Zucchini Boats

How is it, that of all the plants in my garden, Zucchini is the most fool proof one?! We tried to go conservative this year and only planted two plants but have still been taken over by wheelbarrows full of zucchini. It’s wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but those suckers grow BIG and FAST! Most days when I remember to pick the zucchini it’s already the size of my forearm arm or larger. That’s a heck of a lot of zucchini noodles!

Gary likes to cut zucchini and squash into rounds and sauté them until they are caramelized or even a bit crispy. But this year my stomach just couldn’t do it every day. He had been such a champ and has eaten zucchini almost every meal this summer but I hit a breaking point and needed. A different option.

One day my cute neighbor reminded me about Zucchini boats! How could I have forgotten?! I was so stuck on what I couldn’t stand eating any more that I had a mind block and lost all cooking creativity whatsoever.

Typically with zucchini boats you use nice, cute, appropriately sized zucchini to make sweet, little personal boats of deliciousness. But let’s face it, I had monster zucchini I had to get rid of. So now I’m sharing my ah-ha moment with you.

We decided to use our giant zucchini to make two huge boats that we then sliced up to serve. And even though the zucchini was extra large it still tasted delicious!

I am pretty Plain Jane when it comes to things I like so I often times just re-use the same list of ingredients I’m different dishes. For my zucchini boats I used the same meat/cheese combo I often times use for stuffed mushrooms and quinoa meatballs. I also try and use what I have on hand that day to avoid a trip to the store if possible. Change the recipe to suit your preferences but you can use my ingredients as a guide:)

Zucchini Boat Ingredients

(Serves 2 very hungry people or 4 -6 people who are less of gluttons than we are 😉)

  • 1/2 lb of sausage
  • 1/2 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 8oz container of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 8oz package of mushrooms
  • 1-2 large zucchini or 4-6 normal size small zucchini
  • Salt/pepper/seasoning to taste

Directions

1. Preheat overnight to 375 degrees. Slice the zucchini length wise (hot-dog style ;)) and remove all seeds, leaving a large space for meat/cheese mixture. 2. Slice mushrooms then combine them with sausage, ground beef, 1 egg, 3/4 of the Parmesan cheese, and seasoning until all ingredients are mixed together well (sometimes I just have to use my hands an mash it all together…I don’t have the patience to daintily mash it slowly with a fork)3. Fill the zucchini boats with the meat mixture until it is heaping. The meat will cook down …I personally like a healthy meat to veggie ratio. 4. Bake until the meat is cooked thoroughly and a fork can easily be inserted into the zucchini. (You May like your zucchini firmer/softer than me so cooking time may vary). My food is usually ready in about 20 minutes. 5. When food is about done, sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top and let melt for about 5 minutes and then remove from oven.

(We decided to make stuffed mushrooms with the extra meat mix and used the stems of the mushrooms for the zucchini boats! I get a lot of enjoyment from not wasting food and finding ways to use it all up!)

This is definitely a basic recipe and I love that it is quick to prepare yet delicious. And it gets rid of those giant zucchinis taking up all your counter space. Many people like to put pasta sauce on top or use other meats or cheeses to give it a different flavor. You can even add cream cheese to make it even creamier. This is our favorite combo so far and I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think! Katie

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Peaches!

One thing I love about the end of summer is FRESH PEACHES! It’s definitely a seasonal food for me and while I don’t crave it a whole lot in winter or spring I always find myself excitedly anticipating the season when we have fresh peaches.

I try and convince my husband to make the trek up to Brigham City or Logan, UT with me each fall to buy a few boxes. (I went to college in Cache valley and love any excuse to go visit.) But I’m not always successful. Lucky for me, few weeks ago a sweet neighbor of mine had boxes of early-ripe peaches available and she had used all she wanted and was giving the rest away! These peaches were riiiiipe and needed to be used that day. I don’t can peaches or do a whole lot of baking with them but I love to make fresh peach pie or freeze peach slices to eat throughout the fall/winter months.

Call me weird, but my favorite way to eat peaches…and my girls have followed suit…is to pour milk/cream on top of frozen peach slices and have “Peaches & Cream”. We don’t eat cereal at my house so fruit with milk is a common snack for us. Add a little sugar and it turns into a crystallized peach ice cream type treat 😋

This is not an original method by any means but sometimes when peach season comes its a now or never project…Either find 100 ways to use all the available peaches or don’t even bother…So I wanted to share how easy it is to slice up the peaches and bag them with a little lemon juice and sugar and freeze them flat in the freezer for future use.

I’d love to hear what you all like to do with your fresh peaches so please share!

🍑 Katie

Transitioning to Healthier Eating with Kids

People often ask if my kids eat everything I make, especially the more unique recipes. And the answer is, for the most part, they do. I attribute this to the fact that the healthy food I eat is the food they’ve been offered their whole lives. This doesn’t always mean they are always dying to try my weirdest dishes but for the most part we don’t have much of a fight.

That being said, my girls do have different tastes and sometimes one just doesn’t love something that the other might and we do have to adjust according, but within reason. Just because someone doesn’t like the dinner I made doesn’t mean they get heir own made to order meal. They still eat what was made but they may be allotted more of what they prefer and less of what they don’t.

But what about kids who didn’t grow up with healthy eating and are resisting the transition? Well there isn’t a one size fits all answer. The age of child makes a big difference and their personal preferences and level of stubbornness to try new things all play a factor. For example, Tilly will succumb to eating a dinner she doesn’t particularly love if she has a sweet she wants to eat but can only have after she finishes dinner. On the other hand, Cecily will go without the Sweet and will refuse to finish her meal. I’m fine with both. My kid isn’t going to die because she didn’t eat her dinner and I don’t have to feel bad about her not getting a sweet, it was her choice. I also feel fine about offering a positive reward for my child who did decide to finish her meal.

I’ll address a harsher opinion first and then hop of my soap box and share some less intense ideas after.

Assuming your children aren’t old enough to walk out of the house and go buy their own food at the store, kids aren’t going to starve. And if you get rid of the crap in the house and only offer healthy food to your kids, they will eventually choose to eat over choosing to starve. The secret to success with this cold turkey switch? Your ability as a parent to ignore the whining long enough to let your children choose to eat the healthier options. It is a battle of wills and yours has to be stronger and more patient. I often times hear “oh my kid won’t eat anything healthy I make.” Really? I wonder…is that because after 20 minutes of them complaining you allowed them to get what they wanted out of the pantry? Or did you make them a second dinner? If so, that’s like telling your child they can’t drive the car but then handing them the keys after they complain long enough. I’m not saying your kids will choose to eat the healthy food today, or even tomorrow, but they likely won’t skip too many meals before deciding that food is better than I food.

As for handling spouses/partners or teenagers who refuse to eat what you offer?Thats a different battle entirely that I have no qualifications to address. I’ll jut pray for you. 😉 The more you and your partner can be on the same page regarding health and diet, the exponentially easier the switch will be for the entire family.

It’s no secret that the older your kids are the harder transition it becomes. Which speaks volumes to the importance of starting early!

Ok now that I’m off my soap box let’s hear some less intense options shall we? In my opinion, the easiest way to transition is slowly and consistently. Start regulating the sweets first. Start with only one Sweet a day. After that, replace snacks at home with healthy options. Instead of chips, fruit snacks (which are not a healthy option), and juice, try offering REAL FOOD like hand fruit, berries, vegetables nuts, raisins, string cheese, and water. Don’t try and force your kids to eat these foods but have them easily available throughout the day so that when I child (or you) is hungry they easier options are the healthier ones.

Next you can adjust meals. Make simple adjustments to breakfast. Add some healthy fats to breakfast like eggs and avocados or even breakfast meats in addition to their pancakes, then slowly limit the pancakes eaten or trade the Bisquick out for a healthy pancake recipe like I’ve shared in other posts. Breakfast may be the hardest switch if you are just giving your kids cold cereal. In which case, stop immediately and she make the sacrifice to fuel your child’s body with something other than sugar. (We’ll save the details on that soap box for another day.)

Lunchtime at my house involves a lot of finger foods. We snack a lot at my house and I find it easier to get my kids to snack on healthy foods like nuts, berries, cheeses, and veggies than it is to eat then to eat a chicken breast, sweet potato and salad with me. I’m sure you may feel the same. Sometimes I think moms feel emotionally gratified when their child eats, so we push them to eat a meal or make them something they will love, rather than allowing them to listen to their bodies and select healthy foods that will satisfy their cravings. I remover how I used to stress myself out SO much when my toddlers wouldn’t eat what I thought was “enough.” But neither of them died…shocker….they were listening to their bodies.

(Home made apple chips were a hit with the girls!)

Dinners are tricky too because you don’t want to make a cold turkey switch if you don’t have to. So for any adult or child I think it best to slowly substitute good food in place of bad food. More healthy for less healthy. Add some more protein and leave out some noodles, trade flour noodles for sweet potato noodles, spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. Switch white potatoes for yams, trade quinoa for rice, make broccoli instead of a iceberg lettuce salad, etc. make the transition slowly. Build on what you know your family already likes and run with it. Your family will probably notice the absence of unhealthy food less than they will the introduction of some new weird food. Slowly eliminate the bad for something good, then better, and eventually best.

I do believe that moderation in all things is key. Currently I’m trying to teach my daughters the appropriate amount of sweets to eat and allow them to embrace the cookies when they come. Often times all the girls want to eat is bread or crackers/pretzels. Pretzels and crackers are rarely in our house bare on occasion. Realizing that grains are beneficial to growing bodies I buy the healthiest wheat bread available and limit consumption. If the girls want bread it needs to be coupled with a protein or healthy fat and they get to choose their favorite one to with or along side the bread.

That’s what moderation looks like at our house. But moderation is a term flung around with varying degrees of meaning. Moderation doesn’t mean only 2 ice cream sandwiches a day instead of 3. That may be a good start to cutting back on your ice cream addiction but it isn’t moderation. Evaluate where you may be making justifications and do your research to learn how impactful food is and then stick to your guns. Your kids won’t starve.

I know I am only one woman with a limited scope of perspective. I realize that everyone has a different situation, different limitations and obstacles in the way of healthy eating. But I hope some of the things I’ve shared with you may help give you a boost of confidence in helping your family, and especially young children, transition into making healthier food choices. It can be done and it will indefinitely benefit heir lifelong health!

Please comment and share your secrets about what has worked for you and your kids. I’ve only touched the tip of the ice berg and would love to learn more from each of you!

Guilt Free Strawberry Jam

Oh hey there! Long time no see. After weeks of absence I finally decided to write something:) And the first thing I thought I’d share was a delicious recipe for strawberry jam that changed my world. No really, it kind of did.

So I’ve always liked jam but have never eaten it since focusing on health. For years I’ve gone to family parties and avoided the homemade strawberry jam because I knew how much forsugar was in there. Jam was just never an option. If I was going to splurge it would be on chocolate, not jam.

A cute friend in my neighborhood knew we were limiting sugar at our house and brought over some simple, delicious, jam that was an instant game changer. With only 3 clean simple ingredients jam was back on the menu for my occasional Gf waffles, protein pancakes or PB&J.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups washed, cut strawberries (stems removed obvi)
  • 1/4 c raw local honey
  • 2T chia seeds

Directions

1. Blend strawberries together until your preferred consistency (some people like chunky)

2. Mix in honey and chia seeds

3. Pour into a sauce pan and bring to a light boil. Stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, and store in jars in fridge or freezer.

….look at this delicious stuff. So yummy, simple and clean, no refined sugar or preservatives, and extremely easy to make.

Enjoy!

Keto Quiche

I don’t know what your family eats for Easter dinner but ham was abundant at ours…and eggs of course. Both families had lots of ham and lots of left overs. I hate letting leftovers go bad so I wanted to put all that extra ham and eggs to use!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cubed ham
  • 1 c shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 c Swiss Cheese
  • 1 c goat milk (or whole milk)
  • 1/2 c low fat cottage cheese
  •  4 small eggs (or 3 large eggs)
  • 1/2 t salt 1/2 t pepper (if your ham is already heavily salted, no need to add extra salt)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cube your ham and lay in the bottom of a pie baking dish. Sprinkle cheddar cheese + swiss cheese on top of the ham.
  2. In a blender (I use my Vitamix) combine milk, eggs, cottage cheese, and seasoning. Blend on med-high until smooth.
  3. Pour the egg/milk mixture over the ham and cheese. The filling should be about 1/2-3/4 inches from the top of the dish. As the Quiche cooks the pan will fill but not overflow. If you feel like your dish is too full you can place the baking dish on a cookie sheet to catch any spills.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes or until the quiche forms up. You may be tempted to keep cooking the quiche until it feels hard in the middle, but overcooking will cause the eggs to be rubbery, The goal is for the quiche to be light and fluffy. So as soon as the center is no longer liquid it can come out. it will firm up as it cools.

Typically I add mushrooms, spinach, and other veggies to my quiche but this is a good ole meat and eggs version that even my husband loved! (he doesn’t  usually care much for quiche). I hope you enjoy it and will share your feedback!

Katie

Homemade Protein Ice Cream

chocolate protein ice cream

If you want to be entertained, watch the video of my girls and me making homemade chocolate protein ice cream here: Part 1   Part 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
    • I just use 3 cups of goat milk because it’s creamy enough for our liking
  • 1-1/2 scoops of your favorite flavor of protein powder (2 scoops was a bit much for this recipe)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • optional* 1 cup fruit you may want to add to mix things up!

Directions

  1. Add ingredients (except fruit) together and blend until smooth.
  2. Add any fruit you may like and pulse your blender until fruit is chunky but not liquefied (the extra liquid will throw off the proportions of the other ingredients and could make your ice cream watery)
  3. Pour into an instant ice cream maker like mine or use an “old fashioned” homemade ice cream maker.
  4. Enjoy!

I hope you will indulge in a little guilt free ice cream and let me know how you like it! Please share with your friends if  this recipe got a ‘thumps up’ from you. Share what you did differently that you liked more/less.

Love, Katie

Sweet Potato Lava Brownies

My girls asked for a treat tonight and I had a sweet potato in the fridge and thought….well let’s find a recipe for sweet potato brownies! I made sweet potato brownies once before, a few years ago, but lost the recipe. After searching good old google and not finding any recipes that looked good or that I had all the ingredients for, I just made my own recipe…and… it turned out AWESOME! I was too excited to not share it right away.

A few weeks ago I was at Happy Sumo for sushi and decided to try out their “lava” cake for dessert. There wasn’t so much “lava” in it but it was moist and dense and delicious. My sweet potato brownies had the EXACT same consistency + a bit more lava. I have some friends who are always looking for desserts that are healthy but also tasty enough that their non-healthy friends will eat them. This recipe checks both boxes! Throw some vanilla protein goat milk ice cream on top and you’re golden! (I’ll share my goat milk protein ice cream recipe soon).

If you need a chocolate fix this recipe will do the trick! PLUS you can feel good about knowing you’re using wholesome ingredients + free of gluten and refined sugar. Try it out yourself or tweak the recipe like I did and tell me what you think! I plan to use applesauce instead of butter next time to see how it turns out and maybe even add a bit of protein powder too…hmm…

Ingredients

  • 1 cup baked sweet potato (bake 1 large potato at 400 degrees until its super soft)…now that I think of it, you could probably use pumpkin instead of sweet potato too… now my wheels are turning! ha
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick butter melted (sub 1/2 cup coconut oil or other “fat” and see how you like it!)
  • 1/3 c cocoa
  • 1/4 c honey (you could sub agave or pure maple syrup)
  • 3/4 c oat flower (I just put whole oats in my Vitamix and blend until flour-like)…try other flour substitutes and tell me what you like best!
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 c dark-no sugar added chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Pre-cook your sweet potato @ 400 degrees. Then turn oven temp to 350 degrees to prepare to cook brownies. Melt butter in a sauce pan.
  2. Combine wet ingredients and mix on low speed until smooth
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated
  4. Add chocolate chips and stir in
  5. Pour into greased 9×9 baking dish. Cook at 350 degrees for about 22-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Let cool for a few minutes before cutting + Enjoy!