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Zucchini Lasagna

27 Jun

One of the best things about the blogging community is its infinite amount of inspiration.  There are so many bloggers and countless recipes that the possibilities are truly endless.

This recipe is the love child of two stellar recipes, Lightened-up Lasagna from meals & moves and Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna from Peas and Thank You.

I love the idea of using zucchini in place of noodles for the added nutrition and flavor.  And using cottage cheese in place of ricotta is brilliant since it’s chock full of protein!  I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate protein into my diet.  (Vegetarians; you could even leave out the meat and still be left with a protein rich meal.)

Zucchini Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 zucchini slices into strips, lengthwise
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend.)
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place an oiled skillet over medium heat and cook onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add ground beef and cook until browned.  Drain fat once the beef is cooked through and add the tomato sauce to the skillet.  Heat thoroughly.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix cottage cheese, egg, and parsley through pepper.
  4. Lightly oil a 9×5 loaf pan.  Begin layering your ingredients; start with a single layer of zucchini, then add half the cottage cheese mixture, and half the beef mixture.  Repeat once more and top the final layer with shredded cheese.
  5. Cover with foil and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes, or until cheese begins to bubble.
What recipes blog-inspired recipes have you created?
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Zucchini Oven Chips

19 Jun

Now that the warm weather is here and the official start of the season is only two days away, everyone is gearing up for summer.  Summer is a time for getting together with family and friends to enjoy the beach, pool parties, or cook-outs.  Often times that means heavy, unhealthy side dishes like potato salad or chips and dip.

It’s understandable as to why these foods are so popular; they’re quick and easy to prepare which allows you more time with family and friends.  However there are healthy options that will help lighten your load (pun intended).

Zucchini oven chips are very easy to prepare and they’re full of flavor.  Fresh out of the oven, they’re light and crisp.  Even the veggie haters will love this one!

Zucchini Oven Chips
(adapted from My Recipes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/3 cup planko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the last five ingredients in a shallow bowl.  Mix well.
  3. Chop zucchini and dip zucchini pieces in milk.  Dredge the pieces in the breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Coat an oven safe cooling rack with cooking spray and place it on top of a baking sheet.  Lay the zucchini pieces on the cooling rack and spray with additional cooking spray.
  5. Cook for 30 minutes, making sure to flip the chips halfway through.

Next time you’re in need of a tasty and healthy side dish, give these a try.  Make sure to have an extra zucchini on hand as your family will surely be asking for more!

What’s your favorite summertime side dish?

Dessert for Breakfast

25 May

I started the day off on the right foot; I had dessert for breakfast.

Looks like a brownie sundae, right?  Well, it’s probably the healthiest sundae I’ve ever eaten.  For the “brownie” part, I made a chocolate protein muffin a la Smoothie Girl Eats Too.  This recipe is seriously great.  The “brownie” always comes out moist and chocolatey!  The only change I made was to add a boatload of cinnamon.  I love that stuff.

Now, the “ice cream” part was none other than greek yogurt ice cream.  I mixed 3/4 cup of plain greek yogurt with about 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk and 10 drops of vanilla stevia.  Then, I poured the whole mixture over my “brownie”, dressed it with some fresh organic blueberries, and dug in.  This breakfast sure made for a sweet morning.

On the way into work, Alex and I passed a group of Jamba Juice employees passing out new samples of their natural energy drinks.  I ended up with the Pomegranate Blueberry flavor.  The nutrition facts aren’t too bad as the ingredients appear to be real food.  What I don’t love about the stats is the high sugar content.  Most fruit juices have a large amount of sugar.  I usually don’t drink anything besides water, herbal teas, and the occasional glass of wine for that reason.

But, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to try it.  In truth, I didn’t really like it.  The first sip wasn’t so bad but by the third or fourth sip all I could taste was the sugar.  The drink had a very strong berry flavor and left a strange aftertaste.  I highly doubt I’ll drink it again, even if it’s another free sample.

Moving right along to lunch.  Today I ordered another salad!

Shocking, I know, but seriously salads are such a great way to eat lots of veggies.  And since I’m going away for a few days, I’m not sure how many veggies I’ll be consuming in the near future.  Today’s salad included:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green peas
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Grilled chicken
  • Egg whites
  • Low fat tex mex ranch dressing

It was delicious and protein packed 🙂

When snack time rolled around, I had one thing on my mind.  Another protein muffin.

Seriously.  So good.  Have I mentioned that?!

And I also had some fruit salad…

After work I headed to the gym for another Chisel class.  Tonight’s class was taught by a great instructor.  She’s only a sub so I’m never sure when I’ll get to see her but I’m glad I made her class tonight.  She made us work!

For dinner, I knew I needed something protein packed to refuel and it also had to be quick.  So I made pasta with meat sauce.  It’s the easiest thing to make since PB&J.

First up, I chopped up half an onion and sautéed it over medium heat for about five minutes.  Then I added 1lb organic grass-fed beef and cooked it until the beef browned.  After draining the fat, I added about 1 to 2 cups of tomato sauce and cooked it on low until it was heated all the way through.  Meanwhile I prepared some whole wheat pasta and steamed broccoli.  It was ready in less than 20 minutes and it was darn tasty!

Now I’m snacking on a small bowl of Kashi GoLean, almond milk, and blueberries.  I’m heading to bed very soon since we’ve got an extra early wake up call tomorrow!  See you from North Carolina!

Have you ever had dessert for breakfast?

Will you hold me accountable?

23 May

Hello there!  Welcome to another week.  This week is going to fly by for me because I only have to work three days.  Love that.  This Thursday, Alex and I are flying down to North Carolina to visit some of my family.  Then on Saturday, we’re hitting the road to Hilton Head, South Carolina to see some of his family.  It’ll be a whirlwind trip as we’re due back in NYC by Monday evening.  Phew!  I’m looking forward to it and hope to blog a little bit about it on the way 🙂  Do you have any plans for Memorial Day weekend?

Because I’m going to be in and out all week, I thought I’d discuss my daily eats.  I also want to start using the blog as a way to hold myself accountable.  I know I’ve mentioned a few times before that I’d like to lose a little weight before my wedding.  (What bride doesn’t, after all?)  Unfortunately, I’ve found that since I got engaged my weight has been going in the wrong direction.  Now I know that the number on the scale isn’t the best measurement of overall physique.  After all, muscle weighs more than fat.  But I’ve noticed that my clothes are a little tighter and my energy levels are lower.  So, I’m going to work hard to change things up and I hope this will help me stick to it!

My latest challenge has been to cut back on the amount of nutbutter I consume.  I know that nuts are a great source of healthy fats but I think I’ve been over doing it lately.  Changing up the proportions of each micronutrient will help me a lot.  My plan right now is to aim for 30-40% protein, 50-60% carbs, and about 10% fat.  I do not have any support for those numbers besides what’s worked well for my body in the past.  (Please remember that I’m not a nutritionist and am not recommending you do the same.  Be aware of your own body and do what’s best for you.  But please read along as I try to figure what’s best for me!)

Let’s start the day, shall we?

Breakfast

For breakfast I made one of my latest (and greatest) creations.  Greek yogurt ice cream!  I know you’re probably thinking I’m crazy for eating “ice cream” for breakfast, but allow me to explain.  What you’ll need is 3/4 cup greek yogurt (I use Fage Total 0%), 2 to 3 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk, and 10 drops of stevia vanilla.  Mix until all three are well incorporated.  Now taste and tell me that doesn’t taste like ice cream!  On top, I dumped 1/2 cup Kashi GoLean, 1/2 cup Fiber One, and 1/4 organic blueberries.  Yum!

Lunch

Today’s lunch is brought to you by Tossed.  Tossed is a great salad and sandwich place located in midtown.  They have a wide variety of ingredients and a nutritional calculator so you have an idea of your micronutrients.  Very nice.  Today’s salad included:

  • Roasted Chicken
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Apples
  • Bean & Corn Salsa
  • Egg Whites
  • Fat Free Raspberry Vinaigrette

I also munched on a fuji apple that went unpictured.  But I’m guessing you know what an apple looks like 🙂

Snack


Today’s snack was a treat!  I had a chocolate chip protein muffin.  It was just as scrumptious today as the day they were baked.

I also nibbled on a couple handfuls of Kashi GoLean because my stomach was still grumbling.

After completing a full workday, I still had energy to work it out at the gym.  Tonight’s class was Chisel.  I may have mentioned this before, but just in case I didn’t, this class uses weights and calisthenics to sculpt and shape muscles.  Woo hoo!  It was a tough workout and just what I needed.

Dinner


Now dinner is not as in line with my new goals as I would have hoped but I had to clean out the refrigerator since we’ll be gone for a few days.  Besides, a little cheese, bread, and wine never hurt, right?  I think “a little” are the key words there.  Alex and I shared the above plate and had a glass of red wine each.  It’s such a nice indulgence that we both really enjoy 🙂

That’s about all for today.  I might try to find something in the way of fruit for dessert.  Hopefully I’ll find something good!

How do you hold yourself accountable when it comes to healthy eating?  I can use all the help I can get!

Health(ier) Zucchini Bread

18 May

Hi there!  How’s this week been treating you?  For me, this week has been Draaaaging (yep, with a capital D and four a’s).  It’s probably the combination of crummy weather (aka, rain non-stop and mid-50s temps), the fact that I’m taking a mini-vacation next week, and that work has been a little slow as of late.  Do you ever find that the week before some time off just crawls by and all you can think about are those few luxurious days of rest you want so badly to enjoy?

Also, today happens to be passing even more slowly since I’m really looking forward to hot yoga after work.  Have you taken hot yoga before?  I went to my first class a couple weeks ago and I really enjoyed it.  There is just something to sweating your heart out while you stretch every muscle in your body.  I’m excited to go back for a second round.  If my schedule permits, I hope to make it a weekly event! 

Over the weekend I got to thinking about quick breads.  What?  You don’t spend your free time contemplating such things?  Ah well, even if I am alone, humor me by reading this.  Please?  Okay, thanks. 

I think the most common quick bread out there would have to be banana bread.  It’s a sweet treat that if prepared properly can also be quite healthy.  Banana bread is a great addition to the breakfast table but can also be enjoyed as a snack or dessert.  But I’m not here to sing the praises of banana bread.

Today I want to talk about it’s less fornuate cousin, zucchini bread.  Zucchini bread is often underrated and overlooked.  You see, I think most people don’t like the thought of vegetables in their bread.  And I understand that.  It’s not something most people are used to and therefore they stay away from it. 

But I urge these doubters to reconsider!  This bread is moist with a spicy, sweet kick.  The cinnamon and nutmeg really shine through each doughy slice.  I reduced the amount of butter and sugar and added some whole wheat flour to make it a little healthier.  While I wouldn’t say this is the healthiest bread around, it is quite a tasty, health(ier) quick bread.

So next time you’re in the mood to bake some quick bread, please don’t leave the zucchini behind!

Zucchini Bread
(adapted from simplyrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp applesauce
  • 1/2 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups grated fresh zucchini
  • 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the applesauce, sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Mix in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter.  Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.  Slowly add the flours.  Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg and mix.
  3. Pour the batter into a greased 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.

Have you ever made zucchini bread?

Jelly Bean Cookies

26 Apr

Today was a great day!  The sun was shining, Alex and I got to sample the menu for our reception, and I got a chance to bake some really fun cookies.

The morning started off like most mornings; with a yummy yogurt parfait.

Today’s parfait included:

  • 6oz of Fage Total 0% greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup of Kashi GoLean cereal
  • 1/2 of a banana
  • a sprinkle of granola
  • a healthy spoonful of homemade peanut butter

After breakfast was devoured, Alex and I walked to our respective offices.  It was gorgeous outside!  Spring is most definitely here and I’m more than ready.

At work I plugged away and booked some flights for a couple upcoming trips.  I’m very excited.  There is just so much going on over the next few months!

Eventually, it was lunchtime!

Today’s salad included the following:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Chickpeas
  • Grilled Tuna
  • dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
To be honest, this salad wasn’t so great.  The tuna was very undercooked (as you can probably tell from the picture) and most of it tasted very fishy.  I know that sounds like a dumb thing to say but there is such a thing as fish tasting too much like fish, and that’s what happened today.  Oh well, my next “meal” was pretty awesome!
 
Alex and I got the chance to taste a sample of what we’ll be serving at our reception.  I don’t have any pictures because I don’t want to give anything away but I will say that I think our guests are going to be more than pleased with our choices.  Each day I just get more and more excited about our upcoming wedding!
 
After some much-needed relaxation, I decided to bake some cookies.  Even though I’m 27, I was lucky enough to be visited by the “Easter Bunny” this weekend.  What a coincidence that my mom was visiting this past week, no?!  Included in my goodies was lots and lots of Jelly Belly jellybeans.  I love Jelly Belly’s!  If I’m not careful, I can eat my weight in jellybeans, haha.  As I was munching away this weekend, I thought it might be fun to make something with the jellybeans.  Insert Jelly Bean Cookies here!
 
 
These cookies did not disappoint!  The jellybeans added so many fun flavors and the dough was soft and buttery.  If you’re looking for a way to use up the rest of your jellybeans, I highly recommend this recipe.  Heck, this recipe is good enough to justify going to buy a new bag of jelly beans!
 

Jelly Bean Cookies
(adapted from razzledazzle recipes)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup jelly beans

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix butter and both sugars in a large bowl until smooth & creamy.
  3. Stir in egg, baking soda, baking powder, salt & vanilla. Mix well.
  4. Stir in flour & oats. Mix well.
  5. Stir in jelly beans, mix well.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of batter about 2 inches apart on a GREASED sheet.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes and allow a few minutes to cool.
Do you like Jelly Belly jellybeans?  What’s your favorite flavor?  Mine is definitely the sour blueberry.  Makes my mouth pucker every time.  Love it!

 

Daily Eats

25 Apr

This past weekend was a whirlwind!  In four days I managed to do more than I typically do in a month.  Here’s a break down of my weekend by numbers:

One broadway show (Jersey Boys; so so so good!)

Five separate Save-the-Date designs

Ten different restaurants (Three of which happened to be for dessert only, yum!!)

Four bridal salons (and probably close to twenty different gowns.)

One wedding dress purchase (!!!!!)

Three separate subway lines (and countless trips on each)

One holiday!

Phew, I’m exhausted just thinking about it!  But it was such a great weekend.  I enjoyed spending time with my family since I see them so rarely.  And it was a great opportunity for my family to get to know Alex’s family better.  Not to mention that I made some very important decisions that will impact our big day.  I’m so excited, I can hardly wait!

Planning our wedding is so much fun but, as I’m going through each step, I’m discovering that it does take up a lot of time.  It’s a time commitment that I’m thrilled to make however it will take away some time I’d otherwise dedicate to some of my favorite hobbies, baking and cooking.

With that being said, I doubt each week will be the same but I can see that over the next month or two I’m going to have my hands full.  So, I expect there will be some changes on the blog.  When I get the chance to bake or cook something new, I’ll gladly share, but in the mean time I thought I might try a little more lifecasting.  Seeing as this is mostly a food blog, I’d like to start by discussing my daily eats.   Who knows how diligent I’ll be about snapping pictures, but I figure it’s a good starting point!

Let’s start with today, shall we?

Breakfast
Yogurt parfait

  • 6oz greek yogurt
  • 1/2 Kashi GoLean cereal
  • a sprinkle of cacao nibs
  • about 1 Tbsp homemade peanut butter

Lunch
A salad with all the fixings, ordered from Tossed.

  • Spinach
  • Black beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Chick peas
  • Egg Whites
  • Roasted Chicken
  • Avocado
  • topped with Fat-free Honey Dijon dressing

Snack
An apple and a bag of mixed goodies.  The bag contained the following

  • Raw almonds
  • Raw cashews
  • Organic Turkish apricots
  • Crystallized ginger

Dinner
Leftovers from this weekend; Curry Spice & Coconut Pot Pie from 10 Downing.

Not the most photogenic of meals, but it sure was tasty!  Also, I had a pear and a few jelly beans for dessert.

One other thing worth noting is that I went to Crunch for the first time today.  A couple weeks ago I purchased a one month gym membership for over 50% off from Living Social.  Today was my chance to cash it in!  I took a class called Chisel.  The description from the Crunch website is “use weights and calisthenics to sculpt and shape muscles.”  It was 60 minutes of jumping jacks, burpees, push ups, squats, lunges, and more.  It was tough and I’m going to be sore tomorrow!  But this is exactly what I need to get wedding dress ready!

Do you read blogs that feature life casting?  Do you like them?