Help Us Name the First SparkPeople Cookbook

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Readers, we need your help. You might have heard that SparkPeople was writing a cookbook--our first! Chef Meg and I spent much of last year hard at work on what we know will be your favorite cookbook. The recipes are delicious and healthy, the photos are mouth-watering, and the writing is clever and informative. (OK, I might be a bit biased there.)

But… we don't have a title! We have so many good ideas, we can't seem to make up our minds. And that's where you come in.

We have plenty of ideas, but we wanted to survey you, our readers and members. What do you think we should call it? What do you envision when you think about "The SparkPeople Cookbook"?

If your title is chosen, you'll not only be thanked in the acknowledgments of the cookbook, but you'll receive a copy of the cookbook autographed by Chef Meg and me, plus $100 to spend in the SparkPeople Store!

But first, let me tell you a little bit about the cookbook…

Are you ready to take your healthy eating to the next level and change the way you eat forever? From our groundbreaking Secrets of Success survey in The Spark, we learned that cooking has a profound effect on weight-loss success, which prompted us to write our first cookbook. It’s unlike any cookbook you’ve ever read.

Co-written by Chef Meg and myself, this cookbook shows that healthy eating can be simple and fun. In fact, it proves it!

While we were developing the cookbook, which will be published this fall, we conducted a formal taste test and follow-up pilot program to show that if people ate flavorful, satisfying foods, they could eat fewer calories without even realizing it, yet be more satisfied while losing weight!

With more than 150 chef-created and chef-tested recipes, success stories from members who cooked their way to weight loss, and a commitment to flavor and freshness, this cookbook expands the nutrition plan laid out in "The Spark" and helps you achieve all your healthy eating goals. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or have never set foot in the kitchen, you’ll reach for "The SparkPeople Cookbook" again and again.

Here's a sneak peek from Chef Meg:

In writing this cookbook for SparkPeople, we’ve come up with a simple rule of three that helps you keep your life in balance. All of the recipes in the book are satisfying, sustaining, and stress-free. We have classics and new dishes, comfort foods and lighter fare, all made with the busy, health-minded person in mind.

You don’t need a culinary degree (or much cooking experience at all) to make these dishes. The recipes were tested in real life, with tweaks to more easily work them into your busy schedule. They’ll keep you full and happy, and they’re full of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein, so there’s always room for them in your healthy lifestyle. You don’t need fancy gadgets or expensive ingredients to make them, and they pass the kid test—my boys tasted and helped make almost all of them.

We hope that you’ll integrate these recipes into your daily life and that they’ll help you be healthier, happier, more satisfied, and less stressed.

Food That’s Satisfying
How many times have you eaten at a restaurant only to come home hungry? When was the last time you were “on a diet” yet ended up gaining weight because you couldn’t stop eating? How often do you find yourself staring mindlessly into the fridge or the pantry after dinner, looking for something that hits the spot?

We’ve all been there. Diet foods are bland—our taste test proved that! The portions are too small. If you are lucky enough to find a healthy restaurant option, it’s usually as lacking in substance as it is in flavor.

Healthy living doesn’t have to be that way. SparkPeople never would have grown into America’s largest healthy-living community if that were the case. We believe that eating right is not about deprivation. It’s not about the word no. It’s definitely not a time to be a food martyr, sacrificing all flavor and joy for the sake of a few measly pounds.

To lose weight, get healthy, and forge a healthy relationship with food, you need to like the food you’re eating. It’s not enough that it just be nutritious. It must also be delicious, or eating will feel like punishment. Unlike many diet cookbooks, which strip away ingredients and flavor, "The SparkPeople Cookbook" focuses on adding ingredients and layers of flavor so that every bite is satisfying.

With the help of a few key principles, such as eating heart-healthy fats, lean proteins, fiber-rich whole grains, and vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, these meals will keep you—and your entire family—comfortably full and happy until the next one. No growling bellies, no meager portions, and no bland food—we promise!

Food That’s Sustaining
These days, everyone keeps saying we’ve forgotten how to eat. But if you look around you’ll see that, with waistlines expanding and life expectancies decreasing, we’re actually quite good at eating. In fact, what we’ve forgotten how to do is truly enjoy what we eat.

Close your eyes and think about the most memorable meals of your life.

I think first about my mom’s homemade chicken pot pie, made from scratch and at my request, on all special occasions: Flaky crust that she’d rolled out by hand using fresh butter. Tender, juicy chicken we’d raised ourselves, crisp and sweet vegetables from the garden, and just enough rich, creamy sauce to bind it all together.

I remember watching her in the kitchen as she made enough to feed six growing kids and her hard-working farmer husband. Her food was simple, but it was made with love, and it lingers in my memory more than 35 years later.

We all have meals that conjure memories, but when we delve deeper, we realize that there’s more to those experiences than eating. It helps to understand that it’s not just the food—it’s what (and who) surrounds the food that counts.

Food That’s Stress-Free
This cookbook is not part of a fad diet that will help you achieve the perfect body. It isn’t about standing over a hot stove for hours on end. And it isn’t about spending your whole paycheck on obscure ingredients and expensive products. It’s about finding that balance between food and the rest of your life, about eating the way we were meant to eat, and about making the right choices for you and your family. It’s about eating more but being satisfied with fewer calories. It’s about using fat, sugar, and salt judiciously; appreciating the natural flavors of food; and reaching for other flavor-enhancing ingredients and techniques whenever possible.

Successful SparkPeople members apply those principles to every bite and every meal. Even when eating in the company of others, they pause and reflect, allowing all of their senses to experience each bite. They put down their forks and push away their plates when finished—even if food remains on their plates. They don’t turn down dessert, and they don’t skimp on flavor. They indulge at times and abstain at others—and make sure every bite counts.

The simple act of cooking (and cooking simply) can help you lose weight, feel better, and become a healthier person. Our recipes will help you recapture the joy of eating, retrain your palate to appreciate food’s natural goodness, and resurrect the family meal. In each chapter, you’ll learn how to make over a meal with healthy and easy-to-follow recipes that load up on flavor in moderate portions. We delve into the science of satisfaction, introduce new and nutritious ingredients, teach you the basics of cooking, and help you integrate healthy habits into your life. Like the SparkPeople plan upon which this cookbook is based, we rely on small steps to achieve great results—and change lives forever.

Here's a sneak peek at two of the recipes to whet your appetite:
  • Three-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
  • Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken

    You have one week to brainstorm and turn in your idea. We'll choose the top 10, then select one winner among those. (Our publisher has the final say, but they really want help and ideas from us and you! Even if they ultimately tweak your idea or use another, we'll still choose a winner!) To enter, simply post your best idea in the comments section below. (Find the official rules here.)

    What should we name "The SparkPeople Cookbook"?

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