All Entries For healthy cooking
As you might know, we recently hosted a $10,000 Split-the-Pot Slow Cooker Recipe Contest to celebrate the relaunch of SparkRecipes.com and do our part to help alleviate hunger. We know how much our members love how easy it is to make healthy recipes using a slow cooker, and we wanted to highlight some of YOUR best recipes, so we devised a contest that would allow us to thank you for helping SparkPeople grow into the largest healthy living community in America, while also giving back to those in need.
After weeks of popular voting, we selected 15 finalists, then taste-tested their creations at SP HQ, judging the recipes on taste, appearance, overall healthfulness, and ease of preparation. Today we're thrilled to announce the #1 slow cooker recipe in America is:
It was a hit among our taste-testers:
"I’d definitely make this recipe for my next get-together. It had just enough kick for me, but some people might like to add a little extra hot sauce. It’s great to eat as a soup, but you could also serve it as a dip with chips. Yum!"
"This was truly an easy recipe to make. I was amazed how many produce servings made it in there, and being ground up, the chicken really gave the chili a great consistency and taste."
The recipe's creator, Beth "Biz" Velatini, of Cary, Illinois, will win $10,000: $5,000 for her and $5,000 for her favorite hunger-relief charity, Common Threads. (The other 14 finalists will receive a $100 Amazon gift card.)
Founded by chef Art Smith, who was Oprah's personal chef, and artist Jesus Salgueiro, the nonprofit has been teaching children in underserved communities how to cook healthy, affordable meals during after-school programs for the last decade. Though it started in Chicago, Common Threads is focused on a nationwide effort to get one million kids cooking in the next five years.
Beth, who has a food blog called My Bizzy Kitchen, says she has used SparkPeople to help her manage her diabetes and lose weight. She's thrilled to be helping a program she believes in, and the prize money is much appreciated--she works two jobs to make ends meet, and her husband has been unemployed and dealing with health issues. Read More ›
Yes, eating a lot of vegetables is crucial for good health. But the way you prepare them can also ward off disease. Keep clicking for five easy ideas for getting the most out of your favorite veggies.
1. Stir-fry carrots or steam broccoli.
Chopping and then heating them releases carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that may help fight cancer. Read More ›
Do you shy away from free weights at the gym? Thankfully, there are a slew of other ways to build your muscles that don’t require a pricey membership or bulky equipment. Besides the benefits of toning your body, resistance workouts help improve blood pressure and lower your diabetes risk. Strength training can also give you an instant mood boost and help fight depression, much like a brisk walk or jog around the block does. Here are easy moves you can do at home and on the go. Read More ›
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. Read More ›
Pick up an innocent box of granola bars or a bottle of iced tea and you're hit with health claims—from less fat to made with real sugar. In fact, a USDA study showed that 43% of products introduced in 2010 splashed nutrition ads on their packaging. But despite their promises, you could be eating more fat, calories, salt and sugar than you think. Get the facts on the most deceptive claims so they never mislead you again. Read More ›
Ground turkey is a staple in my kitchen. I buy in bulk and keep it in my freezer. My favorite use for this versatile item is turkey burgers. It’s fun to experiment with items in my fridge, cupboard, or farm box, aiming for half of the ingredients to be vegetables and whole grains. This creates a complete nutritional meal for my kids that also affords them choice of toppings and condiments. My personal favorite is to enjoy the patty on top of leafy greens with honey mustard dressing. Instead of consuming that full-fat 500 calorie beef burger, opt for one of these juicy turkey burger recipes. Here are a few of the best turkey burger recipes from SparkRecipes members. Read More ›
Per your requests, our recipe ideas come in a handy, downloadable calendar packed full of meal ideas that are healthy and delicious. (It's printable, too!) Whether you use this calendar every day or just use it for ideas is up to you. We hope we've inspired you to get into the kitchen and get cooking!
Each week we'll choose a different theme: our favorite no-cook summer recipes, 7 days of meatless meals, or a week of diabetes-friendly dinners, for example. If you have a special dietary request, let us know in the comments, and we'll do our best to devise a recipe plan that might suit your needs.
By posting a weekly calendar, we think it's easier for you to save and even reuse these recipe collections over time.
This week's theme is Gluten-Free Dinners.
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Quinoa pronounced KEEN-Wah has quickly become a staple in my cooking. I love that it is quick and easy to prepare, has outstanding nutritional value and is allergy-free. Since it cooks through in less than 20 minutes, it is a useful grain substitute in just about any recipe. A single serving is high in healthy fats, fiber protein, iron, magnesium phosphorus, and riboflavin. Quinoa is also gluten free! Increase your nutritional grain options with these quick and convenient Quinoa recipes. Read More ›
Have you noticed that cupcakerys are the new hot trend in restaurants? Even in my non-metropolitan home town, our local bakery competed in the 2011 and 2012 Food Network Cupcake Wars and won "Best of the Best" on Cupcake Champions in 2012.
In our home, the month of February is an unofficial cupcake month, with Valentine's Day and nine separate family birthday celebrations to prepare for. However, if I stuck with the standard recipe, my husband and I would surely gain a few pounds and my kids would gain an eternal sugar high. That said, there are some simple modifications that add nutritional value, reduce the processed sugar, fat, and calories too. Substitute whole-grain flours for all purpose flour. Use fruits and vegetables as a natural sweetener and add color and texture; applesauce can be used in place of oil; flaxseed meal or chia seeds mixed with water can be used in place of eggs; and Greek yogurt can be used in place of flour. I also find that when I use natural ingredients, I crave the processed sugar less-and-less. Another health benefit and convenience with cupcakes is that a serving is as simple as one cupcake. Leftovers can go right into the freezer instead of a late night snack. Celebrate something special with these healthier cupcake recipes. Read More ›
My current go-to green vegetable is kale, which has nutritional value and health benefits that are off-the-charts. Whether I’m throwing it in my smoothie or steaming it as a recipe addition, I do my best to eat it every day.
The next time you are at the supermarket grab a bunch of kale and start cooking these recipes that you’ll actually eat and taste great.
Enchilada Casserole with Kale and Sweet Potatoes
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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:
Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus
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We love bell peppers. Served raw, they're a tangy and low-calorie snack and a great addition to any salad. When cooked, their natural sweetness is highlighted. We've picked a pack of pepper recipes that are both delicious and nutritious!
Takeout is tasty and convenient, but comes with high fat, sodium, and calories. Afterward, you may experience bloating or a tummy ache and have little idea what ingredients were used in the dish you purchased. Instead of surrendering control to your local drive-in, diner, or dive, use these SparkRecipes to cook your favorite take out dishes in the comfort of your own kitchen. By doing the cooking yourself, you can use savory spices, health-smart ingredients, and improved cooking methods like baking and steaming that bring out the natural flavors in food. With the money you save, don’t forget to give yourself a little tip: you deserve a reward for a job well done!
Chicken Satay with Vegetables (Chef Meg's Makeover)
Crispy Baked Egg Rolls
Chef Meg's Spring Rolls
Pot Stickers (steamed wontons)
Baked Crab Rangoon
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Are you looking for new ways to eliminate unhealthy ingredients and add more healthy ingredients to your recipes? Stuffed Bell Peppers are a fun way just to do that. A large size bell pepper has about 50 calories and is loaded with folate, magnesium, copper, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and potassium. Use peppers in place of high calorie wraps that have very little nutritional value. For an added bonus, stuff your peppers nutritional storehouses like beans, lentils, whole grains, finely chopped veggies and lean meats. Top it off with a puréed vegetable sauce for added flavor. Keep yourself healthy with these 10 super stuffed pepper recipes. Read More ›
For years, the Mediterranean "diet" has been touted by many nutrition experts as a way to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and more, but the advice had been loosely based on the results of "observational studies." People living in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey, tend to have a lower risk of those diseases. These folks consume a bounty of fresh and wholesome fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, beans, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
However, the evidence favoring a Mediterranean-style eating plan just got much stronger. A major clinical study published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine found that about 30% of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented with a Mediterranean-style eating plan. Test subjects for this experimental study were selected if they had risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as type 2 diabetes, smoker, hypertension, elevated LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, overweight or obesity, or a family history of premature heart disease. The scientists randomly assigned the 7,447 male and female subjects (ages 55-80) into one of three groups:
- Mediterranean diet plan plus 4 tablespoons olive oil daily
- Mediterranean diet plan plus a 1 ounce mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts), or
- A low-fat diet plan
The results of this study now position the Mediterranean diet as a powerful eating plan when it comes to the prevention of heart disease. If you want to compare your daily diet to the Mediterranean plan used in the study, here’s the checklist: Read More ›