Blog Posts by SparkPeople.com

  • Make the Perfect Roasted Chicken

    Roast chicken

    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com
    from "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight"

    Roasted chicken is not just a special-occasion meal, it's one of the most versatile foods you can make.

    Save time and energy by roasting two chickens at once. Carve the second chicken, let cool, and then freeze the meat and bones separately.

    Instead of buying expensive deli meats, which can be full of sodium and fillers, use homemade roasted chicken. Use the meat in soups, throw it on pasta or pair it with a simple salad. Use the bones to make homemade, low-sodium chicken stock

    WATCH: Perfect roast chicken

    RECIPE: Perfect Roasted Chicken


    Minutes to Prepare: 15

    Minutes to Cook: 75

    Number of Servings: 4

    Ingredients

    1 T rosemary, chopped
    1/3 t black pepper
    1 t kosher or sea salt
    1 T butter, softened
    1 T olive oil
    1 lemon, cut into quarters
    1 3-pound chicken

    Directions

    Preheat

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  • Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Omelets

    What's the secret to a perfect omelet?
    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at
    SparkPeople.com
    from "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight"

    The egg-white omelet is a staple breakfast for many healthy eaters, but they're often rubbery and bland. After several trials, I've found that it's easy to make a flavorful omelet that's very low on fat: The secret is to add a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese to the eggs after beating them. You'll find it really improves the texture.

    Adding cheese to the eggs leaves plenty of room to fill the omelet with vegetables. To make the weekday breakfast easy, sauté vegetables ahead of time, then reheat them slightly in the microwave before adding them to the eggs.

    Add two slices of whole-wheat toast, a cup of fat-free milk and a cup of melon for a meal that has less than 400 calories!

    (VIDEO: How to Make an Omelet)

    Awesome Omelets

    You can fill an omelet with anything. Here are a few of my favorite combinations:

    · Sautéed onions and

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  • A Chef's Secret to Perfect Creamy Soups

    Creamy squash soup

    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com
    from "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight"

    Creamy soups are so versatile: Cream of broccoli. Cream of chicken. Cream of celery. Cream of mushroom.

    Those soups are so rich and comforting to us, but there's no need to reach for the canned version--unless you like that familiar SLURP sound they make when they plop into the pot. Making your own is easy.

    In classical cooking, there are rules for everything, even creamy soups. Here's how to keep your soup velvety smooth--no lumps or risk of curdling.

    • If the cream (or milk) is warm, it will blend into the soup better.
    • I often use fat-free evaporated milk, which is shelf-stable and at room temperature. There's no need to heat it before adding to soup, and it adds a velvety texture.
    • Cream should always be added at the end of the cooking process. I prefer adding it after I puree the vegetables.
    • Once the cream (or evaporated
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  • Our Favorite Winter Veggie Side Dish

    Roasted winter vegetables


    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com

    By roasting these hearty winter vegetables, we soften their strong tastes and bring out their natural sweetness.You can use any combination of these three vegetables in this recipe.

    Fennel has a mild licorice flavor, and it becomes very sweet when roasted. You can save the fronds for use as garnish or in salads, but discard the tough green stems.

    To prep the fennel, slice off the root end, then remove the stems. Slice in half from root to tip, remove the tough inner core, and slice into half-moons.

    To prep fresh Brussels sprouts, rinse them well, then slice off the ends, remove the outer layers, and cut into quarters. Rinse again to remove any residual dirt.

    Minutes to Prepare: 15

    Minutes to Cook: 30

    Number of Servings: 8

    Ingredients

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
    2 small fennel bulbs, sliced (white parts only)
    2 cups Brussels sprouts,

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  • Chop Onions like a Pro--without Shedding a Tear

    Chop onions like a pro--no crying!

    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com

    Have you ever heard that if you are trying to sell your house you should always bake a batch of cookies right before showing the house to a prospective buyer? Supposedly the smell incites the potential buyer and "sells" the house.

    Let me let you in on a secret. Forget the cookies--sauté some onions instead. Walking into a room filled with a cooked onion aroma will put a smile and a "let's stay for supper" into anyone's mind. The beauty of the onion is that the outcomes are endless. Will they go into a spicy vegetarian chili, be layered on top a juicy lean roast beef sandwich, or serve as the star in steaming bowl of French onion soup?

    Onions contain potassium, vitamin C, folic acid, and vitamin B6. For 1/2 cup serving they provide 1.6 grams of fiber, 1.2 grams of protein, and only 38 calories.

    Varieties of Onions:
    My favorite is the Vidalia, a Southern onion that is only around for a couple of

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  • 11 Healthy Party Appetizers

    Choose healthy holiday party foods.

    By Stepfanie Romine, editor of SparkRecipes.com

    Did you know that overindulging on the weekends can lead to weight gain of nine pounds a year?

    To stay on track and still have fun with friends and family, serve some of these healthier party foods.

    Bruschetta: Traditionally, this starter is made with thin slices of toasted bread rubbed with garlic and topped with tomato and basil. Get whole wheat or multigrain baguettes from the bakery. Have them slice the bread--it'll be thinner and more uniform. 45 calories; 2 g fat per piece

    Smoked salmon mousse: In a food processor, mix 6 ounces smoked salmon with light cream cheese, some dill, lemon zest and juice, and a handful of capers. Mix until creamy, then spread on sliced baguettes and top with a thin slice of English cucumber. 75 calories; 3 g fat

    Salsa: Jarred or homemade, spicy or mild, this is a no-fail appetizer. Serve it with baked or whole-grain chips, vegetables or pita chips. 50-75 calories a cup

    Guacamole: Full of

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  • Beans: The Super Food that Keeps You Full

    Beans and lentils: Good for more than just chili, legumes add fiber and protein to any meal in a flash.

    By the experts at SparkPeople.com

    The humble bean is quite the super food: packed with calcium, iron, potassium, B vitamins, plus about a quarter of the protein and half the fiber recommended daily for adults-all in a single serving. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, beans may even lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, which can help boost heart health. Beans also do double duty in the food pyramid as both a vegetable and a protein. Not to mention, beans are easy to cook with, widely available and inexpensive.

    Beans and their legume cousins (such as soybeans, chickpeas and lentils) have been cultivated and consumed for centuries as a part of many world cuisines: Black beans figure prominently in Central American and Caribbean dishes, chickpeas are a staple of Middle Eastern cooking, lentils are common in Indian and Persian recipes, and white beans are a fixture of French and Italian cookbooks.

    Even though beans offer a slew of health benefits and

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  • How Long Will My Fruits and Vegetables Last?

    By Stepfanie Romine, co-author "The SparkPeople Cookbook"

    In addition to storing your fruits and veggies properly, it's good to know approximately how long the fresh stuff will last. Plan your trip to the grocery or farmer's market accordingly so that your foods are at the peak of freshness when you plan to prepare them, and you're not throwing away food that's gone bad before you get a chance to use it.

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  • A Chef's Favorite (Healthy) Burger Toppings

    Burgers CAN be healthy!

    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com


    I love a good burger--turkey, beef, pork, chicken, veggies, you name it! With my current focus on weight training, I think my body is craving extra protein. For me a lean burger is a quick, easy meal that, with added toppings, will never look or taste the same twice It's one of those "crowd pleaser" meals because the every member of the family can make each his or her own signature meal.


    My slim-it-down tip (without taking out the taste) is that I usually do not eat hamburgers with my fingers. I use a fork because I almost always only eat one half of the whole grain bun. By doing this I trim close to 60 calories, and the fork forces me to slow down and enjoy the meal. (If I really want to use my fingers, I choose a low calorie thin whole grain bun.)


    Though you can't go wrong with the classics, I like to get creative with my burgers. Here are some of my favorite toppings. Try them at tonight!

    • Corn and
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  • What's for Dinner: Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

    From

    by Chef Meg Galvin, SparkPeople.com Healthy Cooking Expert

    This recipe is part of "The SparkPeople Cookbook"! Order your copy today! This is THE most popular recipe on SparkRecipes.com. We've added more vegetables and reduced the sodium drastically to make it even better.

    Birdie, one of our most successful members to date, is a doctor and mother of five. Having lost 143 pounds on SparkPeople, she is always on the lookout for healthy recipe ideas, but they have to be quick and easy. "I'm not a good cook," she confesses, but this is one dish she serves regularly without worry. She's not the only member who's making this for dinner: the recipe has been rated more than 2,700 times!

    Salsa Chicken is easy to make; just put all the ingredients in a slow cooker and let the machine do the work. There are infinite variations, and your family is guaranteed to like each one.
    6-8 hours to prepare; 15 minutes of active cooking time

    Minutes to Prepare: 5

    Minutes to

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