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Sarah D'Angelo

Kelsey Nixon’s Healthy Cooking Essentials

Written on October 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm , by

Kelsey's positive attitude makes home cooking seem fun and her tips make it simple! (Photo courtesy of Kelsey Nixon)

We love Cooking Channel’s Kelsey Nixon for her fun, you-can-do-this approach to cooking with fresh ingredients. We caught up with the The Next Food Network Star finalist to chat about her show (Kelsey’s Essentials is now in it’s second season, airing Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. EST!), the kitchen equipment she can’t live without and to find out how she stays healthy and fit.

Tell us about Kelsey’s Essentials.

Every episode focuses on an essential tool, tip or technique that I think every home cook should know, taking them one step beyond the basics in a fun way. The shows are also seasonal—I believe that if you cook with ingredients that are in season, it’s going to taste better and be more affordable.

What are your essential tools for healthy cooking?

High-quality sheet trays for roasting—they make it easy to caramelize vegetables, which brings out their natural sugars. I’d also suggest tongs, a cast iron skillet for making an omelet or searing fish, a sturdy pan and a good sharp knife. A non-stick skillet is also a great tool because the chance of sticking is low and it doesn’t require as much fat to brown chicken or fish, so you can use less oil or fat.

How can a kitchen newbie get started cooking more healthfully?

Take a trip to the farmers’ market once a week, and challenge yourself to buy one vegetable or fruit that’s in season. Use that ingredient to drive dinner ideas for the week.

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What’s For Dinner: The Hellmann’s Chicken Challenge

Written on September 26, 2011 at 4:47 pm , by

Looking for a quick spin on chicken to shake up a weeknight meal? Try Parmesan Crusted Chicken, the winning recipe of the first Hellmann’s Chicken Challenge, a series of cooking challenges to find the best mayo-enhanced chicken dish, hosted by celeb actor and dad Mark Consuelos (hubby to Kelly Ripa), Top Chef Masters’ chef Tim Love and lifestyle expert Sissy Biggers. We caught the showdown live to get a taste of the competition—and the chicken!

Chef Tim Love, actor Mark Consuelos and lifestyle expert Sissy Biggers each cooked up a chicken recipe. (Photo courtesy of Hellmann's)

As it turns out, mayo can be more than just a deli meat-topper or potato salad mix-in. Hellman’s pros suggest using light mayo in a recipe to keep chicken moist. Since it’s seasoned, you don’t have to add salt or pepper to the dish. And good news for the calorie counters: You don’t need to use a ton of it to get the flavor you’re after. The proof is in the taste, as all three recipes in the audience-judged competition, Parmesan, Chipotle Lime and BBQ Cheddar, were delicious.

Post-taste test, we caught up with Mark, who cooked the winning dish (recipe below!), to find out how he and Kelly stay fit and get dinner on the table for their busy family.

Do you and Kelly share the cooking duties at home?

Kelly does most of the cooking, but I do the grilling. Even when I do, she’s making five or six side dishes—different kinds of salads. The kids can be picky, but they love steak, burgers, halibut (we try to get them to eat a lot of fish) and of course, chicken. We always have plenty of vegetables to balance it out.

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Find Your Perfect Sports Bra

Written on July 20, 2011 at 2:47 pm , by

This Moving Comfort for Title Nine bra is a winner! (Photo by Sophie Pangrazzi)

Your sports bra is probably the most important item in your gym bag (next to your kicks, of course)—a total necessity, considering that the average D cup set bounces two to three inches in distance with each running step. But how can you sort through all the store racks to find the perfect, bounce-proof, super-comfy sports bra? We did the work for you: Check out our ultimate guide in the July/August issue, on newsstands now!

FITNESS put more than 100 bras through the paces to bring you the best picks for every cup size. Here’s our story by the numbers:

  • 12: Sports bra testers
  • 64: Bra styles considered
  • 116: Actual bras tested
  • 10: Sports or activities our sports bra-clas testers sweated through, all in the name of science

You can also find the story here, and download our digital edition for a bonus bra-fitting video.

Now tell us: What do you think of our picks? Do you have a favorite bra of your own?

Fit Blogger We Love: Fit Chick in The City

Written on April 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm , by

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Fit Chick in the City shows off her great plank form!

Blogger Jess Underhill began writing Fit Chick in the City as a way to connect both gym rats and couch potatoes with the best workouts and exercise products available, while providing a healthy dose of motivation. We love her NYC gym class reviews (the wilder, the better, we say!) and workout videos. Here are her stay-fit essentials:

Five things I can’t live without: A good sports bra, my New Balance running shoes, organic peanut butter, Hill Family Estate’s Barrel Blend wine and sweet potatoes.

On my “fit” life list: I want to try trapeze to get over my fear of heights and to see if I would be able to “let go” enough to enjoy flying.  Biking Alpe d’Huez would be my ultimate cycling challenge—riding through the beautiful countryside of France on the same roads as the Tour de France would feel like a huge accomplishment.

I’m happiest when: I’m running during a light snowfall.

My biggest indulgence: A Good Guy cupcake from Crumbs: a vanilla cupcake with vanilla filling, vanilla frosting and a million sprinkles. Last year I had one after I finished each of my half-marathons. I usually treat myself when I’ve accomplished something big, and of course, on my birthday!

My “I Did It” moment: Crossing the finish line of my first marathon, the 1999 Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama. Completing a marathon was a dream I had for as long as I can remember. Despite feeling like I was going to collapse, crossing the finish line made me feel like a real runner for the first time.

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email blog@fitnessmagazine.com.

Fit Vacation Location: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Written on April 19, 2011 at 11:53 am , by

Look Ma, it's a moose!

Look Ma, it's a moose!

Want to ski, snowboard, run, mountain bike, white water raft or practice yoga, all while being surrounded by absolutely gorgeous scenery? Head out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I recently had the opportunity to check out what Jackson has to offer, thanks to the folks at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Hotel Terra, a LEED certified (translation: super eco-friendly) hotel located right on the mountain. While spring temps were starting to warm up back at home, I was lucky enough to be in town during the last week of ski season. I hear it’s just as incredible in the summer—with lots of sun and tons of activities to choose from, no snow needed. The highlights:

It snowed every day (550 inches this season—and it’s still snowing!). I spotted Olympic Gold medalist Hannah Teter at breakfast. Need I say more? It’s the number one reason travelers and ski pros alike hit Jackson Hole: It’s snow nirvana.

Editors, ready to hit the slopes!

Editors, ready to hit the slopes (I'm on the right!)

I was super excited to try my feet, and apparently my arms, legs and core—hello, burn!—at snowboarding (for the first time ever). I suited up in comfy Smartwool base layers and Eddie Bauer First Ascent outerwear, ready to hit the mountain…and had a blast! The instructors are super knowledgeable; had I not had a lesson, there’s no way I would have made it down without a few bumps and bruises.

Yoga (at altitude) was a welcome stress and soreness reliever. The yogis from Yoga Today, a website that allows members to download hundreds of virtual classes anytime, hosted a session full of centering and energizing poses.

Grand Teton National Park—a stunning sight, along with nearby Yellowstone—was still closed to all traffic due to feet and feet of snow, so instead, we headed down to the National Elk Refuge where we spotted bighorn sheep. They get right up close, munching on the grass behind you.

If you’re looking for fun, fitness and a wilderness-filled vacation, check out Jackson Hole. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Need more fit vacation ideas? We’re highlighting destinations for summer fun in our July/August issue. Keep an eye out for it in June!

Fit Blogger We Love: Peanut Butter Fingers

Written on April 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm , by

Julie shares her active lifestyle, nutritious eats and indulgences on her blog, Peanut Butter Fingers.

Dig in! Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers enjoys a fit, healthy lifestyle with occasional treats.

In September 2009, Julie decided to launch her blog, Peanut Butter Fingers, as a way to write about her passions (health and fitness), share recipes and inspire herself to get more creative in the kitchen. We enjoy following along, and adore her fun-loving attitude as well as her balanced approach to living a healthy lifestyle. Here’s what keeps Julie moving:

I’m happiest when I’m: Doing something outside, like hiking or boating, with my husband and our crazy dog, Sadie. I also love swimming in the ocean with my mom, dad and sister.

My biggest indulgence: Ice cream. I could eat my body weight in ice cream and still want more! My husband thinks I need my own spin-off version of the show Man v. Food called Girl v. Dessert where I dominate sweet treats all the time.

Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to: My iPod is stocked with Disney songs and soundtracks from various musicals. Sometimes it’s hard to not start singing in the middle of a workout!

My fitness mantra: I have a bunch! My fall back mantras include: “I never regret a workout” and “You are just one workout away from a good mood.” I did a whole blog post about positive workout mantras and love them. So many times it is mind over matter in the gym, and mantras are a great way to get in the zone.

My motivation comes from: My mom. The optimism, grace and unwavering strength she showed throughout her breast cancer treatment was truly inspiring. Her diagnosis also shifted my mindset from working out and eating healthy for vanity reasons to doing so for my health.

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email blog@fitnessmagazine.com.

What We’re Snacking On Now: 18 Rabbits Granola Bars

Written on March 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm , by

One of the best parts about working here at Fitness: all of the healthy treats that come across our desks in hopes of getting on our radar. We’re knee-deep in taste testing for our upcoming food awards (look for it in the July/August issue!), and amidst all the piles of good-for-you goodness, I found a new granola bar that caught my attention.

Image courtesy of 18 Rabbits

18 Rabbits is a new (ish) line of granola and bars, chock full of whole ingredients—oats, seeds, fruit, nuts, honey, etc.—and lacking in un-pronounceable additives. Not too sweet, chewy and delicious, the Nibblin’ Apricot was a perfect breakfast in a pinch, especially since it did not contain almonds—a maddening allergy that I have (seriously, do you know how few granola blends and bars are almond-free??). Check out all of the yummy flavors here.

Tell us, what’s your favorite granola bar? Any other almond-free goodies that I should know about?

Xbox 360 Kinect Review: Getting Fit with Video Games

Written on March 1, 2011 at 1:25 pm , by

Looking for a fun way to burn extra calories? Check out the latest video game craze: Xbox 360 Kinect puts a spin on gaming by eliminating the need to hold a controller to play—you simply stand in front of the device as it scans you, and then YOU become the controller. Since there are no wires or wands to manage, you can just focus on the game—as you move to play, your hand, arm and leg movements are copied on screen.

Image from Amazon.com

Microsoft recently invited me to test out Kinect’s new get-fit titles and sweat alongside trainer and fitness DVD star Jennifer Galardi. On offer: The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout (Bob and Jillian guide you through the routines!), Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, EA Sports Active 2, and my fave: Kinect Sports.

Jennifer kicks her way towards a GOAL!

Jennifer and I chose to battle it out in a boxing match, jabbing our way to a KO—after 3 rounds, I barely inched past and won—the surprise? My biceps and triceps actually felt a burn, and I had started working up a sweat! Though there are other similar titles out there on competitor’s game systems, playing without holding a controller takes the experience to the next level by getting your entire body in on the calorie-burning action. In addition to boxing, Kinect Sports lets you choose from soccer (“kick” the ball and see it fly!), beach volleyball, bowling, table tennis and track and field. If you’re looking for a more tailored workout with personalized training, check out the other fitness titles above—each one delivers results while making it fun.

Check out Xbox.com for more info—if you already have an Xbox 360, you can easily upgrade to Kinect by purchasing the sensor only and hooking it up to your game console.

So, tell us: what’s your favorite active video game? Do you feel the burn when you play?

The New Dietary Guidelines: What You Should Know

Written on February 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm , by

Photo by Melissa Punch

Photo by Melissa Punch

Last week, the USDA and HHS released new dietary guidelines for Americans. So what changed, and what does it mean for your diet? Well, nothing too groundbreaking—to sum it up (and with apologies to Michael Pollan), Eat food. Not Too Much. Oh, and get up off the couch.

We know by now (I hope!) that eating real food, in normal portions, and exercising most days of the week will keep us feeling healthy and looking good in our skinny jeans (or our layers and snow boots, as many of you are probably wearing right now). But there are a few new developments added to the latest update that are especially important for women. We spoke with Elizabeth Ward, R.D., to help us break it down.

FITNESS: What are some of the most surprising changes in the new guidelines?

Elizabeth Ward: They’re really focusing on the obesity problem in both adults and children, emphasizing the need for healthier foods, smaller portions and exercise. They’re also paying attention to moms-to-be: maintaining a healthy weight to avoid increasing the chances your child will be overweight. Research has shown a connection between a mother’s BMI when she conceives and how much body fat the baby has at birth.

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