Winter Squash and Black Bean Quesadillas

Winter Squash and Black Bean Quesadillas Recipe

The winter squash in these quesadillas provides a savory way to eat this seasonal vegetable while supplying 90 percent of the daily recommended vitamin A intake. You can use canned pumpkin or the puree from any variety of roasted winter squash, like butternut or acorn.

Yield: 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 12 minutes


1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/8 tsp ground coriander

1/8 tsp fine ground sea salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/3 cup pureed winter squash

8 corn tortillas

1/2 cup low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup shredded white cheddar cheese


Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a small skillet. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

Stir in the chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and black pepper. Cook for 1 minute and turn off the heat. Stir in the pureed squash and set aside.

Place 4 of the corn tortillas on a flat work surface. Spread an equal amount of the squash over each. Divide the black beans into 4 portions and sprinkle over the squash. Next, add ¼ of the cheese and top with another tortilla.

Preheat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Carefully place the quesadillas in the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until the tortillas are browned and the fillings are warm with the cheese melted.

Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges and serve.

Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 174; Total Fat 5.8 g; Saturated Fat 2 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 10 mg; Sodium 254 mg; Carbohydrate 25.4 g; Fiber 4.1 g; Sugar 2.3 g; Protein 6.4 g; Vitamin A 2699 IU; Vitamin C 1.8 mg; Calcium 153 mg; Iron 1.2 mg

Tips for Keeping a Food Diary

Tips for Keeping a Food Diary

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Reaching your fitness goals requires keeping an accurate account of what you eat each day. We make keeping a food diary easy here at MyFoodDiary, and there are steps you can take to ensure that your reports are a true reflection of your intake. In addition to tracking your foods, examining your thoughts and feelings will also help you see your progress and target areas that need improvement.

Don’t forget about beverages.

Sodas, coffees, smoothies, energy drinks, and juices can contain as many calories as a full meal. Unfortunately, these liquid calories rarely make you feel full. It’s easy to forget about beverages when you update your food diary. Record everything you drink from water to soda, including small sips throughout the day.

Bites count too.

Do you nibble from your child’s plate? Do you taste while you are cooking? These calories count too. Do your best to estimate the amount for every bite so that you have an accurate report of total calories for each day.

Note how you feel.

We eat for many reasons that don’t always involve true hunger. Your family may have a set meal time, or maybe you are stressed or bored. When you record your food, also make notes about how you felt during the time you ate the food. Were you starving and grabbed what you could find? Did you choose an unhealthy option due to your social setting? Emotions play an important role in healthy eating. Record how you feel to better understand how your emotions affect your eating habits.

Look for patterns.

Food diaries are especially beneficial because they help you identify patterns in your eating. These patterns may be healthy, like you always eat a breakfast that is balanced in carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat. Keep up those healthy habits. These patterns may also be unhealthy, like your late night snack always puts you over your calorie limit. Use these patterns as a way to identify what might be holding you back from reaching your goals, and then make a plan for how you will overcome these challenges.

How to Track Your Progress in Cardiovascular Fitness

Track Your Progress in Cardiovascular Fitness

Unlike weight loss where you can see the numbers decrease on the scale, improvements in cardiovascular fitness are more difficult to track. You will soon be exercising longer and harder, but as you continue to push yourself, it’s easy to lose sight of how far you’ve come. Take note of these things before you start your exercise program, and evaluate again every 3 to 6 months for a better perspective on your fitness gains.

Resting Heart Rate

Resting heart rate (RHR) is an indicator of cardiovascular fitness. A normal RHR can range from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Trained athletes often have an RHR under 60, sometimes as low as 40. Take your pulse first thing in the morning for 10 seconds. Multiply the number of beats you count by 6 to get your RHR in beats per minute. Measure your heart rate a few days in a row so that you can determine an average. As your fitness improves, you will find that your resting heart rate lowers.

Recovery Time

How quickly you recover from vigorous cardiovascular activity can be a marker of improved fitness. As your cardiovascular system grows stronger, you will need less time to rest between segments of activity. For example, when you first start running, you may need to take regular walking breaks to complete your distance. As your fitness improves, these breaks will become shorter until you may not need to take them at all. Another way to measure this progress is to include interval workouts in your cardio routine. Run sprints, jog up stairs, or walk quickly up a hill. Measure how long you need to rest before you are ready to do it again. Your resting segments will decrease over time.

Timed Distance Test

You will become faster and exercise more efficiently as you get fit. A good way to measure this is with a distance test. When you first start out, pick a distance you can walk or run. It can be anywhere from a quarter mile to a mile, depending on your current fitness level. Measure how long it takes you to complete the distance working at a somewhat challenging pace. Repeat the same distance in a few months. Completing it in less time and feeling less fatigued afterward is a good indication that your cardiovascular fitness is improving.

Sundried Tomato and Feta Shrimp

Sundried Tomato and Feta Shrimp Recipe

This tangy shrimp is cooked in the oil of the sundried tomatoes to control fat. A sprinkle of feta cheese eliminates the need for extra table salt. When paired with a salad or brown rice, this recipe makes a quick and easy weeknight meal. It can also be served alone as an appetizer or snack.

Yield: 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes


¼ cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup diced sundried tomatoes, packed in oil

12 oz. medium raw shrimp, peeled

2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese

1 tbsp chopped chives


Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and sundried tomatoes. Cook for 3 minutes.

Add the shrimp. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the shrimp turn opaque and are cooked through.

Place in a serving dish and sprinkle with the feta cheese and chives.

Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 113; Total Fat 2.8 g; Saturated Fat 0.8 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 120 mg; Sodium 186 mg; Carbohydrate 3 g; Fiber 0.3 g; Sugar 0.6 g; Protein 18.2 g

Signs that You Need New Athletic Shoes

Signs that You Need New Athletic Shoes

Athletic shoes protect your knees and other joints by providing support and cushioning during high-impact activities. While athletic shoes should be replaced approximately every 350-500 miles or every 3-6 months, your shoe quality is also influenced by factors like body weight, intensity, and exercise surface. When you lose track of the exercise distance or time you’ve spent in your current pair, pay attention to these signs that you need new athletic shoes.

Your knees start hurting.

If you start to develop knee pain, it could be because your shoes are past their prime. The loss of support can lead to iliotibial band syndrome, which is inflammation of the iliotibial band that runs from your hip to below your knee. The inflammation can cause pain on the outside of your knee joint.

You have pain in your shins.

Shin splints result from an imbalance in the muscles controlling the movement of the foot. Old shoes that lack support can contribute to shin splints.

There is a noticeable difference when you try a different pair.

It’s a good idea to buy new shoes before your current shoes are completely worn out. This allows you to transition into the new shoes by alternating between the current and new pair every few workouts. If the lack of support and cushioning is noticeable when returning to the old pair, it’s time to retire those shoes and move on to the new pair for good.

The tread is visibly worn.

Check the bottoms of your shoes. While a little wearing is normal, if you notice spots where the tread is worn a lot more than other areas, or where it is smooth and no longer grips the exercise surface, it’s time for a new pair of shoes.

The shoes have changed shape.

Over time, your shoes will conform to the shape of your foot and reflect your walking pattern. If you notice that the heels are unevenly worn causing your foot to turn, or if there is little stability on the sides of the shoe causing your ankle to shift towards the center, move on to a new pair.

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