Easy Stuffed Zucchini

IMG_5446With zucchini busting from every corner of the garden (and the grocery store) it’s hard for me not to think about zucchini bread. I sure love my carbs and what sounds healthier than vegetable filled carbs!? But I can only make zucchini bread so many times in one week, and can I really feed just bread to my hubs for dinner? The funny thing is I probably could and he would love it!

Fortunately zucchini is a great base for many dishes. One of my favorite is stuffed zucchini.

Here is my version of stuffed zucchini. There are so many ways to make this dish but this is how I usually do it. Feel free to get creative and use what you have on hand.

Ingredients

4 zucchinis
1 cup of cooked qunioa
1 onion, chopped
1/2 large tomato, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Add any other spices you like
1/4 cup black olives, sliced or chopped
1/2 cup cheese grated, I used half extra sharp cheddar and half mozzarella

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash the zucchini. Slice them in half length-ways. I leave the ends on, makes for less chopping!

Spoon out the insides (leave about 1/2 an inch in) until you end up with boat like shells.

Now give the zucchini pulp a good chop, also chop a small onion and 1/2 a tomato while you’re at it.

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In a pan heat olive oil on med. Add the onion and garlic for about 3 minutes. When onion is fragrant and translucent add the tomato and seasonings. Cook another 2-3 minutes.

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Transfer the cooked onion/garlic/tomato mixture to a large bowl. Add the zucchini pulp and olives, then mix together with the cooked quinoa.

Line a baking pan with tin foil or parchment paper. Put the zucchini boats in. Grab a spoon and fill the shells with the mix. Sprinkle some cheese on top.They’re best served straight out of the oven.

Cook about 20 minutes and then turn on the grill until the top is golden brown.

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IMG_5447 IMG_5448 IMG_5449What’s your favorite ingredients for stuffed zucchini? Leave me a comment below!

Caitlin

Sesame-Ginger Chicken

As the temperature lowers and the days get shorter time seems to go faster. The past couple of weeks have flown by and my standard go-to meals have appeared back on the table.

Here is one of those meals, and one that my husband will rush home for when he knows it is on the stove.

Sesame-Ginger Chicken

Ingredients:
1 cup brown jasmine rice or quinoa
1 cup organic low-sodium chicken stock
3 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp low-sodium gluten free soy sauce
1 tbsp dark or toasted sesame oil
16 oz boneless, skinless chicken breats, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
3 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp light sesame oil
4 cups small broccoli florets
4 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 1/3-inch pieces
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Prepare rice/quinoa according to package directions. Remove from heat and let stand, covered until ready to serve.
  2. In a small bowl, combine chicken stock, agave, soy sauce and dark or toasted sesme oil. Place chicken in medium bowl and add stock mixture. Set aside for 10 minutes. Drain chicken, saving liquid. Set chicken aside. Stir arrowrot into stock mixture.
  3. In a large wok or skillet, combine ginger and light sesame oil. Stir-fry over medium heat until ginger is sizzling, about 2 minutes. Addbroccoli and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add carrots and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add chicken and stire-fry for 2-3 minuetes, until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender-crisp. Add stock mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, unti it comes to a boil and thickens, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Serve stir-fry over rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Addapted frrom Clean Eating magazine.

Rosted Tomato Soup with Rosemary Cheddar Crackers

Fresh tomotoes are like precious jewels found at the end of summer when all else is wilting away.

Growing up on home-grown tomatoes have ruined me, or should I say, opened my eyes to the real taste of tomatoes. When I can not get tomatoes from my mom’s garden, I buy organic from the farmers market. I find that the “other” tomatoes don’t even taste like tomatoes; usually they taste somewhere between a sponge and an unripe watermelon (never thought of it that way did ya?).

Well, with a bundle of home-grown tomatoes from the last batch of the season, and a brisk evening breezing blowing through the house, I decided it was time to whip up one of my favorite soups, Roasted Tomato Soup and a side of Rosemary Cheddar Crackers.

Start with fresh ingredients….

…a bit of time…

…and bam! You can’t mess it up! Delicious, heart warming soup.

 

Now for the yummy homemade crackers.

(soup and cracker recipe below)

I started with Erica’s Almond Saltine Cracker recipe from a SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) blog, Comfy Belly, a good starter recipe to add other ingredients.

Here is my version….

Perfect for dipping in your soup.

Rosemary Cheddar Cracker

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of blanched ground almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt (almond flour tastes naturally salty to me, so I don’t add much salt)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or butter)
  • 1/4 cup fresh, chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 cup grated organic cheddar cheese

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and blend well.
  3. Add the rosemary and cheese.
  4. Then add the egg and oil, and blend and shape the mixture into two balls of dough.
  5. Place each dough ball on a non-stick baking mat, then place a piece of parchment paper (or other non-stick mat) over the ball and roll the dough into a thin layer.
  6. Score the crackers with a pizza cutter and sprinkle extra sea salt lightly across the cracker sheet.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until they start to lightly brown.
  8. Cool for about 15 minutes and break apart into crackers. Store in a sealed container.

Roasted Tomato Soup

INGREDIENTS

2 lb organic Roma tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil or italian seasoning
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
4 cups organic vegetable stock, low sodium
1/4 cup chapped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

PREPARATION

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Halve the tomatoes and lay cut-side up in a baking tray with the garlic. Drizzle the olive oil and dried basil on top on the tomatoes. Roast for 30 minutes. Take the garlic out after 20 minutes if it is drying out.

2. Heat the extra oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the onion and chili powder, cook, covered for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.

3. Chop the tomatoes and squeeze the garlic pulp from their skins. (You can throw the tomatoes and garlic to your food processor or vitamin to make a smoother soup.) Add to the pan along with the vinegar and honey. Cook, stirring together for 1 minute. Add the stock. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Season to taste and add parsley.

Prep time: 20 min
Total cooking time: 1 hr 19 min
Serves 4-5

What Popeye Knows and You Don’t & Berry Strong Smoothie

Popeye had the right idea by eating a can of spinach each and everyday! (Now, who doesn’t like a man who eats his spinach? I’m with Olive Olye on this one!)

With the image of Popeye downing a can of spinach and instantly graining super strength etched in our minds, most of us would agree that spinach is good for you. Despite the view that spinach is healthy and one of most available greens on the American market, many people are still lacking in the “leafy green” department. Why? Because most people the tend to dislike the taste.

Before you dismiss the idea eating a can of spinach (which I would never recommend!) give me a chance! I have the perfect smoothie recipe just for YOU! It will not only satisfy your sweet tooth and refresh your spirit, but also give you your daily helping of bone building, cancer fighting, eye strengthening, prostate combating spinach!

You ask “why should I eat spinach?”, well I’m glad you asked! We all know that Popeye made himself super strong by eating spinach, what he may not have known was that he was also protecting himself against inflammatory problems, oxidative stress-related problems, cardiovascular problems, bone problems, and cancers at the same time. A good thing too, Popeye had one too many smokes for my liking!

A few good reasons why you (and your man) should eat your spinach.

Gut Health
Recent research has shown that spinach specific glycoglycerolipids (fat related molecules in the membranes of light-sensitive organs found in most plants) aids the digestive tract by protecting the lining from inflammatory damage. Certain spinach extracts and more than a dozen different flavonoid compounds in spinach have been shown to slow down cell division in human stomach cancer cells. At the same time, spinach carotenoids have shown to reduce inflammation and anti-inflammatory compounds in the stomach, aiding in overall gut health and restoration. God knew what he was doing when he made spinach 🙂

Men’s Health
Spinach has been shown to triumph over broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, turnip greens, collards and kale in the in the protection against aggressive prostate cancer. Although studies have not shown which specific substances in spinach that may be involved in this prostate protecting act! However, spinach does posses a significant amount of anti-cancer carotenoids called “epoxyxanthophylls” which could be the key.

Strong Bones
One cup of spinach provides 200% of your Daily Value of vitamin K. Vitamin K is the real spokesmen for strong, healthy bones (not milk people!) Vitamin K1 helps prevent excessive activation of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone. Good bacteria in our gut help convert vitamin K1 into vitamin K2, which activates osteocalcin, which helps anchor calcium molecules inside of the bone. Calcium and magnesium, are also bone-supportive sources found in spinach. When you want strong bones think “Got Spinach?”

Eyes
Although specific studies have not been conducted on the impact of spinach on eye function, lutein and zeaxanthina “are primary antioxidants in several regions of the eye, including the retina and macula.” However, there have been studies conducted that do show “human blood levels of lutein can be increased by consumption of spinach in everyday amounts.  [At] least one group of researchers suggest that spinach has a likely role to play in prevention of eye problems, including age-related macular degeneration.”

Do you need anymore reasons to eat spinach? I sure hope not! Time to load up your grocery basket with spinach!

Here are few quick tips to keep in mind when you are buying and storing spinach to make yummy smoothies!

When shopping for spinach keep in mind that what looks good to you actually is better for you. Look for spinach with vibrant, crisp, dark green leaves and stems, avoid yellowish, slimy, wilted and bruised leaves. A study has shown that “alive” looking spinach actually has a greater supply of vitamin C, helping to protect all of the oxygen-sensitive phytonutrients in the spinach leaves. Do not wash spinach before you store it, the water encourages faster spoilage. I buy my spinach from Costco in the big plastic container, it is organic and costs is under $5!! Put a paper towel in the middle of the container to absorb any moister, it helps it to last longer.

Now for the good part! The ultimate super smoothie!

Berry Strong Smoothie
1 cup frozen strawberries
½ cup frozen berries (of any kind)
1 banana
1 ½ cup almond or coconut milk
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 cups light packed spinach
1/2 of an apple (cut the “spinach” taste)
Optional add-ins  – coconut oil, flaxseed oil, almond butter

Combine all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend! Enjoy!

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Summary: “Bone-healthy vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, and calcium; heart-healthy folate, potassium, and vitamin B6; energy-producing iron and vitamin B2; and free radical-scavenging vitamin A (through its concentration of beta-carotene) and vitamin C. It is a very good source of digestion-supportive dietary fiber, muscle-building protein, energy-producing phosphorus, and the antioxidants copper, zinc and vitamin E. In addition it is a good source anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and heart-healthy niacin and selenium. While this mixture of conventional nutrients gives spinach a unique status in the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory department, it is the unusual mixture of phytonutrients in spinach “seals the deal” in terms of its antioxidant and anit-inflammatory components. In terms of flavonoids, spinach is a unique source of methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides, and in terms of carotenoids, its difficult to find a more helpful source of lutein and zeaxanthin. The epoxyxanthophyll carotenoids neoxanthin and violaxanthin are also welcomed constituents of spinach leaves.”

Source: Nutritional Information for Raw Spinach

Summer Time Fun and Vegetable Omelet

I had the worlds best omelet over the 4th of July weekend in a little town called Kanab, right on the boarder of Arizona and Utah. Who would have thought?! After a weekend of camping in Zion National Park (one of the most beautiful places on earth!), my husband and our good friends stopped here for lunch.
A few pictures from Zion National Park, Utah.
Little did we know we were stopping right in the middle of the annual 4th of July town parade. This was a parade right out of an Andy Griffith show. The local’s were dressed up in their red, white and blue as they cheered the passing basketball team, cheerleaders, the fire department, and children pulling wagons full of candy and waterballons. There was even a miniature pony! (Li’l Sebastian!!!….Parks and Recreation anyone?!)
We finally found a small western themed diner to eat at where we could watch the parade from the window. Here we ordered breakfast for lunch (one of my favorite things to do!) When our orders arrived I was surprised to find that my Veggie Omelet was actually filled with veggies! (I find that most veggie omelets come with a couple of tomatoes and 2 lbs of cheese loaded on top). With each bite I took I found a new vegetable. First a carrot! (“a carrot with eggs! This is great!”), then a broccoli (“wow a broccoli!”), celery! zucchini! squash! With each bite I became more and more excited! Luckily, my dear friends know me well enough that they were not too surprised by my ecstatic reaction to finding vegetables in my omlete.
At that moment I knew that this dish was something I had to re-create at home. So here it is! Feel free to try other vegetables in your omelet and let me know how it turns out! Enjoy!

Summer Vegetable Omelet
(Feeds 4)

Ingredients
6 eggs, scrambled
1/4 cup, medium cheddar cheese (no dye)
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup of broccoli florets
1/2 cup of cauliflower florets
1/2 cup zuchinni, chopped, bite size
1/2 cup yellow squash, chopped, bit size
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup, green bell pepper, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Heat large skillet over med-high heat with a bit of olive oil. Place all the vegetables in skillet for about ten minuets, or till they are tender, but not soft. Remove vegetables from pan. Scrape and remove any remaining veggies parts from pan. Add a bit more olive oil to pan, so eggs don’t stick. Add the scrambled eggs to the pan. Cook for 1 to 2 mins, until eggs are slightly cooked but still runny. Add the veggies to the eggs and carefully mix together. Lay the cheese on top of the omelet and place lid on pan for 2 mins, till cheese is melted. Remove omelet from pan and enjoy with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice!