Tag Archives: zucchini

Confessions of a “healthy” food blogger

6 Aug

You’ve heard it here before. I’m not perfect. I like to eat things that are not always healthy for me (read: I am obsessed with dessert). My kitchen “experiments” don’t always turn out. I’m actually kind of jealous of Jamie of The Sometimes Healthy Living Blog for coming up with such a perfect name. I like to say that hungry comes before healthy in my blog name because I’m ALWAYS hungry and sometimes healthy. So are you ready for a round of HHH IMG_2412confessions? Fasten your seatbelts, ‘cause here we go!

Confession Number One: On Thursday night (designated as a splurge night back when I did WW, and can’t get the mentality out of my head) I ate 1.5 pieces of better than you-know-what cake and the little bit of homemade ice cream leftover from Sunday’s BBQ. I smartly gave most of it away, but kept these little pieces for myself. I didn’t post the recipe (because it’s dangerously addictive, and I care about you guys), but it’s basically chocolate cake soaked in the Nectar of the Gods (AKA sweetened condensed milk) and caramel sauce, then topped with Cool Whip and SKOR bars. It is, as Professor Harold Hill would say: “trouble with a capital T.”

I also ate a couple of jelly beans, a brownie, a cookie with PB (but both were small and low-fat), cereal, and a few frozen mango chunks (no, you’re not mis-reading, this is all in the SAME NIGHT). Oh well, just get on with things, start the next day with a workout, and it all works out in the end, right?

Confession Number One point five: This is one point five and not 2 because it relates to number one. I ate a sliver of a piece of better than you-know-what cake after my long run on Monday. Here’s my rationale: chocolate milk is supposed to be the perfect workout recovery food because it its protein/fat/carb ratio. And this cake was chocolate soaked in sweetened condensed milk, so pretty much the same thing, right? (just smile, nod, and agree with my rationalizations to eat insanely decadent desserts before noon). Winking smile

IMG_2450Confession Number Two: Inspired by Nourishing Flourishing’s Savory Summer Squash pancakes I decided to try and create my own variation on it with zucchini, adding fresh corn and black beans, and using a piece of crumbled leftover cornbread . I also added onion and fresh basil, and seasoned with garlic salt, pepper and cumin. While the results were delicious, they weren’t pancakes AT ALL.

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Everything crumbled and fell apart in the frying pan, creating what I called “zucchini hash.” Like I said, delicious, but not pancakes. I think I needed to better drain the zucchini and add some sort of binding agent. It isn’t really a “confession,” but I just HAVE to tell you about the sauce on the chicken in that photo. I made a red wine cherry onion sauce by simmering leftover onion relish (make it. Make it NOW. So good that you’ll eat it by the spoonful) with Dijon mustard, a splash of red wine and pitted fresh sweet cherries. Yeah. It was awesome. You know you want some.

IMG_2462Confession Number Three: I ate chocolate for breakfast yesterday morning. Okay, this really wasn’t a “bad”/unhealthy breakfast, it just sounds like it should be, and it was a really good breakfast and I wanted to share it with you and it’s my blog so I make the rules…okay? I had a deep chocolate VitaTop, a mix of fat-free regular and Greek yogurts, unsweetened cocoa powder, Splenda, fresh raspberries (last of my garden I think for this year) and a few strawberries. I finished it off with an iced coffee made with sugar-free caramel syrup (not chocolate, but still delicious). Mmm…if you want to get your day off to a great start, eat chocolate for breakfast! This one hit all the right spots! Smile

Happy Saturday! Do you have any healthy (or not-so healthy) eating/kitchen mishap confessions of late to share?

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Tea for Two

28 Jul

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I had an awesome landlady for the 3 years I lived off-campus during university. As in, free parking in the driveway, drive you to the hospital and wait with you for 5 hours and pay the parking ticket when you needed stitches kind of awesome. So when I bought a groupon to Dishington’s, a tea room just outside of London, I called her and asked her if she wanted to get together for lunch to catch up (she’s an avid HHH reader…Hi Lynne!). Thankfully, she accepted, and Tuesday we had lunch.

When I thought tea room, I was thinking creamy salads, sandwiches and baked goods, but thankfully, I managed to find some healthier options (since this week/weekend are PACKED with food-focused occasions, I didn’t want to start 80/20 –ing too early Winking smile). I ordered the “soup, salad and biscuits” with a garden salad. The soup of the day was tomato vegetable, so pretty healthy. I didn’t snap a picture of the biscuits, but I only ate one (no butter). I LOVE biscuits, but rarely eat them, so it was a nice treat. The salad was your average salad, and the soup was good.IMG_2306

Lynne and I decided to share a dessert. Given my love for peanut butter and chocolate, when we heard that peanut butter chocolate ice cream cake was the feature, that was our choice – YUM! It was pretty much just as delicious as it looked and sounded. The tea was good, but I was a little disappointed that at a fancy tea room, it was just Lipton! I was hoping for something a little more special.

All-in-all, it was a great lunch though. So nice to catch up with Lynne, who is no longer my landlady, but a dear friend. And I treated myself without going too overboard.IMG_2313

After saying good bye to Lynne, I headed downtown to The Running Room to get new runners. My current pair have been through a marathon and a half marathon with me, so they were well past their prime. After consulting with the helpful staff, I came away with the most expensive running shoes I’ve ever owned – these Asics. The guy told me that the shoes I have now weren’t supportive enough for my arches (I expected as much. I have flat feet and was in MAJOR pain when I crossed the finish line last fall at my marathon). I’m planning my “maiden run” in them today, so I’ll keep you posted!

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I was really hungry by the time I got back home (around 6). Although my lunch included some yummy treats, what it didn’t include was very much protein. I wanted something that would be satisfying and filling, but still pretty light. Enter: zucchini “pasta” with meat sauce.

Not only does zucchini “pasta” IMG_2309have way less carbs and calories than the usual stuff, it also cooks up WAY quicker ( a great benefit when your stomach’s eating itself). All you do is use a vegetable peeler to make thing strands from the zucchini. As long as it’s not too big and seedy, you can use the whole thing (one medium zucchini makes one serving).

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I cooked my “noodles” in salted water in my microwave cooker for 4 minutes, drained, seasoned with salt and pepper and that’s it!

 

 

 

 

For my quick meat sauce, I sauteed ground turkey, onion, garlic, mushrooms, IMG_2308red pepper and yellow pepper (from my garden!) in a teaspoon of olive oil until browned. Then, I added part of a can of San Marzano tomatoes, a splash of red wine (because it was sitting there, I was feeling rebellious, and I like the taste of wine in sauces, just not to drink)and salt and pepper; brought to a boil, then reduced the heat and simmered for a few minutes.

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Right at the end, I stirred in a generous handful of chopped fresh basil and oregano, simmered for a few more minutes, and we were good to go. I poured the sauce over my “pasta,” added some Parmesan, garnished with more fresh basil, and dinner was served!

 

Thank you to those of you who submitted questions to me earlier in the week. I plan to answer them in a post to come – it’s just been a bit crazy this week. Stay tuned for the rest of my eating adventures (and a shoe summary).

If you are a runner (or any other type of exerciser for that matter) have you shelled out the big bucks for shoes, and was it worth it?

Corny

18 Jul

Happy Monday everyone! First, of all, to address the “loose ends” from yesterday’s post. If you haven’t read it yet, I really suggest you do so, it’ll make this one make a lot more sense…go ahead, I’ll wait.

Back now? Ok. IMG_2207First for the potluck summary. I sort of felt an “angel on one shoulder, devil on the other” vibe with my contributions – a big bowl of watermelon and cherries and then peanut butter chocolate gooey butter cakes with m&ms. And that, my friends, is where the pictures stop. Based on my general mood lately, I made a deal with myself that I was going to go, eat what I wanted, enjoy, no pictures for the blog…and I did. And it was fun.

I had a hamburger( with a bun…gasp!), some tasty salads, more dessert than I care to admit (mine and stuff that other people brought) and some fruit (see…I was healthy). I spent the afternoon sitting in the sun, chatting, with a bit of swimming thrown in to cool off, then ate 2 pieces of Delissio pizza (it’s been AGES since I had that stuff, and it is seriously yummy) and had ice cream for dessert. All in all,  a perfect summer day.

My “de-funking: list? I did it all. I’d love to say that I instantly and magically snapped out of the funk, but it didn’t happen quite like that (but really, when does life happen like that?). It was nice to be out of the house and with other people for most of the day yesterday to keep myself distracted. Sometimes, funks just happen, but you can’t let them take over…you just have to pray, be grateful for what you have, and move on with your life…at least that’s what I try to do.

I hope I didn’t scare any of you off with all of what I shared yesterday. It really was helpful for me though to have a place to share my feelings and be honest…so once again, thanks for listening!

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Now that we’ve got that our of the way, let’s move onto happier things – like the fact that corn is in season (now you’re starting to get the post title)! I used that corn in an absolutely delicious grilled veggie and bacon pizza creation Friday night, and I’d love to share it with you.

Friday was sort of a weird day eating-wise, with a late lunch, then a classy snack, and a late supper. So since I knew I’d be eating dinner pretty late, I prepped in advance before I went out.

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I grilled an ear of corn, a big fat slice of zucchini and two thick slices of Vidalia onion, then chopped them up and put them in a tupperware for when I got back.

I tossed the cold grilled veggies with cumin, salt and pepper. I crisped my crust as per usual in the oven, then for sauce, I used some of this absolutely delicious corn, black bean and roasted red pepper salsa I bought when we were in Buffalo (brand is Desert Pepper, but can’t find a link online). I topped it with 1/3 cup shredded light cheese, and most of the veggies (the rest of which I ate cold…delightful!), then sprinkled lots of chopped fresh parsley on top of that, and topped it all off with 1 tablespoon of bacon bits.

Now, I know that bacon bits are processed and real bacon is probably better, but I don’t really use bacon all that much, so it would go to waste if I bought it, so for that reason, bacon bits work better for me….sorry! I baked this guy to melt the cheese, just 5 or 10 minutes (although it was so late that this seemed like much longer). IMG_2188

Let’s go in for a close-up, shall we? ‘Cause this guy was GOOD! Herby freshness, just a touch of spice from the salsa, the charred taste of the veggies, gooey cheese, and salty bacon. Pretty much summer pizza perfection…so simple, but so good!

 

If you were to create a perfect summer pizza, what would you put on it?

Naughty and Nice

14 Jul

So, you’ve heard this before. The name of the blog is Hungry Healthy Hilary. And while I am always hungry, I try to always be healthy, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t always happen. As for the title of today’s post, I’ve made two chocolate IMG_2130things this week – one is a little more indulgent – the naughty. And one can be enjoyed on a more regular basis – the nice.

Let’s go naughty first – I’m talking cheesecake pops! Now, to be fair, I didn’t make these for me. They were for the same meal as the fruit bouquet and the lemon thyme biscuits. So while I did eat one (and may have a couple more, as the recipe made A LOT), I am not the sole benefactor, and thankfully, I don’t have all 56 of these beauties kicking around my house – that would be trouble!

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The recipe is courtesy of one of my favourite decadent dessert cookbooks – Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor. There are just so many fun and over-the-top recipes in there. If you want to indulge, this book is it! And since kids were part of the group I’d be making these for, I figured they’d be a huge hit (they were – and I don’t think the adults minded either Winking smile). My only “complaint” was that the recipe made WAY  more than it said. 30 to 40 turned out to be 56!!!! Guess they were supposed to be bigger?!? So I’m taking the 14 or so I have left here to my ladies’ Bible study tonight. I figured with a group of girls, chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick will go over well, don’tcha think? (so if any of my Bible study gals are reading this, you know what I’m bringing tonight).

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From Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor

Makes 30-40 (or 56 in my case)

  • 5 – 8 ounce/250 g packages cream cheese, at room temperature (you’ll notice I used reduced-fat, so this is practically health food Winking smile)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • boiling water as needed
  • 8 inch lollipop sticks (30 to 40 or 56, depending on how many pops you get)
  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate coating (the disk shapes – I couldn’t find these at my grocery store, so I had to use chocolate chunks – it turned out find)
  • decorations of your choice (I used sprinkles, mini m&ms and graham cracker crumbs)

Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer set a low speed, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour and salt until smooth. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in vanilla and cream.

Lightly grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan) (I didn’t have one, so used a 9  inch square pan). Pour the cheesecake batter into the cake plan and place in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan (my roasting pan wasn’t big enough to fit my square pan, so I used my large bar stoneware pan). Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes (mine took over an hour, and I still think it could have been firmer. Likely this was due to using a smaller pan).

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or overnight.

When cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2 ounce balls and place on a parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheet (if you don’t have a cookie scoop, you MUST get one for this task – it works perfectly) . Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 to 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate coating. Place half of the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir. If the chocolate is not completely melted, microwave for 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth (this is what the recipe says, I microwaved less than half the chocolate for 2 minutes, then stirred in some unmelted pieces until they melted and the mixture was smooth. I melted more chocolate as needed).

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Hold the pop over the melted chocolate and shake off any excess. Place the pop on a clean parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheet to set. If using decorations, sprinkle them on right away, as the chocolate sets quickly due to the frozen pops. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate as needed.

Refrigerate the pops until ready to serve (and store any leftovers in the refrigerator).

These would be great party food. Kids would love them, but they’d also be fun for bridal or bachelorette parties, birthdays, anniversaries, you name it! Also: they’re delicious! And you can personalize them by using decorations of your choice.

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On the left is just the cream cheese and sugar. On the right is in the middle of adding the eggs….beat, beat, beat!

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Hmm….5 packages of cream cheese, 2 cups sugar, 5 eggs and 2 egg yolks….I’m not sure if this is decadent enough yet. We better add some heavy cream just in case! Winking smile

 

 

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My square pan inside its water bath (in case you ever wonder why I have so much stoneware, I do love it, but I also used to be a Pampered Chef consultant).

 

 

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Let the scooping begin! I found it worked better if I let the scoop do all the work and I just left my hands out of things. The dangerous thing about a recipe like this is that no one will know how many cheesecake bits and bites you sample (strictly for quality control, you understand).

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These guys are scooped, sticked, and ready to chill out in the freezer.

 

 

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Chocolate is melted, decorations are set, let’s go for a dip!

 

 

 

 

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Don’t forget the sprinkles!

 

 

 

 

Now onto the “nice” chocolate item. I’ve IMG_2146already mentioned the copious amounts of zucchini that my garden produces. That means lots of zucchini baking ‘round these parts. I am about to share with you my favourite zucchini muffin recipes. It’s a recipe for chocolate zucchini muffins that I got off of the Weight Watchers Community Forum waaaay back in 2004. It comes from the kitchen of “Wootsy.”

Wootsy, I don’t know who you are or where you are, but if you’re reading this – thank you! Thank you for giving me a chocolate zucchini recipe that contains no oil, whole wheat flour, and still tastes amazing, and that I love with all my heart. I thought the 2 cups of white sugar seemed a bit much, so I cut down just a touch when I made these yesterday (I could hear the whole healthy living blog world “tsk tsk”-ing me for using 2 cups of REFINED. WHITE. SUGAR…..the horror!), but then I got to thinking – this makes a HUGE batch (30 muffins), so really, when you consider that, 2 cups isn’t SO much.

Anyway, thanks to Wootsy (and me), you too can enjoy these delicious muffins (in fact, Donna has already – I surprised her with some after UFC class last night). If you need zucchini to make them, you know who to call! Please, please make these. Like all zucchini baked goods, they are incredibly moist, and they are totally delicious, and can be enjoyed for breakfast, snack or dessert! Also: this is a one bowl recipe – everybody’s favourite!

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One tip before I launch into the recipe. I always use a regular old box grater to grate my zucchini. With a little elbow grease, the zucchini you saw above was reduced to what you see on the right.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins – Makes 30 regular muffins (or 24 plus 14  mini muffins. I like to make a few minis for snacking.)

From Wootsy on the Weight Watchers Community Recipe Forum in 2004

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  • 3 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (which conveniently, is almost exactly 2 individual cups)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin tins with paper cups or spray with non-stick spray.

Sift (which I almost NEVER do, including here. Just use a fork/whisk/slotted spoon – save yourself some time) flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. Mix with remaining ingredients until just combined (did you know that over-mixing muffin/quick bread batter can result in a domed top? I learned that from Mrs. Douglas’ food and nutrition class back in grade 9).

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (about 10 for the minis) or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (watch out for the melted chocolate chips though, they can mess with ya Winking smile). Cool and dig in and/or share with loved ones, as it makes a HUGE batch.

*Note: as with all muffins, these babies freeze beautifully.

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Blogging sin: I forgot to take a picture of the dry ingredients before I started adding the rest. So here’s the mixed dry ingredients with the shredded zucchini on top and nothing else added.

 

 

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Batter is mixed up and ready for action. And just because these are “healthy” muffins, it doesn’t mean the batter’s not delicious … not that I would know or anything, ‘cause I NEVER eat batter (if you believed that, you obviously haven’t been following this blog very long).

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Muffin cups filled up and ready to go. Let’s get these guys in the oven and get this party started!

 

 

 

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All done. It’s muffin time!

 

 

 

 

Ok, I promise, I’m done! Kudos to you if you made it all the way to the bottom of this post. It turned out a little longer than I thought, but I just had to share both of these recipes with you, and I thought the naughty and nice was a fun idea. So you can decide if you want to be naughty (although I truly don’t think it’s naughty to enjoy little indulgences like these every so often, and their small size makes it easy to treat yourself) or nice. Or be like me and do both!

When you make indulgent treats, do you gobble them down yourself, or try and get them out of the house as soon as possible? Or do you just avoid making decadent desserts altogether?

Let the insanity begin!

12 Jul

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Two zucchini. This may not scream insanity to you. Well, then you’ve obviously never grown zucchini before. These were the first two (of MANY to come) zucchini I harvested from my garden on Sunday. For those of you unfamiliar with the all-space-consuming phenomenon that is zucchini in your garden, allow me to enlighten you: once they start, they come on strong and they DON’T STOP. The plants are huge, and bear much fruit (or vegetables).

In summers past, I have made innumerable recipes for zucchini breads and muffins, roasted them, grilled them, stuffed them, made zucchini cookies, even a zucchini dip once! I plan to do most of those things (and more) this summer, so expect to see a lot of zucchini cropping up on HHH in the coming months…you’ve been warned! And if you live near me, or are visiting the area, please please please allow me to give you some of my bounty – you’ll be doing me a IMG_2097favour!

The zucchini was used in the tasty pasta I made for lunch on Sunday, as well as in my supper, which I like to call “summer on a square” (in case you can’t tell from the photo, the meal was served on a square plate). This meal was just completely and totally summer-y and delicious, so much so that I was tempted to scream “I love you summer” at the top of my lungs as I ate in my backyard, but I feared that that might alarm the neighbours, so I kept my seasonal exclamations to myself. Allow me to break this plate of summer goodness down element-by-element.

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The zucchini element. I made a tasty salad by grilling about 2/3 of one of the zucchini, seasoned only with salt and pepper. I tossed the zucchini with some sliced tomato, topped with more salt and pepper, a simple balsamic vinaigrette (balsamic, fat-free Italian, Dijon and a touch of Splenda) and chopped fresh basil (green and purple, just to be fancy). Simple, but delicious. The only thing that would have made it better would be if the tomato had come from my garden, but that will come in time.

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The last of the leftover “birthday beans.” Let me tell you, even after a few days in the fridge, these guys were still delicious. I wasn’t tired of them at all, despite eating them (in various incarnations) throughout the week.

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Veggies, chips, and dip – perfect at any summer BBQ, no matter how small. More specifically, PC Blue Menu Tzatziki (which keeps remarkably well in the fridge, I’m not going to disclose how long the current container has been in there), fat-free Sour Cream and Onion Pringles (American), baby carrots and kohl rabi. What is kohl rabi, you may ask? Here’s a picture of what it looks like whole: IMG_2090

 

…and then after I peeled and cut it up:

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I saw kohl rabi at the market on Thursday, and decided to give it a try. I had seen it and heard of it before, but never bought it. The vendors at the farmers’ market were very helpful and eager to answer my questions (as most farmers’ market vendors are…don’t be shy!). You need to cake off the green peel, you can eat it raw or cooked, put in salads, etc. It kind of tastes like raw cabbage (a taste that I enjoy). I cut mine in wedge-shaped pieces for optimum dipping.

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Burger. It’s no secret how much I love burgers – but this one might make you laugh a bit, mainly because I put meat on a veggie burger! Smile with tongue out I wanted to create a “cordon bleu”-style burger, so I spread one wedge of Laughing Cow light on a thin bun, topped with grainy mustard, sliced ham, arugula from my garden, a Boca burger, more ham and a thick slice of grilled Vidalia onion. YUMMY! Why the veggie burger, if I’m adding meat anyway, you may ask? The short answer is that since I was adding more calories with my meat/cheese accompaniments, I wanted to start with a base burger that was lower in calories.

Now if you can come up with a meal more summery than my “summer on a square” – chips, veggies and dip; garden-fresh salad, baked beans and a burger, I wanna see it!

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Speaking of garden insanity, Sunday marked the beginning of another “harvest season” in my backyard – raspberries! The pictures above show a little bit of my patch (which started many years ago with just 10 little stalks in the back of my vegetable garden, which we have since had to re-locate due to the raspberry expansion). You can’t really tell from the photos, but the patch is pretty expansive. What this means is that for the next couple of weeks, raspberry picking will become my life. If I fail to update this blog on a regular basis, assume I’ve IMG_2101passed out in the patch due to raspberry exhaustion.

I LOVE raspberries, but they are a royal PAIN to pick! They are nice and thorny, and the bushes give me a mild rash (as do zucchini plants, by the way), so I usually have to don a long-sleeved shirt and pants to pick, which, as you can imagine, feels wonderful outside in the July heat. And since it is “my” patch, that means I have the sole pleasure of picking them (lucky me, right?). No one in my family has any problem helping eat the berries though…funny how that works. All whining aside, I know I’m pretty lucky to have an amazing crop like this right outside my back door.

Last year wasn’t a very crop, but things are looking good this year. My berry yogurt/cereal bowls are looking up already. Smile

For today’s question, I ask, do you have any good zucchini recipes/uses/ideas you’d like to share? I think this season I’d like to try making relish…