Tuesday, February 17, 2015

For your consideration for feature story reprint with photos and/or book reviews.

April 2015/Shadow Mountain Publishing
Our Best Bites, the mega-bloggers with 2.5 million page views per month, answer the most asked question from their readers: “How do I lose weight?”
Publicity information: The interview below is available to media for reprint without copyright.
To obtain a copy of the book for reprinting recipes and/or companion photographs for feature stories, please use our online form .

Shadow Mountain Publishing will launch a new title in April, 400 Calories or Less with Our Best Bites from mega-bloggers (OurBestBites.com) who have a huge dedicated following of 2.5 million page views per month. Their blog site features “Tips, Tricks and Tastes from Two Real-Life Kitchens” and is a friendly mix of everyday family meal recipes, special occasion desserts and culinary inspirations from around the world—all accompanied by sumptuous photographs. The authors of two previous bestselling cookbooks, this new book is a response to the most asked question from their readers about losing weight and maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle.

Q: Your new book, 400 Calories or Less with Our Best Bites, was inspired by your own weight loss experiences. With the Center for Disease Control estimating more than 1/3 of children and adolescents in the USA are overweight or obese and 62% of adults considered overweight, what’s the one key insight in understanding weight control that could apply to almost anyone?

Sara Wells and Kate Jones:
Weight loss and healthy eating are about changing mindsets to break patterns of what’s considered “quick, easy and satisfying” which, in our culture, is usually unhealthy and fattening. Eating is about satisfying a hungry mind, not just a hungry body. We’re programmed to want to feel “satisfied” after eating food. So our book is not just low calorie recipes; it’s about providing ingredient alternatives to traditional foods and putting together imaginative taste combinations to make low calorie meals that are interesting, inviting, filling and flavorful to trigger the brain and body into a perfectly satisfied feeling.

Some of our recipes are healthier versions of a traditional meal like our version of meatloaf and mashed potatoes is low calorie/low fat “Chipotle Glazed Meat Loaf with Spiced Sweet Potatoes” using a variety of spices, vegetables, honey, peppers and lean ground beef. Some of the recipes are completely different takes on meals, like our “Roasted Tomato Parmesan Egg Cups” which is quick, easy and more delicious and healthy than the usual go-to breakfast choices.  We also have snack recipes like “Garlic Chickpeas” and “Cinnamon Apple Chips” and dessert choices. We don’t believe in a philosophy of deprivation. This book is a road map to get that satisfied feeling by making smarter food choices and we’re all for using small portions of ingredients like bacon and chocolate because their flavor profiles are incredible.

Q: People think of food as “good” or “bad” or, if they’re dieting, “forbidden”. The New York Times once did a survey of pizzeria customers asking if they knew how many calories were in a slice and found obese customers estimated 300 calories while thin customers guessed 1200 when in reality the eight-and-a-half-ounce pizzeria slice had 613 calories and 25 grams of fat.  Do you think people are aware of the actual calories they consume all day and are some foods just forbidden on a weight loss or healthy eating plan?

Sara Wells and Kate Jones:
Pizza is definitely not on our forbidden list! We have two pizza recipes in the book with healthy choice ingredient swaps using Naan-style flatbreads which are crispy and delicious, pesto, a mix of cheeses including mozzarella and topped with seasoned vegetables and some surprise flavors including lemon. You could have a fully satisfying, familiar-flavor pizza meal for almost one third the calories and half the fat of the pizzeria slice if you know the way to pull it all together.

Mindless eating is harder to tackle. People have a caveman mentality when it comes to food: we eat set meals even when we’re not that hungry and we eat when we’re stressed and we eat when we’re bored. We started to keep a food log using a phone app and, even as experienced food bloggers who know about nutrition and healthy eating, we were astounded by how many extra calories we consumed, grabbing a handful of Goldfish crackers or a scoop of peanut butter or finishing the Hot Pocket from one of the kids. It was hundreds of calories a day! So for us, if we had to take a moment to think about logging in the food choice, we had a moment to think about better and, really, more satisfying choices. I’d much rather eat a spinach-artichoke omelet for 202 calories than grab a granola bar for breakfast.

Q: Why do most diets fail?
Sara Wells and Kate Jones:
Everyone tries diets because it’s easy to be told rules to follow to get started, but most people fall off the wagon pretty quickly and when you mess up, you think all your hard work is lost and that you’ve failed. Salads are considered a staple of dieters’ food, but can have a high failure rate because there are two extremes: the restaurant salad bar where toppings add staggeringly high calorie counts and the boring wedge of iceberg lettuce. We like salads as high density, low calorie meals and see them as part of a healthy eating lifestyle, not just a diet. We wrote an entire chapter dedicated to salads including ingredient charts to create hearty salad meals using flavor profiles for Asian, Southwest, Mediterranean and Indian cuisines like “Curry Cashew Quinoa Salad”.

Many people also probably think the results will take months or years, but in reality there’s a direct benefit of eating quality foods that comes in a matter of just days. Once you wean yourself off the short-term energy buzz of carbs and processed foods which are high in sugar or high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and loads of artificial ingredients your body will adjust, you’ll feel much better and those sugar rushes you once craved will make you feel sluggish and sick. 

Q: Cooking advice has changed from very detailed how-to books like The Joy of Cooking to a much more visual approach from both the chef’s viewpoint as well as the diner’s. In creating 400 Calories or Less with Our Best Bites, how did visual considerations affect recipe selections?

Sara Wells and Kate Jones:
Seven years of food blogging has taught us a lot about artistic food photography and in this book we collaborated more fully than our previous cookbooks, looking in very detailed ways at every aspect of how the recipes were presented. Visuals are a critical component of inviting people into a sensory experience of discovering new recipes which they’re mulling over and trying to figure out in their minds. So we needed to convey not just something that’s aesthetically pleasing but shows texture, color, shape, size, and lets the ingredients shine.

Q: What was the process to create the photos which were used in this book?

Sara Wells and Kate Jones:
We shot more than 1,000 photos over the course of three days, so one of our biggest challenges was to efficiently juggle time in prepping food and getting it staged fresh from the oven so it didn’t look wilted. That was somewhat complicated by our decision to shoot all the food outdoors using only daylight. We wanted a clean, natural, direct light which makes the colors vibrant and inviting as opposed to using studio lights and angles which would create a more ethereal look. We enhanced the food only by using props like napkins, placements and table settings; there are no tricks or fake ingredient substitutions at all. The food is completely real and precisely as we made it! 

Q: What do you think about people posting so many pictures of their meals on social media?

Sara Wells and Kate Jones:
On our blog we often say food is a love language; it’s a way to show love, share love, and enjoy time together. If it’s fun for you, that’s great, but remember to put the camera down, savor the food and enjoy the moment!


400 Calories or Less with Our Best Bites: Tasty Choices for Healthy Families with Calorie Options for Every Appetite
Sara Wells and Kate Jones
9781609079918/Pb/$21.99 (April 2015)
Shadow Mountain Publishing

·         Recipes are under 400 calories and feature at-a-glance sidebar notes for lowering the calories per bite by swapping out healthy ingredient substitutions or add-on options to create creamy horseradish sauce, mango slaw, or curry cashew quinoa salad. Recipes also include nutritional information, fat content, carbs and sugar and salt intake.

·         A handy index of “Rollover Ingredients” helps plan meals and use up perishable or uncommon ingredients. Look up recipes which feature things like lime, green onions, feta cheese, sour cream and red pepper.

·         The book also features vegetarian and gluten-free choices.

·          There are tips for stocking a healthy pantry from ordinary grocery store options plus advice for making the best choices at the salad bar, introducing zesty flavor combinations to create Asian slaw, classic Cobb, Indian, Mediterranean, Southwest and Tropical salads from basic ingredients such as spinach, cabbage, tuna, shrimp, blueberries, cranberries, olives, Sunflower seeds, almonds, beans and lighter condiments such as soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and honey.

Images available for reprint:
Ilise Levine by email: ilevine@shadowmountain.com or phone 801/517-3161.
Author Images
Sara Wells and Kate Jones

Roasted Parmesan Egg Cups  
Black Bean Chili 

Spaghetti Soup
Cinnamon Apple Chips
Garlic Chickpeas
Pizza Pasta Bake
Zucchini Ribbons and Pasta with Creamy Lemon-Basil Sauce
Braised Italian Chicken
Burrito Pie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Apples with Coconut and Almonds

Before/After Sara Wells

Also Available:
Our Best Bites (9781606419311/HC/$25.99)
Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites (9781609071325/HC/$27.99)