Fun and Healthy Spin on Pizza!

Here’s a confession: I am hooked on pizza. Who can resist that ooey-gooey cheese, crunchy crust and flavorful toppings?!

So, what can you do to make pizza delicious AND guilt free? Make a crust out of veggies!

There have been many wacky pizza crust ideas like cauliflower pizza crust, zucchini pizza crust and even eggplant pizza crust.

Here’s one more: spaghetti squash pizza crust!!!

Why choose spaghetti squash?

  • It’s easy!

Out of all the vegetable pizza crusts out there, this has to be one of the most simple and straight forward to make.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees!

Step 1: Cut spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the innards (seeds and icky middle part)

Step 2: Cook the spaghetti squash in the microwave for about 10 minutes for each half until it is tender and easily pulls apart with a fork

Step 3: Fork out all of the squash strands and place them in a paper towel to squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as you can

Step 4:  Measure out 3 1/2 cups of squash strands and mix together with 1 egg, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/4 of mozzarella cheese

Step 5: Spread the squash mixture onto a baking sheet covered in tinfoil. Try and make a nicely pressed, even and thin layer out of the squash.

Step 6: Bake your crust in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Take it out, flip it over and bake it for another 25-30 minutes.

Step 7: Once the crust is baked through and nice and crispy, cover with your favorite toppings! Bake in the oven for another 4-6 minutes until the cheese is melted goodness.

  • It’s Healthy!

By switching from regular crust to spaghetti squash crust you are adding fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, Magnesium and Potassium to your diet!!

Eating half of the pizza will also boost your vegetable intake by a serving!

Doesn’t it look delicious!? 

It’s Springtime: Create your exercise routine!

      Top 5 reasons people don’t exercise  : 

1. I don’t have time

2. I don’t have any motivation

3. I don’t have access to a gym or equipment

4. I don’t enjoy exercising

5. I don’t know how to exercise



1. Set specific, manageable goals

The Centers for disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of exercise each week. That boils down to 30 minutes of exercise a day for 5 days a week. You could even set it up so you have the weekends off! Easy peasy.

2. Make your exercise time a priority- schedule it into your calendar!

Take a look at your schedule for the week and pencil in 30 minutes of exercise a day for 5 days. Treat exercise as part of your homework or work assignment-if you miss a day you lose points!

3. Invest in some fun workout gear

New studies are showing that it is actually possible to dress for success. The better you look, the better you feel and the more you will want to kick a workout’s butt!

Girls: Invest in a cute but comfortable pair of running sneakers, pair of leggings for cold weather, shorts for warm weather and a couple of your favorite colored workout tops and sports bras.

Guys: Even though your workout clothes might not be a priority, a fashionable yet comfortable pair of running/workout shoes can make a workout much more enjoyable!

4. Find a friend, class or group

Finding a gym or workout buddy can be a great way to help you stay motivated. Can’t find someone who is on the same schedule? Research yoga, Pilates or even Crossfit classes in your area that offer classes at many different times throughout the week!

5. Start slowly and track your progress

If you don’t think that 30 minutes a day for 5 days per week is a manageable goal, start slower! Exercising for even 10-20 minutes a day is a good way to get started

Track your progress by recording it in a notebook or downloading an App to your phone. This can help you to see how much you are improving each day and where you are now compared to where you started.

Pedometers are also great little tools that help you keep track of your steps and motivate you to get moving. Clip it on your belt and set yourself a challenge to increase your steps each day!

6. Reward yourself

When you reach one of your goals-reward yourself! Preferably with a non-food reward like a movie, massage or tickets to your favorite sports team.

Insider: March Madness for Financial Fitness

Hey everyone! Good news. Faculty and staff are in the Get Moving UMass groove. Departments around campus are exercising and eating healthily as a team!

I had the pleasure of talking with Christina Williams who is part of the financial aid department here at UMass. Christina is part of  a committee called C.A.K.E whose responsibility is to come up with something fun for the whole office to participate in once a month.

So guess what they decided to do for the month of March!?


March Madness was a challenge aimed to get the whole financial aid office to get moving. The office was split into 4, random teams and given a team name: Team Dawley, Team Whipple, Team Stefanoni or Team Kellogg. Sound familiar?? Channel 3 graciously donated pedometers for everyone to help keep track of their steps. Participants gained points based on how many steps they walked each week. Whoever had the most steps at the end of the challenge got the secret, special, prize. The prize ended up being a whole week of free spin classes at The Town Bike in Northampton!

Teams were also assigned one day to bring in a healthy snack for the whole office. People brought in all sorts of delicious items including fruit salad, smoothies, carrot and celery sticks with peanut butter, hummus, grapes, strawberry salad, whole grain bread and more!

Challenges like this are a great way to get people involved in  fun, healthy, team building activities! Which department will get moving next?

Create Your Own Post-Workout Smoothie

After a good workout you need to refuel your body! The key to any post-workout meal is to eat complex carbohydrates and lean protein. Also, don’t forget to hydrate with plenty of fluid. Smoothies are a simple, easy and yummy way to meet your body’s needs. There are hundreds of different smoothie recipes but we don’t always have the right ingredients! Creating your own smoothie recipe is simple and easy once you know how to do it.

Here are some quick tips to help you put together your own great post-workout smoothie with the ingredients you have at home:

  1. Pick at least 2 complex carbohydrates to go in your smoothie (If you want to do a fruit and vegetable smoothie make sure you have 2 parts fruit to 1 part vegetable so it still tastes fruity and sweet!)
  2. Pick at least 1 lean protein to put in your smoothie
  3. Pick at least 1 hydrating liquid to put in your smoothie
  • The measurements listed are approximately for 1 serving so take this into account if you are making a smoothie for more than 1 person!
  • For a thicker smoothie you can freeze the fruits/vegetables you use or use yogurt instead of liquid
  • If you are using yogurt AND a hydrating liquid, use 1/2 cup of each

Complex Carbohydrates

  • 1 cup Spinach or kale
  • 1 cup Frozen or fresh berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries etc.)
  • 1 Banana

  • 1 Apple
  • 1 cup Honeydew
  • 1/2 cup Kiwi
  • 1/2 cup Mango
  • 1/2 cup Papaya
  • 1 cup Peas
  • 1/2 cup Carrots
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 cup Pineapple
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh cooked broccoli florets
  • 1 cup Oranges
  • 1/2 Lemon or lime
  • 1 cup Cucumber slices
  • Cherries
  • Grapes

Lean Protein

  • 2 tablespoons Flax seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoons Chia seeds
  • Low-fat, plain yogurt or Greek yogurt (Try to get yogurt with the LEAST amount of sugar)
  • Protein powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter or any type of nut butter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, almonds or any other nuts you like
  • Hemp seeds or powder

Hydrating Liquids

  • 1 cup low-fat milk, almond milk , soy milk, rice milk etc.
  • 1 cup 100% pure orange juice-no sugar added!
  • 1 cup Coconut water
  • 1 cup 100% pure fruit juice like pomegranate juice, blueberry juice, cranberry juice etc.
  • Non-sweetened ice tea or green tea

Fun Extras 

  • 1 cup of coffee
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Seasonings like ginger, mint, cinnamon, lavender, turmeric, etc. (To taste)

Snowy-Day Home Workouts

In light of the impending snow storm, I am taking away every excuse you might have to not work out because you can’t leave the house.

Photo by Megan Beck

Photo by Megan Beck

1. Watch an exercise video on YouTube- especially the UMass Campus Recreation YouTube! There are literally thousands of workout videos on YouTube ranging from yoga and pilates to cardio bootcamps and “fat blasting circuits.” You can even get specific and target muscles you want to tone by watching ab, bicep, or glute workout videos! This is an excellent way to try new types of exercise in the comfort of your own home- no need to worry about looking silly while doing a complicated yoga pose.  Many videos even have levels for beginners, intermediates and advanced!

2. 5-Minute Speed Circuit. Come on guys, this only takes 5 minutes! Repeat it 5 times with a 1-minute break in between and you have an intense 30 minute workout.

 Here’s how it goes:

  • 30 seconds of speedy feet to warm your body up. Widen your stance, bend your knees and move your feet up and down as quick  as you can go!
  • 30 second rest
  • 30 seconds of jumping lunges. Get in a lunge postion with one foot in front and one foot behind while your hips are lowered in a squat. Lunge down and then jump up. While you are in mid-air, switch your feet so you land in a lunge position on the opposite side. To make this harder you can hold weights or dumbbells.
  • 30 second rest
  • 1 minute of burpees. Start in a standing position. Next lower to a squatting position. Drop your hands forward and kick your legs out behind  you so you are in a push-up position. Do 1 push-up and jump back up into standing position. Repeat.
  • 30 second rest
  • 30 seconds of speed squats. Stand with your legs hip-width apart and then squat down like you are sitting in an imaginary chair. Stand up quickly and do as many as you can in 30 seconds!
  • 30 second rest
  • 30 seconds of jumping jacks.

3. Create your own home workout! This is a great way to make your workout personal and focus on the things you want to! Here are some simple guidelines:

  • Pick how much time you want to spend working out
  • Pick an upper body workout: push-ups, chair dips, curls (use something around the house for a weight!)
  • Pick a lower body workout: lunges, squats, supermans, calf raises
  • Pick a core workout: medicine ball twist, crunches, sit-ups, planks, side planks, bicycles
  • Pick a compound exercise: jumping lunges, mountain climbers, stair climbing, jumping rope, burpees
  • Do 3-5 sets of each exercise with 15-25 repetitions

Nutrition Labels: What’s Important?

  • Do calories count?
  • What’s the difference between fat and saturated fat?
  • How much sodium is too much?

Knowing how to understand a nutrition label is an important key to a healthy lifestyle. Whether you are eating in the UMass dining commons or strolling down the aisle of the grocery store, nutrition labels are everywhere and have the power to tell you what’s healthy and what’s not.

Calories: Many people who are trying to be healthier or lose weight judge what they eat by glancing at the calorie line of the nutrition label to see if it is “too low” or “too high.”  The reason so many people associate calories with weight gain is because our energy comes from calories and if we eat more calories than we burn a day it causes us to gain weight. Instead of worrying about how many calories you eat, worry if those calories are “empty” or not. Empty calories come from saturated fats and added sugars that add calories to your diet with little or no nutrients. For example, eating 250 calories of a snickers bar fills you up with processed sugar and saturated fat compared to eating 250 calories of a salad with grilled chicken that adds protein, vitamin C, A, fiber and many other nutrients to your diet.   Simply looking at how many calories a food has doesn’t really tell you anything! Skip the calorie line and move on to what really matters.

If you don’t check anything else, check these 3!!!!

1. Fat: 20-35% of our daily calories should come from fat but pay close attention to the saturated and trans fat lines! Trans fat has been removed from almost all foods but it is still important to check because it has been linked to many health problems like high cholesterol and heart disease. You should also  limit the amount of saturated fat you are eating because it increases the bad type of cholesterol levels in our blood. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture advises people to eat less than 20 g of saturated fat per day. You want to eat a majority of unsaturated fat which is found in foods like olive oil, nuts, salmon, avocados, etc.

2. Cholesterol: Cholesterol is necessary for normal bodily functions and helps us produce hormones as well as vitamin D. However, too much cholesterol can contribute to heart disease. It is recommended that you eat less than 300 milligrams a day!

3. Sodium: 75% of our daily salt intake comes from processed foods. This is why checking nutrition labels is so important! The average American consumes 3,400 mg of salt per day even though the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day. Look out especially for canned foods like soup, frozen foods like frozen pizza or burritos, packaged deli meats and marinades like soy sauce!

Quick Tip: 

For an even faster way to tell how much fat, cholesterol or sodium is in a food check the  % Daily Value line on the right side!