My Daily Spark Quote

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More fun ideas from the folks at Sparkpeople.

I didn't know where I should post this, under the inexpensive Christmas gift ideas or under the healthy eating and fitness blog I have. I decided to share it here, as I love making my own Christmas gifts. I will make a few of these this year too. You can also use corn in your bags, (NOT "POP" CORN)I find a lot of my tips and information, from my favorite site these days,

Just for your own information, if you are looking for a quick ice pack, grap a bag of frozen peas. They work great!

By: Stepfanie Romine : 12/11/2008 9:06:23 AM : 34 comments

I've written about the miracles of the rice sock.

This handy low-tech gadget eased an excruciating sinus headache I had a few weeks back. Since I made mine, it had soothed sore knees after yoga, loosened a tight lower back and even warmed cold feet as I typed in my home office.

Have a friend who constantly battles aches and pains? Make one of these as a holiday gift!

Buy a new sock or, if you're especially handy, sew a long, thin tube for your rice sock. These rice socks come in handy, and they're an easy craft for kids. Make sure you use a new, clean sock if you're giving this as a gift. (If you want to get really fancy, buy a kit or use fabric scraps to sew a long sleeve for your rice sock.)

1 large (new) sock
1-2 pounds rice (any kind; the amount with vary based on the size of your sock)
Needle and thread

Fill sock with rice, then sew the top shut or use a ribbon to tightly tie the sock closed. (Make sure you explain to the recipient that they put it in the microwave until it's hot, then place it on the aching body part.)

Bonus: Add a few drops of essential oil to the rice to create an aromatherapy sock.

Make your own gift cup

Find one of those big holiday cups at the dollar store. Fill it with hot cocoa mix, a small gift bag of your favorite flavored Coffee or tea, add a couple of these Ginger Spice Biscotti (recipe follows). Wrap with some colorful celafane, and tie with a pretty holiday ribbon.
I like this idea so much I am going to make some myself.

Ginger Spice Biscotti
Found this recipe on Spark People today


Canola oil spray
1 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat pastry flour
4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweented apple butter or applesauce
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped dried pineapple or other dried fruit

Nutritional Info

Fat: 2.5g
Carbohydrates: 10.3g
Protein: 1.2g

1. reheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet with canola oil spray and set aside.

2. In medium bowl, mix next 7 ingredients and set aside. Using electric mixer or food processor, combine eggs with oil and apple butter for 10 seconds. Add sugar and blend for 30 more seconds. Add half of dry mixture and process until smooth. Add remaining dry mixture and process until a soft and sticky dough forms. Transfer dough to a large bowl; fold in dried fruit. Divide dough in half and place on either end of cookie sheet.

3. With damp hands, form each piece of dough into a log 3 inches wide and about 3/4-inch high. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Logs will spread durig baking. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. With serrated knife, slice each log into 1/2-ich cookies, cutting on a diagonal. Bake 10 minutes.

4. Turn each cookie over and bake 10 more minutes. Turn oven off and leave biscotti in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Store at room temperature.

Makes 40 servings.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on diet and cancer and educates the public about the results.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another inexpensive gift idea form Spark People

Healthy, Homemade Gifts: Hearty Gourmet Oatmeal
By: Stepfanie Romine : 12/9/2008 2:59:01 PM : 70 comments

In the middle of winter, when the mercury's dropping and the snow is piling up outside, is there anything more comforting than a bowl of oatmeal?

Judging from your answers last week, most of you agree with me. Plain old oatmeal becomes a tedious breakfast rather quickly, but the fancy flavored versions are pricey and full of artificial flavors.

Thankfully, making your own gourmet oatmeal is easy. Flavored oatmeal makes a great gift for the busy professional, a time-strapped mom or anyone who says there's no time for a healthy breakfast.

Stepfanie's Oatmeal Mix
6 cups old-fashioned or steel-cut oats
3/4 c ground flax seeds
3 T cinnamon
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
Mix all ingredients together. Makes 12 servings (about 3/4 cup each)
Store in the refrigerator as flax seeds and walnuts can spoil quickly.

Nutrition info
Number of Servings: 12
Calories: 329
Total Fat: 15.3 g* (This is mostly heart-healthy fats from the walnuts and flaxseed, both of which contain Omega-3 fatty acids.)
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 1.2 mg
Total Carbs: 44.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 8.8 g
Protein: 8.9 g

Divide the oatmeal into single servings (1 cup food storage containers work great for this) or deliver the gift in a decorative cookie jar. Personalize this as you'd like. Swap almonds, pumpkin seeds or pecans for the walnuts; use raisins, dried pineapple or some apple rings instead of cranberries. If you prefer sweetened oatmeal: Add cocoa powder and a bit of sugar, toss in some brown sugar or give a bottle of real maple syrup to supplement the gift. You can also use barley, cracked wheat, wheat germ or oat bran.

Bonus: Buy the materials for this oatmeal from the bulk bins at the grocery store to save more money.

How do you top your oatmeal?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Healthy, Homemade Gifts: Chocolate Spoons

A Spark People idea for those of us looking for ways to cut cost on gift this year. I will be sharing more ideas with you. Let's make this a less comercial Christmas and put our hearts and hands into making special gifts this year.

Healthy, Homemade Gifts: Chocolate Spoons
By: Stepfanie Romine (a Spark People contributor)

You might say that chocolate isn't a "healthy" gift. We disagree. Everything is fine in moderation, and dark chocolate (at least 70%) contains antioxidants.

Studies have found that dark chocolate helps prevent heart disease and cancer, and has also been shown to improve mood by boosting the brain chemical serotonin. Some even consider chocolate an effective diet food, claiming that a chunk of chocolate before meals diminishes your appetite.

Just be choosy about your chocolate and monitor your portions. That's one reason we love these chocolate spoons. They're easy to make and are instantly portion controlled.

Chocolate spoons
What you need:

10 Spoons (pick up mismatched ones at the thrift store)

1 cup semisweet or dark chocolate*

Fun extras: crushed peppermint candy, melted white chocolate, sprinkles, shredded coconut

Waxed paper

Plastic wrap


Melt chocolate in the microwave. Set timer for 2 minutes or so, taking care to stir every 30 seconds or so.

Spread out a sheet of waxed paper. Dip clean, dry spoons into the chocolate, then place them on the waxed paper. Allow the spoons to cool slightly, then dip them in the chocolate again. Repeat until chocolate reaches the desired thickness on the spoon. While they're still warm, add the "extras" if you're using them. Place spoons in the fridge to set. Once firm and cool, wrap each one in plastic wrap and tie with a ribbon.

Calories: 43.6 calories, 2.3 g fat (extras not included; you'll only use about 1/2 cup of chocolate.)
*Dark chocolate contains at least 70% cacao.

What's your favorite chocolate combination? Recently, I've become fond of the orange-dark chocolate combination. Would you make these spoons to give to someone?