One of my favorite parts about writing a book for SparkPeople is the recipe photo shoots. Those days start early and end late, with nary a moment to rest, but it's some of the best fun I've ever had while "working."
Today I want to take you behind the scenes of the photo session we did for The Spark Solution: A Complete Two-Week Program to Fast-Track Weight Loss and Total Body Health. (Available for pre-order now!)
The book contains 70 recipes, all created by Chef Meg, plus additional tips and swaps to vary those recipes based on what's in season and your personal preferences. And all the photos are in full color! The inspiration for the recipes, which we call "Spark Swaps" is the standard American diet--and all the comfort foods we love to eat. Ours are lower in calories and fat, and quite low in sugar and sodium. All of the meals were designed to fit into a 1,500-calorie meal plan, with no more than 2,300 mg sodium a day.
A delicious quesadilla in the making, with a delicious pesto in the background. We measured all the ingredients that went into every recipe to make sure they were true to the serving size.
Peek behind the scenes of the recipe photo shoot!
We worked with an amazingly talented photographer, Catherine Murray of Photo Kitchen, who not only is an expert behind the camera but also has years of experience in restaurant kitchens. Rather than hiring a food stylist, Chef Meg did the work herself, with the help of two of her culinary students as assistants, Peggy Beebe and Peggy Neal. Peggy Neal tested every recipe in both our cookbook and The Spark Solution, and Peggy Beebe has helped us with shoots in the past. Becky Hand, the book's co-author and SparkPeople's head dietitian, came to the set to help out for a couple of days, and she ended up being recruited to "model" the Lean Philly Cheesesteak. (That's her arm below!)
The finished product... that's only about 4 ounces of meat. There are some secret ingredients stuffed inside! I was laughing at the pressure of hand modeling a hamburger.
Becky, Peggy N., Meg and me prep a recipe
We shot almost 25 recipes in three days, with very few disasters in the kitchen. We burned some breadcrumbs, rescued a bee who got too close to a sweet sauce, and dirtied quite a few dishes, but everything went off without a hitch. Did I mention it was over 85 degrees in September when we shot these photos?
We're sharing five recipes today, and the other 65 are available in The Spark Solution, available May 7 wherever books are sold. If you pre-order now, you can take advantage of SparkPeople's thank you offer: $45 in free gifts!
Lean Philly Cheesesteak
Meg's Pan-Fried Chicken with Hot & Sweet Rainbow Slaw
Strawberry Crunch Sundae
Are you excited for the release of The Spark Solution on May 7? Have you pre-ordered your copy? Will you? Which of these recipes look the most appealing to you?
All photos by Catherine Murray of Photo Kitchen
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