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."
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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 and tasty single serving treats.
Posted 2/5/2013 6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 23 comments 78,820 views
Down home Southern cooking has produced some of our finest classic American dishes. At the same time, many of these original recipes include unwanted fats, calories and sodium. With some simple changes, we can enjoy this quintessential comfort cuisine and still stay on-track with our health goals.
Posted 2/1/2013 12:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 16 comments 113,437 views
Speaking as a native San Franciscan, it's been a great year for professional sports! Between the Giant's World Series championship and the 49ers super bowl berth, our athletes have given us a lot to brag about. Rooting for your team is fun, but thinking about what you eat while watching the game (and the commercials) is just as important. According to USA Today, the Super Bowl is "only second behind Thanksgiving for the average amount of calories consumed in a day." To combat this unfortunate fact, I’ve gathered our favorite healthy super bowl party food so you can celebrate without the super-high calories, fat, and sodium. Don't forget to get up at halftime and dance to the music or get outside to throw the ball with your friends, neighbors, and loved ones. That way you can enjoy some great food and keep moving too. You know who I will be rooting for on the field ("Go 49ers!"), but I'm also rooting for all my fellow Sparkers out there to have a fun and healthy super bowl celebration.
Posted 1/29/2013 12:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 23 comments 212,038 views
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, not only because that’s "what my Mom used to say," but because, as my kids will tell you, their Mommy (me) gets pretty grumpy when she doesn't have a good breakfast. In all seriousness, several studies point to the importance of breakfast for metabolism, mental acuity, as well as other key health and wellness factors. SparkPeople has made breakfast a key priority in its programs too.
At the same time, not everyone feels the same about breakfast. Too big a breakfast and my husband will feel ill. The wrong breakfast choices and my kids will stage an uprising, of which they’re usually on the verge anyway in the morning. To help other Sparkers who find breakfast challenging, I've gathered our best recipes that have a proper balance of complex carbs, proteins, and fats that are also quick, easy, and affordable to prepare. Start your day right with these breakfast gems.
Posted 1/22/2013 12:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 33 comments 146,055 views
Many people are choosing, for a variety of reasons, to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diet. Whether it's due to a food allergy, or just a personal preference quick and easy gluten-free lunch recipes are hard to come by. Furthermore, supermarkets are now carrying gluten-free options, but they're often expensive and don't taste as good as homemade recipes. Instead of blowing the budget on store-bought items, I prefer products at are naturally gluten-free. This means that the items themselves are already gluten-free and can be combined into a full gluten-free meal. Regardless of your unique needs, these recipes are great choices for healthy lunches.
Posted 1/18/2013 12:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 23 comments 178,984 views
Are you tired of eating plain, boring chicken breast every night for dinner, or are you having a hard time eating enough protein to meet you daily needs? Studies suggest that eating protein helps you feel fuller for longer and keeps your body's systems function properly. At the same time, many high protein recipes are also loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol that work against your efforts to stay healthy. A health and balanced diet requires 10-35% protein. That's an average of 50-175 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 nonfat 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.
Posted 1/15/2013 6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 31 comments 928,376 views
Pork Chops are not just the "Other White Meat," but a surprisingly versatile, affordable, and healthy meal plan option. A few simple changes are all that's required to bring this slice of Americana--pun intended--into the health-conscious 21st century. Try baking, slow-cooking, or grilling them, and then add your favorite fresh herbs to boost the chop's natural flavor structure. Opt for a more nutritious sauce or topping, like all natural apple sauce, spiced yogurt-based sauce, or home made chutney. Another benefit is that it doesn't take long to cook, nor are the ingredients very costly. Feed your family a healthy meal with these pork chop recipes.
Posted 1/4/2013 12:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 12 comments 29,580 views
Welcome in the new year with these winter slow cooker soup recipes. As a busy mother, wife and writer, I have to plan ahead if I’m going to achieve my health goals. When I utilize my slow cooker, I’m able to quickly and easily prepare family meals. These hearty soup recipes will warm you on a cold night and support you nutritionally too. Begin 2013 on a strong note with these soup recipes.
Posted 1/1/2013 6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 25 comments 105,013 views
At many dinner tables, the term "meatloaf" strikes fear in the hearts of even the most hardened palates. I have spent considerable time trying to bring peace among those who in my family who love and hate this classic American dish. Even for those who crave this American delicacy, there's the problem of how to prepare it without the fat and calories that wreek havoc on your health goals. Start by substituting lean meats, whole grains and vegetables. Use fresh spices and dried herbs to give it an international feel. Did you know meatloaf can even be made without meat? Have fun in your kitchen and enjoy these healthy meatloaf SparkRecipes.
Posted 12/21/2012 6:00:00 AM By: Samantha Donohue : 14 comments 22,202 views
Pasta is a crowd pleaser and doesn’t have to be hard to cook or unhealthy. Baked pasta is my go to meal when I need to prepare something ahead of time for dinner. With these simple modifications I've been able to take high-fat, high-calorie dishes and replaced them with highly nutritious ingredients.
- Use only half the amount of cheese.
- Replace high-fat protein with lean protein.
- Replace half the pasta with vegetables.
- Try pasta made with rice, corn or quinoa flour for a gluten-free option.
- Use non-fat milk and Greek yogurt for a cream based sauce.
Posted 12/18/2012 6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 2 comments 100,289 views
The modern coffee house has become the de facto office space for thousands of work-from-home Americans, including yours truly. When I need to change of scenery or to interact in-person with other human beings, my local java joint is my go-to option. The people-watching is decent and I will often bump into a friend, which approximates the traditional water-cooler conversation. It’s also a place for nutritional choices and I often find myself struggling to stick to the program. Whether it’s the sweet aromas or the attractive displays, many of the items in the forefront are loaded with calories and easily put me over the top on my daily sugar intake. not to mention how terrible I feel later. Even worse are the hidden calories in my original favorite drink, the latte. I thought I was being so healthy, because there was no minimal sugar, only to find out how many calories are in the deceptively large servings. I am happy to share, however, that I have learned a lot over the last year to take control of the coffee house menu to make it work for me and my health needs.
Posted 12/13/2012 6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 26 comments 120,895 views
The holiday season has started and so have many fun gatherings and parties. Holiday festivities can be a time of nutritional temptation. Dips are an outstanding way to spice up a party. The bold flavors, creamy textures, and endless choices draw family and friends together for fun and conversation. At the same time, they are typically loaded with hidden calories, abundant sodium and saturated fat that are too difficult to resist and track. To prove that dips can be fun and flavor rich, we’ve chosen the top dips from SparkRecipes that substitute unhealthy ingredients with nutritional alternatives. Cut some fresh vegetables or whole-grain baked goods and bring one of these dips to your next party.
Posted 12/7/2012 6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 12 comments 30,330 views
When I was in high school, my parents made a big lifestyle change that included improved diet and exercise. One of our staples when eating out became salmon. Many years later, it's still my favorite fish, but now I enjoy it at home around our family dinner table too. The best thing about salmon is that you don't have to be a professional chef or require expensive ingredients. This fish is simple to prepare, cooks fast, and has high levels of omega-3 fats and protein, but is relatively low in calories. I prefer fresh wild salmon, but you can opt for farmed or canned salmon also. Whether you already love salmon, or if you're ready to try something new, try these simple and healthy recipes to acquaint yourself with this amazing fish.
Posted 11/27/2012 6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 19 comments 121,333 views
Are you still looking for Thanksgiving meal plan ideas? Don’t panic. Instead, use these simple recipes to give your Thanksgiving dinner the special touch you're looking for. These recipes utilize ingredients you may already have on-hand and are healthier versions of the traditional full-fat calorie laden side dishes. Happy Thanksgiving!
Posted 11/20/2012 6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 10 comments 18,005 views
As the weather turns cold, heat up your meal planning with cozy soup recipes. Soup doesn't need to be boring, plain or unsubstantial. Add ingredients like beans, lean proteins and whole grains to turn it into a complete nutritious meal. Avoid high sodium broths. Instead use spices and seasonings to add flavor. Double the recipe and use the left over's for tomorrow's lunch or freeze it to enjoy another night. Curl up with a cup of soup this week by using these recipes and resources.
Posted 11/16/2012 6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 15 comments 23,378 views