Blog Posts by SparkPeople.com

  • 20-Minute (Healthy!) Holiday Potluck Salad

    Pomegranate chicken salad

    by Chef Meg Galvin, SparkPeople.com Healthy Cooking Expert

    Tomorrow is the annual Christmas Eve potluck, and you still have no idea what to bring. It has to be quick and easy. You still have gifts to wrap, a house to clean, cookies to bake...

    Bypass the veggie trays and hummus and the precut cheese cubes. If you have 20 minutes, you can create a restaurant-quality salad that will impress your loved ones and get something healthy on the buffet table.

    This seasonal salad is ready in a flash. You will love the softness of the greens with the crunch of the radish and pomegranate.

    By reducing the pomegranate juice you intensify the flavor and reduce the amount of oil needed to create perfect vinaigrette.

    Minutes to Prepare: 15

    Minutes to Cook: 5

    Number of Servings: 4

    Tips

    Daikon radish is long and slender, with white or light green skin. Often eaten with Asian cuisine, you should peel daikon before eating.
    For this recipe, peel the daikon, slice

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  • Baffled by Bread? How to Choose the Best Loaf

    By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian at SparkPeople.com

    Have you walked through the bread aisle lately? What used to be a few shelves of loaves is now a full-length aisle of cellophane-wrapped confusion. It used to be simple to bring home a loaf. Now it requires concentration, patience and reading glasses! With catch phrases like "cracked," "stone-ground," "fiber" and "whole grain," even when you know a thing or two about nutrition, it's hard to tell what is what. In fact some loaves with healthy-sounding names end up being nutritional disasters, while loaves with ho-hum names are terrific for you!

    Whether you want to lose weight, eat healthy, or just avoid processed foods with extra-long ingredient lists, you should look for a slice that's jam-packed with whole grains, fiber and flavor. To expedite your search, here's what you need to know.

    Know Your Kernel
    Before it's processed, a wheat kernel is a whole grain that contains all three, healthy parts of the

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  • 4 Healthy Recipes for Busy Nights

    A healthy dinner doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming.
    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com
    SparkPeople.com is the country's largest health and fitness website--and it's 100% free!
    When the days are shorter and the nights are colder, who wants to waste precious time in the kitchen? Not me! Every minute counts, especially when we're all trying to stick with our resolutions to eat better, move more, and get healthier. To help my family manage their busy schedules and still get a healthy meal in their bellies, I created a few new quick recipes. I hope you like them!

    Curried Chicken Pitas

    This light recipe is great for lunch, supper, or both. It serves eight, so cook once and eat twice! I love this recipe because I can serve it to my family for dinner and have plenty of leftovers for lunches. It's spicy without any heat, so it's a great intro to new flavors for those with mild palates.

    231 calories, 9 g fat, 5 g fiber



    15 Minute Ginger-Garlic Chicken with Chef Meg's Favorite Ginger-Garlic Sauce

    This dish is perfect for busy nights. I marinade the chicken in the morning, grill it at night, and serve it

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  • 7 Foolproof Recipes You'll Make Again and Again

    Reprinted from The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose The Weight (c) 2011 by SparkPeople, Inc. Permission granted by Hay House, Inc., New York, NY 10033. Available wherever books are sold.

    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com
    Ask a chef which recipes are her favorite, and like a mother, she'll answer, "I love them all equally." This cookbook was like a baby to me and, as a result, it's filled with recipes I love. While each and every one is satisfying and nutritious, here are a dozen I think will become staples in your household. With these recipes, you can take a sneak peek into "The SparkPeople Cookbook."
    From

    1. Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken. There's a reason why this is the No. 1 recipe among SparkPeople members. It's tasty, versatile, and easy to make.
    2. Quick Herbed Couscous with Vegetables. You'll have a whole-grain side and two vegetables in less than 15 minutes.

      From

    3. Roasted Root Vegetables. Make two batches at a time and reheat these as omelet fillers, a quick side, or even a salad topper.

    4. Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken. Roasted chicken is like the little black dress of the kitchen. Use it in soups, on
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  • 6 Quick, Easy (and Healthy!) Party Recipes

    Choose healthy holiday party foods.

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

    Holiday parties can be a calorie minefield. Mini quiches, chicken wings, cheese platters--and dips laden with mayo are common this time of year.

    It's easy to eat an entire meal's worth--or even a day's worth--of fat and calories without ever picking up a fork or a plate.

    When you're talking and standing in front of the food, it's easy to forget to be mindful of your eating, but when you serve lighter fare, your risk of sabotaging your calorie budget is reduced.

    I created five new recipes that have fewer than 100 calories--and a sixth one that has only 113 calories! Serve these recipes at your office party, neighborhood potluck, or game night alongside a huge platter of fruits and vegetables. Even better news: These are all quick and easy recipes that anyone can make!

    Prosciutto Lettuce Bites (20 calories, 1 g fat)
    Pumpkin Dip (32 calories, 2 g fat)
    Easy Cucumber Cups (27 calories, 1 g fat)

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  • Holiday Party Tip: Slim Down Your Dips

    Slim down your favorite dips this holiday season!
    By Stepfanie Romine, editor of SparkRecipes.com

    What are the holidays without parties? And what's a party without great snacks? Too often, food is an afterthought at cocktail and holiday parties.

    How many times have you gone to a party, only to find your only choices are a cheese ball and crackers and a bowl of greasy chips with thick and creamy onion dip.

    Dips are easy and affordable party fare, and they can be healthy, too. As you're preparing for a Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year's Eve party, keep these tips in mind.

    Did you know?
    Serving size for dip=1 ounce/2 Tablespoons (about the size of a pair of dice)

    A cheese ball has 100 calories and 7 g fat per serving.
    French onion dip has 60 calories and 6 g fat per serving.

    Start the night off right. Instead of rich, creamy and cheesy dips, put out a tray of raw vegetables, whole grain crackers and a lighter version of that favorite dip.

    I'm famous for my spinach-artichoke dip. Just like the

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  • 14 Clever Ideas for Healthier Baked Goods

    Lighten up your holiday treats!
    SparkPeople.com is the country's largest health and fitness website--and it's 100% free!
    By Stepfanie Romine, co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight"
    If you're trying to lighten your caloric load or lose weight, are you destined to days of tasteless cookies, or-worse-a life without sweets and treats?


    Of course not! There are plenty of ways you can substitute lower-calorie ingredients and still create delicious and healthy treats.

    Cooking is an art, but baking is a science. It requires careful formulas, precise measurement and a keen eye. Omitting high-fat ingredients or arbitrarily swapping them can yield flat, dull and downright inedible results. In baked goods, most of the calories come from three ingredients: butter or oil, eggs and sugar. This tasty trio is also where much of the flavor derives, and more importantly, these ingredients keep your muffins moist and your cookies from crumbling. So how do you reduce (or get rid) of these essential ingredients and without chewing on baked goods that look and taste like

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  • Easy Ways to Cook Whole Grains

    Whole grains boast better nutrition--and better taste--than their processed counterparts.

    By SparkPeople.com Staff

    Can you boil water? Then you can make whole grains a part of your diet. Whole grains are delicious and nutritious, supplying vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. And there are many varieties to choose from besides the all-too-common wheat, oats and rice. No matter which you choose, from amaranth to quinoa, this article will show you how to select, store and prepare whole grains as a healthy part of your meals.

    Cooking Basics
    Whole grains are simple to prepare on the stove-just cook them the as you would rice or pasta-or in a countertop steamer, which is even easier. Once they're cooked, whole grains will keep well and can be refrigerated or frozen. So cook as much as you can at one time.

    For the most flavor, you can cook grains in bouillon or another flavored liquid (such as vegetable broth or chicken stock) to enhance taste. Don't be afraid to use these flavor enhancers for a variety of purposes. Both vegetable- and chicken-flavored broths and

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  • The Secret to Quick, Healthy Cooking

    What's the secret to quick, healthy cooking?

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

    The secret to getting a nutritious and delicious dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes is not a culinary degree or a team of sous chefs. It's one word: organization. Use these simple tips for pre-planning your meals and organizing your ingredients and you'll never again ask the question "who has time to cook?"

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  • Top 10 Tools for a Stress-Free Kitchen

    Which tools do you REALLY need in a healthy kitchen?
    By Chef Meg Galvin,
    Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com

    Awhile back I shared my six favorite kitchen tools. (Watch the video here.) Today I'm going to show you Round 2 of my favorites. Now, you can be a great cook--and a healthy one--without most of these tools and appliances, but boy do they make prepping food a breeze. Put these on your wish list--or treat yourself when you reach a goal! (That's my real-life kitchen in the photo above!)


    1. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer: My go-to for mixing cakes and kneading breads. This is the machine that can do it all and leave your hands free. I think they should change the name to the "Multi-tasker Master Mixer." Look for a model with the highest horsepower if you are planning on making a lot of yeast doughs. I have the professional model because I didn't ever want to worry about burning out the motor. Have you ever noticed the front plate on the machine? Well, it is magical. I have pasta rollers that fit in the slot and make pasta rolling

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