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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Weekend Cooking: The SparkPeople Cookbook

The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight by Meg Galvin
Published by Hay House, ISBN 978-1-4019-3132-2

I had never heard of SparkPeople.com when I received their cookbook for review. The introduction tells the fascinating story of the origins of SparkPeople, beginning with their first book, The Spark: The 28-Day Breakthrough Plan for Losing Weight, Getting Fit and Transforming Your Life. 

That led to SparkPeople.com, helping people lose weight and eat healthier through "10-minute bursts of fitness, small goals set along the way to achieve larger ones, a tight-knit network to offer support, and healthy easy-to-prepare food to fuel an active life."

This led to the The SparkPeople Cookbook, by Meg Galvin, which is really a lifestyle book. Chapters like Satisfying, Sustaining, and Stress-Free Eating, The Science of Satisfaction,  and my favorite, The Healthy New Kitchen, which lists necessary the kitchen tools and pantry staples, spell out in easy-to-read terms how to live a healthier lifestyle.

The second part of the book gives recipes that range from simple and unique, Pumpkin Pie Smoothie,  to ones that take a little more time like the one I tried, Minestone Soup with Parmesan Crisps, which was hearty and filling, with only 197 calories per serving, 4.6 g of total fat and 9.4 g of dietary fiber.
Minestrone Soup from DailySpark.com

The soup was very tasty, but it called for "one 4.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes". I frequently use the standard 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, but I have never seen a 4.5 oz. of diced tomatoes, and that seemed like too small an amount, so I used a 14.5 oz. can of tomatoes, and it seemed to work.

It also calls for "one 5.5-ounce can cannelini beans". Again, I have seen 15.5 oz. cans, but not 5.5 oz. cans. Has anyone else tried this recipe, and if so, did you follow it as written? How did it turn out? Has anyone ever seen a 4.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes? I found this confusing, but I didn't see any other odd measurements on any other recipes I perused.

Each recipe has an icon index at the top that tells you such things as whether the recipe has multiple servings of fruit and vegetables, if it freezes well, if it's great for company or kid-friendly. I liked this, it makes it easy to see at a glance if it work for what you need.

It has lots of photos, again something I like, and the appendix is filled with useful information, such a table on how long fresh fruits and vegetables should last and how to store them, a comparison chart for oils, and a two week menu cycle. (I would have liked to have seen a three or four cycle; two weeks seems like you could get bored more easily.)

The SparkPeople Cookbook is a good book for someone who wants to make a healthy change in their life. It has so much great information in addition to the recipes, it is an invaluable tool for every cook's bookshelf.

4 of 5 stars

This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food!


  1. I have never heard of SparkPeople.com either. I like their ideas of breaking down exercise into small doable sessions. Working out for 45 minutes seems daunting, but 10 minutes is possible for anybody. Never heard of 4.5 and 5.5 ounce cans before. Typo?

  2. The measurements seem a bit odd, but luckily the ones you used worked just as well. I can't imagine that an amount of about a third would work as well then. Strange!
    The soup looks delicious!

  3. I'm glad your recipe turned out so well. It looks delicious and perfect soup recipe for a chilly day. I'll have to check out the Spark website.

  4. I would say those are definitely typos - that is a bad thing for a cookbook. You should probably tell them about it. But, hey, good job catching that - they are lucky they gave it to you to review!

  5. I'm guessing that they were typos, esp. since you didn't see any other odd measurements. I wonder if they have an errata page on their website. The soup sounds really good.

    I like the icon index idea so so you can good information at a glance.

  6. Did blogger eat my comment? Argh. THe short version is: 1) I bet the measurements are typos
    2) soup sounds yummy
    3) I like the icon idea with at-a-glance information

  7. I've heard about Spark People ad have been curious about their cookbook. Those measurements sure sound like typos to me!

  8. I think it is a typo too. I couldn't find the exact same recipe on the website to check against, but if someone finds it, please let me know.

  9. yes, sounds like the book needed a bit of editing, but still looks delicious.

  10. Great review--and I too had never heard of them. Definitely typos, if you ask me!

  11. I knew about Sparkpeople though I have never used their website: I have used two others that were similar, MyDailyPlate, and another one whose name I can't recall.

    Sounds like an interesting cookbook.

  12. Strange measurements, I'd do exactly what you did. The soup looks delicious.

  13. Definitely sounds like odd measurements. I do love a hearty bowl of minestrone, and that one looks really good!

  14. I read The Spark a couple of years ago and have used Sparkpeople sometimes as a food log -- they have good tools for checking the nutritional profile of meals. The soup looks delicious!

  15. I never heard of The Spark either, but maybe the odd measurements are to buy their products or something like that. The minestrone soup looks wonderful, though.

  16. Your soup looks delicious. Minestrone is one of my favorite soups, but I never seem to make it!