, they might inch you closer to a cure. Check with your medical professional before digesting large quantities of any herb. Rare side effects to herbs like ginger include gas, bloating, heartburn, and nausea. These effects are most often linked to the powdered form of herbs and not the solid, natural root of them. Read the side effects of each herb before choosing one herb as your default spice.
See some popular tea combos and the supplies you'll need after the break!
Valentine's Day doesn't have to be a day of overindulging on chocolate. This 96-calorie chocolate cake is an elegant dessert that contains no flour and includes healthy ingredients like sweet potato to help hold all the chocolatey goodness in.
Make the entire recipe as a single cake, or cut the recipe in half to make just enough for yourself and a date. As a sweet finish, the extra orange zest can be used to write a love note on top of the dessert.
If you've recently signed up for a 5K, congratulations — committing to a run is often the hardest part. But even with entry secured, you might be unsure of how to prep properly before the big day. Here are a few easy steps to help get you to the starting line with a stride in your step.
Pick a purpose: Decide what your goal is and keep that in mind during training (and the race itself). If it's to jump-start a fitness routine or lose weight, you may not be as concerned with your finish time. But if you want to beat a personal best or qualify for another race after your 5k, make sure your training allows for this.
Create a training schedule: Sticking with a schedule like this 11-week running guide will help you stay on track without overwhelming you physically. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to train so you can increase both mileage and time while still allowing the body time to rest.
Keep motivated: Whether you decide to run a 5k with a group or find a running buddy to train with, a friend can help keep you accountable. Sharing your goals and scheduling running workouts together will help keep momentum up and ensure that you stay consistent — especially during those times when you feel low.
See more tips after the break!
Stop feeling guilty about your regular morning latte; there are plenty of other options at the coffee shop that are much worse than that blonde cup of Joe. In fact, the average latte contains more protein (10 grams) and less sugar (13 grams) than all of these a.m. alternatives.
Fruit and yogurt parfait: Don't let the healthy name fool you; this cup is loaded with sugar. Some companies even add a sweetened fruit syrup to the bottom for more flavor. A breakfast like this contains 160 calories and 21 grams of sugar, yet only four grams of protein. That's less protein than one egg and a third of the protein that your latte contains.
Mocha Frappuccino: There's a reason this drink tastes so sweet — its 38 grams of sugar will have you bouncing off the walls before an even quicker burnout. Even if you order this drink with nonfat milk and no whipped cream, it can't beat your latte because of its lack of protein and calcium.
Pastries: These treats may seem like the perfect counterpart to a coffee drink, but be careful. Ordering one may double or even triple your calorie, refined carbs, and sugar intake. A blueberry muffin contains 380 calories, 19 grams of fat, 49 grams of carbs, and 28 grams of sugar. That's even more than a chocolate-filled croissant, which contains 350 calories.
Bagels: Holy carbohydrates! This rounded loaf contains 55 grams of carbs and 300 calories — and that's without any sort of spread. Although this bagel contains slightly less sugar than a latte, the calories can turn up empty. Make sure to order a whole-wheat bagel and finish it off with good-for-you ingredients like fresh veggies, light cream cheese, or nut butter.
Iced tea: While tea is full of antioxidants, many coffeehouses sweeten their iced tea, or they are made from artificial syrups that are diluted with water. This explains why a small chai tea from Starbucks contains 31 grams of sugar and only has five grams of protein despite the milk content! Leave the cinnamon to spice your latte on this one.
There's a lot of talk in the health world about eating alkaline or acidic foods from proper pH levels, but does it really make a difference to your health? While no extensive evidence has been able to prove the positive effects of an alkaline diet, proponents believe it can help slow bone loss, prevent chronic disease, and ease lower back pain because it aims to neutralize acid levels in the body, leading to overall improved health.
A pH is the body's level of alkaline to acid. Zero is completely acidic, while 14 is completely alkaline, and the neutral level is seven. The reasoning behind eating primarily alkaline foods, and even alkaline water, is to get the body's pH closer to this neutral number.
- Alkaline foods: Fruits, vegetables, soy products, nuts, grains, and legumes.
- Acidic foods: Meat, fish, poultry, dairy, processed foods, refined sugar and flour, and caffeine.
Since alkaline foods are mostly vegetarian, the healthy benefits of following a vegetarian diet have added to the belief that following an alkaline diet is also beneficial. While there have been no extensive studies confirming the benefits of an alkaline diet, here are some tips to follow if you're curious as to whether or not it might improve your health. At the very least, you will be eating a diet full of fresh produce, lots of water, and healthy protein — this can't be too bad, right?
- Focus your diet on fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Get the right amount of protein without overconsuming; focus on soy, nuts, and legumes.
- Watch your caffeine intake.
The popular workout Pure Barre has a fresh philosophy on fitness, and it involves more than just toning the tush. The 55-minute class fuses key elements of ballet, Pilates, and weightlifting. Through use of a special barre and small isometric movements, the intense class sessions work to burn fat, tighten abs, and firm arms, glutes, and thighs. The result is a graceful, challenging workout designed to build a lean dancer's body. If you can't get to a class, we've brought one of the studio's most effective moves to you. The burn starts with your seat and then works deep into the love handles.
- Begin by lying down with your belly on the mat, toes together, and knees apart.
- Ground your palms on the floor, placing them on top of one another with your forehead resting on the back of the hands.
- Squeeze your seat and lower back, floating your toes straight up toward the ceiling and lifting your knees off of the ground.
- Take 10-15 lifts with your toes aiming for the sky.
- With your legs still floating off of the ground, lift your forearms up in one motion.
- Keep your back and seat engaged while you lift your upper and lower body together. Do this 10-15 times.
See the bonus move after the break.
Knowing where to save and where to splurge on your second wardrobe can be a workout of its own. Keep it simple by investing in a few key pieces and then shopping the budget rack accordingly.
Save: Jackets. Although they are cute, this is one area you can save. Since jackets are your outer layer, they are the furthest piece of clothing from sweat and usually thrown aside once you get warmed up. The one exception to this rule are technical jackets used in harsh weather conditions. When dealing with extreme temperatures, rain, or snow, you want to make sure to be protected.
Splurge: Pants. A good pair of pants is hard to find, and once you get the perfect fit, it's definitely worth the splurge. Pants take on a lot of wear and tear, so it's important to invest in a high-quality pair that will stand up after multiple washes and not stretch out or pill.
Save: Tops. Unless you prefer tank tops that double as a bra, workout tees are in the save file. This is a broad category and can contain anything from an old band t-shirt to a beat-up tank. The best part about shirts is that they can look ragged and somehow come off as cool sweat gear.
Splurge: Sports bras. Support, support, support. This is one item the men can skip, but for women, it might be the most crucial piece to a workout wardrobe. Getting the right bra with adequate support will make any activity more comfortable and is easier on your body.
Save: Socks. The only time people see your fitness socks is if you're enrolled at a barre studio, but even then you can find bargains. Socks are purely the cushion between your feet and the shoe to hold moisture and keep you comfortable. Save in this area.
Splurge: Shoes. This item can help you work through a variety of exercises. Running, hiking, and cycling are just a few activities where shoes make all the difference. Since you may end up wearing them around town, either pre- or post-sweat date, getting a durable pair can be well worth the splurge.
If you love artichoke dip but don't love the calories and fat that come with the traditional recipe, then try this lightened-up version. A few quick swaps is all it takes to lower fat, sodium, and calories.
See below to start this creamy recipe
When done right, following a vegan diet can have you feeling clean and re-energized. If you've thought about trying this plant-based diet out for yourself, it's important to first consider a few things before adopting it wholeheartedly. Things like your current food intake or any allergies can play a part in how a vegan diet works in for your life; make sure to keep the following in mind as you prepare yourself for the change.
Do your research: It's important to know the extended list of a diet's dos and don'ts before committing yourself to its style of eating. When it comes to being vegan, it's not just about tofu and fake cheese. Typical foods allowed on a vegan or plant-based diet include legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. There are also a variety of dairy substitutions to choose from such as soy milk, which can provide extra protein into your meat-free diet.
Start slow: It's sometimes easier to adapt to a new diet by easing into the changes. Start by going vegan on Meatless Mondays, and gradually increase it until you are eating plant-based every day. By building up to the diet, you won't feel as restricted, since it develops more as a lifestyle choice than a forced, abrupt change. If you aren't already a vegetarian, then start by first eliminating meat from your diet to see how it feels. Once you are comfortable with that, strive to eliminate dairy.
See more tips on making a change to a vegan lifestyle after the break!
You may have thought about riding a bicycle before but never really considered the full benefits that cycling around town could bring you. (And maybe you've thought about the reasons why you shouldn't ride.) Whatever your stance on the matter, here are five reasons to start pedaling.
Time Efficient: Don't worry about missing your bus or speed walking to work anymore; biking can be much more time efficient. In one straight shot, you can get from points A to B without wearing your flats into the ground and stressing about time constraints.
Independence: Unlike public transportation, riding a bike can give you a freeing feeling. Even if you initially plan to walk, you sometimes end up resorting to public transportation to get there faster. With a bike, you can come and go as you please and don't have to worry about being on somebody else's watch.
Calorie Burn: What's all this talk about if you have a car? While driving can be comfortable, you won't burn any calories while stepping on the gas. By pedaling your wheels, you can burn 52 calories in just five minutes of cycling at 14-16 mph. If your route takes you uphill or faster to move with traffic, that's even more. Now you can relax a little during your lunch break.
Environmentally Friendly: You don't need to drive in a Nissan Leaf to be friendlier to the environment. Since bicycling produces zero fuel emissions, you're decreasing your carbon footprint and reducing the pollution every day that you ride. Even riding on public transportation contributes to this, so decrease your daily involvement by sticking to your bike or breaking your commute up part of the way on one.
Great New Gear: The gear available to cyclists is awesome! From reflector belts to vintage-looking bicycle skirts, bike-related gear is both functional and stylish.
For the ultimate morning starter this recipe combines two super proteins: quinoa and eggs. The quinoa serves as a crust while providing 12 grams of complete protein per half-cup, while each egg offers seven grams of protein. You'll even get your iron and calcium from the spinach and milk in this tasty recipe. Make this quinoa egg bake on a Sunday and you'll have breakfast (at under 250 calories per square) for the whole workweek.
Read on for the recipe.
Before you dread another serving of plain steamed broccoli for dinner, try a new way to eat your greens. You can incorporate these veggies from your breakfast glass to the dinner plate and enjoy every second of it. Which meal will you switch up next? Here's how to incorporate more greens into your diet.
- Stir them into soup: Next time your broth begins to simmer, throw washed spinach or kale in with it. The heat will cook the leaves like a steamer does, and you won't have to sauté your vegetables with cholesterol-heavy butter or oils. This is healthier and more time efficient as well.
- Slip greens into your chicken breast: Surprise your tasters by embedding leafy greens into your chicken breast. Before cooking the chicken, make a tiny incision on the side of the breast like a pocket, and fill the pouch with light cheese or honey mustard and greens of your choice. Then close the breast with a toothpick and bake it as you normally would.
Read on for three more inventive ways to eat more veggies.
There are tons of healthy burger recipes out there, but you can even take them a step further. Think about what parts of your order you can't live without and cut the calories in other areas. By getting the healthier option in a few components of a classic burger, you can easily slash 200 calories off the plate — it's the equivalent of doing a 200 calorie-burn workout without leaving your couch!
Cheese: Cheddar is one of the most common cheeses used on burgers, but it averages about 105 calories per slice. And if you like a richer cheese like gruyère, expect even more. If you can live with just a hamburger, you're already cutting over 100 calories alone with the absence of cheese. If you can't live without it, go for a lighter option, like low-fat mozzarella or goat cheese. These cheeses contain fewer calories as well as less fat and sodium.
Meat: Traditional beef patties alone can contain 380 calories and are loaded with saturated fat. If you like beef and want to stick with it, go for a leaner version and slash 100 calories right there. Other patty options include turkey burgers that contain less than half of the calories in a beef patty, along with a lower fat percentage. Buffalo and chicken burgers are other great meat options as well as garden, black bean, and portobello mushroom.
See more ways to save calories when eating a burger after the break!
If your New Year's resolution is to gain more flexibility, here's a quick guide to start. The time you stretch, the muscles you focus on, and your daily activities all have a play in flexibility. Your goal may be to finally get into Bridge Pose or to just reach your toes in a fold-over stretch. Whatever it may be, you can find out how to start lengthening your muscles with a few simple tips.
Level of Flexibility: You might want a more specific goal — like mastering the splits — but it may be better to first figure out how flexible you need to be in your active life. For example, runners tend to be less flexible, but they don't need to be as limber as, say, yogis. Gymnasts, on the other hand, use a more full range of motion, so flexibility can help them prevent injuries. Determine what your daily activities look like and decide what level of flexibility can enhance your life.
Main Muscle Groups: Make stretching worthwhile by making sure to always focus on the main muscle groups, which include your upper body, back, and lower body. Stretch each muscle until it starts to feel loosened up before switching to the next group. Staying in one stretch between 15 and 20 seconds is the recommended amount of time to hold a stretch. Avoid injury by always warming up before starting static stretches, either with a five-minute cardio session or dynamic stretching.
The Right Workout: Yoga, Pilates, and barre all help with flexibility because stretching the body makes up an integral component of these workouts. With any class, however, instead of running out early, take advantage of the cooldown to stretch hardworking muscles at their most pliable moment.
There's nothing wrong with a little cream cheese here and there, but enter the world of other topping possibilities. These new tastes are fresh and can help you to mix up your palate. Another perk of these foreign bagel flavors is that they are all healthier options without sacrificing flavor. See which spread will be the next butter to your bread.
- Neufchâtel: This spreadable cheese looks just like cream cheese and is usually available right next to it in the refrigerator aisle. Judging by labels alone, this is the health-conscious choice with 10 percent less fat than cream cheese.
- Farmer cheese: Lower in calories and in fat is farmer cheese. If you enjoy the texture and taste of ricotta cheese, think of this as its cousin, which makes it a whipped-style bagel topper.
- Goat cheese spread: Herbed goat cheese can taste great on a bagel. The lower-cal, more spreadable version involves combining it with Greek nonfat yogurt (and a little olive oil, if you want). This lightened-up goat cheese recipe not only tastes great, but it also contains loads of protein from the yogurt, which coincidentally also makes it feel like it has more of a cream cheese consistency.
- Almond butter: If you loved PB&J as a kid then you will devour almond butter on a bagel. This nutty spread has less saturated fat and more protein than cream cheese. When comparing to peanut butter, Prevention concluded that almond butter contained less saturated fat, twice the magnesium, six times the calcium, and higher levels of iron, vitamin E, and fiber!
- Avocado: Don't let the calories in avocado scare you, this is one topping that's au naturel. It's loaded with vitamins, minerals, and even protein! The fat content in this green spread is from the good monounsaturated fats, aka the kind that you want to digest. Think of avocados as the olive oil to your salad.
- Hummus: The lowest-calorie and -fat option is our favorite Mediterranean delight. Skip the pita chips and spread some hummus on your bagel. The dip is filling because of its garbanzo bean base, and you can get creative with the herbs and spices that you add on.
Getting motivated is often the easy part; it's staying motivated that can present an even bigger challenge. Forgetting what urged us to join a new class or change our diet happens all the time, especially once we've started making a little bit of progress. This is why it's crucial to keep reminding ourselves all the way through. Here are a few simple ways to keep up with new healthy habits.
Ease Into It: Gradually moving into healthier food choices can give you the extra boost you need for an overall new diet plan, workout regimen, or both! It's important to choose a realistic plan to enable you to be successful all throughout the year. It's the small steps that lead to major accomplishments.
Vision Board: You don't need to cover your bedroom in quotes, but you certainly can if that keeps you treading on. Make a small vision board you can keep at work or somewhere more discreet so you can look at every day to help remind you of your goals. For the more technologically savvy, refer to an online board like our Pinterest page. Here, you can find workouts, tips, and more. For more specific guidance, check out these inspirational fitness quotes.
Stay Prepared: Even if it's just an exercise routine you choose to stick with, keep your fridge stocked with protein-boosting foods that will fight cravings and keep you from unraveling all your hard work. With fitness, staying prepared can be applied to your gear as well. Always have headphones, exercise clothes, and other gear easily accessible. By making the prep steps easier for yourself, you have fewer excuses not to follow through.
See two more motivating tips after the break!
Running and biking around town can be more of a challenge once the sun goes down, and the darkness is an easy excuse to forfeit a workout. There are plenty of other ways to exercise, though, so put a few in your back pocket for those especially cold Winter nights. From restorative yoga to a workout that will still get you outside, here are four reasons to get your sweat on in the dark.
Candlelit yoga: Since most candlelit yoga classes focus on restorative poses, it's a prime de-stresser after work ends. These classes are usually only available at night, so there's no amount of darkness to talk you out of going. The soothing classes are a more relaxing form of the practice that are meant to give you peace and a blissful state of mind. Think of them as the chamomile tea of yoga.
Rooftop jump rope: If you have a backyard or access to an enclosed roof, embrace the fresh air, which will help cool you off as you jump rope outdoors. Not only can you forget about low ceilings and breakables in the open air, but it can also make you jump for longer as you try to heat your body up!
Boxing: Since boxing is done in the gym anyway, why not take advantage of the dark nights and punch a bag indoors? This power workout can help alleviate all your stress from the day so that you go to bed feeling light and a little tired just in time to hit the pillow. Try a regular boxing class or turbo kickboxing at your gym, where you can vibe off of a large group's energy.
DVD workout: You don't even leave your living room to try one of our home workout videos. Just roll out a mat or towel and get your workout clothes on as if you're going to the gym, so that you don't feel the need to hold back. For a simple layout, try this no-excuse workout — and no equipment is necessary!