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Get 75 Healthy, Hearty Recipes for the Grill

Summer is fast approaching, and with that comes grill season!

Who wants to heat up the house when you can barbecue in the backyard instead?
While picnics, potlucks, and parties are known for burgers, dogs, and other not-so-healthy fare, we believe that any meal can be a good-for-you one--even festive occasions.

That's why SparkPeople's healthy cooking expert and head dietitian paired up to write our latest e-book:  "SparkPeople's Ultimate Grilling Guide: 75 Hearty, Healthy Recipes You Can Really Sink Your Teeth Into," available now on Barnes and Noble and Amazon for $3.99.

Make grill season the healthiest season with "SparkPeople's Ultimate Grilling Guide" by World Master Chef Meg Galvin and Becky Hand, R.D., M.Ed.

With 75 hearty, healthy recipes from Chef Meg, plus SparkPeople's members, this book is a must-have for the grill master in your house.

More than just a collection of recipes, you'll get:
  • Tips on grilling burgers, veggies--and everything in between
  • 13 ways to top your burger for 100 calories or less (including bacon!)
  • Step-by-step instructions for perfect steak, burgers, chicken, and more
  • Dozens of sauce combinations, plus 10 ways to spice up leftover grilled chicken
  • Advice on which meats are healthy, tasty choices for the grill
  • Tips for staying on track at BBQs, potlucks, and picnics
  • Answers to all your toughest BBQ questions
Intimidated by the grill? Frustrated with burned hockey-puck burgers and undercooked, bland chicken? With "SparkPeople's Ultimate Grilling Guide," you'll learn how to make your grill work for you--from appetizers to desserts.
Click here to download the book from
Click here to download the book from
Posted 5/25/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 23,237 views
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In the News: Should Kids Know Where Food Comes from?

A new children's book entitled Vegan is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action was released last week with mixed reviews over concerns about the books use of graphic images and a potentially unhealthy diet message. Author and illustrator Ruby Roth's previous book That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things provided children in vegetarian homes with a colorfully illustrated explanation  to help them understand their family's eating style. (Learn more about the origin of the book here.) Vegan is Love continues the conversation into a deeper context by tackling tougher topics like animal testing and the use of animals as entertainment.  
Ruby Roth told that her book is intended to introduce ideas of compassion and action that help children think, eat, and treat the environment differently. Some of the biggest concerns from critics relate to how children may feel regarding the suggestions to boycott visits to the zoo, circus, or aquarium in addition to avoiding the inclusion of meat or dairy in the diet. Child psychologist Jennifer Hart Steen shared her concern with Matt Lauer on the "Today" show about how children may process the overall message especially if they don't follow a vegan lifestyle. There is also some concern regarding the illustrations especially for younger children.
Here is what the author has to say about her new book.
Posted 4/30/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 39 comments   9,546 views
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Book Review: 'Coffee Is Good For You'

I'm an avid reader of health, fitness and nutrition books, both for work and for pleasure. When author Robert J. Davis, PhD, asked me to review his book "Coffee Is Good For You" (Perigee, 2012), I was more than excited. You see, Davis is the founder and editor-in-chief of the website, a long-time partner of SparkPeople's. We have several of their informative videos on our website, and I've always been impressed with how well their messages align with our own. Davis is an award-winning health journalist, author and professor of public health. His videos, articles and books are always well researched, clearly explained, and entertaining to boot. The man knows his stuff.
This book in particular gives an overview of the science behind a lot of common diet, nutrition and health "facts" to decide whether there is any truth to these ideas or not. It covers a wide range of long-standing dietary questions (What's better: butter or margarine? Do low-carb diets aid weight loss? Are artificial sweeteners safe?) as well as recent hot topics such as the healthfulness of organic and local produce, whether grass-fed beef is better, the real facts behind the "caveman" (paleo) diet, whether microwaving food in plastic is safe, so much more. Davis' style is to examine all the research available behind such claims to help consumers find the real truth. In some cases, he debunks the myths. In other cases, the research may surprise you and change your mind on a certain issue. And in a few cases, there's a little truth on both sides.
Posted 3/23/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 14 comments   11,851 views
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CONTEST CLOSED: Start 2012 Out Right: Enter to Win 'The Spark'

CONTEST CLOSED: The winners are AUNTIEE50, EMT670MOM, NETTIE2127! 

To help you get a jump-start on the new year, we're giving away three paperback copies of The Spark: The 28-Day Breakthrough Plan for Losing Weight, Getting Fit, and Transforming Your Life, the New York Times best seller written by SparkPeople founder and CEO Chris "SparkGuy" Downie.

In addition to all of the great features found in the original, the paperback contains our Strong Start Guide, written by SparkGuy and Coach Nicole, which shares the proven strategies to lose twice the weight in two weeks--and keep it off! What you do in the first two weeks can make or break your weight-loss program, and we found out what works. (The paperback version is updated and is the only place you'll find the all-new Strong Start Guide!)

Learn more about the Strong Start Guide here.
Posted 12/30/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 22 comments   13,693 views
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Don't Deny Your Trigger Foods--Manage Them

You’re at a party and you see a table filled with some of your favorite foods: potato chips with sour-cream dip; charcuterie heaped high next to pieces of crusty baguette; and a steaming tray of macaroni drunk with melted cheddar cheese. Nearby is the dessert table where you see dense chocolate cake topped with fresh whipped cream; peppermint bark and still warm ginger snaps; a ten-layer coconut cream layer cake. Do you:

a) walk on by clutching the celery sticks you brought from home for dear life
b) grab whatever you can as fast as you can and shove it down at warp speed
c) enjoy a reasonable portion of the food in front of you without a shred of guilt.
I vote for c: a choice informed by moderation and pleasure, not gluttony or denial. It’s totally do-able, but first you need to come to terms with what it means to eat treats.
For many of us, treats are triggers. In other words, if you eat one cookie, you’ll eat a dozen. When I first began my journey to lose weight a few years ago, there were some foods that held me in such thrall, I literally could not go near them. My list included triple cream cheeses, crusty bread of any kind, charcuterie (especially salami), cookies (any kind), cakes (ditto), Doritos, and olives. If two bites were good, twenty were better. I couldn’t eat just a little of these foods so rather than go to town, stuff myself, then feel the inevitable guilt, misery and anger, I cut them out of my life -- for a while anyway. Until I could gain some distance, examine what my relationship was with these foods, and discover what lay underneath my insatiable desire.
I learned a lot.
Posted 11/30/2011  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 27 comments   9,136 views
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Throw a Party Like a Pro

Editor's Note: Coach Nicole and I recently had the pleasure of meeting Jill Donenfeld, a cookbook author, caterer, and seasoned party expert. She was home in Cincinnati to promote Party Like a Culinista: Fresh Recipes, Bold Flavors, and Good Friends. Jill's mom is a fitness instructor (who has modeled for exercise demos on SparkPeople!), and every night the family cooked healthy meals together.

Jill's philosophy: "The Culinista way to party is all about celebrating with the best ingredients—minimally processed whole foods, lots of greens and grains, seasonal and local when you can—to create incredible health-minded dishes that will wow your guests without weighing them down. Jill and Josie have written detailed menus that make dinner parties stress-free with lots of tips for pre-party planning and easy multi-task cooking. They even include a break for that essential wardrobe change so you’ll be looking great and frazzle-free when hungry guests arrive." 
Today Jill is sharing her best entertaining tips, plus three recipes from Party Like a Culinista: Fresh Recipes, Bold Flavors, and Good Friends! She's also giving away three copies of the book. Take it away, Jill!
Before you even begin grocery shopping, make sure your broiler, oven, and burners are working, if you are not in the habit of cooking. Prior to cooking, take out the garbage and make sure you’ve got enough room to trash odds and ends in the appropriate places (carrot tops in compost, tofu package in recycling, etc.) as you go. Be sure all of your dishes are clean. Get the place ready for cooking! It’ll only take a few minutes—you can do it!

As your guests start arriving, think about things from their point of view: They’re nibbly and could us a glass of wine after a hard day’s work. So, first things first: Put out some bites—our menus include some great appetizers—or prepare something simple such as popcorn or a cheese plate. Then, open a bottle of wine. Done!
Guests are taken care of for at least a half an hour. Now you can stop feeling like they are waiting for something. They’re not! They are here to see you, to plug in with friends, and to enjoy themselves. So you should, too!
Posted 11/7/2011  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   8,184 views
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Peek Inside Hungry Girl's New Book (and Enter to Win a Copy)

UPDATE: The link is fixed, and the giveaway will run for TWO WEEKS!
Attention, Hungry Girl fans! HG Lisa Lillien has a new book out: Hungry Girl Supermarket Survival: Aisle by Aisle, HG-Style! It launches next week, and we're giving away three copies!

They say:
Finally . . . a real-world guide that will help you navigate the supermarket and stock up on guilt-free foods, from mealtime must-haves to snack finds and more! It’s Hungry Girl’s ultimate resource for grocery-store survival---a must-own manual that makes shopping for better-for-you foods easy and fun! Inside you’ll find:
* HG All-Stars and grocery-store standouts! 
* Calorie counts and comparisons for foods in every aisle
* Guilt-free meal ideas and snack solutions for every craving and situation!
* Easy-to-digest info about nutrition labels and ingredient lists
* HG’s complete supermarket list with aisle-by-aisle food finds
Hungry Girl’s amazingly comprehensive supermarket guide is your key to guilt-free shopping, eating, and living!
To enter, click here! Be sure to read the rules. This contest will end TWO weeks from today!
In the meantime, let's peek inside at some of Hungry Girl's essential supermarket foods!
Posted 10/8/2011  12:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 61 comments   23,690 views
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CLOSED: Win a Collection of Cookbooks

We get sent a lot of stuff at SparkPeople: books, new healthy foods, fitness gear, and cookbooks--lots of them.

This week I cleaned up my office area and decided to share some of my favorite new cookbooks with one lucky reader!

Posted 9/16/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 31 comments   16,176 views
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What We're Reading: September

It's been busy here at SparkPeople, but we've still made time to keep up with the latest and greatest healthy living titles. Here's what we've been reading--what's on your bedside table?

Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health by Gene Stone, with Dr. Colin T. Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Essylstyn Jr.

What if one simple change could save you from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer? For decades, that question has fascinated a small circle of impassioned doctors and researchers—and now, their life-changing research is making headlines in the hit documentary Forks Over Knives.

Their answer? Eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet—it could save your life. It may overturn most of the diet advice you’ve heard—but the experts behind Forks Over Knives aren't afraid to make waves. In his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn explained that eating meat, dairy, and oils injures the lining of our blood vessels, causing heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.

In The China Study, Dr. Colin Campbell revealed how cancer and other diseases skyrocket when eating meat and dairy is the norm—and plummet when a traditional plant-based diet persists. And more and more experts are adding their voices to the cause: There is nothing else you can do for your health that can match the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Now, as Forks Over Knives is introducing more people than ever before to the plant-based way to health, this accessible guide provides the information you need to adopt and maintain a plant-based diet.

Posted 9/15/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 24 comments   9,523 views
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CLOSED: 'You Can Create An Exceptional Life' (Win a Copy!)

Many of you might know that I'm the co-author (with Chef Meg) of The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose The Weight, which will be published Oct. 4 by Hay House. Hay House also published our New York Times best-seller, The Spark, and for that reason, today's giveaway is very special to us.
Hay House founder and legendary metaphysical lecturer and teacher Louise Hay has teamed up with author and life coach Cheryl Richardson to write an inspiring new book: You Can Create An Exceptional Life. It will be published Sept. 20, but we're giving away three copies now!

The book brings together the styles and experiences of these two NYT best-selling authors in a series of heart-to-hearts about their own spiritual principles. You really feel like you're having a conversation with two wise girlfriends, and their words somehow reassure you that life is good and you're able to make of it what you want.
Posted 9/2/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 27 comments   17,502 views
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Win a Copy of 'You Can Trust a Skinny Cook'

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about the new cookbook "You Can Trust a Skinny Cook" by Allison Fishman. She was so excited by your responses that she offered to give away five copies--and share some recipes!

About the book: "Co-host of Lifetime's Cook Yourself Thin Allison Fishman shows you how to eat great—and look even better!

In You Can Trust a Skinny Cook, Allison Fishman teaches you how to stay thin and trim without giving up on the good things in life. She shows you how to take control of your health by taking charge in the kitchen with delicious, healthy meals served in the right portions."

By the way, by "skinny," Allison explained to me that she doesn't mean scrawny or starving. Skinny means fit, healthy, and your "feel good" weight. No "diet" recipes here. 

What's not to like? 

And check out these recipes: 

Pork Chile Verde
Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts
Beet Greens with Pine Nuts

Ready to enter that contest now?
Posted 7/8/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 37 comments   18,956 views
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What We're Reading This June

Each month, we like to share what we're reading. Here are the healthy and inspiring titles that have piqued our interest this month.

Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears
by Pema Chödrön

They say: In this book Pema Chödrön shows us how to break free of destructive patterns in our lives and experience a new sense of freedom and happiness. Drawing on the Buddhist concept of shenpa, she helps us to see how certain habits of mind tend to “hook” us and get us stuck in states of anger, blame, self-hatred, and addiction. The good news is that once we start to see these patterns, we can begin to change our lives for the better.

The key is learning a new way of facing the inevitable difficulties and insecurities of our daily lives: we must learn how to stay present and open our hearts. “This path entails uncovering three basic human qualities,” explains Pema. “These qualities have always been with us but perhaps have gotten buried and almost forgotten. They are natural intelligence, natural warmth, and natural openness. Everyone, everywhere, all over the globe, has these qualities and can call on them to help themselves and others."

This book gives us the insights and practices we can immediately put to use in our lives to awaken these essential qualities. In her friendly and encouraging style, Pema Chödrön helps us to take a bold leap toward a new way of living—one that will bring about positive transformation for ourselves and for our troubled world.

We say: This book changed my life. I'm not a brave person by nature, and I've been through some tough stuff in the last 12 months. I read this book at precisely the right time. I learned to confront my fears and release them. I recommend it to anyone who is going through a rough time. This book taught me how to avoid feeding negative emotions.  

You Can Trust a Skinny Cook
by Allison Fishman

They say: Co-host of Lifetime's Cook Yourself Thin Allison Fishman shows you how to eat great—and look even better!

In You Can Trust a Skinny Cook, Allison Fishman teaches you how to stay thin and trim without giving up on the good things in life. She shows you how to take control of your health by taking charge in the kitchen with delicious, healthy meals served in the right portions.

We say: I met Allison last month, and she shared a copy of her book with me. I love it. I kept saying, "these are like my recipes!" That is, as a healthy eater, it's rare to find a cookbook that contains so many recipes that are not only good for me and easy but also interesting and inspiring. Allison's no-nonsense style in the kitchen and affable personality make this a must-read for healthy eaters.
Posted 6/29/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 24 comments   12,842 views
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Kara Goucher's 6 Tips for Beginning Runners

Even if you've never run before, or have taken a long break, you can get into a routine without injury or agony. Olympic distance runner Kara Goucher shares 6 posture tips that will help you run more smoothly and efficiently. From Kara Goucher’s Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons.
Posted 6/22/2011  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 26 comments   14,144 views
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Kindle Version of 'The Spark' Just $1.99 for a Short Time

If you've been waiting to buy a copy of SparkPeople founder Chris Downie's best-selling book, "The Spark," now is the time to do it!

As part of a special promotion on Amazon, the Kindle version of "The Spark" is available for just $1.99. The discount was a bit of surprise to us (we just found out!), but we wanted to be sure to quickly share it with our members. The low price is in place for just a short time (until next Wednesday), and it is good on the hardcover edition.

This special low price is part of Amazon's "Sunshine Deals" program, which discounts popular books--including "The Spark"! Currently, we're #7 on that list. Can I get a WooHoo!?

The Kindle version has everything the original hardcover version did:
  • Our first-ever "secrets of success" survey: the best habits of SparkPeople’s most successful members

  • A 28-day program that brings together the most effective practices from SparkPeople into an innovative 4-stage plan, available only in this book

  • Dozens of photos—including stunning before-and-after shots and easy-to-follow exercise images

  • Dozens of success stories that show the power of this transformational program

  • Plus you'll get SparkPoints just for buying the book!
Buy your Kindle copy of "The Spark" today, for only $1.99. This offer ends next Wednesday, June 15.

Do you have a Kindle or another electronic reader? UPDATE: Members tell us "The Spark" is $1.99 on the Nook and other electronic readers, too.
Posted 6/9/2011  2:22:43 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 61 comments   13,316 views
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Meet Elle, An Author Who Rewrote Her Dreams with SparkPeople

When Chris "SparkGuy" Downie founded SparkPeople 10 years ago, weight loss wasn't the only thing on his mind. He wanted to help people be healthier, sure, but he also wanted to show them that setting small goals en route to larger ones could help them achieve success in all areas of their lives.

SparkPeople grew into the country's largest diet website and helped millions become healthier along the way. But most of you didn't stop there, including Elle Newmark, whom you'll meet today.

As Chris wrote in his NYT best-selling book, "The Spark":

"At the convention, I also met Elle Newmark, the member who landed a major book deal as part of her SparkPeople adventure and embarked on an exciting trip to Italy, the setting of her book. But she didn’t stop there, as she told us:

I just spent a month in India, researching my next book. That little hill in California near my home is laughable compared to the Himalayas where life is entirely vertical. I spent almost two weeks at altitudes between 6,000 and 8,000, and was able to see and do everything. This enhanced physical ability creates a sense of well-being, self-sufficiency, and plain old power that is priceless. I am 62 years old and I feel like the world is mine for the taking. I can go places and do things that would have been unthinkable 3 years ago. My SparkPeople experience wasn’t a dream come true, I never even dreamed this. All that happened to me was beyond what I ever dreamed."

That second book, "The Sandalwood Tree," has been published, and we're thrilled that Elle has been able to achieve such success. She took some time recently to answer some questions via email. As a fellow writer, I was truly inspired by her tale. I hope you will be too. She is as eloquent in email as she is in her prose, so I urge you to keep reading!
Posted 5/25/2011  5:16:10 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 23 comments   10,410 views
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