Hello and happy Friday!
Today I have a book review, guest post, and giveaway to share with you all, featuring the SparkPeople cookbook!
One of my blog friends, Stepfanie, works for SparkPeople, which is a community/member website that offers nutrition, health, and fitness tools, support, and resources (all 100% free — all you have to do is sign up!) to help people towards reaching their goals to lead healthier lives. The SparkPeople cookbook came out in October, and Stepfanie co-wrote it! Pretty cool. :)
Stepf and I originally became friends via email when she approached me in 2009 about doing some guest posts for dailySpark. She also wrote a great guest post for me last year called “The Best Stretches for Athletes” — which I would recommended checking out if you missed it, it’s a good one. After emailing for awhile, we met in person at a few of the blogger conferences and had fun chatting about blogs, traveling, and life.
Stepf sent me a copy of the cookbook a couple weeks ago and it’s amazing. Not only does it include recipes, but also tips for fitting these recipes into your budget and schedule, chef secrets to streamline the cooking process, and success stories from real SparkPeople members that have turned their lives around by eating healthier.
Other things I love that they included in the book:
- The “Make it a Meal” feature — notes for how to make a main dish into a well-balanced meal by adding sides
- 150 of the meal ideas/recipes take less than 30 minutes to prepare
- Two weeks of meal plans (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) — they are in the 1,400 to 1,600 calorie range, which is too low for some people, but still a great feature and you can easily add in more snacks/larger meals
- A healthy pantry checklist
- Step-by-step guides for healthy cooking techniques
- A list of kitchen equipment necessary for healthy cooking
- Tips to raise kids to be healthy eaters
- This page:
I also love that Stepf’s coauthor, “Chef Meg,” includes this in the foreword:
While some low-fat products are fantastic, I steer clear of over processed “diet” foods because they don’t satiate me and I end up eating more. Instead, I cut calories and fat by choosing low- or non-caloric cooking techniques and save room for some rich and savory ingredients like a little bit of butter, cream, bacon, or full-fat cheese… If you use these ingredients in the right amounts, you get the benefit of their flavors and satisfaction without breaking the calorie bank.”
Amen! Couldn’t have said it better myself. :) So NOT a fan of the “diet” mentality and definitely wouldn’t help to promote a book that was preaching that! This book very much takes the same approach I do — a practical/fun approach to nutrition, emphasizing real food that tastes good. Most of the recipes are healthier versions of typical favorites — no weird or crazy ingredients — with a few creative recipes thrown in there as well, like this Quinoa-Flaxseed Pizza Dough. Yum!
If you like my blog and my recipes, you will love this cookbook. There aren’t a ton of vegetarian recipes in the book, FYI, but if you are looking for tips to eat healthier and are interested in recipes that give healthy twists to old favorites, I’d really recommend checking this book out. The recipes all look really simple and sound delicious, too.
Matt’s going to be pumped about this healthy Buffalo Chicken recipe!
Since I’m friends with the co-author of this book, in addition to my review I thought it would be fun to ask her to share some of her experiences with writing the book. Enjoy!
Writing the SparkPeople Cookbook
by: Stepfanie Romine
Joining the SparkPeople.com team four years ago was like winning the lottery. I genuinely enjoy coming to work every morning, and, in addition to helping people reach their healthy-living goals each day, I get to pursue my own as well. In the past four years, I’ve learned to ride a bike (I had an odd childhood), discovered that I love running, run two half marathons, earned my yoga teacher certification, and tried countless new fitness activities. I’ve traveled to Vancouver to meet Olympic athletes, helped us forge partnerships at some major magazines, and given talks at our conventions and last year’s Healthy Living Summit.
I write about topics that I love: yoga, stress relief, food, and cooking. In addition to writing content for our sites, I manage SparkRecipes.com, our healthy recipes website, and dailySpark.com, our healthy living blog. I also co-wrote "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight" with our resident healthy cooking expert, culinary instructor and World Master Chef Meg Galvin.
Writing the book was so much fun (but a lot of hard work). I worked long, odd hours when we were doing the bulk of the writing. I would go to the office in the mornings, head home in the afternoons, and write until the wee hours–when creativity strikes, you have to write no matter what time it is. Altogether, I wrote about 80,000 words. I spent almost a month on set as we photographed the book. I did the set styling (such fun!) and worked with our food stylists to ensure the dishes were true to the original recipes. Unlike with many cookbooks, the portions and ingredients are exact–if you see a serving of something in the book, that’s what it will look like when you make it at home.
I was involved in every aspect of the book–from writing the proposal to working on PR and marketing after it was finished. From genesis to publication, the book took almost two years–we gathered success stories from members who lost weight using Chef Meg’s recipes, conducted two surveys of longtime members and yo-yo dieters, and did an in-depth taste test comparing our recipes to traditional diet foods. The cookbook is much more than a collection of recipes. It’s an education in healthy cooking and inspiration for anyone who’s trying to get excited about losing weight and lightening up their meals.
As a writer, there’s no feeling more satisfying than seeing your book in stores. My eyes welled up the first time I saw "The SparkPeople Cookbook" on store shelves. My regular grocery store carries it, and it’s fun to pass by it every time I shop.
Most recently, I just wrote our first e-book, "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet." With 122 recipes and almost 250 pages, it was another huge undertaking but a very fun one.
And now, for a giveaway! Stepf and her team have offered to give away cookbooks to 2 lucky fANNEtastic food readers.
Here’s how to enter to win a SparkPeople Cookbook — each option is an additional entry, so if you do options 2, 3, and/or 4, please be sure to come back and leave a separate comment each time saying what you did.
- Leave a comment telling me why you want this book.
- Tweet about this contest (include a link to this post and @fANNEtasticfood — and please make sure you are following me!).
- If you have a blog, mention and link back to this contest in one of your posts.
- Mention and link back to this contest on Facebook (please make sure you have “liked” fANNEtastic food on Facebook, too!).
Contest open to U.S. residents only, please. I’ll draw a winner on Tuesday morning (March 27).