Fix-It Friday: Helpful Websites Edition

It’s cold and wet and as generally unpleasant today here as it was lovely yesterday.

It’s also Fix-It Friday, but I haven’t done a cooking project with the Small Person this week so far, and probably won’t. I have summer pants to fit into, shortly. Cookies are incompatible with that goal, and I am assuming you all know how to steam broccoli.

Instead, I am going to tell you about some websites that I find helpful.

If you need a recipe, the best thing you can do for yourself is visit Epicurious. It’s a massive database of recipes and cooking information. The site has a glossary for those of really starting from scratch, and articles for those of you needing inspiration.

My favorite feature by far, however, is the advanced recipe search. The search allows you to look for recipes not just via the obvious keywords, but by setting parameters like gluten-free (which is helpful if you would like to not poison your celiac friends), vegetarian, or low-cal, as well as what cuisine, occasion or even preparation method you’d prefer.

They have reader reviews, which frequently suggest interesting variations, and if you decide you really like a recipe or would like to file it for future reference, you can set up a recipe box. My favorite pork dish, 2 kinds of cake and a rice pudding with chai spices are all part of my repertoire thanks to Epicurious.

On the other side of the coin is Fitday. It is a food and exercise tracker. If you’ve done Weight Watchers, this is not unlike the online version of that program, only it’s free.

I use it for tune-ups. I try to follow the gospel of vegetables and low-processed food, but when I’m stressed or there have been a lot of special occasions going on, my cheese-to-vegetable ratio gets out of whack. Tracking what I eat helps me get back in the habit of moderation, and reminds me about portion sizes, which is my downfall in terms of unhealthy eating.

You can also track how many calories you burn with exercise, which I find is a good motivator. My father-in-law once observed that when he started working out and realized how hard he had to work to burn off a mere 300 calories, he got a lot stingier with his ice cream portions. So true.

If you have a tendency toward eating disorders, you may not want to use this site — it does couch things in terms of diet.

And finally, there’s Map My Run. This is pure exercise geekery. If you go out for a run and you want to know how far you ran — or if you want to map out a run in advance — you go there and plot it out on the map and it’ll give you the distance. You can save the run with notes about terrain, scenery, etc. If you want to get really wonk-ish, you can use the site to track your training, and it seems they’re even integrated with Garmin, now, if you have one of those wrist GPS systems. You can also track hikes and bikes, and see other people’s suggestions for routes in your area.

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