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Back to school and pumpkin beers at the grocery say summer is coming to a close, yet no one seems to have told the sun as temperatures remain hot in most of the country. Salads are a cool and refreshing way to beat the heat and change things up at the dinner table after a summer filled with grilled meats. Plus, with minimal prep time and simple ingredients, you'll spend less time with a hot stove and more time enjoying the sunshine. The many fresh fruits and other foods available during the summer months (farmers market, anyone?) allow you to add flavor and variety to your salads--no boring meals here! Hold on tight to the last bit of summer by enjoying a few of these summer-friendly salads in the coming weeks.
Summer Salad with Peaches and Goat Cheese Sweet summer peaches and tangy goat cheese top the season’s freshest vegetables in this crowd-pleasing salad.
Summer Salad with Chicken and Berries With berries reaching their peak sweetness levels, now is the perfect time to incorporate them into a salad. Let a range of fresh berries shine in this filling lunch dish.
Coach Nicole's Favorite Summer Salad Add your favorite dressing—balsamic vinaigrette works great—to this filling and effortlessly delicious salad.
Spinach-Berry Salad Fresh and juicy strawberries mingle with tender spinach, goat cheese and crunchy almonds in this salad that even kids will devour.
Cool Cucumber Salad Cucumber, red onion and a simple dressing are all you need to create this fantastic dish, which happens to pair well with grilled meats.
Caprese Salad Simple flavors combine in this timeless salad that is sure to win fans at your next backyard BBQ.
Easy Watermelon and Feta Salad Watermelon is a favorite summer dessert, but it makes a lovely addition to a dinner salad, too. Here, creamy citrus dressing and crunchy celery pairs with the sweet melon.
Peach-Tomato Salad with Basil and Feta Sweet, juicy peaches, tangy tomatoes, fresh basil and feta come together in a salad that is sure to make your taste buds do the happy dance.
Israeli Salad When the ingredients are fresh, salads can be simple, yet impressive. This traditional Israeli salad is perfect as a side, lunch salad or as a filling for your pita.
Spinach and Pear Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette Up your salad game with this spinach and pear salad topped with a homemade Dijon vinaigrette.
Waldorf Salad The classic Waldorf salad gets a healthy makeover thanks to the addition of low-fat yogurt.
End of Summer Salad A hot summer afternoon is the perfect time to enjoy this sweet and savory watermelon salad.
Do you eat more salads during the summer months? Which of these recipes will you try first?
Click here for even more summer salad recipes.
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With summer in full swing, we imagine many of you have been putting the grill to work. We recently shared some easy grilling recipes and hope that you have been enjoying at least some of them! Of course, no grill-out is complete without a side dish or two, right? Lucky for you, we've rounded up a variety of healthy salads, slaws, veggies and more, all of which are amazing complements to grilled meats. Be forewarned: these delicious, healthy side dishes might just take the main stage!
Garden Potato Salad
Low-fat, protein-powerhouse cottage cheese sneaks its way into the dressing of this simple summer side. 100 Calories, 0g Fat, 22g Carbs, 4g Protein
Macaroni Salad with Bacon, Peas and Dijon Dressing
Tangy dressing contrasts well with the smoky bacon, sweet bell pepper and red onion. 189 Calories, 6g Fat, 26g Carbs, 7g Protein
Rainbow Fruit Salad
This fruit salad showcases the best flavors of summer--mango, blueberries, bananas and kiwi, just to name a few. Try it as a side with grilled chicken or even for dessert. 98 Calories, 1g Fat, 25g Carbs, 1g Protein
Light and Creamy Coleslaw
This creamy and delicious coleslaw is hiding a secret--it's very low in fat! 52 Calories, 2g Fat, 8g Carbs, 2g Protein
Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans
Make this picnic staple right in your slow cooker. 170 Calories, 1g Fat, 37g Carbs, 7g Protein
This crunchy coleslaw is a healthier version of that summer favorite: Ramen noodle salad. Two servings of vegetables in every portion! 70 Calories, 6g Fat, 6g Carbs, 1g Protein
Cauliflower or Mock Potato Salad
Cauliflower takes center stage in this ''mock'' potato salad. You won't even miss the heavy potato version. 126 Calories, 7g Fat, 14g Carbs, 5g Protein
Garlic-Herb Potato Packs
Whether you make these on the grill or in the oven, these quick-fix potato packs are mom's best friend. No mess, no clean-up and just five minutes to prepare. 165 Calories, 2g Fat, 34g Carbs, 4g Protein
Grilled Avocado Boats
If you've never grilled an avocado, you're truly missing out. Top a creamy, grilled avocado with spicy salsa and Mexican cheese for a unique summer treat. 181 Calories, 16g Fat, 9g Carbs, 3g Protein
Greek Penne Pasta Salad
The classic cookout side dish gets a healthy Greek makeover. Veggie lovers will adore the edamame, tomato and onion. 190 Calories, 8g Fat, 28g Carbs, 7g Protein
Grilled Vegetables with Pineapple
Add a bit of sweetness to your vegetable kabobs with chunks of summer pineapple. 137 Calories, 7g Fat, 17g Carbs, 2g Protein
Grilled Corn with Lime Butter
Take your grilled corn to the next level by adding a hint of lime. 98 Calories, 3g Fat, 17g Carbs, 3g Protein
What is your favorite grill-out side dish? Which of these recipes are you most excited to try?
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Hello, SparkPeople Members!
I hope you are having a good start to December! I'm back this week to share fun recipe information with you.
A guiding principle at SparkPeople is to build features that will authentically help people reach their goals. That's exactly how we came to build SparkRecipes into one of the larger recipe websites on the Internet. In our early days, we realized that many people didn't like to or didn't know how to cook healthy meals. We knew that it was possible to learn how to cook simple dishes that both taste great AND provide your body with the nutrition needed to reach your goals.
This is why we started SparkRecipes.com. The site now has more than 500,000 recipes with millions of ratings by members. The recipes are both searchable and grouped in major categories to help you easily find what you need.
I personally love slow-cooker recipes. Slow-cooker meals are a triple-win because they are simple to prepare, taste amazing, and can be very nutritious. As a bonus, they make for great leftovers that you can even freeze. My family puts our slow cooker to regular use. Read More ›
Now that summer is in full swing, you're probably looking for quick and easy ways to cool down. Although the pool and your air conditioner are the usual suspects, have you ever considered just how much of an asset your kitchen's freezer is?
Your freezer is the little culinary assistant that could—if you know how to maximize it. That doesn't mean that you should stand in front of the open freezer as the chilly air blasts you; in fact, there are ways to get your freezer working for you while you improve its energy efficiency in the process.
You can also use your freezer to make quick, healthy snacks that the kids are sure to love—just a freezer's reach away all summer long. When you have these kid-friendly freezer snacks at the ready, you have even more time to get out and enjoy the pool and do the things you'd rather do, instead of spending all summer slaving in the kitchen.
Here are some freezer-friendly foods that will keep your kids coming back for seconds. Read More ›
On the tail of our recent announcement about the new, free Diet & Fitness Tracker app, we are very excited to share that a brand new version of the SparkPeople's Healthy Recipes app is here, too!
Today we launched our new and improved recipe app for the iPhone! Now you can take the best features of SparkRecipes.com—top-rated recipes, cooking videos, nutrition facts and more—wherever you go. With the free Healthy Recipes app, it’s easy to plan healthy meals and shop for nutritious and delicious foods that will help you reach your goals. Read More ›
Remember how we announced the best slow cooker recipe in America earlier this month? Well, now we're sharing more than 25 of the best slow cooker recipes, in a FREE, downloadable, printable cookbook!
Get the 15 slow cooker recipes that were finalists in the $10,000 Split-the-Pot Slow Cooker Recipe Contest, plus more than a dozen of our favorites from the cooks at SparkRecipes.com! We have full-color photos to accompany each recipe, and--for your tracking convenience--you can click on the title of any recipe to view it on SparkRecipes.com and add it to your SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker. (You can also click on any recipe title from the table of contents to go directly to that recipe.)
You'll get NEW recipes like:
- Best Buffalo Chicken Chili (the winning recipe!)
- Creamy Tri-Mushroom Soup
- Creamy Chicken Enchilada Stew
- Alaskan Hunter Stew
PLUS old favorites, such as:
- Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken
- Slow Cooker Lasagna
- Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Roast
Click the image below to go to the cookbook!
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On SparkPeople.com, members log thousands of food items daily on our Nutrition Tracker. SparkRecipes now has more than 485,000 recipes. That's a lot of info on what people like you are really eating when they're working to get healthy and stay that way. We looked back at the top cooking trends of the year, based on what members like you are searching for on the site. Keep reading for a wealth of recipes and meal ideas that will help you reach your healthy cooking and eating goals in 2014.
High-Protein Foods: Protein is huge right now. You know that it's crucial to weight loss, thanks to its ability to fill you up, ward off hunger, and rebuild muscles after your workouts, and you're looking for creative and delectable ways to get enough of it each day. Beyond the usual recipes, try homemade protein bars, protein pancakes & protein powder pancakes.
No Bake Protein Bars
Peanut Butter Fudge Protein Bars
Drinking Your Vegetables: Getting in your five servings of fruits and veggies daily can be tough when you're busy. One of the easiest ways to load up on fruit is with a smoothie. Toss in a banana and some berries or melon, and you're easily halfway to your goal. But a lot of you are catching on that vegetables can be sneaked into a smoothie, too. you're trying spinach smoothie and vegetable smoothie recipes. (trust us, you can't taste the veggies.) Read More ›
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 ›
Whipped cream-laden Thanksgiving pie notwithstanding, pumpkin has a healthy nutritional profile, with more than 200% of our RDA of Vitamin A, plus about one-third of our daily Vitamin C and nearly one-quarter of our fiber requirements. And it has just 40 calories per serving. (Without that whipped cream, of course.)
Canned pumpkin is widely available in grocery stores during the fall/winter holiday season. (Note: Be sure to grab plain pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix in a can, which includes sweeteners, spices and other ingredients to make a pie.) One can of pumpkin contains about 1 3/4 cup. Some canned pumpkin can have a slightly bitter taste, so it’s best suited for sweet recipes. For pumpkin-based dips or sauces, try making your own pumpkin puree; it’s super easy. Read More ›
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. Read More ›
Who doesn't like a game of hide-and-seek? The usual burger-and-fries dinner is hiding loads of fat. Seek out ours instead, which has secrets of its own. Extra lean beef can be dry, so we stuff it with onion and herbs for a juicy, tasty burger.
Compare a typical home-cooked burger meal to our lightened-up version. Read More ›
Tips for Best Tomato Taste
Choose unblemished ripe tomatoes from a farmers’ market or your family garden. Heirloom varieties come in different flavors and colors—for example, yellow tomatoes are generally milder and less acidic; some types remain green when fully ripe. Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator; they’ll lose flavor and get mealy. To make peeling easier, core the tomato, then scrape the blade of a small paring knife over the skin to loosen it.
Halve ripe tomatoes lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the sheet in the oven on the lowest temperature (150 to 170 degrees) and let the tomatoes dry for 8 hours, until they’re shrunken but still a little plump. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 6 months. Keep reading for nine more ideas!
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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 ›
In honor of Heart Awareness Month, I've gathered up recipes that have the ultimate superfood: chia seeds. Chia seeds are a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and proteins. If you have not heard of chia seeds, read "What Can You Do with Chia Seeds? Plenty!" for more information. Don't let giggles and jokes about the kitschy Chia Pet commercials dissuade you. I add chia to almost all recipes these days. I love that it's gluten and alergy-free. Try these chia recipes today. Read More ›
Why does brown rice get such a bad rap? Sure, rice can be a little bland. And yes, the brown version does take longer to cook. But here’s the thing: In addition to being one of the healthiest foods in the human diet—rich in fiber, cholesterol-lowering fats and nutritious minerals and antioxidants—brown rice has a deep, nutty flavor and hearty texture that’s anything but boring.
White rice is highly processed brown rice that’s been stripped of its bran—and nearly all its nutrients. You’ll find short- and long-grain varieties; short-grain rice tends to be more sticky and compact when it’s cooked, while long-grain rice is fluffier. You may also be able to find quick-cooking brown rice (which is partially cooked and then dried). Brown rice is different from wild rice (which is actually a grass, not a rice), though they’re delicious together. Here are some great ways to enjoy brown rice:
Cooking brown rice.
To make 3 cups of cooked rice, bring 1 cup of brown rice, 2 1/2 cups of water and a pinch of salt to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 40 to 50 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Turn off the heat, leave the lid on the pan and let the rice sit for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving. (You can also make brown rice in the slow cooker.)
Oven-Baked Brown Rice.
This SparkRecipes member recipe is dubbed “foolproof”; it’s baked in a foil-covered dish in the oven for an hour.
Prepared And Make-Ahead Brown Rice.
You’ll find already-cooked brown rice on your grocery shelf, and it’s a quick and easy way to enjoy this staple. Too, cooked rice freezes well, so if you plan to cook a batch of brown rice for a recipe, make double what you need and freeze the rest for up to 6 months.
Now, onto those recipes and meal ideas... Read More ›