Samantha Donohue

Samantha Donohue is all about taking her health seriously, without taking herself too seriously. She loves to fly through the air on a trapeze, hide vegetables in her children's morning smoothies, and out-sprint her husband on training runs. Having grown up cooking with both of her Italian grandmothers, she knows how to make most everything from scratch, but she's not afraid to throw in a jar of pasta sauce when no one is looking.

Her life motto is "to run the race set before me with my eyes wide open and focused on the goal."


Read More of Samantha's Blogs:

10 Single-Serving Sweet Treats

If I could choose what to take with me to the proverbial desert island, sweet treats would be right up there on my list. One of the reasons I exercise so consistently is so that I have the option to enjoy them with family, when eating out or for spontaneous celebrations. At the same time, I refuse to cook large quantities of desserts, mainly because I end up throwing them out to avoid temptation. One strategy I find useful is to prepare single-serving desserts that satisfy the urge, but without circumventing my nutrition plan. Enjoy these fun, tasty and petitely portioned treats. 

Posted 7/14/2017  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 49 comments   92,629 views

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10 Super Berry Smoothie Recipes to Kick-Start Your Day

For my family, spring signals the beginning of little league baseball and a renewed level of busyness that makes staying on top of nutrition a bit of a challenge. Recently, I've been using berries, another spring/summer favorite, in smoothies to keep my kids fueled up. Using a simple blender, I can whip up a tasty treat in minutes that includes many fruits and vegetables that my kids wouldn't normally eat. 
 
Berries are sweet, but also contain a boost of disease-fighting antioxidants, fiber and vitamins. It's fun to hear my kids ask for seconds, especially when I know the smoothies we make are also loaded with spinach, kale, or chia or flax seeds to add fiber, protein and healthy omega fats. I make it a goal to get at least three servings of fruits and vegetables in each smoothie I make.
 
When I see a deal on berries, I buy double what I need and put half in the freezer. Then I can just pull out what I need, whenever I need it. Clean up is easy, too: Simply pop the blender parts into your dishwasher or hand wash with hot, soapy water. 

Fuel up with berries and other great smoothies by trying these SparkRecipes. 

Posted 5/17/2017  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 77 comments   818,187 views

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13 Recipes That Are High in Protein and Low in Fat

Are you tired of eating plain, boring chicken breasts every night for dinner, or are you having a hard time packing in enough protein to meet your daily needs? Studies suggest that eating protein helps you feel fuller for longer and keeps your body's systems functioning properly. However, many high-protein recipes are also loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol that work against your efforts to stay healthy.

A healthy and balanced diet requires 10 to 35 percent protein. That's an average of 50 to 175 grams daily. To find the right balance of protein and fat, follow these suggestions:

  • Grill, bake, poach or broil your food to limit fat.
  • Select non-fat or low-fat dairy options.
  • Use egg whites in place of the whole egg.
  • Select lean meats and trim the fat and skin before cooking. 
Prepare these high-protein, low-fat recipes to help you stay on track and satisfied.

Posted 4/20/2017  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 54 comments   1,094,575 views

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6 Healthy Donuts You Can Make at Home

My love of donuts started on my sixth birthday, when my parents bought them for my party instead of a cake. Ten years later, my parents led my family through an amazing lifestyle change that included diet and exercise. I’ll never forget walking into a well-known donut chain where you could watch them come off the line. We asked for some without icing. They were shocked at the request.

This got me thinking about how to enjoy the warm, soft sweetness of donuts without the fat, calories and sugar of traditional recipes. Here’s what I learned: Start by substituting whole wheat flour, then use plain yogurt instead of oil and butter. Use natural ingredients—like berries, pumpkin and banana—to add nutritional sweetness. Have fun with toppings too, using lemon zest, orange zest, cinnamon sugar or icing (in moderation). Try baking instead of frying, or make smaller sizes to help with portion control. If you don’t own a donut pan, try a muffin pan instead.

When you're craving a delicious treat, these donut recipes deliver all the flavor without wrecking your health goals. 

Posted 4/6/2017  12:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 104 comments   587,055 views

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14 Healthy and Delicious Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes

Using a slow cooker is like magic: pour in the ingredients, set the heat level and get on with your day, while dinner cooks itself. Chicken is one of my favorite ingredients to use in a slow cooker, since it’s a flavorful source of lean protein and requires little effort to cook. These are some of SparkPeople’s favorite slow cooker chicken recipes.

Posted 4/1/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Samantha Donohue : 45 comments   1,463,776 views

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9 Ways to Use Chia Seeds

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. 

Posted 6/18/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 67 comments   682,172 views

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7 Better Turkey Burger Recipes

Ground turkey (and ground chicken) are staples in my kitchen. I buy in bulk and keep them 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.

Posted 6/11/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 52 comments   363,228 views

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10 Quick Quinoa Recipes

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.  

Posted 5/7/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 52 comments   697,856 views

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Make Brunch Better with These Recipes

Spring gardens are in full bloom and the beauty of the season is reaching its peak. It's as if the gardens themselves are working overtime for Mother's Day, celebrating the proverbial "busy bees" in our lives, our moms.

Mother's Day brunch is a tradition for many families, but it often includes endless buffet tables chock-full of high fat, salt saturated, and sugar laden dishes. The high price tag of these "all you can eat affairs" wreak havoc on our common sense, leading us to rationalize eating more than we our stomachs are designed to hold. We enjoy the company of our loved ones, yes, but do we welcome the bathroom scale the following morning?

Give Mom the gift of love through a healthy and fun meal. I've gathered our best brunch recipes for you to enjoy. Many of these are from our Chef Meg. Her gourmet recipes are simple to prepare and don't require an endless list of ingredients, highlighting spring fruits and vegetables. They are perfect for dads and children to prepare together too, making the cooking as fun as the eating, if not more.  Here are some other ideas to make this Mother's Day memorable: visit your local farmer's market; create a customized playlist with songs that celebrate memories with Mom; pick some fresh flowers from the garden; and adorn the table with china. Most importantly, don't forget to clean up the kitchen so Mom can spend the evening basking in the love of her loved ones.  

Posted 5/3/2013  12:00:00 AM By: Samantha Donohue : 11 comments   47,011 views

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11 Healthier Cupcake Recipes

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. 

Posted 5/2/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 53 comments   586,992 views

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Kale Recipes You'll Actually Eat

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.


Kale Stew



Enchilada Casserole with Kale and Sweet Potatoes


Posted 4/25/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 54 comments   344,966 views

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20 Better-Than-Takeout Recipes

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!
 
Appetizers

Chicken Satay with Vegetables (Chef Meg's Makeover)

Crispy Baked Egg Rolls

Chef Meg's Spring Rolls
Pot Stickers (steamed wontons)

Baked Crab Rangoon
 

Posted 4/4/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 50 comments   460,120 views

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10 Super Stuffed Bell Pepper Recipes

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. 

Posted 3/7/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 24 comments   452,227 views

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Juice Recipes for Health

Are you caught up on the latest juicing craze? Regardless making homemade juices are a great choice for those wanting to take control of their health. Homemade juices are healthier than store bought as you can control what ingredients are being used and nothing unnecessary is added. It’s a great way to use those fruits and vegetables are ripe and ready to use. I’ve come up with some of the best combinations by throwing in everything on the container that needs to be eaten today into the juicer. It also a great way to eat fruits and vegetables you may not enjoy on their own. All of these recipes require a blender or juicer. Stay hydrated and filled up on nutrition with these delicious juice recipes. 

Posted 3/1/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 24 comments   57,752 views

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11 Healthy Cabbage Recipes

When you think of cabbage, do you think of a garnish used to add color or fill in the white space on a plate? Or worse, do you remember watery, mushy, or chewy boiled cabbage that a relative over-boiled with cured meat? If so, then you share my shock and surprise that, at least until recently, I've been missing out on the vitamins and nutrients packed into this water-rich super food. Cabbage has more vitamin C than an orange is a great source of vitamins A, K and also is high in folate and fiber too.  I like the flavor that it adds to soups and salads. My favorite recipe in the "The SparkPeople Cookbookis Chef Meg’s Minestrone Soup and much of the flavor and nutrition comes from the two cups and chopped cabbage in this recipe. Use these cabbage recipes to add extra vegetables to your nutritional intake. 

Posted 2/26/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 42 comments   163,775 views

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