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There's no more perfect time of year than right now to start cooking with blueberries. This Native American gem is flavorful and loaded with outstanding nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. A recent study from a Harvard School of Public Health found that eating three or more servings per week can reduce a woman’s risk of heart attack by as much as 33%. Research is also finding that eating blueberries helps with mental wellness and can improve your memory too. Even when they're not in season, I keep them in my freezer and pop them into my hot cereal or right into the Vitamix blender for smoothies. The next time you are at the market, grab a basket of blueberries and enjoy how these recipes will help you become a healthier and happier you. Read More ›
One big food and cooking trend that we’re keeping an eye on is the continued resurgence of old-fashioned recipes and methods. You may see this trend showing up in food magazines, which are emphasizing cooking techniques your grandmother would recognize (like roasting and slow cooking) or in your favorite restaurant (wood-fired breads and pizzas are hot).
Old-fashioned recipes have lots of appeal: They’re time-tested favorites. They don’t require fancy ingredients. These are easy recipes for uncomplicated dishes. From breakfast to dinner to dessert, here are a few of our favorite—healthier—versions of old-school comfort foods you’ll love.
You’ll remember this classic combination from childhood: grilled cheese and tomato soup. This soup is creamy and delicious without a bit of dairy. And the grilled cheese sandwiches feature whole-grain bread and added vegetables. Read More ›
Due to the popularity of Slow Cooker Chicken, I'd like to follow up now with pork, which is another slow cooker favorite. Pork is a staple in our house, especially when we're having a large group of dinner guests. It's a budget-friendly choice that becomes tender and juicy when cooked slowly. Whether you're tired of everything tasting like chicken, or you just need a change of pace, add these slow cooker pork recipes to your meal plan today. Read More ›
This no-cook treat is a quick way to satisfy a craving for chocolate and cheesecake. We think it's perfect for Valentine's Day! With just four ingredients and five minutes of prep time, you'll love this not-too-sweet treat.
We used Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies. You want a very thin cookie, but you could also try a chocolate graham cracker (1 sheet=4 tarts). You could swap in your favorite fruit (such as blueberries or even kiwi) for the raspberries. Read More ›
Chicken soup has seemingly mystical properties; moms swear by its ability to cure anything that ails you.
While its medicinal attributes are still being tested, the Mayo Clinic does report that chicken soup can reduce inflammation and speed up the loosening of mucus in the nose and sinuses, which makes it a good-for-you remedy when you’re not feeling well. Add in some spice (like ginger or chile), for more relief of that stuffed-up feeling that comes with a cold. Plus, a batch of homemade chicken soup tastes a whole lot better than over-the-counter cold medicines.
Try these alternatives to classic chicken-noodle soup next time you’re under the weather—or you just want something to eat that’s warm, comforting and delicious.
Any good homemade chicken soup starts with good stock. For store-bought chicken stock, we recommend Swanson’s low-sodium organic chicken broth. But really, it’s so easy to make your own homemade stock that you should try this recipe—make a big batch and store it (in 3- or 4-cup containers) in the freezer for soup-making.
We’ll start with this simple recipe for chicken noodle soup. It has everything you want: chunks of chicken, carrots, celery and slurp-able noodles. Read More ›
Have you ever noticed how, at restaurants, even lean cuts of steak come to the table glistening? Then, with the first bite, they taste so rich--and they're never dry! No matter what you do, you just can't figure it out. Is it the professional stove that does it? A wood-fired grill? A fancy cut of meat?
Nope. The secret's in the sauce--and I'm about to spill. The secret is butter.
Maître d’hôtel butter is a mixture of raw butter, parsley, and lemon juice. The butter is spooned over a steak just as it leaves the grill, then melts onto the surface to leave behind only a sheen.
While I'm sharing a major trade secret here, I feel it’s my duty to report to all those trying to make healthy and positive changes in food they eat.
The next time you order a lean steak at a restaurant ask your waiter if the chef finishes the steaks in butter and just say, “No, thank you.” Better yet, save money and grill at home--then add color and flavor to your lean meat with these easy ideas and recipes. (We think these ideas are perfect for a simple Valentine's Day meal!)
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If I could choose what to take with me to the proverbial desert island, sweet treats would be right up there on my list. One of the reasons I exercise so consistently is so that I have the option to enjoy them with family, when eating out, or for spontaneous celebrations. At the same time, I refuse to cook large quantities of desserts, mainly because I end up throwing them out to avoid temptation. One strategy I find useful is to prepare single serving desserts that satisfy the urge, but without circumventing my nutrition plan. Enjoy these fun and tasty single serving treats. Read More ›
Down home Southern cooking has produced some of our finest classic American dishes. At the same time, many of these original recipes include unwanted fats, calories and sodium. With some simple changes, we can enjoy this quintessential comfort cuisine and still stay on-track with our health goals. Read More ›
Making ravioli can be a snap if you use my trick of swapping out wonton wrappers for homemade pasta dough. Wonton wrappers are found in the cold food area of the produce aisle (usually also where you would also find tofu).
Pick up round, rectangular and square shapes to mix up your ravioli. My favorite are the rectangular shaped wrappers because I can fill one half then do a quick egg wash glue and fold over to seal. The round and square ones are smaller, so I place filling in the middle of one, spread egg wash on the edges, then top with another wonton wrapper.
A tip: Don’t throw out leftover chicken, fish or beef. Keep it for ravioli filling! Instead of a second night rerun meal, you turn leftovers into a premiere. Use my recipe for Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken as a base for some of the ideas below. Get the kids involved and make an assembly line, soon you will have enough to freeze or share with the neighbors.
Prepping your ravioli:
Instead of using a whole egg as the glue to hold the ravioli together, opt for egg substitute or egg whites. I like to add 1 teaspoon of water to each egg white or 1 tablespoon of egg substitute to thin it out. Press down the edges with your fingers or a fork.
When filling the wontons, keep the package covered with a damp towel so they don’t dry out. Wrap and freeze any unused wonton wrappers for up to two months.
Cooking your ravioli:
Bring water to a boil before adding the ravioli. Add them one at a time so they don’t stick together, then give them a stir. Don’t allow them to boil rapidly; if the water has too much movement, the ravioli will break open. Ravioli will give you a sign when they are cooked: They will float to the top of the water.
Now you're ready to start cooking. You can use your favorites, such as cheese, spinach, or sausage, but you can also get creative and start cleaning out the fridge to fill your ravioli.
Here are some non-traditional but super delicious fillings: Read More ›
Speaking as a native San Franciscan, it's been a great year for professional sports! Between the Giant's World Series championship and the 49ers super bowl berth, our athletes have given us a lot to brag about. Rooting for your team is fun, but thinking about what you eat while watching the game (and the commercials) is just as important. According to USA Today, the Super Bowl is "only second behind Thanksgiving for the average amount of calories consumed in a day." To combat this unfortunate fact, I’ve gathered our favorite healthy super bowl party food so you can celebrate without the super-high calories, fat, and sodium. Don't forget to get up at halftime and dance to the music or get outside to throw the ball with your friends, neighbors, and loved ones. That way you can enjoy some great food and keep moving too. You know who I will be rooting for on the field ("Go 49ers!"), but I'm also rooting for all my fellow Sparkers out there to have a fun and healthy super bowl celebration. Read More ›
That lovely, roasty aroma hits you when you walk into the grocery on your way home from work and you spy a display case of rotisserie chickens near the checkout aisle. Of all the convenience foods on the store shelves, this one’s a good choice—a simple roast chicken, a good tossed salad and a loaf of whole-grain bread can make a satisfying, healthful and easy dinner.
A store-bought roast chicken can easily feed a family of four—and there’s more you can do with it than simply slicing and serving. Shredded or diced roast chicken can star in all kinds of easy meals.
For these meal ideas, start with a store-bought chicken, or try this slow cooker version.
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On more SparkPeople members' dinner tables, chicken is stepping aside while lean pork is the star of the meal. I am a big fan of lean pork products for busy weeknight meals, slow cooker Sundays, and tablecloth: and: good china Saturday night dinners. Choosing leaner cuts of pork such as the tenderloin, roast, and chops will bring more flavor to your favorite recipes than leaner cuts of poultry and at about the same price.
Not sure how to cook pork or need some new ideas? Here are a dozen to get you started. Read More ›
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, not only because that’s "what my Mom used to say," but because, as my kids will tell you, their Mommy (me) gets pretty grumpy when she doesn't have a good breakfast. In all seriousness, several studies point to the importance of breakfast for metabolism, mental acuity, as well as other key health and wellness factors. SparkPeople has made breakfast a key priority in its programs too.
At the same time, not everyone feels the same about breakfast. Too big a breakfast and my husband will feel ill. The wrong breakfast choices and my kids will stage an uprising, of which they’re usually on the verge anyway in the morning. To help other Sparkers who find breakfast challenging, I've gathered our best recipes that have a proper balance of complex carbs, proteins, and fats that are also quick, easy, and affordable to prepare. Start your day right with these breakfast gems. Read More ›
Many people are choosing, for a variety of reasons, to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diet. Whether it's due to a food allergy, or just a personal preference quick and easy gluten-free lunch recipes are hard to come by. Furthermore, supermarkets are now carrying gluten-free options, but they're often expensive and don't taste as good as homemade recipes. Instead of blowing the budget on store-bought items, I prefer products at are naturally gluten-free. This means that the items themselves are already gluten-free and can be combined into a full gluten-free meal. Regardless of your unique needs, these recipes are great choices for healthy lunches. Read More ›