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18 Irresistible Chocolate-Peanut Butter Recipes


"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt…" – Charles M. Schulz.

One of my favorite flavor combinations is peanut butter and chocolate. When enjoyed in moderation--and when consumed in their more natural forms--this treat has measurable nutritional value. Dark chocolate has been connected with preventing high blood pressure and is a good source of antioxidants. Natural peanut butter is also loaded with antioxidants, as well as being a source of plant-based proteins. Since the fusion of these flavors is so rich, I find that I can enjoy it in smaller servings, which can help me stay within my daily calorie goal. Treat yourself to something special today. You're worth it! 
Posted 11/6/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 19 comments   24,635 views
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Your Stress-Free Thanksgiving Planning Guide


The wheel of "It's your turn to host Thanksgiving" was spun and the arrow stopped on me. Yippee! If you won this year too, check out this list and you will be smiling all day.  No stress, no worries, just holiday spirit, laughter among loved ones and plenty of delicious food.
Posted 11/5/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 35 comments   19,438 views
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12 Savory Pumpkin Recipes


In my home town, near San Francisco, orange and black is bursting forth and its not just because the Giants won the World Series. Halloween pumpkins have arrived! These colorful gourds come in all different shapes, colors and sizes, but they're not just for decorating. Pumpkins are a delicious base in many savory dishes. A simple one-cup serving gives almost double the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Beta-Carotene, not to mention vitamin C, niacin, phosphorus, potassium and fiber too.  Look for smaller pumpkins with minimal blemishes. They should be heavy for their size with stems intact. Pumpkin can be boiled, baked or steamed. Instead of tossing the pumpkin seeds, roast them for a delicious snack or topping.   Cook double or triple the amount you need for your recipe and freeze the rest. Enjoy each bite of these savory pumpkin recipes. 
Posted 10/31/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 7 comments   17,846 views
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Super Meals for Big Batch Cooking


Cooking in batches is one of the best kept secrets for saving time and money, while promoting good health at the same time. With three school age kids, time is a rare commodity. Instead of turning to processed and packaged foods, I take advantage of the days I can cook and select healthy recipes that I can easily double or triple the batch. We enjoy these meals the next night as leftovers or we take them to work or school the next day in a thermos or Tupperware. Here are my favorite batch cooking recipes and resources. 
Posted 10/17/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 14 comments   34,686 views
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The Secret to Perfect (Faux) Frying


You might not find discussions of pan frying or deep fat frying in most cookbooks geared to healthy cooking for obvious reasons. I guess that means that if we want to live a healthy lifestyle we will no  longer enjoy the golden breading color on pieces of cooked Dover sole or the crunch we hear when we bite into a chicken leg coated in a crispy breading. Guess again! If you've said goodbye to those crispy cooked foods--say hello again!  Faux frying creates a lighter version of the pan- or deep-fried foods that we all crave.  It's simple, quick, and easy.  Best of all, your home (and your hair) won't smell of a deep fat fryer for days after the meal. 
Posted 10/15/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 24 comments   33,162 views
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Tap into the Potential of Taproots This Fall


By definition, a taproot is the single root of a plant that extends deep into the soil to supply the above-ground plant with nutrients.  My definition of a taproot is YUM! It is such a shame these vegetables are grown below ground because many are just too pretty to hide.  Maybe that's their plan: to hang out underground and develop earthy flavor notes and then when plucked from the earth it's like a walk down the red carpet showing off their textured and colorful skin. Taproots such as parsnips, beets, carrots, and celery root have been around for ages and still shine as cooler weather favorites. 
I love what a little cool weather can do to sweeten up parsnips and how a hot oven will transform the  flesh into to a golden sweet vegetable dish. 
 
Look for different varieties of taproots at your local market and follow the guide below to incorporate them into all your fall and winter meals. 
Posted 10/8/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 16 comments   10,670 views
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New from Chef Meg in September


September marked a bittersweet month for many parents, including Chef Meg. She loves her summers at home with her teenage boys, but now they're all back to school--and Chef Meg, too. They've been loving BBQ flavors in their household, so she created a BBQ shrimp dish that's ready in 12 minutes! Her slow cooker is in high demand, and her hearty bean and spinach soup will be a lifesaver on busy nights.

Three of Meg's recipes this month were chips. Get this--they're almost fat-free, and they can be made in the microwave. They're crispy like kettle chips, and you can customize the flavors. Yum!
Posted 10/2/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 5 comments   7,974 views
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Simple Sauces for Chicken


Chicken is the go-to protein for a light and healthy meal, but when you announce that you're having grilled chicken breasts for dinner, does anyone applaud or yell "great, I can't wait"?

What if you said you were having Grilled Chicken Breasts… with a Citrus-Infused Sauce?

And the crowd goes wild! 
Posted 9/24/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 14 comments   105,119 views
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Organize Your Kitchen to Fall into Healthy Habits


It's the most wonderful time of the year... 

I've been softly singing that tune for the past two weeks in anticipation of my three teenage sons and me going back to school.  Yes, I love my boys and have loads of fun home with them in the summer, but it's time.  I look forward to the weeknights that everyone is home by 9 p.m. (no more late baseball games!) and fast asleep before 11--mom, too.  My days will soon be filled with bright-eyed budding chefs to be learning how to hold a knife properly, fillet a fish, and shop for the best quality foods. 
 
With school just around the corner, my family, much like yours, needs to get its act together.  Early fall is a perfect time of year to get organized for school and home.   Even if you are not sending anyone off to school this list will help you gain control of your home before the holidays are upon us and it really gets crazy.
Posted 9/17/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 15 comments   10,206 views
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Easy School (and Work) Lunch Ideas


What kid or adult for that matter doesn't want to be the envy of the cafeteria, thanks to their delicious packed lunch?  In my family, when the kids hop into the car after school the first question or comment of the day usually pertains to the mid-day meal.
Most days I hear: "It was great, everyone wanted to trade with me!"  Of course, I also hear that lunch wasn't so good some days, too.
 
What does make a great lunch?  Is it something new, colorful, warm, hot, or one that comes in a packaged compartment tray?  As a Chef and mother of three boys the answer is yes to all of the above.  The chef in me thinks back to simple culinary training and passion for the seasons.  Warm soups, stews, or savory dishes are perfect for lunch on cool days whereas cold salads or sandwiches with fruit hit the spot of the hot days.  Just mix it up!  Check out these fun and easy ideas for you and your family to pack or even eat in for lunch meals.
Posted 9/10/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 23 comments   146,004 views
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Chef Meg's Latest Recipes


Summer is winding down, which means we're starting to work on fall and even holiday recipes in the SparkPeople test kitchen (aka Chef Meg's kitchen). Our healthy cooking expert created a no-fail creamy hummus recipe, with a whole-wheat flatbread to pair with it. And, for a quick, kid-friendly, late summer meal, you'll want to try the BBQ Chicken Flatbread.

I've heard rave reviews about her cilantro-lime steak salad. The trick is to marinate the meat in the morning, make the salad while you're waiting for the grill to heat up, and dinner is ready in no time!

Slimmer Sausage and Peppers: This hearty yet better-for-you dinner is perfect for a camping trip, a cookout with friends, or just dinner on a Wednesday night.  
cals: 292.5   fat: 11.6 g   protein: 15.9 g   carbs: 35.4 g   fiber: 2.3 g
Posted 9/6/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 6 comments   12,170 views
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14 Simple Slow Cooker Recipes


School started last week, the family calendar is filling up, and it's already getting hard to prepare healthy dinners each night. One strategy I turn to when the going gets tough is to pull out the slow cooker. Each morning I throw in healthy ingredients and by dinner time there's a delicious homemade meal that the whole family loves. I often double the recipe so that we have leftovers and hot lunches for the whole week. Call on the convenience of your slow cooker and enjoy these SparkRecipes.

Slow Cooker Pork with Greens and Beans

Slow Cooker Provencal Chicken and Beans

Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry 
Posted 9/5/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 12 comments   35,466 views
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New from Chef Meg in August


Wondering what Chef Meg's been cooking up this month? She's continuing to grill up healthy favorites, from peppers and sausage to steak. She came up with a super easy whole-wheat flatbread recipe that can be paired with hummus or turned into a kid-friendly and adult-approved BBQ chicken pizza! Yum!
Posted 9/4/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 8 comments   9,015 views
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16 Ways to Say Yes to Greek Yogurt


It's funny to think that just a few years ago most of us had never heard of Greek yogurt, and now it has taken over the dairy case at most markets. By straining the whey, Greek yogurt (also called strained yogurt) is not only thicker but also provides twice the protein of traditional yogurt. Greek yogurt is tangier than traditional American yogurt and less sweet. 
 
The market is flooded with Greek yogurts these days in so many varieties: full-fat, low-fat, and fat-free; plain or flavored; and traditional Greek or Greek-style, which contains thickeners and stabilizers to give it that thick texture. The thickness and tang make even the fat-free varieties seem rich.
 
Because the whey is drained off, there is slightly less calcium in Greek yogurt. 
Posted 9/3/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 41 comments   51,449 views
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11 Ways to Make Tastier, Healthier Hummus


You should think of hummus as a white canvas and vegetables in your refrigerator or herbs in your garden as the paints to create a colorful work of art.  This painting will not go on the wall but in your belly. Hummus is simple to make and will pair well with almost any flavor you want to add.  Although the basic recipe includes olive oil and tahini (sesame seed paste), too much can be a little too much--it can taste bitter, and it does contain a lot of fat, though it is the good-for-you kind. In my recipe, I reduced the amount of tahini and replaced it with drained and rinsed white kidney beans. 
Posted 8/20/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 29 comments   42,619 views
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