Author Archives: Summer Huggins

About Summer Huggins

Summer Huggins is an amateur photographer, dog-lover, cupcake-eater and shoe-shopper in Austin, Texas. She loves to travel, cook and take in a good movie, and she volunteers with a local pet-rescue organization as a photographer and dog-walker.

Water Bottle_featured

4 Ways to Sneak Hydration Into Your Day

In the sweltering summer heat, staying hydrated is more important than ever. But since water can get boring quickly, try these tastier ways to add more H2O to your routine.

It’s hot. You’re thirsty. But another glass of boring water is the last thing that sounds appetizing right now. What’s a girl—or a boy—to do?

Some experts say we need eight, 8-ounce glasses of water every day. Some say that we need half our body weight. Meaning, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need 75 ounces each day. Either way, you’re probably not drinking enough. If you workout on a regular basis, you need even more than that. But let’s admit it: Water is boring.

If you’re looking for ways to jazz up your water or even get that all-important hydration into your body in other ways, consider the following:

1. Dress up your ice cubes. When you next freeze a tray of ice cubes, drop a raspberry in each little square with the water. Maybe a mint leaf or a slice of lemon. As the ice cubes melt in your water, you’ll get a faint new flavor with each sip.

2. Grab a piece of fruit. Did you know that an aptly named watermelon is 92 percent water by weight? The rest is natural sugar, fiber and vitamin C. A slice of watermelon after a workout or as an afternoon snack will add some much needed hydration—and crunch—to your day.

3. Nosh on some vegetables. If the sweet taste of fruit isn’t appealing to you, there are many vegetables with high water content as well. Celery, cucumber, iceberg lettuce and even tomatoes provide a drink of water with each bite.

4. Try a water enhancer. Look on the juice aisle of your grocery store for water enhancers. Companies like Ocean Spray, Mio and Crystal Light all make them now. Open a packet and add it to 16 ounces of water. Most come in at only around 5 calories. The lemonade flavor always takes me back to childhood in my grandparents’ backyard. Delicious.

Now you have no excuses. And neither do I. Proper hydration—especially during the heat of summer or when we’re working out—is vital to our health. So drink up!


4 Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling

4 Tips for Staying Fit While Traveling

4 Healthy Eating Tips for TravelingWhether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, keeping up with your healthy habits can be a challenge. But blogger Summer Huggins shares four tips that worked for her.

I’ve been so good about going to the gym and eating healthy during the last eight weeks. I don’t mind telling you: I’ve even lost 10 pounds!

But I recently traveled to Cleveland for a conference, and the closer conference got on my calendar, the more nervous I found myself feeling as I worried about getting away from my new healthy routine. Anyone who has ever traveled for work knows that conferences aren’t known for their healthy fare. Think boxed lunches with lots of cookies and carbs.

I’m happy to report that this conference was different from others — not only in the content they presented, but also when it came to the food they fed us. I’m happy to report that I didn’t gain a single one of my lost pounds back while I was away, and I even discovered four tips for keeping up with my new healthy habits that I plan to take with me the next time I travel:

  1. Stay hydrated. On the plane, in the conference sessions and in my hotel room, I always had a bottle of water with me. I also steered clear of caffeine and alcohol, both of which can dehydrate your body.
  2. Find the fitness center. Yep, I packed my gym shoes for my trip and made use of the fitness center at my hotel. It was so nice! There were brand new earphones for guests and a TV at every piece of cardio equipment. There was even a basket of apples in the fitness center for a healthy post-workout snack.
  3. Fruit is your friend. Breakfast each morning did consist of a lovely buffet of carbs in the form of bagels and pastries, but I’m glad that it also included lots of beautiful fresh fruit. I kept an emergency protein bar and a bag of almonds in my computer bag, so I was able to make a delicious and healthy meal out of nuts, protein and colorful fresh fruit. No bagels touched these lips!
  4. Walk the city. When I realized that I hadn’t left the hotel in two-and-a-half days, a new friend and I decided to hit the sidewalk and explore the downtown area a bit. It was a great way to get some fresh air, get some movement in and learn about the city at the same time. I was so glad I had packed comfortable shoes!

I’m traveling again next month, and I hope I can remember these four tips and take them with me then, too. How do you keep up with your healthy habits when you travel?



Why I Learned to Love Sewing With Mom

Sewing With MomAn (eventual) love of sewing brought this mother-daughter pair closer, but they get more than quality time together out of the craft. It’s good for the closet—and the mind.

When I was a kid and would go back-to-school shopping with my mother and grandmother, I would always find something I just had to have—a new skirt, a great shirt, maybe a dress. My “please, please!” often received a “we can make that at home for much less” reply.

So Mom and Gran started teaching me to sew when I was in junior high. Skirts, Christmas stockings and ornaments, stuffed animals—I was good at it, but didn’t love it back then.

But what I did appreciate about it was the Sunday afternoons, when after a full home-cooked lunch, Mom, Gran and I would spend time together in the craft room—no TVs, no computers, no distractions.

We’d pick out fabric, sift through a huge bucket of buttons trying to find just the right one and always end up laughing about something.

About a year ago, I took up sewing again after a multi-year hiatus. And now I love it! Mom and I enjoy shopping for beautiful fabric together and taking classes at a cute little local shop here in Austin, Texas. I jump at any chance to sew with her. Why?

  1. It’s quality time together. Just like those Sunday afternoons back in junior high, spending time with Mom and a sewing machine is excellent time together. We laugh and learn and encourage each other along the way.
  2. It’s a stress reliever. Studies show that participating in a hobby can be a good stress reliever. It can take your mind off of the day’s worries and challenges, and the end product can feel like a victory.
  3. It’s good for the mind. We all keep hearing about the importance of keeping our minds active and healthy, which in turn keeps them young. Engaging in a hobby such as sewing keeps our minds and hands active.


Rogue Chocolate Stout Brownies_featured

Baking the Beer Brownies From Men’s Journal Magazine? Good, but Grab an Apron

Men's Journal Magazine Beer BrowniesRaise a glass and a festive brownie this St. Patrick’s Day with this recipe for Rogue Chocolate Stout Brownies from Men’s Journal magazine. It gets messy—but it’s worth it!

If ever there was a case for wearing an apron while baking, the Rogue Chocolate Stout Brownies from the March issue of Men’s Journal magazine is it. This is honestly the messiest recipe I’ve ever tackled!

I ruined a white T-shirt; made a mess of my kitchen counter, sink and mixer; and I feel the stickiness of beer in the bend of my left elbow. How did that happen?!

As soon as I read the “Cooking With Beer” feature, I knew I had to try one of the recipes. Being a dessert girl, and my husband being a beer man, the brownies were the most logical choice.

The ingredients list was an easy one to tackle, and with a salad on the menu for dinner, last night seemed like the perfect night for homemade brownies. You know, to balance out the healthy salad.

One note about the ingredients: There is kosher salt on the list, but the recipe instructions never mention it again. Should I sprinkle it on top before baking? Should I melt it with the chocolate?

I opted to stir it in with the dry mix of flour and cocoa powder. That made the most sense to me. There was a enough batter that I feared it would slowly bake over the edges of the 8-inch-by-8-inch baking dish, but I kept an eye on it and all was fine inside the oven.

The results after 45 minutes at 350 degrees? The house sure smelled delicious, that’s for sure. The brownies were more cake-y than fudge-y, which was fine with me, and a nice crispness on top protected the moistness inside. (My husband described them as “spongy,” but he prefers a more fudge-like brownie.)

With my first bite, I could smell the stout much more than I could taste it, and overall I’m very pleased. I found myself hoping that someone would show up at our house unexpectedly so that I could show off by offering a plate with a brownie, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder on top of everything. Who doesn’t love a from-scratch brownie, after all?

Oh, and, does anyone know a trick for getting chocolate, beer and egg out of a white T-shirt?


Football Feast

4 Slimmed-Down Super Bowl Snack Options From Health and Fitness Magazines

Super Bowl recipes

Walnut-Goat Cheese Dip

Having people over for the big game? Serve these snacks that are as healthy as they are tasty at your Super Bowl party this weekend–courtesy of our favorite fitness magazines.

Have you seen the picture online of the football stadium made of snack foods? It’s built from guacamole, sour cream, cheese, bacon, chips, and much more, all surrounded by 58 Twinkies. One account online estimates the calorie count at more than 24,000.

Although such a snack scene would make your Super Bowl party guests smile and laugh, it certainly wouldn’t do much for their health and waistlines.

So, with your Super Bowl gathering in mind, I scoured my stack of recent health and fitness magazines to find healthier alternatives. Your guests don’t have to know they’re eating healthy, but you can be happy knowing that you fed them well.

  1. Sausage Pizza With Sweet Peppers from Shape magazine. At only 351 calories for TWO slices, this pizza is made with a whole wheat crust, fresh veggies and spicy chicken sausage to cut down on the fat and calories.
  2. Men’s Fitness magazine‘s Chili Dip. The magazine cooks up four ways to enjoy beef roast, one of which is a chili dip that can be served with tortilla chips or fresh veggie sticks. Beef, it does a body good. Isn’t that the saying?
  3. The Walnut-Goat Cheese Dip from Prevention magazine. I tried this recipe recently, and encourage you to do the same. Game day–or any day, really–is a great one for this dip. Have plenty of fresh pita chips and veggie sticks on hand. It’ll go fast!
  4. Double-Cut Pork Chops from Men’s Journal magazine. If you’d rather serve a meal than just a table full of snacks, this is the recipe to use. Made with fresh herbs and served with a side of sweet potato fries, it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

What are you serving at your Super Bowl party?


Healthy New Year Resolution_featured

5 Healthy Eating Resolutions for the New Year

Healthy New Year's ResolutionsEating better and getting fit are among the most popular of the new year’s resolutions. Pretty daunting on their own, but break it down into smaller, doable steps for success.

If you’re making New Year’s resolutions, you more than likely are planning to eat better. The new year is a great opportunity to make such promises to ourselves. Eating better is on my list too. But it’s a big resolution.

So, what if we make it a little more specific? What if we break that one big resolution into several smaller, more doable goals for 2013? Like:

  1. Drink more water. Sometimes, simple thirst and slight dehydration can feel like hunger. Keep hydrated for overall health and to feel satisfied throughout the day. If you’re working out during the day, add another serving of water for every 20 minutes of activity.
  2. Avoid emotional eating. Here’s a simple trick: Make a list of 10 things to do other than eat when things get stressful and post it on the fridge or pantry door. Call a friend, walk around the block, work on a puzzle, the possibilities are endless. Then when you go to the pantry during stressful moments, you have more positive options for relieving that stress.
  3. Add more fruits and vegetables to your day. Do you get your full nine servings in each day? I don’t, so I’m going to try to slowly add more in. If this is one of your resolutions for healthy eating in 2013, consider local produce.
  4. Remember to indulge. No one wants to feel deprived, so go ahead, make Friday nights the nights you have dessert after dinner. Pick one Saturday each month where you won’t count calories or carbs. Allow yourself an indulgence every once in a while to keep from getting bored with your new healthy eating routine.
  5. Arm yourself with information and great recipes. You can do that with subscriptions to great magazines like Eating Well, Prevention and Cooking Light. There are a wide array of Cooking & Food and Health & Fitness titles to learn from on your way to a healthier 2011!

What do you think? Will eating better be on your list of resolutions for the new year?