Zucchini Tots!

In an effort to provide a healthier option to tater tots, I came across this recipe from Kirbie’s Cravings. They turned out to be a great side dish as well as a leftover snack for the next day :).  The recipe and the photo credit are from http://kirbiecravings.com/2016/02/parmesan-zucchini-tots.html.

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded and lightly patted dry zucchini (about 1 1/2 medium zucchini)
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs (you really do need panko to get a nice crunch – I used plain panko crumbs and added my own oregano, parsley, and garlic)
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  1. After shredding zucchini and patting dry, preheat oven to 400 degF. Add egg, cheese, and breadcrumbs to the shredded zucchini an mix thoroughly.
  2. Take about 1 tbsp. of mix and squeezing in the palm of your hand, shape into a tater-top shape (this also squeezes some water out to help the tots not be too soggy).
  3. Bake at 400 degF for 20 minutes or so, turn tots and bake for another 5-10 minutes (until all sides are a golden brown).
  4. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce!

Scalloped Zucchini and Squash

Having a craving for scalloped potatoes, I experimented with a  healthier version and tada…it worked! Here’s how I did it:

1 large zucchini and 1 large squash, sliced

1/2 stick butter

1/2 cup flour

1 cup milk (or part milk, part cream)

parmesan cheese

whatever spices you want – I used paprika, garlic powder, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper

Make Béchamel sauce by melting butter in sauce pan, then add flour and whisk together to form a slurry. Add in milk or milk/cream combo (I used about 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup 1% milk) and heat until a thick sauce forms. You will want the sauce to be a little thicker than a normal sauce because the zucchini and squash tend to have a lot of moisture that will naturally thin down the sauce as it cooks. Place 1st layer of zucchini and squash in greased 9×13 pan, adding about 1/2 of the sauce after the 1st layer along with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and spices of your choice. Then place 2nd layer of zucchini and squash on top and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, spices, and pour remaining sauce over the top. Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes, until set and top of casserole is browned. The squash and zucchini were still a little bit crunchy, so bake for longer if you want it softer. It paired very nicely with salmon and caprese salad for dinner.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

So after the success of the avocado brownies, I decided to try chocolate avocado pudding as well. This one comes from http://wickedspatula.com/paleo-chocolate-pudding/. I made a few adjustments to the recipe but it turned out really well! Here’s the original recipe

  • 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract

Put in food processor and mix until there are no lumps. So, I had an avalanche of cocoa powder come out of the tin when I was measuring, and not being one to waste ingredients, I decided to put it all in the pudding, it wound up being about 1/2 cup. To compensate, I double the honey and added a splash of heavy whipping cream to giving it a little more liquid. It gave it more of a mousse texture, but still delicious! Feel free to add more honey if you need it sweeter. I’m thinking peanut butter would be a nice addition as well. I think it would also make a nice icing recipe as well…maybe for the brownies from earlier?

Avocado Brownies!

I love a warm, gooey brownie for dessert. Of course, in our efforts to eat healthier, fudgy brownies went right out the window until….I came across this Pinterest gem from The Healthy Maven! Now I’ve seen a lot of recipes for various desserts that give me pause, so I was a little skeptical about these at first, but I had some avocados sitting around and decided to give it a try. One of the things I like about this recipe is that all of the ingredients are likely sitting in your pantry already (except for maybe the coconut flour, I did use regular all purpose flour instead of coconut flour in my version, they still turned out well). The recipe (and photo) come from here: http://www.thehealthymaven.com/2015/08/healthy-avocado-brownies.html

  • 1 large avocado
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Mix avocado, applesauce, syrup, and vanilla extract (I used a blender). Then whisk  eggs and stir in avocado mixture. Add in flour, cocoa powder, sea salt, and baking soda. Place in greased 8×8 pan and bake for 350 deg for 20-25 minutes. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream (maybe the banana ice cream…see earlier post), or just enjoy on their own. Delish!

 

Tacos with Cheesy Shells

In our quest to be low-carb, we are always looking for ways to upgrade our favorite foods to make them healthier. Tacos are a great way to work a lot of fresh veggies into a meal – tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, lettuce, etc so I was thrilled to find a different option for taco shells. This recipe comes from http://www.homemadeinterest.com/low-carb-taco/ and uses shredded cheese to make the taco shells. Here’s the basics for the shells –

– Line a cookie sheet with silpats, place 2-3 oz of cheese in a pile (I could get two per sheet using the big cookie sheets) and spread the cheese into a single layer.

– bake at 350 deg for 5-7 minutes until the edges start to turn brown. Meanwhile, place a large spoon (or other kitchen utensil) across 2 cups.

– take out of the oven and let set for 2-3 minutes, then lift off with spatula and lay the cheese shell over the spoon, allow to sit for 10 minutes or so in order to harden up a little bit and allow it to take the shape of a shell.

You can use any kind of cheese, we used shredded mild cheddar. Fill with your favorite taco supplies and enjoy!

 

 

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are a regular at my house. I’m not sure we have ever used the same recipe twice for stuffed peppers, and that’s one of the things that I like about stuffed peppers – you can get very creative and it usually turns out well! Here’s the basic recipe that we use:

Prepare 4 peppers by cutting the tops off and cutting the seeds out.

Stuffing:

– one lb mild sausage (or you can use a different spice level, ground turkey, )

– 1 diced onion

– salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

– 2 medium sized carrots, chopped

– 2 tomatoes, diced

Brown sausage and sauté veggies, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Add in your grain of choice if you want a carb in the meal – rice, quinoa, barley, etc. We have been using a multi-grain medley from Minute Rice (2 cups cooked). Mix together with sausage and veggie mixture.

Stuff mixture into peppers, bake at 400 degF for 30 minutes, then enjoy!

 

 

Spaghetti Squash!

Whew, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, my apologies for being away. We have been eating recipes out of a book called Always Hungry? by Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist that I heard speak at a conference a month ago. It’s a very interesting take on obesity that makes a lot of sense as to why we all have weight issues and has some really good recipes (make the ranchero sauce in a large batch – it freezes well and goes on EVERYTHING!). We also love the avocado cilantro sauce, Mediterranean chicken, lemon olive oil sauce, the tofu black-bean hash (with turkey bacon instead of tofu), the waffles (made using garbanzo flour), I could go on and on…just try it!  You can find the book here – https://www.amazon.com/Always-Hungry-Conquer-Cravings-Permanently/dp/1455533866

OK, so back to the blog – I am proud to announce that we tried spaghetti squash for the first time tonight and it will likely be a semi-regular on the weekly menu! Much like zoodles (see earlier post…), spaghetti squash pairs well with pretty much anything you want to add. Tonight we did spaghetti squash with a 4 cheese garlic cream sauce. You can find the recipe here (along with the photo credit) – http://www.eatwell101.com/roasted-spaghetti-squash-recipe. It’s super easy to put together, but allow about an hour as the squash needs some time to roast!

In hopes of adding a little protein, I also sautéed some small shrimp with butter, chopped chives (yes, fresh from our garden), and garlic salt with a dash of pepper. We added it to the top of the squash. Pair it with a nice salad and you have a healthier version of a favorite comfort food. You can also add bacon, do spaghetti squash with cheese and broccoli for a pasta-casserole like meal (and maybe even add some chicken), or make it into a taco pasta dish (add some seasoned ground beef or turkey, tomatoes, cheese, and avocado). Get creative with this healthy base! I also have a recipe for spaghetti squash lo mein to try…stay tuned, I promise to start posting more often again!