Top 3 healthy frozen treats to keep you cool all summer

Grapes & BananasDuring the summer, I’m surrounded by sweets down the shore. There’s Lenny the ice cream man wheeling his cooler up and down the beach, a dairy bar on every corner, and the jingly sound of the ice cream truck’s hourly rounds. If I had my choice, I’d eat ice cream every day (for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). To keep me from indulging as often as I’d like, I rely on these healthy, frozen treats to keep me cool and my sweet tooth satisfied.

1. Frapes (aka Frozen Grapes)
Why didn’t I discover this sooner?! Frozen grapes are super easy to make — just put them in your freezer. It’s a great way to keep them from going bad, but more importantly, they taste like candy. Delicious, refreshing candy. The best part is they’re good for you, low in calories, and fat-free. They also make great ice cubes that won’t water down your favorite grape beverages.

For a twist on frozen grapes, try Frozen Grapes Rolled in Yogurt and Crushed Pistachios.

2. There’s a new freeze pop in town
Looking for a healthy alternative to freeze pops or ice cream bars? Just grab a portable tube of Greek yogurt and throw it in the freezer. Once frozen, just let it defrost for a few minutes so it has a creamy frozen yogurt texture.

3. Franana Whips (aka Frozen Banana Whips)
This snack is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
Forget banana bread, it’s time to use your extra bananas for banana whips. Throw a few bananas in the freezer, blend them in a blender or food processor, and enjoy! It tastes like banana ice cream, but it’s a lot healthier and easier to make. And if you want to get creative, you can experiment with different flavors and add-ins, like honey, walnuts, and strawberries.

Check out these recipes for more ideas: Magic One-Ingredient Ice Cream 5 Ways — Peanut Butter, Nutella, and More

What are your favorite healthy and refreshing summer treats?

avatar

Susan

I'm a copywriter at IBX and have worked here for the last 5 years. Now that I'm a new mom, it's even harder to find time to exercise and eat healthy. But I also have a darling little girl reminding me why I need to take care of myself. Follow my posts as I strive for balance when it comes to leading a happy, healthy life.

More Posts - Twitter

Top 3: Pop-ups to pop by

Spruce Street HarborI love summer. Normally, my goal is to spend pretty much every weekend at the beach. But this year, I’m excited to stick around the city since it gives me a chance to visit some of the many pop-ups planned for the summer. If you’re not up to speed on the whole pop-up thing, the idea is simple: Just find an open space in the city (think abandoned lot) and turn it into something unexpected.

Here’s my top 3 list of must-see pop-ups this summer.

1. Making something beautiful from unused spaces
Plant some gorgeous flowers and greens, add picnic tables, string up a few lights, and voilà — you have a Pop Up Garden. For the fourth year in a row, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) has opened a pop-up garden at 15th and South Streets. Movie nights, Quizzo, and boot camp-style workouts are planned for the rest of the summer. All proceeds support PHS City Harvest, which brings together a network of community gardeners, who grow fresh, healthy produce for families in need.

2. Get the shore experience without leaving the city
Ever wish there was boardwalk in Philly? The Spruce Street Harbor, an all-ages-friendly pop-up park, is your wish come true and more! Located in the Marina at Penn’s Landing, Spruce Street Harbor is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Plus, it gets your whole family (even the dog) out and active. Fill your belly at the Blue Fin Restaurant and Bar, relax in the hammock park, cool off under a mist walk way, and play fun games like a bean bag toss and shuffle board. You can even walk along the urban beach and boardwalk. This pop up park is open now through the end of August, so head to this urban oasis before it’s gone.

3. Yesterday’s junk can be today’s treasure!
Just like my grandmom, I love flea markets! Recently, I found a bureau for my younger brother — all it needed was a coat of paint and it was good as new! Not only did I get the thrill of a great find, but I lowered my stress-level about spending too much money. Lucky for me (and you), Philly is home to a ton of pop-up outdoor flea markets from August through October. Walking from table to table and sifting through knick-knacks can totally burn calories. And the stress you avoid by saving money doesn’t hurt either. Check out this list of outdoor pop-up flea markets in the next few months.

Now that you know about the pop-ups I’m looking forward to, what’s your favorite summer pop-up?

avatar

Ashley

I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

More Posts

Top 3 Excuse-busting fitness apps

I don’t have time to work out. RockMyRunThe gym’s too far away. I’m bored with my routine. If you’re like me, you’re guilty of every excuse in the book. But these smartphone apps can help you shed your flabby excuses, and pump up your resolve.

Check out my top 3 favorite health and fitness apps:

1. DJ got us falling in love with RockMyRun
A good DJ can keep you dancing all night — and running all day! I need some upbeat jams to pump me up when I run, but it’s hard creating the perfect playlist. Enter RockMyRun: It gives access to high-energy mixes designed by professional DJs to get me moving and motivate me to push a little harder. I use the standard version of RockMyRun, which is free. But if you pay a subscription for premier, it includes a feature to match the tempo of the music to your pace.
MyFitnessPal
2. Take the guesswork out of weight loss with MyFitnessPal
Once I had mentally committed to eating healthier, I used MyFitnessPal to keep me on track. The app makes it easy to follow a nutrition plan so I know exactly how many calories I can eat and what percentage should be fats, proteins, and other nutrients. And because I was tracking my daily meals and exercise, I found I was much more conscious of making healthy food choices, or using it as an incentive to exercise more. MyFitnessPal also syncs with a number of devices, issues reports on progress, and allows me to cheer on friends.

3. Who needs the gym when you got Sworkit? Sworkit
It’s so much harder to get to the gym during the summer — whether it’s the shore calling or just the need to be outdoors. But now that I have Sworkit, I can sweat it out anywhere! Sworkit creates custom circuit training workouts based on the areas I want to target — legs, arms, back — and the amount of time I have to work out. Voilà! I’ve got myself a personalized workout. There’s no equipment needed and Sworkit will even sync up with MyFitnessPal.

What’s your favorite health or fitness app?

avatar

Susan

I'm a copywriter at IBX and have worked here for the last 5 years. Now that I'm a new mom, it's even harder to find time to exercise and eat healthy. But I also have a darling little girl reminding me why I need to take care of myself. Follow my posts as I strive for balance when it comes to leading a happy, healthy life.

More Posts - Twitter

Top 3 ways to think outside the guac

Three Avocados

Facts:

  • It’s a berry
  • Has more potassium than a banana
  • Has 4 grams of protein
  • Great for skin and hair

Tips:

  • To slow down ripening, store avocados in your fridge
  • To ripen faster, put them in a paper bag with a banana
  • To tell if an avocado is ripe, look under the under the bump on the stem end; if it’s green, the avocado is perfect and if it’s brown, the avocado will be brown inside

Avocados are finicky fruit, aren’t they? Timing the purchase of an avocado so it’s ripe on the day you want to use it can be tricky, and you have to put up with the whole turning-brown-in-a-few-hours thing. But, the trade off is an extreme super food you can enjoy for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, dessert…and as a moisturizer. Here are my top 3 ways to use avocados other than for guacamole.

1. It’s not easy staying green
It used to be that as soon as I would cut an avocado open the countdown to brown began, and in about four hours I would have an unappetizing brown mess. But I found that if you store a cut avocado with a piece of onion, it will stay green for days! Say goodbye to wasted avocado halves.

2. Nature’s little black dress
From salads to smoothies, chocolate pudding to ice cream, avocados go well in so many recipes. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals including vitamin E and potassium, and they increase the absorption rate of other nutrients when eaten at the same time. You don’t have to look far to find a good recipe for avocados. One of my favorites is Avocado Coconut Toast. But there are still so many I haven’t tried yet, but plan to, like these chocolate donuts with avocado cream filling.

3. If you can’t eat ‘em, wear ‘em
Don’t waste money on expensive face mask cream or hair products; just look in your fridge! Mash avocados and apply them directly to your skin and hair. They contain lots of healthy fats, antioxidants, and B vitamins that moisturize, protect, and soothe skin — and are significantly cheaper per ounce than store bought beauty products. Try these 5 things to do with avocados besides make guacamole.

What’s your favorite avocado recipe?

avatar

Sheila

The problem with being a copywriter who writes about health and wellness is that I struggle daily with what I know I should do and what I want to do. Some days I practice what I preach — or as they say around here “Walk the Talk” — some days I don’t. Regardless, I love what I do, where I work, and the IBX members I write for.

More Posts

Top 3 exercises to feel the burn at the beach

Beach Exercise
One of my favorite ways to burn off the pizza, ice cream, and salt water taffy that are part of any summer trip to the shore is by splashing in the surf. Jumping the biggest waves definitely gets my heart rate up, and I love that I’m beating the heat at the same time!

What’s great about vacationing at the shore is that you can break out of your typical gym routine and stay active however the spirit moves you — like running on the beach, biking on the boardwalk, and playing spirited games of paddle ball.

If you’re like me and have answered the call of the Fudgy Wudgy man one too many times, try these 3 activities to help you tone up while you soak up the sun:

1. Get a bikini body, in your bikini
You don’t need fancy equipment to get a great full-body workout — a stretch of sand and a beach chair can do the trick. Try these 5 simple beach exercises, which use the sand’s natural resistance to help you tone and tighten various muscle groups. Do them solo, or make it a competition by challenging your friends and family. Master these exercises, and you can up your game by incorporating more beach gear, like towels and beach balls.

2. Wake up and salute the sun
Want to feel more energized and less guilty about eating too many boardwalk treats? Stake out your spot on the sand, and greet the day with a sun salutation pose. Many shore communities are offering group yoga sessions on the beach. Yoga provides amazing health benefits that can last long after your vacation. Check your favorite beach town’s events calendar for prices, locations, and times.

3. Go fly a kite
It sounds like child’s play, but flying a kite on the beach for just 30 minutes can help you burn up to 100 calories, and you can build core strength and balance by keeping your kite aloft. If you’re planning to be near Ocean City, New Jersey, on the Fourth of July, you can enter the town’s annual kite flying competition. Looking for more aerial action? Why not try kitesurfing, which combines wind and waves into one exhilarating workout? It’s been steadily gaining popularity at local shore points.

This summer, I’m planning to try a yoga class on the beach before I hit the waves. What’s one of your favorite ways to fit in a workout at the shore?

avatar

IBX Insights Team

Health care delivery is in the midst of reform and rejuvenation — an exciting prospect, but one that can also cause confusion and questions. With IBX Insights we want to be your first line of member-focused information, helping you understand the new health care model, how it affects your quality and cost of care, and the opportunities available through IBX to improve your health. Join the conversation with IBX associates who work every day to make health care more accessible and transparent for you.

More Posts

Top 3: Ways to Celebrate the Fourth of July in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Fireworks
There’s no better place to celebrate America’s birthday than Philadelphia. Philly is jam-packed with things to do the week of Independence Day. Catch a baseball exhibit, whip up a festive dessert, and bring your entertainment outdoors with concerts, movies, parades, block parties, and more! This is what summer is all about.

1. Take me out to the ball game exhibit
The Phillies may play away on the Fourth, but you can still get your baseball fix at the Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Follow the history of baseball through the eyes of the immigrants and minority groups who made the game what it is today. Relive the stories of baseball greats like Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Joe DiMaggio, Roberto Clemente, and Ichiro Suzuki through game-worn uniforms, baseball cards, letters, stadium seats, films, and other displays.

2. Get creative with some Pinterest-worthy healthy treats
Headed to a cookout? Ditch the been-there-done-that flag cake and make a lighter, healthier version of the red, white, and blue with these festive 4th of July fruit skewers. They’re quick and easy and are a great way to incorporate fruit into your diet.

3. Join the fun at the Wawa Welcome America Celebration
Starting this Saturday, enjoy seven days of free activities and entertainment with the always-popular Wawa Welcome America Celebration. This can’t-miss series of events features an outdoor viewing of Frozen or Rocky, a performance by the Philly POPS!, block parties with food trucks galore, and more! And to balance out all those hot dogs and ice cream, there’s a children’s fitness event, Go 4th and Learn About Fitness, at Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse on July 1st.

The week is topped off with fireworks and the largest free concert in America — the Philly 4th of July Jam — featuring Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Ed Sheeran, Philly natives the Roots, and more. This is one concert you don’t want to miss!

Bonus: Show our soldiers you care
Don’t forget about those that make our freedom possible! Send a care package to a soldier overseas with Operation Shoebox, a non-profit organization that makes sure our troops get letters, treats, and a little taste of home when they’re serving.

avatar

Sarah

As a copywriter at IBX, I frequently write about health and wellness topics. I am passionate about reading, writing, and travel. Because I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like, I am always trying to stay active — whether that’s running, spinning, hiking, yoga, Pilates, or Barre. I also try to balance out dessert with fresh, in-season veggies from my local farmer’s market, and I love trying out new recipes.

More Posts

Top 3: 5K fun runs to make you forget you hate running

After running the Blue Cross Broad Street Run in May, I’ve made it my goal to run as many races as I can this summer to keep my momentum going. With races like Muckfest and the R.O.C Race — super fun, highly motivational, and benefiting a great cause — I’m off to a great start. But, I’m not even close to finished. Get in on the action with my top 3 fun-themed 5Ks of the summer.

Mud Run

1. Save the day with this 5K
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a super hero convention with sneakers! The Super Run is your chance to be a real-life hero. This 5K raises money to grant wishes to those in need. Runners dress as their favorite super hero and get cool swag like a cape (!), an “I’m Super” temporary tattoo, and an awareness bracelet. There’s even a 1K walk for non-runners who still want to participate.

The Super Run
Race day: June 21, 2014
Place: Philadelphia Navy Yard
Benefits: The Wish Upon a Hero Foundation

2. And all the girlies say…it’s Pretty Fly for a 5K!
Break out your flannel shirts and Blossom hats! The Pretty Fly for a 5K is all that and a bag of chips! With this 90s-themed race, you get your very own fanny pack filled with childhood favorites like slap bracelets, Handi-Snacks, Pop Rocks, and a CapriSun. Plus, you get to jam to your favorite 90s tunes along the entire course! If you’re not into running it, you can always dance it with one of these super hot dance moves. And if you’re not into 90s, then talk to the hand, because the face don’t understand!

Pretty Fly for a 5K
Race day: July 12, 2014
Place: Philadelphia Art Museum area
Benefits: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

3. Will run for Crab Fries
The way I see it, this is probably the best 5K you’ll run all summer. With the Chickie’s and Pete’s 5K Boardwalk Run, you A) get to run on the very first boardwalk ever built, and B) wind up the race with your very own cup of free Crab Fries. This one is especially convenient if you’re already at the shore during that weekend. If you’re not a runner, that’s OK! You can walk the race, too.

Chickie’s and Pete’s 5K Boardwalk Run
Race day: August 23, 2014
Place: Atlantic City Boardwalk
Benefits: Autism New Jersey

What’s the craziest 5K you’ve ever run?

avatar

Ashley

I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

More Posts

Top 3: DIY summer activities for kids

Kids gardening
School’s out for summer! As a kid, I spent summer days running around with friends, swimming at the neighborhood pool, riding my bike until dusk, and catching fireflies. Want to save your couch bound kids (or nieces, nephews, whoever) from overdosing on TV and video games? Try my top 3 DIY outside and on the move activities.

1. No pool? No problem! Create a water world in your own backyard
Let the kids cool off with a mom- (or dad-) made water park. Make a human carwash from PVC pipes and pool noodles, or a giant water bed from plastic drop cloth and duct tape. Here are a few water activity ideas you and your kids can create and enjoy together. And if you’re short on time, there’s always a good old-fashioned water balloon fight.

2. Try a little “healthy” competition
Schedule a weekly family game night, but swap out typical board games for outdoor versions that get kids moving. “Lawn” versions of Twister, Scrabble, and Jenga are easy to create, and outdoor games like the bean bag toss are always a hit. And if your kids are really into video games, try creating a life-sized Angry Birds game, complete with green pig balloons and cardboard boxes. Here are some other games that are easy to create and fun for the whole family.

3. Give green thumbs the green light
Gardening teaches responsibility and patience. Plus, it’s another great excuse to spend time outside. Encouraging kids to grow their favorite fruits and veggies adds valuable lessons about nutrition to the mix (exercise, nutrition, and learning, it’s like good parenting on steroids). If you live in an area without a lot of space for a garden, you can grow plants in a container or flower box, as long as there are holes for the roots to breathe. Get a full list of tips for gardening with your kids.

You’ve seen my ideas for summer fun; but, how will you keep your kids busy (and active) this summer?

avatar

Ashley

I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

More Posts

Top 3: Ditch the shore for more in Philly

Art MuseumLike birds flying south for the winter, Philadelphians flock to the shore for Memorial Day Weekend. But for those of you sticking around town, like me, there’s still plenty to do.

Here are our top 3 things to do in Philly during Memorial Day Weekend.

1. Fall in “Love” with fashion and art
As a lifelong Philadelphian, I sometimes forget there’s a world of art and culture at the top of the Art Museum steps (Sorry, Rocky!). If you’re in the neighborhood, it’s a good time to check out Runway of Love, featuring the skinny, body-conscious fashions by the late American designer, Patrick Kelly. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest in the country with over 200,000 paintings, prints, and drawings. So, there’s bound to be something that strikes your fancy — even if fashion isn’t your thing.

You can make a day of it and walk down the Parkway to the Barnes Foundation, home to Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings by famous artists like Renoir and Picasso.

2. Take yourself out to the ballgame
My beloved Fightin’ Phils are taking on the Dodgers at home Memorial Day weekend. Bring your pup for “Bark in the Park” on Saturday night, or get your dog on at “Dollar Dog Night” on Monday. If you’re counting calories, check out the vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Here’s a list of park favorites and their calorie counts. *Hint: you may want to rethink the Schmitter.

3. Lighten up with a non-traditional BBQ
What’s Memorial Day Weekend without a traditional BBQ with friends and family? Add a twist (and make things easy on yourself) by making it pot luck; you provide the beverages and everyone brings a dish to share. If you’re looking for some healthier alternatives, here are 9 mouthwatering recipes to try. Every recipe on this list is less than 400 calories!

Have a great holiday weekend!

Bonus: Honor our veterans from Philadelphia
Let’s not forget what Memorial Day is all about. The Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial will hold its annual ceremony honoring the 646 Philadelphians lost during the Vietnam War on Monday, May 26 at 12:30p.m. on Front and Spruce Streets. The Honorable Theresa Anne Tull, a Foreign Service Officer with extensive experience in Southeast Asia, will be the keynote speaker.

avatar

Ashley

I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

More Posts

Can I get health insurance during the “special enrollment period?”

Special Enrollment Open enrollment for choosing a new health plan for 2014 is over, but you may still be able to get coverage if you’ve experienced certain events in your life. From April 1, 2014, to November 15, 2014, a special enrollment period will be available for individuals with a qualifying life event.

You may be eligible to enroll during the special enrollment period if you experience:

  • Loss of coverage: There are several scenarios where you may lose your current health coverage that would make you eligible for a special enrollment period to apply for coverage. For example, if you have health coverage through your job, and lose your job, you qualify for a special enrollment period and can apply for an individual or family plan. Or, if you have coverage through your spouse’s plan and you get divorced or your spouse passes away, you would also be eligible for a special enrollment period. You may also have a plan that is being discontinued due to the fact that the plan is non-compliant with the Affordable Care Act. In this scenario, you would also be eligible for a special enrollment period and can apply for coverage.
  • Birth or adoption of a baby: If you are uninsured or on a competitor’s plan and you have or adopt a baby, you qualify for a special enrollment period and can apply for coverage for you and your family.*
  • Recent move into a new coverage area: If you recently moved, say from California to Pennsylvania, you would qualify for a special enrollment period and could enroll in a new individual or family plan in Pennsylvania.
  • Marriage: If you are uninsured or on a competitor’s plan and you get married, you and your spouse would qualify for a special enrollment period and can apply for individual or family health coverage. *

*Keep in mind that special enrollment applies to prospective members only, so if you already have an Independence Blue Cross (IBC) health plan, and have a baby or get married, you can add your baby or spouse to your current IBC health plan under our normal policy change process.

There may be other unique situations where you can still apply for coverage during the special enrollment period, so if you believe you qualify, but do not see your life event listed above, please call us at 1-888-475-6206.

Enrollment time frame
If you experience one of the life events listed above, you have 60 days from your event date to apply for a new health plan. In some scenarios, you can submit your application early to prevent a gap in coverage. If you experience a loss of coverage, you have the option of applying up to 60 days prior to your loss of coverage. If you move into a new coverage area or get married, you can apply 30 days prior to your move or wedding.

If you do not qualify for a special enrollment period, your next opportunity to apply for coverage is the 2015 annual open enrollment period, which opens on November 15, 2014, for coverage beginning January 1, 2015.

avatar

Paula Sunshine

As Vice President of Consumer Sales and Marketing at Independence Blue Cross, Paula Sunshine is accountable for the Individual Under-65 market segment. In this capacity, she is directly responsible for developing and executing all direct-to-consumer marketing and sales capabilities. In addition, Ms. Sunshine is accountable for insuring the delivery of market-competitive products and pricing as well as operational readiness for the Consumer market.

More Posts