Meg Galvin (CHEF_MEG)

SparkPeople Healthy Cooking Expert and Culinary Instructor

At SparkPeople.com, Chef Meg Galvin develops healthy recipes, tests member-submitted dishes, and teaches the fundamentals of cooking through informative and entertaining videos and articles. A World Master Chef since 2005, Chef Meg was the host of the regional television show The Dish, which aired on a local CBS affiliate and online. Meg now hosts cooking videos on the local FOX affiliate.

Galvin earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Eastern Kentucky University and a certificate of culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu in London. She is certified as an executive chef by the American Culinary Federation and is working toward her court of master sommeliers wine certification.

Galvin is a faculty member at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, home of the Midwest Culinary Institute (MCI), an American Culinary Federation-certified college. In addition, she oversees one of a handful of programs in the country that allows culinary students to transfer to earn a four-year degree in the culinary arts.

Raised on a large family farm in central Kentucky, Galvin now lives in northern Kentucky with her husband and three teenage sons—including twins. On any given day, she can be found hitting the pavement on long runs or cheering on her sons at their numerous sporting events. She balances her busy schedule by incorporating her home life and career, bringing her kids into the kitchen and testing recipes on—and with—her family.

More from Meg:

The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the WeightSparkPeople's Ultimate Grilling Guide: 75 Hearty, Healthy Recipes You Can Really Sink Your Teeth IntoThe Spark Solution: A Complete Two-Week Diet Program to Fast-Track Weight Loss and Total Body Health


Read More of Meg's Blogs:

A Dozen Trim Thanksgiving Recipes

Are you ready for some new, healthy recipes to liven up your Thanksgiving Day table? I've created five new recipes that celebrate the season of giving thanks. No doubt about it, pumpkin takes center stage this year, along with squash of all kinds.


Whole Wheat Couscous with Spinach and Squash

228 calories, 2 g fat

Each one cup portion has a serving each of whole grains and vegetables.

Posted 11/13/2013  3:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 61 comments   101,138 views

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Take Cucumbers beyond Pickles

Cucumbers should have a permanent slot on your shopping list.  There are endless ways to use them in the kitchen.  Grab a couple because one a week may not be enough.
 
How to harvest or select from the store:
Cucumbers are very easy to grow. The hard part is to getting out into the garden and harvesting every day once the plants start producing.  Whether you are in a garden or in the produce section at your favorite market, choose firm and bright green cucumbers.  Large cucumbers might seem like a bargain when sold at a unit price instead of by pound, but the large varieties tend to have tough skins and large watery seed cavities. 
Choose small cucumbers because they have small seed cavities, thin skins, and tender flesh. If the market only has large ones, you might want to peel them and scoop out the seeds.
 
For peak freshness, choose cucumbers that are dark green, with no yellow spots or bruising on the flesh, which can be a sign that the cucumber may be bitter or bland. 
 
Most cukes at the market are coated with edible wax or oil. You can scrub it away or peel it off, but you do need to remove it before eating.

Posted 7/2/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 34 comments   27,814 views

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How to Make Dried Fruit (Using Your Oven)

It's summer, and that means fruit trees, bushes, and berry plants are exploding with a bountiful harvest.  A healthy goal is to eat a variety of these local and fresh fruits.  
 
If we fast forward to fall, the taste of sweet, juicy strawberries are all but gone.  Never fear!  With local produce at its peak, think like the animals--harvest and store for winter.   
 
When it comes to fruit, you have three options: can, freeze, or dry.
 
Today I'm going to teach you how to turn summer's freshest fruit into a snack you can enjoy year-round. It's like nature's candy, and it requires no special equipment.
 
While you could use a dehydrator or old-fashioned drying cabinet, you don't need one. All you need is an oven, parchment paper or silicone liners and sheet pans or pizza screens if you have them. 

Posted 6/20/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 71 comments   160,305 views

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Fajitas The Healthy Way!

Fajitas are one of those foods that you hear and smell before you see, especially when you order them at a restaurant. The onions and peppers sizzle amongst strips of meat, their intoxicating smells travel through the restaurant, and finally a skillet overflowing with food is presented to you, along with a platter of beans, rice, a stack of flour tortillas and all the trimmings.
 
Fajitas come from the Spanish word "faja," which means sash, skirt--or girdle. It referred to the type of meat originally used in the dish, skirt steak. When most of us eat fajitas as served, we'll likely need a girdle to get into our pants!
 
The fajita platter at a popular fast-casual chain has 850 calories, 36 grams of fat, and 2,440 milligrams of sodium (more than a day's worth!). Wow.
 
At its most basic, a fajita is grilled meat wrapped in a tortilla. The vegetables are a welcome addition, but most restaurants douse them in oil and salt. 

Posted 5/21/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 29 comments   167,778 views

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Easy Asparagus Recipes

Asparagus is delicious when prepared simply: steamed, roasted or grilled. I like to blanch and shock the asparagus before grilling.  Boil the asparagus for 1 minute (this is the "blanch" part of the process).  Immediately plunge the asparagus into ice water to stop the cooking process (this is the "shock"). The asparagus will turn bright green and retain all its taste and nutrition. Dry it off and then grill it. Serve alone or on a pizza. Or serve it cold with vinaigrette.
 
How do you prepare it? Easy--Mother Nature gave you a guide. Pick up a spear, hold one end in each hand, and snap it. It will naturally break at the spot where it turns from woody to tender. You can either snap each spear or use the first one as a guide and cut them all off at the same spot.
 
Don't throw away those tough ends. You can simmer them for stocks or puree and use in soups. If all your spears are thick and woody, use a vegetable peeler to trim the outside and expose the tender interior.
 
You'll love these easy asparagus recipes:


Salmon-Asparagus Casserole


Crab and Asparagus Crepes


Asparagus Tart with Ricotta


Strawberry-Asparagus Salad


Roasted Salmon with Lemon Couscous and Asparagus



Easy Asparagus Au Gratin


Asparagus Wrapped in Phyllo Dough

Posted 4/11/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 43 comments   34,701 views

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Quick & Healthy Ways to Fill a Quiche

Whether you serve it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, quiche can be a healthy, go-to meal that all in the family will enjoy. That is, after you give is a drastic yet easy makeover.

Traditional quiche--with its ingredient list of fatty meats, too much cheese, whole eggs, and heavy cream--should stay away from your kitchen, but a new healthy, flavorful, and versatile quiche will fit right into your healthy eating plan.

Let's compare a traditional quiche recipe with a simple slimmed-down version that will save over 500 calories per serving.

Posted 3/6/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 32 comments   21,328 views

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10 New Uses for Leftovers

With the amount of time, effort, and cash that is going into putting a meal on the table, it's a shame to let any leftovers go to waste. While you might not want to eat the same meal two days in a row, you can easily turn any extra servings into something entirely different--with very little work.


 
Orange Miso Grilled Salmon
You might not be able to decide which way you like this recipe the best: cold or hot. Shred chilled salmon and place atop salad greens, along with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and orange slices.

Posted 2/20/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 11 comments   12,961 views

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4-Ingredient Chocolate Tarts (Only 63 Calories)

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.

Posted 2/13/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 12 comments   19,385 views

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Simple Sauces for Steaks

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!)

Posted 2/6/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 23 comments   74,655 views

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13 Healthy Ravioli Fillings (and an Easy Way to Make Them)

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:

Posted 1/30/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 17 comments   77,511 views

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12 Easy Ways to Serve Lean Pork

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.

Posted 1/24/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 8 comments   27,988 views

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12 Ways to Top Your Tomato Soup

There's something so comforting about tomato soup, especially when paired with a grilled cheese sandwich. Today we're sharing with you a simple recipe for a homemade version of this comforting classic, plus ideas for how to top your soup--and easy ways to transform it into other meals.
 
Mmm, mmm, better! That's what you will be saying when you try my easy Creamy Tomato Soup.  It tastes so much better than the stand-by canned variety, which rely on salt for most of their taste.
 
The condensed tomato soup we grew up eating has 480 mg sodium (about 20% of the max you should consume in a day). The homemade version has less than 100 mg per serving.
 
Tomato soup is delightful on its own, but it also pairs well with all sorts of toppings. Try one of these flavorful toppings:

Posted 1/11/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 22 comments   26,220 views

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Make-Ahead Meals: How to Freeze and Reheat Full Dishes

Finding time to make a healthy dinner is a challenge for many of us. One of the best tips you'll hear is to freeze meals for busy nights to avoid the greasy drive-thru or pricey takeout traps. But how do you know if a meal will freeze well? How much time will it take to create a few make-ahead meals? And how in the world do you reheat and serve those frozen meals?
 
We've got you covered.

Before You Begin:

  1. Pick a day to plan meals.  Ask your kids, spouse, or friends for ideas.  Better yet, log onto SparkRecipes.com for easy, quick recipes.  Peruse grocery store ads, then make your final meal plan. 
  2. Write your grocery list--and take it with you when you shop.
  3. Once home, store recipe ingredients together in your pantry and refrigerator.
  4. Set aside a couple of hours to cook your freeze-for-later meals.  (Make sure you follow food safety guidelines for storage and reheating.)
Learn the Basics of Meal Planning
 
Before you head to the store, let's talk about which foods freeze well, and which don't:

Posted 1/7/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 28 comments   71,830 views

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13 Healthy Foods to Try in 2013

Did you resolve to cook more in 2013? Want to branch out from your favorite healthy foods? Here are my top 13 healthy foods you have to try in 2013! Some of these foods will be completelyt new to you; others will simply be new uses for old favorites.






Bison

Traditionally grazing animals on grass brings on the flavor but leaves the fat back on the farm.  Swap out ground bison for any recipe calling for ground turkey or beef.  According to the USDA,  a comparison of bison to 90% lean ground beef awards the medal to bison.  A 3.5 ounce serving of bison contains 146 calories and 7 grams of fat, while the beef arrives at the table with 176 calories and 10 grams of fat.
Bison Bolognese
Greek Turkey Burger
Ground Beef-Potato Casserole
Keema (Ground Beef Casserole)
Salsa Turkey Burgers
Turkey Chili with Corn and Black Beans
Vegetable Beef Soup

Posted 12/31/2012  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 18 comments   21,711 views

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The 25 Most Popular Recipes of 2012

Ever wonder what other SparkPeople members are cooking? We sure do. That's why we rounded up the year's most-viewed recipes. Today we're sharing the top 25 recipes of 2012 from SparkRecipes.com, plus great tips and some of our favorite dishes you should commit to trying in 2013!
 
Most of these recipes were submitted by members like you!
 
1. Easy Zucchini Parmesan
To ensure perfectly crisp zucchini, bake on a metal rack to achieve even browning. Read my blog on faux frying for more details. In the mood for lemon? Try my Zucchini Ribbons with Lemony Bread Crumbs.

Posted 12/28/2012  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 22 comments   310,862 views

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