Tag Archives: healthy

Zucchini Bread

Meet our new overlords. They are green. Very green.

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It’s my first year growing zucchini and I limited myself to two plants. That’ll be the perfect amount, I told myself. Enough that I can have a few stirfries and try out some breads. Well, those two plants have produced veggies about as fast as our resident rabbits have produced bunnies and I am officially zucchini-ed out.

The problem with many zucchini bread recipes is that they don’t use enough of the vegetable! When you’re growing it– and trying to use it up– one zucchini does not make a dent. So this recipe makes two loaves with about twice the zucchini called for many recipes. BUT HOW? you ask.

Remove the extra moisture. Ta-Da! You end up with succulent bread with a nice crumb, but not too much water. Plus, these freeze great! (Wrap them in foil then plastic wrap or a plastic bag for longest lasting freshness.) I know that in the cold October months when I’m sick of pumpkin muffins, I will want a different squash-y bread option and glad I froze a few of these summery loaves.

Zucchini Bread for Zucchini Growers

(adapted from Eating Well)

Makes 2 loaves

 

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups of milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup of canola oil
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 3 large or 4-5 medium zucchini
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 4 tsp of baking powder
  • 2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Prepare zucchini. First, wash zucchini and slice off ends. Then, shred. I use a box shredder, but I’m sure you could use a food processer if you do so without completely liquefying the zucchini. Take shredded zucchini and put on top of a clean cheesecloth or dish towel. Wring out excess moisture (this will keep your bread moist without making it soggy). Put zucchini aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray two loaf pans with cooking spray.
  3. Mix first four ingredients in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in shredded zucchini.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add dry mixture to wet mixture by stirring carefully until few lumps remain. Finally, incorporate chocolate chips.
  5. Pour half of the batter into each loaf pan and bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool in pan for about an hour. Freezes well for up to three months, or lasts in the fridge for a week.

Weeknight Cabbage and Chicken Salad

It is too damn hot outside. Seriously. I am not a garden-waterer, especially for veggie gardens and doubly-especially before July. I’m all for building a robust root system. This June has broke me of that, however, and I’ve had to go out every few days to water my plants in this 90+ degree heat.

Needless to say, cold food sounds better right now.

After the birth of my first kid (also during a hot streak), my sister came to stay for a week. She played the perfect aunt and sister, and introduced me to the concept of cold cabbage salads that aren’t cole slaw. It was kind of a revelation.

So, in her honor, a super-easy, short-cuts included Vietnamese-inspired salad, perfect to make ahead and chill. Perfect with a glass of sparkling lemonade (rum optional).

Cabbage Chicken Salad

Serves 4, but easy to double

Time: 15 minutes active, 2 hours inactive

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb of cooked, shredded chicken (perfect if you’ve got roast chicken leftovers, otherwise, I like to poach in hot water until done– about 20-30 minutes)
  • 1 bag of coleslaw
  • 1/2 c to 1 c of mint or cilantro, chopped*
  • 3 green onions, diced (greens only)
  • 1/2 cup of crushed peanuts (to serve)

Dressing:

  • 4 tbsp lime juice, fresh is preferred
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar or mirin
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (optional)
  1. Mix first four ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Mix dressing in a separate bowl until sugar has dissolved.
  3. Drizzle dressing over salad and mix well. Let salad cool in the fridge (2 hours is a good goal, but might get a bit wilty over 6).
  4. Mix once more before serving, topping each plate with crushed peanuts.

*I often use cilantro because it’s often easier to find fresh, but I know some people find the flavor soapy. Mint is lovely and more traditional, but consider using less than a cup.

Vegetable-Infused Meatloaf

If you haven’t guessed from the name of this blog, I live in the Midwest.  Out here in the great corn ocean, we like our meat products, and one of my comfort foods as a kid was meatloaf.  My dad would often spoil us by making mini-meatloaves with different toppings (bbq sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc) so we could feel like we had more choice.  This is typically a winter meal in my house.  We had a cold day last week and took advantage of the temp to make these.  I baked two and froze one for a later meal!

My toddler is a pretty good eater most days, but sneaking a few extra vegetables into a meal can’t hurt! He chomped this up, and even at the leftovers the next day (which he never does usually!)

Vegetable-Infused Meatloaf

(makes two loaves)

2.5 pounds ground beef
1 c oatmeal
3 eggs
1 medium onion, quartered
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces
1 lightly packed cup of kale
4 oz white mushrooms
1 small red pepper, seeded and quartered
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano

Optional: 2 tablespoons of butter

Topping
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly spray oil into two standard loaf pans.
  2. Place onions, carrots, kale, mushrooms, and red pepper into a blender (see pictures) and chop very finely.
  3. (Optional) Saute vegetable mixture in the two tablespoons of butter.  I skipped this step this time, and it still tasted lovely.
  4. Mix vegetables with rest of loaf ingredients, using hands to knead.
  5. In a small separate bowl, mix the topping ingredients.
  6. Distribute meatloaf mixture evenly into loaf pans and spread topping.
  7. Bake in the oven until meat is no longer pink, about one hour.  A meat thermometer should read 160 when inserted into the center.
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Not an ad for the Ninja, but it did make quick work of these veggies.
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Not pretty, but it bakes up pretty tastily!

Pumpkin Minimuffins

My little girl got her first vaccines yesterday, so we stuck close to home afterward, just the two of us.  We cuddled and she napped a lot.  Fittingly, the day was as rainy and chilled as my mood.  While she napped I decided to make something “back-to-school”ish, to prepare for easy meals when I go back to work in a few weeks.

I LOVE homemade muffins.  I like to freeze them fresh and defrost a few in the microwave for breakfasts for me and the toddler.  He gobbles them up and begs for more!

One of my students in my public speaking class four years ago gave a memorable speech on making muffins, showing how easy it truly was to give up the box mix.  I’ve never looked back.  The biggest secret she shared was not over-stirring.  You want a slightly lumpy batter.

These muffins were based on a recipe from Libby’s Pumpkin, but the original recipe called for 3 cups of flour to 3 cups of sugar.  I had to reread that… 3 cups of sugar? This recipe includes whole wheat flour and a lot less sugar.  Feel free to double the spices, or even add in a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract.  These would be less healthy (but even more delicious) with cream cheese frosting.  If you add frosting, make sure to freeze them “naked” and add it when you defrost the muffin.

Enjoy! Get ready for fall and make some tasty muffins:

“Better for You” Pumpkin Mini-Muffins
(Adapted heavily from Nestle)

Yield: About 60 minimuffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 can (15 ounces) Pure Pumpkin Purée
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil or applesauce
1/2 cup orange juice

Preheat to 350° F. Paper-line or grease minimuffin cups.

COMBINE flour, spices, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin, eggs, oil/applesauce, and juice in large mixing bowl; beat until just blended. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture. Stir just until moistened… (see pictures below) There will be lumps! Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.

BAKE for 15-17 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store muffins in covered container or resealable plastic bags. Can freeze for up to three months. Great reheated!

step one
Always add the dry ingredients to the wet
step two
Mix slowly
Step Three
There will be lumps. Don’t over beat!

Eggplant “Pizzas”

I might be the only person in the world to absolutely adore eggplants; heart, soul, and mind.  Their color is gorgeous (even the word “aubergine” is delectable).  When eggplant season comes around, you better believe I’m eating eggplant every day.

My husband had never had an eggplant before I met him. My husband had never had good eggplant before I met him.  His grandmother had made a gloppy mess: seedy, flavorless, and unsalted.  He was noticeably not excited when I mentioned eggplant was on the menu.  I changed his mind, and if you give me the chance, I can change yours, too.

Continue reading Eggplant “Pizzas”